Relax … Unwind … and Sew!

Heya !

A few months ago, I started exploring and unraveling a side of me that I never really knew existed before: a CREATIVE one !

Strangely, I always felt kinda creative but totally forgot I had that in me. Along the way of ADULT LIFE, I forgot and lost a bit of my inner child …

And, you know: work work work, sleep/eat/travel sometimes (not enough, only when you have a holiday and the money for it) – back to work work work…

Oh but it’s not only the routine that kills our creativity.

There is ‘self-censoring’ too. You know, the thing we all do (some more than others) : overthinking it, over-judging ourselves and stopping us to initiate whatever is not meaningful enough (for who? the society? the family?) or think that we are just ‘not good enough’ for.

NOTE TO SELF: The act of creating something is always more important than the result

Well, I decided to follow my soul and heart. It led me back home (in Belgium) for a 5 week sewing course, followed by 2 weeks intensive course of Fashion Design.

I LOOOOOOOVED it! ❤
And I love saying that I AM A CREATIVE BEING!

SEWING – BASICS FOR BEGINNERS

Be a warrior, TAME THE MACHINE !!!

First thing first, know how to use your machine!
I have to say, I was a bit scared of … the sewing machine! it can be pretty overwhelming just to know how to make it work.

Here is a nice little tutorial on How to set up a sewing machine for beginners, with Angela Wolf

And another, more complete, by Wendy about sewing for beginners (listing the basic supplies and how to start…)

Here is a list of items, I believe are important to start sewing:

  • Thread : that is also appropriate to the fabric you’re using
  • Fabric
  • zippers
  • buttons
  • Extra needles (in case yours break ! And It will happen!)
  • Make sure all the parts of the machine are present (the bobbin is missing, you won’t be able to sew…)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Precision scissors
  • A SEAM RIPPER : Your new best friend !!! This one is ESSENTIAL !
  • Sewing pins (thin and flat preferably)
  • Measuring tape
  • Rulers : I personally have 3. a rectangular ruler, a triangular one and a round ‘parrot’ (= perroquet – like the bird – as we call it in French)
  • A Pin cushion OR a magnetic Pin caddy (very handy!)
  • an IRON… Yes pfff! You always need an iron when you sew!

See here, for more details by withwendy.com.

Read patterns and understand the vocabulary:

Here is a link to an article on how to read patterns., by blueprint.com
And here is a link to an article about all the basic sewing vocabulary.

My tip: Always pay attention to the orientation of the fabric and respect the grainline, as it is written on your pattern.

The selvage (= Lisière in French) is the edge on either side of a woven or flat-knitted fabric so finished as to prevent raveling.

The grainline (= droit fil in french) is indicated on your pattern as a straight arrow (usually). It is is parallel to the selvage of your fabric.

The BASIC “DO’s and DONT’S” :

  1. Beware not to hold the fabric but rather orientate it, softly.
  2. Go slow with the pedal… No need to go fast. Better be slow and precise at first… And then as you get the technique, you’ll get faster too.
  3. Beware your fingers, try not to sew them 😉
  4. Beware the pins, they can break your needles! Pin your garment and take the pins out as you go…
  5. Do not believe that you won’t need to iron! That is a big common mistake we all do. And hope to get away with it 😉
    Some fabrics, as you may know, shrink as we iron them. Some others expand. In both cases It better be before you start sewing otherwise they might … not fit ! + it’s easier to sew when the wrinkles are gone and the fabric is flat. (and folding holds)
  6. The key words in sewing are: focus and patience! I will also add: INTENTION. But that goes for everything in life, no?
  7. Do not start if you are in a rush… it never goes the way we expect it. Especially when you are a beginner !!

I first practiced on random cotton pieces to learn and get familiar with the techniques… The stitching, the zippers, the buttons, …

Once I got my supplies ready and a hold on how to use my machine properly, I sewed my first TOTE BAG (pictures below).

Of course, we learn by making mistakes:
the topstitching here is not straight, I had my doubts about the lining, the zip gave me headaches… but I got there and the more I did it, the proudest I got!

Pattern of the tote bag, in French

Once the bag was done, I was hooked and I wanted more !

So I found a tutorial to make a little knot pouch, here. Of course, I made it ‘à ma sauce’ (meaning ‘my way’) And skipped the strap + changed the measurements. I then came up with these 3 little patterns for myself. One for the ‘Bow’, One for the ‘Knot’, One for the ‘Body'(That is the same as for the lining). It’s not perfect and I always end up adjusting/cutting the knot afterwards. But it works for me.

During this course, I got so excited that I started making my own little creations at home. The little pouches for the wedding of my friend, a pillow case, a clutch, …
I also wanted to alter every single garment I could find ! This left me destroying some of them. (RIP . LOL. NOT SO LOL)

Little pillow by me.
Little creation by @me. Recycling an old pillow case.


After that, I was ready for the real deal: make a SKIRT.

Thankfully the school gave me the pattern. So all I had to do was to adjust witmy body measurements.

skirt pattern, in French

Body mensurations :

For the skirt you need to know:

  • The measures of your waist (taille)
  • The measures of your hips (hanches)
  • The length of your legs (how long do you want the skirt to be?)

    Then :
  • Adjust the pattern to your measurements
  • Trace the pattern on Tracing paper
  • Iron your fabric
  • Trace lines on the fabrics with a fabric pencil or chalk
  • cut
  • sew!

By the end of this course: Invisible zips, buttons, linings, … had no more secrets for me ( Or at least less secrets shall I say)

I know for sure that the seam ripper is REALLY your best friend!

And now, I feel like I am ABLE to make something with my hands!!!!! and that is a delightful feeling!

FASHION DESIGN – my 2 week initiation

I then decided to attend the 2 week intensive ‘stylisme’ course (= ‘fashion design’)

I learned a bit of history about fashion, how the creative process goes, how to make a mood book, how to ‘get the juice flowing’ and let go of the mind limitations while pushing creativity further and beyond, explore embroidery and adornments, Imagine a silhouette and create it on a mannequin to understand the difficulties and tricks to solve them…

the mood book !
how to trace silhouettes without a clue about the basic drawing skills 🙂
playing with fabrics and accessories
‘moulage’ or the art of creating garments on a mannequin

Conclusion of this 2 week intensive class:

It was FUN, Challenging and WAYYYYY to short

This course left me with a ‘too much too quick’ feeling… but I am happy I did it because it gave me an idea of what the studies look like to become a legit FASHION DESIGNER. WUAW! it is intense, highly creative and technical at the same time!

Now I’m thinking of taking drawing lessons and/or pattern making!

If, like me, you get excited about sewing and/or creating clothes and accessories, here are a few links I discovered along the way:

The blogs & e-shops :
WithWendy.com
‘A pair & a Spare’ now ‘collective Gen’ : a classic! Geneva is such a gorgeous lady, she is also very creative and crafty! (EN) and shares with us her DYI’s
ElmStreetLife: where I found out how to make the nicest bow clutch (and then re-interpreted it my way)
Thecreativeblog: talking about fabrics and cute little creations
JoliLab: a ‘webzine’ about couture (FR)
Vanessa Pouzet: beautiful patterns & feminine creations

Youtube Channels:
With Wendy (EN)
BLUEPRINT (EN): How to set up a sewing machine for beginners, with Angela Wolf
Marion Blush. (FR)
Madalena Couture (FR)

I hope this article convinced you to get a little more arty/crafty… Or simply to dare and sew!

And you, What makes your soul happy and alive ?

xo,

Axelle

<Pinterest> Quote by Ursula K. Le Guin

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