Hot! 10 Things I’ve Learned: Cheryl

Tempest over at Fanbloomingtastic wrote a neat little piece on the ’10 Things Learned’ whilst participating in the Sew Weekly Challenges.  Seeing as that reflection is key to learning and growing, I thought I would do the same!  So here’s my ’10 Things Learned’ through participation on the Sew Weekly.

  1. Planning–It is such a necessity. Each time that I’ve felt really good about a garment and each time I’ve been featured it’s been with a garment that I carefully planned from start to finish. At the same time, not every one of those feature garments were something that I was ‘proud’ of.  Still, the fact that I had planned them out, made the outcome satisfying rather than frustrating.
  2. Patience–I usually sew my challenge garments in a day or two.  The best ones, though, came out just right when I took my sweet ass time.  Even if there were flaws, they were there because of my lack of skills not because of a rushed job.  I am a big believer that if you are going to get better and grow in any field you must make mistakes.  Often I’ll fight through a tough technique and if I get it great, but if I don’t then I attempt it a few more times or stop when I realize where my mistake is originating.
  3. Take copious notes–I used to laugh at this, but it has been so helpful.  I write on the pattern. I write in the ‘notes’ section of the instruction booklet.  When I fight through those techniques, I am often too tired or the fabric is in such a bad sort that I cannot necessarily get the fix without destroying the garment altogether.  Before I took notes, I would make those same stupid mistakes, and curse when I realized it.  Considering the amount of time I spend nagging my students about taking notes, you’d think I’d take my own advice.
  4. Practice–Sewing is a skill, and to maintain it, you must practice.  It is so nice now that I’ve sewn once a week for the last six months to look at the pattern pieces and just ‘know’ where they belong and when they belong together. I still follow the instructions, but it’s still nice to have that confidence.
  5. Realistic Goal Setting–I’m the kind of person that shoots for the moon on each project. The more I sew for Sew Weekly the more I realize that realistic goals are so very important.  When I’m sewing a garment in a day or two, it can’t be something too crazy…there’s too much of a chance that I’ll mess a small part up and then that small mistake will cause me to miss a deadline.  With summer break coming, I’m not too worried, but summer won’t last forever so I need to practice this one more.
  6. The Importance of Touch–I didn’t want to listen to people about this…I’m kind of stubborn if you haven’t noticed ;)  It is so so so so important to actually touch the fabric that you’re planning to sew with.  Now I know that it’s not always possible, but at least get to a fabric store to touch a chenille fabric so that when ordering online you know exactly what you’re getting.
  7. Trust your gut–When I’m doing something right I need to trust that I’m doing something right. When I’m doing something wrong, I need to recognize it and do a double check of the instructions.  So often, I make a mistake because I’m looking to power through a project.  Deep down, I know that I should just put the damn project to the side and think, but I don’t.  My gut is right and I have lost many a battles to it.
  8. Sewing for Me–I love to do things for other people, it’s in my nature.  Often, though, I’m such the perfectionist that a project will take forever for someone that, in the end, I feel very little satisfaction.  More than anything, I am relieved that it is over.  When I sew for myself, though, I feel that satisfaction from wearing a garment.
  9. Styling Matters–If I’m not feeling so great about a garment, it becomes hard to wear it, and that is when accessories are so wonderful! My shorts were a project I completed, but didn’t necessarily love. They just weren’t my style…However, with the tights and my hat, I felt a lot more comfortable than without.  The other project I realized the importance of styling was with the ‘Green’ challenge…There I wasn’t sure to go with the blue shirted or black shirted look …I took pictures of both and realized that I felt more comfortable with the black top and combat boots.
  10. Finding a Sewing Home— No matter who you are or where you are, having a sewing home is so important. I never finished projects before I had a dedicated space for all my stuff. It was like my creative juices were bottled up in the closet.  Once they were set loose upon the spare room, I turned up the music and those projects just flew out the door!
Sorry for being a bit long-winded…Although, if you follow my posts each week, you’re probably used to it by now ;)



Cheryl is a teacher, martial artist, crafter and sewer just trying to find balance in a busy world. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin she's now trying to fit into and explore the vast expanse that is Chicago, Illinois.


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  1. Totally agree with the last point; a “Sewing Home”. I’ve only just recently found a better setup and it’s made a big difference in the process. Thanks for sharing your list!

    • That is so good to hear, we should all share pictures of our spaces some time! I’m always interested in how others organize and create a comfortable space :)

  2. Wise words! I’m glad I stopped to take a listen. The next time I make something from a pattern, I’m going to take “copious notes”.

  3. Hey Cheryl, I’m working on 5 and 10 myself, great list.

  4. Oh wow Cheryl this list is perfect….I agree with every point so much and the thing I love about this 10 Things I’ve Learned series is that though there are some similarities, there are also things I hadn’t thought about that are oh so true. I couldn’t agree more about the styling bit….often the stress of getting something done deadens the enjoyment or beauty of the thing you’ve created, and glamming it up and having fun taking photos of it can restore your joy.

    ALSO (and you thought you were long-winded) I REALLY couldn’t agree more on making notes. I have a weird figure that bears no resemblance to pattern sizes….the number of times in a rush I haven’t noted down the alterations I’ve made (and which worked opposed to the fails) and then regretted this haste when returning to a pattern or even another pattern by the same maker. Now I take photos of my alterations and make notes on the pattern instructions.