A Sewing Adventure Lived and Learned

I have all these plans and goals in my head of all the things I would like to do in life…I don’t know when the ideas first emerged or sometimes even what inspired them, but they’re there and won’t be ignored! Initially I don’t want to ignore them, but when I get started with them and it doesn’t seem to be panning out quite how I imagined I ask myself ‘why did I think this was a good idea?’.

One of these ideas, which planted itself in my head in a time long forgotten, was to make a baptism dress for each of my children. Reflecting on it now, I obviously didn’t entertain the possibility of not having any girls therefore negating the need for a dress. So 2 years ago, that is what I did for my eldest, with the help of friends and family. It was difficult and I learnt a lot, but I didn’t remember it being too traumatic so 2 years on I begin the task again. Having not made anything since the last time, I had forgotten pretty much everything I’d learnt the last time around…but feeling confident and armed with material, a dress pattern and YouTube, I thought it wouldn’t be too taxing..all I needed was plenty of time. I definitely remember staying up late with my mother-in-law finishing off the dress from 2 years ago and didn’t want to repeat those feelings of ‘will I ever get this done?’

Cutting out the pattern and material all went ok, starting the bodice and lining…still ok, understitching..fiddly but ok, sleeves..a bit of adjusting around the limitation of the sewing machine..not too bad. Attaching the sleeves…uh-oh! Totally followed the wrong steps in the pattern, hours of unpicking and restarting. The race against time begins, lots of silly mistakes with the phrase my nan used to say spinning around my head ‘more haste, less speed’, which rang very true! With little more than an hour to spare before the dress actually needed to be put into use, the last stitch goes in…didn’t quite learn the getting it done in good time lesson this time around.

I made a ton of mistakes whilst making this dress, and it definitely isn’t perfect. But even when I look at it now, with all it’s little (or not so little) flaws, I’m amazed that I did it and it doesn’t look half bad.

My top tips (for myself ready for next time, or anyone embarking on a sewing adventure):

  • Allow a lot more time to complete your project than you think e.g. double or triple it!
  • Read the pattern very, very carefully!
  • If using YouTube, watch at least 3 video clips on a particular skill/element of sewing, as they can vary quite a lot. Choose the one that you feel most able to replicate, or that shares a common theme with other clips (some video clips are not the correct method of doing that skill).
  • Expect to make mistakes…it’s inevitable and completely normal…that’s what the unpicking tool is for!
  • Don’t rush, this is when the mistakes happen (refer to point 1).
  • Enjoy the experience…may as well – it could be a long one!
  • Bask in the glory of your achievements, if even for a moment.

Going off on an interesting tangent from this adventure in sewing, to the relationship we have with clothes, the love of an item of clothing despite its flaws, embracing the memories associated with it….have a listen to this interview, I found it fascinating!!

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