If you know me......then this may shock you. I have suddenly found myself with almost zero interest in knitting. It's to the point where I am thinking about doing a yarn de-stash and selling off half of my yarn. Abby's "Cats in the Garden" sweater
had a really profound effect on me in a few different ways. To start with, it really helped my brain crack the code on 3D shape and pattern design. I have always had to struggle with imagining how a flat item can become a 3D object, but designing my third sweater helped so much with that.
"Cats in the Garden" is the third sweater, and the fourth knitted garment I have designed myself. It takes me about a year to design and knit a sweater, and honestly, that just seems like too long to me. I want an entire handmade wardrobe, and there are a lot of things I want to wear that I just can't make out of yarn and knitting needles. I have dabbled with sewing on and off since Home Ec when I was 16, but I never really felt like it clicked with me. A lot of modern sewists are always going on and on about how knits are the "fabric" to sew, they are so forgiving with fit because of the stretch, blah blah blah, and wovens require so much more work to fit. But I obviously have no problem working on a garment for as long as it takes until I get it right.
I also thought that using my sewing machine was very difficult. I was constantly dealing with "birds nests" of thread on the bottom of my stitching and tension issues until I listened to a bunch of sewing podcasts while I was working. I realized that most of that came down to just a few very easy-to-fix problems, such as threading my machine with the presser foot UP, as opposed to down like it shows in the owners manual, changing my sewing needle more often, and getting the right thread for the job.
I started with hand stitching small projects, telling myself I was just taking a break from knitting until inspiration struck again. I am sure I will feel inspired again to knit, but I won't be chasing down the dream of large garments like sweaters (or maybe I will... I have two or three charted designs I still want to make for myself). I think I will go back to making smaller projects like shawls and scarves to accessorize my wardrobe for the time being.
Another reason I have decided to start sewing my own clothes is because of fit. I am tall-ish and moderately thin/toned. But I have scoliosis, so I can never seem to find a button-up shirt, or any woven shirt for that matter, that fits me in the upper back/armpits, unless I buy them loose and baggy, but I really love the look of a fitted button-up shirt.
My final reason (for now) for sewing my own clothes has to do with my health. In case you could not tell from my photographs, I am very fair skinned. I rarely tan, resorting instead to an instantaneous burn that flakes and peels, leaving behind skin that is ready for another burn. A lot of people just get darker when they are in the sun, but not me. Nope. I get itchy, painful hives all across my chest, tummy and arms, and even the tops of my thighs. No amount of sunscreen helps, either. My best bet is to slather on antioxidant Vitamin E cream, and avoid the sun as much as possible. And wear protective clothing. Like long sleeves. And pants, or knee-length skirts. And wide brimmed hats. Well, long sleeved shirts can feel pretty claggy and hot in ol' Maine in the summer time. So I want to experiment with natural fibers that were traditionally used for summer wear: linen, seersucker, some cottons. I am planning on eventually sewing some loose blouses for myself out of those materials to see if any of them help when I can't avoid the sun.
So here I am, telling you all about why I fell down this rabbit hole. I am devouring sewing podcasts and YouTube videos, I have joined the PatternReview.com, I am taking a class at my local fabric shop on how to properly measure oneself and use My Body Model to make my own personalized croquis. My love for handmade, slow made, natural fibers, and my color palette are all coalescing into something amazing. I am so excited to begin this journey, I have been wanting to do it for such a long time, and here I am taking my first steps. I hope you are as excited to follow along with me, and maybe even feel inspired along the way to finally take the first steps on something you have dreamed about.
Finally, believe it or not, I actually even have a sewing plan, although I am still fine tuning it.
1) I need to finish my waxed canvas zippered pouch to put my sewing kit in.
2) I have 7 small snap pouches I am making, some to keep and some to give away.
3) I bought some cotton/linen blend fabric to make new cushions for the chairs in the sitting room because I want to practice on my sewing machine some more. I am going to leave the cushions un-stuffed for now and use them for all my fabric scraps that are too small for anything else.
4) Undergarments! I picked up patterns for the True Bias Ogden Cami and some silky undershorts. These are most likely going to be hand stitched because I am not nearly confident enough with my sewing machine to try sewing slippery fabrics like satin, but I desperately need new undershirts and shorts. I am not a big fan of tight-fitting tank tops because they ride up, and I am sick of buying cheap elastic lace panties that fall apart within a year---even with careful washing and never putting them in the dryer, the elastic just shreds after pulling them on and off so many times. I'm over that.
4a) Period-proof underwear. Yes, seriously. There is a pattern and I am going to sew up a dozen of them for myself so I don't have to bother with bulky cloth pads ever again. Especially as I am nearing perimenopause in the next 5-8 years and I have already noticed that my cycles are changing and getting heavier with a longer "tapering off" time at the end of them.
6) And a couple waistcoats
8) Winter (heavy waistcoats and skirts made out of wool)
9) A winter jacket. I have two boiled wool jackets that I absolutely LOVE the look of, but they both fit very poorly in the shoulder/armpit. One is so tight that if I hold my arm a certain way I loose circulation in that arm. I would love to finally make myself a jacket that fits properly over all the layers I wear in the winter.
10) ? I have no idea... This is seriously like a 5-year wish list. Not only do I want to make all these things, but I want to makes multiples of them so I can get rid of the old, ill-fitting clothes as I wear them out. And not only do I want to make all those things, but before I make the first of any of them, the pattern will require a muslin/toile fitting to ensure I am making something that will ACTUALLY fit me.
I am not promising that I am going to go on a fast-fashion fast. I am at the very beginning of my sewing journey, and I have a long ways to go. I have two rapidly growing children that have a history of not wearing what I make for them, so I probably won't sew for them right now. I already told them that if they want to learn to sew, their dad or I will teach them (he is much better with a sewing machine than I am) and they can make whatever they desire.
Do you sew? Have you ever wanted to sew your own clothes? What are your favorite things to make?
Links to podcasts and YouTubers I follow can be found here.