#SewTalk

#SewTalk: How long it takes to learn to sew?

24167148_10208171159556779_1854370297_o

Hi Everyone!

Good to be back to #SewTalk Mondays – I love sewing, but I love talking about it as well, so these little chats are always very refreshing! If you have any question about sewing – please let me know if the comments below, I will be glad to answer them on my next #SewTalk! Let’s move to today’s interesting topic:

How long it takes to learn to sew?

Very good question, though I do not have a definite answer to it: some people are naturally talented at it and catch up with how things work quite fast; others – like me – may not be that gifted in this field, but compensates through hard work and putting extra hours to it. Because of that, I am able to answer this question only based on my own journey, meaning it may or may not apply to others.

There is a great book by Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers: The Story of Success” which analyses why some people are successful and others are not – one of the main points in it is that you have to put at least 10.000 hours into something you want to excel at. Of course, these are number of hours you need to put in if you want to become a professional at a certain field, but the idea applies everywhere: if you want to become good at something, you need to put time to it.

The first garment that I made and dared to wear in public was a blouse and I worked on it each evening for one week (roughly, it was about 10-12 hours of work); before this blouse I tried (but miserably failed at) making two garments (approx. 8 hours in total) – all this combined, it took me about 20 hours of sewing just to learn to make a somewhat decent looking garment.

The first well-fitting garment that I made was a white linen unlined jacket and it was a first garment that I wore more than once. However, to gather enough skills to make it, I had to first make about 3-4 not-so-well-fitting clothing pieces, worth about 30 additional hours of sewing. To sum up, it took about 50 hours of sewing to make my first nicely fitting clothing piece, which was the beginning of my me-made wardrobe.

The math of hours gets lost later on, as I got distracted from sewing as the years went by and I was making around 4-6 garments a year (yup, I had such stages in life where sewing machine was the last thing on my mind). Those were not the times my sewing skills grew much, but at least I was learning a little bit of something new with every clothing piece that I made, no matter how rare it happened.

Fast forward to last year, when I felt I was not happy where my skills are and decided to enroll to sewing school, which means clocking at least 2.5 hours of sewing every day after work. I made a commitment to learn as much as I can throughout these 2 years of school and I try to squeeze in as much sewing to my schedule as I can, meaning I try to find at least 10 hours for it on weekend as well. These hours combine to approx. 22 hours a week, or 1215 hours of sewing a year. Now this input gave significant boost: my sewing skills got better; I sew much quicker (it took me about 5 hours to complete a well-fitted lined jacket you recently saw on my Instagram – unimaginable speed to earlier days, where I would have spent more than a week on a clothing like that) and I even feel comfortable and skilled enough to sew for others, which was a big no-no for me before.

Of course, I only feel comfortable in putting so many hours to sewing because I truly love it; to others such hours might sound out of touch (and it’s okay – to many it’s a fun hobby that does not need to be taken to the extremes), but I hope my point is clear: everyone can learn to sew and it depends how much time and work you put in it. Even dressmakers at Dior haute couture atelier where once novices, think about that!

 

Wish you all a productive work week.

Yours truly, Julie

Uncategorized

#SewTalk: How to react if people ask you to fix things?

23635573_10208097345631477_1148898826_n

Hi Everyone!

Please excuse for late #SewTalk Monday coming on Tuesday – sometimes the world around you starts spinning even faster than usual, adding more things labelled “urgent and important” and forcing on some extra re-prioritisation. But enough about that and let’s talk about our favourite topic – sewing!  Boy oh boy, this week’s #SewTalk pickle is a good one:

When people learn that I sew, they constantly start asking to fix their clothing – replace the zipper, take-in a dress, hem pants and etc., but I don’t like doing that. How can I politely say “no” in this situation? Or should I just take it as a compliment and do what asked?

Oh, how I totally understand you – fixing things for others is something that instantly kills my sewing mojo (talked a bit more about that in last week’s #SewTalk). No, seriously: if you want me to lose love for sewing, just give me a pair of pants to hem – I will avoid the sewing machine for as long as I can! As this activity gives me zero joy and is not very interesting financially (because, well, let’s face it: people who ask you to fix something for them, usually want you to do it free of charge), therefore I politely decline such requests most of the time – you can call me selfish, but with the limited time that we all have, I am just not okay with the idea of doing something I don’t like, something that does not develop my skills any further nor gives reasonable financial benefits, and fixing clothing for other falls exactly in this category.

Throughout the time I found two politely, yet effective ways to decline such proposals, depending on how they are asking and my inner reasoning:

  • “Sorry, but my skills are not yet at the level where I could do this fix in the quality that is needed and just cannot take a risk of ruining this clothing for you”. For the longest time I did not feel secure about my sewing skills and I would not take up on doing any project for others, let alone “trying” to fix something – the good thing is, people usually accept such honest reasoning (or, more likely, don’t want you to “test” your skills on their 100 Eur pants, ha!).
  • “Thank you for asking this, but I don’t do fixing, however there is a local atelier just around the corner that does a good job with great quality-price ratio!”. Sometimes, the cold-hard truth is the best way to go – you don’t like fixing clothing and that’s it. But do add a suggestion where they could find help – people will not feel uncomfortable with the decline, if you will offer a suggestion to them!
  • “I feel flattered that you trust my skills to perform this task, but at the moment I have a lot going on and all my projects are planned few months ahead. You should check this local atelier – they will be able to do it for you almost instantly and you won’t have to wait!”. We live at times where people value time over anything and so they will surely understand this reasoning, as long as you add a notion where they can find a quicker help!

In conclusion, I  would like to add that asking people to do favours is a two way street: if you don’t like to be asked to fix clothing for others, think twice before asking people to do something they don’t have to for you (I always feel a little bad for programmers, as they are used to hearing “Oh, you work with computers? I have a problem with mine, can you take a look?”).

That’s it for today’s #SewTalk – if you have a question you would like to ask, let me know in the comments below or send an email at julie@sewingjulie.com and I will answer them next week!

Wish you all a great and productive week!

Yours truly, Julie

#SewTalk

#SewTalk: What to do if I lost my sewing mojo?

23316235_10208053438333822_1126799178_n

Hi Everyone!

In #SewTalk Monday I answer questions about sewing – if there is anything you want to know, please feel free to let me know in the comments below and I will answer them on next weeks #SewTalk Monday! This weeks question:

Lately I have been feeling uninspired to sew and cannot find motivation to finish project I started. What to do if I lost my sewing mojo?

I think it’s one of those things we all go through: one minute we are on a “wave” and tackle project after project, then all of a sudden we get stuck and cannot even finish simple garment we started (yup – been there, done that). As with all problems in life, best way to find a solution for the issue is to find the root of why it happened. Based on my own experience, following reasons are most common:

  • Life happens. I started a full-time job while I was still in university, so I had a lot on my plate to focus on. Juggling between lectures, exams and starting a career made me limit all other activities to the minimum, including sewing, and I almost completely did not sew for a couple of years (at that time I would make 1-2 garments a year, yikes!). What to do? If you have other priorities that rate higher than a hobby of sewing, your entire focus should be to main importance areas. Don’t worry – sewing is like riding a bike: once you learn it, you will always know how to do it, so you will be able to return to active sewing once things in life get less intense.  
  • The project is too difficult/boring and etc. – the problem is with the project, not your sewing mojo. I too had some very uninspiring projects that made me dread even looking at sewing machine and make me want to do anything else but sewing.  What to do? It might not be a popular opinion, but I would advice to put that struggling project away and start something you would enjoy making. Now mind you, I do like to push myself and tackle difficult tasks, however I also know that there are some projects that might kill entire joy of sewing for long years to come, so I’d rather put them aside, make something fun instead and might return to it after some time!
  • You’re tired. This year, while I am still at sewing school, sewing is one of my key focuses. It means that try to sew or do something sewing related (like this blog, for example) every free minute that I get and I enjoy it a lot. That being said, I have moments when I come home from work at the end of the week and cannot make myself sew even a single stitch. What to do? Give yourself some time off: trust me, even a couple of hours of free-time does wonders; if I would spend a Friday evening relaxing and cosying up, I would feel refreshed and ready to tackle big projects from early Saturday morning!
  • You don’t have an inspiring project on hand. Well, it’s difficult to want to sew if you don’t know what you want to sew; and on contrary – is difficult not to sew, when you have an inspiring project on hand! What to do? Inspiration may not come easy sometimes, so I suggest just search for it! For example, if I feel that I need some inspiration-kick, I would open Instagram feed and look what other sewists are up to; or open Pinterest for some pattern and fashion look ideas; last but not least, I would go to check MimiG, Erica Bunker or GoodByeValentino blogs – these ladies are explosions of inspiration and make me want to run to my sewing machine instantly!

All in all, sewing is a fun hobby to most of us, so make sure to maintain and keep that sewing mojo going!

Best regards,

Julie

#SewTalk, Uncategorized

#SewTalk: How to avoid making “home made” looking clothing?

DSC_9865

Hello Everyone!

These past few weeks have been flying by very fast, so it’s hard to believe it’s Monday again, meaning it’s time for our #SewTalk! If you have any sewing related question that you have – leave a comment below or write me an email at julie@sewingjulie.com, and I will answer them in next weeks #SewTalk! Without further ado, let’s move to our this week’s topic:

How to avoid handmade clothing looking home-made?

Yikes, this question brings me some bad sewing memories! Let me tell you a short story: when I was just starting sewing almost a decade ago, I decided to make a coat. Now mind you, I always had a pear shaped figure, which makes such garment fitting difficult already. Plus, my skills were very limited at the time. Plus, I didn’t do my research on how to make such item. Plus, I did not know how to properly iron it or that I could use steam. You probably know where this story is heading: the coat was terrible. The fitting was awful, the ironing was incorrect, the lining was oh-so-poorly installed – all in all, the execution was bad, very bad. The coat definitely looked home-made, rather than looking “handmade in your own personal home atelier” (the second one sounds much better, doesn’t it?). I was never happy with that coat – I did wear it a few times, but I saw the looks my friends were having (“Should we tell her it looks bad or not?”) and quickly put that coat-disaster out of sight and out of mind, swearing to make higher-quality clothes, that I could wear with my head held high and be proud with the work I done.

Fast forward to nowadays and I have collected a few effective tips how to achieve “handmade in your own personal home atelier” instead of “home-made” looking garments:

  • Fitting can make or break any look: whether it’s store bought item, or something you made – fitting is very important. If the clothing does not fall on you nicely – trust me, it will not look good, even it the rest of the execution would be done to perfection. To improve your fitting, I suggest to do research online on how to adjust any commercial pattern to your exact figure (for example, because I have a longer torso, I always have to lower the waistline about 3-4cm in Burda patterns). Also, I would suggest learning how to make your own basic skirt or dress pattern, based on your measurements, to ensure great fitting with little effort (here is a detailed instruction how to make your own skirt block).
  • Ironing is very, very important. Well, I cannot emphasise more: ironing is VERY important. And yes, you have to press each seam, right after you made it, because it might be impossible to iron it properly once the garment is done (yes, there is a lot  running sewing machine-ironing board-sewing machine involved, but it’s worth it). Additionally, having a steam iron is a great option, as steam allows to achieve perfect pressing much faster and it does a much better job than a simple iron (and those steam irons don’t have to cost a lot as well – mine is this one, and I got it on sale for 70 Eur and couldn’t be happier with it).
  • Don’t fast-through the finishing touches. To me, this was probably the hardest steps of all: somehow, if I saw the finish is near, I would start rushing to it and make sloppy finishing (a not-very-straight hemline, not cutting thread ends and etc.). But those finishing touches count BIG TIME, so don’t rush through it and make sure to check if everything is okay once the garment is done!
  • Do your best with each project. Choose projects that are within your skill area or a little over it (because it’s where the growth is – just outside our current skill area); if you are not sure how make something – do your research online for it or consult with other sewing-people (or ask me in next #SewTalk!) and try your best with each project – a “handmade in your own personal home atelier” clothing is definitely worth the effort!

This is it for todays #SewTalk Monday – hope you liked it! Leave a comment below if you have a sewing question for my next week #SewTalk!

Best regards,
Julie

Uncategorized

#SewTalk: Where to start if you are a beginner?

DSC_9983

Hi Everyone!

In #SewTalk  Monday I will answer most common questions that I get about sewing. If there is anything you want to know or need a sewing advise – let me know in the comments below and I will answer them on next weeks #SewTalk Monday! Let’s start with this weeks pickle, that I actually get asked a lot:

Where to start, when you want to learn to sew your own clothing, but never sewn before? What tips you have for beginners?

Though I pride myself currently being a sewing school student, it’s not where I learnt to sew – my journey to sewing starting more than a decade ago, when I was still in high school and got my first very old, yet very “my own” sewing machine. Back then, there was very limited amount of information on internet about sewing (or perhaps I was not that good of a researcher), so I mostly learned to sew from my Burda Style magazines and analyzing a ready-made garments seam by seam. That somewhat worked for me, and I managed to create an almost solely me-made wardrobe even before entering sewing school, however, I also made every single beginner sewing mistake there is and would often sit in front of sewing machine thinking “what am I doing?”.

Luckily, today internet is overflowed with sewing tutorials, which is a good thing; but it became easier to get lost in the whole mass of information, which is a bad thing and people often do not know where to start. When friends ask me how to start sewing, I always give them few advises which in hindsight, if I were to start from zero now, I would give myself as well:    

  • For first project, choose an easy garment, yet the one that will make you proud of what you made. I would recommend to start with a full or half circle skirts – they are pretty easy to make, the pattern is drawn by your exact measurements, so very little or none fitting is required; and to top it all – they look very cute, feminine and – if made from gorgeous fabric – has “wow” effect, that will have people asking “Did you make that?” and you will be proud that you actually did! Here is quite a detailed and beginner friendly tutorial how to draft a full or a half circle skirt for you to start! 
  • Though I am not a big fan of sewing books (I am more of a “google it” kind of girl), I recommend having one big picture-heavy sewing encyclopedia (mine is this one), that you would get inspiration from. When I was just starting to sew, I would take this book, make myself a nice cup of tea and just spend an evening browsing through pages and analyzing every picture, getting ideas about various finishes, seams or cuts, that I would later apply to my projects. 
  • Don’t over-invest in sewing, before you know you really like it. Like any other hobby, sewing can get very expensive very quickly, so I advise you to start slow. For example, you can get your first sewing machine for less than 100 Eur and it will do a really good job (I recommend sticking with well known names in the market, like Singer, Janome or Brother, when buying a entry level machine; for example this, this and this has great reviews and are very budget friendly options). After you make 5-10 garments and still feel like that sewing fewer is not going away, you can purchase an overlocker or upgrade sewing machine, because then you would know you would get a use of it and it will be an investment worth making.  

This is it for todays #SewTalk Monday – hope you liked it! If there is a question about sewing you would like me to tackle on next Monday – let me know in the comments below!

Have a nice and productive work week!

Julie