Sewing from scratch

Publicación en español aquí

How I learned to stop hating sewing and fell in love with it

It was almost by mistake, following a path that maybe wasn’t the best but it led me where I am today, so it can’t be so wrong. Everything started buying my first sewing machine (still by my side) and making some bags. Yes, I know everyone can make a tote bag, but you should remember that I din’t know a thing about sewing, nothing, zero… And my first reaction in front of the sewing machine was nearly like a panic attack.

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Same as if I was taking a photo to a lion on a safari, in the distance fearfully

My first sewing mistakes (first but not last)

  • Fabrics… anything will suit, won’t it?. Let’s go to Ikea and buy it only paying attention to the colours and the prices, type of fabric? what? that’s not important. Result: some of the bags just fell apart.
  • Threads… anything will suit, won’t it? I just need it to sew. The thrift store and those boxes from Lidl full of different colours will work. Result: sometimes with just two layers of fabric the thread breaks (the cheap ones, the truth is that the Lidl thread can be used in a rush).
  • Sewing machine needles… they are all the same, aren’t they? I started sewing a shopping bag, five layers of canvas fabric, my sewing machine made some noises not very common for a 2 week old one. Result: first broken needle and it scared me to death watching the needle as it got bent.
  • Interfacing? I am sure that’s not important, better working just with fabric. Big big mistake, even more in this bag making world.

These are a few of the many mistakes I made (and still make nowadays) along this sewing journey. Mistakes that can lead to frustration or to a bigger mistake: thinking that we are not cut out for this.

I am not saying that you can only start sewing if you buy the best brands of every item and spend all your money, in fact I still use those Lidl thread spools I talked about before for tests and topstitching. It’s just that if we decide to save some money in certain materials (like I did) we must be prepared for not getting things right the first time, and should be aware of whose fault it is: sometimes it will be lack of knowledge but others will be a problem regarding the fabric, the thread and so on.

From bags to clothing

Mistakes or not, the thing is that making bags for starters wasn’t such a bad choice at all: they are small projects (small doesn’t mean easy, some of them are really tricky), with not very big pieces that are easy to cut out, any table will do fine, a lot of techniques can be practiced that will be useful when sewing clothing, there won’t be any problem with sizes and fitting adjustments and very little fabric is needed for most of them.

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Full of mistakes but the most comfortable

And that is what took me to my first garment, the wonderful Margot pyjamas from Tilly and the Buttons. A lot of mistakes and things to improve but it became something that I could wear, that I was proud of and felt really comfortable. I used the wrong ribbon and a horribly wrong fabric (loved the colour so much!) but fools rush in where angels fear to tread (I have just discovered this expression and is the best) so I finished it without thinking twice. This project was the beginning of everything and that’s why I love it so much. Even though it rests in peace in pyjamas heaven I will never forget about it.

And that’s how it all began…

Since Margot pyjamas I have made a lot of garments. I wear some of them, others don’t, some were not my style, or the fabric was badly chosen… anyway the thing is to sew, sew and sew.

Sewing has taught me a lot of lessons (right now I’m even learning patternmaking!) and still does, but the three most important are: to overcome this obsession with perfection that blocks me sometimes, to be kind with myself when things don’t go well and to stop feeling the fear to make mistakes.

How about your sewing journey?