Friday, February 07, 2014

Are You the Sewist You Want to Be?

I've spent some quality time in my sewing cave over the last few weeks.  We are coming off the holiday season which meant that I've had a few vacation days and a snow day too.  I normally spend quality time in my sewing cave but even more so this year due to the inclement weather we've been having.

When I'm in the cave engrossed in a project my mind goes to all things sewing.  I think about garments I want to make.  I work out construction sequences...and I go over things I've read in blogland...especially after reading this post by Beth (SunnyGal Studio Sewing), where I always learn something new.

What I learned from that post, caused me to ponder on this fact..."Am I the Sewist I Want to Be?"  I believe that I sew well.  I'm not a tailoring expert and in no way do I believe that I'm an advanced sewist.  I know quite a few sewing techniques and am proficient in a few.  But am I where I want to be? Have I taken my sewing to the next level or am I content to sew where I am? Finally, do I desire to learn more?  

I mean for the basic sewing that I've done for the last couple of weeks, I haven't needed any wonderful new techniques.  I've used fabric that I like to use and sewn a bunch of garments based upon my experience and preference. I've satisfied the need to create and be creative but have I stretched myself?

It got me to thinking...what kind of sewist am I?  Am I truly the sewist I want to be?  If not, how can I get there?  Am I willing to do what it takes to get to the next level?

So I'm posing these questions to you as the Question of the Day.  I've made my determinations and will share them with you here as I work them out.  But I was wondering if other sewists think about these things?  

Are you the sewist that you want to be?  Talk back to me...


...as always more later!

55 comments:

  1. At this point my sewing joys are around excellent fit and excellent finishing. This is what defines sewing for me so I think of myself as a technical sewist rather than the more creative type. To move to the next level I need to take creative risks.
    Thanks for asking this question!

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  2. The day that I become the sewist that I want to be will probably be my last day sewing. I am really enjoying the journey to get there.

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  3. Well, honestly I am nowhere near the sewist I want to be. The frustrating thing about it is that I know it's possible but I am tired of the journey. Right now I am caught between doing it my way and doing it the right way. I hate technicalities, especially when it's messing with my creativity. But it's a learning process and a labor of love. It will be worth it in the end. Great question by the way?

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  4. I have quite a ways to go before I am the sewist I would like to be... my particular challenge is fit. As I love having TNT patterns, I need to become more skilled at getting the basic fitting to where I have a garment that is comfortable to wear. I am comfortable with my design and creative adaptations of the looks and style I prefer, but hope to eventually be successful at fitting my bodacious bosom and bitsy shoulders well, so I can have well fitted blouses and dress bodices

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  5. This is interesting, I am confident with my sewing and getting the fit right which is important for me but I know that I still have a few more types of garments to conquer namely a gortex jacket and leather jacket, before I could even attempt to say that I am the sewer I want to be.

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  6. What questions! I relish reading your postings, but rarely respond. I wonder how many of us do that and you never know how much we enjoy and learn from your posts?!?

    Made my own clothes even bathing suites when I was younger. I have not sewn in over 10 years. I have been taking quilting and embroidery classes and a few fashion sewing classes. Have two new to me machines, a spot carved out to sew after having to repair water damage and now need to forge ahead.

    Have been wearing poorly fitting ready to wear my whole adult life. I have fabric and patterns. My biggest fear about fashion sewing is spending the $$, time and effort and ending up with a garment that is poorly fitted and/or looks nothing like I envisioned. I want to knock it out of the park on the first hit. The thought of doing a muslin for each new pattern style is overwhelming. Completely unrealistic I know. But how do I get past that?

    What kind of sewist am I? Lots of shopping, planning and reading without much actual measuring, cutting and sewing. No where near the kind of sewist I want to be. I would expect the only way to become a skilled, confident sewist is to forge ahead, practice, learn, not be defeated by mistakes. Inertia, fear of failure and the need for more fitting expertise are barriers. Overwhelmed. Will I, how can I get past these?

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  7. I'm not the seamstress who I want to be, I would like to extend knowledge but do not have enough time.
    Greetings from Spain
    I love your blog and I read it with google translator

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  8. Hi Carolyn, this s such an interesting question. I look at the things you make and am frankly in awe so I guess that makes answering your question easy - no, I'm not the sewist I would like to be! I am a beginner and I know I will probably never have the skills I'd like to have because commitment of time and energy that would take. I like to do lots of different crafts and am busy with work so I probably spread myself too thin to be an 'expert' in any one area. However, I love being creative and with everything I make I learn something new or hone skills a little bit so it's still a positive journey for me. I admire the commitment people have to perfecting their skills and can really appreciate the technical and creative accomplishments. I'll keep trying to improve but imagine I'll never be as skilled as I would like because I'm not putting in the hours :)

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  9. My skill level is good, but not great. I'm at the level where improving my equipment would make a difference. I have a lovely sewing machine & boiler iron, however my overlocker is holding me back.
    I sew well for myself, anything from tailored jackets to casual tees. I think the next level for my sewing will be when I can make fitted garments for others.

    Oh, and I agree - your sewing is fabulous!

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  10. Not yet but I'm getting closer and have booked into a dressmaking class to learn the proper way to do things as I am entirely blog taught! I used to only buy cheap fabric as I was never sure that I would get it right. But I'm starting to feel more confident in buying better fabric for a better end result. But there's always something new to learn even if you don't use it on every project.

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  11. Yes, I am the seamstress I want to be. I spend time sewing or doing sewing-related things every day. I learn from each project and put those lessons to good use in subsequent projects. I am not interested in pushing myself for the sake of pushing myself. Instead, I learn new techniques as my projects require them. The point is to have fun and make wearable clothes - I do both and love it.

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    Replies
    1. I love this reply. It is inspiring that you are content and yet acknowledge that you may want to acquire new skills as the need arises. I am going to follow your example.

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    2. I second this - I love Alexandra's attitude!

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  12. No, I am not completely the seamstress I want to be. My mother was a professional tailor and seamstress so am not where her standards were in her sewing days. I am not sure I can achieve the excellence that she did. I shouldn't compare myself to her, but I want to be the tailor/seamstress she was. I would consider myself an intermediate seamstress at best. Good question.

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  13. I guess first I have to decide what sort of sewist I would like to be. For me that would be a sewist with much more time to sew, something that has lessened since I've gone back to work full time. I would like to be a sewist with access to loads of classes, thank you Craftsly, very much. But like Alexandra, I am pretty happy with my sewing skills but always open to learning, something I do with each garment and that I don't really think about. I just keep sewing.

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  14. I think I am at the point where I'm satisfied with my skills, but that doesn't stop my learning curve. The more confident I am with the sewing, the more keen I am of experimenting with difficult shapes and seam matching, and that consequently improves my skills further. I would love to further master my fitting skills, too.

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  15. Heck no I'm not! :) I'm still learning tons and tons everyday. I'm a technical person therefore that aspect of sewing comes naturally for me. I need to continue to work on fit (hello swayback adjustment that NEVER gets made) but I need to allow myself to think outside the box. I have two cut projects that are my own spin on the pattern but I just can't find it to sew them. What if it looks "stupid"? What if my idea doesn't work? That sort of thing.

    This year I am determined to make at least one outerwear piece, shorts and a fitted jacket/blazer. Those are things I avoided in my first year of sewing that I want to make.

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  16. No, I'm not at the level that I want to be, yet. It is reflected in my 2014 Sewing Goals, especially the first three. I would really like to make a Channel-esque jacket complete with the quilted lining and chained hemline and I'm trying to incorporate more tailoring and couture techniques into my sewing. Right now I have a half finished dress that is underlined with organza. I can really see know how the extra effort improved the look of my fabric. But it is tough because there is part of me that sometimes just wants to whip something up quickly and not take all the extra steps to up my game.

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  17. A wonderful question, Carolyn. A number of years ago I realized I'd been sewing at the same "level" for a very long time and challenged myself to "up my game." I try to master a new (to me) technique a couple times a year. Some work better than others!

    I've been sewing for close to 60 years and am happy with the techniques I've mastered, but there is always more to learn and incorporate.

    As always, you blog is a highlight of my day and I hope your readers (me included) make it clear to you how much it means to us.

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  18. I feel i am a sewing explorer that enjoy nothing better than learn and try something new. I love reading and applying techniques, trying ideas and then have a break from new, let all assimilate and sew my favourite things. I enjoy the motion of going to a hurdle as much as I enjoy a instant satisfaction project...

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  19. A great question. Am I the sewist I want to be? Frankly, no. At least not in fitting as demonstrated by my coat fitting. It's getting there though, and that is half the battle for me. My technical skills have atrophied somewhat by sewing so many knits. They are easy to fit and sew. I don't need tailored jackets in my life, so those skills are rusty. I do need coats, jackets a raincoat which are on my list for this year. They will challenge my skills and for me that will be a good thing. I am constantly working to improve my finishing. My grandmother would show me the insides of the designer clothing she wore and tell me that the insides should look as good as the outside. That's what I've been striving for in my sewing. I have wanted to learn pattern drafting and the classes that Craftsy is offering are helping me get there. Those are my goals in sewing It's good for the mind and for satisfaction to keep pushing the envelope and that's what I really want to do with my sewing. But, not all the time!

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  20. I most certainly am NOT. I was thinking about this all last week. I know, without a doubt, that I can and should take more time when creating things. And I often leave small errors in place when redoing that portion would make more sense and make me happier with the finished product.

    BUT, I am not beating myself up about this realization. I know that, for me, full commitment to something comes along naturally and often slowly. I know, at some point, the desire to take that time will appear and I'm totally OK with waiting for it.

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  21. I am definitely still learning and needing to improve my sewing skills. That doesn't mean I am unhappy with my current level, just that I recognize I have more to learn. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your sewing with all of us. Tammy R

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  22. I look at this as a journey and one where I can explore all parts of the sewing spectrum. I continue to learn and can work on what is basic and easy to do if I so choose. The same goes with doing something complicated. If I am happy with what I am doing, then I am the sewer I want to be at that moment. It is a series of snapshots.
    I am confident clothing on clients but am hesitant when fitting myself. I want to build a collection of TNT patterns that fit me well. I am close on my shirt pattern.

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  23. I have been sewing most of my life, but in the last few years it has been rare despite my continued pattern acquisition (collecting?). Last year I decided to take a class in person, and started taking Craftsy courses to see which I learn from best. They both had good effects on my process, but I didn't continue to use the skills, so they have become rusty. I encourage anyone wanting to brush off old skills or take up new ones to consider a class of any kind for motivation as well as acquiring new skills. Word to the wise, try to stay motivated after the class to keep the skill fresh.

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  24. No, I am not the sewist I wish to be. That said, I do usually try something new each year (in my knitting and other crafts, too) so that I stretch my brain and learn new skills. I am learning to make my own patterns this year, thanks to you and hope to have TNT patterns one day. I also like to try new techniques to see if I can do them. But that said, sometimes I just need to do "simple" and get some sewing done. I am bad about making each project hard.

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  25. Although I consider myself at least an intermediate sewist I doubt I'll ever be the sewist I want to be, I always find new techniques I want to learn and try, which is part of what I love about sewing.

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  26. Excellent question! No I'm not the one I want to be but I'm very content with my progress. There's SO much more to learn and I'm inspired by that. I want to get to the point where I can see an intricate design, take some newspaper and create a pattern of it and wear it out that same night. I want to be THAT good! I want to be able to create effortlessly and expand my sewing business. No I'm not there yet but I look forward to taking a step in that direction each and every day. Great question! I feel invigorated with inspiration!

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  27. Great question! I am definitely not the sewist that I want to be, however I am enjoying myself getting there. I have tons of technical as well as fitting skills that I need/want to gain, however that will come in time with repetition and lots of sewing (I hope, LOL).

    I found myself 'daydreaming' constantly about sewing and not actually doing anything these past two years, therefore I was not sewing many projects nor learning anything new. I don't care about learning new stuff with every project, I just wanna sew at this point. I have a HUGE investment in fabric and patterns and it is ridiculous to continue to let these things just waste away as stash. So far so good in 2014!!

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  28. For me, there are two questions. What do I want to do more of and what don't I want to do? Sometimes we can feel a pressure to know/do a certain thing when really it's of absolutely no interest and/or doesn't suit our personality or life style. Tailoring comes to mind for me. Not. Interested. My focus remains fit, technique, and individualization but there are ways I can take those up a notch too. Am I having fun is a good measure.

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  29. Good question, Carolyn. I am definitely a lover of the casual, unconstructed look, therefore, the majority of my sewing consists of simple, unlined garments. I've always hated tailored,lined clothing due to the poorly made, ill fitting rtw that I was subjected to when I worked in corporate. I harbored the belief that plus sized women couldn't/shouldn't wear tailored clothing--that is, until I stumbled upon your blog. Then I got interested in Cynthia Guffey and Jim McFarland (Gentleman Jim). Wow, suddenly tailored clothing for my plus sized body seems do-able. "I can do this, I can sew that way, I can wear that" has become a part of my vocabulary. So, in conjunction with other areas of our lives, we are constantly changing, learning, reinventing, reframing who we are and where we are on our journey. Haven't pulled out bemberg and lace ribbon yet :) but it's definitely included in my queue.

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  30. This is exactly what my goal is this year - to be the sewer I want to be. Last year, I tried to keep up with everyone's pace and rushed through many projects. They turned out well, but they could have turned out so much better if I made it a learning process. My personality likes to take time, delve deep into things, and I'm devoted to be this in 2014.

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  31. No, I am definitely not the sewists that I want to be. For me I really need to take advantage of all the available time that I have and use it towards sewing more garments. I also need to read more sewing books and not be afraid to try new techniques.

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  32. Looks like I'm firmly in the "No, I'm not there, yet" camp like others, but like others I am happy with where I am at. It's a journey, not a destination so some skills I reach for and others I don't based on what the wardrobe needs and what I am willing to do. Sewing with woolens and especially pressing them still eludes me, but my lifestyle and the climate here in the Soutwest does not require those skills so I happily stay with cottons and linen. I've enjoyed reading others comments and so enjoy your blog.
    Theresa in Tucson

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  33. What a fascinating question! And the answer is: I don't know? I mean, I'm certainly much more competent than I was when I started 4 years ago. I'm more competent, I suspect, with every project. And I now know lots of peripheral things (like fabric properties and where to get things and what kinds of patterns I want to sew vs. getting the popular ones). Mind you, would I prefer to be better in a lot of ways? Yes. I do try to stretch myself (fitting and jacket construction are my main ways of doing this right now), but I also hit my limit and then I need to backtrack with the less challenging projects.

    Also, and I'm sure this is just good fortune, the simple projects tend to be the most wearable and attractive. If you look around, most everyone is wearing t shirts and jeans and leggings and knit dresses. Those aren't the most challenging things to sew.

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  34. NOT. AT. ALL. I want to make more everyday wear pieces but I keep getting stuck on monthlong big projects. I'm learning techniques but not producing as fast as I'd like. :( but :-D for the learning process.

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  35. This is a very thoughtful question. I can sew well, and am comfortable with many techniques, but I am not the sewist I want to be. Fit is my stumbling block; that, and my perfectionism. I have started 3 times to perfect a woven bodice block that I can then modify for knits, and have gotten discouraged each time. And that causes me to lose focus and daydream and reorganize my fabric and patterns and catch up with everyone else's sewing. And blogs like yours are what inspire me to keep trying, and I thank you - and many of the other commenters here, very much for that!

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  36. Hmmm, no not yet, which is awesome I think. Sewing is such a fantastic life skill, and I intend to take my whole life to advance my sewing skills. ~Teri

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  37. I'm not the sewist that I want to be yet. Now on to what happened today? I was waiting for a remnant fabric truck to come to a fabric shop. I love the store's remnants from the city that you work in well that's what they tell us. I decided to sit and read a famous pattern magazine. I'm flipping the pages and I see YOU. Before I can read about what you were doing in that magazine, the truck came.

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  38. This is interesting. I question this about myself often. I know I am more than proficient in my sewing skills. I have both many years of personal sewing experience, as well as actual educational training--my undergraduate degree was in theater, with an emphasis on costume construction. I have knowledge of pattern drafting, draping, fitting, etc. I have been trained to take a designers rendering and create the garment utilizing any or all of the skills I have learned. But do I really use those skills in my current personal sewing? Not as often as I could or, probably, should. I sew because I love the process. From fabric selection, pattern choice, techniques to be applied (or not), constructing the garment, using the given instructions (or not), to wearing the final product with pride out in the real world. I have made something that expresses myself and that no one else out there possesses in the same way. Love! But, do I use my skills to their full potential? probably rarely. Do I enervate my creations with the creativity that I see others in the sewing internet/blogosphere utilize? Not to the degree that I want to. I love using the TNT patterns to create a garment that I know I will love. I love trying the new patterns out there to potentially develop new TNTs. I am quite aware that I can create a pattern on my own for any idea I might have. But I realize, for myself, that I'm not taking the risk to be more creative as often as I know I want to be. Thank you for raising the question, because it has been a question on my mind for a while now, and I need to think about it more. Am I the sewist I want to be? I have no doubts about my technical skills, but I think the sewist I want to be wants to be more of a creative risk taker. Thanks for the mental push!

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  39. *giggle* I find it fascinating that creative people generally ask this question after they have sewn "staples". Things that are not hard to make, in fact they do them on autopilot, but serve a necessary function.
    I find that I am more a creative sewist. I have improved tremendously since I started, being a Alts person at Davids Bridal made my skills improve by leaps and bounds. But I had an extremely talented teacher. I find that I am happy with the level of skill that I have in making a finished garment, and I love the thrill of creating beautiful things, or even just figuring out how they are made by looking at them.

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  40. I don't know what sort of sewist I want to be, apart from one who enjoys and keeps on sewing .
    Its not that I think I already know it all; I certainly do not. I'm well and truly an amateur. Sewing is my creative escape from a reasonably demanding professional job, so it works for me not to have definite goals and objectives.
    I love to sew and I usually like the things I make, and if not, I enjoy the process.

    I'm reading back on my comment and realise that perhaps I am already the sewist I want to be :-)

    Thanks again for be inspiring and thought provoking.

    -Sewingelle

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  41. I don't like to think things too deeply. What does it matter? I'm glad I am sewing again. I don't want to frighten myself off by thinking I should be doing more than I am. If you are happy doing what you are doing, then that is "perfect".

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  42. Am I the sewist I want to be ? Yes and No. No because there are many things I would like to do different (use more colors in a garment for example, or know how to use difficult fabrics, or draft my own patterns etc). But yes because when I want to do something, I'm not scared of doing something new, learning new techniques and trying things I've read about. There is no project that I can't try just because "it is too hard". This doesn't mean I am able to complete them all yet, but I always feel ready to try.

    Moreover, I feel very inspired in trying something new by reading blogs. And yours is one of these. Not only am I inspired by the construction details you write, but also by the kind of projects you do, the kind of fabrics you use and how fast you can work. After reading each new post, I realize that I have many things to improve in my sewing. Sometimes I don't know exactly what to improve or how to improve, and answering these questions is the first step toward better sewing.

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  43. WOW! What an intriguing question!!!! As a minister, I often ask people similar questions, but never about sewing. It go me thinking. I think I have to admit that after sewing for so many years - got my first sewing machine in 1958 when I was in the 3rd grade - I have become somewhat of a snob. I make 99.9% of my 'good' clothes and about 85% of my knockaround wear.

    I usually use TNT patterns. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I bought about 10 patterns in 2012 - the first patterns I purchased in at least 5 years. I love turning my TNT patterns into great new things that look nothing at all like the original patterns. Then turn right around and make a dress, skirt, jacket, pair of slacks or top exactly as described in the pattern. But I think overuse of TNT patterns tends to make one a bit complacent. It's good to be challenged by new patterns from time to time. That doesn't necessarily mean that we're lazy, but it does tend to make our creative edge a little dull.

    Having said that, I think I'm going to do more to explore my creative side. Lately, I've been making my own purse patterns because I have such a difficult time finding purses that really speak to me. In addition to making all those things that I've already got planned, I think I'll focus more attention to my new 'purse' fantasies.

    Thanks for making me sit down and give this some serious thought. You may have just planted the seeds for a new enterprise here... like I have that kind of time :)

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  44. I sew for the joy of creating something useful and beautiful. I learn something new in most new projects I work on. I don't let having to learn something new stop me when selecting a project. If I am not the sewist, taylor, or creative person I want to be it is because I just don't have as much time to devote to sewing as I would like to have.

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  45. I have been thinking about your question and I realize that I am the sewer I want to be but I need to have my confidence in my skills. I made my brother a three piece suit when I was 20 and thought nothing of it. So I know what to do, it is just to believe and just do it!

    The one thing that will help is that I have been telling myself it is just fabric and as I know I have so much more in the stash to try again! Thanks for asking such a great question!

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  46. Hmmm, I use a sewing machine, and I make all sorts of items with it. I don't consider myself a sewist though. I call myself a fiber artist, because that is what I do - create fiber art. Some pieces have hung in galleries, some have sold, some have been art quilts, some have been items of clothing.

    My skill level is pretty good - I've been using a sewing machine for 40 years now.

    My fitting skills are so-so. I know how to make adjustments thanks to Nancy Zieman, but I rarely invest the time to do all of them. I've even been known to pay a friend to make a dress for me because I didn't want to bother with the fitting issues.

    Does that make me a bad fiber artist? No. Life is too short to force myself to make something I don't want to make.

    I'm one happy fiber artist who makes what she wants, when she wants, and is still learning something new everyday.

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  47. I always want to push the envelope. I am now a bit slowed down by my career change, but I still want to push the envelope. For me, the envelope is casual funky.

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  48. I don't want to be any particular kind of sewist, I don't think. I'm happy when I'm learning, taking pride in my work--and enjoying it--whether it's sewing or anything else. At a recent sewing gathering, I enjoyed helping a couple of beginners and in turn receiving help on a new-to-me technique. A fun and satisfying afternoon--

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  49. I want to enjoy sewing, do it when I want and make the clothes I want but for me. I'm not interested in sewing for others. I'm not perfect sometimes but 99% is wearable and in most cases as good as RTW. The rest is usually down to a poor choice of fabric and pattern at the same time. In another life a hobby turned professional and once that happened the enjoyment was gone. Enjoyment of what you do is the key to a good life and I have a really good life.

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  50. No, I am not the sewist I want to be. There are so many components to the art of sewing that it is a continuous learning experience. It is fun trying!

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  51. This post really got me thinking! I wrote my own reflections on sewing and what it's helped me learn about life at my blog, Cashmerette: http://cashmerette.blogspot.com/2014/02/reflections-of-part-time-seamstress.html

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    Replies
    1. I read this earlier today and thought what a wonderful blog post! I was going to link to it in a future blog post because I thought it was so thoughtful and well written!!!

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  52. It has been over a month since you posted this, and I've had it open in my web browser for weeks just waiting for a free moment to read and contemplate. This is such a great question. I have been thinking about what kind of sewist I am for the past year and a half. I questioned my love of sewing and thought maybe I should give it up after more than 30 years of sewing. Luckily, I had the online sewing community as inspiration. I signed up for Sarah's first RTW fast (Goodbye Valentino). I didn't really do a lot of sewing that year, but I did end up making my first pair of jeans in that time. I have the skills to sew just about anything I want, but fitting skills are my real issue. I'm not sure why fit scares me so much. I am determined to increase my fitting ability this year. Thank you for posing this question!

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