What helps you learn ?
Sewing involves many skills. Each is complex and can be done many different ways.
So it helps to know what helps us learn
What is the best format for you to learn from ?
There are different ways of dealing with the world, which we have different amounts of talent for.
Which of the ‘multiple intelligences’ come most easily to you ?
- hands-on work,
- group discussion,
- maths calculations,
What does this tell you about the best way for you to learn ?
Many years ago a gifted teacher made us learn Latin verbs by singing them to a folk tune. I can still sing them 60 years later. Not sure how I could apply that method to sewing
I like to see, read, write summaries, and do exercises. I’m most relaxed about learning sewing when I have both video demos and written materials. A video so I’m secure about exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Written instructions so I haven’t got to remember every detail. And I definitely prefer physical books to e-books and on-line courses you can’t download and print !
I gave up on a quilt course with teachers who insisted you do a painting of what you were going to make before ever starting to sew. Not for me. But perhaps you find making design sketches of clothes helps you understand what you’re making and the processes needed.
My facility with practical maths probably relates to my enjoyment of pattern making.
If you’re mainly a hands-on learner, you probably don’t often look at this wordy blog But see the right hand menu for links to sewing DVDs, on-line video demos, and on-line written tutorials with photos.
Details or concepts
I also find an aspect of personality in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is very important in my learning – S/N. Are you happy with specific items (S), or do you prefer concepts and only understand details fully when you see how they fit into an overall scheme (N). I’m the second type of person (there are fewer of us), and teaching materials prepared by the first type of person can be difficult to cope with. If there’s no structure provided, I need to work out my own before I’m comfortable.
Specific example : here’s a list of sewing machine parts, from a teachers’ guide that has been available for some time, so presumably many teachers and students are happy with it.
Upper tension control.
Stitch length selector.
Stitch width selector.
Reverse button/ lever.
Er. A list like that dances before my eyes.
I spent a while thinking out how to get it to make sense for me, and came up with :
Upper thread :
- Spool pin.
- Upper tension control.
- Thread take-up.
Lower thread :
- Bobbin winder.
Fabric control :
- Presser foot.
- Feed teeth.
Stitch formation :
- Stitch length selector.
- Stitch width selector.
- Reverse button/ lever.
- Balance wheel.
Ah, now I get it, of course, that’s obvious. . .
There are so many different techniques and tools used in making a garment, I can find it overwhelming. I need a brief overview of the process, which I can relate the details to.
Some Japanese pattern books summarise the sequence of sewing steps in a numbered diagram. I like to have a written list as well.
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Other dimensions of the MBTI
Another dimension in the MBTI personality scheme is whether you like (J) or avoid (P) plans. This may affect whether you like to follow a formal learning scheme. I like to have a learning plan framework to give structure to the process, but in real life I rarely follow it!
Introversion (I) and extraversion (E) are probably linked to how much you learn from self evaluation or group discussion.
The final MBTI dimension is whether you react primarily by thinking (T) or by feeling (F). Not sure how that would relate to your preferred learning style. Perhaps Ts like to read all about it first, while Fs prefer to learn by doing.
Challenges or baby steps
How much difficulty do you enjoy coping with ? I like to be guided through a carefully planned sequence of learning steps with detailed instructions. Starting from the very easiest and increasing the difficulty in very small amounts. But many people like the challenge of jumping in, having a go at making something complex right from the start, and working out how to make it as they go along.
I need the outcome of each sewing step firmly fixed in my mind, to feel confident that I can do it again. If I just sew through without pausing to acknowledge that each step is completed, I sort of lose contact with what I’m doing. It’s helpful for me to stop and take stock after each step – recognise the universal skills, what other things I can do with each process I’ve learned, and where I’ve got to in the overall construction process.
Some other pointers
I need to make multiple samples until I feel secure with a method, rather than always pushing on to something new. If I’m really nervous about a process, I set myself to make a ridiculous number of samples – 10, 20, 50 So I prefer to learn by myself with my own pacing. But many people are at their best if they can get to a class and learn with others. And all the repetition which calms me would infuriate others.
I also prefer to learn a new technique within a project specifically chosen for that technique, rather than being given a list of techniques and a list of projects, and having to combine them together myself. But some people passionately dislike having techniques explained within projects rather than separately. Some books and DVDs do it one way, some the other, and it’s good to find ones with the right style for you.
Sometimes learning involves a boring stage. Rewards are good to get you through them. What type of rewards do you enjoy
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Some of us enjoy a lifetime of learning new skills. And some of us are happy creating with a few simple techniques.
Each to their own.
Which of all these intelligences and personality dimensions are your natural gifts ?
Best Wishes for finding the type of sewing, fitting, learning that will give you the greatest pleasure and support and relaxation.
And plan to spend 2013 that way
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Links available February 2013
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