There is a lot of room for creativity in the world of sewing but to get good results there are some hard and fast rules that have stood the test of time, and indeed are applied to many hobbies, not just sewing. Here are the Dawn Abbey Ten Commandments of Sewing.
1) Thou Shalt Love Thine Self and the Body You’re In
I make no bones about being a Christian and believing that every human is created in the image of God. You are beautiful just the way you are. Before you can create something that will look pleasing to you, there needs to be love for the person in the mirror. We all have fitting adjustments that need to be made, and after more than thirty years of sewing for myself and others I have yet to encounter “the perfect body”. Perfect in whose eyes? In His eyes you are stunning. Give the body you’ve got a big ‘ol hug and know that with a little time and effort, you’re gonna look fantastic in the things you create.
2) Measure twice cut once.
It may seem obvious but I cannot overstate the importance of taking accurate measurements to ensure properly fitting garments. Measure yourself once per year (birthday perhaps to remember?) and then again right before you cut your pattern and fabric. The human body goes through many changes in life, and during the course of a single day your body weight can fluctuate by two-three pounds. Take your measurements at night, after dinner when your body is at its maximum size for that day and do your fittings at the same time if possible.
3) If it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong
This rule applies in several ways. Firstly, when you are shopping for fabric, take the time to drape the fabric across the inside of your wrist which is much more sensitive than your hands. If the fabric feels rough, uncomfortable or just “not right”, keep shopping. Secondly, when pin fitting a pattern, if the fit feels wrong, it is wrong. Either make some adjustments or try a different pattern.
4) THOU SHALT TEST EVERY PATTERN WITHOUT FAIL!!
Lol! Okay, I just did the online equivalent of shouting but honestly that question has come up one time too many times for this instructor. Your time, money, effort and creativity deserve the small effort of making a muslin. Once the task is done, only minor change are needed unless there is a major change in size (see the Second Commandment)
5) Look Before You Leap
Pattern Review.com has assembled the largest online database of pattern reviews in the world. I know how deliciously tempting those $.99 patterns can be, (I have drawers full of them) but the best approach is to make a list of patterns that you like, check the reviews and once you are satisfied that the pattern will work for you, shop on! :))
6) Keep Natural Laws on Your Side
Gravity. Momentum. Inertia. When sewing, sew on a flat surface. Whether you have treated yourself to a top of the line custom cabinet or you’re using a piece of foam from the hardware store, or something in between, let the table hold the weight of the fabric for you. The best way to keep large projects for slipping away, weighing you down or downright hurting your shoulders, wrists and back, is to make sure that the project is properly supported. Using a comfortable chair will reduce fatigue and strain and make your sewing time more rewarding.
7) Take Joy In the Journey
Yup. It’s true. Taking the time to baste, make a muslin, pin fit, search for the right fabric, buttons, linings etc., will bring better results than rushing through. When time is short, remind yourself, “I am worth it” and put the project aside and come back to it when you have time to focus. You will reap the rewards of your patience in the end
8) The Strength of a Team far Outweighs the Sum of the Individual Parts
The Internet is flooded with all kinds of tutorials, online classes (shameless plug here: naturally I’d love it if you take some of mine!). Plus, there are how-to videos, books and DVDs galore. The point is, if you need help, there is plenty to be had, just ask. A frustrating project can turn into a conversation point in a forum, and not only get the help you need; but you might be able to help someone else along. Also, remember that The Sewist Club has a contact page, and I am always happy to help if I can. 🙂
9) Protect Your Creativity like Your Child
Your time and talents are gifts from above and in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to push aside the Human Being and become a Human Doing. Sewing, like any other hobby or creative outlet, is meant to be enjoyable. Book some “me time” with your hobby and protect it like a precious child. We are only given 24 hours in each day, make sure to use some of them to express yourself, whether it is at the machine, shopping online, looking for new ideas or just day dreaming about your next project. The workplace, dust bunnies and dishes will still be there when you get to them:)
10) Good Ingredients Yield Good Results
I left this until last because it is actually the least important. Buying a good quality sewing machine, nice fabrics and notions is simply common sense. But the best ingredients can come to nought if the hands are rushed, the mind is stressed or the body is out of harmony. Yes, good fabrics count for a lot, but loving the skin you’re in counts for so much more.