The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Beginner or Just Restarting?

I saw this the other day and got me thinking.


Sometimes the problems with sewing are really in our perception of what we’re doing.  We all have phases where we’re really hot and then other times when we’re really not hot!!!  And it’s easy to get swept up in those moments of failures to think that we need to go back and start all over again, when that’s not really what’s going on.

The creative process (and learning the creative process) is a very indistinct and shapeless thing.  You can not ever put your finger on it or grab it in your hand or put it in a lock box and save it for later. It’s like the wind – comes and goes at what seems like it’s own whim – to h#ll with what you want!

And many of us have forgotten what it’s like  to learn something new like this – how absolutely foreign all those little neat tasks you learned, that you now do with hardly thinking about it – basic stuff like raising the pressure foot, back-tacking seams, how to thread the machine, how to make the machine go backwards and forwards.  We’ve forgotten what we didn’t know, and many times that can be mistaken for not knowing when we really know a lot more than we think we do.


Sewing is an art.  And as an art it needs to be done – the very act of doing is learning the art.  It seems like this is a simple thing – to just “do it,” but in reality that’s what sewing is all about.  That takes time. Time is something we all have a limited amount of.  No matter if you’re the Queen of England or the local plumber – it’s a limited resource.  But you can treat it like you do all other limited resources:  money, health (by taking good care of yourself) and portion it out or your schedule.

Because you may not have all the time in the world, does not mean you’re a beginner.

Because you may not know all the techniques used in sewing, does not mean you’re a beginner.

Because you make mistakes, does not mean you’re a beginner.

Because you are to re-sew (aka rip out seams), does not mean you’re a beginner.

Because you may have problems (fitting or construction), does not mean you’re a beginner.


Because every professional will tell you that they have all wanted more time; didn’t know everything they wanted to know; made mistakes; have to re-sew (oh, let me tell you – get over this one fast – there’s not a professional out there who doesn’t have her/his own ripping-out technique down pat) and had many problems in the construction of a garment.  The difference is that the professional has just done those more than the intermediate sewist or the novice – that’s the only difference.

Now that sounds sort of doom-and-gloom, that no matter what you do you will always have problems.  But here’s the thing, if you wanted to sew something that doesn’t have any problems, then make the same pattern up in the same fabric in the same size over and over and over and well, are you asleep yet?…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (I am!!!)

Not only is that BORING, but you get no where – seriously are you going to wear the same blouse size, style and shape for the rest of your life – uh – no, I don’t think so.

So you’re going to need to change it up….shape it to fit your look, work the fit so it’s your size and keep the fashion your hallmark style – that’s a lot to change on just a blouse, so what happens when you do this with your jackets, skirts, pants tops, shirts, dresses, tunics, well you get the idea – it’s a lot to change up.  But simply because there’s a lot to change up does not mean that you’re a beginner when you try a new style, shape or size – it simply means that you’re expanding your repertoire!


At the same time you would never expect an artist to use only red paint and that’s it for all her/his paintings, and the same way you wouldn’t expect a dancer to know just one dance step, you wouldn’t call either one of them a beginner – maybe limited, but not a beginner.

Now, here’s something I use a lot for a variety of situations in which making up a pat or standard  garment works:

  1. When I’m looking for the muse, do a top you’ve done before – make it simple and something easy and quick….and keep paper and pencil close by.  Before you know it she’ll be visiting you real quick.
  2. When I’ve just finished a horrible mistake and thrown it away (I always get my mistakes out of my studio pronto – it’s bad karma), and then I want to do something simple and easy to get back into the swing of things.
  3. I’ve just finished a major garment (usually a tailored jacket with pad stitching and a ton of hand work), and I’m rarin’ to go, but don’t want to tackle another major project.

These are the times I use a boring project, cause there is a time for it.  But not always.


So think carefully whether you are really a beginner.  You may know a lot more than you think you do!


  1. So wonderful and reassuring, I really needed the suggestion on how to conjure the muse;)

    One of my favorite quotes, sax great Coleman Hawkins: If you aren’t making mistakes, you aaren’t really trying.

  2. An inspiring post! Thank you so much for the reassurances. I’ve been sewing for a long time and still call myself a beginner. I will stop now… instead, I’ll say I’m only a novice on the new, challenging techniques/fabrics etc that I’ve decided to conquer.

    Truly, thank you for writing this little reminder.

  3. Huge thank you….this is just want I needed to hear!

  4. This is exactly what I need to read! Thank you!!!!

  5. Thank you. I so desperately needed this message at this point in my sewing journey.

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