Hi. This is me. There are probably about fourteen million other things I should be doing right now, but I feel like sewing and I can’t, so I figure I’ll write about it for a bit.
I guess I’ll start with how I got started.
My mother sewed, not huge amounts, but I usually had a few home-made dresses around when I was little. When I was about nine I started getting into her scrap box and making clothes for my barbies. Aside from basic instruction on how to thread the machine (a glorious old Pfaff from the 60s), I taught myself. Patterns were foreign to me, as were concepts like “fitting” and “seam allowances.” Nevertheless, I developed a fair range of “fashions,” mostly using basic rectangle construction, with belts and ties for fit. Fortunately for me, Barbie doesn’t require movement ease. What I did develop (rightly or not) was the idea that I could sew.
After I outgrew the barbies, I didn’t sew much for quite a while. I did doodle a lot of costumes and exotic outfits, but nothing I thought I could ever practically make (or that anyone, including me, would wear if I did). But then, towards the end of high school, I took up bellydancing. All of a sudden there were PLENTY of ideas I wanted to sew: harem pants, circle skirts, hip-belts, covered bras, cholis.
And that was most of my sewing for the last 10 years… lots of project photos up on my dance profile at http://people.tribe.net/taran. I learned a lot—especially about seam allowances (1/4 inch may be fine for Barbie, but it doesn’t work so well for me), but it was still at a costume level. Zippers, buttonholes, seam finishing, even most patterns… all remained essentially foreign to me. A few more advanced projects, like making a shirt for my husband or a dress for one of my daughters, have met with patchy success. And while I adore a LOT of my costumes, they’re not exactly daily items in my wardrobe.
So lately, I’ve been trying to Improve Myself. I’ve been reading up on pattern-drafting and alterations. I found a copy of the “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” at Value Village, the first actual sewing instruction I’ve ever had (This is a lie, I learnt most of the basics from my mom… just never in a formal “this is how you do this…” kind of way). I found an awesome (if dated) text on pattern drafting online: Modern Pattern Design . Most recently, I’ve completed some cute little lined jackets for my daughters (more on that later) and I’m hoping to work up to making a gorgeous, sleek winter coat for myself. And when I do succeed in making stuff… well, I want to show it off (or cry about it). So that’s what this blog is for. ;)
I think I’ll conclude with a brief summary of where I am as a sewist (I just found that word… it’s cute, and definitely better than “seamstress” or “tailor” since I am definitely lacking in a lot of the skills required for those labels).
My main strength: naive inclination to assume that I can do whatever sewing project comes to mind.
My main weakness: lack of actual skills and techniques, not to mention the resources to do it properly.
Where I am, skill-wise?
Well, I can read a pattern. Usually I don’t have too much trouble with construction, although there’s been a few things that flummox me (shirt plackets for one). I can make minor alterations to a pattern, although I’m not especially good at predicting the outcome. I have recently been expanding my repertoire to include zippers, buttonholes, and even lining, underlining, and interfacing, not to mention pockets. I think I could get to like this interfacing thing…
My big hangups when it comes to sewing tend to stem from lack of money. I don’t have money for fabric. I don’t have money for notions. I especially don’t have money for patterns, which is why I tend to try to draft my own (emphasis on try). I also tend to take shortcuts, forget to transfer pattern markings to my fabric, and get too impatient to pin stuff. I am slowly getting better at most of these… a few months ago I actually BOUGHT some patterns and have now used them. Mostly I try to scavenge—recycling curtains or old bed-linens or the odd length of fabric found at Value Village; altering patterns my mother or mother-in-law have had lying around for ages. This is all well and good, but it only gets you so far, especially since I can’t afford (in terms of money or space) a huge stash from which I can mix ‘n match stuff.
I think my first few posts will be a mish-mash of recent projects and some older ones I’m still proud of, plus some goals. Yup, sounds good. Ok, here I go…