During a conversation this past weekend, I mentioned (as I sometimes do) that I am not a very advanced sewist. Miss Lulu got annoyed with me! She told me that she didn’t want to hear me say that ever again. She wouldn’t even hear my protestations. :) It got me thinking…
I often talk to people who I believe are far more skilled than I am, and yet they don’t feel well-versed in areas that I frequent confidently: knits, zippers, bust adjustments… When I think of the techniques that I feel good about now but was intimidated by a year or two ago, it’s clear to see how far I’ve come. Yet, I still think of myself as an “advanced beginner.”
I’ve noticed a couple posts about this lately, and I went on a bit of a search to see what else I could find on the topic. Clearly it’s subjective, but opinions abound. This great post from The Dreamstress describes a 10-point scale that I found interesting. If I followed it laterally, then I would fall just before #4, because of the complexity of the patterns I’ve chosen. However, I have some experience with drafting already, and I would put my alteration/fitting abilities above that as well. (As I’ve acknowledged before, I delved into that stuff earlier than most, because I had to!) And would knits be considered trickier fabrics?
In this discussion on the PatternReview boards, a member references a list of skills used in a beginners’ contest, and according to that, I am definitely beyond an advanced beginner. In reading more of that string, I realized that it has been a while since I’ve felt confused by sewing lingo or conventional pattern instructions. I began to think about it like this: I’ve been cooking for decades, yet I’ve never made coq au vin. But I do not feel intimidated by it — give me a recipe and I’m off. Sure, I may ultimately decide that the second or third technique I try for the dish is better than the first, but it is unlikely that I’m going to become stymied by the process or create something inedible. Someone who only makes canned soup and grilled cheese, however, may feel differently.
When I said that I was not advanced, I didn’t mean it degradingly. I just don’t think of myself that way. I know that I can stitch nicely and create professional results with what I make, but I definitely have kept it pretty simple. There are so very many things I have yet to do — pants with a non-elastic waistband, lined garments, outerwear, bound buttonholes, welt pockets, men’s anything, soooo many styles I haven’t attempted, etc. — not to mention the areas I haven’t mastered regarding fitting.
BUT. The truth is, I’ll probably always feel that way. Nothing wrong with that! It’s a complex craft, and that’s one of the many things that keeps it interesting. There’s a part of me that wants to create an arm-long list of skills to acquire, fabrics and styles to master, techniques to explore, but I am going to resist the urge to attempt sewing completionism. For one thing, it would be futile, and for another, I’m afraid it would sap a lot of the fun out of it. Sometimes, I just want a quick fix, or I need a wardrobe hole filled, stat! But also, I can work to identify those times when I feel up for a challenge — and go for it, instead of letting fear of failure sideline me into falling back on something I know I’ll be able to accomplish easily.
(And yes Miss Lulu, I’ll now consider myself intermediate. Starting today. ;D)
All of these pics are from my Instagram feed — I’d love to connect with you there, if you’re in to that Instagramming kind of thing. I don’t post a ton, but I am more active there than I’ve been here lately, ha!