The Year of Fine Sewing

You all know I signed up for Susan Khalje’s course over at Craftsy a couple of days ago. I was so excited about the course, and boy has it been interesting!!. I have not finished watching it yet, but what I have seen so far has made me realise all the sewing I have been doing till date has been child’s play.

I’ve always taken an end product approach to my sewing. By that, I mean I was more concerned with seeing my sewn item, rather than enjoying the process of making said sewn item. I always wanted faster and easier ways to do stuff, and was quite sloppy in my sewing. Do you ever feel that way? Where all that matters is that a dress be sewn, no matter the fudging involved, after all, nobody will stop you on the streets and go

” oii, show me your seam finishes”, or ” hey mate, why did you not line this dress, or use horsehair for that circle skirt hem?”.

Never mind that I always used to admire the things made by bloggers who put in extra efforts to use age old techniques, such as Karen with her coat ( I’m still gutted I missed the Crafter’s Ceilidh, where I could have stroked that Coat), or Rachel’s cape, or the GLORIOUS wiggle dress recently revealed by Gertie. She says the dress will be in her book. I am sold already on the book based on this dress. I want that book published like YESTERDAY. Got it Gertie? YESTERDAY!!.

Susan’s couture class is amazing people. Its been such an eye opener. It made me wonder why I sew. What’s the point of buying good quality fabric, if all I want to do with it is quickly process it on my machine? Granted, I have never paid more than £10/metre for a fabric but still…… I realise what I have been doing is cottage fast fashion. Fast fashion on an individual scale. Churning out mediocre outfits which might be better than what is available at Primark, but not up to the standards of, say, Oasis, or (sigh) Reiss. Yes Duchess Kate, I said it, you are not the only one with a taste for good stuff.

What is the point of sewing then, if I can’t be patient enough to adjust the fit of a pattern, so it hangs better on my body? Why can’t I put more thought into a sewing project? Why oh why? Why do I buy all those sewing books and not devour them for knowledge, or better still make porridge out of them and eat so that the knowledge becomes part of my biological frame ( is that safe?)….imagine the coroner carrying out a postmortem examination of my body and seeing little snippets of sewing techniques oozing out of my bones.
Why do I ignore the advice given in some of the ones I have already read? I’m afraid I won’t answer all these whys. I don’t want a heart attack.

You see what $39.99 does to you?

So I have decided that this year, 2012, is the year where I go back to the drawing board. I want to make beautiful things that render you all so speechless, you go into your little corners and dream of ways to apparate into my house and steal my wonderful creations. You’d have to be careful though, I have a mean high kick…..I used to take lessons from Bruce Lee in my dreams when I was younger….FACT!!

As a first step, I decided to do an audit of my sewing tools. Ha!! I realised I was sorely lacking in the pressing department. I have neither a tailor’s ham nor a seam roll. I do have a sleeve board, which I picked up in a flea market in Belgium last year, but its in a sorry state, and I have to show it some love. My ironing board belongs in the recycling bin, and my iron is on its last legs. So where does that leave me?

Since I am going all fine sewing this year, I suppose I have to start with getting myself a good iron as apparently,pressing is the Key. Can anyone recommend a good brand?

And I leave you all with a picture of my brand new book, which came through the post today. I first came to know about it when Gertie did a post on it. There is also a review on Threads if you are interested.

This is the second book I am buying based on Gertie’s recommendations, the first being this one….

What about you? Are you finding yourself making more of an effort with the quality of your sewing?



  1. January 27, 2012 / 8:22 pm

    Since sept I been investing my time slowing down to make things better… I do want a easy quick item sometimes but for me the whole point of sewing is to learn … I enjoy reading.. Thinking… Creating… I get lost on that … Always excited about starting… I'm terrible about finishing…

  2. January 27, 2012 / 9:45 pm

    I am with you Dibs! I rush quite a bit and end up with things I don't wear. I'm just finishing a wrap dress and the bodice is a bit loose. I'm determined to fix it and have a perfectly fitting dress that i'm super proud of! Good for you taking the susan khalje class. I still have to do Gertie's! Hope you and bump are well xxx

  3. January 27, 2012 / 9:57 pm

    Great post! Patience is so important, and I can be very impatient. You are so right, though… what's the point in making your own garments if they are as crappy and ill-fitting as RTW? I can't wait to see your outcomes…

  4. January 27, 2012 / 10:17 pm

    Yeah I agree with you on the couture course – watching the videos was a bit of an eye opener for me – I've never measured and set up the pattern pieces exactly on the grainline, and as for hand basting everything, never! I tend to rush through a project as well so it will be nice to really slow down and follow her videos step by step

  5. January 27, 2012 / 10:30 pm

    I'm still dreaming about that cape Rach.

  6. January 27, 2012 / 10:32 pm

    I totally get you about wanting to make something you are really proud of. thats what i'm aiming for this year.
    Bump and I have coping, and limping to the finish line. 10 more weeks to go …yay!!.

  7. January 27, 2012 / 10:37 pm

    Exactly Sandy. I am so impatient myself, and lazy to boot as well. not a good combination, but we shall conquer those this year….well hopefully.

  8. January 27, 2012 / 10:39 pm

    Hand basting kills me as well. I suppose one has to suffer for ones art. lol….

  9. January 27, 2012 / 10:57 pm

    I know EXACTLY how you feel, I was the exact same way. About a year and a half ago I started taking private draping/patternmaking lessons and my teacher is a stickler (in a good way) for fitting and good technique. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can't complete projects faster. I used to be able to crank out 15-20 items a year, now it's maybe 5 or 6. In the long run I'll be a lot happier with my work. Already I can see a lot of improvement and I've started to really enjoy handwork. All of the extra steps really do make a difference.

  10. January 27, 2012 / 11:06 pm

    Oh I know! I TOTALLY need to slow down and make things that fit properly. But sometimes I just need a fast fix! Maybe I need to treat sewing more like knitting and make "quick things" in the middle of tricky step-by step week-by-week projects….hmmmm.

  11. January 28, 2012 / 8:06 am

    I'm with you on this. I have an idea that I shouldn't be flitting around trying lots of patterns, I should be perfecting basic patterns which I can then adapt. Some sewers want people to know the garment they are wearing was self made and feel proud when asked about it, I get slightly disappointed when someone asks me because it means I look home made and that's not what I'm going for! I really must check out this course especially as you were so kind to pass it on. The only thing I advise on this matter is don't be too ambitious this year, you already have a big project on your plate!!!!

  12. January 28, 2012 / 9:08 am

    You made me giggle with 'cottage fast fashion'. It is nice to make something really well-made, but no one's ever going to get me to hand overcast seam allowances! I'm striving for the happy medium.

  13. January 28, 2012 / 9:30 am

    You probably should. I don't think I want to spend ages on every project, just on really special ones. Stuff like skirts I suppose if I plan early ahead, I can make a really good one in 1 day, as opposed to a passable one in an couple of hours.

  14. January 28, 2012 / 9:47 am

    Thats true. I doubt I will have the time to make many things, but if I can only make a few really nice things this year, I will be so happy.

  15. January 28, 2012 / 9:49 am

    lol. hand overcast seam allowances might be a little extreme i think.

  16. January 28, 2012 / 9:52 am

    I think if i do enough careful planning from the start, I might actually enjoy it more.

  17. January 29, 2012 / 3:34 am

    Learning to fit my creations to my body is what this year is all about. I can't buy clothing anymore (it's not made for someone shaped like me, so why bother). So I feel you! I've been considering this class…

  18. January 29, 2012 / 8:34 am

    Last year, I have been thinking the same that's why I began in the fall to take a course with a sewing teacher. I's takes more time to sew a clothe but I'm learning how to sew quality and no more quantity. However, besides the project I'm working on course, I sew little project like knit dress … Since I began this course, I can see somme progress in my sewing.

    About the " Professionnal sewing techniques for designers" book, you can find a little review here :

  19. January 30, 2012 / 11:06 am

    I am just the same. for me it tends to be the planning and wearing part that I like, less the bits in the middle-I am so impatient! (I am like this with everything, not just sewing!) Having said that, sometime I just get in the zone and its great, but never really great enough to add time into the whole thing by pretty inside bits.

    I can definitely recommend a tailor's ham though, it makes pressing so much easier! (I don't know how I did darts without it!) I made mine, it was really easy and cheap.

  20. January 31, 2012 / 6:49 pm

    Sigh. I have aspirations & have started Gertie's Bombshell course which is already rubbing off better practices on my every day sewing. I am taking more time with what I make & getting a much better fit. I am also thinking about design & finishing touches too. I am lured by this couture course, but worry that I will find it too much. Perhaps, like Roo I should mix it up with faster sewing & a slow burner. I am still thinking about doing this, your post is very helpful, thanks Dibs!

  21. February 2, 2012 / 12:34 pm

    Oh, Miss Dibs, I know exactly what you mean. I just started sewing a year ago and I have made loads of things this past year, but perhaps only three garments of which I actually feel proud. The rest I do enjoy wearing, but as you so pithily put it, they are "cottage fast fashion". I definitely want to improve my techniques this year. Taking a sewing class is helping – I go every couple weeks and am still working on the same pair of trousers. The teacher is a real stickler for form and for muslins and hand basting etc. etc. So six classes in, I'm far from done, but I'm learning a lot and developing a perfect trousers pattern for my body. What's also good about the class – and here I don't want to worry you, mum-to-be – is that there are no children hovering around! As you know, I have two little cabbages, age 3.5 and 6, and as a result, most of my sewing is squeezed in around the domestic uproar. I have no time for muslins and fine details. I'm not saying you won't after your little man has arrived, but I have noticed that the blogs I follow that have the most impressive attention to detail tend to be written by people who either aren't parents or whose offspring is much older than mine, some even have grown up children. So I look at my fast fashion as an opportunity to play, have fun, explore and learn, and my sewing class as my chance to learn better techniques. Hopefully as the little cabbages get bigger, I'll have more time to go slower on my other projects.

  22. February 2, 2012 / 12:37 pm

    I know what you mean, Louise, about people asking you if you made your outfit. I always nervously say, "why, does it look like very "homemade"? i mean, thank you, yes I did." 😉

  23. February 3, 2012 / 7:51 pm

    Get out of my head girl! I have really been looking over what I have made this past year and thinking the same thing!

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