Craftsy & Me

I can't tell you how much I depend on Craftsy as I learn to sew. I know there are other online sewing platforms out there. I can only speak to the awesomeness of Craftsy. You can obviously take the classes from your computer, but there is also an Apple app. I have been waiting not so patiently for the Android app. The folks at Craftsy are very responsive to questions and suggestions via Twitter. If this company wasn't based in Denver, I'd try and get a job there.

In a nutshell, each class consists of multiple lessons. Some classes have you construct a garment based on a specific pattern. I prefer the classes that use the pattern as the backdrop and really focus on the techniques used to complete the garment. The Couture Dress and Sew Better, Sew Faster are the best examples of this so far. Other classes are about specific techniques.  The classes are yours forever. As you watch the videos, you can take notes and post questions to your instructor and/or classmates. There is a :30 repeat button in case you need to see something again. The classes come with downloadable course materials.

For the most part, the instructors are at the top of his/her game. These are some industry powerhouses. (I must admit how disappointed I was when Kenneth D. King's new Smart Fitting Series was released on DVD. Why use old technology for a subject that should be so interactive? I wish this had been a Craftsy course. My new laptop doesn't even have a DVD player.)

I did notice that for all classes, no matter what the actual rating is, Craftsy only posts the recent 5-star reviews. That seems a little shady to me. I would have thought that Amazon has proven that transparency builds trust, but who am I to question? Actually since marketing is my day job, I think I can question. Negative reviews are more useful to people who are contemplating purchase. Otherwise, we're just commiserating with other folks who didn't like the course.

I'll use this page to review the classes I've taken. I'll say now that not all of the classes are great and I have never paid full price for a class; there are frequent sales and I can be very cheap at times. I recently purchased a couple of classes at only 20% off and that was a splurge. The good news is that with increased competition, prices should be coming down. Craftsy does offer a guarantee:  if you don't like a class, you can get a refund. There are also some free classes to whet your appetite.

My five-star ratings

Fabric Know-how Choosing and Using Your Favorite Fabric:  Perfect Reference
Fabric Know-How: Choosing & Using Your Favorite FabricsSandra Betzina is amazing in this class! This is the video companion to More Fabric Savvy and I absolutely love it. A criticism of Sandra's earlier classes is that they can be hard to follow. Each subsequent class is an improvement and this class is almost flawless. 

You really get the benefit of her years of sewing expertise in this class. Most importantly, you get that she loves fabric. She is equally passionate about sewing and fabric. I'm so glad Craftsy did this course. As someone who doesn't always make the right fabric choices, this class was just what I needed. The lessons on rayons and polyester were truly enlightening for me. The seam finishes and hems lessons do overlap with other Craftsy classes, but it's fair to see them covered in this class.  

Modern Jacket Techniques:  Confidence Booster
Modern Jacket TechniquesThis is Pam Howard's third Crafty class. It has been a joy watching her become more comfortable in front of the camera. 'She got jokes' now. Per her usual style, there is no question that she's an expert and really wants to help you get it right. She is calm and reassuring, much needed in the scary world of jacket construction.

This is a stretch class for me. It's beyond my current skill level, but I get what she's saying and I can see myself doing what she says. As an intermediate class, every step of the construction process isn't covered. Bummer for me, but great for those of you who already know how to sew princess seams. The best part of the course is the pattern and construction changes she makes to get you a more high-end RTW look.

My criticisms of the class are that no pattern is included. You can get the one she uses, Simplicity 2446,  it as part of a course kit. I'm guessing Craftsy has a deal with McCall Pattern Co. that prohibits other patterns being given away with a class. Also, in the materials, there aren't pattern pieces for the extra one she wants you to make, just instructions on how to make them. A pdf of the actual pieces would have been better. My very minor nit is that the sample jacket made according to the original pattern looks terrible. The puckered seams are awful.

Couture Finishing Techniques:  Inspirational
Couture Finishing Techniques I thoroughly enjoyed this class! Talk about wanting to get up and make something -- I even wanted to hand sew after watching this class. Alison Smith is a wonderful instructor. She knows her stuff. While I won't be using all of the techniques Smith covered, I do love the idea of making my garments extra special.  

My favorite section is the hand stitches. She covers five. She also covers the whipstitch in the seam finishes section, which I loved too. Her invisible zipper insertion with a zipper guard is really detailed. It's a lot of work, but the result was beautiful. The section on hems is really good. The more exotic topics were triangular and circular buttonholes (skipped) and Rouleau and corded loops.  Excellent class!

Couture Dressmaking Techniques:  Amazing 
Couture Dressmaking TechniquesJust finished watching this class and I couldn't wait to write the review! It's just that good. Alison Smith is a gifted instructor. This does not replace The Couture Dress. Together, they give you such a wealth of information. I was really amazed by how different Smith's approach is. She sews darts from the point to the fat end! Hooray! I don't have to suffer through poorly-made darts anymore. This class gave me a greater sense of fabric manipulation -- how to really coax fabric into doing what you want it to do. I love how Smith points out that although these are couture techniques, they don't have to be reserved for couture sewing. Use them where you need them in everyday garments. I'm so glad I took this class. I wouldn't mind watching it over and over again.

Adjust the Bust; Custom Fitting: Back Neck & Shoulders; and Custom Fitting: Waist & Hips: Must-Haves!

Adjust the BustCustom Fitting: Back, Neck, and ShouldersCustom Fitting: Waist & Hips

The three classes in this series are all taught by Kathleen Cheetham. There's good stuff in here! Among the classes, all of my fit issues were covered, except for one. I've since found that the issue is pretty rare, so still five stars for the series. I have a gazillion notes across all three classes, which to me, means I learned something. Seriously, these classes are amazingly informative. So much so, I believe these are the only classes you need for pattern alteration. For me, these are better than Fast Track Fitting. For info on fitting a muslin, Sew the Perfect Fit is a nice complement. Custom Fitting Waist and Hips covers pants sufficiently, but if you are tackling your first-ever pair, you may want to supplement it with Sandra Betzina's Pant Fitting Techniques. Start with Cheetham's course. 

The Classic Tailored Shirt Solid

The Classic Tailored ShirtYou'll be able to "Git 'er done," after this class! This is step-by-step construction at it's best. If you start with a well-fitting pattern, this class guarantees superb results. They key is the well-fitting pattern because alterations aren't covered. 

Pam Howard provides a great level of detail throughout the class. However, it's not at all overwhelming. Everything is presented in a very logical way. She shares some good tips and tricks as well. What's best about Pam's demeanor is her sense of calm. Even when she makes a mistake, it's not the end of the world -- it's only fabric. *gasp* My only wish is that the class covered French cuffs.

Decorative Seams Empowering

Decorative SeamsThis class covers an unbelievable amount of information! You definitely leave this class with an arsenal of new tools to inspire your creativity. What I like most about the class is that although these seams are decorative, their functionality is never overlooked. 

Katrina Walker's enthusiasm is infectious. You can really tell that this is her area of expertise and she still gets excited about every beautiful seam. The seams are gorgeous! She even teaches how quilting techniques like prairie points and Seminole piecework can be used in garments. I also love that she's a fellow gadget girl. She believes in a arsenal of feet. Before taking the class, you may want to grab the following feet (she uses a Pfaff, so the name of your feet may be different):

  • Edgestitching
  • Seam guide
  • 1/4"
  • Stitch-in-the-ditch
  • Piping
  • Fringe
The Pfaff fringe foot is not included in the 2013 catalog, so it may take a little searching to find one. 

The course materials for this class are so well thought out. The swatch notebook with spaces to capture each step of every technique is brilliant. The instructions for each step are included, so you could do the technique without watching the video as a refresher. 

Here's what's covered in the class:

  • Topstitched Seams
    • Single
    • Double
    • Flat Felled
    • Flat Felled (quick)
    • Welt
    • Padded
  • Embellished Seams
    • Closed Slot
    • Open Slot
    • Strap
    • Bundled Fagotting 
  • Insertion Seams
    • Piped/Corded
    • Double Piping
    • Prairie Points
    • Lace Insertion
  • Decorative Panels
    • Seminole Piecework
    • Faux Tucks
I will never make the pattern included in the class, Vogue 1329, but the class is so good; the pattern is like a freebie.

Sew Better, Sew Faster:  One of the Best Craftsy Classes

Sew Better, Sew Faster
If I had to pick one word to describe this class, it would be "expert." These are sound techniques to both simplify your sewing and make it more professional. Janet Pray clearly knows her stuff, yet she doesn't come across as preachy. She explains and demonstrates things so well, you can't help but feel super confident in your own skills. (And isn't that what learning is about?) Although the class takes you through the construction of a specific garment, you can apply the skills across projects. 

Most amazingly, she shows you how to get all that stitching done with a single presser foot! I will be leaning heavily on my specialty feet, but it just reinforces that Janet is well-qualified on this subject. You will be a better stitcher after this class.

I especially loved watching her press and demonstrate the use of the clapper, tailor board and seam stick. The sneak peak into the Islander Sewing System is great. Pins be gone! Here are the techniques covered during the construction of the jacket:

  • Sewing without pins
  • Garment-industry seam allowances
  • Welt pockets
  • Crimping
  • Burrito method
  • Yolks without hand stitching
  • Pressing, including using wooden tailor's tools
  • Topstitching
  • Sewing sleeves without pins
The only thing I didn't like about the class was the pattern, but who cares?! This class is worth it even if you never make the Islander Sewing System's Jacket Express.

Mastering Zipper Techniques:  Can't Believe this is a Mini Class

Mastering Zipper Techniques
This mini-class is one of the best Craftsy classes.  I can't believe it's free! The subject is presented in a well-organized manner,  the demonstrations are great and Sunni is a wonderful presenter. These are techniques I can use. I'm learning a ton. 

I think just about every zipper application is covered. It's really great to see her sewing and not just presenting all samples. This class is a no-risk way to conquer any fear about zippers.

The Couture Dress:  The Standard for all Craftsy Classes
The Couture Dress
I am absolutely in awe of Susan Khalje's skill as both a dressmaker and an instructor. Her love of couture is so evident as she talks about why things are done a certain why and how honestly pleased she is when things turn out beautifully. 

Although this class was out of my skill range, I picked up so many tips I can incorporate into my current projects. I guess most importantly, I feel that with practice, I will be able to let loose on some expensive fabric in the future and transform it into a masterful creation (with Khalje's step-by-step assistance). Even if you never make Vogue 8648, this class is worth it.

I applaud the level of detail provided in this class. She doesn't just tell; she shows. Everything is crystal clear. Craftsy now has more couture and dressmaking classes. The beauty of this class is that you get construction and more fitting. 

Her teaching style is very warm and engaging. She's very responsive to questions. This class is simply awesome.

Plus Size Pattern Fitting & Design:  You Won't Regret It!

Plus-Size Pattern Fitting & DesignenrolledenrolledThis is my favorite class so far!! This class has everything:  wonderful instructor (Barbara Deckert is so refreshing); a project I want to make (Vogue 8815); it gives me the skill set to fit and sew the project; and provides transferable skills.  There is an amazing amount of information in this course, but Barbara makes it all accessible. 

I'm really hoping she'll be teaching additional classes.  I was so blown away by Design Variations; it would be great to see her do some type of 'one pattern, many looks' class. 

My four-star ratings

The Ultmate T-shirt:  Good Stuff
 An entire class dedicated to T-shirts is a good thing. The Tilton sisters are experts and have some really creative ideas. If this is your first t-shirt, start here. If you want a RTW finish, start here.  Lots of good tips that aren't covered in Big-four patterns.

This class is really about the construction of a t-shirt. The best lessons in the class are the two options for attaching the neckband. Both have you attach it flat. Fit is covered, but not as extensively. Few adjustments are made to the pattern, most are done on the garment (kinda scary for me.) 

My criticism is the background is too busy. I've seen a couple of classes where it Craftsy makes it look like folks are in their home studios. It's distracting.

Inside Vogue Patterns:  Tracy Reese V1397:  Nicely Done
Inside Vogue Patterns: Tracy Reese V1397 I thoroughly enjoyed this class. I love the collaboration between Craftsy and a pattern manufacturer. The nerd in me was really excited to see someone from Vogue talk about the dress and its details. Sara Alm's fabric choices and design changes for the other versions of the dress are inspiring (so much so that I had to track down the butterfly floral at Jo-Ann Fabrics). You'll need to bring your own fit knowledge to the class; this class is all about construction.  My only complaint about the class is that Alm isn't the best presenter. It's clear she's an industry professional, but her delivery isn't the same professional caliber.

 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know:  The Title Says It All
40 Techniques Every Sewer Should KnowThis class is a really good example of just how useful a Craftsy class can be. It is chock-full of information and excellent demonstrations. This is truly a teaching class -- no-nonsense how-to. As you watch the class, you get that Gail Yellen is an expert and is sharing with you tried-and-true techniques. You know you're benefiting from sewing wisdom. Start here if you are a beginning or intermediate sewer. You won't regret it. 

Included in the class is an excellent section on pressing tools and how to press. There is a awesome tip on using the lining as an elastic waistband casing. I thoroughly enjoyed the section on sewing, grading, clipping and pressing curves and corners. I like the how she covered setting in sleeves as well. Additionally, there's a nice cheat for covered buttons.

Sew Smarter: 30 Professional Techniques:  Excellent How-To
Sew Smarter: 30 Professional TechniquesKatrina Walker does it again! The techniques and tips covered in this class are amazingly useful. Walker's honest enthusiasm is a joy to watch. She presents everything very clearly and with the right amount of detail. You'll walk away confident that you can execute the techniques without any problems.  

The Perfect Wrap Knit Dress:  Useful Class
The Perfect Wrap Knit DressI really enjoyed this class. Dyanne Marte walks through the construction of two versions of the dress. You get industry insider information on stretch reduction and negative ease. Marte also provides helpful instruction on how to add more flare to an A-line skirt and a way to make the wrap dress more secure by change the tie and the way it's attached to the dress. She also covers stabilizing seams with clear elastic.

I have complete confidence I can make this dress, which is wonderful because I've had the pattern in my stash for years. The only thing I didn't like about the class was her suggestion to use a triple straight stitch for seaming. It's nearly impossible to get those out if you make a mistake.

The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics:  Skip the Other One
The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Knit FabricsWhile Lee's other knit class was a collection of tips, this class has more construction techniques across different garments. This class groups knits by weight:  sheer and open-weave, lightweight, medium-weight, heavy-weight. There are also sections on double-weight knits and novelty knits. Some of these are covered as "garment details" or "techniques for," so it's more than just a discussion of the characteristics of each knit type. I found the section on setting in a sleeve really useful. Linda Lee does it the same way she sets in sleeves on woven garments.

Sew the Perfect Fit:  Great Class
Sew the Perfect FitenrolledI love that this classes uses different models, so you can see multiple figure variations on real folks.  Lynda Maynard's instructional method is precise, yet down to earth. There is a lot of good information in the class.  I was so glad to see how changes from the muslin are transferred to the flat pattern. 

The pattern included with the class, Vogue 8766, is lovely. She fits View D in class. My only wish, which is admittedly unrealistic, is to see even more figure variations.

Design And Sew an A-Line Skirt:  Wonderful Class

Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt
This is a great class for beginners and for those who just want to start from scratch with a custom pattern. Deborah Moebes is passionate, has a great sense of humor and knows her subject matter.

The class will get you through drafting and sewing a basic A-line skirt. Moebes then shows you variations for volume, waistbands and
fabric options. My only wish is that she would have shown the construction of a lining instead of just talking through a finished example.

Sewing on the Bias:  aka Inside Vogue Patterns 1333
Sewing on the BiasThis is Sandra Betzina's third Craftsy class. The other two are too advanced for me right now. I'm loving this class because it's equal parts information about bias and constructing V1333. There are also plenty of techniques that go beyond bias and V1333. You'll learn so much in this class! Betzina's teaching style is a little different. It seems like she has all of this knowledge that bubbles over at times. I found it a little confusing in her other classes, but it's much more manageable here. She also has a very practical and no-nonsense approach. Plenty of cool tips and tricks for professional results.

My three-star ratings

Sewing Fashion Knits:  Good Tips
Sewing Fashion KnitsIt's nice to have one place to go to look for any info you need about sewing with knits. Linda covers a variety of topics. As I look through my class notes, I got some great tips based on what she told us to do; these are tips you'll find around the web. I was more impressed with what she said not to do. These were tips I haven't seen elsewhere.

Underneath it All:  Good Overview
Underneath It AllIn addition to needing clothes that fit, I wanted really well-made clothes. For me, that doesn't mean couture in the every sense of the word, but it does mean less polyester and garments that are lined. I wanted this class to demystify linings for me. If you want to learn how to line a jacket -- this class will teach you. if you want to learn how to line a skirt with an elastic waist or a dress, this class leaves you hanging. Other classes like The Couture Dress and Couture Dressmaking Techniques do a better job of covering underlining. I did find the coverage of fusible interfacing and interlinings very helpful.

Fast Track Fitting: In the Details:  Non-traditional Approach

Fast-Track Fitting: In the DetailsI have to be honest. In the Details won me over. I found both Joi Mahon and her method overwhelming in Fast Track Fitting; I lost interest in the class. In the Details was much more digestible. With that said, her approach to fitting takes some getting used to and I'm not ready for it. As for now, I prefer Kathleen Cheetham's courses -- her pace is slower and the classes build on familiar concepts.  

My two-star ratings

Sewing Knits that Fit:  I Was Expecting More
Sewing Knits That FitWhat is absolutely wonderful is Marte's example of what happens when you cut knits off grain. Marte also talks about appropriate seam allowances for knits, which I found useful. This class s more about reading a muslin and making changes to the test garment. What's missing, unlike in Sew the Perfect Fit, is how to transfer those changes to the pattern. Without closing that loop, I find it hard to really process all of the information. I judge the strength of a class by the amount of notes I take. I don't have any notes in the fitting sections. I really wanted to like this class because Marte's The Perfect Wrap Dress is so good. Although, perhaps all the rigor I'm looking for is missing because this is about knits versus wovens?

Fast Track Fitting:  The Other Class is Better
Fast-Track FittingIt has taken me months to review this class because I didn't want to publicly admit that I didn't like it. It was overwhelming, but not in a way that challenged me. I didn't want to figure out how to absorb the material; I just stopped watching. Joi Mahon's approach to flat pattern alterations is different. I don't know if  it's the simplicity of it that's throwing me or what. I also found Mahon distracting. 

The only reason I didn't give it a one-star rating is because the sections on how to take measurements are really good. I also really enjoyed the last section, fine-tuning muslin. Unfortunately, what I thought was supposed to be the purpose of the class, -- adjusting the pattern, didn't work for me.  However, Mahon's other class, Fast-Track Fitting:  In the Details, is where the adjustment information comes together in a way that's easier for me to process.

My one-star ratings

Sewing with Knits:  Wait for a Good Sale
Sewing With KnitsAfter comparing this to some of the other Craftsy sewing courses, I have to say that this one is my least favorite. The instructor is not terribly engaging, There were a few good tips, but not a lot of useful information. I wish there was more information on fit in this course. The projects seem fun; but I don't think this course gave me the skills I need to alter the patterns properly.  Supplies was probably the best lesson.

(After posting this review on Craftsy, I was immediately offered a refund. I declined because I only paid $15 the class. If I ever decide to make the patterns, I'll still have the video instruction.) I initially gave it two stars, but I as I evaluate more classes, it's just not in the same league as the rest of the courses.

To be reviewed

  • Ha! Too many to list...


Anitha said...


I loved your review of all the craftsy classes you've taken. They're really helpful to me and would help me to decide which one to pick. In fact, the complete shirt and sew better, sew faster is on my wish list, and your review has helped decide to go ahead and take the class. I am waiting for more, esp the class, underneath it all

Anonymous said...

Hi - it's great to see your reviews of Craftsy classes. I am amazed at how good the classes are and how much I am learning. I was very skeptical of online classes. It's a great companion to my in-person classes at my local fabric shop. The first two classes I have taken have both been excellent (40 things a sewer should know and beginning serger).

I don't have a google account so probably have to be anonymous on my comment (only because I can't figure out how to be anything else!). Hope to see more reviews. It's helping me decide which class to take next.

Alicia said...

I can't tell you how helpful this was! I had recently turned to Craftsy to help me learn knitting (a brand new craft to me) but your reviews were a great help when deciding which classes I could use to supplement my existing sewing knowledge. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Rachel Wheeler said...

Thank you so much for these reviews, they have been so helpful. I came across them because I was trying to decide between the "Fast Track Fitting" class and Lynda Maynard's fitting class. There are more classes all the time and I was wondering if you have taken Janet Prey's "Sew Better Sew Faster: Advanced Industry Techniques?" It seems to me like that class, the "Sew Smarter: 30 Professional Techniques" class with Katrina Walker and the "40 techniques every Sewer should know" are all similar. I don't know which to take. I like the fact that the class you mentioned with Janet Prey, "garment industry secrets" has a pattern to make. Her new class does not have a pattern but could cover more techniques. Any suggestions or any new reviews? Thank you again for such thorough reviews for Craftsy. Watching Craftsy classes is how I have learned to sew.

NuJoi said...

Rachel -- thanks for the comment. For fitting, I liked Lynda Maynard's class. I found Joi's concept hard to grasp. I think it's because the approach is unconventional and as a self-taught sewist, I've spent the last few years reading every traditional book I could find. Of Joi's classes, I understood the In the Details best. You need all three techniques classes. Even where there is overlap in content, the approaches may be different. Sew Better Faster, applies the techniques to a garment, so that's cool. Prey also covers stuff I haven't seen elsewhere, but among her classes, there is some overlap.

Anonymous said...

This. is. AMAZING!! Thanks so much for taking the time to communicate how you felt about each class. My husband and my's anniversary is coming up and I asked for sewing classes. Now I feel more confident that I'll be able to choose classes that are actually worth the money.

Thanks again!