Sewing, get on with it. 5 things I’ve learnt.

I’m rounding up this summer’s sewing with a bit of self-reflection. I make my language students do this sort of thing all the time, so I’ve decided to take my own advice.

Sewing-wise, I’ve produced quite a lot and most of that has been for other people. I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ve learnt some important lessons. In the spirit of Buzzfeed and the rest of time-wasting internet, I’ve narrrowed it down to 5 points. It’s a good number and it will curtail the “blah, blah, listen to me zzzzzzzz where are the cat pics?”

Gratuitous cat pic


That cat, anything for attention. We have a lot in common.

Alright, get on with it Vanessa.

1. Get the fuck on with it. This is, without a doubt, the most important thing I’ve learnt. In fact, I’m printing myself a Get The Fuck On With It t-shirt. Don’t get me wrong, I love the process of sewing, the planning, designing, choosing fabric, making decisions, playing with different ideas and possibilities. All those things are very necessary but eventually you have to sit down, shut up, commit and do the thing. Making mistakes is inevitable but by committing to an idea and making it real, there might just be enough time to rectify mistakes or abandon an idea and start over.

In fact, let’s add a sub-point.

1a) Less bitching more doing. Bitching about the shitty light, lack of space or the fact you’ve just sewed something to your own leg isn’t really helping. By all means, have a good old swear, walk away for a bit but don’t let it consume your time. To quote my less sweary mother, “in the time you’ve spent complaining about it, you could have almost finished it by now” She was probably refering to housework or paper work when she said that but it applies. Multi-task, bitch and do. Cheese and whine.

2. Context is everything. It bears repeating. Context is everything, really. At the dress rehearsal for the Sink the Pink Summer Ball I was sat back watching. It was a technical rehearsal for light and sound cues but I’d tried to get as many costumes on the dancers as possible. I was pretty pleased but then I overheard someone I didn’t recognise say “hmm, the costumes look a bit flat”

THE COSTUMES (you’ve just spent days and nights on) LOOK A BIT FLAT.

I didn’t know whether to cry or sweep out like a misunderstood creative genius. I did neither because I just shrugged and  (as I burned her face into my memory for later reference) I thought “Fuck you. lady. It’s 4pm, the set’s not complete, there’s no make-up, the dancers are wearing their costumes over their rehearsal clothes, we’ve all been here for hours. Things are bound to look flat. And OMG shuuuut up” But with lights, sound, atmosphere and all the other things these pieces were designed to complement, they worked. So fuck you lady.

Observe. On stage it reads Lampshade Goddess. In the fitting it’s a crime against Chester and a terrible example of what can be done with gold PVC and fringe.

3. I’m going to qualify that last point with, criticism is useful. Consider it but balance that with trusting yourself. It’s very easy to find fault so negative feedback is far more common than positive.

4. Perfect is relative. AKA People cannot see what you envisioned so stop beating yourself up. That’s kind of it. That’s not to say that you do the minimum but you have to know when a thing is finished. All the flaws I saw in the finished pieces and all the things I wish I’d been able to incorporate are safely tucked away in my head. Or in sketches somewhere.

5. Learn, re-use, recycle. This time last year I had just finished the 6-foot vagina piece for Sink the Pink. I hadn’t made anything like that in years. This September, I was working on a bunch of Kung Fu Panda costumes. An anatomical extreme to a wholesome one, right? Couldn’t have anything in common except….on the inside, they’re made of the same stuff and the same construction concepts applied to making labia and a clitoris as to panda ears and tails.

That last one was a fun sentence to write……








About Vanessa

Sewing and assorted nonsense. For reasons that escape me, I left the sunshine and beaches of Australia for the crisps and glitter of London in 2001. I now live in the middle of some kind of feline drop-in centre in East London battling for space to make costumes and clothes. Over on twitter and instagram as @smittenness Email over here ------>
This entry was posted in A bit of chat., Costumes, Sewing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Sewing, get on with it. 5 things I’ve learnt.

  1. Nicoletta says:

    Loved this article Vanessa!Have to remember each and every word of it: you got the point!points 1 and 1a are my favorites!!!

  2. This is spot on, especially the first point. I keep having to remind myself to stop faffing and just get on with it, if I cock it up I can always buy more fabric. Your sewing projects always look so fun!

  3. rachsews says:

    Great points, and memorably put! But I counteracted your brevity by spending far too long trying to work out what the hell was going on in the cat pic.

    • smittenness says:

      Ha! The cat collar of bafflement. He was just as confused as anyone about that. Long story short, undescended testicle meant lots of stitches after spaying. Cat found a way round cat-sized collar and was upgraded to a dog-sized one. It was a strong look.

  4. Sarah says:

    Loved this… Think I need to wear one of those tees too. Until my daughter learns to read.

  5. CGCouture says:

    Yes, I definitely need to do better at 1a. Fun article, and give the kitty my condolences. 🙂

    • smittenness says:

      Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it : ). Kitty is OK, that’s an old pic of when he had to wear a dog-sized collar to stop him picking at stitches. He doesn’t mess about, he’s all about point number 1!

  6. Nicole May says:

    Love it! I am working on being less of a faffer, and more of a doer.

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