The Evolution of Skill: Skill vs. Dreams

I’ve had some time to reflect lately, and some of this post was inspired by the amazing conversations I had with Andrea of Stitch Parade, as I had the great pleasure of meeting her this past Thursday (she wrote a lovely blog post about it here).

We had a great discussion about knowing what styles work on us; not just because of our figures, but our personalities. I thought about this a lot on my travels home that day, and have been since then. That was the main inspiration for this post.

Also, at one point in our discussion, Andrea had asked me how I got into sewing, and it made me think. That was the other part of my inspiration.

My journey to sewing has been a bit backwards. I grew up with a familiarity towards sewing (my mum is an amazing seamstress, and used to make all our clothes, as well as tailor my dad’s suits, growing up). But despite the fact I always had an INTEREST in sewing and design, I didn’t develop the PATIENCE for sewing until I was in my late 20’s, and only began teaching myself just over a year ago.

That’s partly the reason I say I’m backwards, but also because I like to dive in the deep end with things – it’s the challenging, scary stuff that really excites me! As an artist, exploring new genres of creativity is my lifeblood – so this process is not new to me, and I typically learn the skill part of things very fast and then savour the process of perfecting them thereafter.

When I first started sewing just over a year ago, I had in my mind visions of perfectly fitting, stylish, unique and high quality clothes that would reflect on the outside who I truly am on the inside. I’d studied in depth the theory and science of draping and corsetry and had fallen head over heels in love!!

I began with such excitement; so much to learn, conquer and accomplish! And even better; I’d discovered the awesomeness that is this sewing community – a boundless support system of beautiful people, endless inspiration and so much information 🙂

But with so many decisions to make I quickly became distracted… I made garments that didn’t suit me in colours and fabrics that weren’t me. What’s worse, my dreams moved faster than my skills and I found it difficult to achieve the perfect fit and finish I’d dreamed of right away (gee, what a shock! lol)

I soon came to a phase where I was creating really slowly… I just wasn’t excited about my makes. I’d learned a lot in a short time, but my garments went unworn and I started to lose my passion. They were made well, and I was proud of my execution, but I had been more concerned with making garments that would ‘fit in’ and be ‘blog interesting’ rather than garments that reflected my own style.

The first step in the right direction was making my Bombshell Dress. I made it in colours I adored, a fabric I loved, and a style that screamed ME!! The combination of advanced techniques, including having to drape the bodice cups, was absolute aphrodisiac to me… I was in heaven!

I vowed after that not to make anything else that wasn’t me… I wanted to feel excited about sewing all the time! Of course, nothing since has been quite as intoxicating as making that dress, and one can’t exactly go around wearing boned vintage dresses everywhere, but it was a turning point.

So back at Square One, I still had no wardrobe and what little I did have was getting too big, as I was losing weight. I read a post by Steph C of Cake Patterns about creating a capsule wardrobe: carefully choosing a limited colour palette and a selection of garments that could work together. It’s a smart idea, and just what I need to keep me on track, ensuring my makes fit my style and what I’ll actually wear.

Since then a wonderful thing has happened: I’m making clothes I actually wear and I’ve found myself loving the process a lot more. I love planning, I love creating and I love the fact I’m finally building a wardrobe that feels like me. I’m developing MY style, and I’m letting myself sew colours I love without apology. Yes there’s a lot of black and red. I’m ok with that. I can see my skills catching up with my dreams and its pretty rad.

So I don’t participate in community sewalongs or challenges as much – but even though I don’t sport the Seamless badge, I haven’t bought any RTW in months; and though I don’t join in sewalongs or pledges as much, I can still live vicariously through all you wonderful, colourful, spontaneous sewists out there – I’ll keep sewing alongside you though…. in my ‘boring’ blacks and solid colours and simple styles ^__^

Lots of love & happy sewing – whatever your colours and styles! ^_^

And thank you, Andrea, for your wonderful company and for the amazing conversation we shared – I look forward to next time! ^_^

About symondezyn

graphic designer, illustrator, and artist of many skills... always striving towards new challenges and goals, and always with more projects than time to do them in!! View all posts by symondezyn

29 responses to “The Evolution of Skill: Skill vs. Dreams

  • Amanda

    Such great reflection. From my experience this first year of seeing has been about learning techniques and skills and what actually works for me. So many hot messes! But I that is important. It’s great to see that you’ve found your groove and are making items that reflect your style. I’m looking forward to seeing all your rad red and black makes.

    • symondezyn

      I totally relate to what you’re saying – my ‘hot messes’ have been more about style but no matter the reason, the outcome is the same: WADDER! lol ^_^ Thanks for your encouragement; it’s good knowing I won’t drive everyone away with my ‘boring blacks’ 😉

  • Kat H

    Great post! I know what you mean about making things ‘interesting’ and ‘blog-able’ – I sometimes find myself thinking about making something just because I think it would fit-in online. I have to catch myself and remind myself who I’m sewing for, which is just me and not anyone else. It’s funny how we seem to instinctively fall into those traps, isn’t it?!

    (Also, red and black are great colours!)

  • Annabelle

    Very well written and thought provoking posts. I find too find that participating in sew alongs and challenges can distract me from making things are truly me. After all, the sew along usually is perfectly tailored to the person leading the sew along – so how can it always fit perfectly in my world?

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Annabelle; I totally hear ya 🙂 I really love seeing how people make the sewalong items their own style, but I see now I’m better off sewing with a plan of my own… I can see myself joining in one still maybe… only if it fits into my plan though 😉

  • Salma

    You are right on with the patience thing, I also developed it in my late 20s despite also having a mother who sewed our clothes and taught me how to sew. I still don’t know what my style is, I think I prefer more contemporary looks over vintage. Sweet post!

  • Calico Stretch

    This is a very thought provoking post. I too am a slow sewer and my makes are comparatively uninspiring for blog readers. For that reason mostly I also don’t participate in sewalongs etc, other than vicariously, and am happy for my skills to slowly build as I go so that I will be able to sew the garments that scream ‘ME’ to my exacting standards.

    I will very happily read about your sewing travels, wherever it takes you.

  • clairelwebster

    Nicely put. I’m still learning and I’ve been sewing for a long long time! And yes you can wear boned vintage frocks to the supermarket if that’s what makes you happy!

    • symondezyn

      I hope I never stop learning too! That’s part of the joy of life ^_^ You’re right, too – I suppose we could wear anything we like, even if it’s not “appropriate” (and I have, occasionally! ^_^) but I confess…. I like my cosy yoga pants too much to give them up entirely 😛

  • Elle C

    Really good post, got me thinking (too early to articulate yet).

    Are you familiar with Margy of A Fool for Fabric? Her style would definitely not be the same as yours but her colour palette is very similar. Black, red, white and gray, period. Have a look at her blog.

  • Sew Little Time

    great post (and love the new blog look!). it’s so important to focus on what you want and need in your wardrobe than anything else. i wish i could take my own advice – i need some trousers so should be getting on with my junipers but i keep getting dragged in my fluffy frosting-type blog related things like winnie’s polka dot dress thing or the prospective julia bobbin mad men challenge! at least the cake patterns sewalongs are definitely wearable!

    • symondezyn

      Yes, exactly! It’s so tempting, isn’t it? It definitely is taking some willpower for me not to jump on a few of these boats but you’re right – I know what my wardrobe needs, and that’s the most important thing 🙂

      I may have to do the mad men challenge though…. I missed it last year because I was still new to sewing but that’s the kind of project I adore – I’ll think of it as a separate art project 😉

  • sallie

    I can definitely relate to your journey (well, except the bit about your Mom being a fantastic seamstress – ha!) I think taking the time to really examine why you’re doing all this and what you really hope to get out of it is important and can really help push you past making “blog worthy” projects, to really making a workable, wearable wardrobe that suits YOU and reflects who YOU are. Congratulations on finding your way! It’s an exciting journey!

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Sallie! You’re right, knowing why we are doing this, and keeping that focus makes it easier to stay the path. You’ve definitely got a strong sense of personal style, and I admire that about you very much! 🙂

  • stirandstitch

    i still can’t believe you’ve only been sewing clothing for one year! i’m waaaay behind 🙂
    i admire your determination and your willingness to jump right in (to the deep end, no less!). maybe the best way to learn is to do. i keep thinking my sewing will evolve, and one day i’ll find myself effortlessly sewing tailored dresses and jackets, but it’s time i face the fact that i need to make it evolve…i need to jump in, like you did. you’re an inspiration 🙂

    • symondezyn

      Oh gosh thank you so much! That’s so sweet, and I’m honoured ^_^ I definitely think in order to evolve we need to accept that making mistakes is ok, and an important part of learning ^_^ That said, I also think you should give yourself more credit – your makes are lovely, and you are mastering fit like a pro!! 🙂

  • Andrea

    Great reflections Amanda! I must confess the only sewalongs I take part in are those that allow me to still make whatever I want (like the Summer Essentials Sewalong and the Stashbusting Sewalong) or those for garments I already had on my line of sight. I admired the Colette Sewalong from a distance but knew those dresses would not look good on me at all so that’s why I did not participate. When I started sewing I made some garments that looked terrible on me (and I still do often!), but it’s only through the process of making that we can truly find our way to a unique personal style. Until we meet again, keep on happily sewing!

    • symondezyn

      Exactly – I think even though it’s disappointing, making the fails teaches us more about our style than anything else ^_^ I really loved our convos; very much looking forward to next time! ^_^

  • misscrayolacreepy

    I’ve loved watching your progress! I think I am in the opposite place as you right now, I’m kind of in a slump :/

    • symondezyn

      And I, you!! Your makes are so sophisticated now! 🙂

      Slumps suck! They happen to all of us, oh gosh yes…. idk if it’ll help you but what I do when I’m feeling uninspired is gather up a pile of my sewing books, haul them into bed and cosy up to have a flip through 🙂 I do that sometimes with cookbooks too if I need to shake things up a bit! lol

  • Cation Designs

    Red and black are my favorite colors to wear too, although you would never be able to tell from looking at my wardrobe, which is predominantly either gray or weird 🙂 And like you, most of my first year’s sewing projects ended up being fails for some reason or other. Still, I think it’s already a victory that you are taking the time to sew…I know I certainly wish I had come by it earlier, when I was still living at home and had my mom around all the time for consultation! But hey, the 20s do bring about more patience, so I’ll settle for being glad about that. Thanks for posting this thought-provoking post!

    • symondezyn

      Thanks Cindy! 🙂 I laughed at ‘gray or weird’ – nothing says just cause you have favourite colours that’s all you get to wear… fortunately!! ^_^ Otherwise we would never get to see all your amazingly creative ideas come to life! 🙂

      That’s a good point – if I’d started sewing in earnest when I was younger, I’d have had the benefit of my mum’s teaching… then again, I probably wouldn’t have listened – I was a stubborn kid ^_^ Now, as an adult, I get to talk sewing and go fabric shopping with my mum and it’s a whole lot better experience – for both of us, I’m sure ^_^

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