Lessons learned from Self-Stitched September

Well, a great big shout-out goes to Zoe for the SSS idea.  I must say I signed up with enthusiasm in the middle of August, and then when the weather turned colder on September 2nd, the enthusiasm turned more to panic.  And stressing about “what am I going to wear today that’s self-stitched!?!?!?!?!?!??!”  I have not stressed about what I wear like that on a daily basis since I was in high school.  Oh boy!

Yet there’s always been something sewing in my life…. so the last 30 days have taught me a few things:

Most of my casual wardrobe is ready-to-wear.  Simply because I’m a SAHM and, quite frankly, it’s easier to walk into my local thrift store or discount outlet and pick up a pair of casual pants for 80% off than find the time to sew them up.  All the expensive, business and evening attire I own is pretty much self-stitched, but who am I kidding?  A strapless silk duppioni cocktail dress doesn’t work for me most days.  Back in May I just had a hankering for summer dresses, so I finally stitched some for me.  Needless to say, the three lovely little people in my house bombarded me constantly with, “Who’s that dress for, mommy?” with looks of wistful hopefulness in their eyes.  Sorry, darlings.  Mommy is sewing for herself these days.

Most of my sewing for the past 10 years has been for my girls. I’ve put in hours and hours and hours of smocking and embroidery and stitching for them because they’re all girly-girls and love to dress up for church, dinner out,  a birthday party or school!  (No, you may not wear the green silk hand smocked and embroidered dress to school today, even if you do love to wear petticoats and it’s a dress that needs petticoats!)

I’ve mostly sewn for economic reasons. Now anyone who sews would go, HUH?! given the cost of fabrics, but it’s true.  For the casual everyday stuff, I have tended to go RTW because I didn’t have the time on my hands with three little girls running around – never mind the energy – to think about a sewing project unless it was something that was needed in someone’s wardrobe.  But when it came to fancy occasion dresses or winter dress coats for girls, making them at home was a big savings.  Hence the large collection of custom-made girls dress coats, dresses and petticoats over the last 10 years.  If I needed (wanted) something new to wear to that wedding that was next weekend, then I’d panic and scramble and turn into a B with an itch so I could have something new or pretty to wear. After all, it is cheaper than buying something lined, boned and not out of 100% polyester that was off the rack that would fit.  Ahh, yes.  Fit…

It’s a trouble to fit oneself properly. Without the proper dress form, that is. I used to be a straight size Vogue Pattern size 12 back in the day.  No pattern adjustments required!  But then I grew (in the wrong way) and added three children to the mix.  Oh boy!  Measuring myself was a sad thing to do, so I just stopped.  I remember at one point I refused to believe the measuring tape, put together a pair of linen pants, and they did not fit.  So I had to give them away.  But the tape measure and I have reconciled, mostly because I realize it always tells the truth.  And with practice comes experience and less frustration with pattern adjustment.

So, here are my resolutions:

  1. I need to plan a wardrobe for fall. So many of you do – sketch out ideas and colours.  Not me.  Never have.  I’ve just liked a design and decided I would sew it up!  The result is a closet with thin pickings and very little coordinates
  2. To sew more.  For me.  For my girls.  For friends. For pleasure.  For the art of it.

Stay tuned, ‘cuz there’s more projects on my sewing table.  A green cashmere jacket (cut out 3 winters ago), a pair of casual pants, the HepburnHepburn project, a Harris Tweed coat for DD1, perhaps a trench for me, a Chanel style jacket, some shirts… and a skirt… like this….if I can find the right material…..

3 thoughts on “Lessons learned from Self-Stitched September

  1. I tried to sew with a plan a couple of times. But I honestly have to say that it’s not my way of working. I admire the discipline of people who sew a complete matching wardrobe for themselves, but I think, to me, the whole planning of a garment, the thinking about the details, the picking of fabric, the finding of the right notions, it’s all a big part of all the fun. The times I did all this beforehand for multiple garments I noticed I got bored during the way, missing the creative part and the feeling of anticipation that comes with the process before the actual sewing. So I guess it’s just not for me 🙂

    That skirt is beautiful by the way. What kind of fabric is it?

  2. I think you are right. Sewing does save money when you are sewing for special occasions, otherwise it can’t be justified on a cost basis alone. I sew less and less for my daughters because they don’t seem to like what I sew for them, whereas I really appreciate the things I sew for myself! Like you, I often think that I should coordinate my sewing efforts in order to have a closet that works, but I never succeed. I dart from one item that takes my fancy to the next. In my defence, it is difficult to source nice fabrics, and trying to find a clutch of nice fabrics that coordinate is nigh on impossible.


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