Find Fallible Sewing Heroes

flat felled seam

Some thoughts today on sewing, pattern categories and perceptions.

I see a lot of posts out there on beginning sewing. There’s a bazillion Craftsy, Burda Sewing, etc. online classes on how-tos. They’re all really great. Tutorials are fantastic. I love a good free pattern, and I love easy and complicated patterns alike.

I also see people new to sewing getting frustrated anyway.

Just like driving a car or riding a bike, a sewist develops muscle memory. As you learn and practice, practice, practice, your hands start to intuitively know where to hold the fabric, when to ease a curve, when to slow down. This is why you see the people in demonstrations not using pins as often. It isn’t out of some divine power…it’s because the fingers just know. In conjunction with the foot on the pedal, the sound of your machine, feeling the tension, knowing when the machine is straining against thickness or the feed dogs can’t do it without a walking foot…this is all muscle memory.

At the end of the day, NIKE still has it right. Just do it. Over and over and over. Who cares if you have a wonky apron or 12 pot holders that are more or less square shaped? Find a blog you love…and go back through their archives, or even through mine, although mine aren’t as exciting as, say, or Both are now instructors! has the benefit of having a mother has a pro and still she is learning. Another favorite is Read about her couture class that she just took. Even she strives to learn more. Oh, look through the archives of the master of circle patterns in quilting, She started somewhere too. Sure, I think she has a degree in fashion or something like that – but she’s a master at the circles because she’s done a buttload of them. I don’t know what the metric conversion of ‘buttload’ is, but she’s done it.

My point is, we’re all fallible. Find a hero, mentor, whatever that isn’t afraid to show that. Pinterest is fine, I guess, but I prefer the real life versions of the craft.

Then, apply this when you see a pattern categorized as Easy, Intermediate, Tim Gunn. A more complicated pattern doesn’t mean a sewist with less experience can’t do it. It just means your hands might have to learn something new, and you should go slow. And you will still make mistakes.

I’m in the middle of an ‘intermediate’ pattern now, and I made a dumb mistake on it. My mistake had nothing to do with my skill level. It was not a ‘rookie’ mistake by any means, it was a space cadet mistake. I am now ordering more fabric because my mistake was so colossal, I need to completely remove and redo the sleeves. My lesson? Reread before I take the scissors to it. I altered the pattern, quite well if I do say so, and assumed I incorrectly transferred a measurement. I did not. I missed a pleat. Seriously. I marked it, it’s chalked, it’s there….I missed it in my desire to be in the home stretch.

Even the Tim Gunns of the world make mistakes. It’s ok. I’m lucky this is only a $20 mistake in replacement fabric.

Regardless of your skill level, cut yourself some slack. Look through some archives out there. Find fallible heroes. And just do it.

2 Replies to “Find Fallible Sewing Heroes”

  1. Very important points! Especially that a more difficult label doesn’t mean not to try something, but rather to expect to have to learn more along the way. I remember a knitting instructor who is self taught having said that she was glad she didn’t know a pattern was “too difficult for beginners” before she tried it. Incidentally she made it beautifully.

  2. I’m just catching up on my blog reading and come upon this awesome post. I agree that it’s important to see others’ struggles and to just keep moving when we get stuck. I’m so flattered to be mentioned. Thank you for being a fallible hero yourself!

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