May 28, 2010
Subtitle: "A Cautionary Tale"
One year ago this week I purchased my first sewing machine, on eBay. I'd bought it with the intention of altering a pair of jeans I'd found at Goodwill; having them shortened locally would have cost more than I'd paid for them. Little did I know what that purchase would set in motion.
A year later, my life has changed radically. I sew nearly every day. I own a dozen sewing machines. My apartment is bursting with sewing books, notions, boxes of fabric, and a lot of sheet shirts.
Creativity is important to me and I've found sewing to be a wonderful new outlet with limitless room for growth. I love it. But at the start, there was no plan beyond shortening those jeans, which have since been passed on to Michael. (I wear my own jeans now, thank you.)
A year ago I had no idea you could actually sew a man's wardrobe -- shirts, boxers, trousers, etc. without years of experience. I learned otherwise.
The year divides neatly into four periods:
1. Getting Started
In late May 2009, I had never so much as touched a sewing machine let alone threaded one. I learned how to sew from You Tube videos and from Diana Rupp's excellent book, "Sew Everything Workshop." My first projects were things like boxer shorts (the first pair of which took me three days) and sewing machine covers. Then I got ambitious.
2. Finding Help
I reached out to Brian (of BrianSews) through Pattern Review last July and he became my unofficial sewing coach all summer. Brian was a tremendous motivator and it was fun having someone else to sew with even though he was living in Alabama. Perhaps most importantly, Brian demystified the mechanics of sewing machines so that I can now maintain my vintage machines myself. The basic mechanics of sewing haven't changed in a hundred years.
3. On My Own (sort of)
From September on, I just sewed everything I could think of. October proved fateful when I decided to enter the Pattern Review Little Black Dress contest inspired by the chic day-to-evening-wear photos of an early contestant named Elainemay. Since I obviously couldn't model my LBD myself, I got on the horn and reconnected with my estranged cousin Cathy. In Cathy I found my muse. I still sewed for me and Michael, my mother, and the dogs, but Cathy's glamour, enthusiasm, and spontaneity proved irresistible.
4. I Start to Blog
I originally had no interest in blogging: too much work. But as Cathy's popularity grew, I wanted a platform where she might be easier to find. Enter Male Pattern Boldness in January (Michael thought up the name). Like sewing, blogging constantly challenges and expands my creativity. It's like putting on a show every day without having to sell tickets.
Thanks go out to The Selfish Seamstress (Elainemay of LBD fame) and Gertie for their early help in spreading the word. Their blogs and so many others have set a high standard for me to aspire to as well as been a source of ideas to steal.
Also a big thank you to Deepika at Pattern Review, without whose website I likely would still be sewing boxer shorts in isolation.
Where I go from here is anybody's guess. I suppose we'll find out eventually.
Finally, a note of gratitude to you, my readers, and to those of you who regularly contribute comments. I greatly appreciate your warmth, eloquence, and good humor.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone, and thank you!