I am honored to welcome today’s guest to the Series, Shannon from Luvinthemommyhood! This past year I had the privilege to become friends with Shannon, and I am so thankful for it. In one breath she is reaching out with a kind word and asking after the fam, and in the next completely cracking me up with her hilarity.

Luvinthemommyhood is such a fantastic blog for all mothers out there looking to connect and share in the fabulousness that is motherhood! Naturally my favorite posts of hers are when she shows off her fabulous creations. Whether they be sewing related…

or for all of you knitters out there…

but she also has some of the best ’round ups‘ around. I fell in love with her Versus Series (ummm…have you seen this video – I just about died), and I always love her Friday weekend wishes…

Photos by: 1. luvinthemommyhood, 2. anikarenina, 3. designsponge.com, 4. thingsforterri, 5. luvinthemommyhood, 6. Milena, 7. Meg Duerksen Whatever, 8. luvinthemommyhood, 9. luvinthemommyhood

Don’t those photos just make you want to curl up on a couch with her and dish with your best friend?!! She always finds the most inspirational images!

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to see what Shannon was going to share as her New Years ReSewLution.

Welcome Shannon!

image source: papersparrow

Sewing is fun. It’s rewarding, fulfilling, and exciting but it can also sometimes be challenging and a tad scary…in a good way that is. I started sewing just over 2 years ago and I jumped right in with both feet. I simply just started sewing, reading about sewing both in books & online, and chatting with people who sewed. I immersed myself in it. I learned something new each time I made an item. I found myself having “aha” moments every week and eventually found myself writing tutorials to share myself. Who woulda thunk it? I sure didn’t.

My first zipper…oopsies and all.

You see deep down I’ve had two major sewing fears….zippers and buttons. Yep, they freak me right out. No matter how many people have told me it’s not hard, no matter how many times I’ve watched tutorials or read about it I just could not bring myself to sit down alone and sew them. I felt intimidated and frightened by my insecurities. Why could I not sew a zipper or a buttonhole? If I’ve gotten this far with my sewing why can’t I just do it? So this year I vowed to myself to do exactly what I did when I started sewing and just jump in…this time head first. I wanted to jump in braver, stronger and more confident and simply kick some buttonhole and zipper butt :)

My first buttonhole – tutorial for this project coming soon!

Jessica’s “New Year’s Resewlotions” was the perfect excuse to push me to actually do it. You see in the last week I sewed both a buttonhole and a zipper. I feel great! Wonderful in fact! It was very empowering to conquer my sewing fears. Was it easy? No. Do they look perfect? No. Will I do them again – heck yeah! I loved it! The trial and error was in the learning – not in the actual outcome. Now that I know what to do I feel that I will make them both again to keep it fresh in my mind. I understand why some say it’s super easy and nothing to be frightened of. In some ways that is true but I also feel that the scary part is actually figuring out how to do it and putting it in action rather than the actual process of sewing the zipper/buttonhole.

Since I survived the battlefield this week I thought it would be fitting to share some tips and thoughts on how I went about beating down my fear of zippers/buttonholes and some tips on how your process could be much smoother and easier than mine was. Now don’t just scan the bolded lines to read the tip and move on. Nuh uh. Not cool. Read it. There are more tips within the tips. Honestly. It’s worth the time to take a few sips of coffee, have a chuckle and really read the tips. I have a bad habit of doing this and may have learned more reading others tutorials if I had really read them. So go on…..read on my bloggy pals.

Tip #1 – Find a sewing buddy.

Now this can sometimes be tricky. I didn’t know anyone in the city I lived in who sewed until last year. I had to do it all on my own accompanied by many phone calls to my mom/grandma of course. But I purchased a new sewing machine last year and it came with free lessons. I learned that your local sewing shops will usually always offer private lessons as well as classes. I loved my instructor (thanks again Willie) and learned so much from her in my two visits with her just teaching me how to use my machine!

I am a visual learner and find that even though I’m staring at a computer screen watching a video or reading a book I still need someone beside me to talk with and to walk me through the steps. I didn’t do this and I should have. Don’t get me wrong…some people work really well like this and there are a ton of wonderful online tutorials and awesome sewing books out there and I used them as well. But the next time I need to try something challenging in regards to sewing you can bet I’m going to find someone in town to babysit me while I do it. Don’t be embarrassed. Be empowered. You want to learn the correct way and the easiest way to put those bad boys in and it’s the instructors job or your friends pleasure to teach you. I know in my modern sewing group that I help run that I LOVE helping new sewers learn to sew. I feel happy and giddy sitting down with them and teaching them the things that I cried/stewed over for weeks to figure out on my own. It’s a great feeling so don’t ever be ashamed to ask a question or reach out for help. People in the sewing community are wonderful and caring and always, always, always more than willing to help each other. So go ahead, ask away :)

Tip #2 – Take your time & set the scene.

When you finally decide to conquer a sewing fear make sure you set the stage and take your time and most importantly don’t go trying out a brand new technique that scares you when you are dog tired. Big mistake…huge mistake! I did this and let me tell you…it’s a nightmare the outcome. Something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy….no really 😛 Go in refreshed and energized if you can.

Find a block of time that nobody will bother you and that you don’t feel rushed. Set up your station with all the info/steps you need to accomplish your goal and arm yourself with knowledge. In all seriousness it took me 4 hours to figure out my zipper and my buttonhole (2 hours for each). Yes…4 hours. I know…it’s sad really, but I’m proud of it. I didn’t give up. I ended up finally figuring out my buttonhole with my 20mth old on my lap. She was my good luck charm. But it might have been easier with no wee ones underfoot to figure that one out. It really gave me a run for my money.

Set the scene for your success. I like to sew to music. Music plays a huge role in my life and creative processes and always has. I can honestly look at most of the things I’ve sewn and tell you what album was the predominantly played one while I was making them. Music shapes me and helps me mold my garments. Music allows me to lose myself in my sewing and in the process. I’ve always been an artist – drawing, knitting, painting, crocheting and creating since a wee thing and during that same amount of time music has been with me. During all my of most rewarding crafting experiences there has always been music. It’s like another limb for me when I’m creating. I pick the album based on the project. So for you, if you sew best with silence, tv, music or the sound of your kids playing set that scene for yourself. I need coffee & a glass of water, a hot iron, a clean workspace and some tunes and I’m all set to go. So don’t underestimate the power of setting the scene for success. Do what it takes to get in the right frame of mind to be successful and confident.

Tip #3 – Don’t set yourself up for failure.

If you go in thinking you can’t do it you won’t. I swear sewing machines know your mojo. If you’re having a crap day and are stressed out that will be the day when your machine won’t work or your tension goes off. It’s a fact of sewing life…at least in my world that is. Go in prepared to succeed. Make a deal with yourself that you WILL keep trying until you get it. That’s what I did and it kept me from crying and giving up even when I made an epic sized oopsie with my zipper and had to sew it in about 5 times to my garment with half those times having my hubby chuckle at me as I failed and failed and failed and seam ripped and seam ripped and seam ripped. But I held it in. I fought through it and I finally got it in right and I will forever love that garment for the pure amount of Rocky Balboa love/fight I put into it.

When I initially started my post for this series I was going to do a tutorial that used a buttonhole but I kept finding myself writing this post in my head and I just knew it had to be written. That happens sometimes. I really believe in keeping it real on my blog and showing that we all make mistakes, we all have oopsies and that this is normal and a huge part of the creative process. It’s how we learn and grow as artists and sometimes those oopsies end up being our greatest successes and achievements. So go in proud of yourself right from the start. You’re brave enough to take those first step towards conquering your fear so believe in yourself – too often in today’s culture we doubt ourselves. Be strong and sew my dears. If it was really so hard nobody would do it.

Tip #4 – Make friends with your seam ripper & your scraps.

I have a love/hate relationship with my seam ripper. Some days we are friends and some days we are mortal enemies. But after this last sewing experience I have truly realized the value in bonding with my seam ripper. When it comes to conquering sewing fears seam rippers & scraps just go hand in hand. They are your friend. You WILL have to rip at least once…unless of course you are a sewing jedi and kudos to you if you are :) You need to learn to trust in the power of the seam ripper.

I’ve found myself changing the way I think of the seam ripper. Not as a symbol of my sewing failures but as a symbol of my sewing growth. Each time I rip I learned something new. Either about my machine or a technique or a design. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a positive thing. If you don’t stop and give up when you get to the point of ripping there truly is bliss on the other side. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing through that tough project or complicated step is just as great as running a marathon. Trust me – I’ve done both. There is joy that also comes along with frustration and anger of having to use your seam ripper. It’s there, you just have to open yourself up and change your way of thinking.

The seam rippers best pal is your scraps. I can envision my seam ripper saying to me “dude, why didn’t you just practice this on a scrap? You’ve got a whole friggin’ bin of them?”. Sometimes we can get a tad over confident and just go right to putting our new technique right into our project. Not a good idea. Take your time, practice it, master it…not on your project but on your scraps. I know you have some. Whip those puppies out and do that buttonhole until you are really ready to do a buttonhole. Buy some scrap zippers from the local thrift shop and sew them onto your scraps till you can sew a mean zipper. Then when you get to the point of putting them on your project your sewing machine will not sense an iota of fear. You will be in control and armed with knowledge…and of course, your friends seamy the seam ripper and scrappy the scraps.

Where do you go from here? I am also a knitter and have been knitting since I was a little girl. For some reason it’s taken me until now to realize the power of being prepared. In knitting you most always do a gauge swatch. A test fabric per say that shows if you are using the correct yarn and needle size to achieve the right drape of fabric to make the pattern. Only this month did I realize that the same goes for sewing. Why not do a test swatch? Why not check to see if my fabric will look and do what I want it to with a zipper, button or special technique before I sew the whole darn thing and wreck it? So much easier I tell you. Practice, practice, practice. The time you take to prepare yourself will way surpass the time you would spend doing something wrong, ripping it out and remaking it.

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t tackle a new technique tired, ask for help when you need it, allot yourself a lot of time to experiment uninterrupted, set the scene for success, be confident and don’t set yourself up for failure, oh and don’t forget to make friends with seamy the seam ripper and scrappy the scraps. They’re cool. Good luck…and happy sewing. It’s 2012 ladies, you can do it – I believe in you!

Thanks for having me over Jess and for being so kind, understanding and so inspiring. Luv ya girlie!


Wow Shannon! What an incredible and inspiring post! I think so often people get ‘scared off’ because they think something may be too hard for them, or that there is no way they can do it. Jumping head first is really the only way you will ever find out, and I love all of the tips you give for setting one up for success. ESPECIALLY about not doing it on an ‘off’ day – HA! I cant tell you how many times I have done that, just wanted to rush through something on a stressful day to get it done – and it ALWAYS comes out horrible – talk about psychic mojo-knowing sewing machines. Lol. But these are seriously great tips. And way to go on conquering your zipper and buttonhole fears!!!!! I am so happy for you :).

Now I need to get to work on finding a sewing buddy in my area…who is with me?!

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Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…Happy Sewing!