Tuesday, January 15, 2013

random thoughts

This is Barney, my sewing helper, he is indicating his approval of my fabric. If fabric hits
 the floor, Barney is on it like a flash. He loves it, silky satiny types are his favourite. 



I have been reading some of the end of the year posts that many of you have been posting, and it got me to thinking how fantastic it is for new and beginning sewists to have access to advanced sewists. Like many people, when I began sewing, I made many wadders. I always thought this was entirely my fault, fed into my perfectionism and derailed me sewing-wise. I so wish the internet was in existence back in the day, sharing with fellow sewists would have taught me it was okay to fail every now and then. I would have sewn much more and would be much more advanced in my abilities by now. It also makes me really grateful for the wonderful and supportive online sewing community, you are all a treasure. A big thank you to all you fellow bloggers out there.

The post that really blew me away was Claudine's from Adventures in Couture. I am sure everyone knows of Claudine, and if you don't, you should have a look at her creations. She is amazing and has impeccable taste and style. She made three wadders last year. If it happens to her, surely I am not such a failure it I make a wadder or two. Mind you her wadders are better than anything I have ever made in my life, or am likely to.

That brought me to another point. Bear with me, this could take a while to get to there. A good friend of mine and I were talking about cooking, and she said something about getting to be a better cook as she got older. I said (or thought, can't remember), that I think that my cooking skills have remained constant, but my abilities to choose a recipe that will work have improved. I actually read cookbooks, like some people read novels, I know I'm not the only one, right? Sometimes a recipe will sound great and as I read it, I just know that it won't work. I think I have fine tuned my instincts over the years, and often I wouldn't be able to articulate why I know it won't work, but I know it won't.  For instance, Poached Pears with Anglaise Sauce, this is a recipe I found years ago, and it failed spectacularly. I was unable to find pears at the perfect point of ripeness, now I would know not to bother trying the recipe, but when I was twenty something, not so much. I now live in tree fruit country and can find a perfect ripe Bosc pear for at least four months of the year. It would work now, and note to self, find that recipe and try again.

Here is the point. Is it the same with sewing? I think so. The more we sew and try to find the perfect storm marriage of fabric, pattern, are we honing or developing a skill or a sixth sense? I am pretty sure everyone has made a wadder once upon a time, using exactly the recommended fabric and it has failed miserably, so success in sewing isn't just a matter of using the suggested fabrics. As we sew more and read more blogs, and see other peoples successes and less than successes we learn and absorb. Lately I have noticed as I am planning my next project, I start off with one idea and then realize it just wouldn't work, whether that is because of my body, the fabric or the pattern, or most likely a combination of all three, I don't know. I do think that wadders are being stopped before they are being made, at least for me. Part of the reason this is, I have a healthy pattern and fabric stash, and having a stash I have the luxury of time in choosing the pattern and fabric, as opposed to a wanting/needing to sew something and having a limited amount of time in the fabric store, where as often as not it seems they don't have exactly what you want, so you make do. Those of you who live in New York ignore that last sentence, it won't make any sense to you. 8-)

What do you think? Do our decision making skills improve along with our sewing skills?  Or, do you think this post is just a massive justification for maintaining a large stash of fabric and patterns?
What do you think?



22 comments:

  1. Oh i know my skills of picking a fabric that compliments a pattern and also compliments my body shape have improved greatly since i started sewing. and i only started last year. my judgement is getting better, so i can only hope it will keep improving and maybe i'll make fewer and fewer wadders.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post! Yes, I am definitely getting better at that (fabric + pattern)/good technique x my figure + alterations = sewing success equation. For me it isn't even just that I have fewer wadders, it's that I have fewer things that don't get worn so much because they were ok, but not perfect - like one of those things was a little off.

    Cookbooks - You are SO not alone. Both Phin and I prefer to end Christmas day each year flopping on the bed reading our new cookbooks (it's just not Christmas without cookbooks). This year we got 4 between the two of us - an excellent Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is/are your favourite reading cookbooks? I love anything written by Nigella Lawson, Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet is a great read, I also enjoy reading anything by Cook's Illustrated.

      Delete
  3. I've (nearly) always believed that fabric and pattern selection are key to a good result. If you don't have the right combination, it just isn't going to work. Becoming skilled at this is definitely a learning process, just like mastering particular sewing skills takes time and practice.
    Working at a fabric business, I've seen first-hand those customers who have little sewing experience and think they can make the fabric do what they want it to do, when there's no chance it will work out. For their sakes, I too am glad the sewing cloud exists on the internet. And hey, even us oldster sewists can learn from each other!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It must be such an education in restraint working at a fabric store, I would want to try to stop people from buying the wrong fabric, and of course you shouldn't do that. It must be so hard to keep your mouth shut sometimes.

      Delete
  4. I think with experience and practice we learn how to approach projects better, and with so many variations a similar project can give different results so I would say a bit if luck is also needed lol

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post! I will push the envelope with pattern & fabric marriage, but the biggest area of growth for me is recognizing what styles work with my body. And lifestyle. When I got back into sewing, 3 years ago now, I swear I dropped in from some fantasy land of the imagination! I guess you could say my vision has matured a bit since then. Hopefully.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I read cookbooks like novels too. My sewing skills have improved over the last six years also - thanks to internet bloggers. I still get the proverbial wadder though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That makes perfect sense to me, both from a sewing and cooking perspective. I also read my cookbooks and spend a fair amount of time with a new book before making anything.
    It is a great community, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  8. That makes perfect sense to me. The more you practice the more you 'know' something will work in both sewing and cooking or whatever else it is that you do. We definitely are part of a great community.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post! And I agree. Success or failure of a project can definitely be determined before you put scissors to fabric.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post! I have to agree - the more I sew, the more I realize what will and what won't work. Though sometimes I want to push things and experiment, but I usually go into knowing it is an experiment, so I don't always expect the result to be a hit. I think wadders will always happen (be it a crummy pattern, icky fabric, or inability to figure out exactly how to make the correct fit alterations), but I think the tendency of them lessens with experience. Though, having said that I feel like I am now doomed to have some wadders right away. Hmmmm... Maybe I should sew some easy fleece projects together before I get to my good fabric...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sew the easy stuff now and ruin your fleece, instead of the good fabric.

      Delete
  11. I think in my case, I have just given up on projects that will involve alot of pattern adjustments. I used to sew straight out of the pattern packet before I had the young man. I was a b-cup, and a size 12, so i really did not have issues. Now I don't even know what size I am. maybe a 14, but my body is not as easy to sew for as it once was, so I think I have just mentally resigned myself to knits, and flares. So maybe I have finally grouwn up and found my style, or I am one lazy chick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing wrong with sewing with knits, there is challenges in sewing knits that you never experience when sewing with wovens. I am firmly on the side of "you have finally grown up and found your style". A woman who works full time and has a small child can never be called lazy. 8-)

      Delete
  12. Very interesting post! I totally agree about how the online sewing community is so useful to newbie sewists. I have discussed this same thing with my grandmother, who sewed all her life. Sewing used to be a very solitary hobby. Not so much anymore. I am sure I would not be where I am skill-wise today (not saying I'm good or anything-- just that I would probably still be making a-line skirts and using quilting cotton for everything) without so much invaluable input and inspiration from others. It's access to experience and information at your fingertips.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm sending your blog some love. You can pick it up on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well aren't you lovely! Thank you. Very much.

      Delete
  14. Ah, you cookbook-reading people. You confuse me. ;)

    As for sewing, I think both things happen. I get more familiar with certain problems---handling different fabrics, what needs to be stabilized, a hundred little things. And yes, a sense for picturing what the results will be like. Kind of a "know the rules before you break them" thing.

    I don't think I've ever reached a similar point with cooking, but I'll leave that to those of you who care about good as more than a way to make that pesky hunger go away... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I would say my sewing books outnumber my cooking books 100 to 1 so the passion never dies out while the hunger remains. A stash can reflect ideas and yearnings but I have seen many a lonely woman buy more fabric than she could possibly use in a lifetime. A friend in our local American guild warns us "If you don't use up your stash, your kids will be selling it at a garage sale when you have passed on." Who wants that to happen? Wadders are another thing...so many variables there even for experienced sewers...fabric you thought would work turns out to fray the first time it is worn or washed or the pattern company shortchanges you on the cap of a sleeve and it never hangs right...we have to be constantly on the prowl for these pitfalls and not take the blame ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yes, its funny how sewing, such a solitary pursuit, has become like a global club for me too, and I feel like I have a lot of virtual sewing friends. It's a whole new world, an absolutely brilliant one, imo!! I am constantly inspired by things on the internet... and distracted too!

    ReplyDelete