Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Talented Teenage Seamstress!

(Note:  Lots of pics in this post :) !)

I've waited a LONG time for this moment.  Far too long.  How I could have given birth to two daughters who expressed no interest in sewing I'll never know.  I tried to get them interested when they were 8 and 10 with sewing lessons at a local shop, and although they did make nice, fleece tops, they didn't get bitten by the sewing bug. 

I was a virtual pariah to them in middle school and high school.  It wasn't until my oldest daughter's Junior prom that I suddenly became a little important.  Gradually, I started become more and more important to the point where they actually wanted me to make knockoffs of clothes they pinned to their Pinterest boards.  I happily obliged.  The only problem was their requests went from nothing to everything in what seemed like overnight.

This summer my younger daughter arrived home from college and was doing a lot of sitting around on her laptop (looking at Pinterest of course) when she wasn't working.  I told her she could get a lot more accomplished if she actually made some of the clothes she was dreaming about.  In fact, she replied, "That's what I have you for."  ;) .  So it took me by surprise (that's actually an understatement) when she announced a few days later that she wanted to sew some tops for herself because I'm "too slow" lol.  If only there was nothing for me to do all day except hang out in my sewing studio, right?  If only I had a maid...

Let me tell you, she is a fine, young seamstress!  She is ambitious, easy to teach, and never was intimidated by a sewing machine.  Perhaps it was her early training as an 8-year old or maybe always seeing me at my machine.  Could be a little of both.  She had tons of ideas, looked at fabrics she wanted, and she drew out sketches as per my request of each top that was in her head along with the type of fabric being used.  She logged hours looking at fabric (a girl after my own heart :) ) and filled the website shopping cart. 

Here are all the tops she has made as well as her first getting-acquainted-with-the-machine projects. She created custom Greek letters in her choice of fabric, adhered them to the RTW tees with Heat N Bond, then zigzagged around the perimeter of the letters: 

 (My apology for these not being in order.  Blogger was being very uncooperative with picture placement.)

2nd tank where she learned about stretch %

1st tank with front darts for a better fit
5th tank with front V-neck that is hard to see.

4th tank with back darts for improved fit
3rd tank in lace w/ FOE and serged rolled hem.
6th tank, her best one yet with custom flounce.

1st Greek Tee

5th Greek tee
2nd Greek tee
Her Luck-of-the-Irish 4th Greek tee

3rd Greek tee.  We both love the leopard print fabric.

We decided to use the Jamie Christina Mission Maxi pattern as the basis for most of the tops.  She tried on the Maxi top I made for myself and liked it but wanted it to be a looser, flowy fit at the bottom.  I performed the necessary pattern modification and voila!  Her pattern was born.  She has learned so many things including:
  • Selecting knit fabric types like rayon, cotton/lycra, stretch and non-stretch lace along with appropriate needles
  • How to use the rotary cutter and mat and make markings
  • Review of fabric selvedge edges and importance of grainline or rib alignment
  • How to utilize the features of a top-of-the-line sewing machine
  • How to utilize a serger and a coverstitch machine.  (She's still not a fan of the coverstitch because it stitches too fast for her.)
  • Importance and use of the seam ripper, hem gauge, chaco pencil, tracing paper/tracing wheel
  • Seam finishes like a narrow hem, rolled edge, turn and topstitch, FOE
  • Pattern modifications for blocking and patternmaking design to make a flounce, adding circular fullness, lengthening, and designing a second back pattern for a choice of racerback and regular tank style.
  • Staystitching, basting, and reinforcing a point
  • How to stitch darts both fisheye and open-ended
  • Determining different stretch percentages of knits and how it affects fit
What hasn't she done?  Learn how to properly read a pattern!  I'm not worried about this at all.  By the time we actually choose a Big 4 pattern to use, the directions will seem like a piece of cake and just a rehash of all the info she is learning.  In addition, she is learning how to sew with knits right from the start.  What I will never understand is how some people fear knits.  She doesn't understand this either.  Knits have certain challenges, but they're much like wovens in that you need a particular needle, a walking foot helps, and having a straight stitch plate (like my Elna does) really, REALLY helps.  The straight stitch plate is da bomb because it prevents flimsy fabric from being gobbled up under the needle plate. 

Yes, she does have it made.  One-on-one tutoring by me.  I'm there for every problem, every question, and explain the ins/outs, why's/how's of every technique she is learning.  But she brings some very special qualities to the sewing table:  ambition, motivation, good planning and follow through.  She "says" she doesn't really like to sew, it's just that she needs, or rather wants, clothes.  However, she seems to be taking a decent number of pics of the tops she is making and sending the pics to her friends.  She accidentally left her phone by my machine last night, and her friend responded back with an enthusiastic comment about her most recent top.  Why she doesn't want to admit it, I don't know.  I guess that would mean that Mom is right--sewing is fun!  And we certainly wouldn't want anyone that think that Mom is (GASP!) right.  That is so uncool.  I laughed at her when she said she would stop sewing if I posted a pic of her on my FB page.  I did anyway, but only of her hands creating her flounce pattern lol. 

Anyway, I am a very proud mom! So proud that at times I feel like I'm ready to burst.  It has been a long time waiting for a sewing seed to sprout, and it not only has sprouted but is growing at a fast and furious rate.  In fact, she wants to go fabric shopping in NYC next month.  How cool is that?

So, I leave you with hope.  Hope that our favorite young ladies who say the never want to sew may some day change their minds.  We have planted the seeds, and over time some may take root and blossom into a young generation of fine seamstresses.  We can only hope, but it takes time and planning.  "Sew" your seeds carefully and nurture with encouragement and a positive attitude toward the art of sewing.


Sewingelle said...

How wonderful. There is hope for my daughter yet! Thanks for posting. And you can pass on to your daughter that I think her tops are fabulous!

Lee Anne Bourque said...

Hi Kathy, I enjoyed your story about your daughter's new sewing skills!! So sweet!! I wish I could get my daughter interested in sewing. She did a bit of sewing in her pre-teen years but never continued. Maybe someday she'll take it up again. Reading your story I wondered if all children are the same way as it reminded me a lot of my daughters ways!! lol She did a wonderful job and I see she is going "right to town" with it!! Good for her!. Keep up the good work!!!
Lee Anne

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish I could get my 16 yo interested in sewing! She loves fashion drawing but so far she is not sewing. Thanks for pointing out that there is hope! Very nice tops!!!! I love the flared one and will have to copy that! Lol