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May 28, 2010

Reflections on My First Year of Sewing

 

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!

35 comments:

  1. Thank you Mr. MPB. As a recent convert, I hope you continue doing what you do for many years to come!

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  2. Thanks for helping me reconnect (slowly) to sewing and being able to see it as my own craft.

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  3. You have come a long way in that one short year, and I am in awe of all you have accomplished. Kudos to you! I look forward to your continued sewing inspiration and success, and your fun posts about your journey.

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  4. Happy Anniversary Peter! You're now so ingrained into my morning routine that I would have a big empty spot without reading about you, Cathy, Michael, you mom, your adorable pups, your slapfest with the Selfish B, your machines, and everything in between and all around. Looking forward to lots more from you!

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  5. Yay! We love MPB, Peter and Cathy in my house.
    You sew every day?! How do you sew every day? Do you have no job?

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  6. Thanks for the smiles, Peter . . . I enjoy your blog tremendously! Have an excellent weekend!

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  7. Happy Sewing anniversary. So happy the sewing bug took you over and you are generous enough to blog about it. You inspire me...and I just adore Cathy!

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  8. No Peter, thank you for blogging. You win my favorite blog award and I'm kind of picky.

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  9. Congratulations, Peter. I may sound a bit like a selfish seamstress by saying this, but...I hope we will be able to continue being delighted and entertained by your sewing and writing for many years to come. You are setting a great example to the world, of just jumping in, and getting excited about...anything! As long as you put your heart and soul into it, you will be successful. Happy Anniversary! Kim

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  10. Oh Peter! Congratulations! You have done so much in one year! You are truly such an amazing individual and your sense of style and ingenuity is truly unmatched. You are so refreshing to read and I love your thoughts and creations! What an exciting year to come!

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  11. WOW! Peter, look how far you've come! That's so cool. I'll be excited to hear about your sewing adventures to come. My day just doesn't get going without my MPB and morning coffee. Seriously! You jump start my day in a good way.

    BTW: The "Full Time Job number? I watch it when I'm feeling the grumpies coming on and it never fails to cheer me. So thank YOU, sir. :)

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  12. Happy Anniversary Peter! You have mad skills and I am jealous! In a good way. I found you through TSS' blog so you have to thank her for *something*. Okay, maybe not. I love the drama (and the sewing, of course).

    Tabatha

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  13. Congratulations, Peter! The sewing world and blogosphere are richer places with you in them! I can't wait to see what you do in the next year and after...

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  14. Your year of sewing - and Cathy's glowing
    Have filled a need: our daily read.

    Your inspiration, and motivation,
    (plus perspiration?)planted this seed --

    It takes a village to make a shirt
    With Liberty...and a bit of flirt.

    So Peter, Dear, accept our thanks
    We'll follow you to lead the ranks.

    As you thread together the bits and bobs
    with Sewing Adventures and Monologues.

    We'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll share a moment
    As you discover all things woven.

    Who knew your sewing would connect us all?
    Since MPB, we've had a ball!

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  15. Happy Anniversary! I love seeing what you've made every day and your photo-essays are works of art.

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  16. If you don't mind, I'd like to take some credit for your success. Maybe, I shouldn't reveal this, but I was one of the judges in the PR contest you won. I recognized your talent early on! (No, you don't have to pay me.)

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  17. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I find it so fabulous that you only started a year ago...I'm also new to sewing (started last November) and I find it very inspiring to see how much you have achieved and I love that you are passionate about sewing! Yippeee...a toast to you--for a fun, challenging and inspirational year #2!!!

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  18. Well done Peter! Happy anniversary!
    Like all those above I have made your blog a regular read. It delights and inspires me and makes me laugh, and that is just about the best things in life all thrown together. I also like your Monday Nagging- yes really!- it reminds me how many weeks have flown.
    I will be watching with baited breath at what adventures you have in store for us in the coming year.

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  19. I'm glad you're blogging, Peter, because sometimes I need the kick in the butt your Monday goals give.

    I, too, have been feeling nostalgic this week. But mine isn't a particular anniversary, it's a particular project. Like generations of women, I learned to sew from making doll clothes. And this week, I've made a doll wardrobe for Evie's new dolly for her birthday on Memorial Day. So as I set in itty bitty sleeves, make tiny rolled hems, and apply lace everywhere possible, it reminds me of my sewing beginnings... making clothes for my dollies.

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  20. Thank YOU, Peter. MPB is one of my favorite blogs. It's inspiring to see your progress thus far!

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  21. Congratulations on a year of sewing! Your blog is fun, inspiring, and full of fascinating discussions in the comments.
    I thoroughly enjoy reading about your sewing adventures!

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  22. Well, I'm glad you bought that sewing machine and started your love of sewing!! I have been sewing for 32 years, and I'm impressed with your work. Can't wait to see what you make next.

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  23. Congratulations Peter you may now accept your sheepskin as an official sewing addict :-)

    I absolutely adore visiting your blog and not only do I enjoy the adventures of your vivacious and glamorous cousin Cathy, you are a charming and natural writer with an uncanny ability to bring your audience in on the action or topic of the day.

    I think I'll have a limoncello to celebrate! Cheers to you and many more successful projects to come!

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  24. You have come a long way in a year! Congratulations!!

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  25. Happy Anniversary!

    You and your blog have been a big inspiration for me in my sewing efforts. As someone who is still within the first year, I hope that I can grow in leaps and bounds the same way you have.

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  26. I love the good humor and enthusiasm of MPB.
    I always get a smile in my face when I read it, so It's me who has to thankyou for taking the time to blog and share with us your adventures :)

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

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  27. I am so bad about commenting regularly here (bad Casey!), but I wanted to pop in and say a big congrats on your one year sewing anniversary! I am just amazed at how much you've learned and accomplished in 12 months--you've come a long, long way and it's inspiring to see! Keep it up and can't wait to see what amazing things you do in the next year! :D

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  28. Happy Anniversary Peter, your creations & blog are such a joy to read.

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  29. Love your blog, congratulations on reaching your first year of blogging. Hopefully the first of many!!!

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  30. Happy anniversary! I'm sure this has been one of the most rewarding years of your life (I know it has been for me re: finding sewing.) FYI: I couldn't get that cute denim sewing machine cover out of my mind. Just so happens I have S.E.W and denim - so I'm making one of my own right now. :-)

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  31. Congratulations on your first year! I'm glad you decided to start your blog. I love reading it!

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  32. Happy anniversary, Peter. I just reach my first milestone in blogging too, and it has been so much fun! I wish you many more happy sewing and blogging years!

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  33. You've had such a successful year! Looking forward to what the next 12 months brings! :)

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  34. I have been sewing for fifty years this year and I am still learning and trying new things and creating even more. I am glad you found a new outlet and so much happiness from it. And I love reading about it all. New eyes as they say. Keep it up.

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