Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Tale of Two Skirts

For the longest time I have wanted to learn how to sew.  I love clothes and am enthralled at the thought of being able to make my own.  I attempted to teach myself a few times and ended up frustrated and defeated.  Last summer I attempted to help my daughter put together a felt owl that was an American Girl sewing craft.  It was all pre-cut and even had holes punched out where you were supposed to sew it together. We managed to finish it in the end, but there was many times I thought I might send that felt owl (ironically) flying across the room.  I am not a visual person.  Blue prints and diagrams confuse me.   Sewing machines intimidate me with their tome-like instruction manuals full of these aforementioned things.  Sewing things by hand takes infinite patience which is not a trait I come close to possessing.

I did not take home ec in high school.  I wasn't required to at the time.  I think it would have been difficult for me even if I had been forced to take it.  I do much better in a one on one situation for things like this.

This summer I decided I was going to learn, even if I had to pay someone to teach me.  A friend of mine told me about a sewing shop where his granddaughter had taken classes and made a few things.  His granddaughter is eight.  Perfect.  That was just what I needed -someone to explain it to me like I was about eight.

When I called the shop I explained to the teacher that I knew nothing.  I was a complete beginner.  I was the Jon Snow of sewing (gratuitous Game of Thrones reference). I told her, "If I could just learn to make a skirt, I would be thrilled."

When I showed up for my first lesson, my teacher talked me through how to read a pattern.  She explained terms like grain and bias and why they are important.  I was there for over an hour and by the end, I felt like my head was going to explode. It was a ton of new information.  But I was so excited.  I actually called my husband on the way home and said, "It was awesome!"  I hadn't sewn one stitch, but I definitely knew I had learned something.  I had traced my pattern and cut it out at the lesson.  She sent me on a mission to pick out fabric and cut it out according to the pattern.  I bought some good pins and the pattern she had thought would be a good one to start with.  She charged me zero for the lesson.

I bought my fabric and some good scissors.  And I went to work.  This is why I was sure I had learned something.  I actually knew what to do!

My pattern that I had traced and cut out at the lesson
As I pinned my fabric to the pattern, I found myself thinking that I couldn't believe it was going to be this easy.  Why hadn't I asked for help years ago?
Three simple pieces - that's all there is to it!
When I went back the second time, I actually got to use the machine.  I finished the edges of all the pieces.  When she explained how to use the machine and then looked at me like, Go ahead, you got this, I was a bit incredulous.  Just go for it?  I was pretty sure I would screw it up   But I went ahead and realized it was possible.  $15 for this lesson.
For my third lesson, I sewed the pieces together and finished it.  I kept thinking I was going to get to a point where I would not be able to do the next step, but guess what?  I never did.  I finished the whole darn thing.  Charge for this lesson?  Zero.  "You did it mostly yourself," she told me, when I asked her if she was sure she didn't want me to pay her. 
I've wanted a gray and yellow skirt for a while.  I really like the combination of those two colors, but I couldn't find an already made version of what I was looking for.
Fourth lesson?  I made the whole skirt in one session.  My teacher was there for me to check with at each step.  There was one thing I almost skipped, but she reminded me I had to finish the top and bottom first.  Cost for the lesson - zero.

Chevron - it's everywhere right now!  I like how this orange and white goes with my denim jacket.
I'm ready to start a third skirt now, and I'm also ready to start looking at other patterns.  I'll be looking at the very simple variety.  That's okay.  Even putting together these very simple skirts made me feel powerful -powerful enough that I'm ready to start thinking about buying a sewing machine.  I felt like I could do anything each time I left that store, because I so firmly believed for a very long time that sewing just wasn't something I could do.  I realized during this experience how much I doubt myself when I'm doing something that doesn't come naturally. We are our own worst critics.  I think the feeling of power I got came from proving my own worst critic wrong.



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