It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Sew Fearless’ very first guest-poster, Kristina from The Nerdy Sewist.
Kristina is twitter sewing buddy of mine and an enthusiastic seamstress with penchant for all things Dr. Who. I was delighted to hear that, despite initial frustrations and set backs, she is tackling sewing clothes again. So, I asked her if she would share how she overcame her fears of garment sewing here on Sew Fearless. Take it away, Kristina!
Anyone will tell you that there is a difference between a hobby sewer and a serious one, though honestly the difference has never mattered much to me. But I do remember the turning point that pushed me from being in just that “hobby” category to “serious.” I’d been sewing for years, and then just more than a year ago, I decided to get serious. First I learned how to sew bags and other fun little accessories. Then I thought, why not garments? I think every sewist has the idea that she can sew her own clothes — and the initial thought is it will save money, be so personal and gratifying. I jumped into skirt sewing headfirst, by using a pattern in a book to make a circle skirt. It was simple, functional, and empowering to sew something so useful. So then I jumped directly to A-line skirt sewing. That turned out to be a nightmare. I worked so hard and ended up with a boxy skirt that didn’t fit. I struggled to sew the zipper in. After all the time and headache, I swore I would never sew garments again (which is when I turned to quilting! and I’m glad I did!).
All that changed in the last month. After watching my circle of sewing friends make gorgeous garments, I thought, I need to get over this fear of sewing skirts, shirts, dresses, anything to wear. So, I picked up that book again — the one that was so helpful in the first place (Chic & Simple Sewing by Christine Haynes), and I dove right in. I took some fabric from my stash — some I knew I wouldn’t miss in case this experiment went awry — and sewed up my very first dress. It isn’t perfect, but it fits, it’s cute, and the experiment worked!
So here’s how I got over the fear of sewing garments, and you can too:
1) Find a good book or a good instructor who actually uses beginner techniques for garment sewing. The wrong book will result in discouraging outcomes. Chic & Simple Sewing is just one example that I’d highly recommend, but here are a couple of general techniques to look for in a beginner book. A) No zippers. This book focuses on elastic waists, and elastic is an easy win — zippers are difficult for the beginner. B) Simple shapes. I know you want to have an a-line, skinny cut, 50’s inspired skirt, but that can wait. Look for circle skirts and other easy-to-fit shapes.
2) Find a community of sewers for support and inspiration. Yes, I realize this is a very simple piece of advice, but I feel it’s so essential to getting over any fear in crafting. A lot of people feel isolated and don’t have friends who sew in their community — but that’s okay! Twitter and the blogosphere is an incredible resource for all kinds of people who want to talk about sewing and share their expertise. I’ve made some true friends online in the last year — most are women around the country who’ve I’ve never met. An easy place to start is to join in the Tuesday Twitter chat #talknt. It lasts for 2 hours from 7 – 9pm MT, and it’s easy to make friends by talking about something you all love…. sewing!
3) Take your time. Don’t rush your sewing journey. I nearly abandoned it entirely because I got frustrated with my results; but there are a lot of different projects available to try in sewing. Do garments one week, bags the next. Or try a new quilt block. Sew something small and simple — but pretty! That will boost your confidence. A few easy projects that are also good diversions include — mug rugs, tote bags, pin cushions, napkins with mitered corners. Keep at it, and don’t feel pressure to try anything too hard until you’re ready!
Moving from a hobby sewist to a serious one has completely changed my life. I have new friends and a complete, utter passion for making something with my hands. Is there anything better? So get over your fears. Just sew!
Thank you for these words of encouragement, Kristina! Your tenacity is inspiring.