I first began sewing about eighteen or nineteen years ago. As I remember it, I was probably around twenty when I took it up as a real interest and started developing my skills. It started with simply wanting to make Jane Austen Regency-style gowns (a la the costume designs of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility). I used old sheets when I started, and just jumped in, knowing next to nothing. My first couple of projects were riddled with mistakes, and nothing was really all that wearable (as it turns out the empire waist Regency style looks god-awful on me).
I learned as I went along, and today I can whip up a wearable dress in a matter of hours. However, it is only in this past year or so that I have discovered some really important things about sewing.
Size really, really doesn’t matter.
Pattern sizes don’t match ready-to-wear sizes. My average pattern size is actually two sizes above my store bought size. However, this also varies with pattern company. For some, I’m a fourteen, whereas others my measurements match the ten. When your clothes don’t really have a size, you rely more on how they fit and how you feel in them, and that’s a very powerful thing. Who cares if the dress is a sixteen when it looks fantastic?
I take WAY better care of my clothes.
I suppose this one is more of habit than a lesson, but it’s true either way. Because I spend so much time and take the care to construct my garments, I want them to stand the test of time. I check the best practices for washing fabrics, I hand wash or do things on the delicate cycle in the machine. I even hang dry, despite this meaning having clothes hanging around my apartment all the time! My clothes are thanking me for it, and everything seems to be holding up well, and I actually take pride in something that normally just feels like a chore.
Sewing is therapy.
I already knew this one, but it’s so very true it’s worth repeating. Sewing relaxes me. At the end of the day, it doesn’t feel like work and I love sitting down in front of that machine and creating something for myself. Even when something doesn’t go exactly the way I want it to, I rarely ever stress out about it. In the words of Tim Gunn, I “make it work.”
Not only that, but I look forward to my sewing time; I crave it throughout the day. Even now that my main job is sewing all the time, there’s still nothing more soothing that just getting to make something for myself, whether it’s choosing a fabric/pattern combo, cutting the fabric out or constructing the garment itself.
The social media sewing community is amazing.
I have discovered so many great seamstresses and sewists on social media, and though I don’t know them in person, they all seem like great people. The sewing community on Instagram, in particular, is fabulous. Everyone is so supportive of other’s talents, and so encouraging when you feel like something is not your best. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these new people through their lovely feeds, and seeing everything they make. I’ve started listening to podcasts and trying to get a little more involved in the instagram sewing community myself.
In this coming year, one of my goals is to meet more people who sew. I missed out on a “Frocktails” event in January, but I hope to go to one sometime soon!
Fabric choice is everything.
I’ve come a long way from my days of sewing with sheets. I’ve actually learned about textiles and fabric weight, and what will create the exact look that I’m going for! I’ve learned that a pattern can look completely different, simply because I used a different kind of fabric. I’ve learned which types of fabrics work the best with my body type Additionally, and perhaps the most important, I’ve learned how to work with many different types of fabrics.
Sewing truly has become a life calling for me, and I’m so glad that it did!