never stop learning.

I’ve always been a project-girl. I start something and am REALLY gung-ho about it for a minute and then I’m on to something else. Sometimes I quit because I’m frustrated. Sometimes I quit because I’m not good at it. Sometimes I quit because I just get tired of it and am ready to move on to something else. I’m pretty sure that’s what people thought when I got a sewing machine for Christmas a few years ago. It was my new project. How long would it last?
When I received my sewing machine a few years ago I knew little to nothing about it. My mom helped me thread it and I went and bought some cheap fabric to make something. What? I didn’t know, but I was going to sew something. I had no direction and absolutely zero skill. So, it was a project that lasted about as long as Christmas break.
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Once I finally graduated from college I decided I needed something to do, so again, I picked up  my sewing machine. This time, though, I had discovered the world of blogging and DIYing. I wanted to sew everything I saw on the Internet. So I attempted. Some were pretty bad attempts, but they all get me to where I am today.
I am by NO MEANS an expert seamstress. In fact, I continue to learn every day. I read books on sewing, blogs on sewing, and patterns.. a lot.
If there is one piece of advice I would give to you (you, being someone who is learning or wants to learn how to sew) is that DIY/Tutorials are GREAT.. but sewing books + patterns are better. Kind of weird for me to say seeing that this is sometimes a DIY/Tutorial blog, huh? Let me explain…
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Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified

 You see, we (as in you + me + the Internet) love to get things done quickly. I don’t want to know HOW to draft a pattern.. I just want to have a couture-fitting piece of clothing that I made yesterday afternoon. Do you see where I’m going? I learned that in order for me to be as experienced and as good as I want to be at sewing I needed to start from the ground up. So I steered away from self-drafting (because what do I really know?) for a while and started strictly sewing patterns. And let me tell you, my sewing skills have increased tremendously. Seriously.

Through reading/sewing patterns, studying books on self-drafting, diving into blogs on how to write patterns, etc. I’ve learned a basic set of skills that can be applied to sewing all kinds of things.
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Take the semi-circle skirt I sewed the other day, for example. I’ve read about circles skirts on blogs before, obviously, but had never attempted. I started reading in The Vintage Pattern Selector on how they were a trend in the 50’s.. cinched waist with a full skirt: very feminine. There were sort of instructions on how to make your own. I followed them and then used the skills I learned from the Estelle Skirt + the Colette Iris shorts on drafting a waistband + inserting a zipper into said waistband. See what I did there? I am using skills I’ve learned from well-written patterns, combining them to make my own. You can’t learn ALL of that from tutorials. Experts are experts for a reason.
Getting off my soap box now..
I am writing this, really, just to encourage you to step out of blog-land every once in a while and seek out well-written patterns and books that will expand your ability to sew. Reading and learning and doing. Let’s never stop.

14 thoughts on “never stop learning.

  1. I had just felt like I was starting to learn new techniques that I could eventually combine together to make my own stuff when we left. It’s going to be like starting back at square one when we get home but I definitely agree with sometimes using a pattern and a book to learn from instead of the internet. You definitely inspire me that it takes time, lots of practice, and even mess ups to learn and get better. Happy sewing!

  2. Totally agree. There is only so much you can learn from tutorials and once you’ve done something from scratch and you know the why and the how of each element – everything just makes so much more sense!

  3. I absolutely agree, blog land is great for inspiration, but it is in books and patterns that have been repeatedly pattern tested and proofread that you truly learn good skills.

    1. I have been away from sewing for awhile and i am just trying to figure out how to get back into it. Your article has just reminded me that i must choose my next project wisley.

  4. this post is spot on! there’s nothing better than taking the time and skill to figure something out well that results in a well fitted and crafted sewn item – or anything for that matter. the energy, sweat and tears will be well loved and cherished, and help in the next project! Love that you are exploring pattern making – it’s exciting and i find it’s super useful for getting an even better fit from a existing pattern. keep it up!

  5. This post reflects my attitude on this stuff, spot on! While I just started sewing about 6 months ago, I’m getting tired of bags and pincushions and am ready to take the plunge into cute couture clothing and expect it to be right and ADORABLE the first time… which is why I’m terrified to start.

    Your advice on these books is great, and your post is very encouraging to a fledgling seamstress. Thanks for the tips, and keep up the great work!

  6. i am starting to sew clothes for myself and i’m learning so much and it’s so scary but it’s fun to get out of my comfort zone. 🙂

    you inspire me lady, with your clothing sewing. honestly.

    p.s. when are you coming back to seattle? and are you going to the influence conference?

  7. So I never made a dress before (or really any garments) and I WANT to wear dresses/skirts all the time. Where do you suggest I start? I know how to use a sewing machine. I’m pretty sure I can still remember how to use a pattern (cut the paper out then the fabric). I want to order this book: WHICH IS the first book in the Stylish Dress Book. I have a lot of Amazon GC money, so do you suggest something else? Or something in addition to? or to stay away from it? Thanks so much!

  8. As a professional sewing teacher I would really encourage your readers to explore classes at their local adult school, community college, sewing machine store and independant fabric store. The guidance of a good teacher, plus the cameraderie of other sewists is a winning combination. You will learn new skills and stay motivated. I still love taking classes.

  9. I absolutely agree. There will be times when I would toss aside my sewing books (along with the $90k I spent learning how to properly draft patterns) and just do things on a whim. All it does in the end is make me frustrated and eventually I waste fabric.

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