Happy New Year! We closed the door on 2012 last night with dinner and Baked Alaska for dessert. It was my first time having Baked Alaska. It was good but for all the novelty it was kinda plain. Doesn’t matter – I was already full from a delicious steak!
Anyway, 2012 was my first year sewing. Previously, I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since junior high when I made a lovely patchwork pillow (pink and green of course – it was the eighties!) and dolman sleeve sweatshirt. My sewing consisted of sewing buttons. Even those didn’t look so good.
If I look back on my finished projects for 2012, there are some things to be proud of and others that are disappointing. On one hand, I really thought I would have made more garments and developed more advanced skills. Learning to sew in the age of the internet is amazing with all the tutorials and sewing bloggers. But, in the end, it takes a lot of time and a lot of learning by making mistakes which can be demotivating. I definitely underestimated the time commitment. I don’t know what I was thinking but I was surprised at just how long it takes to complete something. Between the cutting/tracing the pattern, cutting the fabric and then the construction, even the simplest garment takes hours.
Related to the time commitment is the fact that sewing is a solitary hobby. My sewing machine is set up in my bedroom and I find that I don’t want to go up there and spend hours by myself at night or on the weekend especially when my husband and I work all week and I travel frequently. But the fact is I won’t develop my skills without devoting the time and the willingness to fail. The latter is something I need to work on. Because projects still take so long for me and I don’t yet know how to customize the fit, I’m hesitant to start more complex garments because there’s a good chance they won’t be worn (see below). But I won’t improve ‘till I try!
All that said, I’m happy that I decided to learn this new skill and look forward to progressing. I’m glad that I didn’t set unreasonable expectations and decided to learn slowly. When I started I didn’t even know how to thread a machine!
When I look at the items I completed in 2012 there were lessons learned with each one:
- I started and ended the year with some sort of dog collar. Weird.
- I’m glad I started with easy projects. My very first items were aprons made from tea towels (those were done on 12/31/11 so I didn’t include them.) That’s a good first item because it’s all straight lines and still functional if the ties look bad. Even those aprons gave me practice since I had to re-do the ties twice on my first one. I still use that apron regularly.
- The next shirt was part of a beginner class at JoAnn. It’s a shame they picked such an ugly pattern because the shirt went together nicely and I learned basic construction details. Taking a class is very helpful.
- Pajamas are the best beginner project. Even if they look weird (like the green and blue floral version), you can still wear them. Poor Matt never did get usable PJ’s – his plaid pair totally shrunk in the wash and are now floods. I should cut them off and make shorts.
- The next two projects were very helpful for practice but don’t get used. They are a lesson in being honest about practicality. I never use printed handbags or totes – why did I think I would use a green floral one? And a fleece coat for a fuzzy Newfoundland?
- I really like my next two tops and wear them regularly, especially the Vogue cowl neck. The Schoolhouse Tunic is comfy but not the most flattering. But I have a soft spot for it as the first garment I completed entirely on my own.
- The button down Liverpool tunic is probably the item I’m most proud of. It had tons of construction details that were new to me and I wore it often in the spring. This was part of a class and the instruction was invaluable. I was just thinking I’d like to make another version in a dark color.
- I forgot to include a picture of the Barcelona skirt. That was a fail. I don’t like loose, slouchy skirts and the fit was bad. I could probably refashion it but I haven’t had the desire yet. It was part of a class which was fun but it was a bad pattern choice.
- The Anna Tunic is a lesson in knowing what looks good on my body. I’m still learning that… I love belted sweaters and tops but just have to face the fact that I’m too high waisted to wear them. The tunic construction looks good; it just doesn’t get any use. I should probably find a friend that could wear it.
- The A line skirts were a total disappointment. I thought they would be so easy to fit but I never could get them right. I wear them around the neighborhood in the summer but never out and about. Maybe they will look better shorter.
- Vogue 1236. Love it and wear it even though the belted style might not be the most flattering. Plus clothes made of quilting cotton always need to be ironed which limits how frequently I wear them.
- Wiksten tank – I’ll make more of these. There need to be some adjustments but those should be easy.
- Sewaholic Renfrews – both versions. I had a setback initially with fabric and size choice. One those were fixed, they came together quickly. I wear both of these – especially the thicker black one. I’m tempted to make more but how many cowl necks do I need?
- The rest of the projects were more crafty. Those definitely have their role – I can get a sewing fix with little risk of disappointment. Plus they are so quick, you get the sense of accomplishment without toiling for hours.
All in all, not bad for year one. I’m definitely going to set some goals for 2013 and get sewing!