Friday, January 24, 2014

One Year Sewing Anniversary!!

**Do you know what today is?**

Eeek!

Around Christmas of 2012, I was vying for a sewing machine, a Ninja or a KitchenAid stand mixer. But money was tight so we scrapped that. My husband then asked one day, "would you rather have a mixer or the sewing machine?"

I emphatically answered, "A sewing machine!".

One year ago today, I purchased my first sewing machine; a Singer Talent 3321. I had no clue what I was buying...we were in JoAnn and all I knew was that I didn't want the cheapest machine or the most expensive one.

As many of you know, I took off and haven't looked back! As a pigheaded enthusiastic new sewer, I had no comprehension of what I "should" or "shouldn't" be trying to tackle. I just went for it! So glad I did!

My mom sews, not many garments, but she has always known how to sew. She used to give me fabric scraps and I'd make clothes for my Barbies. My mom was never one to make you come and learn ___. If you had an interest, she would show you though. She didn't make me learn to cook - and hence my kids ate a whole lot of Hamburger Helper when they were toddlers. I was interested in typing (she worked as a court reporter for awhile and therefore typed ridiculously fast!) and learned to type at 7. I type really, really fast now! I was less interested -then- in the things my mom was doing and probably way more interested in what my dad was doing.

I was never a "tomboy" but I certainly didn't take home ec in high school. I did take auto shop, wood shop and some programming classes though! :) I am a very technical person and to say I pick up on things quickly is an understatement. So while I may not be very developed on the creative side of sewing, the technical side? I'm all over that!


Some things I've learned in my first year and would tell other beginning sewers:

 
 1. Sew what you want! If you are a beginner and you don't want to sew tote bags and pillowcases - DON'T.
This was a HUGE source of frustration for me when I first found Pattern Review. I DO NOT WANT to make a tote bag, I want to make a shirt!!! :) (I'm a stubborn one if you can't tell.)

2. Know your learning style.
I don't do as well with books as I do with videos. So I didn't run out and buy all the books suggested and instead used my (fantastic!) public library to check out about 98% of the books suggested. Still, most of the things I've conquered have come from watching YouTube videos.

3. Obsessive-compulsive behavior does also extend to sewing.
I have like 265 patterns including Lekala & Hot Patterns. I have 3 Burda Style mags. I have 6 totes of fabric plus some random boxes with random stuff in them, plus I've sewn a lot of things. I have bought a LOT of sewing goodies--A LOT. It was different when it was fueled with the money from crocheting...now I need to slow down a bit. So I am being more selective. 60% off notions? I am there. I almost always buy needles at these sales.

4. And speaking of patterns...
  • Look at the line drawings!
  • Pattern Review is invaluable but google a pattern too. Lots of people that are sewing are running a blog but not participating on the sewing site(s)
  • don't overlook coordinate/sportswear/wardrobe patterns; especially if you're lucky enough to be in the US with Hancock and/or JoAnns stores nearby and catch a $1/$2 sale.
5. Oh. And Fabric...
Yummmmmmmy. Don't you just love to fondle your stash? If you are a person that shops for fabric on a per-project basis, I am amazed at you. Amazed. That would drive me crazy because inevitably I'd know *exactly* what I want and then not be able to find it anywhere. ANYWHERE. I live by FabricMart sales. I can count the number of "bad fabric" I've gotten from there. Very little. Sure there were times I didn't read the description properly or just saw the color or print or something and then....ohh. This isn't really appropriate for me/my life/whatever. I very rarely buy fabric from JoAnn or Hancock. I just feel it is SO overpriced. And I have SR Harris. I want to marry SR Harris...whoever he is. :)

6. Invisible zippers are actually not the most complicated to sew!
Sure it isn't a centered zip but it actually goes rather well if you have an invisible zipper foot and baste the zipper in place first.

7. Pressing is everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
I don't really "iron" and was not "ironing" (in my head) when I first started. But I kept reading about pressing, pressing, pressing. Oh my gosh. (Well, duh, you all know what pressing properly does to a garment.) I do not have an expensive iron. I have a B & D classic that is heavy as heck and gets hot and steamy.

8. Maintain your machine!
One day (I thought I blogged it), my machine went clunk. And stopped working. And I almost cried. Now I am sure to clean and oil it as I sew almost every day. Oh, and CHANGE YOUR MACHINE NEEDLES! I read a lot of opinions on this but what sealed it for me was; "new needles are a lot cheaper than sewing machine repair".  Ah. That simple sentence changed it all. Yes. On sale I can get 5 needles for around $3-$4. Yep. I'd much rather change needles more frequently than have things go haywire.

Err...I was just going along and then realized I'd have nine things so thought I'd make it a list of 10! 9 is...uhmm...
9. Sew every day!! Even if it's just 15 minutes.
VERY often I end up not wanting to go to the basement (I can't wait to get a main floor room and should have just commandeered the sunny, huge living room that we aren't using). But then once I go down there, the energy starts flowing. Yesterday I didn't feel that well and only went down to wash towels. And yep, I spent about 15 minutes fiddling with the latest project.

10. The M word...Muslins. I do not like (in my toddler voice)!
I get the WHY...I do. I just can't. It zaps me of all the desire to work on THAT project. I'd have to be making something really important to me (and starting WAY ahead of time) and of fabric that I *really* love -- like it is truly ooak (one of a kind) or cost lots of money -- for me to muslin. I flat pattern measure, I tissue fit, I go. It mostly works out. When it doesn't, I move on.


Muslin. Don't muslin. Make the choice for yourself rather doing it because you "have to".
 
Edited to add:
Sewing tools I cannot live without - and some that I know I want to get
  • My spray bottle. Necessary during pressing!
  • Seam gauges. I have 2 and think I need a third one. One at the cutting table, one at the ironing board and one near the machine.
  • My ham. OMG why did I wait so long to get this thing?!!? I have to buy a seam roll!
  • Set of clear rulers. I have a 3 of different widths and lengths. Invaluable. I need a French curve too.
  • My cutting table. I would often comment that I hate cutting. No, I hated breaking my back leaning over the 29" dining room table. (the 24x36 cutting mat goes hand in hand!!)
  • My serger. :swoon: It sat in a box for almost 2 months because I was afraid of it. I still have lots to learn but I couldn't live without it!
  • Chaco liners. Goodness gracious. These things make me only want to sew dark woven fabrics. lol! I have 3. Two white, one yellow.
What did I *have* to have and rarely use:
  • Lily, my dress form. (Shhhhhhhh! I hope to get a Fabulous Fit System this year to make her a little more useful to me)
  • Rotary cutters. I have 3. Meh. I like shears better.
 



Things I'm looking forward to in my next year of sewing
  1. There are several contests I want to enter this year on Pattern Review.
  2. I'm going to be a contest manager for the Vintage contest!!
  3. I'm going to buy a new machine this year (if you have recommendations in the $500 range, please pass them on!).
  4. I'm going to keep working on my skills and tackle things I've shied away from like welt pockets (even though my practice welts were a good start!) and silky fabrics.
  5. I'm going to make a lined jacket (already in progress!), I'd love to make a coat too (planned for next month!).
  6. I'm going to learn to do a stupid lapped zipper and to get decent top stitching.
  7. I'm going to not covet 'every cool/nice/pretty garment that I see on the interwebs'.
  8. I will not buy every pattern that goes on sale. I will look at the technical lines and decide if it really is something NEW and DIFFERENT that I don't already have in my collection of 260 patterns.
  9. I'm going to purchase fabric a bit more judiciously. A bit.

And the blog? The blog will continue to be what it is.
  • I am not a photographer and have no interest in learning photography. iPhone pics. That's what it is. 
  • I am not a fashionista - I don't know what's in or out...I just sew what I want to sew.
  • I am not a writer. I am a scientist. We learn to write in short, concise, factual sentences. I have no flowy words. I write like I think.
  • I will be adding my own little "feature". I'll do a little 'wrap up' of the previous month's projects on the first of the next month. I will periodically (quarterly?) do a review of how garments/fabrics are wearing. Something I don't think happens a ton in blogland but is so helpful when it does happen.
Here is a sneak peak of the in progress jacket (hope to be completed this weekend!)


I want to make 7,000 lined jackets now.

Those tiny puckers are there to stay my friends

Also...today is ALSO my one year anniversary in braces! Woohoo! This was a difficult decision to make as I had already worn braces as an adult. My teeth were mostly straight the first time and I did an okay job wearing my retainer and then I bent it. I didn't go back to my ortho and uhmm...yeah. My teeth shifted back and in fact were a bit worse off than before. They'd started rotating and doing other weird things. So at my dentist's urging, I went in for a consult (took me almost a year to do it though!). A year later, here is my own personal "Colgate" ad! :)


 


45 comments:

  1. What an amazing year you have had! Seriously? You've only been sewing for a year?? Your "10 things" list is fantastic; what great advice for the beginning sewist! Here's to many more years sewing! :)

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    1. Thanks Meigan! I'm looking forward to year two!

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  2. Your joy of sewing shines through in this post! I am so thrilled that you've had an amazing first year and that you are continuing on. However, this is said with love not judgment, you really should remove the sleeve and learn to insert it properly. If you don't want to do it for this jacket, you should really try hard to to it properly on the next one. Believe me you will feel such a sense of accomplishment when that sleeve goes in perfectly. Email me. I will try to find a video for you to watch so that you can see what I mean. And if you want to ignore this, please feel free my feelings won't be hurt...I just want you to become the best sewist I know you can be!

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    1. Thank you Carolyn!! Oh my gosh, no offense ever taken! I love getting tips and advice (ask L how I stalk her for help!) :)

      I have set sleeves really well and have ripped out and reswed this dang sleeve four times and am getting frustrated. I'll set the second one and if I get it in perfectly smooth then I'll try again.

      This sleeve was horrific though. I think it's just drafted poorly vs an inability to set it.

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  3. As someone who has just started sewing, I'm totally inspired by all of the fantastic things you've made over the past year. "Sew what you love" has been my motto so far--I'm trying to focus on making what I want to make and wear and ignoring recommendations to take it slow with projects like tote bags and pillow cases. But sometimes I doubt myself and worry that I'm going about it the wrong way. Your blog quiets my worry and encourages me to keep going in the direction of what excites me rather than playing it safe. Can't wait to see what you'll make in the coming year!

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    1. Good for you! I get that some people are more crushed my "failures" than others. I can see started slow and working on really easy stuff.

      Now I can enjoy quick and easy projects aka the zillion aprons and knitting tote bags and stuff. I'm totally ready to make some pillow covers for my old pillows! :)

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  4. Happy Sewing Anniversary! I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I'm just amazed at how quickly you've honed your sewing skills in one short year. Inspirational! Looking forward to what's to come, especially the updates on wear - what a great idea. Also: your teeth are gorgeous!! (Does that sound weird? LOL!)

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    1. Thanks Gail!

      Hahaha! I am a member on a forum for adult braces wearers. We know that we cannot talk about our teeth in real life as much as we do there. And we all gloat at each others' perfecting teeth! :)

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  5. Hurray! Happy sewing anniversary! Keep up all the great work. I love reading your blog and all about all your adventures. You are addicted to sewing like so many of us are :)

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    1. Thank you Kathy :)

      Addicted. With the most capital A! I LOVE IT!

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  6. Hooray for a successful first year! I greatly admire your progress and enthusiasm. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and today's post made me smile. I agree with just about everything you posted except the no love for muslins. I have OCD when it comes to muslins. I make way more than necessary even after I take flat pattern measurements. I think it's because risk-taking with fabric scares me just a wee bit. I do want to move away from that and jump into a project. It seems to be more fun that way. This is why I like your blog---you take risks and have fun while doing it.

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    1. Thanks Niema!

      Hey, we are all different and that's why it works! :) I really do enjoy watching the muslin process for people. So if you enjoy it, go for it!

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  7. Congratulations on your anniversary! I completely agree with just about everything you wrote. I started sewing about seven years ago, and you're bringing back memories to how I had dove into sewing my first year. (Now-DH hadn't moved in yet, and I had my bachelorette pad to myself most of the time.) My first completed garment wasn't a tote or a pillowcase either--it was an "It's Sew Easy" Simplicity peasant top. I think a lot of people get caught up in the "right" way to do things, but I find it to be much more fun to just dive in and learn as I go.

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    1. Thanks Michelle!

      Yay! I am like jumping in with both feet!

      I've never had a bachelorette pad...Hmmmmmm...... ;-)

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  8. Love the post and congratulations on your one year anniversary. Your progress has been amazing your garments are fitting so well. I'm excited to see the different projects you will tackle this year. I HATE muslin's :(, but I usually have to make so many upper body adjustments that it is beneficial.

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    1. Thanks Lillian! I really enjoy your blog and your process! You have been one of my inspirations!

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  9. I really enjoyed reading this! Love your lists, I need to work on number 9 myself. Sew what you love is good advice. When my daughter wanted to learn, I got her a step-by-step kind of book, but she wasn't interested in that. She wanted to make what she wanted to make! And that's what we did.

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    1. Thanks Angela!
      that's AWESOME! I hope my daughter shows an interest!

      See what I mean though?? I bet at one point she'll be ready to "regress" and do the step by step but I like that she's ready to GO and develop the love of sewing!

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  10. Loved reading about your journey. And it was really refreshing to have a blogger say I am not a photographer or writer. I am a chemist too, so I enjoy other crafty science blogs!

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    1. Thanks Annie!

      yay! Another crafty scientist!!

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  11. Congrats on your one year anniversary.. I am just so amazed at your sewing ability. You have been doing a terrific job. Love the jacket..
    I also totally love your blog..I love that you speak plainly... and tell about the good and the bad.. You are an amazing lady.. Happy sewing.
    Your teeth look great... [My granddaughter is in retainers now.I am going to share this story with her.

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    1. Thanks Judy!! That made me smile :) You are so kind!

      Tell your granddaughter (grab both sides of her face when you say it and look directly into her eyes): WEAR YOUR RETAINER!!!! :-)

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  12. Congratulations for sewing 1 year!! You gave a lot of great tips and pointers, and we have a lot in common. I love that you are not a fashionista, just sew what you love. I am that way too. I don't denounce style and trends, I just do them my own way, and I love that sewing is a great outlet for that. Also, I am with you about not seeing so much on blogs about how the clothes wears once it has been sewn. You read my mind! I always wonder about that when I read about all the wonderful things people make. Well, here is to more happy blogging!!

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    1. Thank you Vanessa!! Me too. It's "fun" when I am like, oh, look at me. I did a trend! But I won't/can't sew based on what's trending now.

      Someone recently posted something about how a couple of garments didn't wear well and a lightbulb went off.

      Some bloggers are really good about posting "new" makes after they've been wearing them. Not me. I am too excited and post as soon as I finish it! LOL!

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  13. Congratulations on one year of sewing! I dub the 'Girl Peter' for what you have accomplished in the last 365 days. =). I enjoy reading your blog, seeing your creations, and connecting virtually with this great sewing community.

    Soooo...um...what was the Ninja for? Or should I not read when it's late and I'm tired from work?

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    1. Thanks L! :-D

      LOL! We know what late nights can do! Because I would like to (in my head) make smoothies but could never bite the bullet on the expensive ninja!

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  14. I have the Singer Quantum 9960 from Amazon. Put it on your amazon wishlist and when it goes on sale they will notify you. It costs about $660 but on sale I got it for about $220 this past xmas. I heard it goes on sale for mother's day and xmas.


    LOL at number 1

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  15. Congratulations on your first year of sewing! You've accomplished so much in such a short period of time and your skills are enviable as a newbie! Some things you've learned by just attacking it head on --that along with your statement 'sew everyday, even if it's only 15 minutes'. That hit home for me. One day not sewing turns into two, then a week. Next thing I know, I've lost my mojo. So your post today was a real encouragement for me. Ohh--about the braces. Your story is almost identical to mine. I'm going back to braces too-Invisalign (sp?) this time. So, you're not alone. From the photo, your teeth are beautiful. Happy Sewing, Mrs. Smith!

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    1. Thanks Robin! YES! I have been there and really, even if I go in and start looking at patterns or fabric or cleaning up I can get motivated to do a little sewing. Which is good and sometimes turns into a lot of sewing!

      Good luck. I wasn't a candidate for Invisalign. Hopefully it works out well!

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  16. Congrats on your anniversary - I guess the technical side of you is what has given you the ability to pick up sewing quickly. Me, I'm non technical and on the creative spectrum - so I love muslins and playing with ideas!! It's so much fun learning how other people function, and how they sew, so thanks for sharing this with us. Good luck with the teeth :)

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    1. And I love watching you work Sarah Liz. I am always amazed. Thanks!

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  17. Congratulations on your first year of sewing! you've had a brilliant first year so here's to many more :) I'm a scientist too, and feel that sewing satisfies that precise and meticulous side of me, as well as my creative side. And yes! with regard to muslins! :)

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    1. Thanks Carolyn!! I love finding other sewing scientists!

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  18. Congratulations on your First Year Anniversary. Your achievements over the past year are amazing and your enthusiasm is infectious. Looking forward to following your sewing for many more anniversaries.

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    1. Thanks! :) I am happy to have my internet peeps to share my enthusiasm with!

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  19. I too have a B&D iron!
    I have the Fabulous Fit system and I think it's pretty awesome!
    I love my ham too--it makes such a difference pressing darts.
    Your teeth look great!
    Congrats on a year of sewing--I'm super impressed!

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  20. Happy anniversary! I love reading your blog. I totally get how you love the "techie" side of sewing rather than the creative. I'm the same way. Like you I did shop instead of home-ec (back in the '70's in my case) and have been a tool and die maker for 30 years. Sometimes I get frustrated because there is no way to get the same precision with fabric (or wood for that matter - another topic) as you can with steel and the tight tollerances there. It definitely contributes to my perfectionism and striving to better my techniques.

    I sewed a lot "by the seat of my pants" when I was younger but have only recently gotten back into it. Your blog (and pattern review posts) are helping to pull me back in! :)

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    1. Yes, yes come back! It's so fun!!

      And I completely agree. Sometimes my completely logical mind cannot work out certain things. But luckily we have the internet!

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  21. Great list! Happy Sewing Anniversary! I'm still in shock that you've been sewing for only a year. Wow! Question for you... Have you ever used basting tape? I read your #6 about invisible zippers. I don't baste, I use basting tape. I love this stuff, it holds my zipper in place while I stitch it down. Just a little sewing secret that I thought to share. I enjoy reading your blog, enjoyed your McCall's 6844 review, it made me give it a try.

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    1. Thanks Graca! Nope but now you have me looking for a new notion! I usually just hand baste with bright colored thread

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  22. Hi, I sew agree with with two on your list:

    #1. Someone that I am teaching to sew, asked me "Should I start with a skirt or a bag?" I asked her does it make your heart sing, if not no, only sew what makes your heart sing." She decided to learn using Butterick 5915

    #7. As my Aunt always says "Pressing covers a multitude of sins...." LOL It can actually make or break a project.

    You've accomplished a lot in a year! I look forward to reading more about your adventures. My goal is to sew a garment a month for 2014.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment! I read each and every one; even if I don't have time to respond back!