I’m very new to the sewing community and to say that I’m a very keen sewist is an understatement. The most frustrating thing for me at present is this: my skills do not match my creativity. Sound familiar? This can make me feel downhearted, particularly as there are so many wonderful projects I would love to attempt. Even the simplest projects get me flustered and take much longer than I anticipate. I am happy to report that I am making progress and in each project I am challenging myself in a variety of ways, whether it’s learning a new skill, or using a more challenging type of fabric. As I come to the end of my third week of sewing, I want to share some of the most significant things that I have learnt on my sewing journey thus far.
1) There’s a lot of getting it wrong before you get it right:
Make friends with your seam ripper. Seriously!! Be prepared to feel frustrated, mildly annoyed, and even to shed tears and want to give up. Not wanting to finish a project for a few days (or even longer) because you’re struggling with hemming/interfacing and you can’t face unpicking ANOTHER seam is completely normal. Having lots of these moments when you first start out is a given. The quicker that you embrace the fact that making mistakes are inevitable, the better that you will get at rectifying them and independently finding solutions to your problems. This helps to improve your sewing skills.
2) A sewing room is the dream. The dining room table is the reality:
My fiance and I live in a 2 bedroom, mezzanine flat. The small living room where our dining table lives is now bursting at the seams with sewing-related items, as well as everything else we’ve managed to fit into it (musical instruments, coffee table, bookcases, sofas etc). The dining table, which often turns into an office desk, or a place to collect regularly used items that never get put away, has most recently turned into a sewing table. It’s where my sewing machine, overlocker, material and various sewing tools live. Navigating the living room is a challenge at the best of times, but its a space that helps with my creativity. When you first start out sewing there’s not always an ideal space. What matters is that you find any space you can in order to get going with your sewing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to work for you.
NB: Try to keep your sewing space as tidy as possible, especially if it’s not very spacious. After every sewing session, I tidy up all of my off-cuttings, scraps, etc and leave the space presentable for the next time. There’s nothing more depressing/off-putting than returning to a project and there’s mess everywhere.
3) You are NOT alone:
It seems as though everyone else in the sewing community is an experienced dressmaker/sewist and you are the only one struggling to improve. This just isn’t true and even the most experienced dressmaker/sewist will have times when they feel as though they just can’t seem to get it right. There is no project that is perfect the first time around – there are always things that you wish you could have executed much better, additions/alterations you want to make in the future, lessons to be learned, unpicking to be done!
I must admit that I have struggled to find established blogs of sewists that have just started out, but there are a few out there and when I read about their experiences I immediately feel a sense of relief and camaraderie. I then start to have much more positive thoughts about my sewing journey, such as: “That happens to them too!” “So it’s normal to feel this way.” “I’m not the only one who thinks a project will take 2 days and it lasts 2 weeks.”
Starting from scratch is never easy, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone with those feelings. That’s exactly why I started blogging. If one person in a similar position reads just one of my posts and feels encouraged to continue their own sewing journey, despite the trials and pitfalls encountered at first, then all of my efforts have been worth it.
4) Things do get better:
After 3 weeks of sewing I am amazed at how much of the terminology I now understand. I know the basics of a sewing machine, having never owned or used a sewing machine previously. I can make 5 different items reasonably well. I know the basics of using an overlocker. I even created a pattern for a tie because I wanted to make one but did not have a pattern to use. Most importantly, I have the desire to continue pushing myself and improving my skills – next up, making garments. Definitely not what I expected myself to be thinking of sewing after only 3 weeks. All of these mini victories are proof that things do get better and much easier with time. Just keep at it.
5) There’s an entire community out there:
There is an established sewing community that is welcoming, supportive and extremely helpful. Find ‘sewcial’ events that you can get involved in, or join the online community. There is help and advice available from a variety of sources. Make sure that you use them. I am just starting to get more involved in the sewing community. It’s a bit daunting and I really need to give myself a push but I’m willing to step outside of my comfort zone, in order to improve my skills and make some new friends along the way.
I really hope that this post gives encouragement to another newbie. I intend to read it back to myself whenever I feel discouraged or disheartened by my sewing abilities. I hope that one day I can look back at this post and appreciate how far I have progressed. For now, it’s back to re-starting my latest project – zipper pouches. Now THAT experience is a story and a half. I’ll save that for my next post. Until then, happy sewing!