Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two and a half years...I've come a long way...

I was just thinking...this month I've been sewing for two and a half years. And I've come quite a long ways since then. I'm in a niche that I never would have thought I would like, let alone be in.

Actually, since I'm talking about a sewingversary, I guess I could talk about how I got into sewing in the first place. Back in 2008 when I graduated from undergrad, I told myself I wanted to learn two things: I wanted to learn how to decorate cakes and I wanted to learn how to sew. The former I got into right away that summer and I loved it. The latter...took a while. Sewing was something I was still a little iffy about. I didn't know much about it, certainly didn't know how to use a sewing machine. The only thing I could do was sew by hand.  I've had a needle in my hand since I was eight or nine, so transitioning from cross stitching to hand sewing wasn't difficult. I finally decided to get into it when I wanted to make my own kimono. So starting in July of 2010, I got around to taking classes. Sewing...was a lot more complicated than I thought. And like all of our projects that we start out with, it was imperfect. The stitching wasn't all that great. You probably didn't wear what you first made. But after I learned the basics I went on to make my kimono:

The thing about kimono is that it's not a complicated garment. Isn't meant to be.  It's a garment of rectangles. So once you've made one a couple of times, there's not...much else.  So I wanted to branch out after a couple of months.

Then my friend Meghann started getting into steampunk, and I was interested to a certain point.  I was interested in the Victorian aspect of it. So I did research. By September I was dabbling in Victorian clothing.  What you ask?  A skirt?  A blouse or bodice maybe?  No.  A corset.  I went from not knowing how to use a sewing machine to kimono to corsets (a perfect example of my very odd ways).  It was from a commercial pattern and I used plastic boning and it didn't fit well (I don't really count this one) but it was finished. I completed it by Halloween (no pictures of it though). Soon after I discovered Truly Victorian and, not really feeling the bustle at the time, decided to go with a plain 1890s walking skirt. That was the first skirt I made, of any kind.

There were other crafts I was messing around with at the time. Kanzashi, kumihimo. So while I worked on that type of stuff, my interest in Victorian clothing grew until I decided I wanted to tackle a full Victorian dress instead of just a skirt for my first year sewing anniversary. So by May 2011 (on my grandmother's birthday, actually, which consequently was the first time I went to the Ren Faire here and the first End of the World date) I started on my first Victorian project with stripping a pair of boots to repaint them. I finished it just in time to wear it to Archon in September, followed by Rural Heritage Day soon after.

And the truncated Project Runway project was at the end of 2011.  I never did take a picture of the vest and jacket (they're still in my sewing room, don't worry) but I had a quick picture of when I finished the pants and blouse (it's taken in a mirror tile wall, hints the weird lines).  Proof that I've made normal clothing!

Which pretty much brings us up to when I started this blog.  So yes, now you see the (very odd) evolution of how I got to where I am today.  Who makes a corset after a few months of learning how to sew?  This weirdo.  But if hadn't tried, I wouldn't be doing what I love doing now.  I always strive to push myself, strive to try something new for each project and learn as much as I can from both research and the sewing process itself.  It may not be perfect...but it's what I want to do.  It's what I love.  And you can't ask for more than that.

I love hearing about how people got to where they are, sewing wise.  Feel free to share.  I sure have jabbered on enough.


  1. I'm actually intimidated by blouses and pants, so lots of respect from me! Especially as yours look great.

    1. Well thank you! Funny, I'm still a little intimidated by pants (the zipper still doesn't quite make sense to me, and fitting the crotch is annoying) but I'd tackle a blouse or a suit jacket in a minute. For once, yay for a small bust. It doesn't create fitting concerns as much. Maybe that's why I'd rather do them.

      The stuff I've seen of yours on your blog is amazing! I love your Tudor smock kirtle! I so should get into blackwork embroidery. It's so pretty, even simple designs of it.

  2. It's taken me far too long to comment. Busy busy! You asked about the journey...

    I was in dance class from the time I walked till I graduated high school. Since our studio was a small one, the moms who new how helped out with costumes. My mom had the machine out frequently and I sort of learned by osmosis. When she did try to teach me something I paid attention and then as soon as she turned her back, I did it My Way.

    We didn't have a really big table for cutting so we'd lay fabric and patterns out on the floor and I would do the cutting as she watched. As I grew up she let me do more and more of the sewing and when I was sixteen I got my own sewing machine for Christmas, a Singer 6212. It's the only machine I've ever had. It's had two tune-ups in 28 years and still runs like a champ. If you ever see one in a garage sale, grab it, it's made of iron!

    I didn't look at a sewing book until the last five years. There was a lot of garment construction my mom taught me without ever naming it, like full bust adjustments. I never knew there was a method for it, it just seemed intuitive the way mom showed.

    Mom gave me the basics. She has never been a very adventurous sewer. (Crochet You should see her crocheted Christmas village, complete with bell tower and lighted lamp posts!) I can't seem to follow a pattern all the way through without changing stuff. There is a lot I figured out on my own that I could have gotten from a book (or now, videos!) instead of fragging hundreds of yards of fabric. Eh, nothing like hands on experience. :D

    1. Yeah, that does sound like you and your "Eh...I'll do it whatever way makes sense to me." Sometimes, especially with what we do, that's just how you have to do it because there isn't going to be a guide in a book. And I always find it funny that I learn the proper term for it after I've done it for Victorian clothing.

      I keep telling myself that once my brain stops bombarding me with creative ideas (and I more of a Victorian wardrobe that I don't feel inclined to make a new dress every year if I don't want to) I want to get a bolt or two of muslin and just mess around. Take something like a complicated draped dress and see if I can replicate it. Test ideas that have been in my head and see if it's doable. Even though you wasted all that fabric, you learned something from it. And it's that stuff that makes you a better seamstress, not necessarily the stuff you learn in books (although it's very helpful).