When You undertake this work in sewing it will seem a little strange to you at first for it is somewhat different from the regular class work which you have been doing at school. In this work you will have a chance to learn by doing as well as by studying and thinking, and you can always make use of some of the things which you have learned at home. This work should be extremely interesting to you because of its relation to the things which you will no doubt be called upon to do throughout your entire life. The purpose of sewing work is not merely to furnish you employment for your hands, but to teach you to direct your hands skillfully in the doing of the things which your mind must fully understand. It is very interesting to know that the skillful use of the hands comes only by proper guidance from the brain, so this work in sewing will give you a chance to use both mind and hand. The difference between a great artist and a laborer lies in the fact that the artist puts more brain work into his efforts than does the laborer; this explains why one is an artist and produces things of beauty, while the other is compelled to do the drudgery of the world.
There is such a great number of valuable and interesting things given in these lessons, that you will be able to make selection of the ones which you like best. This does not mean that you should simply peruse the book and choose the thing which pleases your fancy without regard to your need or preparation to undertake it. The lessons set forth in the early portion of the book are easier because they employ elementary processes. Throughout the book you will find that the projects become more difficult because they introduce more advanced principles. You must not expect to undertake the more difficult lessons until you have successfully completed some of the elementary ones. It would be well for you to discuss with your teacher and your mother the project which you wish to undertake.
After you have begun a project, never leave it until it is finished. Half finishing a task is not good training for it develops slovenly habits which, if followed, are sure to bring unsatisfactory results. You should cultivate the habit of finishing any task when you have once undertaken it, even though you may find some portion of it rather irksome and difficult.
Sometimes the school program is so arranged that the sewing class does not meet every day; this is frequently offered as an excuse for forgetting materials or neglecting to bring some equipment necessary for the recitation. Certainly such carelessness should be avoided. At the beginning of the work, provide yourself with some sort of sewing basket, box or bag. A properly made sewing apron with pockets will also aid greatly in caring for your equipment.
A pair of sharp shears, a tape measure, a thimble, a paper of assorted needles and a supply of thread should always be on hand. The larger materials, trimmings, etc., required for the different projects, may be provided as needed.
Work should never be carried home without the permission of the teacher, however, it would be well to take partly finished projects home occasionally in order that your mother may have an opportunity to see just how you are doing your work. When work is thus taken home it should not be left there for mother or someone else to finish, but should be promptly returned to school in order to be continued at the next regular sewing period. Your textbook may also be taken home frequently for reference in connection with your home sewing duties, but it must always be brought back to the classroom in ample time for the school work.
At the opening of each lesson you will find an illustration giving you an idea as to the appearance of the finished product. You should study the illustration carefully, for it will enable you to form a clear idea of the thing which you are about to undertake. You will also find a list of the materials which will be required to make that particular project. Of course in some cases the size of the material will vary, particularly if it is for a wearable garment, for in that case the size of the person who is to use the garment will determine the size of it. You will notice that there are paragraph references following the name of the material suggested. You should turn to the supplement at the back of the text, and read carefully the paragraph referred to, for this discussion deals with the particular kind of material recommended for the project. It is just as important that you should understand the nature of the material that you are using as it is to be able to make the piece of work. This does not mean that the kind of material suggested in the lesson is the only kind suitable; in sewing you have a great choice of materials, however, the kind of material mentioned is generally the one most commonly used.
Every lesson has an introductory statement on the first page. This statement deserves very careful study for it will help you to understand that this particular project is given because it has a practical value in the solution of some home problem. You may not always fully understand the home problem, but it will be worth while for you to think about it.
At the bottom of the first page of each lesson you will find a number of references. These books may be found in your library or in some public library to which you have access. These references are given for the purpose of enabling you to find further reading matter along the lines set forth in this book. It will be well for you to read many of these references, for you not only wish to become skillful in sewing processes, but you should develop as much information as possible in connection with the subject.
On the second page of each lesson you will find some additional pictures and suggestions for original ideas which may be used. These illustrations show some suggestions for optional modifications; that is, they will show you some changes which can readily be made in the project and at the same time not introduce any entirely new principles. You will observe these changes or modifications usually deal with matters of decoration. It will be well for you to attempt original designs in as much of the work as you can, always discussing with your teacher the ideas which you expect to undertake.
The next page of each lesson takes up the matter of working directions. These working directions are given with the idea of guiding you in doing all your work. You should read them very carefully as the work progresses. You will notice a number of paragraph references throughout the directions, these references refer to chapters and paragraphs in the supplement. Each one of these references should be found and studied carefully, for here you will find the complete directions and illustrations showing you exactly how to carry out each difficult process. The working directions do not make any attempt to illustrate or give details of sewing processes, all these are set forth in the supplement. It may not be necessary for you to refer to the supplement more than once or twice on each process, but you should refer to it often enough to make sure that you are doing your work correctly, and thus avoid forming any incorrect habits.
The real value which you get from this work will depend upon the way in which you approach it. Do not attempt to finish any piece of work in the shortest possible time, rather try to see how well you can do it. There are really not a great many difficult things for you to learn in sewing, but there is an unlimited number of ways in which you can employ those things.
A great many girls make the mistake of starting a piece of work in a rather careless hurrying manner; they often become proud of the work when it is near completion and desire to make it neat and attractive, but it is marred by some of the errors which were made on account of too much haste at the start. Remember that the time to begin a very fine piece of work is at the first step in its making. Another very important thing for you to learn from these lessons is to be orderly and systematic in all your habits of work. The sewing work gives you an opportunity to observe the value of having a place for everything, and of keeping everything in its proper place. When you are through with the sewing period all working materials should be carefully laid away so you will know where to find them when they are needed again. Habits of this sort should be developed in all of your work for neat and orderly habits are sure to lead to success in any occupation.
At the close of each section you will find a list of review questions. These review questions should be carefully studied. It would be well to keep a notebook in which to write the answers to these questions. This will make sure that you are gathering the most important points as you complete each section.
The pages presenting "Suggestions for Home Application" are very important, for these applications will be the real test of what you have learned in the sewing work. If in the making of any single project you have not mastered some principles which you can apply on the problems at home, your work will have been much in vain. Take an interest in the problems of repairing, patching and darning at home. See how many of the different things which you have learned in school can be employed at home. It would be advisable to have a definite period each week in which to spend as much time as convenient on the home garments, practicing the instructions set forth in the sewing lesson.
Your parents will no doubt be very much pleased to find you taking an interest in the home problems. You would be surprised if you could know how much you may lighten mother's tasks by assisting a little in these problems which she must consider day after day, month after month, and even year after year. You might be able to assist in selecting and purchasing materials for garments for yourself or members of the family if you have properly acquainted yourself with the different textiles explained in this book.
Undertake this work not with the idea that it is drudgery or labor, but with the feeling that it is an opportunity to use your best powers of thought in some of the most worthy tasks which it is a woman's privilege to undertake.