A few months ago, I watched a documentary about the “fast fashion” industry called “The True Cost” and also read a book on the same subject called “Cheaply Overdressed”. What I learned quickly became a “light bulb” moment in my life. I’ve worked retail for many years, and you know…ignorance is bliss. Until it isn’t. In March of this year with the help of a friend, Hilde Westenhaver (domestic goddess), I started my first tentative steps in learning how to sew. Jim got me a sewing machine for my birthday and I sold a bunch of clothing I wasn’t wearing to use the money to buy supplies for my new endeavor. Hilde got me started with the making of a pair of shorts (a la Madewell style!) and I have been taking classes at “The Stitch Lab” in downtown Austin.
So far, I have taken a Beginner’s Crash Course and made a tote bag (successful), a “Know Your Knits Class and made a skirt (unsuccessful…I’ve since learned that knits need a serger. I purchased one.), a “Zipper Class” (semi-successful), a “Garment Series” (semi-successful…I chose a dress pattern and learned that sleeves are hard), and a “Pattern Picks” series where you pick a pattern from about 10 choices. Here was mine:
This is the “Washi Dress”, made by Rae sewing pattern. The fabric is a linen-cotton blend (my favorite in the Texas summers!). I also used a cotton batiste to line the bodice with.
Finished product. Success!!
I learned a new technique called “shirring”. It’s funny…I had no idea how this was done. It just so happens that this is achieved by the use of elastic thread. Who knew there was such a thing! Not I! But here you go…Magic!
I loved how this dress turned out, so I quickly set out to make another while the techniques were still fresh in my mind.
The second dress has a different neckline and is sleeveless because I hate doing sleeves right now and because sleeveless clothing shows off my favorite fashion accessory right now…my new tattoo (more on that in another post)!
Now, neither dress is perfect. I have yet to complete a “perfect” project. This is sometimes a hard pill for me to swallow because I’m a perfectionist in many ways. I’m not naturally a patient person. I want what I want yesterday. Becoming a parent helped me learn to be more patient, and like parenthood, sewing has taught me to be more patient by humbling me. I knew when I started that learning how to sew was not going to be easy for me. I don’t possess the mechanical brain to construct or make things. I know how to style clothing. I know what to look for to spot couture clothing. But before this spring, I had no idea what went into making an item of clothing.
Throughout my life, I’ve tended to not participate or try things that I knew I wouldn’t be good at. I tend to stay in my comfort zone and do the things I know I will be successful in. I’m painfully aware of my limits and shortcomings. That is exactly why I’m determined to continue to learn how to sew. I naturally get impatient because I think my progress is too slow or I get angry when I don’t pick up a skill right away (hello zippers and sleeves! I’m talking to you!!!), but that is when I have to shut a part of my brain off and let another part take over. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I will probably not become a couture skilled sewist in my life time, but I will continue to try. I don’t have many regrets at this point in my life, but I do regret not learning to sew earlier in my life, especially when I had a grandmother and mother who did sew. When I was younger, I would watch them sew and complete projects and think there was no way I could ever learn, so I never tried. Shame on me. I’m determined to redeem myself.
So, I will remain optimistic. This is what I bought at Half Price Books today:
And I signed up for another “Garment Picks” class at “The Stitch Lab”. I’m picking a more difficult pattern this time:
The only question is which view to pick! I’m kind of leaning towards View B because it has front pockets, gathered skirt, AND buttons! I haven’t done anything with buttons, so here we go…