May makes No. 3/4: Plus, what I learned from Me Made May

May makes No. 3/4: Plus, what I learned from Me Made May

My third and fourth makes for my Me Made May pledge are a sweater and a bag I’ll have to tell you about some other time. But I wanted to take a minute to talk about what I gained from this little exercise.

I pledged to make four things in May, and three of those wound up being sewn goods. It’s the only way four things are going to get made in one month, but also a deliberate choice. I’ve been saying for awhile now that I want to be more focused about sewing. After a lifetime of sewing sporadically and at a beginner level (I was at my most advanced as a sewer in junior high), I’m determined to sew more, to take more time with it, and to advance my skills. In other words, to act like I have with knitting these past few years. With these three projects (the skirt, the top and this bag) on the heels of the ten booth drape panels I sewed last month and the two Wiksten tanks before that, I’ve spent more time with my machine this spring than I have cumulatively in the 18ish years I’ve owned it. And it shows — in everything from my comfort level (way less cursing and fighting with the machine) to my craftsmanship. I’m getting somewhere.

But I still have a lot to learn, both skillwise and project managementwise. I can only work on a sewing project for a couple of hours before I grow weary and need to step away, but I don’t. All my life it’s been the case that I needed to power through something and finish it, at great discomfort and no matter what, because it might be a week or two before I could work on it again and I couldn’t leave everything on the kitchen table in the meantime. Now that I have a dedicated space for sewing, I can’t seem to break that mindset. Instead of walking away when I’m getting sloppy, I keep going … and things go south. So I need to learn the lesson of not trying to sew things in one sitting.

And I also obviously still have a ways to go before I’m as good at choosing materials and patterns as I am (or am getting to be) with knitting. Just like knitting, it’s a trial-and-error process, something that requires practice. So I will keep practicing. But as anyone who sews knows, it’s a little more brutal to get things wrong with sewing than with knitting — you don’t generally get the same kind of do-overs as knitters do.

So despite the fact that there are no new usable garments in my closet — the skirt and top having both come up short of wearable for me — I’m thrilled with my bag, my sweater and most of all the advances I’ve made. The growing feeling of confidence I have when starting a new sewing project is gold to me.

16 thoughts on “May makes No. 3/4: Plus, what I learned from Me Made May

  1. Thank you, for some reason you putting in writing that it is okey to not like what one has made makes me feel so much better. Has anyone cut garments apart, not ripped out, to use the fabric somewhere else? I folded a linen shirt and a pair of linen pants in my sewing room thinking they may make great linings for a purse or bag. As you notice I have not cut them apart yet!

  2. I have become intrigued with cutting apart jeans, making rectangles from the denim, and creating patchwork fabric. I sewed a really cool tote bag and am now hooked! More to come!! I think I was inspired by looking at Gridjunky after seeing the link on your blog… He is amazing!!!
    Love your blog… I look forward to reading your posts.

  3. I push myself to keep sewing through fatigue too. It is a habit I need to break if I want to actually like the process. For some reason that rat-a-tatting machine really adds to the franticness of it all.

  4. Honestly, I think you did a fantastic job in May! I can’t believe how many items you made! I also think it’s great when we can make something we thought we’d love and for one reason or another, it just wasn’t us, but in turn, after all that work, we can see that it would look great on this sister or that cousin and send it off. I think I would have a harder time trying to selvage it! I also find that you have a wonderfully simple and concise way of explaining changes you made to certain patterns to make them better fitting and more your style. Knitters can make small changes that have a high impact and are always willing to share their creative journey! To all Needle Workers, it’s been a wonderful learning Month for me! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and creativity!

    Happy Knitting Ya’ll!

  5. My mother is a great re-user of fabric – back in the late-sixties vinyl mini-skirts were all the rage, so I made one. It was so awesome! Very short and hip- hugging with a wide leather belt. I loved it! Several years later during college, I came home to find that my mother had re-purposed as a cover for her typewriter! From awesome skirt to mundane dust cover – sigh!

  6. Is there a blog post about this sleeveless sweater because I totally missed it if so! Looks great!

    Learning to sew well is one of those “someday” goals for me. Your progress is really inspiring.

  7. I’d love to see the front of the sweater. I too get frustrated easily when sewing. One thing goes wrong and then another…. but I want to have patience and try to learn to do better. Somehow money spent on fabric not used seems worse than yarn projects that don’t turn out.

  8. I, too, have not sewn much for a good many years for myself. So, armed with some new very simple top patterns I will first cut them out of material I would never use and see what alterations, if any, need to be done before I cut into my “good” stuff. Shoulders always seem to be too wide for my liking but raglan is super. No problems with knitting or spinning. I guess it’s just like everything else…………. practice, practice, practice!!

  9. One of the reasons I stopped sewing garments was that I thought that if I made more of an effort, I’ll get a better garment. That didn’t turn out to be the case. I spent hours trying to make pants that fit me, and I failed. I got involved with couture sewing techniques, and suddenly nothing was good enough, everything had to have interfacing and be done the couture way, that I stopped having fun.

    I recently sewed Fancy Tiger Crafts’ “One Hour Top”, and I love it. It’s simple, it’s doable in 2-3 hours (for me), it’s wearable, and it’s a good starting point for alterations (shorter/longer sleeves, different fabrics, different hem length, making the sleeves a separate pattern piece, and so much more). I used to sew according to Burda patterns and it seems like they always had facings and lots of other details that made the investment in the project large, and then, for me, the more time I spent making the project, the bigger the dismay when it didn’t come out as I wanted.

    So if you love simple sewing, gratifying projects you can make in order to experiment with fabric and techniques and shapes, I recommend “the one hour top”, as well as the “Simple Sewing” series of the Craft Sessions, which you are probably familiar with already :-) In any case, oversize garments are best, if you like the style (I personally do!) because fit is an advanced topic indeed.

    Happy sewing!

  10. That sleeveless sweater looks very interesting, love the colour of course! I am about to ‘tear’ apart a large linen dress……….one size ‘fits’ all HA and will have my way with it. I am amazed at how much you get done considering your shop. Good job.

  11. Sewing is just one of those things that doesn’t go well with impatience! I’ve been sewing for awhile and just getting back to it after a long hiatus. However, it’s still so tempting to just. sew. one. more. seam. Pretty soon your invisible zipper is all messed up, you’ve accidentally sewn your sleeve caps in backwards, twice, and you hate everything!

    I think it’s also hard as a knitter who is very comfortable in her craft to begin from scratch with something new. It’s hard sometimes to allow yourself to make mistakes. Glad you are enjoying the process.

  12. Pingback: Introducing the Stowe Bag — our first sewing pattern! | Fringe Association

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