Narwhals are real! An introduction to my blog.

Hello All!

Welcome to THE BLOG!

I’m Jax and I’m an avid sewer. And I’m guessing you may be too, even if you don’t know it yet.

It’s really nice to meet you.

You probably ended up here for one of many reasons. I can only guess that it might be because I either forced you to “follow” me OR you are looking for a kindred spirit in the sewing world. You may be an outcast or an introvert or may be looking for something a little less-than-perfect. You may be looking for a blog that uses a slightly sarcastic and self-deprecating tone. Or a different approach to blogging than sheer support, optimism and positivity. Although I can be those things and more, I prefer to stay 100% real with y’all. And that means you get to see all aspects of sewing – the good, the bad, the ugly. It is just YOU, ME and THE BLOG– and we have nothing to hide. No sugar-coating and no pretending every project is the BEST ONE EVER! Because I don’t think that actually helps anyone learn, including myself. After all, I am still learning just like you.

Why have I always wanted to learn to sew? Honestly, I have always loved the idea of making my own clothes. I celebrate individuality and I’ve always loved the idea of designing and making things that no one else had. It’s probably why I always shopped the vintage section of the thrift store.

When I was 12 I had a friend who knew the basics of sewing. She took lessons and would come back and try to show me the things she learned. I always admired her talents and wished I could learn to sew too. I remember she would take her jeans and add triangles of cotton to the bottoms so that they would flair like bell bottoms. It was a simple trick to take her normal jeans to fashion trend without having to do much. I soon started asking my mom for lessons but it was always a hard “NO.”

A few years down the line and I was inspired again. I had decided to take a psychology course as an elective in high school and one day we had a lecturer from the SF Fashion Institute visit us. She taught us a class on fashion, marketing, advertising and how color played a vital role in all these things. I was very keen and answered almost all of her questions correctly. She took me aside after class and told me I had “the eye.” And that I should definitely pursue a career in fashion marketing or even design. She told me that they would teach me everything from design to marketing included how to sew.  I was beyond excited over this new prospect of my future and went home to ask my mom. Once again it was a hard “No.” I even got a lecture from my mom about how impractical fashion design was. She told me there was no way I could make money off it or get a job. (Boy was she wrong, eh?) Back then I let my mom dictate everything in my life, so I too deemed the idea impractical and moved on.

Soon sewing turned into one of those things that I would learn someday, but not today. Eventually I started to say “I don’t have time to learn that.” This is typically what all people think or say when they want to learn something that they are too afraid to learn. I mean it was my magical narwhal and if I caught it what would I do with it? (Chris would like me to link you to this page here)

Flash forward and few years later and my wedding day was fast approaching. I had taken it upon myself to make sure that it would be the cheapest wedding ever. Everything for my wedding turned into a D.I.Y. project. Including making 12 table runners for picnic tables. I had borrowed a sewing machine from a friend (who told me to keep it) and I bought fabric I absolutely adored online. I was finally going to learn to sew! I had no choice… right? Wrong! After taking significant time researching how to make a sewing machine work, threading it, and dealing with bobbins. I tried to sew the fabric and it ended up tearing. I started to cry. I was so discouraged by this time that I didn’t want to even bother trying to learn to sew anymore. My dreams of tackling this skill would never come to fruition ever! I was done. I packed up the machine, put it into storage and then bought a magical glue called “stitch witchery” and I thought why sew when there’s glue that does it for you? Practical. Right? Right?

Right…

By the time my daughter was being created I had abandoned and forgot all about wanting to learn to sew. I had a career and a very interesting romantic life. I had built a tiny family with my friends and menfolk. And I spent all my time managing one of those things. Hobbies were never really an option because I was too busy with everything else. I started nesting and buying random stuff for my kid that I totally DID NOT NEED! But something I absolutely loathed doing was looking for clothes. There was never anything for girls that I really liked in the stores. I had a problem with the cute little sayings like “daddy’s little princess” or the fact that girls only seem to wear pink? Why couldn’t it be “daddy’s little paleontologist” and greens or teal? I was really disappointed with what ready to wear was offering me. And I think EVERYONE on the planet heard me speak about it.

I complained so much that eventually Chris’s mom, Sue, suggested I learn to sew. “I’ve tried and it never turned out well.” Was my reply… to which she said “Oh don’t say that I will teach you!” you can only imagine my excitement when I heard the offer. I mean … finally someone wanted to teach me to do something I’ve always wanted to learn. I practically jumped out of my skin with joy. But I replied with “OK, well, I’ll think about it.”  What?!? “I’ll think about it”… I had been thinking about it! For at least for half of my life by then!

This offer was eventually forgotten and we all sort of went about our life. Lore was born and I had reluctantly bought the cutest non-conforming clothes I could. And when she was finally vaccinated enough to take her to Australia, we did. Oh those days were the best, I had finally quit my job and had time to just relax and spend six wonderful weeks with Chris’s family.

Within a week of that trip Sue had brought out her sewing machine and told me that she WAS going to teach me to sew. At this point I forgot about the offer and brushed it off like she wasn’t serious about it. But let me tell you something about Sue- when she sets her mind to something, there is no use trying to tell her “No.” It is always best to let her take the lead and it always works out marvelously.

Soon she whirled me off the craft store and she started to teach me all about paper patterns, fabric and notions. She helped me pick out something to make for Lore and showed me how to find what I needed. Then she took me home and sat me down to go over the entire project. She showed me everything I needed to know to start a project. Washing fabric, cutting out the pattern and fabric pieces, reading the paper pattern directions, Sewing machine basics and all about how the machine works. It truly was a crash course in sewing; It was fast, but luckily I caught on quickly. After all this she sat me down in front of the machine and told me to have had it then walked away. This was it, my narwhal.

I don’t think I wanted to do anything else for an entire week. I was determined! I learned to sew a zipper, hood and a casing for the elastic band. I even learned the seam ripper… Oh so many seams ripped. I think there was a day that all I would hear from Sue is “Nope, you can do better. Seam rip this and do it again. Cup of tea?”

But by the end of the trip I was hooked. I had made a hooded zip up vest with matching sweat pants for my 9 month old daughter. And although it wasn’t the best thing ever made, I made it and I was so proud of myself. I felt so confident that I could go home and do this over and over again. Sue had empowered me by showing me how hard it wasn’t and she helped fulfill a lifelong dream I had. All this time, all I needed was someone to show me that I could do it and it wasn’t that hard.

This confidence was amplified when we took our daughter out in that outfit and I received non-stop compliments from other moms. “Where did you by that? That’s so cute! OMG I need that!” and I would reply with “I made it!” and the reactions were priceless. It ranged from amazement to congratulatory but my favorite response was “no way? What pattern did you use and where did you buy the fabric?” I had no clue any of those answers, but it felt great to be part of a community of like-minded individuals. I soon found out (through the internet) that there was this vast subculture of people just like me. People who wanted to learn to sew for various reasons and were also embarking on a lifelong journey.

When I got home I took out the sewing machine from storage and I set it up and started to collect fabric, patterns and just experiment with sewing all sorts of things. Nothing could stop me and nothing did. I have spent the last 2.5 years constantly learning, watching, and sewing. It’s been magical. I’m absolutely obsessed and I’m still excited about sewing projects.

So now I’m writing this blog. Not just because I have a lot to share, but a lot to learn as well. I am in no way an expert. I can give advice of the things I know or have tried, but I am still growing. I want to be able to share this love with everyone I meet. And I hope that through this blog I can inspire people to pick up the hobby.

When I started collecting information I noticed something. There was too much information on the web and it was never in just one place. There are so many different sites and blogs on sewing. And it can be a bit overwhelming to navigate on your own. So I am hoping that I can provide a sort of one-stop-shop for the essentials. Along with my own flair for giving too much advice that no one asked for, along the way. Of course it will take time and I am really hoping you will stick with me while getting this blog in order.

I am also hoping to provide thorough sew-a-longs on my projects page. On that page you will eventually see better instructions or tips on how to sew a pattern. And I am hoping other people will comment their tips and tricks too. Or even ask questions. Maybe we can build a constructive community of many people giving their useful advice on how to construct that particular garment. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone who tried to sew the garment made a comment on what they liked or didn’t like? How they navigated the directions. Or useful advice they could give to someone else trying the pattern for the first time?

If you have gotten this far in my introduction, kudos! I know it’s a bit long, but I’m glad you stayed. I really hope that you will continue to follow me on this journey and that you feel like you can share yours with me as well.

Ultimately, I need more friends who sew!

And I am really excited to start our journey together.

-Jax