My Sewing Journey: The Second Year

Curiosity just asks you to turn your head a quarter of inch and look a little closer at something that’s got your interest… Curiosity is a series of clues on a great scavenger hunt

Elizabeth Gilbert, Magic, Creativity and Fear, an interview with Lisa Congdon on CIIS Public Programs

I often wonder how people progress from one thing to another and I haven’t found much about the particular journey I’ve been on. So I thought I’d share my own. For the past year, I have continued to turn my head a little bit in the direction of designing and making my own clothes. Here are a few of the clues I’ve gathered on this great scavenger hunt.

Problems and Solutions

In January I enrolled in Beginning Garment Construction at Cañada College, because I wanted to improve my sewing skills in order to make bags, those carriers for the prepared. There I learned to sew zippers, knits, gathers, darts, buttonholes, curved seams and more. While pleased with what I had learned, at the end of the class, I found I had some problems in my personal sewing practice that I wanted to solve:

  • Ravelled seam allowances
  • I wasted a lot of time making muslins in sizes that didn’t fit
  • Even when I found the right size the resulting garment didn’t really fit me

Over the summer, I took Serging Techniques and bought a used serger and a Featherweight zig zag foot. That empowered me to take care of the woven ravels. However, while I continued to make clothes, I still wasn’t able to make things fit. In one case I made muslins of 3 different sizes of the same pattern and still didn’t make the right one. That convinced me I needed to learn more.

So, in the fall, I took Techniques of Fit and Flat Pattern in the hopes that I could design and make things that fit me. After 4 months of very focused work, at the end of these 2 classes, I drafted a pattern from my personal sloper and made a skirt that actually fit me! Yay!!!!!!! (Picture not yet available:)

Makes in 2019

When I looked back over the year, I made 20+ things, and explored patterns from a number of independent pattern companies. First the wearables. While I don’t have photos of all of them I’ve included a few below.

The Wearables

  1. Alberta Street Pencil Skirt by Sewhouse Seven
  2. Dress Shirt (2) self-drafted pattern (SD)
  3. Inari Tee Dress by Named Clothing
  4. Kimono (Simplicity 1318)
  5. Knit t-shirt (B4)
  6. Monpe pants
  7. Ogden Cami by True Bias (2)
  8. Pants No. 2 by 100 Acts of Sewing
  9. Pants (2) (Simplicity R10135)
  10. Princess sleeve shirt (SD)
  11. Skirt (SD)
  12. Yoked skirt (SD)
  13. Vest (B4)
Yellow and black Inari Tea dress on the author, blue knit t-shirt on the author, african wax print kimono on the author and princess seamed dragon print shirt on dress form

The Others

I also made a few things that are not, strictly speaking, clothing. And here’s where I returned to bags.

A black canvas tote bag, a pair of black sling-back flats, a red patterned chair pillow, a cowhide pouch with suede fringe
  1. Purse self-drafted pattern
  2. Eldena Tote by Kasia Ehrhardt
  3. Nilda Luggage Tag by Kasia Ehrhardt
  4. Pouch in a kit from Tandy Leather
  5. Pillow case self-drafted pattern
  6. Shoe repair

Equipment

Sewing Equipment: a Singer Featherweight sewing machine and foot controller, a Singer Heavy Duty sewing machine and an Elna Lock serger

I started 2019 sewing everything on a Singer Featherweight with straight and back stitch capability. It has many specialized feet that have become useful as my skills grow: felling foot, gathering foot, zipper foot etc. And I bought a vintage zig zag foot that pulls the fabric back and forth under the needle. With the addition of a serger in August I was able to keep woven seam allowances from fraying.

The pace of work for classes was robust and my Featherweight needed a hand crank to start most time and the foot controller sparked occasionally. Running to Needles Studio for the buttonholer was a welcome respite but not a long-term solution. By November, I bought a modern sewing machine, a Singer Industrial, and sent my foot controller into The Singer Featherweight Shop to be re-wired.

Space

Virginia Wolff wrote about the importance of a room of one’s own as space to work. In November, I began to clear a tiny corner of the closet for organized access to my sewing tools, fabric and equipment.

People and Community

The people I have met in the sewing community are some of the most generous and willing to help. Just a few of the people who have brightened my year: Anne, Audrey, Bernadette, Bron, Carol, Eleanor, Erika, Ginny, Heddy, Kathleen, Maria, Maureen, Michelle, Peggy, Ronda, Sara, Sarah, Stephanie, Sue G, Sue R, Sue, Thi, and Vera. Thank you all!

2019 has been a truly blessed second year of being curious and turning my head in that direction. I am full of expectant hope about 2020. If you’d like to read about year one you can find that here. Thanks for reading! Jennifer H2