Mom looked at what I’d stitched and remarked, “it’s not right, tear it out and do it over.” I wadded up the garment, threw it in the corner and announced, “I’m never sewing again!!” I recall that moment more than 50 years ago, but not the garment or its issues.
My Mom was a gifted sewist herself and she was patient with teaching me the craft at such a young age. Sewing had always been a part of her life and I think it gave her joy when I expressed an interest as well, I announced at age seven that I wanted to be a fashion designer and started with paper doll clothes made out of fabric. I was always eager to learn and proud of my makes and to this day, at 89, Mom beams when I thank her for sharing her knowledge with me. That day long ago, she didn’t try to convenience me how much I loved sewing and to not be frustrated, she just let me stew. It was probably one of the best lessons she ever taught me.
Obviously, I didn’t stay away from sewing for very long. By the time I was in junior high school, 7th and 8th grade and what is now referred to as middle school, I took home economics. Yes, I am that old! Suffice to say, I was more advanced and knew more than the teacher. I made a navy and school bus yellow plaid culottes (split skirt) in wool with a bib and suspenders! Rather advanced for such a young age, but by golly every single plaid matched!! Oh, those were the days . . . Mom and I fought over who would use the sewing machine in my teen years and every penny I earned babysitting went towards fabric. I have such fond memories.
Since I have been sewing for others since the early 80s, I’ve had little time to sew for myself, but after sewing my wedding gown last year, I wanted to change that. I kicked off the year by entering the Pattern Review Sewing Bee and made it all the way to the third round (out of four)!! I am so proud of myself for tackling this challenge. Check out my posts and reviews here. Round 1; Round 2; and Round 3.
Round #3 – The Challenge was to use the Lillian Pattern provided to us and make it our own – I didn’t make the cut after this one.
The Sewing Bee Challenge gave me the fire I needed this year and I have continued to work on me-mades and the challenges that go with fitting oneself. I excel at fitting my customers and consider it one of my best qualities. However, our bodies change over time, and with menopause, mine is no exception. Add a new weight loss plan, and I’ve noticed even more changes in the past few months – four to five inches on each main measurement (bust, waist, and hip) just since the beginning of the year. Which I’m tickled over, don’t get me wrong, but just when I think I have something down and the fit is good, it needs taken in and adjusted some more!
I started a cute little 60s inspired cotton dress last year as my wearable muslin for the bodice of my wedding gown, Butterick #6186. I got it to the point I needed to know my gown would be perfect and put it aside. A few weeks ago, I pulled it out . . . it was one of my many UFOs (unfinished objects for those of you unfamiliar with this sewing terminology). All it needed was the zipper and the hems, or so I thought. I decided the sleeves were too long and it needed taken in at the bust and waist and made shorter. I made those minor adjustments, super stoked to have a fun summer dress and wore it to work a few days later. I was sitting on the train, looked down and realized how much extra fabric was pooled above my bust, it was just too big and I felt frumpy all day, although I did receive numerous compliments. My good friend told me it was too big all over, and I needed to grasp how many inches smaller I actually am. I appreciated her brutal honesty! It’s now back in my UFO pile to be torn apart, once again, for some modifications.
I had also started a cute little red dress a couple of years ago for Pentecost Sunday, which is fifty days after Easter. It was another of those projects that I started the day before I wanted to wear it, but then threw in the corner because I was having fit issues. Of course no pressure trying to make an entire woven dress in a few short hours! Pentecost Sunday was upon us again this year, so on June 9th I pulled it from my heap to see if I could rectify it. At least I was sewing on red, does that count for wearing red? It has a cute banded neckline, princess seams, and an a-line pleated skirt.
The bright red fabric is a cotton poly blend with a waffle texture that I picked up ages ago. I had already removed all the hand stitching, torn off the skirt and part of the neckband. It is a Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern #1914. I’d like to say amazing fit my ass, but I think the issue was more the sewist’s fault along with the body changing the past couple of years rather than the pattern itself. I had to stitch and take apart several times to get the neck and bust to fit even close to the way it should. I also raised the waist to the area on my body that was the most flattering. In the end, I am super happy with the outcome and the day I wore to work before the 4th of July, I got numerous compliments. I like it enough, I might try and make a go of it again, cutting a different cup size as well as smaller overall.
The same week I finished my 60s inspired look and my little red dress, I pulled out a dark purple linen dress that I started last summer – Simplicity #8640. I was on a roll and full of euphoria. All it needed were the armhole facings and hem . . . who knows why I got side tracked and never finished it last year. I mean it is purple after all!! It’s a fun, comfy dress that I can dress up with a cardi or just wear casually, as is, during the steamy hot, summer days we get here in southern North Carolina. This too needed taken in at the side seams, twice, but that was a simple fix compared to my red dress! I also made the shoulder narrower, but making sure I didn’t take too much off as I came to the arm pit as I didn’t want my bra to show. In no time at all, I had my third completed garment in just a few short days.
I also picked up this super fun necklace to go with it!
As you can see, I’m on a roll with my UFOs! Staying true to my vow to continue to be productive and to work on me-mades. I love when I can say, “Thanks, I made it!” I especially like the astonished look on their face with that response. I’m sharing all this because I want to encourage everyone. We all make mistakes and have body fit issues. We all have those moments of, “I’m never sewing again,” but because we get something out of sewing, we go back. We conquer our fears and turn them into successes. And I think we all probably have unfinished objects in a pile somewhere, please tell me I’m not alone!
Sewing takes practice and patience, your skills don’t develop overnight. I’ve been at this a long, long time and although I am very skilled, things still happen! I have recently become acquainted with a fellow sew sister, the brutally honest one mentioned above, and I love sharing, guiding, and encouraging her to hone her skills. The other day, I was working on a wearable muslin of a knit dress and as I was trimming the neckline I noticed I’d stitched a tiny fold on the underside. Cursing for not noticing when it was under the needle, I snapped a photo and sent it to her, “See, even I make mistakes!” She said it made her feel so much better, so I’m sharing it here for the world see. Gasp! I’ve always said my seam ripper is my best friend!
For those of you who are new to this endeavor, never, ever give up! Have your hissy fit moments, throw things in the corner, and reach out to friends or social networks who understand the trials and tribulations. Take a deep breath and tell yourself, “Yes, you can do this!”
I’m off to work on that muslin for the teal and navy knit dress I boo boo’d on a couple of weeks ago . . . I’m going to do better about my posting my sewing forrays! I promise!