Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Backstory and an invitation

In January of 2010 I started this blog as a personal challenge to learn how to *really* sew.  In the past 3.5 years since setting that goal, I've come a long way.  I've added a fourth child to the chaos that is life, and I've improved my sewing beyond what I had hoped at the time I first started.  I'm excited to see where my continued sewing journey takes me. And just for fun, here is what I wrote in the beginning of it all, in January 2010:

My sewing history takes me back to 6th grade when I asked my mom to teach me how to use her circa '60s Singer sewing machine. She sat down with my younger sister, me and her machine at the kitchen table. She had us each draw an animal to make into a pillow. I drew a teddy-bear-esqe (emphasize on the esqe) shape on some corduroy. She showed us the basics of the machine and we each sewed ourselves a stuffed toy. That night I had a nightmare in which my bear came to life and tried to kill me and my family. After spending the rest of the night in my mom's bed, I got rid of my first sewn creation and laid aside any seamstress aspirations.

My last semester of college, senior thesis completed and presented, I needed another "filler" class in order to keep my scholarship and grant obligations in full-time quota until graduation. My schedule was padded with the likes of racquetball and cross-country skiing, but I was still a couple credits short. My fashion-design major roommate suggested a sewing class. Only the 100 level sewing courses didn't jive with the rest of my heavy schedule. I had my roommate convince her professor-advisor to let me into a mid-level fashion design course, under strict pledge that my roommate would be responsible for me and hold my hand through it all. This was the first thing I turned in for a grade

I was dating my now-husband at the time. The most romantic hotpad ever!

And I'm sure my teacher wept inside while re-thinking her chosen career. By the end of the semester I wasn't great, but I had improved so much that my teacher pulled me aside and told me that though she at first thought there was no hope for me, I was the most improved student she'd ever had. And then reminded me that it was most likely because I had come in with negative talent. She gave me a B, based solely on how much I'd improved. Very generous of her, really.

Two years later, my husband gave me my first sewing machine, a basic Singer, for Christmas. A neighbor gave me an old serger. I was set. I cranked out a ton of pajama pants for family and friends, some of which even fit. I made bedding and accessories for my children as they came along. But where I really felt most comfortable was sewing Halloween costumes. Part of it is because I can let my imagination have free reign. But if I am honest, it's mostly because I can get away with not doing a fantastic construction and design job. My kids don't care, people are distracted by the idea enough to not notice the details that scream "homemade by an amateur!". Or at least are polite enough to not comment on them. I want to move beyond that. I want to be able to make things that fit right and look right. Basically, I want to be good.

So, since I did my most growth while under academic pressure, I'm employing the text I used then. A Guide to Fashion Sewing, second edition, by Connie Amaden-Crawford. You can find the fourth edition on Amazon, but at text book prices. I'm going to do my best to share the lessons, as I interpret them, here as I go through it.

My goal is, by the end of the year, to be able to actually make a garment from design to construction that I'm completley satisfied with. Kind of an abstract goal, but I figure I'll know if I achieved it when I get there. And with this

as my starting point, really, I have no where to go but up.

So, anyone with me?


Char @ Crap I've Made said...

Will watching Project Runway be part of the curriculum?

Char @ Crap I've Made said...

What year is that edition from? Half.com has some pretty cheap older editions, but I'm having trouble figuring out which year = which edition.

Valarie said...

I'll play! If it really is just sewing straight lines. :p

Sabra said...

Char, it's 1994. And yes, PR is requisite. When does the new season start?

Yay, Val!

Char @ Crap I've Made said...


Hmm...I wonder if the 1993 version is close enough....

Valarie said...

what's the ISBN?

Sabra said...

ISBN: 0-87005-748

FYI: As per the back of my book, the differences between the 1st and 2nd editions are the following additional contents in the 2nd:
-Body type and measurement charts
-Understanding the pattern envelope
-Identifying fashion fabrics
-Sewing tools and equipment
-Step by step instructions for sewing tailores shirts, jackets, and bustier
-Step by step instructions for sewing lined skirts, pants, jackets and vests
-Sewing seams on knits
-Invisible zipper application
-Special collars including shawl, revere, and notched collars

Char @ Crap I've Made said...

All right. I ordered the 3rd edition. I hope you don't get too advanced for me before it gets here.

Katrina said...

Sabra - this is Katrina Hill...I don't know if you remember me, but our kids were in the same kindergarten class (Anna Hill)and in the same swim class last summer. Anyhow, I found your blog through Char's, and Char - I found yours through Sarah Harding's. Do you remember me from your WV ward? Anyway Sabra - you are a total crack up, and I love your honesty. I also love to sew, so I will be following along, minus the book at this point, but I'm sure I'll learn a lot just from watching. Thanks!

Sabra said...

Katrina, yes, I remember you! Especially from swimming. I'm glad you found me and even more happy to have you playing along! Maybe we'll have to do a sewing party one day or something.

Crys said...

:) this made me laugh a little. I am about at the same place you are, except I dont have a serger {jealous} I hope you keep sewing, you are doing great!

It's Sew Good said...

Hi...came over to your blog via Craftgossip. Wanted to say thanks for posting all these up.. I'm learning to sew too and finding excuses to sew up stuff whenever I can.

Guess I'm 1/2 a year late to try and play along :) So I'll just watch from afar for now :)


Melissa said...

Sorry, that is a LOL picture!!

mama hat said...

I LOVE you!! I came over from "A Lemon Squeezy home". You make me laugh and laugh.
Dress ups for kids are the best for satisfaction. My kids start describing what they want IN DETAIL and seemingly no matter how long it takes me to make the thing they are still describing it as I am finishing. Even when the finished result only has a passing resemblance to their imaginings they are always incredibly chuffed.
I'm very excited about your water gun holster, I have been wanting to make one for a long time but couldn't be bothered designing it... now I don't have to and a slimmed down version will be sent home with all the kids who come to my soon to be four year olds birthday party.
I try to be a good mum at least once a year.
So nice to see some good boys stuff, and wow your boys are lucky. Wonderful girls entertainments are a dime a dozen but with three boys it's never much use to me.
I'm looking forward to hanging on your every word,

Kristy said...

Are you going to be doing anything like this, this year? Or even just a refresher? I guess I could go through your archives, if all else fails!

Sabra said...

I still have a few chapters in The Book to finish before I'm done with the 2010 Challenge, heretofore known as just The Challenge :) BUT, I do have plans for my next personal sewing challenge when I finally can cross the last of the Book's chapeters off my To Do list. I'll share more on that in a month or two when I [hopefully] am closer to starting on it, but I'm already really excited for it.

heath said...

Hi! I got here from craftgossip and you really made me smile. My first sewing project was a top I cut out of newspaper (picture one pattern piece!) and then sewed, along the lines of your teddy bear... up one side and down the other. I wish I had kept it. I forgot about seam allowances (I was 9, for goodness sake!) but my little sister gamely wore it a couple of times. Thanks for being here and sharing!

briscoeslochico said...

I am CRACKING up! You have a new subscriber now!

thegreenapricot.com said...

Oh, that made me laugh! You've come a long way baby!

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