5 June 2011

Becoming an Advanced Level Stitcher

Would you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or advanced level stitcher? What skills do you think you need to qualify for each level?

As you know, I began sewing a year and a half ago, and although I got into the habit of calling myself a beginner, I don't think it was long before I became an intermediate level stitcher, even if I didn't have the confidence to admit it. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant - what I mean is that my approach back then was fearless. I'd throw myself into any technique, without fear of failure. Many people were surprised that my first project was a shift dress, complete with gathered sleeves, zipper, darts and bow embellishments, rather than the classic A-line skirt or pyjama bottoms. I was so overwhelmed with joy at being able to sew something - anything - that I didn't feel I was constrained by any limits.

I've realised, however, that after that initial steep learning curve, recently I've been pushing myself less and less to learn new techniques. With little time to dedicate to sewing, if I can take short cuts, I take them, and I'm increasingly avoiding complicated procedures like underlining or vintage patterns that need tracing and grading. I'm not doing anything to become more advanced.

It's been a long time since I've made anything as complex as this 

Admittedly I've had a lot going on in the rest of my life recently, but sewing is an important aspect of my life that I don't want to neglect. I have such admiration for stitchers like Debi - who started her blog the same time as me and is now making one vintage pattern per week - and Karen - who is in the second term of a weekly intermediate level sewing course. They've inspired me to start pushing myself a little harder again.

I'm not going to sign up for a sewing course as there's so much to learn from other bloggers. Oh, and because I've already booked myself onto a pattern drafting course in August, which is costing enough money! What I am going to do is write up a little list of techniques that I want to try out over the next few months and stick it above my sewing table as a reminder. Here's the list so far:

What else would you consider an intermediate/advanced sewing technique that would be useful to learn? I'm not interested in couture techniques (eg. boning - ouch!), but skills that I can use in making everday wear. Are there any skills that you're eager to develop next?

[Soundtrack: 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' by Saint Etienne]