Friends…are you aware of the current phenomenon of making little girls dresses from pillow slips? I’m not a fan, but hey; each to their own. Even though I’m not a fan of the garment, I am a massive fan of the concept as it allows beginner sewists to create a simple garment and experience success. That sense of success and pride, no matter how simple the skills and dodgy the garment, is what will be the motivation for a beginner sewist to move on to the next project and the one after that and so on and so on. Back in the best decade ever, the 1980’s, we had the ‘onesie’ dress. It was the equivalent of today’s pillow slip dress.
Readers, I’m almost embarrassed to show you one of my earliest, if not my first, attempts at sewing. Of course, I found this in a magazine in the, then obligatory, craft section and thought, ‘I can do that’.
You started off with a onesie…and then cut the bottom off and discarded it – me being the ‘waste not want not’ kind of gal attempted to attach some elastic so that it could be used over a nappy. Folks…what can I say…if nothing else I’m laughing at these pictures! Next, you gather a piece of fabric and then attach it to the onesie; I chose a piece of wide pre-gathered broderie anglaise trim.
Dare I show you the inside where the two pieces are attached? I’ll warn you now friends…if you have heart troubles – LOOK AWAY NOW.
It’s beyond bad…I had NO IDEA what I was doing 😆
Looking at it now I don’t know why I didn’t just keep the onesie in one piece and make a remove-able gathered skirt to go over the top! All I would have had to do was take the bias off the top of the trim, join the two side edges to make a side seam, make a casing at the top and thread some elastic through it and voila – instant remove-able skirt!
Suffice to say, even though it’s an awful garment, at the time I was awfully chuffed to have made it myself…much like the beginner sewing mums of today who tackle the pillow-slip dress. If you experience enough of a sense of success to enhance the motivation to keep on sewing then I’m all for it. Who am I to dictate what defines ‘successful’? If you can squeeze your precious bundle into what you’ve made then isn’t that good enough to feel some sense of success? I’m going to say a resounding YES.
If you are reading this blog and are a beginner sewist, I want you know something very important…we ALL have to start somewhere. Some are lucky enough to have talented and skilled mentors to guide their sewing journey. Some are lucky enough to have the available disposable income to invest in sewing classes. But many of us begin/began our sewing journey alone. We faffed our way through many garments that showed our lack of skills. We relied on poorly written magazine articles to widen our skill set.
But over time we kept at it…we gained experience. With each new garment completed, we gained a knowledge of sewing theory which then informed our sewing practice for the next garment.
A sewists learning journey is never over unless she packs her sewing machine away. I started sewing again in my early twenties after abandoning it in my teens thanks to a cranky, old, unmotivated sewing teaching in high school. And some 26 years after starting, I still make mistakes and sometimes I repeat the same mistakes more than once. There has never been, and there never will be, a garment that I create that is perfect. Learning to embrace your mistakes and limitations is not only okay but very important in my opinion. It’s what gives us a sense of accomplishment which motivates us to go to the next garment with insight into what we need to learn to do better than the last attempt.
Now that I’ve shared my first ‘garment’ – I use that term loosely 😆
I’ll leave you with one of my latest. When I compare the two garments, I notice immediately that I still LOVE to embroider on clothing – this hasn’t changed in over more than a quarter of a century! My big sense of achievement with this gown is that I taught myself to tatt so that I could create the tatted lace edge for the collar rather than buy it ready-made.
So what was the first garment you ever sewed? I’ve showed you mine – now it’s your turn.