How long does it take a spider to become really good at webs?
I was chatting with a friend at the weekend. She’s probably a couple of years into her sewing career and we discussed some of the challenges. ‘Part of it,’ I said, ‘is that you just need to get a lot of sewing hours under your belt.’
There’s a popular conceit that it takes 10,000 hours to become really good at something. Is this true? After five years of sewing, I’m nowhere near that! But I do think that better sewing is about more sewing.
I realised it might help to touch on some of the frustrations my friend has felt as she’s patiently taught herself how to sew.
I Sew Clothes That I Don’t Wear
This is really common. You toil for hours to complete an item … and then it languishes in a drawer. Why? There are two main answers: you’re sewing something you wouldn’t normally wear and/or you haven’t yet got the hang of choosing the right fabric.
There’s a revelation right there. Successful sewing isn’t just about a needle puncturing fabric. It’s about which fabric and what you’re sewing. It’s the choices you make before you’ve even sat down at the sewing machine. And how do you make wise choices? Experience. I learnt the hard way that cotton fabric doesn’t drape. I learnt that by making several stiff blouses that I never wore. In order to learn how to sew, you’re definitely going to make some clothes you never wear.
It Doesn’t Look The Way It Did In My Head
That’s because marketing people sell you sewing patterns. Not that this is a bad thing! I want clever marketing people to alert me to great patterns. But taping together a PDF or opening folded sheets of tissue paper is not going to make you look like that cool person in the photos. Part of sewing is about seeing past the pictures to find your own image. That’s why clever Sewists always look for the line drawings on a pattern. Sewing is about knowing when to shut your eyes, but that takes confidence. And how do you find confidence? By building up your experience.
My Zip Insertion Is Awful
One of my big challenges as a beginner Sewist is that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And what I didn’t know was good technique. This is where the 10,000 hours rule comes in. Practice. Educate yourself. None of us can complain that there aren’t enough resources out there. Oh, and buy an invisible zip foot. That’s the other element you lack as a beginner: the equipment that will make your sewing more polished. Obviously! You’re not going to splurge hundreds of pounds until you’ve proved to yourself that you’re sticking with this hobby. But once you’ve caught the bug, you’ll invest over time and you will see improvement. In the meantime, don’t self-flagellate. It’s not your fault. You weren’t born knowing how to read, were you?
Here’s a final message…
It’s Okay To Be Just Okay
None of the above matters. As I said in my last blog post, it’s really important that you make mistakes. That outfit you end up never wearing? You’ll be glad of that one day. Life is not an Instagram picture; it’s a spider’s web of intricacy and error. It’s not perfect but it is beautiful.
Alright. That’s enough for now. Are you currently going through the growing pains of becoming a better Sewist? Any thoughts or experiences to share?