October 30, 2011

Lesson Learned While Sewing

As I mentioned yesterday, I was sewing myself up a bag and here it is!

It's been a long time since I've actually completed a sewing project.  I have a couple half finished dresses that I've finally started looking at again.  I think I got a little distracted by crochet and knitting and probably because, well, sewing is hard.  

You have to be quite precise.  You need to have a sewing machine that works and sometimes things break.  You need to pay attention to detail.  If you don't read the pattern properly you can #$%^ up royally and that can involve a lot stitches being ripped out.  I also find that I need to be inspired to sew and create something.  I need the perfect fabric.  I need to really want something.

Sewing can really reveal your character.  It can bring out emotions and frustrations.  You need to stay focused and you need to know when to go to bed.

Things I Noticed About Myself While I Was Sewing.

1.  I am more organized than I ever used to be.  Things need to be cleared out of the way.  The fabric needs to be pressed and folded.  The pattern pieces need to be folded neatly and returned to their envelopes.  

Notice my set up below.  LW and I live in a small space, I don't have a sewing room and things need to be well organized.  So, I set up my Nan's serger on the kitchen table, my sewing machine on the desk and ironing board right beside everything.  All I had to do was swivel my chair between the two machines and stand up in order to press something.  It made for much more efficient sewing.

 2.  I do not like following patterns to a T.  I like patterns for ideas, I like to see how things are made but I don't like following directions.  I noticed after I was finished the bag that on the original pattern the straps for the bag were supposed to be sewn to the inside so that all that was visible were the handles.  Right from the beginning I visualized the straps sewn to the outside so that the pattern of the fabric would be broken up slightly.

3.  If I don't follow a pattern it is so important to actually measure and then cut out a paper pattern so that you aren't guessing and so that you can use it again.  I never used to do this.  I would simply lay the pattern out and then cut an extra 4 or 5 inches on either side with little direction.  Needless to say this often caused more headaches.

4.  Patterns from the 70s are written differently than today's patterns.  The language has changed slightly.  I don't how exactly but I really had to carefully read a couple of steps in this pattern for the bag that I found in my Nan's closet.

And check out the price! $1.50 for a pattern!  They range from $5.00 to $15.00 these days.

5.  It is so important to take breaks.  No matter how quickly you want to complete a project.  If you start getting tired, you start making mistakes

I was sewing until midnight on Friday night.  First off, I rarely am up that late.  Second, I did make mistakes.  They weren't critical mistakes but they definitely made the final steps more challenging than they had to be.

6.  Stay calm.  I can get frustrated very easily.  Especially when it comes to mechanical things.  I know from my past sewing experiences that if I didn't stay calm the whole project could be ruined.

Sewing the bottom onto this bag was very difficult.  But I managed to stay calm and step back and try to figure out the best way to tackle the problem.

7.  Breathe.  Just as in yoga, your breath will guide you through difficult poses.  Well, if you forget to breathe while you're sewing, first your shoulders hunch up then you get tense.  Then you start getting a headache and then you get frustrated.

8.  Stop if you're not sure what to do next.  Sometimes the pattern is confusing.  Sometimes you get so caught up in one step you can't seem to grasp the next.  Walk away.  Do something different.  

For this project, I was half following a pattern and half of it was in my head.  A couple times I had to get up, walk away and go do something else for a few minutes.  I would come back, regroup and it was amazing how my next step seemed clearer.

So there you have it.  A bag completed and a few personal lessons learned.

Now I'm on to bag number 2 and trying to make some improvements.

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