The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

From Beginner and Beyond – Making that Leap to the next level

Let’s be honest.  There’s no secret pill or certificate that will give you the professional results automatically.  Even after you have learned all there is to know about sewing (as if you could) and making a garment, if you’re not using it and honing that skill, you’ll lose it.  Not only will you lose it, you will never polish the skill and make it better than when you first used it.

This is the way it is with any new skill you learn.  You have to use it or lose it.

So the first thing to remember about learning something new is that the first time is going to be the most difficult and the most time-consuming.  It gets easier and goes down hill from there.

That means that discouragement or frustration is going to be normal at first (like you think I popped out of my  mama’s womb knowing how to pad stitch?….hmmmm!).   It gets easier and easier, so keep working at your new skill and you not only will learn it, but it will get easier and take less time the more you do it.

The next part is about taking a deep breathe and just plunging right in.  As  Henry Ford said:  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – either way you’re right!”  Some of these techniques and methods may seem so foreign and different that they hardly make sense, but they do work.  If you don’t succeed the first time, work at it again.  If it doesn’t go together right the first time, try again.

Often sewing better is just a decision to do what you already know better.  Make your seams straighter, add that stay stitch where the seams are wobbly or pin them every 2″ instead of every 4″.  Using professional equipment can make a huge difference.  I can not even compare the difference in my sewing from using one of the “modern” Singers to the old Bernina 930 workhorse.  Using good equipment and good tools not only makes your work look better, but it also takes less time, and let’s not talk about the frustration level, which is almost nil.

It great to step up and make your already-known skills better, but keeping  them that way and not letting your workmanship slide is just as important.  The rule I go by is that if I know the difference, then others will.  And here’s the thing to remember:  the extra 10-15 or more it takes to remove a seam or re-cut a pattern piece, will not only make the difference to you, but there will be someone who notices, and it’s always interesting to note who that person is.  The point is that it takes the garment from a WalMart knock-off to a Bergdorf or Neiman’s knock-off and I know you’d rather have the later!

Detailing Techniques
Believe it or not, details on your garment, done well, can truly enhance a garment.  And there are many details that don’t require a lot of effort just to make them look right, just time and some concerted effort to execute them well.  They can make the difference between just a plain outfit, and a really knocked out one.

Tailoring Techniques
These always add elegance and true value to a garment  Although this sounds like a huge mountain to accomplish, again with some honing of that skill, it can be a regular part of your cadre of skills to draw from.

Making the quality of your skills better
Believe it or not, the very path toward more advanced techniques and practicing will develop this naturally.  What you are actually doing is practicing, and that practice is what makes your skills and sewing better.  Even as practiced as I am, if I have been away from a technique, whether it’s something simple like piping, or as complex as a whole new bodice design, I will often practice the technique a little before I dive right into the project, or realize at the least that it will take me a while to get back to my regularly smooth handling of the skill that I had before I was away from it for so long.

You won’t forget your skills, but they do need to be used and sharpened every now and then to make you feel comfortable about them.

One of my most favorite quotes: “Be gentle with yourself as you stand on the brink of who you are about to become!”  Remember that you are stepping outside your comfort zone when you tackle new techniques and you are learning something strange and new.  This is always scary, and made worse, that the worse execution you will ever have will be your first – how in the world are you supposed to be energized by this lousy execution and scary technique… gentle with yourself, and know that it will get better (it always does with practice).

So my last piece of advice here is do not get discouraged.  And remember like the old horse rider, if the horse throws you off, the very first thing you do is get back on the horse!


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