1 Year on… my sewing journey
Today marks my 1 year sew-iversary…
I started out 2020 with a New Year’s resolution to teach myself to sew a dress. No specific dress, just a dress good enough to wear that didn’t look ‘home made’ At this point in time, Covid-19 was ‘just coronavirus’ which was in China, pretty far away. The idea of global lockdowns wasn’t in our minds and the world was generally a different place.
My goal wasn’t intended to be that big or life changing. I set out with just that one goal for the year. I had no intention to change the way I spent my free time, or the way I planned my wardrobe. I just wanted to sew a dress.
Fast forward one year today and I have made countless garments, including 22 dresses (plus one UFO), spend almost all of my free time sewing, or thinking of sewing and have really changed my relationship with my clothes, and dare I say am making peace with my body shape and even making my own jeans!
My goal came about from a bit of my family history… my Nanima (what most of you would call a great grandmother) on my maternal family line was born in 1912 and became a seamstress in London.
When I was growing up my Nanima, and my Nan (her daughter) were a pretty inspirational force in my life. They were incredible ladies. They were both tough cookies, worked hard and fought for a good life. They taught me to believe in myself and to never let anyone put me down. My Nanima led me to believe that I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be if I put my mind to it. And never let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something because I am a girl.
With this blood in me, I felt pretty ashamed of the fact that I had bought a sewing machine when I was 23 to teach myself to make some curtains. It had never been out of the box and I had never learnt to sew.
2020, a year of change
Our first lockdown in New Zealand happened towards the end of March 2020 and I saw all this extra time at home as my chance. I bought a few patterns and planned to get stuck in. The first time I opened up the pattern was quite an experience. I had got myself a Vogue pattern, flattened out the paper on my office floor and tried to make sense of it. I was confused beyond belief. I had never seen a dressmaking pattern before and looking back to think I would be able to just open it up and start sewing is a bit ridiculous…
I needed help and didn’t know where to get it so I watched a very basic course on Udemy about how to read a pattern and how to get started and then armed with a pile of practice fabrics from the charity shop and a Megan Nielsen Eucalypt pattern I got started!
I made 2 completely useless versions before my third came out ok. The first attempt was with a slinky viscose knit… what was I thinking?! I didn’t know anything about knit fabrics, stitches, or needles.. It was terrible! Wonky stitching with wavy edges and stitches that pulled out as soon as I tried it on. The second I made with an old woven tablecloth. The sewing was ok, but the finishing really not so good and the fit too snug across my bust as I assured myself I was a 14, not the 18 that the pattern sizing put me at. I surely couldn’t be an 18!
I finally discovered the MN curve patterns and tried again… went up 2 sizes and it fitted and looked ‘ok’… I didn’t start taking proper photos for a fair while into my sewing journey, not knowing about the sewing community on instagram that has spurred me on, and definitely having no intention to be blogging about it all! This snap is enough though to mark the occasion!
I was now ready to move onto the good fabric.
The Megan Nielsen Eucalypt was a great first pattern. The instructions were detailed, and her blog posts even more so. I learnt to make and sew bias tape and do all french seams…. And the rest is kind of history.
One year on and my office is now my sewing room and I haven’t bought a RTW item in about 9 months. I am completely addicted and my only regret is that I didn’t dust off the sewing machine sooner I love the learning process that goes with my sewing approach. I try to push myself to sew trickier styles and learn a lot as I go.
On the whole, this has served me well and my ‘I can make that’ approach has kept me progressing,.. Just like everyone, I’ve had fails, but see these all as learning experiences and pick up the fabric and start again without dwelling too much on it.
My words of wisdom, one year in
My biggest piece of advice to anyone thinking about starting to sew, or getting into making your own garments is just go for it. Take one step at a time and get started. You will make mistakes, but you will learn a lot… kick back and enjoy the process.
There is not much better in my mind of strutting around in something you’ve made, a one off, made just for you.
I think aside from my gutsy over confident approach, one of the other things that has served me well is that I am not afraid of mistakes. I learn from my mistakes, and I make plenty of them.
My seam ripper is my friend, I know how to use it well as I have had a lot of practise and it is one of my essential, always stuck to my machine (with a helpful magnet) so it’s there when I need it.
My Proudest Makes so far…
If you’d have told me a year ago when I turned out that ‘passable’ wearble muslin, that I would be making my own underwear, jeans and pajamas, I wouldn’t have believed it.
These are the makes that make me the most proud.. and none of them are perfect.
I am still perfecting the crotch curve on my jeans.. but I made them 🙂
The bra has a bit of a wobbly seam over the breast curve… but I made it 🙂
The pajamas are a bit messy on the inside.. but I made them, button holes and all 🙂
I hope if you are thinking about dusting off your sewing skills, are trying to acquire some new ones this goes to show that if you put your mind to something you can do anything!
Remember that sewing is a process that is broken down into steps. Each step on the pattern is just that, one step. So take each one at a time, take you time and like me, you’ll be surprised at the things you can make!
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