Tackling the Sewing Demons

It seems to be fairly universal that as you learn new skills, there will be components that are personally adversarial. In other words, these are the things that become your own personal Waterloos or Achilles heels (or, in other, other words, your arch-nemeses in skill form).

In sewing, my own personal struggle is with zippers.

Before enthusiastically diving into sewing as an adult, I dipped my toes in a few times during my younger days. The last teenage attempt was foiled by a zipper.

The summer I was 16, my family returned to Minnesota after spending a number of years in Nebraska. Since we were returning to our home state, I wasn't nearly as angstful about moving, but, since we were living in a part of the state that was new to us, I did have a bit of time on my hands. So, I decided that I would refresh my sewing skills by sewing a dress. 

I picked out the pattern and the fabric, then set to work. All was going smoothly until I got to the zipper. The fog of time has left me fuzzy on some of the details, but I do know that after multiple attempts, the consultation of a number of books, and the use of at least 2 techniques, the zipper still wasn't lining up either aesthetically or functionally. The length of fabric on both sides of the opening was equal when measured but not when sewn, or at least so it seemed. 

In the end, I gave up on the dress, and zippers took on the status of something mythical and scary - one of the seven labors of sewing. 

So, it wasn't until two years ago, (mumble) years after that disaster of a project that I decided to give it another attempt. My daughter was going to be turning 3, and I was continuing the birthday dress tradition. Through careful project curation I had managed to avoid zippers up to that point, but I had to face it. I had to tackle it. 

After a lot of nervousness, I managed to overcome my apprehension and actually put in a passable zipper. To be fair to my 16-year-old self, I made sure I was as prepared as I could be for this attempt, but, overall, it was easier this time. It could be because I was more versed in reading sewing pattern instructions, or it could be that my skills were much better at the point of attempting the zipper. And, I've managed to put in a number of zippers since that point. 

I did learn a few other lessons in that successful second attempt. Which is good - I like it when there's more to take away from something new aside from "I did it!"

I learned that if you want to be successful, make sure that you have as much of the proper equipment as possible. On the disastrous attempt, I'm pretty sure I was using the standard presser foot. Before attempting my daughter's birthday dress, I made sure to obtain a zipper foot for my machine.

I learned that practicing on something that doesn't matter can help prepare you for the thing that matters. Before I started in on the zipper in the birthday dress, I practiced sewing zippers by making a zippered bag or two.

Last of all, and more importantly, I learned that sometimes things are just easier as an adult. I'm not sure if it's a result of a more mature brain, or if it's something else, but this attempt seemed mentally easier. 

If you've got to grow old, at least you get some things for doing so!


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