November 13, 2020

Procrastinating over sewing? Here’s how to get going!


Hi everyone! Today I’m tackling a topic that I think is very familiar to many of us: wanting to start sewing, but feeling “stuck” and unable to get going. Recently, a sewist posted in our Facebook community group that they had this dilemma, and there were so many amazing responses that I wanted to share them with you—and hopefully you’ll find inspiration to overcome your sewing hump!

The Cashmerette Facebook group is an online community where sewists share their Cashmerette makers and get help from one another and from us. We highly recommend joining the group—it’s a caring and supportive space where we’re constantly inspired by seeing the beautiful things you all make! Apply to join our sizes 12-32 Facebook group here, or our sizes 0-32 Facebook group here.

Okay, back to the topic at hand. Here’s what our poster said:

I think I need a pep talk . . . as I say to many of my clients, “sounds like you’re getting ready to get started to get going!” I learned to sew when I was 8, used to sew all of my clothes (jeans, ski jackets, etc.) until my 30s. Then my life changed and my body changed, and I haven’t sewn a garment in a very, very long time. I’ve taken all the measurements, I’ve ordered patterns, I’ve got my woven muslin fabric, I’ve got my sewing area set up, I’ve watched videos and stalked everyone on Instagram, I’ve made croqui drawings, I’ve joined the ASG!!!! OMG. I’m paralyzed. I’m so worried if I actually make something that fits me, I won’t like it. What the heck? I feel like I need to watch Jenny’s YouTube webinar “Sew for the body you have” about 10 times before being allowed to cut any fabric. I literally own 7 Cashmerette patterns, but I’m afraid to make a garment! Any advice? Inspiration?

Can you relate? I certainly can! Before we go any further, I do want to acknowledge that there’s some privilege here: for many people, wasting money on fabric and their time could be extremely difficult (whereas for others it may be less of a big deal). For that reason, we always recommend starting with inexpensive fabric – you can pick up a second-hand sheet at a thrift store, or get cheap gingham when an online fabric store has a sale. Also, make sure you start with the right size – check out our new Size Calculator, which will give you the best size to start with!

Here’s what our community had to say:

There’s little to lose and tons to gain!

“You could lose some time, and some fabric, but there’s always more fabric. And the time is only lost if you don’t learn something. You might lose some patience, or your temper, but it’s only a muslin and that’s why we muslin things – to get the kinks out before we do the real thing. You could gain confidence, some fabulous new clothes, some enhanced skills”

“All you’ll lose is some time and some fabric if it’s a disaster but oooooh! Imagine what will happen when it’s awesome!!!!!! “

A little bit of fitting goes a long way

We have tons of tutorials and sewalongs, and our best-selling online workshop Fitting for Curves to help you!

“I was exactly the same and really didn’t want to waste fabric on things that wouldn’t fit properly. I’ve found that learning about my personal fitting needs and how to make those pattern adjustments really helped me get started again.”

“I finally joined this wonderful group and I emailed Jenny & co at Cashmerette with my fitting problems. They are SO helpful and the peeps on here.”

Start with a project that’s likely to be successful

Choosing a garment that is extremely technical so you can really slowly get into it and enjoy piecing it together? Or maybe worry less about fitting something simple in a knit?

I would start with an easy satisfying project without darts such as the Cashmerette Cedar-I have made this in knits and woven successfully.

I started with the Springfield and Montrose. They are simple, use small amounts of fabric, and turn out great. They’ll give you the confidence to keep going.”

It will almost certainly be better than ready-to-wear clothes!

“What I learned is that I was wearing so much really baggy RTW that I really instantly looked better in a fitted garment, no matter what size it is.”

Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect

You know what? If you sew something and you don’t like it, free that garment, and try something else. No one hits a home run every time they make something. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make something wonderful every single time you sew.”

“Lose the word “perfect” from your vocabulary. Focus instead on specific parts of every garment that work well (celebrate them!) and specific areas you want to improve next time (then figure out how to change them).”

I think a lot of people have this idea that stuff has to be perfect. “Oh! What if I make a mistake?”But sewing is learning. Sometimes we waste fabric, but if we’re learning it’s okay. Your muslin is like a sketch of the painting you’ll be making. Let yourself sketch. Let yourself doodle with fabric.

If anyone is judging you because of imperfections in the clothing you sewed yourself, they are the one with the problem!

Take it one step at a time

You sound a bit overwhelmed- you only have to do one thing at a time. Write that one thing on a post it and stick it somewhere you can see it. When it’s done put next step up. So a few steps could be: choose pattern. Cut pattern, cut fabric, sew dress. Just think about one step at a time

Remember that it’s a learning process

“As I often have to remind myself, you don’t learn something but sitting around procrastinating about it. You only learn by trying. There’s a first time for everything: sewing a seam, sewing a buttonhole, inserting a zip etc. You literally won’t learn how to do it until you give it a shot!”

“If you don’t like it, at least you’ve learned what you don’t like, right? If you’re afraid os “wasting” fabric, use some old sheets as muslin and just tackle it. Don’t let your fear of failure – or success! – stop you. Cut that fabric! “

Be kind to yourself when it comes to body image

I had to laugh because I’m right with you! I finally made the Rivermont dress and it turned out perfect, but getting my mind to accept my old age body took some time. It’s so easy to tell someone else to accept the body you have, but another thing to accept it ourselves. Good luck on your journey and rest assured you are not alone.”

“Learning to love you, flaws and all, it’s a hard thing to do, but so important! None of us are the teen or early twenties babe any more. But we’re so much more than our youth! Roar! Now go make a beautiful garment and ask someone who loves you how you look. Then believe them.”

What do you think? Do you have any more ideas to add?

5 thoughts on “Procrastinating over sewing? Here’s how to get going!

  1. M-C says:

    There’s such a thing as knowing too much. I am the queen of over-researching here, and I am here to tell you that reading up on all the ways something can go wrong can be paralyzing. Not everything goes wrong every time! Not all at once, that’s mathematically impossible. Also, not everything goes wrong for everyone. I have never had any trouble with a sleeve or a soufflé for instance, but no lining or pie crust goes by without a lot of swearing. How are you supposed to find your unique talents if you don’t try things?

    And finally you will be hard pressed to find people who have any idea what you are talking about if you rant on about your bubbling interfacing or rippling hems, the general level of textile literacy is so low as to be positively underground now. So what are you worried about exactly? Go look at the rtw in your closet, and see that you can already do at least as well as that

  2. Cathy Ledbetter says:

    When I made my first Lenox dress out of Brussels Washer Linen (very wiggly), I couldn’t get the button bands straight and even to save my life. I decided it was going to be a wearable muslin and I was going to wear it around the house. Turns out that I wear it everywhere and always get tons of compliments. No one ever notices my wobbly button bands.

  3. Lisa T says:

    You don’t have to start with clothing. If you haven’t sewn for a long time, why not make a tote bag or cloth napkins? Once you start sewing, you’ll get your groove back and will want to do something more complicated next time.

  4. Jill R. says:

    Next time you’re about to buy a RTW item, turn it inside out and check the quality of the construction. It’s often enough to make you put it back on the rack in the knowledge that you could do so much better yourself – and you don’t need to be an accomplished sew-er to achieve this!

  5. At last a site that deals with sewing for normal people!!

Let me know what you think!