Skills check: How far have I come?

17 Sep

I started sewing about 2.5 years ago (I think!). I walked into my sewing class not even knowing how to thread a machine. Wide eyed, I sat down and learned how to use my machine for various tasks using small calico squares. Then it was on to the beast that is the overlocker – and more calico squares.

I recently read Ginger’s Check the Technique page, and it’s prompted me to have a think about what I’ve learned (what I haven’t learned!) and how far I’ve come in the last few years. I’ve made a start with her list, and expanded 🙂 I’ve also had a quick think about which garments I’ve made covering off some of these techniques…


Seams and seam finishes


  • Straight tapered dart – lots!
  • Shaped tapered dart
  • Cut-away dart
  • Fisheye dart

Neckline plackets

  • Shirt neckline placket
  • Tailored shirt placket
  • Hidden button placket

Pleats and tucks

  • Knife pleat – V8560
  • Box pleat – V8560
  • In-seam pleat
  • Release tucks – V1186
  • Pin tucks – V8774 (in progress)



  • Flat, stand or roll collar
  • Shirt collar with separate stand
  • Burrito / sandwich collar
  • Tie collar
  • Shawl collar
  • Revere collar


  • Patch pockets – V8774 (in progress)
  • Front hip pocket – V8774 (in progress)
  • In seam pocket – V8560
  • Bellows / cargo pocket
  • Welt bound pocket
  • Bound flat pocket


Fabric types

Pattern drafting / alterations

Lining and interfacing

  • Free hanging skirt lining – Check Mate Skirt
  • Free hanging pants lining – V1186
  • Underlining – V1174
  • Fusible interfacing – lots
  • Sew in interfacing – V1186



  • Notched collar
  • Pad stitching


  • Traditional straight waistband
  • Tailored straight waistband – Simplicity 3688 (not blogged)
  • Belt carriers – V8774 (in progress), Beignet
  • Elastic waistband
  • Drawstring waistband
  • Faced waistline – Check Mate SkirtV1186
  • Waist stay
  • Thread loops for buttonholes or belts
  • Outside casing


  • Bustier – V1174
  • Boning – V1174
  • Making a fabric covered belt
  • Tailors tacks – everything!

After reviewing everything here, it looks like I need to make a shirt and a jacket to hone in my tailoring, plackets and collars! Any pattern suggestions? What skills do you think you need to work on?

On second thought, I never wear shirts, so maybe I don’t want to spend weeks making one… What do you guys think? Do you only make garments you want to wear? Or do you try things you usually wouldn’t wear just to learn mad skills?

Z xx


14 Responses to “Skills check: How far have I come?”

  1. punkmik September 17, 2012 at 10:50 PM #

    I just read an awesome post on twisted yarns! It is all about sewing what makes you happy at the end of the day! And I totally agree. i think i will learn and acquire skills as I make things I either like or will wear often. 🙂

  2. Tia Dia September 18, 2012 at 1:43 AM #

    Wheeee! That’s an impressive list of done that and know how.

  3. prttynpnk September 18, 2012 at 2:27 AM #

    I think I’m a mixed bag-I’ve made things that just looked like fun to sew and not really gotten to wear them, but I haven’t sewn something just for a skill…yet! I love your list- I’d like to copy it and keep it over my work area as an inspiration.

    • ZoSews September 18, 2012 at 7:24 PM #

      Yay! Glad it’s useful for others too 🙂

  4. gingermakes September 18, 2012 at 4:43 AM #

    What a great list! I’m going to have to go back and add some of your techniques to mine! I mainly make things just because I want to wear them (or give them to someone else), but I’ve done a few projects to sort of specifically work on new techniques.

    • ZoSews September 18, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

      Yeah, I just seem to make things that I want to wear. I did realise though that I do want a shirt dress, so maybe that’ll be a good option to get something I like, and some new skills 🙂 Thanks for inspiring this post too!

  5. Amanda September 18, 2012 at 7:59 AM #

    Look at you go- you’re a sewing skills rockstar!

    This is fantastic and something that has been playing on my mind a bit recently. I seems to have a handful of these techniques that I use frequently but I need to mix it up and challenge myself more.

    • ZoSews September 18, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

      It is fun to learn new things…. Except when they won’t work and a tantrum erupts lol!

  6. Jillian September 18, 2012 at 8:49 AM #

    Wow, that is quite a list. I started sewing as a child, taught by my mother. I sewed until I was about 20 yrs old and then just gave it up. It seemed a bit uncool at the time to wear “homemade” clothes! I stuck to hemming and slight alterations of RTW clothes. I then had my gorgeous daughter just over two years ago and started to make her cute clothes. That got me started up again sewing clothes for me and I’m now totally selfish (if I ever actually sew). But, I only ever make things I know I’ll wear (my time is precious and limited) and even worse I stick with the world’s most simple makes. I like things that come together satisfyingly quickly. I have theoretically sewed for close to 30 years, but let me tell you, my list doesn’t even cover a quarter of yours! Well done!

    • ZoSews September 18, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

      I remember going through that, ‘as if I’d wear clothes that were homemade’ phase too! Unlike you, I didn’t have the pleasure of starting that young so they would have come from my mother probably! Good on you for getting back on the sewing wagon and enjoying it. I’m a total selfish sewist too – so much time and effort goes in to a garment that I’m not sure anyone who doesn’t sew could appreciate it. 🙂

  7. Danielle September 18, 2012 at 9:40 AM #

    Oooh what a great list! I am going to use it as a goals list now, thanks! 🙂

    • ZoSews September 18, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

      My pleasure! Glad it’s useful for others too 🙂

  8. HouseOFpinheiro (@HouseOFpinheiro) October 15, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

    what a great achievement. well done !

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