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Today I want to share a project that illustrates why we should all push ourselves, be fearless, and sew beyond our comfort zone.
Top Ten lists are a regular feature on my blog. A few weeks ago I wrote a list of Top 10 Autumn Selfish Sewing Patterns. The Sol hoodie by Jamie Christina made it to my number one spot. So, when Rachael contacted me asking if I'd like her to gift me the pattern in order to review it for Selfish Sewing Week you can imagine my response - a resounding 'Heck yeah!'.
Once I received the pattern I fumbled a little but then took a deep breath and a step forward (and a slight proverbial kicking of myself for not noticing sooner that there were lots of elements here that I was not familiar or comfortable with). What I saw before me was 7 pattern pieces, linings, ribbons and fabric almost entirely in knit (not that I'm scared of knits or anything!!)...and a zip. That's right, a zip...in knit...that goes right down the length of the your whole body (leaving no room to hide!). Never one to back down from a challenge, I simply told myself I would make this work (although with a fair amount of trepidation due to the fact that it's a guest post....for Selfish Sewing Week itself).
So, I chose the fabric - a sparkly (yup, sparkly!) medium-weight knit fabric, blue floral ribbon and a soft, blue flannel for the hood lining - and got to work. The pattern is very detailed with lots of helpful illustrations (I particularly like that Jamie put the fabric legend at the top of each page so you're not constantly flipping backwards and forwards in the instructions...it's the little things!). The style is a fitted, zipped cardigan with a large hood and extra-long sleeves with cuffs with thumb openings.
Do you like my 'snowflake'? Actually it's my son's first attempt at throwing a pot (my step-father is a potter).
My measurements fell in between a size small and medium. I sewed the size medium and it fits - but is quite snug. This is designed to be a fitted cardigan so if you want something more slouchy then I'd go up a size. I didn't make many alterations to the pattern - I used the ribbon for the edges (she also gives instructions for using fabric bands) and I decided to line the hood (which is optional).
Why be fearless?
I'm sure you've all heard that saying before - something like 'beyond your comfort zone is where the magic happens.' For sewing it's no different. Now, I'm not as brash as to say that my hoodie is magic (even if it is sparkly :-) ), but the act of going beyond what feels easily achievable does make me a better sewist. Let me explain.
The danger with trying to perfect a craft is that one can become conservative in his/her approach - trying to get each step and every detail perfectly correct. When trying something new I don't hold myself up to the same standard - the inner critical voice is less vocal and the freedom to try and the freedom to make mistakes grows. Some of you may have listened to Ken Robinson's TED talk about creativity in education. To summarise, he says that creativity is being taught out of children because mistakes are so stigmatised - as if making a mistake is the worst thing one can do. In order for creativity to flourish one has to not fear mistakes. I totally agree - whether it be for our children in education or, in this case, for our sewing.
I didn't want that fear of mistakes to inhibit me here. I was bold and fearless and just went for it! And, guess what?! Things turned out pretty ok. Perfect? Well, of course not (just for the record - when you're installing a zip into knits make sure you stabilise your fabric so it's not stretching as you sew, leaving one side much longer than the other...yes, I speak from experience!). But I learned a lot along the way - technical skills as well as my ability to adapt and use my own bank of knowledge to work through tricky situations.
I loved this project for the process and the end result in equal measure. It pushed me and forced me to grow a little bit and, at the end, I have a new cardi! An interesting side note, when I first considered this hoodie I was (mentally) in an Autumnal wood - think crunching golden leaves, wood-burning stoves, mushrooms, lots of oranges, yellows and browns - but it ended somewhere in Scandinavia! It reminds me of a Nordic winter - ice, snow and clear blue skies. Funny how sewing can take you in so many unexpected directions...if we all just remember to be FEARLESS!
Moonlit Winter Landscape by Berndt Lindholm (1841 - 1914, Finland)
Thanks for reading everyone. I hope you are all being fearless this week and feeling amazing doing it! If you can pull yourself away from your sewing machines for just a few more minutes, I'd love to see you over at Behind the Hedgerow! Sewing is the best thing ever, am I right?! Laura x
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this, my friends, is why i heart Laura. lovely hoodie, and what a great reminder (and inspiration) for all of us to step outside of our comfort zones. thank you!!
i hope you're taking lots of pictures of what you make this week! share them in the selfish sewing week flickr group, use the hashtag #selfishsewing on instagram and twitter, and follow along to see what everyone else is stitching.
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