I learned to sew in middle school. Once a week, a few of my friends and I would go to the fabric store (I think it was House of Fabrics, then became Fabric Land, and ended up as Jo-Ann’s) where we were taught in a backroom how to sew. Looking back, signing me up for those classes were one of the most valuable things my parents ever did for me. I learned to follow a pattern, became familiar with a sewing machine, learned how to shop for materials, and had a lot of fun! I made scrunchies and vests and dresses and bags and may have had a sad attempt at a hat once. I wore most of what I made. The two items I look back on most proudly were a dress for my aunt’s wedding (I was the guest book attendant), and a jumper. I still remember wearing it to the 8th grade awards ceremony and being recognized for my contribution to the school’s yearbook.
Before leaving for college, I made myself a quilt. I felt confident doing so because of the classes I took in junior high. I used that quilt all four years and loved it (it still is used on the guest bed when my parents visit). I didn’t sew much after that, and then about two years ago decided to make a messenger bag style diaper bag for a friend. I remembered how much I loved sewing. After making a few more, following the pattern, I began to feel more comfortable just making it up as I went. I knew the basics and the techniques needed to make the bag. Because of that, I don’t use patterns for any of the purses and bags I make these days.
I bought a new machine with Christmas money a year ago (until then I’d been using my clunky machine from middle school). I hesitated at the time because I was worried I wouldn’t use it enough to get my money’s worth out of it. Nolan was commenting a few weeks ago that we never would have imagined how much I would end up using it.
My first clothing project since middle school was the dress I made for a wedding in August. I took so long reading through the pattern, reacquainting myself with terms like “basting stitch” and “seam allowance.” This one dress, though, reminded me how to piece clothing together. Since then I’ve been able to either use patterns or make it up as I go. There is so much value in learning to read a pattern—even if it’s just to master some basic techniques in order to “make it up as you go” more easily.
I’ve had several people make comments about wishing they could make some of my tops, but they don’t know how to sew. Or friends of mine have told me that they can sew, but they don’t know how to follow a pattern. And then I recently got an email from someone wanting to duplicate the Slubby Ruffles Top. She’s being an awesome mom and venturing into the world of following a pattern just to make this top for her daughter!
Because of that, I’d love to do a few tutorials that would go over how to follow a pattern, and then walk you through my creative process in designing my own clothes. That is, if you’re interested. Does that sound like a series you’d like, or has it already been done enough in blog land?