Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Amazing Woman and Our Sewing Insecurities

Sometimes you meet someone who is such an inspiration, it makes you that much more gung-ho about sewing. I met someone like that today, as today was our monthly Lehigh Valley/Pocono Fashion Sewing Guild meeting. Unfortunately, Barb and margenann couldn't make it, but HullabalooBoutique.etsy joined Shura and me for a wonderful sewing/coffee chat. It really is a great way to start a Saturday morning and sets the tone for the weekend in such a positive way. (I won't use their first names unless I know they have already posted them at Patternreview.)

Hullabaloo is that kind of person. She calls herself a beginning sewer who has never used a pattern. In fact, she admits at not be able to interpret much of the pattern information on the guidesheets. Remember that intimidating stage so many of us went through? That's where she is at. And yet--get this...She showed us an absolutely LOVELY toddler dress she made that would require, IMO, intermediate sewing skills. She drafted the pattern herself, probably by mere guessing about the pieces. It had straps, an upper bodice front and back, trim at the top, trim at the bottom which included box pleats. The seams were all trimmed and finished. The back had ribbon loops in which ribbon is looped through and crisscrossed down the back, allowing the wearer to adjust fit. And each section was in a coordinating print with the top being (I think it was) recycled denim from a pair of jeans. Isn't that so impressive?!?!

Hullaballo had a simple toddler dress pattern with her tht she was interested in making, so Shura and I explained to her what some of the markings on the pattern were for like the grainline arrows, notches, and dots. We discussed fabric grainline, layouts, and the definitions at the top of the instruction sheets. But really, it all comes down to this. There were only two pattern pieces (the front and back) which she will likely use. She doesn't need to use the facings if she plans to make it reversible. (What a great idea BTW!) But that simple little pattern, far easier that what she was actually doing with her self-drafted, more difficult dress, was intimidating to her. And we did our best to reassure her that the little piece of pattern instruction paper should not be that way. It's merely suggestions mostly. A suggestion of how to lay out the pattern pieces on the fabric, a suggestion of the order of sewing. Suggestions on how to finish hems and other raw edges. Sprinkling of basic instructions like clipping inner/outer curves, lengthening/shortening the pattern, etc.

She is incredibly lucky with talent, yet unlucky at the same time. To be so talented (note--she describes herself as a beginning sewer with no pattern experience) with fabric coordination, creating a self drafted dress, and using intermediate-level techniques to create a beautiful toddler dress (she has sold 3 already!)--what a lucky woman. But to be intimidated by a pattern when you consider her talent, that is definitely unlucky. On the flipside, however, there is no better time to learn how to sew.

I remember learning at age 12 when there was no one to help me. A class in 8th grade, a year of sewing in high school, an adult ed class when I was a sophomore in high school, with lots of boo-boos in between making every mistake a sewer can make. I remember those days of being intimidated by the pattern sheets only too well. The difference back then was there was no one to encourage me. No one to guide me. And now we have the Internet where we can discuss our problems and get resolutions to them right away. Learning how to sew has never been easier. Via Patternreview, our little group gets together once/month. Patternreview has the yearly shopping trip in NYC for Patternreview weekend. We visit the site (well, in my case) daily for ways to improve our sewing and fitting.

Getting back to Hullabaloo's situation, she is a reminder that we have to remember not to second guess our skills. We're smarter than we think. It's a shame when pattern instructions make us feel stupid, and every once in a while there are some that still do. At that point, we have to put the sheet aside and do what we think is right. Not second guess ourselves via pattern intimidation. We all do good work with a couple of stinkers every once in a while. That's okay. It's the way sewing is supposed to be. She is an amazingly creative sewer with amazing talent. And I do hope she shows everyone at Patternreview the beautiful dress she has made. With *NO* pattern. *NO* instructions. Just, what I call, gut-instinct sewing and raw talent. It doesn't get any better than that.

She is truly an inspiration to all garment sewers/sewists. Hats off to her!


Hullabaloo Boutique said...

OMG. I just stumbled upon this... I can't believe what a wonderful and extremely flattering blog entry this is. I am all giddy and overwhelmed at your thoughtfulness! I am in amazement to say the least! I don't know what else to say but thank you, thank you!!

New England Quilter said...

Hullabaloo has the cutest clothing for little girls in her Etsy Shop! I love looking through her listings!