I’m not talking about the fabulous firsts. The first time someone thanked you for your hand-crafted gift and meant it. The first time you received an unsolicited and believable compliment:
“I love your …insert description of garment!”
“Did you get it from …insert name of favourite high street brand?”*
I’m talking about the more meagre milestones, the true rites of passage for the sewing amateur.
1. Frightening and/or injuring yourself
Have you ever sewn late into the night? Have you ever sewn whilst tired and emotional? Maybe you’ve sewn in a hurry. Whatever the circumstances under which upon reflection you perhaps should not have taken to your machine. Trust me, before you can say “E6 error message”, your heart is pounding and you’re levering up the needle plate to retrieve a broken needle or a bit of a foot. In a slightly more dramatic scenario you might be retrieving something that you have attached to your own clothing or pierced into your own nail.
2. Irreparable damage to a painstakingly produced object
Let’s get this one straight. This never happens when you are working with cheap fabric of which you have an inexhaustible supply. This never happens when you are ambivalent about a make or when you have only invested a few hours of your time. You cannot call yourself a true amateur until you have carelessly
attacked adjusted a garment with seam ripper or scissors. Hacked off a hem? Ripped out the wrong seam? Torn a hole into a crucial and obvious area? These my sewing friends are the experiences that bind us together.
3. Tracing a Burda pattern
Burda – The Grand National of pattern tracing – so many fences at which to fall: Visually te-tangling the tube map of overlapping lines to identify the pieces that you need. Staying true to the pattern pieces that you have taken 3 hours to identify and not accidentally tracing a sleeve head merged with a pocket. Not forgetting the final and most difficult hurdle – remembering to add a seam allowance. Gah! That’s why I can’t get the blinking thing over my head.
4. Beguilement by vintage pattern illustrations
Casually browsing Ebay or Etsy one evening you happen upon a pattern for which you fall hopelessly in sewing love. The drape of the fabric, the pleasing proportions of the model. Her hair, her hat, her handbag! Yes! I totally need and would work tirelessly to produce a fifties era, floor-length evening dress with matching fur-lined stole. Curse you ‘Buy It Now’.
5. Making something truly unwearable
There are times when every and all actions result in the same consequence – the production of something truly noxious. Man, if I had a penny for every time I have looked in the mirror only to realise that I have lovingly crafted a sack and I look like the lowliest of House Elves. I would have £1.42.
These are the slightly alternative stages of my sewing journey, are there any lesser-known landmarks that you would like to share?
* Which for the record has happened to me ONCE.