Category Archives: sewing

Find your wall

The Sewing Hype Cycle
The Sewing Hype Cycle
(Apologies to Gartner ;) )

I like sewing because it frustrates me.

I start optimistically enough. I pick out a pattern. I choose fabric. I tweak the pattern. I cut out pieces. I start sewing them together.

Seams don’t quite line up. Threads break. Pins prick. I hit my lowest point: the facings are flapping about, the clothes don’t quite fit, and I’ve just sewed a seam that I have to rip out. I wonder why I put myself through this agony when I could buy better-made clothes for less than what I would spend on fabric.

I stop and put my work away. The next day, I take the unfinished pieces out and keep going. Somehow, it turns into something that looks okay.

I’ve never had a “flow” moment during sewing. It’s a struggle all the way to the end. That frustration is important. It’s why I do it.

It’s a good kind of frustration. It’s not a “life is unfair” kind of frustration. It’s not a “people suck” kind of frustration. It’s the frustration of knowing that there’s something I don’t know, or something I’ve skipped, or something I haven’t figured out.

It’s the frustration that accompanies learning things that don’t come easy to me, like a wall with hardly any handholds.

I learn, and I learn how to deal with that frustration. I learn when frustration and fatigue push me into making mistakes. I learn the value of sleeping on it. I learn how to keep thinking about how to do things better even when I’d rather do something easier or more fun. I learn how to experiment. I learn that I can find a way over, under, around, or through things that frustrate me.

I learn how great it feels to climb that wall.

I learn that there’s always going to be another wall, and another, and another – and that’s okay, because the walls help me learn.

I learn not to fear walls by trying them, just as I learned not to fear falling by intentionally doing so.

It’s tempting to spend your time on easy escapes. Find your walls. Deal with that frustration, and keep going.

Learning about my grandmother

When I told my mom about the hooded fleece bathrobe I’d made for W-, she laughed and told me a story about how her mother used to make her dresses. My mom would beg my grandmother to make some time to work on the dress, which was low priority compared to running a business and keeping everything sorted. Sometimes that meant finishing the dress the day of the party, I guess!

My mom also told me a story about how my grandmother bought my mom a new dress. When the top part was too worn to wear, my grandmother replaced the top, keeping the skirt. When the skirt part ended up being too worn, my grandmother replaced the bottom. My mom asked if that meant she had a new dress.

I’d never met my maternal grandmother, but it was great hearing stories about her, and seeing my mom smile as she told stories. =) Just as I like coming across things or stories that remind me of my parents, my mom probably enjoys hearing about my newly-discovered hobbies and thinking about her own parents. =)

I’ve gotten to the point where I enjoy sewing. I like making things I can wear, and W- and J- humor me occasionally by asking me to make things for them and enjoying things I’ve been experimented with. ;)

I wonder what other common hobbies I’ll discover along the way…

The luxury of making


My standard for decadence used to be the microfiber robe I once had the pleasure of trying in a hotel spa. It was unbelievably soft and comfortable. I added a luxury bathrobe to the list of things that might be worth buying someday. In the meantime, I contented myself with the terry bathrobe I picked up at a bargain from Winners.

I finished making a hooded fleece bathrobe. The pockets are a little too low, the edges are not quite finished, and lint and stray threads are everywhere. After some adjustments, the sleeves are now the right length. The hood does not pull up at the back. One of the pockets features a cat. It’s mine, it’s cozy, and it’s the best robe I’ve ever had. I think it’s even cooler than this Jedi bathrobe. ;)

I love the territorial pleasures of making things for myself.

Made a sofa wrap!

In preparation for Neko’s arrival (and to protect W-‘s leather couch from the adventures of soon-to-be-three cats), we decided to make a sofa wrap. The two layers were a bit much, so we thought we’d try making just the underlayer.

The Internet said that microsuede’s pricey, but probably the best fabric you can get for a sofa cover (especially with cats around). After measuring our sofa, comparison-shopping at different fabric stores, and borrowing swatches to check at home (we even did some cat tests!), we bought 11 yards of microsuede at Designer Depot for $15.99 a yard. We stuffed it into W-‘s backpack and biked home.

I re-measured the fabric, cut it in half (making sure I marked the nap), and sewed the two pieces together to make a large rectangle. We draped the fabric on the sofa, tucked in the 12″ allowance around the cushions, and voila! the sofa was wrapped.

W- and I settled into it, and Luke joined us without waiting for an invitation. The tabby stretched in evident approval. Leia was initially hesitant, but she warmed up to it. =)

Level up!

Made a lunch bag

The ditty bag I made was in too floral a fabric for Wayne to use, so I appropriated it and have been using it to carry my wallet, iPod, cellphone and keys, all in one neat little package. As a result, I’ve drastically reduced the time spent looking for each of those things. =) Being able to quickly make and use organizers is incredibly cool.

I thought I’d make a new lunch bag next. The first lunch bag I made was a hobo lunch sack following this tutorial from Sewing Notion. It turned out to be just the right size for the Rubbermaid Takealong containers I’ve standardized on for my home-made frozen lunches. Hooray!

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It’s reversible, and I have a dress that matches one of the sides. One of these casual Fridays, I just might show up at the office with a coordinated dress-and-lunchbag set. ;)

Next, I’m planning to make a purse organizer that can fit a few more things, and then maybe I’ll make another lunch bag. It’s fun and easy!

On sewing and improv

By golly, I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Today I started working on McCall 8107, a simple sleeveless princess-seamed dress. I decided to take lots of time doing so, applying one of the lessons I learned from improv class. I cut out pieces, drew the seamlines and snipped the notches, and made lining pieces so that I could turn it into a fully-lined dress. I find that I don’t like using neck or back facing, as they always flip up. As I worked, I tried to apy attention to how I moved and where things were located.

Working slowly–almost meditatively–changed the character of the activity. I would normally rush through transferring the markings. This time, I marked everything. This time, I did it while watching some of my favourite movies. I also took the time to pin-fit on my duct-tape dress form, which led to a few minor alterations. I normally feel frustrated when I get to assembly because things don’t quite line up. This time, I felt at ease, and I was happy with the way the dress turned out once I’d pressed the seams.

One of the things I noticed was that when I took my time to work on the dress, I started thinking of it as something I might be able to wear for a while. Perhaps that’s because I reflexively justified the time I was investing in making the outfit. Thinking of it that way made it even easier to slow down and try to get the details right.

Tomorrow, I’ll work on the lining and the zipper. I’m looking forward to the completed dress, and to using my new-found powers of slowing down and taking my time doing things not just for good, but for awesome!