10 Things I’ve Learned
I started writing in second person narrative because it felt most comfortable to me. I hope it doesn’t come across as domineering, but rather as if I were speaking to a younger version of myself.
- You can do it, whatever “it” is. You would not believe the number of people with whom I have casual conversations about sewing, who say to me, “Oh, I’d love to be able to do that too, but I can’t.” Full stop. Not “I’d love to be able to do that too, and I think I’d like to try someday”. I hate hearing people limit themselves, even in this small way. If age has finally taught me anything, it’s that limitations more often come from within than without. Which I think springs from #2:
- When you start, it will look like crap. Perhaps we tend not to try new things because we expect perfection right out of the gate, but you should know that nothing is perfect on the first try. I was once at a museum in the Netherlands and saw some early sketches by Vincent Van Gogh, which were shockingly amateur. It graphically illustrated (literally!) to me that we all have to start somewhere. Which leads to #3:
- It will get better pretty quickly. As hard as it is to hear, “Did you make that? Yeah, I thought so.”, it’s so great when you hear “Did you make that? OMG, that’s amazing!” Unfortunately, it’s usually followed by, “Can you make me one too?” Which leads to #4:
- Don’t sew for other people unless you really, really love them and/or they will appreciate the time and effort it takes. Offer to teach them the basics and then see what they say.
- Use the recommended fabric for the project. Don’t use chiffon for something that requires body or you’ll struggle and end up tossing it out. Don’t use denim for a blouse unless you want to look like a stiff-armed robot. On the other hand…..
- Don’t always use the recommended fabric for the project. Play around. Sometimes you’ll get some interesting results that far exceeded your expectation. One of the first things I made for my daughter was a dress that called for lightweight cotton. I used a fairly heavy thrifted twill tablecloth because she liked the bugs printed on it. And you know what? It was stiff, but she wore it to death and still tries to squeeze into it, even though she has grown about 5kg since I made it.
- I agree with Cheryl’s previous post: get a room of your own. Or at least a corner of one like I have. I used to sew on the dining table, which meant that every time I thought about making something, I first thought about clearing the table, unpacking the machine, finding the boxes of notions, retrieving the fabric from the basement….and didn’t start. Now I have my territory staked out and no one dares mess with my setup, upon pain of death. Well, upon pain of having a bedtime story taken away.
- Give your creations a second chance. It’s sometimes easy to become frustrated with the fit, or to be overly critical of the construction and toss something. Let it incubate. Some of my favourite things never get noticed, but some of my “meh” creations constantly garner compliments. Our perception of ourselves and our creations is not always accurate.
- But know when enough is enough. That UFO ain’t gonna fly back to Jupiter on its own. Make room in your closet for things you’ll really wear and let the charity shop decide if it should be cut up for dusting rags.
- Have fun! Don’t fret if you can’t complete a challenge by the deadline, either Sew Weekly or self-imposed. We’re not getting paid for this; we do it for the fun, the challenge, the community, and the experience of teaching and learning from each other. Don’t we as women put enough unreasonable expectations upon ourselves without turning this into a chore as well? Relax and enjoy it!