Do you remember when you were new at sewing? When it was fresh, and you were filled with zest and passion, for this wondrous new thing you had discovered? In love with your machine and all the wonderful creations you would bring to life in rapid succession. Rows and rows of shimmering garments in sleek fabrics and fabulous trim, stretching out before your minds eye.
All your apparel dreams just waiting to be fulfilled one stitch at the time. A perfect fit, in the perfect style, and the most beautiful fabric, with the most delicious couture finishes.
Yeah well.. I am so not there right now. It is like the initial romance with sewing have met everyday life. And I have realized that sewing takes a long time. In my first romantic sewing haze I have purchased so many patterns and so much fabric. I am not sure how quickly I thought I would sew it up, but definitely not this slow. At this rate I got patterns and fabrics enough for a year!
My latest project has taken me over a month to complete. Butterick might say “YES! it’s easy”, and it probably is easy. But I guess when you are new, easy can be a subjective thing. Because there really is a lot of ways you can make it harder for yourself, if you are not afraid to try. And that is me. Not afraid of anything, not even the clearly retarded stuff.
Then it hit me: slow is all the rave at the moment, take the slow fashion movement for instance.
So I decided to make a tutorial on being slow. I call it:
Slow sewing: How to make “YES! it’s easy” into a month of work.
This tutorial is based on Butterick 6156 (version A), which you can buy at your leisure, I am not affiliate with any pattern brand/online shop, so what do I care. The principles as you will see, really applies to any pattern. So if you wish to follow along, feel free to use any pattern you got lying around.
The tutorial is developqed and tested by me, and if used appropriately will ensure you a prolonged sewing experience and possibly leave you with a lasting hesitation about starting new projects in the future (thereby extending the slowness), and some possible aches and pains. I take no responsibility for anything you do after reading this tutorial.
Lets get started!
Step one: Because you are a beginner, you should opt to trace off any paper pattern on to some giftwrap paper (you know, so you dont fuck it up, with your noobness), so here we add a good evenings of work to the project.
Am I the only one prepared to stock up on cheap giftwrap paper after christmas?
Step two: Measure yourself in the most obsessive way you can. quadruple check everything – you just never know if that measuring tape was a bit wonky over your back.
Step three: Do all your planned alterations, hack and slash away. Remember to always close the taperoll when you put it down.
(it is also preferable to do steps one-three in the evening when you are tired and “just want to finish”. This way you can make the accuracy of transferring markings extra challenging. Also if it is dark-ish it is a plus)
Step four: Make a toile (Make sure you in this proces sew onto of the zipper teeth for extra work removing and adding the zipper again) and come to the realization that the fit is completely off. That the waist sits in the wrong place, the fabric is drowning you, and you cannot get the gathers sitting right.
Step five: Start making you alterations. Here it can be good to remember this trick: If you do these alterations without giving to much consideration to the end projects grain line, you can add a lot more work for yourself later.
Step six: Realize that you will need to do something to straighten the center back seam and have a serious period of procrastination and self doubt – feel free to take days, even a week or two. Some things you just need to take your time with.
Step seven: Take your toile apart and transfer it onto paper. Try to even up the CB seam, by moving the curve to the outside by meticulous dividing the pattern into 1cm increments horizontally and measure the distance from the curved seam and a new straight seam. removing this measurement on the side of the pattern. Realize you don’t know what to do about the wonky shape the armhole has become.
Step eight: Make a new toile. Do some final adjustments, and try and scrub the pen marks of the kitchen table.
If you can procrastinate, feel free to do so. Here though, I could feel I was on the home stretch and things moved smoothly.
Step nine: Sew up your final garment, in a preferably very difficult fabric. To keep the slow pace you can choose between different approaches. Really it is up to what suits you as a person. You can either slow down the process by double checking the instructions all the time, or by impatiently disregarding them, to try and increase likelihood of mistakes and time spent unpicking. Also make sure to hem everything by hand. Never take the easy/quick way out. When you are handhemming try your best to sit in a slightly hunched over and twisted position. Be careful not to support you upper back, shoulder og neck. Stay in this position as long as you can. Despite growing aches you can justify staying to yourself, by the continual mantra “alllllmost done“, or alternatively “just a little more“. It is an excellent way of squeezing the last extra few days out of this project by giving yourself aches and pains leaving you unable to continue for a few days.
Step ten: Be proud and enjoy your new garment! Think about how many hours you have spent making it, and try and see how much the garment should cost based on amount of time spent and your normal wage. Feel like the queen of the block, because you just made yourself one extraordinarily expensive piece of clothing.
So that was my tutorial to get slow-sewing. If you try this method or If you use a different method or have experience with something similar, I would love to hear about it.
I mentioned slow fashion at the beginning of my post, and it is because I am consindering joining the #sewmystyle project (click the link to learn more). It is a project embracing slow fashion and spreading the idea of sewing to young people. I kinda like the slow fashion concept. Trying to get away from quick fix trends and clothing. Working my way towards a more long lasting, quality wardrobe (of all exuberantly expensive home-/handmade garments). Also I think that to try and make more sustainable choises is an admirable thing. Not to mention something I could always use a reminder to be better at.
I don’t think all of the patterns in the project are right for me, and while I think it is good to get invited out of my comfort zone, I think I will just pick what I like. Preserving the spirit of the project, if not its letter, and not sew up something I really do not think I am going to use. I think I will definitely make the January project, the toaster sweater, then we shall see where it goes from there.
To be honest I also just want to keep sewing a feel-good thing and not let it slip into a deadline thing.
Are you joining it? And if yes, what patterns do you look forwards to sewing up?
Anyway that is it for this time. Leave me a comment, they are always welcome and appreciated.