Hard to believe, but 10 years ago I bought a sewing machine off of Amazon… and life hasn’t been the same since.
Looking back on my sewing journey, it has been an interesting road, and one that I know still has a long way to go. I wrote about why I started sewing way back at the beginning of the blog, and I’d have to say that story still holds true. But where I’ve gone since then has been a bit… unpredictable. It’s been something of a journey, so I hope you will forgive me as I take trip down the sewing memory lane…
May 1, 2009 was the original purchase of my first sewing machine. I’m pretty sure I screwed up the tension right off the bat because I had no idea what I was doing. But the machine survived and we eventually got to a place of mutual understanding. It was a small machine but it did some serious work for me. From skating costumes to wool coats – I was fearless and the machine really took a beating those first few years of experimentation. (Literally! It flipped off of a table once because my project was so heavy…)
By 2010 I had sewn a lot of costumes, but I didn’t really start having an interest in sewing regular clothes until the end of 2010. It was a pivotal year in my life (not necessarily in a good way, but in an important way), and it really changed the direction of my sewing in the following years.
I started my blog in 2011, so I had been sewing for a few years by this point, but I’ve recorded all of my older projects on my Sewing Projects page, so even the older projects have had their time in the spotlight. When I very first started sewing it was all about costumes and cosplay and a desire to make pretty, impractical things because it was more fun to think about that than regular daily life. But life catches up with us all, and I must admit that I lost that spark and joy for the fantastical a bit during the grad school years. My sewing shifted towards more practical garments and every day sorts of clothing. While part of me very much wants to return to sewing fabulous fantasy garments (especially now that my skills have increased so much!), I realize that I also have a strong interest in sewing clothes that I can wear often and make good use of my sewing skills and time.
While I had been sewing skating costumes since the beginning, I didn’t start seriously making them for others until 2012. So sewing has been a secondary source of income for me since then. I can’t say it’s made me a lot of money (it hasn’t), but I’ve learned that it’s a practical skill that can get you through the rough times (in more ways than one). I also started my first self-imposed challenge – the Tim Gunn wardrobe challenge. While I didn’t complete this, it did lay the groundwork for my interest in building a wardrobe, which I’ve explored much more deeply over the past few years.
In 2013 I upped my game with my first dealership machine – the Janome 3160QDC, which, along with my serger, really boosted my sewing to the next level. I started really trying to get nicer finished and more precise sewing, all of which has made post-2013 garments last the test of time much better than anything from before that year. I also learned to love the automatic thread cutter, which really allowed me to play with appliqué techniques on skating costumes in a very time efficient way. It became one of my most-used techniques in skating costume construction and helped me make some of my favorite costumes in the following years.
In 2014 I upped the ante again with my first foray into machine embroidery and using a coverstitch machine. While I still love my Brother Coverstitch, my Brother combo embroidery/sewing machine wasn’t quite what I was after… the 4×4 hoop space was sort of limiting, and not really up to the large scale embroidery designs I had been imagining. But this machine did push me down a path of wanting to learn more about machine embroidery, and that made it totally worth the investment.
2015 saw the addition of my first big machine – the Janome 8900! I still use and love this machine, and can’t imagine sewing without it now. My smaller Janome has been a great travel machine, but I get the real work done on the 8900. Looking at my early work, I won’t say you can’t do substantial sewing on a smaller machine, but what I will say is that it is way easier with 11″ of harp space.
2016 saw the addition of a full sized embroidery machine to the arsenal, which I’ve used on quite a few projects since then. It’s also become another source of secondary income, as I’ve done some embroidery work for some of my sporting teams jackets. I think this was also the year that I changed my blog from being “Sew Skate Read” to “Doctor T Designs.”
In 2017 I won the second round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee and made it to the finals! This was probably the moment when I really felt like I’d made significant progress in my sewing skills – like I’d legitimately leveled up. It is definitely one of my proudest sewing accomplishments in the past decade. It was also the last year I competed at the US Roller Skating Nationals, where I placed in two events wearing some of my favorite skating costumes.
2018 didn’t see a lot of selfish sewing, but I did finish a little bit of my Sew Geeky goals. I also work very hard on learning to use digitizing software. I also started playing around with airbrushing costumes, which I hope to utilize more in the future. I used this technique on skating costumes that skated at the World Championships! They were over 90 hours of work, but I was so pleased with the way they turned out. Last year I also wrote my Sew Your Kibbe series, which has gained a lot more attention for the blog than I had expected, and has really focused my goals for 2019.
And, now, finally, here we are! My sewing rate this year has been quite slow; I’ve made a cardigan and top for myself, and some skating costumes for other people. I’ve planned out a whole Kibbe inspired wardrobe that I want to sew, but I’ve been seriously lacking in the time department so far this year. But I think it can happen; my pacing is just a bit off. For the rest of 2019 my goal is to complete that challenge.
That’s been the past 10 years! What do I want to achieve moving forward? I’ve still got some dream projects that I haven’t tackled, but I really think are on my radar for the next 10 years…
- I made jeans, but I want to make some with a better fit – TNT jeans would be amazing!
- I still haven’t made a suitable button down blouse. This year it is a priority!
- A corset! I really just want to learn to make one. It’s been on the list since forever, and it is still on the list.
- More cosplay! I haven’t been as active in the convention/nerd scene the past year (other things have been taking my priorities), but I still have a few cosplays on the wishlist that I really want to make.
- More embroidery! I still want to improve my digitizing skills.
- A couture level wool coat. I want to work on some mad tailoring skillz!
- Bag making. I haven’t been much into accessories, but I think I’d like to try my hand at bag making at some point.
- Quilting?!?! I’ve never made a quilt and I think I’d like to try it. I’m not turning to the dark side (just kidding, we know garment sewing already is the dark side…), but I am entertaining the idea.
- A really cohesive wardrobe collection! I would really like to do a complete wardrobe overhaul, but with me-made garments.
- Be able to do a full month of Me-Made-May! Jillian suggested I participate this year with a Kibbe theme, and I think I might! I definitely do not have enough clothes to do a whole month, but I do think I could maybe pull off at least 1 post a week. Within the next 10 years though… a full month of Me-Made-May is a goal!
It’s been a wild ride the past 10 years, but a good one. Here’s to 10 more!