Do sewists have a style? I’m not talking about the way we dress or what we sew, I’m talking about the way we sew.
On Instagram it’s easy to spot the vintage sewists, the meticulous sewists, the minimalists sewists. The clothes, and the progress updates, usually give the game away. But what about other sewing styles? The easy-come-easy-go, the prolific, the procrastinator?
If you’re a little slap dash you tend not to post close-ups of your messy shortcuts. And I think that is a bit of a shame. Instagram can give us the impression that everyone is brilliant and awesome all the time, when in fact all of us suffer our fair share of sewing fails and some of us actually rejoice in not giving too much of a fig, when in so many other departments of life we have to give too much of a fig.
So, in the interests of full-disclosure, and less figs, here’s the lowdown on my sewing style.
Hold no prisoners
I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sewist. If I didn’t have to get the kids to school in the morning I would be up all night. I often get carried away and can’t stop – like going out for a quiet drink and finding yourself in a rave at 4am.
On a recent episode of the un:CUT podcast, Juliet, Alice and Atia had me in stitches with ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ – the idea that to claw back a few hours for yourself and retain a sense of freedom, you stay up late, tiring yourself out for the next day of duty. Next time my husband asks me, why do you come to bed so late if you are so tired? I now have the answer!
The remaking vortex
While I tend to really go for it when I’m making something, that’s rarely the end of the story. Once made, my garments have a habit of entering a never-ending cycle between wardrobe and workroom. I’m not precious – if something goes ‘wrong’ I view it as a challenge and either make-do or refashion it into something else. I’m always tinkering and revisiting things I’ve made to suit my needs.
The speed of initial conception mutates into laboriously slow sewing (or rather re-sewing). I will wear something, tweak it, wear it again, tweak something else. Sometimes I’m frustrated, but really I think I do it because I can. It’s always a learning curve: seeing how things work. It’s so satisfying when finally, after all the hassle, you realise you’ve made clothes that feel right.
Sometimes I just want to play. When I was younger I would drape fabric and make stuff up – letting the fabric take the lead. These days I mess about less – one, because with work and two kids I have less time and two, because like many of us these days, I’ve grown wary of wastage (Closet Core pouf anyone?) and if I’m sewing, I want it to be something I will definitely want to wear after the last stitch. But still, I try to keep the spirit of not being too precious alive. Sewing doesn’t need to be perfect and while I enjoy slowing down for nice finishes occasionally, I’m not going to give up because a pocket doesn’t perfectly align.
And what about hand sewing? Are you a fan? I’m a bit gung ho: I don’t worry too much about the finish and just get on and get it done. It’s not my favourite part of making clothes, so I usually save up all the hand bits for the evening and park myself in front of a box set to get on with it. I love the fact hand sewing tasks make goggleboxing a productive way to pass the time.
Finally, let me touch on what I suspect may be the biggest giveaway when it comes to sewing style: pattern matching. Reader, I am not a fan. Yes, I know it looks amazing when it’s done right, but a near miss can look worse than a complete miss-match, and I’m just not sure I want to invest the time (I do from time to time, mainly for stripes and errant flowers, but on the whole it’s a no).
When you start sewing you begin to notice how few shop-bought clothes are pattern matched. In fact shop-bought in general becomes a whole other beast when you sew – all the things you would have never noticed before become glaringly obvious. My advice would be, if pattern matching is draining your passion then give it a miss. If you love the challenge and thrive on neatness, however, eat your heart out!
So, what’s your sewing style? Are you a pattern-matching legend or full of slap-dash derring do? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear!