I learned to sew in a very interesting way. I grew up with my mother who made EVERYTHING. All of our Halloween costumes were made, not bought. My mom made my dress for my first school dance. Our curtains were all handmade. You get the idea.
While I watched everything and loved the idea that I was not limited to pre-made items, I wanted nothing to do with the sewing machine. I would sit with my mom and soak in the experience, but I never offered to help or take her up on her offers to teach me. It wasn’t until after I left for college that I decided I wanted to learn for myself. My mom still laughs at me for that one.
bad terrible at first. I understood how to cut out a pattern and generally what all the symbols meant from watching mom do it all those years. I did not possess, however, any patience. Like, at all. If I messed up a seam, I just kept on going and dealt with a crappy end product because I didn’t want to take the time to undo it and start over. I picked projects that were definitely above my comfort level and just ruined them. I actually wore a dress that I made to a work function that should not have gone out in public or made it past the trash can (still one of those wake me up in the middle of the night just to feel the shame moments). People asked if I made it. No one should ask if you made it (unless they know you sew and are curious). They should be shocked and awed when they discover you made something they assumed was bought in a store. This particular nightmare was very much the epitome of a shitty, rushed, homemade disaster.
If you think it taught me my lesson, it didn’t. No good story happens without a bit of embarrassment and shame (or is that just me?!?). I made many more things that didn’t go so well. I made a bridesmaid dress for myself for my best friend’s wedding. While the dress itself was not terrible (I had managed to get a bit better at sewing by then), I didn’t take the time to finish any seams or give any sort of finish at all inside. I was just going to wear it once right? Why take the time to do it right, it’s only a WEDDING (oh god, it hurts just to write it out)? Yeah… I caught the waist seam on my bracelet and it totally unraveled. I had to safety pin it together so I wouldn’t walk down the aisle in my underwear. 100% face palm moment. My friend still loves me, I think…
I have since learned from my past mistakes and then some (lots and lots of YouTube and practice and loving glares from my mother). Beyond any skill, I learned patience. Mostly I hear my mother’s voice in my head saying “Slow down. Take your time. This is not a race.” Even if I am making something as simple as a pillow cover, I make sure to take the time to do it right. There is no sense in me taking any time at all on a project if it is only going to last a week. It’s also not cheaper for me to make something rather than buy it if I just have to re-do it over and over.
Now, I sew every day. It’s my business. It’s my passion. When I make something, I make it to last. I love knowing that I have made something beautiful and of quality that will likely outlast many purchased garments. I’m pretty sure my clients appreciate it too 😉
If you are new to sewing (or not, let’s be honest), please let this help you remember that it is not a race. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will that dress you are dreaming about making. I consider myself a fairly advanced sewist, but none of those skills matter if I don’t take the time to slow down.
In the words of my mother, slow down. Take your time. This is not a race.