Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I Forgot...

About a decade ago, I spent an entire day at The Worcester Sew Expo in sewing classes with my sewing hero, Cynthia Guffey. In one of the classes, she challenged me to "enjoy the process." Not to sew like the wind but to revel in the particulars of making a garment.

See, deep down in my heart, I'm a producer. What do I mean by that? I mean there are some sewists who sew using totally couture techniques. Who take their time and make sure that each part of the process is done correctly no matter how much time it takes.  Some sewists are tailors. Taking their time to go through all of the steps necessary to perfectly tailor a garment.  Some sewists like to follow the rules, make a muslin, check for perfect fit and sew a perfect garment.

That's not me. I like to produce. I like the idea of coming up with, designing, and/or copying a garment, spec'ing the fabric whether from a source or the collection and then getting it sewn up so I can wear it. In pre-internet days, it meant I allotted specific time periods for garments ~ 1 hour for an unlined skirt, 2 hours for a lined skirt, 3 hours for a pair of unlined pants, 3-4 hours for a dress...and I never lined a jacket.  It took too long! Unlined worked for me because it could be produced in a short period of time and placed in my closet.

I did slow down some after the Guffey class...and then again after I became involved with sewing boards on the Internet. I realized I could get a better result if I took more time, used better techniques, better fabrics and slowed down. Once that lesson was learned, I made some amazing garments ~ dresses mostly because I'd found my niche ~ but I was happy to take my time to get those results.

Now things have changed again and I no longer need a professional wardrobe and casual is king...I find I'm challenged to slow down again. Spending the last month sewing little girls clothing just played into that old habit ~ cause really how involved is sewing little girls everyday clothing. I was knocking out large amounts of garments in a weekend - 5/6 pieces.

I'm back to sewing for myself and I realize that I do need to take my time even if I am making tees and blouses or toppers. So my "Question of the Day" is ~ Are you a Producer, a Couture Sewist, a Tailor or just a regular Sewist who takes their time? And what makes you so? Is enjoying the process important to you? Or are you just trying to build a wardrobe?

Talk back to me because this is the Question of the Day!

...as always more later!



46 comments:

  1. I am a regular sewist who takes my time. I walk slow, I eat slow and I sew slow. That is just my speed. The more experienced I get, the more willing I am to slow down even more in order to get things right. I remember the first few projects I tried, the whole grain line thing just seemed like too much bother and I just laid pattern pieces wherever they would fit on the fabric. But it didn't take long before I started taking grain lines more seriously, then I started finishing my seams, then I started making a pattern more than once so that I could improve the fit. We'll see what happens next!

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  2. Hey Carolyn, I so totally understand. I took a class from Cynthia once and I just can't be that precise. I am an ordinary slow sewist. My favorite part is coming up with the idea, getting all the parts together (I hand dye and paint if needed) and then cut out (Ugh!) and sew. Sewing is a means to get to the end. I love wearing my own creations and that keeps me sewing!

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  3. I vary. Sometimes I want something quick and I'll make it on the overlocker in an afternoon. The dress I'm currently making is more of a labour of love, drafting my own pattern, muslin, and adjustments as I go. I will take time to do a good finish too.

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  4. I guess I'm a bit of all of the above. It all depends on what I'm sewing. I do enjoy the process and result much more when I slow down enough to make sure that everything is about as perfect as I can get it. I am in a hurry to get all the pieces put together so that I can see how the garment is going to look.

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  5. I am a slow sewer still new to the process and I love every minute of it..slow but still ..get it done...perfection is not my goal it is wearing it.

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  6. At the moment I'm a producer because I need a new wardrobe since my pre-pregnancy clothes are still way too small. I' ll never be a tailor because I don't see the need for couture finishes on everyday clothes. When I sew for my kids I sew because I feel like sewing and I just enjoy the process. They have enough RTW so everything I make is made because I wanted to take my time and sew something for them. When sewing something fun for myself I do try and make lasting, good quality (meaning fabric and finish) items and it does spark joy. Planning is the most fun, thinking, sketching and browsing fabric. I don't care that it doesn't all get made!

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  7. I see it as being either a "process" or "product" sewist. I am a process sewist, enjoying and savoring each step of the way, even if it makes me swear and curse at times. Sometimes it may be couture, tailoring or just regular. They can all apply but it is the action that I love.

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    Replies
    1. Yes yes yes. Am happiest when I have 10-12 projects going at the same time, all at different levels of construction.

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  8. I've thought about this question a lot over the past year. I try to rotate each of these roles, for the experience and flexibility/pride benefits that each brings. I have no specific preference of one over another, or tendency to be one over another. My approach now depends on the project. I am much better about deciding on a good approach before beginning a new project. Good is defined as meeting my emotional needs for sewing while still producing a wearable project in a reasonable amount of time (at no additional cost!) I have enough experience with enough kinds of fabrics, projects, techniques, etc. that I know how much time and attention it will take to achieve the desired result.

    When I could no longer make pieces straight out of the pattern envelop (an evolution over the last ten years in response to a changing body), I was forced to alter patterns first thing, so I had to learn to slow down the beginning part of most projects. As I too now need a casual-leaning wardrobe, I have learned to be more productive by using TNTs and less fussy fabrics. As my income has plummeted, I have adapted to doing the same, or more, with less. The project doesn't really need matching thread, for example.

    For me, sewing is a constantly evolving process, and sometimes, frankly, I get tired of the constant change and adaptation that seems to be required. But I am happier as a sewer than I would be if I had to buy RTW. So there's that.

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  9. I'm a pretty slow sewer, mainly because of inexperience. I have yet to sew a garment without using my seam ripper, lol. I hope to pick up more speed as I improve my skills. I am taking a sewing class now and I am learning the importance of finishing a garment. I do love how much better my projects turn out when It's completely finished on the inside. Improving my speed will help me build up my handmade wardrobe.

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    Replies
    1. EVERYONE uses their seam ripper! It's totally not a beginner thing! :)

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    2. Seem ripper's rule! Been sewing for over 50 years.

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  10. My husband has often told me that I am a SLOW craftswoman! I really enjoy the concept of project planning, evaluating crafting materials, studying new techniques, following tutorials and slowly watching my creations come together. For me the joy is in the "leisurely doing" of the project then sharing it with other through social media!

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  11. I never gave it thought before, but I seem to be a "producer". My wardrobe is fairly well-built, right now, but if I see a gap, I just pick out fabric and make it up, no lollygagging over it, just get it done.

    I enjoy sewing, but it's not any sort of "journey" or "process" for me. It's something I can do to get something I want.

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  12. Well, I am a regular sewer with higher level ambitions. I take time in planning and try to get a good fit. Somehow the final result is never as good as I had hoped, though.

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  13. I'm a producer AND I enjoy the process. I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive.

    I am highly technical and not a creative. So I don't have much dreaming up projects, etc. I decide I'm going to make something, gather pattern, fabric and notions, and do it. Before I sew a stitch I have the entire process mapped out in my mind and I sew quite decisively.

    And, I've found that even when I do slow down (in my mind), things still go faster than they seem to for others. So I've embraced it!!!

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  14. When I first started, I was a producer for sure. I'm slowly turning into a regular sewist who takes my time and then I hope to evolve into a tailor at some point.

    I like to put most of my time into the actual SEWING of the garment though. The cutting and fitting parts are so annoying to me lol. I'm an engineer by schooling. I love putting things together.

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  15. I am a turtle. When I manage to zip through a project in a day, I'm amazed with myself. I enjoy the planning, laying out, cutting, and DETEST deadlines! If I know I have a holiday dress deadline, I have to literally start about 2 months in advance!

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  16. Great topic, Carolyn. I've been sewing for 59 years and am both types of sewist depending on the project. To keep me sane I try to alternate between a fast, quick sew and intricate, slow sew garments/projects. But whatever the project, I simply must sew! Karen

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  17. I'm cross between all three, leaning toward the tailor/couture. But it sometimes means my perfectionism gets in the way of completing garments. I do like to put in a couple easy/quick things, but I know if I go to fast, the quality goes down. I sew for the clothes, but it's also something that calms me, centers me.

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  18. All my life I was a producer. I am trying to change that! I spend tons of time now working on fitting the pattern befor even cutting out! I am trying to learn to enjoy! However, I always wait til the last minute then sew like the wind to meet a deadline of a challenge or need for the garment the next day. Lol. Jan Brandt

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  19. I am definitely a Sewist who takes my time, yet aspires to learn tailoring/couture. Every time I step into my sewing room, I enjoy the process. I am not worried about when I will finish, I just work step by step until my work is done. A huge part of this reasoning is because I have three kids, ages 3 months, 7 and 9. Since I stay at home, my days are full. So, I would rather relish my sewing time than press to produce.

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  20. I'm a slow sewist who really enjoys the process. The whole process: choosing supplies, prepping the project, researching any new techniques and the sewing itself. Entering my sewing room is taking a step out of my regular life and its stressors, so I want to enjoy every moment of it.

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  21. Wow. I'm pretty sure you just described me--I want to produce garments. I'm willing to take a little longer once in awhile if I feel it will be worth it, but then I need to follow it up with a few fast things. I think I'm finding more of a balance between producing and taking my time, but I still lean more to the fast side.

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  22. I think I'm probably a tailor. I like things well made, I almost can't make something without making a muslin first, and messy insides make me sad. This definitely works against me sometimes.

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  23. Like Bunny, I am a little of all 3 but mainly as precise as I can be with brides rushing in and out on a deadline. If I ever get time for myself and family sewing, it is slow and enjoyable and well planned out and colors chosen well and every pattern measured and photographed. I'm old fashioned and think good fit and much thought shows in the finished garment.

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  24. I'm not sure I have an answer -- but just wanted to say that Cynthia Guffey is my sewing hero. I took a couple of classes with her at our sewing expo this year and she was amazing. I love her designs too.

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  25. I am a process person who likes to finish things. I "produce" knit tops, but take my time with everything else: muslins, finished inside edges, fully lined skirts, trousers, dresses, and jackets.

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  26. I began sewing clothes at 9 and wasn't very good! I have made quilts for 30+ years and, over the past couple of years have returned to apparel sewing with a renewed enjoyment in taking the slow road. I take time time to add French seam and other nice finishes. I just enjoy the process. My renewed enthusiasm in making clothing is thanks, in part, to Elizabeth Clines book "Overdressed.." and to blogs like yours. Thank you!

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  27. Pre-pregnancy I was definitely headed in a couture direction, but then I needed a maternity wardrobe ASAP and totally shifted to producer mode. I'm glad for both of those phases because I now feel like I do what is right for each project as far as the time I put in and right level of attention to detail. I feel really productive and like I am making beautiful things.

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  28. I often get down on myself because I am not a faster sewer. I am a producer who is slow. I enjoy process of making from pattern to garment. So while I am production oriented, I have remind my self that time is an element of the production equation.
    In the end I am very happy, because I am a maker. When not making garments, I am making a quilt or knitting socks. I am most unhappy when I don't have access to those actions.

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  29. Hmmm I am a little of each, I like a well made and fitted garment but I don't make muslins. Because I am concerned about fit am not a producer, fit takes time. However, just about everything I make is for a specific occasion therefore I am on the clock. Wow lol

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  30. I would consider myself a perfectionist producer. I sew because I want to wear the garment -- right away, but being a bit of a perfectionist does slow me down. One of the ways I have gotten over that lately has been to pick items to sew with fewer pieces, however, after recently completing my jeans, I'm opening up to patterns with more pieces. I just have to remember to find the 15-30 minutes per day to sew so I can at least have a new piece each week.

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  31. Glory this is a great question Carolyn!!! I'm all over the place....I'm a creative at heart but I also want my clothes to last and I don't want to be embarrassed by poor workmanship. I frequently hear my moms voice ( either for real or in my head) telling me "do it over" if something I have made isn't up to par. She always told me I could do it better when I really could. She encouraged my creativity and challenged my workmanship. That being said....she frequently asks me " how on earth do you get so much sewing done?" When I'm creatively satisfied, the sewing is a pleasure.

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  32. Though I'd never thought to label myself as such, I'm a producer. I don't quilt because it takes toooooo long. When I find a pattern I like, I make several. I took 13 aline skirts with me to college--anyone remember kettle cloth? I find that with doing alterations, I finish everything that calls for black thread, then white, then colors. Zip, zip, zip. The only thing that forced me to slow down is time and a dodgy back. No more five hour cutting binges for me. Probably a good thing. I really should slow down.

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  33. I'm into Couture, Tailoring, and I like to take my time enjoying the process. The process, the technique and I final result which is set apart from ordinary clothing is everything to me. That doesn't mean that there weren't periods in my journey when I wanted things to be made and worn asap, but that isn't the rule with me.

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  34. I suppose I'm just a regular seamstress with delusions of couture (or tailoring) when the project is right. It depends on the project!

    I enjoy the fiddly nature of couture details, but to do that, you have to have the right materials, and I seldom indulge in the featherweight underlinings necessary to work couture effects in the light-weight cottons and linens that form the bulk of my SoCal wardrobe. It's generally far too warm to wear wool here!

    So if you rummage through my closet you'll find items finished with linings and french seams and items finished with pinked edges. It depends. It depends.

    But production sewing just stresses me out and makes the whole thing no fun at all.

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  35. I'm more interested in process than in production. It is the doing that pleases me -- the end product is merely a lagniappe.

    But I can produce like the wind when I have to.

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  36. Such an interesting thing to think about. Like many here, I guess I can be a chameleon. Fit continues to be a challenge for me so I take my time there even for a relatively simple project. But once the pattern is ready to go, I like to speed up. If there are important details I want to get right, though, I'm ready to slow down again.

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  37. I sew for pleasure and as a creative outlet. I love to sew what I call art to wear but function is more important than the art. The best garment is when art is creatively combined in a very wearable garment that is quality made. I sew to have garments that are different and one of a kind and make me feel happy to wear..I take my time because sewing and creating are my joy!

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  38. Great topic, I think generally I am a slow producer if that makes any sense at all!!

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  39. Reading this post was very interesting. I guess I'm a bit of them all. While I do sew fast/easy garments to wardrobe build at times, I guess I am not totally producer. I find that when I sink my teeth into a timely project that demands my skill, attention and requires difficult details - that's when I do my best work. The process is satisfying, interesting and very calming. I slow down for the process, technique, details and garment quality. The project doesn't necessarily need to be "advanced" either. My only issue is long projects seem to kill my sewjo for about two weeks so, I need a "fast project reboot" and get me back on the "slow" path. (If that makes any sense!) I guess it's balances out for me! LOL!

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  40. I yearn to be a producer, but sadly my health and energy levels prevent me! So I think at the moment I am a part time Tailor-I take a while to make something, but I'm careful about each step and double check it because my personal resources are limited and I can't re-do things quickly if I mess up. Great thought provoking article!

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  41. I want to sew couture style, but my lack of wardrobe and limited sewing time means being a producer is more important to me than making it fancy.

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  42. I am a plodder. I do it because I want clothes that fit. Problem now is fit..I measure and tissue fit, and still get it wrong. So, all this Joy of Sewing does not apply to me!!

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  43. You know what I love best? The repairing, mending, repurposing. I think I was a laundress in a previous life. I like to wash something and during folding or ironing, I find it needs a fix or repair, I do that and it gives me such a feeling of satisfaction.

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