Sewing and knitting are, for me, the crafts that keep on giving. Not a session goes by that I don't come up with some new practice I'll keep up my sleeve till the next time it comes in handy. Having said this, I know this is about the concrete and sassy lessons of 2012, so here goes:
- NEVER underestimate the power of a well-drafted pattern. Whether that means pieces that align beautifully, notches that are marked correctly, instructions that are given with context and in plain language or techniques that create a stunning finished product just depends on the nature of the garment you're constructing. A good pattern is worth re-making as many times as you continue to learn from and enjoy it.
- Trust your instincts about whether a pattern is good. Sure, when you're a newbie you may not have as much knowledge as would be useful to discern this. So read reviews and proceed with caution. On the flip side, when you're an expert you can generally work around suboptimal drafting elements or wan instructions to create a good finished product. The question then is: how much time and life energy do you care to spend on patterns that aren't as potentially as joyful to sew as their finished projects are to wear?
- I am, you are, we are collectively the soul of a vital creative pool. The skills we learn in craft enrich the way our minds work in every area of our lives. I have only just begun to craft (sewing started in November 2009 and knitting started in April 2011) and yet I have been able to accomplish much because I have so many wonderful teachers! My goal is to honour them, and the craft, by continuing to develop my skills but also my intuitive abilities. One of the most enjoyable projects I undertook in 2012 is the weird mash-up dress where I significantly altered a vintage shirt and then drafted my own simple skirt to attach. The shirt wasn't working as-is. I can't tell you how much fun it was to just cut away at it until it became something I could wear. It was like sculpting! And then, when I made up the skirt (and I'm sure much of what I've learned from others who have written about simple skirt drafting must have finally stuck) and grafted one to the other, it was like magic. So. Much. Fun. Admittedly, at first I didn't much like the finished result - but I loved the process (and have since come to appreciate the finished garment).
- The point of making things is to approach perfection - not to attain it. If you can't accept error, you'll never learn to fix it. And it's a rare person who works without ever making mistakes.
- Know when it's time to use good fabric or yarn. New crafters rightly tend to choose less costly materials because a certain quantity of finished projects end up never worn - for any number of reasons. Here's the thing: I've heard enough from really experienced crafters to know that they encounter a reasonable number of similar snags. But one thing's for certain, when your garment works, you will love it all the more for having made it from the most beautiful substance you could find. Which leads me to my final point...
- Treat every first project from a pattern as a trial run. In truth, you may need to make it 3 or 4 times before you perfect the fit or drape - or decide it just isn't going to work for you. But once you've got the pattern down, then you can pull out your fancy fabric and have a ball.
What's your top lesson learned in 2012? I want to know!