February has passed me by in a blur of samples and quarter scales and technicals. I’ve been spending nearly every day at school, using the sewing lab. At first each half-scale muslin sample would take me 3 or more hours to sew. Mostly, in the beginning a lot of the time is spent fixing small mistakes: A crooked corner here or too wide a seam allowance there takes a chunk out of your time since you have to rip the seam and remove all the stitching before trying again.
Then there are machine problems. I’ve spent entire classes setting up a sewing machine, having it fail on me and jumping from one station to another just to have needles break on me because the last time I took my bobbin-out it rolled on the floor and I put it back wrong… and realizing I’m out of time. (Side-note to all my fellow students: be nice kids; if you’re using a school-or otherwise shared- machine and something goes wrong please notify someone before leaving… preferably someone who’s in-charge of the space and not just a fellow sewer. There are lots of moving parts and things often go wrong- chances are it can be easily fixed by the right person. There are entire books, blogs and professions dedicated to this. see here for a pretty extensive chart. )
I had been consistently spending 10-12 hours on my quarter scale skirt drafts and patterns for the first 5 weeks. That’s about 3 hours per draft. I felt like this was unreasonably long. Then we began working on a full-scale skirt project and all-of-a-sudden everything clicked. I could actually see the skirt in my mind, broken down in 3D, and all the measurement began to make sense. It now takes me about half the time to do the drafts and I mostly do the seam allowances from memory. I also make far fewer mistakes while sewing, and my line quality has drastically improved.
I’m amazed at the speed at which we have been learning everything.
I suppose with anything you do, a little dedication goes a long way. So does pressing. Seriously. Pressing makes everything look 100 times better, instantly.