The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

This is Hilarious……sorta

Perusing over on Instagram (I’m@sewingartistry) and this cute thing pops up:

And ain’t it the way.

For a lot of young kids entering the marketplace, this is a real confusing fact of life, and it is a fact of life.  The way most kids get around it is that they apprentice, volunteer or otherwise worm their way into a position (albeit a grunt position) in their chosen field of study or interest while they’re in school.  That way by the time they get their degree, they at least have hopefully 2 or 3 years of working somewhere which gives them a record to go on.

The same is true of applying for credit:  if you have no credit, then you can’t get accepted, but you have to get some credit to start a record so that you can get some credit!  Whew!  That one’s really confusing.

And I’m sure that a lot of sewists feel this way.  You have to have a lot of experience to get the experience you need to sew well.  It’s just really baffling – like the old query: which came first….the chicken or the egg?….the experience or the knowledge of experience.  You have to have the knowledge to get the experience but you have to have had the experience to get the knowledge!!!

And then you get to how do you know you have enough knowledge of experience to know that you’ve at least made it a little if not a lot?  There’s the 10,000 hours rule thing, and then there’s the debunking of the 10,000 hours rule thing – which basically says that 10,000 hours is balderdash if you don’t spend that time well or at the least always challenging yourself.  IOW, if you spend your 10,000 hours doing the same thing over and over and over, you ain’t learning and you ain’t gerna get any experience!

But don’t let all this mumbo jumbo scare or discourage you.

From my own perspective, I started learning when I was sewing for my Barbie, then I found out that (since Barbie didn’t change shapes) I could use certain patterns to mimic the shapes of fabric that could be then manipulated from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional shapes to wrap around my Barbie.  Now, at age six I didn’t know 2-dimensional from 3-dimensional, but I did know how to do this.  Then with the trip to the fabric store with my babysitter, introducing me to commercial patterns (my Wa-wa moment), and from that to the discouragement of sewing courses being cut out of curricula en masse, going to art (my next best choice) and then finding my mentor.  Even then, my learning was so quick that my memory of learning and the process itself was so fast, I can hardly remember how I felt, other than learning as much as I could as fast as I could – soaking it like the ever-eternal dry sponge.

So to be honest, that period of learning and being frustrated, which I had, was so short, that it’s barely a memory in my mind. Now I had several fortunate things to my advantage, the most important being drive and the second time.  With a lot of folks either retiring or empty-nesting, this is the perfect place to pick up sewing again and learn how to get those skills honed to a professional level.  Even if you area new stay-at-home mommie, you can manage with the time.  It’s all about managing time.

After that, I did piece work for my mentor – that’s how I started my business, then got my first debutante gown contract, which I took literally not knowing how I was going to do, but knew I had to do it and that I could do it.  I didn’t know what the girl or mother wanted;  I didn’t know how I was going to do it; and there were times in my early company when I would agree to do a design (that I usually designed) and didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I worked on it till I got there.

This what the experience does.  And even if you don’t believe in the 10,000 hours rule thingie, it doesn’t matter  If you apply that much time (about 1¼ year of 8-hour days, 5-day weeks, 52-week year), you will learn something, and you will gain experience without a doubt.  Of course doing the same thing over and over won’t give you as much information as doing something different (not to mention challenging), it will at the least teach you something.

Working at a little over a year like you would a job on learning something sounds like a task beyond hope, but take this in pieces.  You don’t have to learn this all at once, and most of all have fun with it.  The old saying:  Stop and smell the roses, applies in spades (or hearts) here.

So although you have the get experience before you can start feeling confident about your sewing and fitting, don’t get discouraged. And here’s why.  The process is just as much fun (go with me here) as the experience itself.  I can’t tell you how many times I think of my mentor when I knot a thread, when I use her threading technique, when I do the notch on a collar, when I do the pad stitching, when I use my pant pattern (which she fit me a gazillion years ago and I still use only modify – since my body has changed).  There are memories in every garment I make.  Enjoy this.  And the joy you have when you do a dart that you learned, and every time after than you know how to do that dart well.  That is as much a part of the knowledge as the experience and having the knowledge itself.

There’s something else here too.  This knowledge is empowering.  If you are put off by the fact that you have to have experience before you can know what you’re doing, then that’s an immediate set-up for failure.  Gaining experience, yes comes from mistakes, but it also comes from successes and those successes are fun and very empowering.  And after that gaining of knowledge, when you see that technique in a pattern, you know you can do it.  It empowers you to do it again.  That’s the real benefit of experience.

And one more thing.  This activity is proven to be end-all in maintaining health at such a phenomenal level that it gets a little magical.  Hearing stories of folks that died in their sleep after having a great day in their 90’s is common.  It’s the problem-solving that not only causes we humans to live longer but makes our lives much longer at a higher enjoyable level.

You don’t have to be old to have it.
You don’t have to necessarily be a genius to have it.
And I’m very confident that you don’t have to be excessively talented to have it.


You have to be persistent.
You have to be consistent.
You have to be insistent.
You have to be diligent.


Your work has to be significant
Your work has to be important
Your work has to be relevant


  1. I’m going to re-read this often. Thank you for publishing this article. I love to sew and I need to make time for it every day. It’s therapeutic, it makes me happy. I keep thinking I need to spend more time on my kids, but I end up grumpy and tired. I need to spend more time cleaning, but it’s a never ending job. I can’t keep up with the mess and get discouraged and tired. If I spend time every day doing something that makes me happy, maybe there would be more of *me* for my family. A me with a smile on my face.

    • You are very much on the right track. I’m not sure why it is that we have to say to ourselves that we have to do other stuff first before we do stuff for ourselves. Scheduling in time to do things for our self is just as important as scheduling in time to do the household chores or errands or grocery shopping or going to the doctor or anything else. That time spent doing stuff just for us, really does live on past the time we spent doing whatever it is we did for ourselves. IOW, making a garment (particularly a well-made garment, and that IS what you’re doing?….right?….good!!!), that lives in our closet for 10 or 20 years, brings us satisfaction, joy, gratification and usefulness every time we wear it. Seriously, who would NOT want to do this – for a total of maybe 8 to 20 hours to get that much good feelings for 10 or 20 years? Honestly, that’s a bargain!

Leave a Reply