Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In a Sewing Rut

After finishing my Precocious Kid's Art Project Dress, I felt a brief moment of elation that I had 1) sewn my first vintage pattern, and 2) there were no exposed fabric edges in it. That moment quickly left, however, and I tried to figure out why. I'm beginning to think it's because I didn't attempt anything difficult with this dress. For my Ondine's Curse Dress, I had to draft a collar. For my Blackcurrant Pastille Dress, I had to do a yoke in the top. For the Nothing But Blue Skies Dress, I did a weirdo back design and gathered pockets. For my Bellatrix costume, I sewed with leather and put in grommets. For the Betsey Johnson Floral Explosion Dress, I did a hand-picked zipper. So the fact that there were no new techniques, however easy, on this last dress made me feel stale and uninspired as a seamstress.

I realized, in a conversation with a good friend about Strengths Finder, that it's because I'm not learning and being stimulated by new things. Strengths Finder is this quiz that you take to, well, find your strengths. My husband and I originally took it as part of our premarital counseling. Produced by Gallup, it presumably tells you what you do best, what skills come most naturally to you, what makes up the core of who you are. I was skeptical at first, and admittedly I am still a little ticked off that 4 out of 5 of my top strengths seem to be the same thing, but it does more or less fit who I think I am. According to the printout that they spit at you after a hundreds-of-questions-long online quiz, my top five strengths are Input, Learner, Intellection, Individualization, and Deliberative. So, the summary is, I really like collecting knowledge and then thinking about it. Oh, and I see everyone as an individual. But the main thing is that if I'm not learning and assimilating new skills or knowledge, I feel stale. This is why I've dabbled in so many art forms, including, but not limited to, sewing, letterpress, graphic design, upholstery, glass fusing, lampworking, weaving, crocheting, jewelry-making, wood-burning, painting, and drawing. I really want to learn how to do everything in the world. So when I'm not doing new things in sewing, I get bored.

This is why I was so excited when the talented Reana Louise of Curves, Patterns, and Pins announced a new sewing challenge:

Basically, one makes a list of all the techniques that have eluded one in sewing and make a pointed effort to try them. Or something. So here's my list of things to learn/techniques to try:
  1. Putting piping into seams
  2. Lapped zippers done! 9/21/11
  3. Boning done! 10/13/11
  4. Strapless bodice done! 10/13/11
  5. Peter Pan collar
  6. Scalloped edges (whether on the neckline or the hem of a dress)
  7. Horsehair braid in a circle skirt
  8. Shirring done! 10/17/11
  9. Grosgrain waist stay done! 9/21/11
  10. Insetting lace
  11. Fish-eye darts
  12. Pleats
  13. Pintucks done! 12/22/11
  14. Draping
  15. Working with sheers, like chiffon
  16. Welt pockets
  17. Making a crinoline
  18. Bias-cutting to make chevrons
  19. Making my own bias tape
  20. Quilting
I think I'll end it at an even twenty. There are still so many other things that I want to do that aren't sewing-related, like build furniture and do brass-etching, but having a concrete list helps focus my brain. Most of the time I already feel like jack of all trades, master of none, but this will hopefully help me be slightly more a master (mistress?) of sewing, given that this is the longest I've ever been interested in an art form. Too bad there isn't a job that involves learning just a little bit of everything, but not necessarily becoming an expert in it. Sometimes (like when I'm trying to decide what to do with my life), it seems there's no room in today's society anymore for Renaissance souls. Being a science teacher lets you cover some of it, but not entirely enough for my liking. I can't wait to homeschool my imaginary kids so that I can teach them everything and anything, whenever.
Modified caption for Hyperbole and a Half's brilliant drawing.


  1. Hahaha that cartoon is perfect! I'm SO GLAD to have you on board and I can't wait to see all of the amazing things I know you're going to make :D

  2. you are such an inspiration! glad i found your blog in my search for bolero-making... :)


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