Monday, April 08, 2013

Skills and such...

So, I spent a bit of Sunday trying to teach a friend to sew. It was an interesting experience... I think I bit off a bit more than I can chew, to be honest.

 - I'd forgotten that though I've only been sewing garments for 5ish years, I've been sewing quilts and suchlike for most of my life. I knew how to sew straight lines, set in zippers, cut with a rotary cutter, etc - all important garment sewing skills - before I ever cut into a pattern.

- I have no experience fitting other people. I knew this was a problem, but I thought my friend and me were more or less the same size. We aren't. I'm a B-cup - bodices fit me with minimal fussing - my friend is likely going to need an FBA. Which I don't know how to do. It'll all be rather interesting when we get to it.

- I wasn't assertive enough in the choice of pattern, we picked a pattern my friend liked, vs. something that would have been a more beginner friendly sew. So, we are sewing with a woven, lined pleated bodice, invisible zipper - these are all some pretty major skills to teach someone who's having difficulty sewing a straight line. Umm. There's going to be a fair bit of muddling through.

Anyway - that experience, plus watching the Great British Sewing Bee (Team Ann!) - got me to think about skills. And blogging. And our online blogging personas, vs. our actual skill levels.

There's a lot of sewing on the Internet that's really cute, but just not that technically great. And as long as we are blogging for our own amusement, that's perfectly fine - my first skirt was utter crap, but I felt like a rock star for making a semi-wearable skirt!

Where it gets problematic is when blogging crosses the line from "I'm showing you my work" to "I'm going to teach you how to do something." At this point - experience does matter! Enthusiasm, while lovely and fantastic, is not sufficient... (It is immensely likely that next week's bodice sewing session is going to be quite disastrous. Slightly in my defense, I'm not getting paid to do this. If I were, I'd beg off, I don't really have the skills.)

Now factor in how lovely and supportive the sewing community is - and there's not a lot of calling a spade a spade. Which is unfortunate. Cause how will you know? Without honest reviews, how do you know what pattern is amazing, and which one is badly drafted?

Anyhoo, random, middle-of-the-night musings. I'm working on a never-ending dress (and a glass of wine - though not at the same time, that would just be asking for disaster!). It's in its last stages though - the lining is in, the zipper is in, I just have the skirt vent to fuss with, and the hem. I'm hopeful to finish it during the week, and finally get to start on something else. 


Gillian said...

I found the same thing when i tried to teach a friend to sew.. I thought a t-shirt would be so easy, but I forgot about how much practice is need to "feel" the right tension when you are inserting neckbands etc! It came out barely wearable, and a litle discouraging for her, I think. Next time, I'll start with an a-line skirt!

Andrea said...

I had a similar experience recently. A friend asked me to teach her how to sew because she wanted to make an A-Line skirt. I decided I would go about teaching her the same way I was taught: start with a draw string bag (straight lines!) then a zippered pouch, and then an A-line skirt. After we made the drawstring bag my friend decided sewing was too detailed and she didn't have the patience for it so that was that. I wonder if I put her off by starting with such a simple project but the thought of starting with a skirt seemed daunting to me!

Clio said...

Well, at least it's a woven and not a knit!

I hear ya about the whole calling a spade a spade. That the sewing blogosphere is so unfailingly supportive is a mixed blessing. You really have to pick and choose what advice to take; a few sewing successes does not make a person an expert.

Audrey said...

It is great that you are helping a friend learn to sew. That's what friends do, have adventures together. Check out full bust alterations in books, fitting classes at, and at blogs of people who do it all the time. I am not one of them. But you will learn something from the experience yourself. I agree with you that there are questionable sewing lessons posted by inexperienced sewers. But the internet sewing community is what feeds my motivation to improve my sewing skills. So I guess I will have to accept the small amount of bad with the much larger quantity of good.