My own sewing project has begun!

I wrote a post about a month ago, that talked about wanting to start sewing again, and discovering Sonya Philip’s clothing patterns that she developed after her 100 Acts of Sewing project. At the time of that writing, I was awaiting a few of Sonya’s patterns in the mail. They arrived! The happiness they have wrought can’t be held in any longer! Time to start blogging again.

I seriously shrieked with joy when I saw that envelope on the porch. SEWING! LET’S GO! One thing I really like about Sonya’s shipping methods is that she sends her patterns in a paper/cardboard envelope, with no plastic packaging inside past the tape needed to seal the envelope. I appreciate that, and so does the environment.

My past experience trying to deal with patterns has been almost entirely negative. They were just…a mess of ridiculously thin paper, and lines, and crap that made no sense. What the hell is interfacing?  How does anyone cut these shapes out of tissue paper without ripping the entire thing? HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO FOLD THIS SO THAT IT GOES BACK INTO THE POUCH? This is useless! Screw it, I’m making cookies.

I take up sewing about once every four or five years. Each round, I would get a little better at it, but my impatience didn’t improve by more than a tiny bit. I’d find myself wanting to churn out garments, and I felt unable to take the time I needed to understand how to put a pattern together – I’d just hack things out and start sewing it up, because that’s how easy I believe it should be. As you can imagine, this didn’t go well. If I made a seam too early, I wouldn’t rip it out, I’d just try to work around it. When this didn’t work, and I had a shirt with no sleeves and three head holes and no inter-whatever-facing (wasn’t that optional anyway?), I’d toss the whole thing and start over with something different. I was a real peach to be around during these moments, too.

Eventually I was trying to make quilts because I thought, “It’s just squares, how hard could that be?” Don’t worry, my quilting friends, my comeuppance was fierce.

I was left with this:

Can’t someone just make, like, a basic drawing, and put it on regular paper, and I could just draw that on some fabric, cut it out, and sew the seams, and BE DONE WITH THIS MADNESS ALREADY?

Yeah, it turns out Sonya can do that (these next two photos are hers, from the pattern page!):


dress no. 1

dress no. 1 pattern


Look! Look how simple!

Maybe it’s wisdom gifted by entrance into middle age – I’m now 42, the meaning of life! – but I’ve just relaxed in the last few years around learning new things. If it doesn’t come easy, I don’t stop doing it. I have more patience and willingness to pause and read the map. And now, having picked up sewing again, combined with finding patterns that make sense, just…..YAY! I can’t express it! It’s my golden age of sewing!

Without further ado…..

Thanks for taking the photo, my dear Clare!

These are all Dress No. 1, a pattern you can buy here if you wanna, and you SHOULD, because DRESSES! AAAHHHHH! I look at this photo and just get a big grin. The little sashes hanging off them are the fabric for the patch pockets that will soon be sewn in.

The one in the middle, with sloth fabric, was the first dress I made. I love that fabric so much, it’s from Cotton + Steel. It’s soft, just a little weighty, it feels great. Sewing went really well, Sonya’s patterns are very easy to follow. She has a little booklet to take you through the steps. The sloth dress remains my favorite overall. I actually bought more sloth fabric (coming Friday!) to make another dress, or maybe one of her tunics or a skirt. There can’t be enough sloth garments in my wardrobe. I have chronic pain and fatigue. I move slowly, but I’m happy and I smile a lot. I also feel that naps are God’s true gift to mankind, and that life really would be better spent living in trees, were that possible. Sloths are like my totem animal.

Then I decided to try the Skirt No. 1 pattern, but I wanted to add side panels. I love patchwork! I love the hippie patchwork clothes I’ve always seen people wear at festivals, but they’ve never fit fat girl me. Well screw that, I’m going to make my own! The pattern is so easy to modify! I just made the panels, and sewed them along the sides. I was having a really hard day when I made this skirt, and it means a lot to me. I’m wearing it as I write this, in fact. It’s a very comfortable skirt, and for some reason all that red and orange is soothing. Aren’t warm colors supposed to be “activating”? Orange just mellows me right out. Add in purple and now I’m mellow and deeply peaceful. Orange and purple are like the getting-baked of color combinations. <scratches head> I dunno.

Then I wanted to try another Dress No. 1, but I wanted to make it a little longer. OH NO, WHAT DO WE DO? Well, I thought I’d just try….tracing the line a couple inches farther down than shown on the pattern. Because that seems like it would make the dress longer. Why aren’t I at MIT, solving problems in cutting-edge robotics? I know, right?

You should have seen how startled I was when I cut the pieces out. Shut the front door! It worked! Cutting the pattern to have a longer bottom did in fact result in the dress being longer. Seems obvious, but never worked before. It isn’t like the patterns of yore, where the simplest of garments had eighteen pieces to cut out, a puzzle of tears and tearing tissue and late night calls to my mom or my sewing friends. It was just simple: wanna make it longer? Cut it longer. God, I love this pattern. It’s like magic.

And now I walk around in that dress, made from a bedsheet, and I feel AWESOME. And I don’t even care what people think. I finally have clothes that feel like they match who I am. My outside reflects my inside: a somewhat weird, colorful patchwork of a person, someone unafraid to wear bed sheets to Whole Foods, someone unafraid to blend horizontal stripes with a 3X waistline, someone who thinks we all need more whimsy in our lives.

And this is just the beginning. I’m not nearly done. I have more fabric on the way! And I ordered all the patterns from Sonya that I hadn’t ordered in the last shipment! Let’s sew, yo! BRING IT!


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