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Why I suck at sewing clothes

I’ve been doing a lot of “sewing soul searching” lately about why I am so reluctant to sew clothes, and why I always dislike the clothing that I do attempt. I have been sewing costumes for about 8-10 years (mostly beading and decorating), and have sewed odd bits of home-wares over the last few years, but I haven’t made one piece of clothing that I have worn for more than a couple of months. I have attempted many, many items of clothing but they have rarely turned out or been finished. Eventually I just stopped attempting them. This year though, I am determined to turn it around! After taking a good long look at myself, I figured out the reasons I’m afraid of sewing clothes. And in the interests of public accountability and baring all to the blogosphere I will list them here!

I buy patterns that I think are gorgeous, but when it comes down to it – they just don’t suit my style.

Beautiful pattern from Esty seller allthepreciousthings

Beautiful pattern from Esty seller allthepreciousthings

I have so many beautiful vintage patterns. Most of them I picked up from markets or thrift shops, and a bunch have been given to me over the years. I love vintage clothes and styling, but I really can’t commit to wearing a vintage style every day. I feel restricted and uncomfortable. Most days, I would be happy to rock out in jeans and a tank or a simple skirt. So I’ll spend a bunch of time finding the right fabric, cutting out the pieces, putting them together, only to get half way through and feel unenthused about it because I realise it’s not going to work for me. I know it seems dumb to keep making this mistake over and over, but I can’t help it! I love vintage patterns! Maybe I need to start making the clothes for other people….

I buy patterns that are too advanced for me

Piped Trench Coat by Burdastyle

Piped Trench Coat by BurdaStyle

Ok, so this time I’ve found a pattern that I love and I think I will wear all the time. What’s that? It’s an advanced sewing pattern? No problem! I’m sure I can master the million techniques I have never attempted before. It’ll be alright won’t it?…..anyone?

I don’t follow the instructions

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This is the hardest thing to admit, but it’s true: I’m a skimmer. I start reading the instructions on a pattern and my eyes go glazed over and I throw caution to the wind along with the instructions. I think I have developed this bad habit because I have spent so much of my life sewing costumes in which it was ok if they were put together pretty dodgily as long as you didn’t see it from the audience and it stayed together. Pretty much all my costumes I make up on the fly without a pattern. I can get away with this for stage when it’s just for me, but you really can’t do that if you have no idea how to sew clothes!

I’m determined to make more clothing for myself this year, and even though this stuff is embarrassing to admit it’s helped me set it all out. So from now my sewing commandments are 1) Only buy patterns that are actually wearable, 2) Only buy patterns I can actually sew – e.g beginner! and 3) Follow the instructions on the pattern step by step!

On that note, here is a pattern that I am going to try which is specifically for beginners.

Miette skirt pattern by Tilly

Miette skirt pattern by Tilly

I found this pattern through the blog Ginger Makes. I’m not 100% sure if it’s my style (am I breaking one of my new sewing commandments already?), but Ginger pretty much sold me on it with her enthusiastic description of how easy it is to put together and how great it turned out. I recently chopped pretty much all my hair off (hello pixie cut!) so I am trying new bits of clothing that I perhaps wouldn’t have in the past, because my new hair makes me want all new clothes. Plus it has pockets! Skirts with pockets are the best!

I have the pattern – now I just need some fabric! I will post again when I have completed this cute skirt and let you know what I think.

Is anyone in the same boat as me when it comes to sewing clothes? Or do you have other sewing confessions to make?

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Scrap fabric cushion

I am a fabric hoarder. I can’t bear to get rid of even the tiniest scraps of fabric, for fear that years later I’ll think “why did I get rid of them?!”. Mr Lu and I just moved house, so I gave away a whole ton of fabric to reduce the amount of storage we would need (our new place is cute but tiny), but I still have managed to hold on to several jars worth of scrap fabric. I decided I need to actually start using it all up, so I’ve been looking into scrap fabric projects. I came across a picture of a scrap fabric cushion somewhere – I can’t find it now but it was most likely Pinterest – and decided to make my own. This is how it turned out:

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I took a square of plain calico, and then gathered up all the bits of fabric I wanted to use. I ironed on interfacing to the back of the scraps to make them a bit more sturdy, and then cut out shapes, arranging them on the calico as I went. This took much longer than I thought it would! After I had filled the entire square, I pinned all the pieces in place.

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Then I undertook the arduous task of sewing them all on. I definitely underestimated how long it would take. I completed about half of the pieces in the first sitting, and then the project sat on my “to finish” pile until today I decided to just finally get it finished. I had a bit of trouble making the sewing neat when contending with all the pieces, so I decided to just go with it and embrace the messy look. I’m usually a big fan of things that are a bit messy and not so perfect anyway, so it worked out ok. I used some largish scraps of a pretty fabric I had left for the back of the cushion (hence the line down the middle), and filled it with the stuffing of an old pillow shoved in my wardrobe.

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I’m not actually sure if I like the finished product, but I’m going to leave it on my bed for a few days and see if it grows on me. If not, it was a useful exercise as I got to practice sewing lots of curves. I figure I can always pull it apart and use it for something else, or give it to someone who likes messy sewing as much as me. I think it might be fun to try different shapes or patterns with the scraps, so I might tackle that next.
Fellow crafters, how do you use your scrap fabrics?

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Hello world!

I’m not sure if anyone will read this other than my cat and my Mum, so if you are not either of those then hello! And thank you for reading! I have been determined this year to improve my sewing skills and become a bit more crafty. I love making things but often procrastinate and get caught up in other less fun and more worky-type things, so I thought I would start this blog to motivate me to get creating and document my progress! I have absolutely no training whatsoever, so pretty much all of my projects are experimental and often disastrous in nature. But it’s all part of the journey, ‘eh?

To kick things off, here is a picture of my first attempt at cross-stitch: a Harry Potter quote for one of my dear friends. We are both total Harry Potter nerds so I knew this would be the perfect Christmas present for her! I used a pattern from Etsy and I really enjoyed doing it. I’ve always preferred hand stitching to machine sewing, especially since I can plonk myself in front of some period drama like The Tudors and stitch away whilst drooling watching.

Harry Potter Cross Stitch

I’m currently part way through a couple of other cross stitch projects, but I completely underestimated how long they take! Hopefully I’ll have them done soon and ready to post.

Over and out! 🙂