What’s up, Charlie Brown?

Around where I work it’s pretty common to be greeted with, “What do you know?” instead of the “what’s up?” or “how’s it going?” most people might find normal. It makes sense; we’re in the knowledge business in an environment where rumours are currency. The question always give me more pause than a “how are you” though – what do I know? Well after the past year of sewing and blogging, here’s what I know.

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  • Things that fit look so much better. Well, duh! Isn’t that partly why one sews in the first place? But at the start of the year, despite sewing for at least 18 months already, I just hadn’t got the hang of making things fit properly. That changed when my mother and I did one of the Burda online courses together and ended up with a set of slopers each and a better idea of how to adjust patterns. That little bit of knowledge (oh so dangerous!) has given me the confidence to start messing around with patterns – AnnaFlora, Lonsdale with self-drafted bodice, messing with the Cambie skirt right out of the box – and even drafting a few skirts of my own. I’m also sold on the usefulness of making muslins, although I don’t always have the patience to do so.

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  • Stretch fabrics are just so comfy! I actually haven’t blogged most of these, but I’ve made a ton of stuff up in stretch fabrics this year. I looked at the RTW dresses I wear the most and realised a majority were in stable knits, so set out to create the same thing. Since I discovered ponte and where to buy it from, the beautiful wovens in my stash are having a hard time getting a look in (their only saving grace is really that it’s still hard to find nice stable knits in prints around these parts). I’ve also been unashamedly making woven patterns up in stretch fabrics. I made a BHL Anna and a Flora, a colour-blocked shift, a blazer, a cardigan, a sequinned sweater, and a whole flotilla of Kirsten kimono tees. Plus a maxi dress inspired by Oona, the apparently fabled Vogue 1250, and a pencil skirt, none of which made it to the blog but all get a lot of wear. Oh, and a striped pleated skirt. Phew.
  • I really enjoy a puzzle or an engineering challenge. I always have, really, as years of participating in the maths section of Tournament of Minds probably should tell me. So, you want to dress as Bananaman for Halloween? You need a pen holder that looks fancy but is ready in 10 minutes? You want to vaguely recreate a 1920s Chanel ball gown? I’m sure I can figure out a way!

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  • Pattern matching is totally worthwhile. It’s just so darn satisfying when you finish and all those stripes line up. Quadruply so when it’s plaid. I stand in the coffee queue these days looking at the seams on other people’s clothes to see how their patterns match up.
  • I’m impatient with imperfection. By which I mean I rarely come back to things that need fixing up. Or I delay, preferring to turn my mind to the shiny new project. For instance, I’m perpetually searching for a pattern that can become a TNT for work dresses. I haven’t found it yet. As part of the search I made a Cambie, which I think is a strong contender. I wore it a couple of times, even to work, but the bodice is too long. All it needs is to unpick the zipper and top waistband seam, cut the excess out, and re-sew. But do you think I’ve done that? She’s been sitting on my sewing table for more than three months now, making me feel guilty about the demise of a beautiful dress every time I look. Sometime I’ll get around to it…

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  • Organisation is incredibly helpful. One of the problems I’ve had for a while now with PDF patterns in particular is that because they’re on the computer and not in the box with the rest of my patterns, I often forget about them. I’d been musing about how to solve this for a while when I stumbled across Sarai’s post about organising patterns. I downloaded Tap Forms, the app she suggests, then and there and got cataloguing. It’s made such a difference! You can set up the database form with whatever sections you want. I included the fabric amount required for my preferred size, among other things, so now when I’m shopping and think something would be great for such-and-such, I can just look up how much is needed instead of guessing (I’ve actually done this several times already).

How about what I want to know? I think my main aim is so sew more mindfully. I tend to sew in frenzied fits, inspired by a pattern or fabric and motivated by a need to make it happen now now NOW. But it would be useful if that was a little more directed to the holes in my wardrobe. It’s doubtful I’ll ever have an entirely handmade wardrobe because I like sewing fluff too much and my skills just aren’t good enough to create a lot of the more tailored pieces I tend to wear to work. That said, I have been trying to shop mindfully for a while now – spending more on better quality clothes that last longer and supporting small designers (currently I’m obsessed with this top by Melbourne designer Jude, which I’ve worn at least weekly since buying). So I need to apply that to sewing. Less getting distracted by new patterns or cheap fabrics and more thinking about what is actually needed. Though I’m sure there will still be plenty of fluff!

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