New for the New Year

OK. So. I have a complicated history with sewing. I grew up in a semi-sewing family and I had a sewing machine of my own from when I was teen-ish, but I never really caught the bug. I tried some quilting in my teens and then about a decade later I made a curtain to separate my laundry area from the kitchen that involved 4 straight seams in a single piece of fabric that was cut to exactly the size I needed it to be plus seam allowance — and I took a 6-month break halfway through because I couldn’t fucking stand the hassle and swore LOUDLY the rest of the time. (Two homes later and we still use that curtain and the seams haven’t given out, though. I will accept your praise for this.) I thought about clothes sewing here and there, but I never found the motivation to learn. My only frame of reference for homemade clothing, besides Halloween costumes, was the blousy house dresses my grandmother made over and over from the same pattern in thin quilting cotton and the elastic-waisted ankle-length circle skirts my mother made me for Xtian school that I think might have been made out of upholstery fabric — functional as garments but not something I ever wanted to replicate for myself. Eventually I just decided that the only thing I liked about sewing was the smell of ironing, found loving homes for all my fabric, and ebayed my sewing machine.

So I can’t really explain what is happening or why, but lately I’ve been…feeling an urge. I’m between semesters and I’ve been spending the brain space that has freed up marathoning all the knitting podcasts I’m behind on. Somewhere along this catching-up journey I saw Libby of Truly Myrtle talking about making a shirt, and then I realized it was the shirt she was wearing, and THEN I realized that there was nothing I wanted more in this world than to sew a shirt that fit me and looked like what I think of as a shirt. And that was that. I have determined it is time for me to sew.

It’s getting bad fast. I’ve lost  at least a day to youtube tutorials for things I can’t yet reproduce. I made a Fold Line account and started wishlisting patterns and downloaded a bunch of sewing podcasts and I started sketching out a Make 9 grid and…and…and…it’s getting beyond reasonable.

One of the big hindrances for me when I’ve tried to sew in the past has been not having either all the proper supplies or the space I needed (see above photo of our darling Zoe all up in my business) to really get anything done. I would spend so much time and frustration on getting set up or trying to find everything I needed that I couldn’t really feel like I was accomplishing anything. And since my whole budget right now for getting started is going to be my tax return (should I be entitled to one this year and, if so, if it actually shows up, of course) and I don’t know that I will have regular cash for a sewing budget, the plan is to buy a machine, set up a dedicated sewing space, and get a little stash of patterns/fabric/whatnots established so the sewing and I can get to know each other.

But I need some help. If I were going back in time to tell about-to-learn-to-knit or about-to-learn-to-cook Aoife what she should just buy right off the bat to be good to for whatever (beginner-appropriate) stuff she wanted to experiment with, I’d have no trouble. But about-to-learn-to-sew Aoife is likely to do a lot of wandering in circles moaning WHAAAAAATTTTTTTT if she’s not given some guidance. Tell me your secrets, sewists. What’s your sewing area setup like? What’s your dream sewing area setup like? Speak to me of machines and needles and tools and notions. Send me to your favorite online places to buy…the things. Answer any of the obvious questions I maybe should be asking but I don’t know that they’re obvious and that’s why I need help.

And then watch this space, I guess. Maybe there will be a shirt here one day.

2 thoughts on “New for the New Year

  1. I’ve been sewing for years and years! I would love to help, but it’s a very broad subject- where to begin? I can honestly say that I have picked up the majority of my equipment at yard sales, Goodwills, Savers. Scissors- get yourself a good pair of Ginghers, all metal, not that plastic-handled cheap shit they sell at Wally’s. Next to your machine, they will probably be the most expensive purchase that you will make($40-$60 depending on what size you choose) and totally worth it. I have found 3awesome pairs of Ginghers over the past couple years at aforementioned thrift shops. I could rattle on for days, so just let me know If you’ve got Any particular question, pm me or something.

    1. Thank you! I will definitely be in touch! For now I’m just like EVERYBODY TELL ME EVERYTHING. It’s the best way I know to prepare for a new hobby. I love the things you learn about when people tell you about their favorite things. I’m familiar with Ginghers’ reputation, but I cannot handle metal-handled anything or my whole shoulder seizes up. I struggle with scissors in general, actually, so I’m feeling pretty encouraged by the garment makers I’ve come across who do everything with their rotary cutters.

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