I can’t believe it’s been one year since I entered the world of garment sewing! If you had told me a year ago, that I would have sewn one garment let alone replace almost my whole wardrobe with handmade clothing, I would have laughed in your face!
I bough a sewing machine in early 2016 only with the intention of learning how to make project bags for my knitting projects. I was never that great at it, and try as I might, I couldn’t teach myself very well. I took a sewing class at a place in D.C. and when the instructor told me that she used hair grease to thread the needle of the machine, I thought perhaps maybe sewing wasn’t for me after all.
I saw on Instagram that a new fabric store was opening in Alexandria, Virginia and maybe another lesson was due. (Also, I needed to figure out if it was common practice to use hair grease to thread needles….the clean freak in me could barely recover from that one).
After initially setting up a lesson to learn how to make a drawstring bag, when I showed up the owner, Kalle, talked me into trying a shirt instead! I remember saying multiple times, I really don’t think I want to make my own clothes, but she convinced me to give it a go. I bought the pattern, traced it, made a muslin and made the final garment over a couple lessons. I did not do a great job – at all – but something about it, just stuck!
Oof…don’t look too closely at the neckline and facing – yikes!
While that Sailor Top I made was basically a hot mess, it kicked off an amazing journey – and one I couldn’t seem to stop myself from falling in love with. By June, I was making pants, by August, I was making jeans and by September, I was filling my closet with so many handmade items.
I was pretty fearless – tackling pants in June!
Thank goodness Kalle talked me into trying a shirt instead of a bag that day – sewing has taught me so much about myself the past year, and I thought it would be fun to look back on some lessons I’ve learned about myself and this amazing community!
1. I am much more adventurous making my own clothes than buying them in the store
My mom gets frustrated going shopping with me because I won’t try ANYTHING that isn’t the couple of clothing types I wear from my specific stores. That is not the case for sewing – while there are certain styles that I know that just aren’t me, I am so much more willing to try things that I would never have otherwise in a sewing pattern than I would in a store. Some of my favorite examples of these are peplum tops, t-shirt dresses and dresses of any variety.
I made a Winter coat in March – no way J.Crew had any coats left!
2. Sewing opens up a secret skill to never ever have to be beholden to the fashion world’s seasonal schedule
I used to get so frustrated that by the time I was thinking about summer, the ready to wear stores were stocking fall clothes. And when I was ready for winter clothes, “resort wear” was out instead! Sewing your own clothes lets you make whatever clothes you want whenever you want – Florida in November, make some shorts and cute dresses! Random snow storm in March, make a winter coat.
3. In a similar light, you never have to “wait” for that top in the perfect color or size!
Isn’t it so frustrating when you pick out a top at a store and you ask, “Do you have this in a 4 in this color?” and the sales person responds “Oh no, we have it in a 2 and a 6, but I can order it for you and we’ll ship it to you!” Sewing allows you to make whatever pattern you want in whatever color you want and whatever size you want whenever you want! It has made J.Crew thoroughly useless to me!
4. Sewing has helped me find my “style”
By being able to make whatever patterns I like whenever I like (see bullet #3!) I can explore different things. I’ve discovered (mainly through all of you pointing it out!) I love florals! I do not own a single RTW floral top – but they’re pretty much all I make! I actually really like pencil skirts – and I don’t own a single one. I feel like I have a pretty defined style now – one that is kinda different from my style pre-sewing!
This animation is just too good not to bring back – after our Southport Dress Workshop with Kelli from True Bias with Kalle, owner of Stitch Sew Shop, and my first sewing real-life friend, Emily! P.S. Emily just started a blog and you all should check it out!
5. The sewing community is filled with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met!
From the people I’ve met in person to those who I’ve connected with online – I can’t express how much each and every one of you mean to me! You all are so supportive and always willing to help one another and be a support system for each other. The sewing world has been an amazing world to enter – and I so look forward to connecting with so many more of you! I love hearing what you’re making, what you’re loving and what you’re obsessed with – so I can try them out too! So much love to each and every one of you!
In some respects, a year is a long time, but in others, it’s so short! I have so much sewing ahead of me – and can’t wait to hear what the next year brings!
What surprising lesson have you learned since you started your sewing journey??
What I nice list, I was expecting things as ‘learn to cut my fabric more precise’ and stuff, but this are really nice lessons to learn. I am sewing for almost 3 years now and I like the fact that I can chose the perfect length for things, like if you want to wear a certain dress for work, you don’t want it to be too short.
The only problem I have, is that I have way too much clothes, since I keep on sewing, so I will have to sell some stuff I think.
Lara Liz says
Thank you!! I was trying not to do a list of all the sewing mistakes I hope to not make in my second year sewing – so I opted for more global lessons! You’re so right about making things to perfect length – that’s another great one. I have really short legs and part of the reason I never bought dresses or skirts was because they were always too long and I was too lazy to get them altered.
So true about the overflowing closet – I’ve given away or sold 3/4 of my RTW wardrobe at this point and the handmade items keep pilling up! Thanks for stopping by and have a great Sunday!
I love this so much! I’m so glad you took the plunge and decided to try garment sewing, too – I can’t imagine the Stitch community without you in it! xoxox
I love how you put this together. I hadn’t thought about the benefits for creating out of season clothes, or how sewing can make you more adventurous. I agree that I’m finding my style more as I sew. Happy birthday.
Lara Liz says
Thank you!! I feel like the sewing clothes out of season is like a superpower that only sewists have 🙂 Or, those that are smart and pre-plan their wardrobe before the next season comes into the stores haha!
Diane K says
I can’t believe how far you’ve developed your skills in just one year. I’ve been sewing off and on for over 40 years and haven’t attempted some of the things you already do. So impressed.
Lara Liz says
Thank you so much, Diane! I definitely have a ton of room to grow – but it’s been a really fun year!
Happy anniversary. I’ve been looking to your first year of sewing and you’ve been very busy and made some beautiful garments.
What a story! You are amazing!