Learning to Sew
I’m not a born sewer. But I do sew enough to know how to sew a few minor things, random things for around the house mainly. But I’m still learning to sew. And the one honest thing I have to say to anyone about sewing is: Are you learning to sew? Don’t ask your kids for advice.
This sounds like simple advice, but you would be surprised at how hard it is to put this into practice when you have children. Especially, if you are sewing something for them.
How it all began
Several months ago, my girls wanted a new dress. Not just any dress, but a dress on which I could put mermaids and unicorns. So, the dress needed to be a solid color. Preferably one of their favorite colors.
I searched for a plain dress that I could simply apply a heat transfer vinyl mermaid/unicorn but I couldn’t find one. Or, should I say, I couldn’t find one at a reasonable price. I wasn’t willing to pay $40+ for a dress that would only fit for one season.
So, I went to my best friends Google and Youtube, and looked for ways to make inexpensive plain dresses. I found a bunch of tips and tricks and ideas. None were exactly what I wanted, but I gathered enough information to make my own “design”.
The T-Shirt Dress
I had recently purchased a whole lot of standard t-shirts for pennies at my local craft store, so I was just going to use that material as the base and cut out the design to my liking.
It took much longer than I thought it would. Turns out, you need at least a week per dress when you are new at dressmaking. (Also, keep in mind I have 3 kids, so my time was limited to only evenings after the kids were asleep and the house put back into some sort of order). And I needed to make 2 dresses.
I measured everything out, I cut the design, I sewed. It was all going swimmingly. I used my girls as models for the dresses to make sure they would fit. I asked for their input on the final HTV design. Everything was going according to plan!
And then disaster struck...
There were some final finishing touches that I needed to make. One of which, was the dreaded collar. I had never made a new collar for a shirt or dress. But it seemed easy enough… at least according to Youtube!
As it turns out, collars are tougher than they seem. They are the reason that I have yet to post my tutorials on the t-shirt dress, fixing collar sizes, and several other sewing tutorials I’m working on. I just can’t seem to get them right. But that didn’t stop me from trying and finishing the dresses for my girls.
Children spare no expense when it comes to honesty.
The dresses were done! The girls love the way they look on hangers. They put them on! And then, in the most deadpan voice with the most serious face, a-5-year old can give you my one daughter says “Thanks mom, you tried your best.” I could see the disappointment in her eyes. I could hear the deafening sigh in your voice. The collar had ruined the entire dress.
I was crushed! I had tried sooo hard to make the dresses just the way they wanted! At that point, I was ready to throw the dress away! All that sweat and swearing on those late nights, and for what? For a disappointed little girl. She didn’t say it to be mean or rude. She was just stating the obvious. The collar had ruined the dress, and even a 5-year-old could see that.
They wore those dresses to school that next day. And with the same seriousness in their voice, they told all their friends and the parents and all the teacher that their mom “tried her best” to make a dress.
Several Months Later
Fast forward several months. I still haven’t figured out how to sew a proper collar, but those 2 dresses that were so disappointing all those months ago, are still in the top 3 dresses my girls wear. They are in the weekly rotation of clothes. And every time my girls wear them, they brag to all their friends and family that these are the magnificent dresses their mommy made for them.
My advice to you, beginner sewer
I still look at those dresses and cringe when I see the collar, but it brings a smile to my face when I see my girls so happy wearing them. Had I followed my first instinct after receiving the very honest feedback from my daughter, the dresses would have been long gone.
I am still learning how to sew better, but like everything, it takes time. Hopefully one day I will master sewing a new collar but until then…My advice to you: Are you learning to sew? Don’t ask your kids for advice because it may crush your soul at that moment and cause you to give up. Sewing takes time to learn, as I very well know. And if I had given up then, I would regret it now.