Do you ever get stuck with your sewing?
Just get to a place where you can’t figure out how to set in those sleeves, or why the waist just won’t sit right, or how to do bound buttonholes or a side zip?
Or you’re trying to turn a design into a reality, and can’t figure out how many gores the skirt should have (or should you cut it as a circle?), or if the jacket needs flat lining or not, or if it will work in a tissue, or if you really should buy a crepe chiffon after all?
I do this all the time. It used to be about not knowing the techniques, but now it’s about knowing too much – getting stuck in my head because there are so many options.
The solution to this is a sewing community. These days I am indebted to you, dear readers, to local sewing friends like Mrs C and the Baha’i seamstresses, to the fashion experts at Massey university, and to wider sewing-blogging friends like Steph. They let me bounce ideas off them, and bounce ideas in return, and we share tips and tricks and all learn from each other. And that’s fabulous.
Most often though, I still go back to my original sewing resources – to the amazing drapers and tailors and seamstresses that all worked, at one time or another, in a little costume shop in Oakland California, and to the wonderful sewers and textile lovers I grew up with in Hawaii.
I was so privileged with my early sewing, and my ‘real’ in-depth training during university, to have such a great group of people to draw on, and to teach me. I think the most important thing that shaped my sewing, and my ability to create, is that I quickly got to move beyond basic classes to doing my own thing. I got to work on whatever I was interested in, but every time I got stuck, there was someone there to look at it, to make suggestions, to provide resources and inspiration.
That, really, is what has made me as a seamstress, and has given me the confidence to try things, to go way beyond basic patterns and sewing standards. And that’s fabulous.
I think this sort of training and support is so important. It doesn’t matter what level your sewing is – having someone to help and teach you outside of a really formal sewing class is invaluable.
It’s a time for any sewer, of any level, to have me at their disposal for whatever project they are working on.
I’m hoping for absolute beginners who just want to learn at their own pace, and with the patterns and ideas that interest them most, for very advanced sewers working on elaborate tailored jackets, for crazy costumers doing historical garments and fantastical engineered things. It gives me a space to teach things that there isn’t enough demand for to do an entire class on, but which someone wants to learn.
What do you think? How did you learn to sew? Formal classes? A family member? Self taught from books and the internet? How did you make the jump from set patterns and simply following instructions to making whatever you could imagine? Are you still waiting to take that jump?
And (most exciting of all!), have some of you already lined up the projects you are bringing to get me to help with?
*this post is illustrated with photos of my early-ish sewing that are only tangentially related to the post, but which I thought you might find fun.