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Getting Out of My Head

September 13, 2021

Getting Out of My Head

I started sewing at the age of 51!  It was daunting. I had to learn my machine, how to read patterns, how to buy fabric.  And of course I started by making button up shirts.  Probably the most fiddly sewing I could have possibly chosen.

And so I was noodling around, sewing straighter and straighter seams, creating imperfect topstitching, mangling collars and collar stands and still not making a wearable shirt. 

Then I was talking with my therapist and she laid down a challenge:  At our next meeting, she wanted me to wear a shirt I'd sewn.  Challenge accepted!

I chose a pattern (New Look 6197), bought a beautiful brown and cream gingham linen from Gorgeous Fabrics (Hi Ann!) and began sewing.  Over the next two weeks I sewed in the evenings and on the weekends. I learned how to sew a camp collar.  And on the day of my next appointment I was still sewing on the buttons right up until I left my house.  

The shirt had a BUNCH of issues.  The sleeves are too big, the inside seams aren't finished, and the collar is a bit wonky.  But it was wearable and it was finished.  I was and am proud of that shirt, which I still wear.  

Finishing this shirt wasn't the beginning of my sewing practice, but it was an important milestone.  It represents a commitment made and kept.  It represents progress.  But mostly, it represents overcoming the fear that my makes wouldn't be good enough to wear.  That my skill just wasn't there.  That I would never be proud of the end result.  

All of those fears were wrong.  I didn't magically become a better shirt maker when this project was completed. Hell, I still struggle with collars/stands and topstitching.  But when I finished this shirt I went from a potential shirt maker to an actual shirt maker.  I stopped doubting it was possible.

I will always be grateful for that nudge.  Since that first shirt, I've made more shirts, chore coats, and even chinos and shorts. 

I haven't doubted the possibilities since.


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