Is sewing making you a better person?

Did you ever wonder how sewing was changing your personality? Life skills? Or even hire-ability?? This post has been a long time coming and I’m still not sure it’s conveying exactly how awesome you’ve become through learning to sew. I talked about it with the Stitcher’s Brew team and Karen Ball in our super fun episode OUT TOMORROW and they encouraged me to finish the post and hit publish! I’ve tried to summarise all the ways sewing transfers to real world skills you may be better at than you realise.

Stay with me; it’ll all make sense! (I hope)

Project management

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

There’s a reason we call our makes projects! You work out your requirements, gather all your supplies, execute the steps and keep up momentum. You’ve got end to end sight of where you’re starting and where you’re ending. You also set goals for yourself review them and feel accomplishment. When you feel bad over failures it’s just because you’re invested in the whole process but there’s always lessons to learn in project management! Perhaps you’re also trying this skill out by setting yourself deadlines… oooh that yummy adrenaline gets pumping.

Attention to detail

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Just like cooking you understand the method to creating. Which steps have to stay in order, and which can be slightly juggled for the same result. You can follow directions showing your attention to instructions and chronological working. And you can interpret the result from technical diagrams because your brain is logically and methodically predicting future steps. You know the importance of how seam allowances affect finished measurements, how neat straight lines of stitching help the polish of your garment and how a new fabric can change both the process and the results. You’re constantly paying attention to little things you’re taking for granted, and improving your skills with every new make.

Spacial reasoning

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Okay so this one isn’t wildly applicable in real life but you have gathered the understanding of making flat shapes curve around your 3d form. With every dart, seam, pleat or drape you are showing off a special kind of intelligence that you might have seen in those funny tests with different shaped cubes. Once you understand the spacial requirements of a situation you can reason yourself solutions meaning you’re forecasting answers to problems before testing them out, just like planning fit adjustments or design alterations. You’re a psychic seamstress!

Memory

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

You’re a sponge and you didn’t realise it! Learning new skills like sewing is a constant memory booster. Every project can introduce you new techniques and each time you practice or read a tutorial you’re embedding expertise into your brain. Similarly you’re being exposed to more pattern and fabrics than you can imagine. I bet you can recount several patterns you’ve got your eye on with the designer and name or number close to your tongue. This us great for long term memory retention, beating off the early effects of dementia and keeping your brain young!

Decision making

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

From pairing patterns with fabric and working out which size to fit, to automatically course correcting your sewing as it’s disappearing under the presser foot, you’re making a range of quick, instinctual, educated, considered or methodical decisions at every stage. Your initiative grows with every scrap of knowledge you learn and remember. And we’ve all had to dive into some problem solving from time to time, assessing the issue and deciding the solution. These problem solving methods can work with any kind of dilemma; just think it through, apply reasoning and weigh up the solutions. And because sewing teaches you the art of mindfulness, flow and quiet calm, you’ve got the mind-space to breathe and work through issues in a level headed way. Channel this the next time something goes wrong outside your craft room!

Passion and creativity

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

This one is a little obvious but super important! Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality. You are literally making yourself more unique! Creative actions help you express your emotions, experiment with risk taking and refine your motor skills giving you nimble fingers. Did you know creative people are better at teamwork and team bonding? Its true! Studies have shown creative people are more sympathetic to others because they understand the feelings of putting yourself out there and they want to collaborate to create better ideas! Strength in numbers you know. And to feel fulfilled you can simply keep seeking new information, new knowledge and new ways to do things, constantly, and then turn it into something magnificent. Plus the fear of being a beginner humbled you in a very raw way, teaching you to appreciate the act of learning and increasing your attention span for new ideas.

Quality standards and consistency

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Seeing your skills grow in a measurable way is really important. Personal growth means working to understand and develop your skills in order to meet your fullest potential. And even better, learning to recognise and reach for benchmarks can be applied to both general career development and other skill building areas. Define your own standards of excellence! For some it’s learning about the strength of a hand sewn stitch, the superior feel of special fabric and the polish of a well finished design element helps you believe in yourself and your skills. You deserve to be great at what you do and you’ll appreciate your best efforts more than anything.

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Phew! That’s quite a lot? Well I probably could go on for longer. It’s hard not to sound like a cheesy self help tape but the facts are there, you just may not have looked at your favourite hobby this way before. Of course we’re all still learning and maybe not all these topics apply for you yet. But don’t do yourself down; sewing is a skill. You may also have a talent for it but you have learnt the techniques, built your confidence and push yourself regularly. How many non-sewers can you say are working this hard on themselves?

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Bits and Bobbins

Gosh it’s been ages since I last posted.
I get this horrible feeling when I don’t post during a week. Let’s remedy that!

I’ve been sewing like a maniac lately and have a big queue of things to show you in the next few weeks. I’ll start by sharing a few things today.

First up are a couple of work tops that are modest and smart but still a bit fun and go with jeans. It’s the “I’m so cute, don’t you want to let me standardise your product and put it in a media neutral content management system” look. Snappy eh?

almond rock new look 6148 squirrel rabbit crepe

So here we have a yoke-less new look 6148 in ex-Dorothy Perkins crepe with awesome squirrel and rabbit print. I picked this up from Goldhawk Road a couple of summers ago and as soon as I was on the train home regretted only buy 1m.

And my firm favourite, new look 6808 in red and cream polyester. I’m not falling into the trap of calling it tribal, ohhhhhh no. This fabric was one of my bargain Birmingham Rag Market purchases that I recently shared on Instagram.

almond rock new look 6808 tribal polyester

I thought I try the 6808 sleeves on the 6148 as well and wahey they fit all right! Maybe even a bit better than they fit the pattern they came with!?

Moving along… a few weeks ago my friends had the fright of their lives. Their baby who hadn’t quite finished cooking, arrived 8 weeks early weighing in at a teeny 2 lbs. After some love and attention she’s been beefed up enough to be at home with her family.

As a baby gift I made the Dylan Onsie pattern (babygrow to all us Brits) from Spit Up and Stilettos – it was free for some time but appears to now be priced. I also snaffled the Drew leggings pattern while they were free and they also seem pretty cool too for an easy baby gift.

almond rock dylan onesie babygrow spit up and stilettos metallic gold hot pink jersey

The pattern includes “preemie” size for teeny babies just like Baby Amber. I used some garish but fun hot pink and metallic gold jersey from Birmingham rag market with some jersey bias tape and a bit of velcro from Samuel Taylors, and whipped it up on my overlocker. It’s definitely opinion dividing but I knew if anyone would get a kick out of this, it would be Tom and Helen, and I love that Amber is disco-ready.

Finally I made a little tool and pencil case ready for my pattern drafting class! What a geek, I know. This is the “Develop” Pattern Drafting and Garment Design evening course that I’m doing through Leeds Art College just like my Textile printing course.

The notes advise bringing basic sewing supplies, plus basic pencil kit so I had to make the pouch quite big. It’s about A5 sized.

almond rock vintage sewing pattern tshirt transfer paper zipper pouch

I printed a black and white image from a vintage sewing pattern onto tshirt transfer paper. I used some cotton canvas for the pouch and an invisible zipper. Here’s a good tutorial for pouches with regular zips. Easy for anyone to do, whether they’re a newbie or an old pro.

Isn’t she working that dress? She’s giving me Liz Taylor vibes.

Now that I’ve broken the silence, look forward to a few more posts from me soon!

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And now for something different

Today you get to meet my brother Andy (aka Little Fro).

I’ve been promising him a shirt for over a year and I’ve finally delivered!

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

This lovely black and white pin dot brushed cotton is from Stone fabrics and also comes in blue and red.
I presented samples of each to my brother, white was chosen and then we were off!

The shirt is a rub-off of an Austin Reed button up that Andy owned. He picked it as the copy garment because he was happy with the fit and style of the shirt. I used the Steffani Lincecum book that guides you through copying ready to wear clothes. She also has a Craftsy class on this technique but I think the book is sufficient enough to grasp what you need to do. Sunni did a good post which convinced me to get the book.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

I used a few different sources to understand the logic of sewing a man’s shirt without a pattern; like the MPB Men’s Shirt Sewalong, plus this great Shirt Sewing Blog’s post on two piece plackets that gave me food for thought, and finally this post has a helpful image about the subtle variety in collar shapes which I have to say I was ignorant of before.

Sadly I definitely couldn’t get my head around the burrito method and I’m one of few people who didn’t get on with Andrea’s tutorial for sewing collars in a different order.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

There were a few  funny things about the source shirt. First, it had different sized front plackets. The side with the buttonholes was wider than the button side, and it wasn’t topstitched.

Also the shirt had a mixture of flat felled seams (down the sides and sleeves) and French seams (at the shoulders and armholes). Is that normal? Plus the seams were a mixture of widths too.

This meant I had to label my pattern pieces really clearly or I would have totally confused myself!

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

It was really nice to learn classic sleeve plackets with this project.

To help myself, I bought an 90s McCall’s Ladies Shirt pattern from a car boot which has amazingly detailed (and rather witty) Palmer Pletsch instructions, while also having the Coletterie Hawthorn sewalong placket post open on my screen to look over their lovely clear photo steps.

Have you ever sewn a shirt? How did you find the topstitching? I’ve worked out I can use my new stitch in the ditch foot to edgestitch if I move the needle position. It made it SO MUCH EASIER. I’ve heard a blind hem foot works too.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

Don’t the black buttons look like big polka dots? They do have two holes (rather than being shank buttons) but by using black thread to attach them the holes sort of disappear!

I finished the hem with home made bias tape from the same fabric. This technique seems to be getting loads of attention all of a sudden but I’ve been doing it for ages on blouses, glad everyone else it getting on it because it makes hemming a curve so much easier.

We had some fun photographing the shirt. I got Andy to break out his best catalogue poses. Bwahaha.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

Reminds me of Roger Moore who started out as a knitwear catalogue model and Michael Caine loved to tease him about it, calling him “The Big Knit”!

I wholeheartedly recommend his autobiography; even if you’re not James Bond mad like me, it’s SO much fun to read.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

So all in all this project involved:

* a collar with separate stand
* a one-piece sleeve with placket
* a yoke
* miles of edgestitching, including a slightly wonky pocket
* curved  and slightly dipped hemline

Now I have orders from three other men in my life to stitch them shirts. Phew! Wish me luck.

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