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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, August 29, 2010

How fast do you sew?

I am having a lovely weekend, enjoying the end of summer sunshine outside, and finishing my second skirt before my next dress project. (Remember the 2 skirts, one dress rule?)

But my sewing always takes longer than I thought.

In my mind on a Wednesday I look forward to the weekend as a time when I can get several garments sewn. It  usually doesn't work out like this and that disappoints me. It seems to me that I used to get more done.

Am I slowing down or is how I sew changing?

For a start I think the life of a grown up gets in the way too. I talk to family for at least an hour on the phone every day, I walk Rascal, and even when my husband does the cooking, and he always does on the weekend, I do the clean up. Well he is a wonderful cook, but you know he is a man, if you get what I mean, clean-up wise.

I first noticed that I was a slow sewing beside on of my friends, which is something we used to do side-by-side sometimes. She would whiz through her garments because she just moved so fast. Her machines ran at top speed, she was up and down to the iron like a flash. Me, I would meander around and drink lots of teas.

It is interesting to think how your sewing has changed, and in the last couple of years mine has. 

Here's why:

1. The internet. This has really influenced my sewing tremendously. I love looking at blogs and seeing what other people make and what it looks like on real bodies. I would say that well over half at least of the things I try, technique, design ideas, or patterns, are other-sewer inspired. Adding new ideas has slowed me down I think. My head, not just my hands, are engaged.

2. Fitting. This is closely related to #2. I never would have known about the FBA if it weren't for online learning from other sewers. I now spend a couple of hours every new pattern making fitting adjustments. Mind you I can't remember the last time I made something that didn't at least sort of fit. It has been ages since a wadder hit the floor.

3. My paying work is more intense. As I have become more involved in my teaching, kids are great but they do pull a lot out of you over the course of a week, (yes, politicians did that too when I worked with them, but those guys I would often tune out - you usually had heard what they were saying many times before) my sewing these days is as much a decompression time, a relaxation time, as a production time. 

Interestingly, despite my slow speed I am not a fussy sewer. I am a little more tolerant of myself than I used to be. Some mistakes I know are going to be obvious under the light of my sewing table, but are going to be forgotten once I have the garment on for a day. I fix and worry only about issues that are going to bug me when I wear them - a lining a shade too long or a waistband a shade too tight - not that tiny jog in the topstitching.

And my friend the speed sewer? Last time we talked she isn't sewing any more. Hasn't the time.

How fast do you sew? What are your perimeters for mistakes? How fussy are you? What kind of trade off do you make between being neat and being time effective?


Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Gosh alot of this post resonated with me especially your list at the end. I actually am told alot that I sew alot and am very productive. Do I believe that?

No...cause I'm like you Barbara. I meander around projects. I take my time. I think of details I can add. So no I don't think of myself as a fast sewist and actually experience that feeling of disappointment at the end of a weekend quite frequently.

NancyDaQ said...

Speed doesn't matter as long as you're happy with your pace. You only need to please yourself. It seems that you are!

Karyn said...

I;ve been thinking about this same subject recently. I am slower than I used to be. Partly because I have less time; I have a very active 10 year old! and partly because I sew much better. I spend more time on fit and more time on details. I change things around. I, too, have learned a lot from my virtual sewing friends and have been much more successful because of it.

sdBev said...

I find that I'm slower. I'm taking more time. I rip where I would have ignored. I'm trying more complicated techniques and I'm pursuing the ever elusive perfect fit. Although I'll admit that reading blogs sure cuts into the actual sewing time.

Maricou said...

Your pratice reflects mine. I've always been slow though. Reading sewing blogs reduces my amount of time spent at my sewing machine. But I prefer quality to quantity and as you said it many thing I am experimenting with come from other sewing bloggers. For instance your printed lining in your last skirt gave me the idea of using a hot red satin lining for the black linen skirt I am making out of the same pattern you used. I must add tha Erica had mentioned a beautiful polka dotted lining in a RTW dress that she had seen online. I think that we are going to see many fancy lined garments in the seasons to come

RuthieK said...

You seem consistently productive to me. The garments you produce are elegant, flattering and age appropriate. Sometimes you make me laugh, often you make me think. I love reading your blog.

Joyce in NC said...

I am trying to speed up. My sewing buddies sew much faster and finish more garments than I do. I try my best to produce more pieces. I'm just happy to be back into sewing. I was away from sewing for over 10 years. I do enjoy the journey as I finish another item.

Karin said...

I am slow. I have a 3 and six year old. I don't take many breaks for myself, but they break in needing time and attention, just as you would expect.

Sometimes I long for a moment's peace! But, as my six year old wants time alone in her room to do her own projects, I realise how forlorn I will be when they aren't tied to my apron strings anymore.

Rose said...

I believe that you are reading my brain. I experience almost verbatim what you wrote in this blog post. I finally am accepting that I am a slow sewer. I enjoy thinking about all the ideas out there and playing around with my projects.