Good, But Not The Best

I have officially started my self-education in sewing! My lovely husband gifted me some patterns for Christmas (The Scout Tee by Grainline Studio and The Camber Set by Merchant and Mills) and I have a stack of fabric stashed away, so it was time to get sewing.

As a recovering perfectionist, it is so difficult to put the expectation of creating a perfect garment aside. Even though I know that this first attempt is just that – a first attempt, full of new skills and techniques and destined to be imperfect – I still can’t help but hope against hope that it turns out magically, wonderfully perfect in every way.

I was extra careful in every step. I put my sewing machine pedal on slow so that I couldn’t rush. I followed the instructions to the letter, and just did small sections at a time so that I wasn’t tired or burned out. I made a few little mistakes, and fixed them as I went. I told myself, time and time again, that it wouldn’t be perfect, and that is ok.

And you know what?

The finished product is good. Good, but not the best. And that is fine with me.

good

image via threadless.com

There are a few issues with it. The sleeves aren’t quite even in the gathering at the shoulder. The neckline is sitting funny, rolling out, and I’m not sure why. I’m hoping that a wash will help it to settle down. But the seams are straight, it is long enough in the body and it is an all-together wearable garment that I am pretty proud of. I’m looking forward to having another go at this pattern soon.

Have you made a Scout Tee? Any tips?

A Year In The Making

I’m back.

2018 has been a crazy year. We welcomed our daughter Edie to our family shortly after my last post and things really haven’t slowed down since then.

A super short run down of the year …

Two children, an infant and a toddler. Little sleep. Lots of minor, annoying illnesses. Big life decisions. Lots of small, happy moments. Lots of small, desperate moments. Some heartbreak. Some joy. Many normal days that I didn’t feel thankful for until I looked back on them and realised that normal is amazing. Patches of creativity, patches of frustration, patches of apathy. A feeling that things will only get better from here.

Throughout all of this, I have been chipping away at little projects. I completed two knitted jumpers, one for Tyson and one for myself. Lots of pairs of socks and little hats. Some decorations for a cancelled birthday party. A redesigned advent calendar which will be redesigned again next year.

And I realise, more and more every day, how important my creative pursuits are to me. How much it matters. How I need to keep making, keep creating, keep trying new things, keep failing and keep trying again. My list of things that I want to learn gets longer every day. Some days I find it frustrating, and some days I find it exhilarating. I have never really had a passion, a drive to do anything at all, and now I do. The irony is that in the past I had the means and the time to do whatever I could have dreamed up, and now I am limited. The funny thing about it is that the having limitations just makes the drive stronger.

I’m a maker now, and makers gotta make.

 

Learning to Sew

Given my addiction to buying secondhand fabric, I figured it was about time that I developed my rudimentary sewing abilities into a more rounded skill set. I rarely venture beyond straight lines, straight stitch and non-stretch fabric, and the thought of doing so used to give me the heebie jeebies.

I started looking into local sewing classes, but boy, were they expensive. I found something that looked promising – a kind of sewing workshop at a local cafe where you could just go in with your project and talk to a lady who had taught dressmaking at TAFE for 20 years. Further research, however, led me to find out that this had been a bit of a bust and had stopped running in 2015. Bummer.

Then I had the brilliant idea of learning how I usually learn – YouTube and blog tutorials. So instead of spending hundreds of dollars on sewing lessons, I decided to pick some projects, use the fabrics that I have at home or find secondhand and go bananas. The perfectionist in me (who I am still locking horns with on a regular basis, but gradually, every so gradually, defeating) almost had a meltdown when I had this idea, but I calmed her down and sent her on her way. She’s still loitering around, peeking through her fingers and coughing loudly at every little error, but she’s mostly quiet.

I had a few patterns that I have bought online, a book called ‘Simple Modern Sewing‘ by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha that features 8 basic patterns to create 25 garments (probably 20 of which I wouldn’t wear in a pink fit) and an endless imagination for what I should make next. I had two boxes of fabric and kept finding cool vintage sheets and lengths of fabric at op shops. I had pretty much every sewing tool a beginner seamstress needs. There was simply no excuse not to get started.

So far I have completed the Wrap Dress from Simple Modern Sewing and have almost finished making an advent calendar for my son. I will go into more detail in posts about each project, but I have been amazed at how letting go of perfection has allowed me to develop skills that I would never have imagined.

What wonderful skills have you taught yourself? How did you go about it?

How I Became A Maker

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A collection of things I’ve been making – a pixie bonnet, a tutu skirt and matching hair ribbon, a wraparound dress, and a box with all the things I am collecting to make the doily dreamcatcher for Christmas.

I’ve been working on making a dress this afternoon. As I overlocked the edges of my pattern pieces, my mind took to wandering, as it does when my hands are busy.

I remembered how I learned to knit. The ladies from the Country Women’s Association came to my primary school once a week for about a term, and taught us, step by step, how to knit a beanie. I don’t think I ever finished that beanie, but I remember that it was red and I remember how to do a basic knit stitch.

I remembered how I learned basic woodworking and textiles skills at my secondary school, one of the last technical schools in the state. I was also lucky enough to be able to explore trade subjects such as electrical, engineering workshop practices and sheetmetal.

My mother and grandmother are keen crocheters, and taught me, although to the dismay of my grandmother, I am what she calls ‘cack-handed’ – I hold the yarn wrong and crochet more like I am knitting. But it works for me.

My dad always let me run off with hammers and nails and sheets of corrugated iron and planks of wood and handsaws – there are still testaments to this patience and trust littered throughout the bush block where I grew up. Deathtraps that I called cubbies, ladders up trees leading to nowhere in particular, strange little constructions that I don’t remember the purpose of.

I’ve picked up rudimentary making skills throughout my life. I love making and fixing things and always have. But unfortunately, until a short time ago, I was a perfectionist. It was a badge I wore with pride. Nothing was ever good enough! Nothing could meet my standards! I hold myself higher than everyone else because I am a perfectionist!

I didn’t realise that this high standard was suffocating me, suffocating my joy and my creativity and my making. It was stopping me from doing what I loved to do because it would never be good enough, so why would I invest the time and the effort? So I didn’t make anything, for years and years.

I am not a perfectionist anymore. I am a recovering perfectionist and I am a maker. I make fearlessly, because I don’t feel like I have anything to lose anymore. Every mistake is a lesson and a strengthening of not only my skills, but my resolve to leave perfection behind me, in those darker days.

As I stitched, I remembered how I became a maker. I had all the little parts of a maker, basic skills, passion and enjoyment, and a recognition that perfectionism had to go. But it never quite came together until this happened.

A friend of my husband’s came to visit with his new girlfriend. She had a quick smile and was kind and interesting. I liked her immediately. We talked about what she had been doing over the weekend, and she said she had been working. I asked her what she did for work, and she replied ‘I’m a maker’.

Those three words stunned me. I had a thousand questions, but I started with the most obvious.

‘What do you make?’

She shrugged.

‘It depends. Whatever I like. Sometimes I make paintings. Sometimes I make things out of clay. Sometimes jewellery, sometimes textiles. I just make what I like.’

She showed me her website and online store, a feature about her work in a magazine, and we talked and talked about being a maker. And I decided that I wanted to be a maker too.

So I became a maker.

I decided to stop being scared of messing up. I decided to stop being paralysed by the thought that what I try to make might fail. I tried and failed and tried and succeeded, and did it all over again. I experimented with different projects. I watched YouTube tutorials and dutifully followed along. I felt pride and I felt discouraged at times.  I worked with wool and fabric and lace and ribbon and clay. Some of it I loved. Some of it I didn’t. So I didn’t do that stuff again.

I started making. That’s how I became a maker.

How did you become a maker?

 

 

A Handmade Christmas

I’m not usually that into Christmas. I find it all a bit excessive and material, and try to keep it as minimal as possible. But this year, I am super excited about Christmas this year for a few reasons.

The first reason is that our second baby is due on Christmas Eve, although I’m hoping that he or she comes a little earlier or a little later.

This will be my son’s second Christmas, and he will be 20 months old, so he’ll be old enough to actually get what is going on. That adds a whole new element to Christmas for me, being able to see him enjoy it makes it more enjoyable for me. Isn’t that the great thing about kids?

The final reason is that my family has decided that instead of buying gifts, we are going to have a handmade Christmas gift exchange. Each person has been allocated someone to make/buy for, and the guidelines are that the gift either has to be handmade or secondhand, costing no more than $50.

I am making for my brother’s girlfriend, and I have so many ideas! My main concern is being able to make her a great gift before I get too pregnant and stroppy to finish something, so the clock is ticking. Pinterest has been my saviour, and I think I have found something I can make that she will love.

image via thewhoot

This doily dreamcatcher seems right up her alley – a little bit boho, a little bit feminine and a whole lot of cool. It has the added bonus of using secondhand materials and findings. I won’t make it as big as this one, but I plan on using at least eight embroidery hoops. I have already started collecting doilies from op shops (most of them have cost under a dollar each so far) and I will be keeping my eyes out for ribbons and trims that I could use for the bottom section.

I have ordered the hoops, some feathers and some trims from eBay, and when they arrive I will start putting the whole thing together. I’ll post photos of my progress, and hopefully a beautiful finished product.

Just in case it doesn’t come out as I hoped, here are a few more things I have in mind as backup gifts.

Some handmade wool socks …

image via unapologeticknitter.com

A macrame plant hanger with a cool houseplant to go with it…

image via heylilahey.com

And a little less fun but still useful, a set of knitted dishcloths and a massive jar of homemade chocolate fudge sauce to sweeten the deal…

image via littlehouseinthesuburbs.com

image via smittenkitchen.com

Have you ever participated in a handmade Christmas? Any tips on how to make it a success?