Since I am away from home for the week and it would have been unrealistic to travel with my sewing machine (I still thought about it), I have done no project work since last week on my space dress. Therefore, I have a different kind of post for you guys today – things I have learned about sewing since I started. And possibly about myself.
The first thing I have learned is that if I leave on a business trip, all the fabric I have ordered recently will show up on my doorstep while I am gone. At least I will have lots of pretty things to look at when I get back.
On a more reflective note, here are some of my musings on things I’ve learned about sewing and myself in the last three years. I’m hoping that sharing this in hopes that some new seamstresses and seamstuds (what exactly do you call a guy who sews???) may find it helpful.
1. My attitude towards patterns has changed.
I still find pattern instructions frustrating and annoying, but I used to spend hours reading them, trying to understand them, and following them to a tee. Now I consider them to be a guide, and I trust myself to know enough about sewing to make my own decisions about things I find … suspicious. Like slip stitching. Fuck that.
2. I am very comfortable drafting patterns.
I have yet to read any tutorials on pattern drafting. I’m sure that I could learn something from reading them, but my own methods of drafting have worked very well for me. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it? I’d be curious to hear from other folks to see if pattern drafting is something that feels so natural to other seamstresses. Granted, my version is not very precise – I don’t make patterns that look much like the ones that come out of pattern envelopes.
3. Nothing is better than learning by doing.
I enjoy a good blog tutorial more than a video. And I do use videos when I need to. But a lot of the time, I am willing to say fuck it and take a chance on learning something by doing. Even if I mess it up, I know that the things I learn by trying things and failing are going to last and make my future sewing much better. Corsets with separate cups? Seems like a fine idea in theory. Turned out to be a mess. Adding a cover panel to the back of a corset? That one turned out pretty well. Some ideas go well, some not, but every time I’m learning something new.
4. Sew the right things for YOU.
Many of the garments I stitched during my first year of sewing are not things I wear frequently, if ever. There are enough mistakes, and I chose things that were not necessarily my style. That being said, I’ve since made plenty of everyday wear items that I do use often. And since I started sewing, I discovered my real love is sewing costumes. Which I do NOT wear frequently, but I get so much enjoyment out of the creative process while making them that it is still worth it to me.
5. There is an “order of operations” in sewing, and it’s almost as important as the one in math.
I feel like I learned this skill unknowingly just by putting garments together using patterns, but then I really had to apply it when I began drafting my own patterns. Suddenly, I had to think about what a garment was going to look like several steps into the future, or else spend some quality time with my seam ripper. Shoulder seams? Almost always the first seam I sew for a top, or even some dresses.
6. Elastic is a glorious thing.
It is much better than zippers. And buttons. Though neither of those things are as scary as they used to be, elastic is my go to “waistband” for most things since it is just so easy.
7. There are very few things I am willing to hand stitch.
I’m much happier doing some pretty topstitching than finishing something by slip-stitch. I was willing to sew some crystals onto my Rainbow Dash corset by hand, but that was a special thing.
8. Little details matter to me.
In life, I hate ironing. In sewing? Not so much. Kind of love it actually. And overcasting the edges of seams? Very satisfying. Garments are much more finished looking this way. Narrow hemming? Looks so nice!
I think that’s it for my list today. It was pleasant to reflect a bit on how far I have come. It also makes me realize how far I have to go :/ I don’t have a serger yet, and I feel like this is a next logical step for me. What are some of the things you have learned during your sewing career? Any tips you would share with newcomers?