For a long time I had this idea that sewing should be quick. I remember reading an interview with a fashion designer, I think when I was in high school, and when talking about how they started making clothes they said something along the lines of "I used to pick up fabric on the way home from work, whip up a dress, and wear it out dancing that night".
"Yes," I thought. "That is what sewing is all about".
I kept this idea with me for a really long time. I made quick little A-line skirts and simple dresses and tops that could be whipped up in a day. But it wasn't all that satisfying, because I thought the things I was making looked homemade, so I didn't feel confident wearing them. Because I thought sewing should be quick, I would skip things that seemed tedious - like pattern markings and basting zippers - and then find that in the end this made things take longer, and get discouraged or put them aside.
It has taken me about 17 years of on-and-off sewing to work out that slow sewing is good. That it's okay to spend a few weeks working on a garment. That basting and pressing and transferring markings properly save time in the end. That it's worth taking the time to make something that I'm happy with and proud to wear. And that the steps in a pattern that seem complicated and tedious are the things that make a real difference to the finished garment (like pockets!) I'm not writing this to be all smug or evangelical, I'm just amazed that it's taken me so long to figure it out.
I've been thinking about this lately, because I've been sewing slowly but making things that I'm really happy to wear. The first was a Cambie dress. I took my time making this, and the finish is really good - it's lined, and I didn't skip any of the steps or interfacing or things like that. It was my first attempt at a Sewholic pattern - I've been interested in their pattern line because they are designed for pear-shaped body types, which is what I am. I cut out a size 6, and it fits well, although I think next time I'll pinch about a centimetre out from the side seam under the arms, but taper out to keep the waist size the same. This is meant to be a casual sundress, so a bit of ease is good, but if I was making a more formal dress I'd probably want it a bit more fitted. The instructions were logical, and it all came together without any grief. The pattern felt a bit more detailed and interesting to sew than the big pattern company offerings, and the sizing was definitely more accurate and better suited to my body shape.
I bought this cotton voile from The Fabric Store in Surry HIlls about eighteen months ago, and originally planned to make an unlined maxi dress, but then realised it was very sheer and would be too transparent. The Cambie dress is designed for lining, so it was perfect for that, and I bought some black cotton voile from Spotlight for the inside which makes it very soft and comfortable to wear. The print is a bit louder than I usually wear - I remember in the shop thinking that it was Gorman-esque - but I really like it. While I'm glad I didn't rush making this, I wish I'd sewn it a bit sooner because it would have been great to wear over summer. But there's always next year, and in the meantime I can layer it with tights and a cardigan. This is the first fitted dress pattern I've tried for a long time (usually I do looser, more smock-like things) and so now I know that it fits properly I'm keen to make another one - maybe with the fuller skirt next time.