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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, February 21, 2016

What is the part you like?

I admit it.

For the last few months I have been having problems with my sewing mojo.

There were moments, in fact, when it seemed almost like work, particularly when I was struggling to get a few things made before I went away.

I haven't felt like this in a very long time, and it worried me.

Then last weekend I had a conversation with my middle son, who is a lot like me, and the lightbulb went off.

The gist of our discussion was that we are both only really happy when we are learning something.

This, I realized, is exactly what I was feeling about my sewing and why, lately, I have been feeling there was less in the tank than there used to be.

I had got myself stuck in someone else's lane.

Let me explain.

Different lanes for different sewers.

I figure there are some sewers who are highly energized by fit.

Robin  seems to me to be a sewer like this. Her muslins and alterations produce beautiful results reflecting her wonderful mathematical/musical mind. 

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by fabric. 

Carolyn is a sewer like this in many ways. Her famous TNTs are a canvas for her wonderful fabric collection and her creative fabrications. Her inspiration seems to come from fabric and she does things with her fabric I wouldn't even see or think of.

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by technique.

Bunny seems to me to be in this category. Bunny to me is a classic sewer and exhibits a level of care and skill in her work the rest of us can only aspire to.

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by wardrobe planning.

Ruthie is a sewer like this and I would love any one of her many capsules wardrobes. Ruthie understands mix and match, do you know how hard that is?

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by fashion.

Erica Bunker is the queen here, her eye for fashion and her translation of the trends into clothes you can make yourself has given her a unique reputation in our world. Skip Style.com just read Erica.

And finally there are sewers like me.

I have a bit of all of the above, in varying degrees, but primarily what I like best are new patterns. What gets me up in the morning and rushing off to the sewing room is the element of surprise.

I love a new pattern.

I love learning how to do something I haven't done before.

I love pulling something new and probably half done over my head and not knowing until I open my eyes in the mirror if it is a disaster or a nice surprise.

I love good instructions and figuring out strange new pattern shapes.

I like every new project to be a new pattern.

Pretty nutty I know. Risky for someone who doesn't like to fool around with fit (which is why a well drafted pattern means so much to me) but perfect for someone who likes to be learning something, and is a total optimist. 

Now what about you?

What kind of a sewer are you?

Have I missed an approach?


Marie said...

Boy I think you nailed those all squarely on the head! As I read the descriptions it seems to me from their various blogs that you are right. And then I realized I don't read yours for sewing. I just like how you write and how funny you are. Makes me smile most every time. Have a good one!

Nadine in NC said...

Congratulations on making Madalynne's Best Sewing Blogs of 2016. I enjoyed this post and agree with Marie that you nailed those observations. I honestly don't know what I *like* but I will certainly be thinking about it until I figure it out as well. I seem to get a sort of "sewing block" at times that almost paralyzes my productivity. Maybe figuring out what I like and accentuating that would help a lot. Thank you for sharing. I loved your Bootstrap jeans btw.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Since we've had convos about this and you've been fabric shopping with me - you know fabric is what excites me and causes me to create. I agree that you've nailed all of the bloggers you mentioned. I was shaking my head yes with each paragraph. Ah one correction though - style.com is now VogueRunway.com.

BTW, did you know that you won a prize for most funniest blogger on Madalynnes' Best Sewing Blogs of 2016! You go girlfriend!

debbie said...

I'd say you're spot on with the assessments of the various bloggers.

I start as a Robin. It's all about the fit. Once I'm happy with that I turn into a Carolyn, but not the Carolyn you describe. I turn into the TNT Carolyn. I love to slice and dice my TNT's into different styles.

a little sewing said...

oh my, I was rather shocked to see myself mentioned!

You know, I have also struggled with my sewing mojo lately and I am chalking it up to my daughter's wedding. I know your son also had a wedding last fall, so maybe you are also still recovering? It is such a strenuous thing to go through.
Also, I can really get behind the point of your post, because I LOVE tO LEARN too.
I mean I just love it. It is my go-to solution for just about any problem. Also, when I am stressed out (usually at work) because there is some sort of problem, I remind myself that I just need to learn what is wrong so I can fix it. Re-framing the situation as a learning opportunity always settles me right down.

So glad you sewed up those VADO jeans - I really want to sew them, too, now that I saw yours.

And I agree with Marie, you are funny.

Nursebennett said...

Can I ever relate! I can't count the times my husband has commented on something I have made, "That's awesome! You should sell those!" Perish the thought! I cannot stand to make something more than once. I finally realized it's the challenge, the learning, that I love and what draws me in and holds my attention. I once agreed to make six bridesmaid dresses and I couldn't wait to make the first one. They were strapless, had boning, etc. The other five were sheer torture!

Anonymous said...

Well said Marie.
Like you, I read Barbara's blog because she make me laugh out loud. The fact that she is always wanting to learn and tackle new challenges makes her an exceptional teacher. Long ago I sat in her sewing classes and experienced her teaching skills. And if you think back weren't your favourite and best teachers the ones with the wicked sense of humour.

Barbara I couldn't agree more with your choices and their respective skills. Their blogs are the favourites of this lurker.

Bonnie @ sewplus.blogspot.com said...

Very good post. I wish I had more traits of these sewers. But like you I enjoy sewing the most when I a learning something new. My mojo comes and goes too.

sewingkm said...

New patterns inspire me - currently sewing Sandra B's V1456 which is a bit unusual. And I love beautiful fabric - don't we all? I agree with Marie's comment and love, love your humor! Karen

twotoast said...

Ooh, interesting! I am a 'wardrobe builder!' When I make something it really has to go with three or four other garments in my wardrobe. I very rarely make 'stand alone' pieces - I like to be able to look in my closet and have a number of co-ordinating pieces that I can choose from!

LinB said...

Hmmm. J'adore the new, the now -- but I know from long experience that what suits me best is the old, the classic (like from caveman days classic) shapes. I tend to buy fabric in large quantities, so that my wardrobe building automatically co-ordinates. I prefer a challenging puzzle, even with what ends up looking classic and fairly plain.

Schizophrenic, much? The Schizophrenic Seamster might be a good wrestling nickname. One of us will get back to you on that later.

Jan Conwell said...

I'm not experienced enough as a sewer to know what motivates me yet. Weird, because I've been sewing for decades...but never EVER felt like I knew what I was doing. Lately I've gotten a new machine and have taken "new owner classes" and that has helped immensely. As a doll maker for the last six years, I confess the sewing is often simply and ends to a means--gotta dress the doll to sell it. Have fun finding new patterns!

Clio said...

I am also motivated by new patterns/new learning opportunities, with a dash of technique and a dollop of fitting. I had a really hard time when I was pregnant and just needed to sew as many things as fast as possible. And now, post-baby, when my figure is in flux it's been a challenge because I don't want to invest too much time in any one project, but want to be sewing interesting things (that are interesting and challenging to sew). Interesting post!

Cathie said...

Love your blog, and this is a great topic - finding out how we function as sewers, etc. I am sick with bronchitis, and Hubby is soon to have a small surgery, so sewing is relaxing as a world! I am about too get back to bed, with sewing reading. I am motivated by fabric, mainly vintage, and prefer simple, funky shapes, and good fit. I always slice and dice patterns. Or morph them. And you are very funny and very kind. Cathie in Quebec.

Jean said...

Bingo! I thought I had lost my mojo too-I have perfected a straight skirt for my daughter's work wardrobe, and have 4 currently in various stages of UFO on my worktable. I don't even want to look at them. And now I know why....I am bored with them. While perfecting them, it was fun. Now it's just a chore. BUT, with this epiphany, I will finish and move on to something new! Loved your jeans post, enjoy the sun and Daisy!

Judith Newman said...

For me sewing us all about learning. Quilting, garment making - doing something for the second (or heaven forbid the third time) is just boring. So when I was asked to teach a quilting class, I knew I had to create challenges for myself if I was to enjoy doing the same quilt a second time. This time, I decided to create it with just two fabrics and discovered I needed to insert a few "jewels" (contrasting bits) into some blocks and then I had to figure out how to retrofit the coloured bits. Loved how the quilt turned out.

Sally King said...

I so get where you are coming from. When I get requests from family members that start with, "can you make me ....... Just like the one you made for....." I cringe. It's a job when I have to do the same thing over and over (Christmas pajamas come to mind). Even if I love the way it fits, I rarely make the same garment twice. I love the challenge! That being said, I am going to attempt a Burda magazine pattern -- nervously but excited! Enjoy your sunshine and keep your fun writings coming!

Nelba said...

I think you have it pretty much summed up. Obviously everybody has to have elements of all the others. But we do have our strengths and maybe weaknesses. My weakness is execution. I get bored and then I skip a step or two... But I am never scared of trying something new.

Erika said...

I'm an Erica B, which is funny because I'm an Erika ... but I would modify it slightly - for me it's all about the vision. I am really compelled by what I imagine I am going to create. Mostly I'm compelled by how good+unique it's going to make me look - but there's usually an aspect of artist in there. Trying for something that only I could have created. SO MUCH FUN!! Isn't that weird - because sometimes the sewing isn't actually fun at all - but chasing the vision is SO MUCH FUN.

The Have-More Daughter said...

You are the funniest, as in breath of fresh air! I hope you will come up with a handle for this kind of sewing inspiration: She wants to sew clothes that suit her personality: comfortable in her skin, appears to be in great shape although she is not, likes old-fashioned quality, little to no bright color, no floral, all geometric, an element off balance or humorous, no fussing to keep it up, on or closed, design cut into the pattern of seams and darts. It is not clear whether she is extremely fashionable or stodgy.