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Have you ever impressed yourself?

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I’ve noticed that many women, myself included, struggle with the concept of pride.

We are, by and large, uncomfortable with holding up our accomplishments. This is true in personal situations, it’s certainly observable in work environments, and I even see it on sewing blogs as we downplay our achievements and point out all the flaws.

The reason usually given for this behavior is that women are consensus builders. Holding yourself up above anyone else, or even giving a hint of the appearance of doing this, is dangerous to group dynamics. It makes it much more difficult to keep harmony if you aren’t trying to fit in.

But I’ve noticed that it goes beyond this socialized instinct. We constantly see women being punished for flaunting their achievements without self-effacement. Even more sad, it’s often other women who do the tearing down.

The reasons for this are complex, but the results impact us all.

In her new book Playing Big, Tara Mohr (who kindly sent me a copy) points out that both research and anecdotal evidence show that it is very difficult for a woman to be perceived as both competent and likable. As a result, we frequently modulate our appearance to appear less competent in order to be liked more.

This is one reason I love the concept behind Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory. It says to me that women can be the agents of change simply by the way we treat each other: as friends instead of competitors.

So today, I thought I’d take a moment for all of us to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

My question is this: Have you ever made something that really caused you to be impressed with yourself?

I mean, not just something you were a little proud of. I’m talking about something that made you feel more capable, confident, or creative. Something that made you feel better about yourself, not just happy with what you made?

For me, it will always be my wedding dress. Not because it required such great technical skill, but because I put my heart into every aspect of it. I chose the beautiful gold 4-ply Italian silk charmeuse, I found the perfect organza trim with tiny seed pearls, I figured out how to apply it to create a carefully scalloped hem. I took my time.

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Everything about it felt like me, and that made me happy. There were no compromises and a lot of creativity.

I don’t know if it’s the dress I would make today (though it might be), but I know how I felt in it.

What have you created that made you proud of yourself?

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41

Transitions

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I don’t have the usual bundle of links for you today, because we’ve been moving into our new studio all week, giving me zero time to read.

Instead, I thought I’d share some photos of the new digs. I thought about waiting until everything was set up and looking good, but it’s a lot more interesting to see things in progress, don’t you think?

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This move has had me thinking a bit about transitional periods. As fall begins and I start oscillating between sandals and sweaters every day, I realize that there is a certain amount of discomfort that comes in every transition.

You don’t know what to expect next. It feels exciting and new, but it also makes you keenly aware of time passing and the impossibility of ever going backwards.

But mostly, it helps you step out of your head and remember all the possibilities there are in life. And that you have to be ok with uncertainty if you ever want to move forward.

The shots above are mostly before we moved in (obviously!). And below are a few shots from this week, as we get settled in. It’s huge, but we’ll soon be filling the remaining space with inventory and a photo area. I have to say, it feels much more professional and full of possibilities.

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Many thanks to the rest of the team (Kenn, Kristen, and Meg) for all their hard work in getting us up and running. They’re the best!

5

Free class: Machine Basics with Amy Alan on Craftsy

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I often meet people who say “I want to learn to sew, but I can’t even thread my sewing machine!”

My answer is always the same: “But that’s the hardest part! It’s all downhill from there.”

What I mean by that isn’t that threading a sewing machine is soooo incredibly difficult. We all know it’s not. What I mean is that, when you’re just starting out, the sewing machine is still a bit of a mystery to you.

Once you’ve unlocked that mystery, when you understand how all the parts work together to form a stitch, suddenly everything else becomes a lot easier to understand. You can understand things on a conceptual level, and so the rest is just building skills on top of one another. The machine knowledge is the foundation.

If you’re in that initial stage of coming to terms with your sewing machine, I highly recommend this free class by local-to-me teacher Amy Alan. It’s called Sew Ready: Machine Basics.

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In the series, Amy walks you through all the basics of your sewing machine. Here’s what’s included:

  • Threading your machine
  • Winding the bobbin (this was the worst for me at first!)
  • How to use common presser feet that you might have
  • Common stitches
  • Replacing your needles
  • Solving common problems, such as tension issues and broken thread
  • Caring for and maintaining your machine

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If you’re a more experienced sewist, you may have had others ask you about learning to sew. I think Amy’s class would be a great place for the total novice to start, and the fact that it’s totally free is also helpful for beginners who aren’t sure how much money to invest at first.

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Plus, everything is covered in just 4 video lessons, with a total runtime of under an hour. It’s a really fast and easy way to get to know your machine, no matter what type you have.

Enroll for free in Machine Basics with Amy Alan >

{This free class is brought to you by Craftsy, one of our partners this month. Thanks Craftsy!}

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Sign up for your free copy of The Colette Guide to Sewing Hems!

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Well folks, Sept-HEM-ber has officially drawn to a close.

I’d like to thanks Devon for her wonderful contributions all month long. Aren’t her tutorials great? We hope to have her back again very soon.

I thought I’d share a few pages of The Colette Guide to Sewing Hems, the book I put together from all our great tutorials this past month, plus many other tips and tricks from Snippets, past blog posts, and more.

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I’ve been working on this book all month long, and it’s turned out to be over 100 pages of clear, in-depth instructions on all things hem-related.

The book is divided into four main sections, covering all aspects of the process: preparing, finishing the raw edge, hem stitches, and special techniques like hemming knits and sewing mitered corners. I’ve even included a handy dandy chart to help you pick out the right hem for your garment.

To get the book, click the button below and enter your email. I’ll be mailing out the books to download this evening.

And if you read this after I’ve sent them, never fear! Just enter your email and I’ll send you a copy.

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31

How to sew mitered corners

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When hemming two edges that meet, the multiple folds along each edge pile up on top of each other and create an excess of fabric at the corner. Mitered corners reduce the bulk, allow the edges to meet evenly, and look oh-so-satisfyingly neat and tidy.

Here are two different methods for making mitered corners.

Topstitched

On all edges, press half your hem allowance to the wrong side.

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Press the same amount again. At the corners, make sure you fold and press evenly. It will be bulky.

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Unfold everything.

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Find the middle square formed by the folds. Mark a line through its corners all the way across as shown.

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Trim along line.

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Fold angled edge in so that the creases line up with each other. The creases you should be aligning are marked in blue. Press lightly, taking care not to press out your other folds.

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Refold along first fold and press.

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Refold along second line and press.

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Pin corner and sew around inner fold, pivoting in mitered corner directly between folds.

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Sewn and Topstitched

This form of mitered corner is stronger and will stand up to more wear and tear.

First, divide your hem allowance in two parts. You can divide it evenly, or, for a wider finished hem, divide it into a smaller and bigger portion. (For example, if my hem allowance is 1″, I can either divide it into 1/2″ and 1/2″, or 1/4″ and 3/4″.)

Press half your hem allowance towards the wrong side along both edges. If you divided your hem unevenly, press the smaller portion.

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Press half your hem allowance towards the wrong side again. If you divided your hem unevenly, this time press the larger portion.

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Unfold the second fold only. Fold the corner in towards the wrong side as shown so that the creases line up with those from the second fold. The creases we are aligning are traced in blue.

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Press to crease and unfold.

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Now fold the corner right sides together, aligning the outer edges. You should be folding so that the most recent crease – the one diagonally across the corner – is lined up with itself through the layers. This crease is marked in blue. Pin.

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Stitch along crease, backstitching at beginning and end. Cut off excess and clip top corner.

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Turn corner right side out and use point turner or chopstick to push it out.

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Press, then topstitch around free inner fold, pivoting at the corner.

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