By Michael Leppert

In the world of fashion design, creation and sewing, there is a new wave of interest and excitement which extends to the homeschooling world. Sewing has traditionally been a popular “cottage” activity for homeschoolers and many homeschooled students learn to make their own clothes and home décor items as part of a well-rounded education. The new interest and attention to the world of fashion design is fanned by the T.V. reality show Project Runway and a variety of spin-off shows that focus on the world of fashion design and creation in all of its facets.

Homeschooling devotees of sewing and fashion design will find just the instructional assistance they need in the extensive line of books and DVDs by Ms. Connie Crawford. Connie Crawford, through her company, Fashion Patterns by Coni, is one of the leading experts in the field of fashion design and sewing, having 23 years of teaching experience at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles; her pattern line with Butterick; her “Signature Collection” of patterns; her many textbooks and her lecture/workshop programs in the consumer side of the market and her reputation for fit and design for women of all sizes.

One of the cornerstones of Ms. Crawford’s teaching is that “When learning how to sew, a student needs to understand how to assemble a garment and how to sew each and every item within the garment.” This approach teaches the student to be methodical, stimulates abstract thinking and provides real-world insight into how “things” are made. In this way, studying the art of sewing and design serves as the instructional springboard for many other subjects. Math, hand-eye coordination, history of three different types — the social history of clothing, the history of the development of fabric making and dyeing — which is also geographic — and high fashion. All are vital aspects of Man’s existence, growth and development and have as their center, sewing and fashion design.

In keeping current – and actually being ahead of the curve – in June, Ms. Crawford is releasing the Fifth Edition of her popular fashion industry book, A Guide to Fashion Sewing. This book outlines the information needed to learn how to assemble any design of a garment. With over 2000 colorful illustrations and young fashion drawings, the new seamstress will have no trouble in following this step-by-step book.

One of the goals in preparing this new edition was to include an up-to-date textiles reference chapter. In addition, a big plus is Appendix C, Fabric Resources, as well as entries for major fabric stores throughout the U.S. This appendix is a resource guide of wholesale fabric suppliers who do not require large minimum purchases! This list is an important added asset for students, new start-up manufacturers, or those with a smaller cottage industry.

Another added feature of this new edition of A Guide to Fashion Sewing are the illustrations, which have been updated and colored to help the reader more easily identify the sewing steps and show more precisely what to do at each step of the sewing process. A Guide to Fashion Sewing continues to provide easy-to-read text with step-by-step sewing instructions and illustrations. The information progresses from basic theory to simple sewing techniques, concluding with more complex techniques and applications. It assists students and those with sewing experience to create simple and more complex, fashionable, professional-looking garments. This text also provides a comprehensive sewing course of current fashion industry sewing methods.

The first 5 chapters of Fashion Sewing provides basic information about sewing supplies and equipment, measurements, commercial patterns, fashion fabrics, and fitting. Because fitting is an important element in making successful garments, the fitting section in Chapter 4 has been expanded for this Fifth Edition. These fitting techniques illustrate the method of fitting a design in the same manner in which a designer follows in the fashion industry. Chapter 5 illustrates how to assemble any garment. These sewing techniques are also referred to as “Unit Method of Construction.” The remaining 17 chapters of this book illustrate the step-by-step sewing instruction of the various items within any garment.

The new layout of the Fifth Edition highlights STUDIO TIPS. These STUDIO TIPS focus on the important features that are used within the fashion industry. A Guide to Fashion Sewing will interest anyone who desires to learn more about fashion sewing.

Another great cutting-edge product offered by Connie Crawford is her instructional DVD, Studio Sewing Skills, which provides students with efficient techniques to learn to sew in this fast-paced world. This DVD allows students to learn at their own pace. These sewing skills are designed to build knowledge progressively, while the student learns the basics of sewing as well as how to assemble a garment in a logical and time efficient sequence. Students will complete a project that encourages them to sew more and more. A companion Student Packet of practice exercises is also available.

Homeschooling families who are familiar with the broad value of sewing, as well as neophyte seamstresses, will rejoice at the tremendous resources and wonderful world of creation that Ms. Crawford’s instructional DVD, books, patterns and materials offer.

Please visit Connie Crawford’s website, www.fashionpatterns.com and be inspired! MjL