Why Do I Sew? By Sara (@sarasewingjourney)
At the beginning, simply out of necessity! When I was living in Italy, my grandmother used to do alterations for the whole family, as she has been sewing since she was a little girl, but I personally never had an interest in learning, aside from sewing the odd button or mending a hole in a sock! How silly of me, in hindsight!
Then, once my partner and I moved here, I found that the prices for alterations could be a bit steep, so, about three years ago, I thought ‘I can do that!’ and got myself a second-hand sewing machine. Initially that was all I was doing: alterations.
Then I started thinking I could perhaps do more, but I was scared to attempt anything by myself, so I found a beginner sewing course in town and started off with making a basic tote bag, then I asked the seamstress if she thought I could replace the lining on my favourite leather jacket and she said sure! That gave me confidence, doing things with her and seeing moderate progression.
During the course, I also made a tweed cape, which although not perfect was wearable and definitely a great learning experience. Then the course had to stop as the venue became unavailable.
My makes during the sewing course
I then found myself sewing little presents for friends and their children and for a while I was satisfied with it.
Stuffed toys and Christmas decorations for friends and family
As a beginner, I believe I lacked the confidence to tackle bigger projects and for a while I felt worry to try and fail.
Then, during lockdown last year I took the plunge and sewed my first dress. Perfectly imperfect as it is, I love it and that gave me the sewing buzz. I haven’t stop since!
My first dress, based on a Burda Style 6608, with modified neckline and added heart
I love to be able to sew clothes that suit me, in fabric that I like and following my own style! While I do like plain colours, I am much more attracted to patterned fabric and I'm sure you'll agree that it’s sometimes tricky to find exciting fabrics in high street clothing and aside from geometric patterns and the occasional stripe or polka-dot, not much more is happening.
I’ve never felt really creative in my life ; growing up I was always terrible at drawing or crafting and suffering from palmar hyperhidrosis I always found it difficult to cope with. Up to that point, cooking and baking were the only things that I could do well while expressing my creativity.
With sewing, I feel creative and liberated! The sense of achievement on being able to create something almost from scratch with my hands (and my trusted sewing machine and overlocker) is immense!
Tops and jumpers are my favourite items to sew and I’ve already made some menswear for my partner (who’s much more ambitious than me, asking already for jackets and waistcoats, argh!) and a few tops for friends, which apparently they all liked!
Last Christmas, being unable to visit friends and family back in Italy, I decided to hand made all the presents and post them to them: neck warmers and cute fabric baskets were greatly appreciated and I felt proud of the achievement (which was no mean feat, I assure you!), although it was a bit stressful to get everything done on time.
A selection of the Christmas presents for friends and family
My confidence is growing with every project and I find myself not disheartened when I stumble across obstacles or difficult techniques to master.
I’ve even made myself a coat during the winter months, which is so far my proudest moment!
Proud moment: my first coat!
More recently, I’ve completed my first pattern test for an independent pattern designer. It has been an exciting and challenging experience at the same time and I loved to be able to provide feedback to the designer: she was incredibly supportive throughout the process and I hope to manage to be a pattern tester again in future.
I have always loved a challenge and a learning opportunity, it seems to be something that piques my interest both personally and professionally and sewing is precisely that for me, with the added bonus of being fun!
It is addictive and while I am still learning and making MANY mistakes, I simply cannot stop! I would definitely encourage anyone who is still doubtful about starting to sew to give it a try: you can find good quality second hand sewing machines for reasonable prices and you can start with cheap fabric to practice with at first. For those unfamiliar with different fabric types, I highly recommend finding a fabric swatch book: it includes several types of fabrics each with their sample piece (very tactile!) and brief description of its characteristics; it’s also great when you need to purchase fabric online and unable to go to the shops!
In summary: don’t be afraid, give it a go!