At a meetup a few weeks ago some of us were talking about how nerve-wracking it is to make the first cut into an expensive piece of fabric and how it can cause us to put off projects endlessly. This is actually something that I don’t share, and it led me to wonder: why not?
It’s certainly not because I’m a very accomplished sewist, far from it. In fact I think it’s actually because I haven’t had the training to realise when something might be difficult. I’m a completely self-taught crafter; I didn’t even learn how to thread a machine at school because I changed school mid-year and someone decided it was easier for me to do cooking twice than join the sewing class half-way through their projects. So while all my friends had home-made nightdresses they brought out at every sleep-over (mainly to laugh at), I was left thread-less (and nasty nightdress-less, which may have been less of a burden).
I decided to try dressmaking after seeing a pattern for a halter-neck dress in my stepmother’s copy of Prima a few months before a school ball. I don’t know why I decided this or why I thought I could do it, but she took me to a department store and I chose some red crushed velvet for my first foray into sewing with a machine (note to non-sewists, crushed velvet is not an ideal starting fabric as the edges roll up chronically). My best friend’s mum let me use her machine and I can only guess that I asked her or my mum for help when I got stuck. At any rate, I did make that dress and I even met my first proper boyfriend at that ball so it evidently brought me success.
However this story hasn’t truly demonstrated my recklessness when it comes to cutting into my fabric. When I got to university I found that there were many opportunities to dress up, and I quickly decided that I wanted a long dress. So what did I do but take the skirt off my red dress, unpick the two rectangles that made it up, and turned them round so that they were attached to the bodice by their short edges. Of course this wouldn’t have made anything other than a tube so I bought some more red velvet (not entirely the same shade, I’m sure), and cut out two long triangles to fit in the gaps at each side. To a dressmaker the end result was no doubt a bodged dog’s dinner, but I happily wore that dress for several more years (I don’t know what happened to it in the end, sadly).
So the lesson of this rather lengthy story is: sometimes it’s worth cutting into your fabric even if you’re not sure you can do it. The internet is a wonderful tool for checking on techniques and tips in advance, but in the end you need to take courage and wield your scissors. I will test my own resolve when I come to cut out the Liberty fabric I have stashed for a coat lining, but meanwhile I will remain an advocate for bold sewing!
What do you think? What sort of a crafter are you?