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 huntElizabeth 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.
I also made a few things that are not, strictly speaking, clothing. And here’s where I returned to bags.
- Purse self-drafted pattern
- Eldena Tote by Kasia Ehrhardt
- Nilda Luggage Tag by Kasia Ehrhardt
- Pouch in a kit from Tandy Leather
- Pillow case self-drafted pattern
- Shoe repair
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.
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