The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

What’s the secret to Design School?

…..or other schools for that matter.  What do they learn there that we can’t, haven’t, didn’t learn on our own or in school too?

It’s not so much what as it is the time.

I’m a diver.  As a matter of fact, I’m a master diver which is an instructor’s assistant.  One notch below an instructor.  I loved diving, and my partner and I dove a lot and did a ton of underwater photography.  We traveled the world doing this, and had a lot of fun doing this.

This is in San Salvador, Bahamas on the hammerhead shark dive.

If anyone would have told me that I would be doing a shark feeding dive, a hammerhead shark dive, a 70-foot dive in a black, dark, cold prairie lake (OK for you folks who live near real big water, it was a pond!!!), or done Devil’s Throat in Cozumel, the ferocious drift in Indonesia…..well, I just wudda laughed really hard.  And not thought a second thing about it.  But you know what?…I have done all that.

I did all that stuff in steps.  There’s no way I could have or would have plunked myself into the water the first time and gone down 70 feet into black dark that was so dark we couldn’t see our regs with flashlights, on my first try.  There’s NO WAY I would have gone for a shark feeding dive in the Bahamas the second time I dove.  I did all this in steps.

So what does that have to do with sewing?

A lot more than you think.

I know a lot of techniques and sewing methods are the 3 F’s:

  • Foreign
  • Foreboding
  • Fearful

And a lot of them have ended eff-ed up (but we won’t count that “F”)….even some of mine.  Do you think I popped out of my mama’s womb knowing how to instantly and perfectly put together a jacket lapel – No!  I had to learn it.  But after I learned it, I had to practice it before I really got it in my noggin and before I got really good at it!

This is the big secret about schools that teach design and sewing.  The students practice these techniques to get them.  This is also the great luxury of school – you have the time to practice to perfect and learn those skills.

I also play the piano.

I have my piano tuned by an excellent fellow who tunes the universities’ and orchestras’ pianos around the area.  He and I have a great chat about music, students, playing, and all things musical.  One of his favorite things to tell his students is that they should treasure the luxury that they have in school which is the time to practice that they get to do over and over.

This is the great secret of school – the practice you can do over and over.

So that’s the main secret of school – that we get to practice.

Granted, that takes time.  But if we schedule the time, we can have that “practice” time as well.

The thing I love about sewing is that at the end of the practice, I usually have something to show for it, and something that is useful, beautiful and admirable.

I will be honest, that this is one of the most important draws of sewing for me.  Finishing a garment and looking at how well it turned out – that it came from my vision – my idea – my brain having a couple of synapses that is now something I (or anyone else) can touch, feel, use and wear.

It’s a very intangible, illusive and abstract….to go from a thought to a real mass…you can’t put in your mind around this easily.  This is that part of the creative process that’s hard to understand.  It’s hard to explain to others and quantify.

But we all feel it.  We all know it.  We may not know how to express it, but it’s there.  With just a little practice, we’re there…..before we know it, we’re turning out collars, plackets, zipper installations and onward to tailored items that are suddenly a comfortable part of our repertoire of sewing skills that we can call on any time we need them.

So please PLEASE don’t get discouraged the first time you try a new technique or stretch out past your comfort-zone.  Work at it a little and get it solid in your mind and eye, and you will have it.  Also remember that with some practice, it does get better.  And when it gets better, it gets more rewarding.  But I will have to warn you here:  after the reward comes…..addiction.

And I’m sorry, I can’t help you with addiction.  Once you’re addicted to sewing, there is no 12-step program for it!


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