Keeping on with the reflections post, here are five lessons I, as newbie garment sewer, have learned:
Tracing is Fun!
I thought I would prefer cutting my patterns, and figured if I needed another size, I would just buy the pattern again. But using the Japanese pattern book (which has multiple patterns on a piece of paper and you are forced to trace), I learned that I really enjoy tracing. I think this is because the process makes me feel artistic I am not at all artistic, and I’m well aware tracing is copying over someone else’s handiwork, but the feeling cannot be dislodged by something as weak as logic . Also, while tracing, I develop a better understanding of the pattern than I do when cutting, and I think this has improved my sewing. I like to trace a pattern shortly after it enters my stash, which is when my enthusiasm for the pattern is highest. If I don’t, when the mood or the fabric arrives, I have to prep my pattern before cutting and sewing, and then I might put it off …
The Benefits of Using Interfacing as Pattern Paper
I trace using cheap interfacing. The pattern piece then often sticks nicely to my fabric, I pin in fewer places and use pattern weights (tins of tuna and some decorative pebbles that did not make it into a pot plant) and cutting is a breeze. Sometimes, if I’m going to make the pattern I’ve traced fairly soon, I just cut my traced pattern pieces roughly. I then cut more accurately at the same time I cut my fabric.
Danger: The Rotary Cutter (I call it a pizza cutter, for obvious reasons…)
I thought this would be too dangerous for me but I’ve only almost sliced my fingers a few times. I am notoriously good at getting paper cuts, and if I did not have fingernails, probably would not have fingertips. A pizza cutter, combined with using interfacing as my pattern pieces has halved my cutting time. Plus, I think the rotary cutter produces more accurate cuts. I cut out more than one project at a time because I’ve got all the cutting stuff set up. Sometimes I want to sew, but I won’t have any projects cut out and I don’t want to cut. So then, I won’t sew! (Or cut) Better to have lots of projects cut out when the cutting mood strikes, so I’m all ready for when the sewing mood strikes!
Here is another point where using interfacing as pattern piece is great: I keep the interfacing stuck to my cut fabric and then roll it up. The interfacing keeps the edges of the fabric from fraying (or rolling if it is knit fabric) and I know what the project is. The down side is that I cannot, or rather do not, cut out multiples of the same pattern at a time. But that’s okay.
Pressing Means Better Ironing
I hate ironing. But pressing has taught me to not mind ironing as much. Like Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes, I slip the ironing in amongst my sewing, so that I complete some chores while also doing something fun. I’ve also found pressing has taught me how to iron better.
When I first started out, my sewing colonised the living room. Fabric everywhere; instruction sheet on one chair; pattern pieces on another; needles, spools of thread, scissors strewn upon any available surface. Now I only pull out what I need for the particular task I’m doing (although it did take me a while to learn what were the things I needed…), and its very satisfying and much quicker to set up and put away if I don’t empty out my sewing boxes whenever I get time to sew!
But I don’t have to be as compact in my sewing any more, because as of today, I have a permanent sewing station. We moved the sofa bed out of the study and into the lounge (sorry, guests, you sleep in the lounge room from here on in) and bought me a desk: