Tag Archives: Refashion

Restyling Exchange 2017

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IMG20170603191525I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t Lottie, how did her hair grow that quickly? To that, I would say ‘What are you talking about? Of course this isn’t me, this is clearly another woman.’ Welcome to my Restyling Exchange entry! This was my first time participating in a challenge of this type; sending things to (sort of) strangers, and making clothing you weren’t allowed to wear, no matter how much you liked it! Organised by Pilar Bear and Amy Nicole, we each sent out an item, and we all received one to restyle and then send back. Fun!

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I was sent this top from Rachel. Isn’t that a lovely print? She liked the fit but not the way the pleated lining fell. I had a think about options and reasonably quickly fell on this-

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Can you see a statement sleeve in the making already? I garnered some ideas from instagram, and decided to add sheer sleeves with the pleats as the cuff. Once I started unpicking I also decided it would balance it out to add a sheer yoke.

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I made a pattern piece for the sleeves from a shirt I had with a similar silkiness, and it seemed to work out ok! Sleeves are definitely a lot less daunting than I used to think they are, and usually a little more forgiving than they pretend to be. Stuck up sleeves, thinking they’re better than me. I MADE you.

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The original top had a pleat at the neckline, but the lining didn’t, which meant that the outer fabric front piece was slightly larger than the lining. I basically just drew a line to create the yoke, so I needed to find a way of making the outer fabric match up. I didn’t want to take anything off the sides because I didn’t want to make it too tight by accident, so I did a veeery subtle gather on it.

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There are a couple of bits I wish I was slightly more skilled at- my seams were a little messy, especially in the sleeves, and I don’t know if I finished the raw edges well enough. However, I’m still really happy with the end result. I came out just as I envisaged it, and this is definitely the most advanced thing I have made for someone else! Wowsers, making stuff for other people is stressful, I was so nervous when unpicking mistakes. I sewed a sleeve in the wrong way around and it was tense getting the dark stitches out of that dark fabric…

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Rachel very kindly let me use these photos for this post, look how great it looks on her!

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Check out the #RestylingExchange2017 on Instagram for more lovely refashioning projects!

Striped Turtle Neck Refashion

I’m pretty pleased with this one! I know I say that about all of my makes… I made this in something of a fever at about midnight one weekend. I wasn’t ready for bed y’all! Some go clubbing, I go sewing. Both equally valid btw, no judgement here.

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Anyway, my partner had a big clear out and I grabbed this top because I love me some monochrome stripes. My thought from the beginning was to replicate a top I already owned, with some improvements. I have this turtleneck crop top, but it irritates me that I always have to wear a tank top underneath. I’m not going to wear it as a crop top, it’s long sleeved. My tummy gets just as cold as my arms people!

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This is a pretty rough and ready ‘tutorial’ coming up here- remember how I said I made this at midnight?

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Lay your top over the top to be refashioned. Draw around, adding seam allowance, with a fabric pen.

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Unpick the sleeves at the shoulder sleeves and down to the cuff.

I then cut around the top pattern I had drawn onto the top, having tried the top on to see if the lines seem about right. Remember that the shapes for the fronts and backs of the armholes and neck hole will be different.

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Sew the shoulder seams together, right sides together. All of my seams were sewn with a zigzag stitch. I like how I cut through the label as if it were the fabric, it means I have a cool half label reminding which bit is the back. I also like the idea that someone will find this top in years to come and be super confused about this top Next made.

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Open up the top right side up, and pin the sleeves to the armholes. By doing it now you can shape the sleeve to fit around the armhole without having to work out how to cut them. It’s a much more forgiving order than constructing once the sides are attached. Just be careful to not stretch the fabrics as you do this.

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Fold the sides and sleeves to right sides together, and sew in one long line. Here you’ll catch any extra fabric on the sleeves in the seam. Don’t forget to trim this down after.

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Now, for the collar. I basically just sewed two of the side pieces I had left from taking in the top, sewed them together to make a long strip, and used that. Be a better person than me, and make sure the rectangle you’ve made is even. I ended up with a wonky collar. It’s fine, I evened it up enough so you largely can’t notice, but I believe you can do better. I measured around my neck how big the collar should be to look deliberate, but can also fit over my head. I then basically followed this tutorial for the neck which explains it better than I probably could-

Since I used a top for this, I didn’t have to hem the sleeves or bottom as that was already done for me. Hooray! I am really keen on this look. It doesn’t come across in these photos enough, maybe because I’d had a busy day at work and a lot of food before taking them, but it’s a very chic top. I definitely want to make more, especially since it was so fast!

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Altering a too small dress

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Back when I was still at uni, I bought this polka dot dress from a charity shop. I loved the shape and the fabric, but it was too big in the bodice. No biggie, I thought, and took it home. One of the simplest ways to fit a dress which is too big is to sew in the side seams. However, this dress had a side zip, what I ended up doing was take it in at the centre, creating a centre back seam. It was an ok job, but I made the chest go the opposite direction and became too small. Here’s a photo of me wearing it last Me Made May.

As you can see; lovely dress, tight bust. I just kind of lived with it for a while, but more recently it became something of an irritation in the mornings. I don’t like having clothes which don’t fit, especially now I can fix that with sewing. Who’s with me on that one?!

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I finally sat down and assessed the problem. I had thought to leave the excess fabric on the wrong side of the seam, should I want to make any alterations. However, I had neglected to finish the seam allowances, and so that whole operation was rendered useless by the fact that the fabric had been shredded to pieces. My word past me, this was stupid. Why did you not finish the seams? Did you think it wouldn’t be affected by the cruel fate of the washing machine?

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Grumbling at my past over, I realised I would have to get creative to solve this fitting error. Luckily, that’s my jam. I dug a piece of black stretch lace out of my stash, and unpicked the centre seam of the dress. Next, I put the dress on and measured the shape I needed this extra piece to be. Well- I got Michael to do that, as I am no contortionist! A technique to gain fabric in a garment is to add a rectangular strip in the seam. However, this dress has a collar, which would have made doing that without ruining the collar very tricky. Instead, my idea was to create a lace keyhole insert.

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Having measured the positioning of the widest point, I pinned the lace into this opening, folding down the raw edges of the dress. I topstitched close to the edge of the dress around the keyhole, and finished the edges of the lace. You taking notes, past me? Oh, I guess you are….

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These photos were taken during a recent visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. I saw Gabby from Gabberdashery took over their Instagram recently, and thought I was due a trip to their textile section. I love how much better this dress fits me now, and the lace insert is pretty fun. It’s not something I would have gone for in the first place, but I like it. It’s nice that whilst solving the problem, I in fact created a welcome addition to the creation.Polka Dot refashioned dress

Tablecloth Skirt Mark Two

I used to have long hair. It was determined to be straight and limp and boring, not matter how much I messed with it. I would curl it, it would deflate within the hour. I also had very little interest in doing anything cool with it. A bun was too complicated for me to work out. And so, during a period of being especially annoyed with it, I got it cut off, marking one of the best decisions of my life. No longer will my hair get in the way while eating, take forever to dry, and make me sad by hanging over like a wet blanket over my face. Best of all, it suited me. It turns out I was a short haired person stuck in a long haired person’s body. 

However, I’m sure none of you are surprised to hear I got some backlash from this decision. I remember being told to ensure I wore more flowery clothes, to offset the ‘masculine’ hair. Often I would be told ‘You suit short hair so much, it looks great! When are you going to grow it back?’, which is a weirdly paradoxical statement. I was also ‘warned’ that people would think I’m a lesbian, which is strange, as that isn’t an insult. Anyway, regardless of my sexual positioning, these strange stereotypes pursued me, despite the fact that reactions to my hair specifically were overwhelmingly positive. People have such messed up priorities sometimes.

I wanted to mention this little story from my life for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I got my haircut yesterday (after these pictures), and it got me thinking about how, to some people, my hair is something of a confusion to their prescribed view of what a woman should look like. Secondly, and rather more trivially, I made a long skirt into a short one, which also reminded me of this process.

This skirt was very originally a tablecloth, found in a charity shop. In my early days of sewing, I made this into a maxi circle skirt. It was a real ramshackle affair but I eventually made something wearable, at least for a few wears.

Like my long hair, I began to find the long skirt more trouble than it was worth. It kept tripping me up on the stairs, dragging in the dirt, and getting stained. I bundled it up into a bag for a bit, before using some of it for this Mimi blouse. The other week, I had a look at what was left of the skirt, and decided it would be perfect for a quick A-line skirt. I traced a shape directly from my Delphine skirt (I couldn’t be bothered to trace the proper pattern out again, as I said, I fancied a quick project), and cut as close to the grain as possible. I was considering going for pockets, but I went for a side zip so I didn’t fancy working those two things out together! The best bit was that I didn’t have to hem, as it already has these scalloped edges.The waistband is a bit of a mess and could do with being about an inch and a half smaller, but for a simple project I’m pleased with it. So pleased I took these photos outside when it was rather nippy.

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Happy Birthday Blog!

This post has taken me a long old time to write. Do you ever feel like you’ve been experiencing too much internet? I just felt smothered by it. So, I deleted all my social media apps from my phone, stopped refreshing the Guardian homepage every three minutes, and tried to spend more time doing other things. I’ve started learning the Ukulele again, having stopped after a very short burst about four years ago. My apartment is also now many bags of junk lighter, having gone through a donation spree. It’s felt good; necessary. Next, I’m going to clear out my fabric cupboard (yes, I know!), as it’s been making me feel more sad than excited. Sometimes a good cleanse can be useful for the creative soul.

Anyway, onto the purpose of this update, which is that my blog had its anniversary last week! Happy Birthday blog! Losori started a year ago now, and my goodness what a year. I am so glad I started this blog all that long year ago. Thank you to everyone who has supported me by reading, commenting or saying nice things in real life. There was a time that I didn’t feel confident telling people I liked to sew, or god forbid knit. I’m still not shouting it from the rooftops in the real world, but I’m feeling way more happy about my passions, and I do talk about them, both chatting to people and right here on this blog. One thing I didn’t anticipate is pride. I’ve been starting to feel good about making things and sharing them. Every new make is a little story of my process, and I actually get really excited about sharing that with the world.

Just to get vaguely personal, it’s been a rough year. I think it has for a lot of people. And this blog has actually been a bit of a rock for me, even if it might not look that way from the outside. I’ve been able to dip in over the year, adding to my writing, taking better photos, and each time feeling like I have achieved something, even in a small way.

I thought it would be nice to have a look at the hits and misses from my very first blog year, so I hope you enjoy.

Hits-

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First, the highlights. This year was pretty much the first one where I had both the time (sort of…) and the resources to sew, so I definitely saw my skills improve over the course of these 12 months. My favourite make this year, to no one’s surprise, has to be my space dress. Nothing has made me feel so proud and happy to wear. Do you ever put something on and it actually feels like it accurately represents you and who you are? Somehow, this dress does that. I’ve ordered a long invisible zip for this dress so soon it won’t take two people pulling to get this dress off…

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My Megan dress is again, not perfect, but I actually wear this to work and no one gasps ‘Gasooks, this woman is wearing an outfit made on her kitchen table. Cast her to the flames!’ They haven’t said that because I don’t work in a anachronistic medieval witch hunting club, but also because it legit looks like a well made item of clothing.

 

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I have knitted intermittently over the year, leading to my biggest project which was my owls jumper. I love this jumper, it’s so soft and chunky and lovely. The only thing with it is that it’s a little snug ‘round the neckline getting it on and off. Did I cast it off too tight? I’m not sure, but probably.

 

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And lastly, just a couple of other makes I’m especially pleased with. My America dress is just really cute and fun. I used to love this dress in its original form, and it’s great to still be able to wear it in a new way! Lastly, this nedroid costume was very easy but very effective. I liked being a bear and a potato.

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Misses and eh’s-

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I made this scalloped skirt as part of a facebook group’s challenge and whilst I enjoyed the process, I really can’t get along with the finished product. It doesn’t have a strong waistband so it sags over the course of a wear, plus the scallops always need ironing which just irritates me. These, combined with the fact the design causes so much upskirt with even the slightest breeze, makes it my top miss of the year. But, as a plus, it was my first time with buttonholes which was fun.

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This sleeveless Mimi blouse is a funny one, because I kind of like it, but am also not sure at the same time. The fabric choice isn’t really right for the pattern, and if you read back over my post about it, I was kind of cobbled together from a load of mistakes. But then it looks ok in these photos. I’m going to give it until next summer and see how it holds up with the rest of my wardrobe.

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One day I randomly got some pictures taken of me in a vintage inspired outfit, and thought it might be good to put on here. I then went on to do a couple of My Style posts, but to be honest I never felt altogether comfortable with this category. I think it shows in the photos. Compare my body language to in photos of my space dress, for example, and there’s a whole world of difference. I’m not going to get rid of them, as it seems dishonest, but they really aren’t my best work. 

And that’s been the year. Generally a successful one for makes! I’m very much looking forward to the next. Once again, thank you to you all, and I look forward to the next year of creativity!

Sew stylish- Dubrovnik

As promised, here are some snaps from my holiday in Dubrovnik. This isn’t a travel blog so I won’t bore you all with too many details about the place itself. Basically, if you like ice cream, blue seas and beautiful roofs, go to Dubrovnik like right away. It’s awesome.

This holiday was a great last swan song for a lot of my summer wardrobe for this year, & I think I saw them off well.

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Ha, look at my funny face. Here I am on the main street wearing my sorbetto top & a refashioned skirt. This skirt used to be a dress I got years ago from Primark. The pattern remained adorable, but the body grew. However, I just did the same thing as with this skirt, & a new outfit was made.

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Next, we’ve got this refashioned America dress. I love this outfit, it’s so fun to wear. Also, one day I will get a good full length picture of me wearing this dress, but this holiday was apparently not that time.

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You may well recognise this next outfit, as it’s the one from my last blog post here. We’ve got my sleeveless Mimi blouse paired with this refashioned liberty print skirt. It’s a real pastel fest here.

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Finally, I wore my space dress on the last day. I don’t have any full length pictures from this trip so go click that link if you want to marvel at that awesome print.

 

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We had a wonderful time & you should all go to Dubrovnik. Go to Mea Culpa, get a pizza bigger than your leg, & say hi from me.

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Refashion a Dress into a Top

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Another day, another dress to refashion. Following hot on the heels of my dress to skirt refashion, here’s one way to transform a stretch dress into a top. This dress was donated to me a little while ago, & I loved the cute collar & print. However, due to many years of wear and washes, it was way too short to wear as a dress comfortably. I saw that this dress would work so much better as a top, & as a bonus it’s a super easy process!

One of the easiest ways of refashioning is to use existing clothes to help with sizing. In this instance I put one of my best fitting stretch tops on top of the dress, lining up shoulder seams and edges.

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Next, I marked an inch below the hem of the top. This is to allow for folding the raw edge up for the hem. If you have any doubts about the length, overestimate. You can always take more off, but it’s a lot harder to add length on! I marked this line with tailor’s chalk.

Next, I cut the dress. The way I did it was to cut the front, then the back, to make sure they line up evenly.

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Turn the dress inside out, then pin the raw edge up, wrong sides together, by 1 inch.

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My carpet needs hoovering often, on account of all the wool which ends up there…

Now you just have to sew the hem. I used a jersey needle and a zigzag stitch. In order to ensure the hem doesn’t stretch out, keep the fabric nice and loose as you go around, don’t pull.

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All done! I keep saying I need more tops in my handmade wardrobe, so I’m grateful for more additions! I like how this top falls, it’s quite a floaty jersey. In these pictures I’m wearing it with some jeans I fabric painted clouds on, painstakingly, last year. It was worth it though, I like them so much more now. Full refashioned outfit, yay!

 

Refashion a Dress into a Skirt

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I found this lovely dress in a charity shop. The fabric is so cute & the style reminds me of an Emery dress which is great. I tried it on in the shop and the arms seemed a little tight but I thought I could deal with it. Fast forward to the next time I’m trying the dress on, & I fear I might have to cut myself out of it.

Having ripped the armhole in my escape, it’s clear I can’t wear this dress. Unless… it’s a skirt! This is a super easy refashion. The dress had a gathered skirt, and basically all I did was create a waistband out of the bodice.

First, work out how wide you want your waistband, then cut twice that length up from the skirt. I went for a couple of inches. I had to cut through the zip which extended into the bodice.

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Next, I used my zipper foot to sew down the edges of the zip. Check the zip still works fine!

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Then, I folded the waistband down onto the skirt, wrong sides together, tucking under the raw edges and pinning them in place.

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Lastly, I stitched in the ditch (sewed with the right side up onto the seam between the waistband and the skirt) and I was done!

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If you want a slightly more rigid and strong waistband, you can interface it before stitching it down. I wasn’t too bothered/ was too enthusiastic about how quick a project this was turning out to be!

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Now, let us all go forth and make dresses into skirts.

Spaced

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I made a dress of space! I’m so excited about this one. Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented on my last blog post, whether on the blog, social media, or in real life! You’re all brilliant and lovely, and I’m glad my sentiments on not succeeding resonated with people.

As a quick recap, I bought a single duvet and pillow set secondhand from a charity shop. Second hand duvets are a great source of fabric. They’re easy to deconstruct, cheap, and quite often provide immediately complementary fabrics. In this instance, both sides had this starry pattern, but one side had these planets and galaxies and meteorites all over. Ooh it’s so fun I love it.

I decided to make the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch, with the bodice in the ‘plain’, and the skirt in the planets. This is partly for balance, and partly because it would have been a squeeze to get it all from one side of the duvet.

In terms of fit, I lowered the armholes by a couple of centimeters, as they always seem to be coming up tight ordinarily. I didn’t draw the new armhole that neatly, but it’s ok. Next time I’ll be a bit more careful, as I am finding my bra strap escape from the sides.

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Here I am, wearing the dress with starry earrings because theme, and socks and brogues because it was a full day in Central London people, my feet need that comfort.

After my last blog post, I adjusted the back centre seam, and the fit is much better. Also, pockets! Which are easier than I thought they were, thanks Tilly!

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Amusingly, I didn’t have a long enough zip in my stash, and I couldn’t be bothered to wait. The dress comes on fine, but getting it off… takes a bit of time. It’s fine though, and if it ever becomes more of a problem I’ll just replace the zip.

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I wore it this weekend to London for a birthday lunch and I got loads of compliments. A hen party on the train was very impressed, to which I would say that drinking from wine glasses at 11am on a rickety train is more impressive. I mean, I couldn’t do that. These photos were taken outside the British Museum which was heaving but still cool. No space, but that’s ok.

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Despite all it’s imperfections, I feel great in this dress. That’s what it’s all about in the end, right?

On Not Being Good

Have you ever been really enthusiastic about a project, then unsure if you’re good enough to execute it properly? I have been working on a dress for a little while now. It’s a really exciting project, one where you eat supper double quick to get more time to sew in the evening, then end up hunched over your machine with tummy ache from eating too fast. But I was determined.

The project in question is a Lilou dress from Tilly and the Button’s book Love at First Stitch. It’s made from a space themed duvet cover I found in a charity shop and immediately saw as a dress. I have been excited about this creation for weeks, impatient for the day it finally exists in the real world and I can show it off to everything. Look, tree, I made a space dress! Hey, cat I see on my way to the shops sometimes, I made this, isn’t that cool?

It is cool. It’s very cool to make one’s own wardrobe, to customise your clogs into your exact style. However, we might not be very good at first, and this can be hard. I am most definitely a beginner. This dress is my first lined item of clothing I have made, and you can tell my inexperience easily. The main problem is this-

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Having attached the zip, I tried the dress on for size, and found it to be way too big in the waist. It doesn’t look too bad in these photos, but when I tried it on I felt so unhappy with the fit I almost immediately ripped it off me and threw the dress into the corner. ‘It’s not right’, I declared, ‘It should be better. I should be better.’ I stared at the wonky zip, the off shaped chest, and the glaring sizing problem. It was ruined, and I had ruined what I was so excited about.

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I left it for a bit until I had calmed down, and then tried it on again. I assessed the situation, and it really wasn’t as bad as I had made it out to be earlier. Yes, the fit isn’t great, but the centre back seam can be taken in and it should be fine. I had to tell myself to stop seeing the imperfections as failures. You’ve only been sewing solo for a short amount of time, I mean this is your third dress ever! Stop expecting yourself to be perfect straight off.

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I haven’t got a finished dress to show you. I’m still working on making it wearable, but I wanted to write this intermediary post to say that it’s ok to not be good. You don’t have to be good at the thing you’re doing right away, or even after a while. The important thing is to keep going. Keep writing, or sewing, or whatever creative endeavour it may be. I’m going to keep sewing dresses with planets on, wonky zip be damned, because I’m passionate about sewing and I love the creative process. I’m going to leave you with this quote by American Radio Personality Ira Glass (Who I freely admit I had never heard of until two days ago, but the sentiment resonated with me) on why you need to keep creating, even if you think what you make is no good.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Ira Glass