6 min read

Sewing clothes + slow as a good thing + weekending

I hadn't planned on writing a post today, but there's a lot I want to say this weekend.

First of all, today is one of those really wonderful days: the leisurely, slow, but also oddly productive ones, with a side of beautiful weather. Nicholas threw out his back (or it's a pinched nerve or something) so we've been laying low and we stayed home from church so he could rest and ice. While he rested, I read my Bible, journaled, updated my habit tracker in my bullet journal, sipped on my coffee, and organized a list of "things I'd like to sew."

Speaking of which, I've been sewing the last few days, and oh my goodness, it's so fun. I recently wrote a post about my current and upcoming creative projects. I've been excited/anxious to sew clothes for myself for some time, but since I mostly wear knits (t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.) and not as many woven fabrics, I felt some apprehension. I've gradually been reading up on the smartest ways to sew knits on a standard machine, and I obtained a walking foot back when I sewed my first quilt. But I decided it was worth facing some momentary fear to go ahead and get started "practicing in the gap," as Felicia would say.

Last week, I went to JoAnn's, armed with coupons and a resolution to shop sale fabrics and only buy fabric that I had planned patterns for. And I left with an armload of fabrics I love and can't wait to sew up, with patterns in mind. Since sewing with knits can be tricky (see above), I wanted to practice by sewing a muslin first. My feelings about making continue to change, somewhat due to the season, but also, the more I make, the more I want to be mindful about what I make. Just because I can sew something, doesn't mean I should. Let me clarify—sewing is so good and it pushes me out of comfort zone in a way that's very different from knitting. But I still want to be thoughtful in sewing garments that are "Andrea" in style/color/theme. There are loads of patterns out there that I could sew, but that I would never wear. I try to be thoughtful in what clothing I buy, making sure each item can be recombined in at least three outfits. I want to be picky about my sewing too and I want even my "practice" garments to be useful, if possible.

So I went to my modest fabric stash and pulled out a twin-sized jersey sheet that my mom and I bought at a thrift store years ago, with the intention to sew with it "someday." I like the color, and thought it the perfect medium for a practice Lou Box top.  I purchased the PDF pattern, had it printed on 8 1/2" x 11" sheets, then trimmed it, taped it together, and then cut out my size. As I taped everything together, for a moment I thought "Oh my goodness, this is taking forever." But then I realized, no, Andrea, you enjoy slow things, and the whole point of sewing isn't to mass produce things you don't need, but to take your time making things you absolutely love.

Slow is more thoughtful, innately. Slow can be so good.

So I took my time, swapped in a stretch needle and my walking foot, using a small zig zag stitch for most seams, reattached the neckband about 4-5 times, and then, I made a shirt for myself. And all that cutting and taping and seam ripping was worth it. I made a shirt! And then I wore it out to coffee with my friend Molly and we knit, drinking cardamom lattes, as I wore a shirt that no one besides Molly knew that I made. It's not a masterpiece by any means and I could go into detail about why it isn't, but I am proud of it. It cost next to nothing to make, but I see it as a symbol of making something at the cost and sacrifice of my comfort, in the best way.

And then yesterday afternoon, I made another shirt. This time with a more favorite fabric, choosing the more subtle "wrong side" of the stripes as the exterior, and adding a ruffle because I love the mixed direction of stripes. It went faster and smoother the second time. I attached the neckband in one try, and I made something I was completely and totally proud of.

I wore it today, on a day date where we got lunch and walked around (his back feeling better!) in the 73 degree, breezy weather, visited the tea shop and smelled all of the teas, and chose three to bring home.

And this afternoon, I trimmed and taped another PDF pattern together, taking my time, this time realizing a bit more that slow is good and I have the freedom to be methodical in this part of my life.

Other happy life things as of late:

Enjoying a new tea every day from a tea collection my sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. She also gave me the prettiest simple clear glass infuser mug. I love how it looks, steaming with tea, atop a crocheted pot holder-turned-mug-rug. Thank you, Katelyn!

Simple egg, sausage, and cheese breakfast casserole, with added sage and allspice and less cheese, since that's how we like it.

Knitted baby socks for my gorgeous, full-term friend, Jessica. We can't wait to meet baby Sawyer!

Chai tea with honey in a speckled mug

Browsing fall-themed catalogs and a fall Martha Stewart magazine

Finishing the first sock for Nicholas!

Gilmore Girls (I'm a seasonal fan and definitely more into it when we're headed toward the cooler months)

Mixed seasonal feelings (loving mini pumpkins and our orange cardamom candle, but also loving that snowy scene on the TV)

Lots of fun/encouraging talks about creativity with Nicholas. He's such an encourager of my making. Gosh, I love him.

P.S.— For those curious about the pattern details, the Lou Box top is a beginner-friendly mix-and-match pattern with different neckline and hem options, designed to be made with both knit and woven fabric. I love how versatile this pattern is, as practically, I'd like to make several unique garments from a given sewing pattern, if possible. For the solid grey version, I made the scoop neck, curved hem version.  For the striped version, I used this tutorial to do a "hacked" ruffle hem and watched this video for a gathering refresher. I sewed and assembled the top in the order the pattern specifies with a few exceptions: I added the ruffle before sewing the side seams and I didn't finish the raw edges on the side seams. Also, I cut out a scooped neck front, regular back, and 2 8x40" strips for the gathered sections.


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