Top 5 of 2012- lessons learned

Top 5 of 2012 

Time for the latest installment in the 2012 Top 5 posts, inspired by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow. This time around, we’re reflecting on the year and noting the lessons learned (either practical tricks and techniques, or life lessons). So without further ado, here are mine:

1) I’m not a “joiner”. Early in the year, I was excited to pledge my allegiance to the awesome and inspiring community that is The Sew Weekly. And I love the idea of The Sew Weekly, I really do. I thought that I would benefit from having a theme and pre-packaged inspiration each week, but ultimately I ended up feeling limited and uninspired by the ideas. I made one garment “on theme” for the challenges before Juniper was born, and I continued to check in with the boards for a while to see if anything caught my eye, but it just never worked out.

I did absolutely sew weekly in 2012, usually even daily, but not always for myself, and not always clothing. I pretty much completely abandoned the idea of sewing along with the group by March or so, but I continue to read the feed and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone’s creativity this year. I can honestly say to this community: it’s not you, it’s me. Sew on!

2) I’m sure a rule-follower though! I have a hard time NOT making up a pattern exactly as instructed the first time, and I always use the instructions. The Charlotte skirt that I just finished (post is coming!) was really the first time that I felt free to interpret as I went, in an effort to make something that I’m more confident will fit my lifestyle, and my body. What a revelation! I think this is partially due to my personality- I have to follow instructions, it’s just programmed into me- and partially due to my growth as a seamstress this year that I’m moving beyond that strict rule-abiding attitude.

I think when you’re learning, it can be really helpful to just do what they say sometimes, because you get so much out of the process. And for me personally, I have a hard time visualizing things abstractly, so it’s not always possible for me to “wing it” and end up with a successful end product. The more I sew though, the more I’m able to be creative and do things a different way than what is called for and still end up with something wearable. Hooray for cumulative knowledge!

The “Charlotte” skirt of many revelations.
I’ll tell you all about it soon!

And thank heavens for this blogging community- I have seriously learned so much by seeing what everyone else does and reading tutorials- it’s almost like I’ve made all those things myself but didn’t actually have to spend the time. I love this generous community that is so willing to share their knowledge. Thank you!

3) Which brings me to my next revelation. This (read: blogging/sewing/life in general) is a lot more fun when you’re interacting with other living, breathing humans. I have read blogs compulsively for years, and have written here since 2009 (2008?) but being kind of socially anxious, even in cyberspace, I’ve only actually started commenting on other’s blogs this year.

When I first started posting here, I really kind of valued the anonymous nature of it- it was a great place to just get things off my chest without having to interact with people, and even though I knew intellectually that people might be reading it, there’s still a certain comfort in the distance that electronic media provides (at least for weirdos like me). But it turns out there’s so much more to it than that!

It was really The Sew Weekly that made me really realize that there was a whole active culture of readers and commenters that I had not previously even considered. I have always read my blogs in Google Reader, and had never bothered to click through to see comments before, much less leave my own. The few times that I did click through, I always felt like I didn’t have anything meaningful to add to the discussion, or that someone had already said what I was going to say. Lately though, I’ve been making an effort to comment anyway. I like to tell writers thanks for sharing if I tried their recipe and it turned out well, or that they look cute in the skirt they just finished. And I might just be a little voice in a giant crowd, but that’s okay.

The list grows every day! I love discovering new voices.

I still don’t comment on all the blogs or every post that I read, for a combination of the above reasons (also because I read a LOT and I have to do other stuff too). But I’ve realized just how great it is to have someone tell me that I’ve done a nice job or that they think my project looks good and I really appreciate someone taking time out of their busy day to reach out and be a part of this community. It doesn’t make sense for me to value that feedback so much and not reciprocate, so I’m working on it!

4) It’s not “selfish” to want to sew things for myself. I sew pretty much every day, often for hours at a time. Much of what goes through my machine is for my shop, and that business helps support my family. Since Juniper arrived in February, I’ve really felt the pinch on my time, and it’s become even more important to me to try to squeeze as much as I can into my day. I’ve since grown my business with two more shops, try to keep the house reasonably clean, make a worthy attempt at keeping healthy food in the house and cooking dinner every night, and I sew, sew, sew!

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been making mostly the same items for a few years now, but lately it’s been really hard for me to get excited about some of the things that I sew for twilltape. Unfortunately, it’s also really hard to find enough time to bring all the ideas in my head to fruition. I’m absolutely guilty of escaping that pressure by sewing for myself. And you know what? That’s okay! I deserve it! I never buy myself clothes and half of what is hanging in my closet doesn’t fit. Slowly filling that closet with things that I’ve made myself gives me a sense of accomplishment and gets me excited about sewing again. I think it can be really hard when you turn your hobby in to a business, because you run the risk of destroying the joy that the hobby brought you in the first place. I think that sewing for myself has helped me to keep that from happening. So hooray for selfish sewing!

5) And that brings me to this final realization: I can’t do it all. And that’s okay! I have a hard time saying no, and always think that I can accomplish a lot more than I really can in the hours that I have to work with. This year I’ve made the hard (for me) decision to pass on a few projects and guess what? Life went on! There are other people that know how to hem jeans and do alterations and repairs, and not every item in Lincoln’s and Juniper’s wardrobes need to be lovingly stitched by me. Even special things like Christmas dresses aren’t worth making myself if adding that to the list will mean it will all just be too much for me. This is a hard one for me, and I’m still working on it, but I feel much better about not being able to do everything and trying to prioritize what I do.

Puppet Show tunic front
Junie’s Easter dress, which she never wore again because she outgrew it in the blink of an eye.
Another vote for selfish sewing!

And with that, we’re nearly done! With the Top 5 of 2012, and with 2012 itself. I don’t know if I’ll get the last two posts finished before the year ends, but that’s okay. See #5 above. And have yourself a safe and wonderful New Year’s celebration! Drink a glass of champagne for me, and try to stay awake long enough to watch the ball drop. Doesn’t always happen in this house, I’m afraid!


8 thoughts on “Top 5 of 2012- lessons learned”

  1. I've only recently stumbled across your blog, and have definitely been enjoying seeing your recent projects. I've been reading your various Top 5 posts but this one has really spoken to me. It's nice to know we're not alone in the world and have some positive reinforcement for the idea that it is okay to take time to sew for oneself. Many thanks for taking the time to share. 🙂


  2. Great lessons! I'm trying to branch out and not feel so bound to following instructions, but since I'm still really a beginner, I worry that I don't have enough experience to stray far from an expert's advice. But it's probably time to start stretching my wings a little, huh? I'm looking forward to seeing more of your Charlotte skirt!


  3. This is such an insightful post, Tiffany!

    I'm relatively new to your blog, and I “discovered” you through comments you left on mine, so I'm so very glad you did. I really enjoy reading your posts and seeing the lovely things you make.

    Happy 2013!


  4. I know, I always think that there's a reason that they tell us to do it a certain way, so it's best to just go with it. I'm always a little envious of the reviewers who say they didn't even look at the instructions when they made their dress or something, and I'm like: “really?!?” But HOW?? Maybe someday we'll get there. 🙂


  5. Thanks Gail! I can't remember what first led me to your blog, but I'm glad I found you, too! Someday maybe I'll learn to knit like you- I'm always so impressed when I see the things you can make with a pair of sticks and some yarn! Crazy.


  6. Hi Tiffany!
    I've just discovered your blog, it's great to get to know someone who saws for herself. I make things for my home (I'm immensely proud of my curtains, all made by hand, which took me forever to finish) and alterations to my clothing, but just easy things (taking in the waist, hems, etc).
    I like your stuff at Etsy too, a lot!! They look very professional indeed. Having no children myself, I kind of covet your diaper clutches for toiletries, but then, they would need some inside pockets… could you consider that for future projects?
    Keep sawing for yourself by all means!!
    Happy 2013!
    PS: I love the name Juniper!


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