Sunday, July 13, 2014

Have you seen the OWOP over at Handmade Jane?

For me that's an ideal concept! One week, one pattern, many garments. Check out the post at:

Since my lifestyle is pretty much set, and I wear blouses/tees with slacks and a jacket of some sort, I already pretty much do this. But since I'm still in the process of my SWAP which may not be finished before December, I thought it would be fun to just play along with others. 

As I was thinking about this during the week, I was also working on my latest tee. Identical to the last one, only royal blue instead of dark navy. Sorry the color isn't true in the photograph. You'll have to take my word for it. It's royal blue. 

I also will be making a few others from my Pamela's Perfect Tee pattern with different necklines. But basically the same shirt. And another pair of trousers, these linen in navy. Same but different than the last. 

Since I don't work in a set environment like many of you, I rarely see someone more than once, or maybe if it's a Realtor, once every few weeks or months. They don't know what I wear, and so long as I always look nice, I'm neat and clean, and my attire fits into professional clothing for my career, it's no big deal. 

I've also begun drafting a cardigan jacket. Between my Sure Fit Designs bodice sloper and the Helen Armstrong book, with the input of my blog friends and hopefully Jo Anne, I'm hoping this will be an easier process than some of the past ones. But I am willing to put in the effort to having a pattern that fits well and will become another  TNT. 

I was greatly heartened by another blog friend. She probably doesn't know I'm her blog friend, and I'm a huge admirer! Here's her blog: What made me an admirer and made me feel better about my own sewing was this post:

The first couple of sentences got me to be a lifetime fan! "I make a lot of muslins.  A lot.  I don't want to cut into my 'good' fabric until I'm satisfied with the fit.  I once made a total of nine muslins (4 of one pattern, 5 of another) for a cocktail dress.  The ninth muslin was the one that worked and I used it to produce a lovely dress for which I still get compliments when worn.  I never blogged about it; perhaps I should."

As I've been doing this, I've been thinking a lot about BeeJay's post of last week. and the comments, and this week's follow up post. 

I think most of us take random comments personally, at least part of the time. I may be self-confident about certain things, but others, or at a specific point in time, or something else that may be influencing my mood at that specific moment will cause me to get my feelings hurt, or get angry, or whatever emotion pops to the forefront at that time. Her statement follows: "The comment that had me so riled was about the lack of effort put in to their sewing by a lot of new bloggers"

As I was working on my pattern, and starting the muslin, I got myself all "het up." How could someone so randomly put a post like that out there into the blogosphere? 

How could that person know how much effort the sewist has put into that garment. Yes, it may be a basic garment. But does she know what their fitting issues might be? Does she know how many other garments were made trying to get one that worked on her body? Does she know how many muslins the person made, does she know what it's like to have a strange body every time you make a garment? And yes, it's the same body, but has changed in indefinable ways. The shirt that fit so well last time, now has strange folds going to odd places. Why is that? How can it be fixed? What alteration do I need to do to correct it? Why isn't this covered in my pattern instructions, the multitude of fitting books I own, somewhere on the internet, or in a video or anywhere I can find?  

My oldest daughter turned 49 this month. Whew! Can't believe I'm that old. But I began sewing when I was pregnant with her. For many, many years I was a self-taught sewer. I didn't know the first thing about making a muslin, understitching, clipping curves, French seams, Hong Kong finishes, lining, or even interfacing quality and that there was more than one type. If it didn't tell me on the pattern envelope or in the instructions, it just wasn't known. I had no idea how or why patterns were drafted the way they were. Too long? Why bother cutting it on those silly lines. Just take it off the bottom! Too narrow...just add more across. Who knows or even cares what an FBA is when they are learning to sew unless someone tells them? 

And the bottom line was I made things. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't but I never had any idea why or why not. I didn't have a supportive sewing community, and the only other person I knew that sewed was a sister that lived too far away for consultations, or for help, even if she'd known how to do things. After all, she'd had one sewing class in high school that taught her everything she needed to know. And fitting wasn't on the syllabus. 

Fast forward multiple years. About the early to mid 1980s I was perusing a community college schedule that came in the mail, and I saw sewing classes. I was getting to the point where RTW was not to my liking. It still fit in those days, but the styles, fabrics and the colors in the stores were not my taste. So I decided I could make my own clothes in the colors and fabrics I wanted. Who cared if they were trendy? I just wanted to look good and feel good about my clothes. 

An obsession was born. I started gradually hearing about altering patterns to fit one's body. Still not a lot of input into how to do it, but I heard that people did figure out how to make patterns fit themselves. I learned how to use my machine and about fabrics, needles, and threads. Got my first serger and learned about knits. It was still at least ten years before I found a class that was about fitting my particular body. What an eye opener to learn I didn't actually have short arms, but that narrow shoulders were what caused all my sleeves to be too long. And the body I learned to fit then, is certainly not the body I have now. 

Never even thought about "couture details" until the last few years. I did like having the insides of my clothing look nice, but the serger generally did that. I did learn about linings and that helped too. 

Now after approximately 45-50 years of sewing, I'm finally learning Hong Kong finishes, French Seams, bagging linings, and all the rest. Is it about time. Yes... but over the last 10 to 30 years, I've made the majority of my own clothing that was worn in public, to work, to events, to live in, without knowing the fancy stuff. Did I look like I was wearing couture? No, but it was my colors, my fabrics, and in general fit my ever changing body. That to me, means I'm a winner, no matter whether someone else thinks so or not. She doesn't know how much effort I put into just getting a garment to fit, finding the right fabric, finding the right details, finding everything that makes it just mine and no one else's. 

Everyone should be encouraged to experience their creativity in their own way, make whatever they want, at the level they are, with the fabrics they can afford and be given kudos for trying. If they want to push themselves, good for them. If not, that's okay too. I'm reminded of my friend Kathleen who has been sewing for 45+ years who decided she wanted to learn proper tailoring. She's got multiple books, videos, taken Craftsy classes, and all the rest. She has practiced making hand worked buttonholes for a few weeks, only to find that they didn't look appropriate for the fabric she's using for a summer jacket. 

For all of us, failure is always an option. The only way I know of to really learn something is to fail at it so you have to work out how to succeed. So long as we are learning and growing and putting our efforts out there, we should be proud of ourselves and let the people who don't get it sit alone in their room waiting for perfect garments with lots of effort that they feel meet their high standards. I think they'll be waiting a very long time! 

Jumping down off the soapbox now. 

I hope you're having a marvelous time with your sewing. I hope all your efforts are rewarded with wonderful, wearable garments. If not, I hope you have leaned something to further your knowledge about your chosen craft! 

More later!


  1. thanks for your post. my more lengthy response got lost in blogland. but in brief, I agree with everything you said!

  2. I really think we stopped teaching the old axiom "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." With the prevalence of the internet and the ability for people to "hide behind their screens", we need to bring that one back!

  3. Great post, thank you for sharing your sewing journey.