Courtney: Sewing for 7+ years, Quilter and Professionally Trained Seamstress.
My grandma sewed, and when she passed away I inherited her pristine 70’s Pfaff sewing machine. I started teaching myself how to sew by tracing skirts and making new ones from $1 Wal-Mart fabric, staying up all night to have them done by school the next day. I learned how to insert a zipper by reading the instructions on the zipper package (not the easiest way to learn).
I even tried, and failed multiple times, to learn how to sew by using patterns. All through my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I thought I just wasn’t cut out for sewing because I couldn’t master basic patterns. Sad fact, but I remember crying about it, because in my heart I knew I was meant to be a seamstress! I truly believe a class like this could have saved me a ton of heartache, which is a big reason I’m so excited to be one of Home Ec’s Teachers!
Sophomore year, I started working at Hancock Fabrics, where I asked a ton of questions to my coworkers, and especially my customers—anyone who had something in their hands that I didn’t know about! You’d be surprised how much usable knowledge you can get from the question “and what project are you working on today?” I also bought a ton of fabric while I was there! Being surrounded by interesting and inspiring materials is a great way to learn, just be conscious of keeping your stash under control.
I had worked in the fabric world for nearly three years when one morning, a customer I’d been helping said, “You know, the alterations shop I go to has a hiring sign out front”. My heart skipped, and I felt a change coming. Leave retail to spend all day sewing? Yes please! I called them on my lunch break to confirm they were looking for a seamstress, and went in the next day with a pile of my best work to apply. I was hired on the spot.
I spent the next eight months, full time, learning how to sew the right way. Of course, there is no one way to sew anything. But, the best thing you can do is to find your ‘seamstress instinct’…from then on, everything you do will be the right way! Just maybe not the first time…in my experience.
Working at the alterations shop gave me the confidence I needed to follow my sewing dreams. I participated in three craft shows, started a blog, and an etsy shop. When I met Elsie, Rachel, and Leigh-Ann, and was given side-jobs to do for RVA, I started to realize I might be able to make it on my own. I gave my notice in May, and I am now a freelance, self-employed seamstress! It took six years to go from unreachable aspiration to workable dream, and I am so happy I stuck with it.
I’d love to pass on what I’ve learned to others, so if you think I sound qualified for the job you might want to sign up for Home Ec. = I think the most anticipated lesson of mine is “How to Read a Commercial Pattern”….which, as you might guess from my confession earlier, terrifies me just a bit! But fear is good. It inspires growth. 🙂
Blog: Courtney Janelle Sews