During the 80's and 90's I used my slapdash, hurry-up-and-get-it-done approach to make most of my clothes. This was the period when puffed sleeves, lace collars, petticoats, dropped waists, ruffles, and cabbage rose prints were trendy (and white hose. I wore white or cream colored hose back then with everything. I'm almost certain I even wore them under my pants.) My style was inspired by Victoria Magazine, the Anne of Green Gables movies, Laura Ashley, Jessica McClintock, and the Princess of Wales (the pattern for my bridesmaids' dresses was based on her wedding gown).
|She was so lovely.|
I quit sewing for a few reasons, but mainly because I was tired of spending time and money on something that didn't fit well. I also didn't want to dress like Pollyanna any more. At some point, it dawned on me that I was a grown woman walking around dressed like a little girl and the look no longer appealed to me. I moved on to ready made clothing, a more classic silhouette, and lots more time for other things (this was when I picked up quilting and then later knitting). I figured my home-sewn wardrobe days were over.
But, in the intervening years, the internet happened. I eventually found sewing blogs (I think Gertie's was my first), online tutorials, even online classes taught by professionals. My kids grew up and left home, I was no longer able to work, and I found myself with plenty of time to learn the right way to do this.
I'm sure that I have spent more time reading and learning about sewing than I have actually spent making clothes. During the past couple of years especially, I've really started to focus on learning good fit and construction. I figured out that I have very narrow shoulders (often narrower than the smallest size on a multi-sized pattern), forward shoulders, a full bust, and a swayback. I began by studying how to adjust a pattern for each of these fit issues, but had only moderate success with the actual process. There's something about morphing a narrow shoulder into a full bust that creates problems at the armhole which I could never fully address on my own and this is where the sloper classes on Craftsy came to the rescue.
|My woven bodice sloper. I'm terribly proud of it.|
Now I have moved on to the pattern drafting stage and, once again, have found that it takes a little more time than I anticipated. Each new pattern needs to be tested in a mock-up (or two) of cheap fabric before I commit to cutting into the good stuff and I suppose that, even then, every pattern will go through a series of tweaks with each successive garment sewn from it until I finally arrive at the one that says "this is it".
Right now I have an A line skirt halfway through the construction phase and a T shirt pattern that is finally ready to cut from the jersey I planned to use way back in May. I'm fine with the delay in starting my summer wardrobe. I'll make less pieces this year so that I can be sure that I'm doing things right. For the first time in my life, I'm enjoying the making of my clothes, rather than plowing through it like an odious task that just needs to be over and done.
(That's my skirt fabric on the left. It's a stretch cotton twill from Mood. I'm adding some piping made from black poplin and will line it with stretch silk charmeuse too add some opacity).
I'm hoping that my garment-making will speed up a bit once I've nailed down my patterns and gotten used to using them. The next one to draft will be a *sleeveless fitted shirt. I'm toying with my design options: princess seams vs darts, yoke vs none, what type of collar, which size button, etc., because all of those options will affect the pattern in some way. It's pretty cool, actually, that I can have that much control over the clothes that I'll make and wear.
While sewing my Alabama Chanin skirts last year, I discovered that I actually enjoyed the slowness of hand stitching each piece. There was a meditative quality to it that I found to be relaxing and rewarding. Although my machine sewn clothes will be finished more quickly, I've found that appreciation for the process has carried over into this as well. It's somewhat like encountering an old friend I hadn't thought of in years and suddenly realizing just how much I had missed them. I don't know if it's the newly acquired skills or the luxury of having extra time or just the appreciation for things that comes with maturity, but sewing doesn't feel like a chore any more and I'm actually having fun this time.
*Edited to add: the fitted shirt pattern is nearly done, all it needs is a collar (and yay! Suzy Furrer's Sleeves and Collar classes are now available on Craftsy!)
Also edited to add: I'm not employed by Craftsy. Just a very pleased customer.