Sew Brave: Just Do It

Hi Sewcialists! I’m Laquana from Made by Laquana.

For the Sewcialists Sew Brave theme month, I’m going to be completely transparent with you. Almost every project I start, I have some degree of apprehension during the process (audible gasp). I know I’m not the only one, right? I’m always asking myself, is this the right fabric for this project? How will it look on me? Can I pull this color or print off?

Picture of the author standing outside in a denim skirt and a blue sleeveless top.  She has her hands in the pockets of the skirt.

I don’t know about you, but I really hate when I spend a ton of time on something and it doesn’t look like I envisioned. I also struggle with what to make, there’s so much I’d like to make, and with all the shiny fabric and patterns, I’m never quite sure what I want to make and how long it will take. I have to tell my self, JUST DO IT!

Picture of the author standing in the denim skirt with a blue sleeveless top.  There are several trees in the background

From my analytical mind, I typically evaluate every step, ugh, it’s exhausting, my left brain is in overdrive and it can prevent me from moving forward. Winston Churchill said “Perfection is the enemy of progress” so in my quest for a perceived degree of “perfection,” I’ve realized good is good enough! I have to be ok with what I produce and take my time in producing it.

I used to say “practice makes perfect,” my husband (a performance improvement guy) said to me, “You know babe, practice actually makes proficient,” and that should be the goal. With proficiency will come speed and expertise. Well, why didn’t I listen to him before! I have to remind myself of this, your goal is to get better and to enjoy the process, that’s it, everything else will come. Sewing isn’t a cheap hobby for me so I tend to think a little about what things cost and how much time it takes to make something.

I know that mistakes are a big part of any process and more so in the creative space, it’s most often the best part of a project if I allow it to be. I’m a recovering perfectionist and cutting into fabric can sometimes be crippling. Did I measure properly, is this print going the right way, etc, etc, etc…? These are valid questions, but they shouldn’t be crippling to the point where you never cut the fabric or make the thing.

Close up on the back of the skirt to show the pack patch pocket

I don’t know about you, but it’s exhausting and really no fun, so there are a few things I do to keep that negative self talk and “fear” at bay. First, cut myself some slack, out of all the people in the world, I should be kind to myself; laugh, learn and move on.

Second, cut the damn fabric! There’s tons of fabric out there and there are tons of patterns out there. If I mess up, so what, it’s not a reflection on my character and entire being as a human!

Third, practice and play around with fabric and techniques before cutting into the good stuff, but don’t wait too long, cut the good stuff. I have a list of my measurements (I check this every couple of weeks or so), list of typical adjustments, list of types and weights of fabrics for certain projects, and I add an additional, just in case, 1″ seam allowance to major seams for help with fitting.

Finally, I never, I mean never, judge a project until after I’ve pressed it (I’ve read this somewhere and it’s great advice). OK, whew, I’ve done my due diligence, I’ve allowed my left brain to get things set up so the right can create.

Close up on the front of the skirt

Let’s get into the nitty gritty: I have over 20 yards of selvage and Cone Mills denim, and another 20 yards of specialty denim, ya’ll, I know! I had no, I mean no intention of every cutting this stuff. Don’t ask me why, I just wanted to keep it, look at it and touch it every so often. I would rather go to the local fabric store and get something on sale then to cut my precious fabric. I told you I was being transparent right? I have over 50 yards of fabric I purchased from Fabric Mart‘s brick and mortar last year, and over 30 yards of fabric that I purchased from the Garment District in NYC that hasn’t been sewn. Ok, ok, I realize this is insane so, guess what? I cut the damn fabric!  I owe it to myself to sew with it and wear it, no more hoarding fabric!

I’ve wanted a denim skirt for the longest time and I love Cashmerette patterns so, I made the Ellis Skirt.  The cone mill and selvage denim in my stash didn’t have any stretch so I chose a stretch denim from my stash.  I know her patterns are solid and there’s so much support for the home sewist in the Cashmerette Facebook group.  I felt using this pattern would be a great project to use my denim on!  Working with solid patterns or TNTs help me feel confident when using the “good fabric.”  I’ve paired the skirt with a mashup of  the Springfield top and an out of print dress pattern made in chambray last summer. I always use the Springfield top to check armscye and upper chest fit on sleeveless patterns. Both of these garments I love and they were totally worth it!  Are these garments perfect? No, but neither am I, so we are a match made in heaven!

I’d like to hear from you: do you struggle with cutting the fabric, being kind to yourself when you make mistakes, using an “advanced/scary” sewing technique, and or sewing “difficult/advanced” patterns? What tips do you have to push through and get’er done?

Laquana is a wife and mother of two born and raised in Brooklyn, NY now residing just outside of Raleigh N.C.  She is a full time Accountant and Financial Analyst by day and a sewist by night.  She loves to travel, sew and collect sewing patterns on her quest to have a stylish, well fitting wardrobe.  As a plus sized sewist, she works hard at fitting the garments she sews ensuring the mash up of pattern, fabric, color and texture produce great looking garments. 

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