Friday, May 3, 2013

Venting, turned Questioning

Hi ladies.

Today I'm not here to show off any garment that I've recently finished (though my sewjo is back up a bit, thank goodness!) I'm coming here to vent.

(Just a little.)

You all are such a supportive community I feel like I can come to you and say this.

I have a BFA in fashion design. I worked for a while as a designer for a company that manufactures totes, and leather goods, and worked my way up to managing an entire product line. I was pretty good at what I did, but was laid off due to the economy.

I considered starting a fashion line for a couple of years after successfully winning fashion events, and grants based off of some of my original designs.However, I didn't. But I still have many of those same skills, and more since I've begun sewing as a practice. I'm actually a much better sewist (I don't necessarily love the term seamstress), than when I was in school, or doing fashion shows.

I'm saying all of this because every time I talk to a friend about projects that I'm working on, she kinda gives me the stank eye. She thinks I'm taking the easy route by sewing a pre-made pattern, and not something that I came up on my own. It makes me feel like she thinks I'm less of a designer. Now, she is a designer too. She makes all of her patterns, but doesn't sew nearly as much as I do. She also admittedly doesn't like to sew in the same way that I do.

But still. I get frustrated always having to explain that I like to sew from patterns. I like to SEW. I actually like the sewing process more than I like the design (drape, or draft,)/fitting process. I like perfecting my techniques. I like learning new things. I like getting to that tricky point in the middle of a dress, and knowing when and how to pivot to make the point sharp. I like pick stitches, and sewing lapels. I like (I can go on, and on...) I'm good with what I'm doing, I wish she would be too.

I also hate to vent about this, because she really is a very supportive, loving, caring friend. I consider her my sister. But still...

And now that I've vented, I realize I have a question (actually two!) for all you like minded sewists (or seamstresses, or designers, or sewers, or creators, or whatever term you like to go by.)

Question 1: What do you consider yourself (sewist, etc.)?
Question 2: What part of the process do you like best, and why?


  1. well my goodness first you tell her you joined this challenge to have fun & to meet & make new friends from around the world,it still amazes me that Sarah is a day ahead of me way over in Australia lol! we not only learn sewing tips along this journey but culture & History as well , I haven't sewn clothing in over 20 years, I've been making dolls & quilts lol!the first time I heard "make a muslin" I first thought humm well I could still cut it up & make a doll out of it lol! then I got to noticing the ladies making "muslins" out of sheets anything cheap & then take it apart & use as their main pattern, see I learned something! lol!I look forward to seeing what you have to bring to the table along this journey!

  2. Darci - first can I say that sewing - or any hobby for that matter - should be fun and what you enjoy doing so don't let your friend make you feel you are not a great designer - just because you prefer using a pattern and the sewing journey more. I have found that sewing from a pattern often involves design anyway when you change a pattern to fit you.

    I refer to myself as a sewist. I don't like either term - seamstress or sewer - the last for obvious spelling connotations! LOL.

    The part of the process I enjoy most changes from week to week depending on what I am doing. I find that if I am taking time to adjust a pattern and adjust the fit it makes me feel in control and somewhat clever!!!

    When I sit down to sew I find that if I take my time, press as I go, line everything up nicely - well that makes me feel good too. I guess that when I whip something up - not taking the time to do it properly - that is when I don't enjoy the process so much - yet I spent the first year of sewing doing exactly that!!! Now I am a bit more experienced (1 and a half years sewing) I find that I find the slower, more methodical process much more enjoyable and results in much nicer clothes too.

  3. I'm here from the quilting world and perhaps my perception of being a "quilter" will help with perspective. I think of a quilter as someone who plans, cuts, sews, sandwiches, quilts and binds something into something to put on your bed and keep you warm at night. But I know piecers - who love making tops but pay for someone else to quilt them. I know art quilters - who use mixed media to make wall hangings that could never be washed. There are people who love traditional patterns, applique, simple (classified as modern) asthetic. Some love kits, others replicate antiques, and some of us make it up as we go. We are ALL quilters.

    You, my friend, are always a seamstress. Making a pre-made pattern fit a real human body is nothing short of a miracle. Every time you pick the perfect fabric and pattern, you are a designer.

    To answer your questions.
    1) I consider myself: a freaking idiot
    2) The part of the process I like best: having something to wear.

    1. Hahahaha! I love this Marjorie! I definitely relate to answer 2. Vita

  4. If you really think about it, we are custom clothing designers. Why does it make a difference if we use a commercial pattern or a pattern that we draft? If the finished garment turns out the way that we want then we have meet our goal. We are designers when we make choices about what fabrics, techniques and design details are going to be used in a garments creation. I enjoy the thrill of turning a flat piece of fabric into a finished garment.

    1. What a great insight Towanda! We are custom clothing designers....

  5.'s my 2 cents:
    At the end of the day, there's nothing new under the sun....
    You know what's in you and how talented you are (or aren't)....
    Beyond all of this, you love the art and experience of sewing; don't be distracted by anything that would mar that experience....

    Question 1: Though I'm okay with the terms "sewist and sewer," I'm pretty old school. I love being called a "seamstress." It was good enough for grandma and mom...and, er, uhhh....

    Question 2: The moment when the garment takes shape...when the flat markings become points of dimension...when notches create volume and circumference. It's in those moments I realize it's no small talent I've been given. I'm doing with patterns and fabric what architects and engineers do with drawings, numbers, and lumber or mortar. Yeah...I dig it...a lot!

  6. Hi Darci,

    My thoughts - I should think you feel pretty low not being able to work in your chosen field. And maybe you feel a bit sad, and defensive when your friend devalues your preference for sewing. Darci, hold your head high, that is her opinion, and not yours. You like sewing. Every patternmaker needs a sewer, remember that. And if you can sew, you can earn a living by making people garments. You would have a great background knowledge to do this. Make sure you have a way of dealing with your friends behaviour, - maybe say you value her opinion and respect her preference for patternmaking but that a comprehensive knowledge of sewing and fabric handle is necessary to fully understand the intricacies of patternmakning.

  7. Hi Darci,
    We are all different and enjoy different aspects of sewing/pattern making ,etc. I personally, love to sew.. I love it from beginning to end.
    The choosing the pattern, the fabric ,the notions.. All so fun.
    Even though you have your degree in pattern designs, using patterns is just another form of enjoying your talent.. You are just blessed to be able to do both!! And I feel quiet sure, having that kind of knowledge , makes your patterns much better fitted and altered.. Enjoy your friend, and try to not let her remarks fray your fun.
    What kind of sewer am I? Just a "plain jane ole sewer".. I have sewed for my daughter, granddaughters and now for me for 35 years.. But, I have no schooling
    for anything.. Just all trial and error, and lots of reading on the computer. But,
    most of all, it is just a hobby, that I love!!
    Happy sewing, and best wishes to you all for sewing your garments for a year!

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  9. You all are really so wonderful. Thank you for all your kind comments, and giving me additional things to think about. From why I am bothered by the term seamstress (and even more so why I am bothered by it, when I do feel a connection to all those who came before me...) to recognizing I too am a freaking idiot (this made me literally LOL), to recognizing that we are all custom designers, and we all have talents, and we ALL have things that we enjoy (some things more than others), SO JUST.ENJOY.IT.

    I knew this was the right place to vent. Thanks for so many perspectives. I really appreciate you all!

  10. I know I'm late to the show but I just want to say, Darci, that I'm like you. I love sewing so much more than the design. I love being in front of my machine making the puzzle of flat cut fabric fit together into a three dimensional garment. If I had to also design everything, I'd lose my mind. I love process and order. Sewing is order and gives me the warm and fuzzies. Design is chaos and scares the heck out of me. So what you love and what makes you feel good.

  11. I consider myself a maker (occasionally I'll steal the term used for Sandry in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series: "stitch witch"). Sewing is probably the fiber thing I spend the least time on. Lately most of my fiber work has been kumihimo, and I'm still working on knitting those 16th century wool stockings... I need to recalculate the pattern, since it turns out I'm getting 13 rows/inch not, 16. I suppose the weirdest most recent thing is: I planted indigo! In a year or so, I'll have blue dye!

    I think my favorite part of making clothes is the researching. It's like detective work. I normally only sew clothing that's about 500 years out of fashion, occasionally 1000. I have a Viking Age commission I need to finish. I've also found I don't particularly like using a sewing machine. I was taught to hand sew around preschool age, and while I can use a machine...I rip out a lot more and waste a lot more thread when I use one. And it doesn't let me sew on the go. I have so many more stitches and seam treatments to learn though! I do need to take a break from the period sewing to switch to...well, I suppose it's still period, just a different one... shirtwaists. I need more summer dresses, and I want long sleeves gosh darnit! (Every indoor space is over air-conditioned, it seems) That'll be so weird...not accustomed to things like princess seams, darts, or printed patterns.