Monday, May 16, 2016

Win Some, Lose Some

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about a failed project I had just finished knitting. The comments it generated were very interesting. They ranged from those of you who agreed with me and thought the sweater was not one of my better knits, to those who thought it looked great and encouraged me to keep and wear it. There were also several people who thought that while the sweater was fine, if I didn't like it I should go ahead and take it to the thrift store so someone else could buy it and enjoy wearing it.

I most likely will be taking it to the thrift store, as I just can't see myself bothering to wear it when I have so many other sweaters. I already have a few sweaters that are worn and pilled enough to qualify as part of my dog walking wardrobe. The difference between them and this latest one is I actually like the others, even though they are rather worn and tattered. They are the ones I'm going to grab when I go for a hike, sit by the campfire, or take Fergus for a walk.

There is a deeper issue I wanted to talk about after that post, and it is about risk taking. I'm not the kind of person that wants to take any kind of risk with money, my health, or any other Very Important life scenario. But when it comes to things that don't fall into those categories I am just the opposite. Knitting is one of those things. I don't mind having the occasional failure (although I was a little sore about having special ordered that zipper and spending all those hours sewing the blasted thing in). I think failure is part of the learning process. If I hadn't ever been willing to risk trying a new technique I would still be knitting dish cloths and nothing else.

I feel much the same about sewing. I started out as a complete rookie, and would now probably classify myself as an advanced rookie. I make tons of mistakes, and probably log more time with my seam ripper than I do my sewing machine. Which is why, when I ran across the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern back in early April, I should have simply bookmarked them for some point in the distant future when my seam ripper and I aren't so well acquainted. But hey, I'm a risk taker, and before I knew it I had ordered some lovely denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts, who also happened to be hosting a sewalong for the jeans.

I went into sewing the Ginger Jeans knowing there was almost no chance they would turn out. And I was okay with that. I figured I would learn from the experience, and even if I didn't have a pair of jeans at the end I would have picked up some valuable sewing skills. Maybe even enough new skills that a second attempt would turn out. But then the most surprising thing happened. They did turn out. There's a part of me that still can't believe it.


My shirt is the Wiksten Tank 


They were definitely a challenge.




They also took me a long time to make. A month from start to finish. But I was okay with that. Knitting has taught me to be patient and not expect instant results.




I never could have succeeded without the Internet. It was very helpful to look at blogs and tutorials from those who had already made these jeans.




One of the fun things was being able to personalize them. Instead of plain fabric to line the pockets and waistband I chose a bright floral design.




They aren't perfect. Far from it as a matter of fact. My topstitching around the waistband wasn't the greatest. And when I put in the rivets at the side I hammered so hard I rubbed the copper colour off the middle of the rivet. But in spite of their small imperfections they are the best fitting jeans I have ever owned. I know there will be many more sewing fails in my future, and that my next pair of jeans might not turn out as well as these did. And I'm okay with that. For me it is not just about the finished product. The journey to get there is every bit as important as the end result.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Are you a product or a process crafter? Do you like to take risks and try new techniques, or does that take the enjoyment out of the process for you?


40 comments:

  1. What a great feeling it is when the effort pays off, isn't it? Your jeans look really good. I've had my share of failures (like not realizing that German sewing patterns don't - or at any rate, didn't- have seam allowances built in) but when I've had an undeserved success (knitting a complicated sweater in Rowan denim - which shrinks 20 percent in length - and making a guess at adjustments for my shortwaistedness) it is so gratifying!

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    1. Well done for successfully knitting with the Rowan Denim. I love the look of it, but have always been too afraid to try it.

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  2. They look amazing! So glad they worked out for you!

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    1. Thanks! Now I have to get brave enough to wear them. :-)

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  3. Hi there! This is Susan (madtownmama on Rav, madtown_mama on IG...)
    I love the process of making, but I am definitely product-oriented. I won't make something unless I want the finished piece at the end. This means that it's sometimes hard for me to take risks and try sewing something that might fail, knowing that my time and materials have been wasted. Even though I might learn something, I hate the possibility of having to throw away or give away something I've worked hard on.
    That said, I have my moments of bravery. I've got patterns and fabric for jeans and I'm still working up to trying them. What has helped me more than anything with sewing is to realize that even though it's faster than knitting, it's still worth taking the time to do it right.
    anyway, congrats on the jeans. You should feel really proud! And I don't see anything amiss in that topstitching :)

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    1. I usually want the finished piece at the end of knitting or sewing too Susan, but I have had enough fails that I'm now resigned to the fact that not everything I attempt is going to end up being wearable. I used to feel more like you, but now that all five of my kids are grown and living on their own I have more time, so that feeling of having wasted it on a failed project has lessened considerably. When I used to have just a small window of time to pursue crafts I definitely wanted every minute to count.

      I think the trick with the jeans was to just do one tiny step at a time. I never sat down at my machine and sewed on them for several hours at a time. That way I wouldn't be working on them when I was starting to get sewing fatigue. It also gave me lots of time to check blogs, tutorials, etc. as I moved on to each new part. I'm looking forward to seeing your jeans once you get started!

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  4. OMG you are so BRAVE to attempt making jeans!
    Wow I am seriously impressed and they look amazing.
    Well done.

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    1. Thanks Hostess! I'm not so much brave as hopelessly optimistic. :-)

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  5. I think I am a process crafter. I love it and don't really mind when I have to rip back and start again. The finished product is just the icing on the cake. I used to do a lot of sewing and even made trousers that were very wearable. So I know what is involved. A good pattern is essential and you were lucky to be able to go online and check comments from others. You have put a lot of detail into your jeans. I can easily see why they took a month.

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    1. I just read your latest blog post a few minutes ago, Una, about trying a couple new things with your latest crocheted blanket. When I was reading it I thought about how it fit with this post. The jeans pattern was excellent, and I don't think I could have succeeded without such well-written instructions.

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  6. No longer a rookie, Kristie, you are a fully fledged sewist now! Your jeans are amazing! I try new ideas and projects after a lifetime of sewing, but I have never even considered trying to make jeans. I would love to know how you did it! Do you have a heavy-duty or industrial machine? Mine would baulk right away at the thickness of the top-stitched denim. I am in awe of your skills! x

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    1. I've seen the things you sew Patricia, and you are amazing. You could easily make these jeans! I have a basic Janome machine. I used a walking foot (that was a first for me, and it was the key to my success), and I didn't have any trouble with the topstitching except for at the very end when I was trying to make a practice buttonhole. That wasn't really due to topstitching as much as the fact my machine didn't like the topstitching thread being used in that way. Several other bloggers had mentioned they had trouble with it as well, and had just used the same blue thread they had in the bobbin instead. You can see the buttonhole is different in the final picture, but it doesn't really matter as it doesn't show when I'm wearing them. I highly recommend the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern. She's also just come out with a new pattern for Boyfriend Jeans, which uses regular denim instead of the the stretch denim. I think you would have great fun making a pair!

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  7. I am not sure if I want to call you brave or mad! Making jeans is definitely in the super advanced sewing category. Yours look great. I fail often with my sewing projects. At the moment, I am tackling knit t-shirts but there are some fitting issues. I am learning how to fit patterns to my own body just now because my body is just not conforming to standard sewing patterns. I must have learned about 5 ways to make a full bust adjustment. I am not sure if I could cope with a full bum adjustment for jeans... have a lovely week. Thanks for your kind email, I will reply to this later today, when I am not at work. x

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    1. Ha! This is coming from the person who made a duffle coat! I was in awe of that achievement, Christina. And I have read comments from bloggers who have made both coats and jeans and they have all said the coats were way more difficult than the jeans. If you Google Ginger Jeans you will see that people with all types of body shapes have made them.

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  8. Wow! I can't sew at all - beyond my physical capacities - so I am in awe of people who can. My paternal grandfather was a tailor and, while I can't actually sew, I know how hard it is to get a good fit. Yours are amazing!

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    1. Thanks Cat! I think I got lucky with the fit. Other than shortening the length I didn't have to make any adjustments on the size I picked. Interesting that your grandfather was a tailor. He probably could have whipped out a pair of these jeans in an easy morning's work!

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  9. Your jeans are amazing, the cut, the fit, why would you be worried about wearing them? I would wear them with a huge sign on them saying "I made these aren't they great". Well done you.

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    1. Thanks Sue! I am always self-conscious about wearing clothes I have sewn. It's funny, but I've never felt that way about the things I've knit. I guess that could be the topic of another blog post. :-)

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  10. Jeans! My goodness, A project worthy of a sewing challenge for sure! Your jeans look great and you should wear them with pride!

    I am a product knitter...I want the sweater. But, the more sweaters I have, the more I think that sometimes it's the process of Knittng that I want.......the resulting sweater is just a benefit of the process.

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    1. Thanks Anne! I'm always so impressed with the sweaters and blankets you knit. I'm a mix of product and process knitter too, but for some reason as I get older I am leaning more towards the process end of things. Mind you, I doubt I'll ever lean so far in that direction that I'm willing to try intarsia. :-)

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  11. I fail often particularly with sewing, but figure that if I don't try I am not going to get any better. My goodness I am so impressed with the jeans they are amazing, I don't think I would have the courage at the end of the day I am only capable of simple makes I know my limitations.

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    1. I agree about needing to try if we want to improve our sewing skills. Even if you have only made simple things I think you could make these jeans. I had only done the most basic sewing projects before I attempted these. You might end up being surprised, just like I was! :-)

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  12. I am impressed, I sew, but would never consider sewing jeans. it wouldn't take a month, it would take a year.

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    1. Ha! I have sewing projects that have taken me a year. The motivation to get these done in less time was the fact this project took up all of our dining room table, and sooner or later I was going to need it to feed people on. :-)

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  13. I'm all about the process. Once I master that technique, then I quickly reach for the next adventure. Fortunately, most of what I make - 70%? turns out well enough to gift or sell so I can afford my next adventure.
    However, since my sewing time is limited, I would not attempt the jeans at all. Kudos!

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    1. You are fortunate that so much of what you make turns out well, Kathy, especially since you are always trying new techniques. I probably have a 70% success rate on my "tried and true" knitting technique pieces, but nowhere near that when I'm doing something new.

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  14. They look fantastic!!! I mean this in the best way, if you didn't know you had made them you would think you had bought them! Enjoy wearing them and perhaps making some more! As for process or product, it depends! Right now I am spending a lot of time on processes so it is good to have some "quick wins" that are all about the product too!

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    1. Thank you so much Amy! I am hoping to make at least two more pairs, but that's a long term goal, not a short term one. :-)

      I like your idea of adding some quick wins into your process crocheting.

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  15. Well done you! They look fantastic! I think the topstitching looks great. Are you going to make another pair? Jeans-making seems addictive. p.s. Congratulations on your grandson. I like that there's another Diana in the world with an Oliver. :)

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    1. Thanks Diana! You are so right - they are very addictive. I've already ordered denim to make another pair. And yes, there are now two sets of Diana moms and Oliver sons. :-)

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  16. I looked at the first couple photos before I started reading and I thought it was going to be about the top you were wearing. Boy, was I surprised--and impressed--to learn you made JEANS! You are a risk-taker, indeed. And it certainly paid off. In general, I've never been a risk taker, but have made baby steps in that area with my drawing and watercoloring--and that's the added risk of sharing them with others! I will keep your jeans in mind if I find myself falling back into playing it safe.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy! It's funny how we view others. I think you have been a huge risk taker with your drawing and watercolouring, especially since you put it out there on your blog for everyone to see. And I'm always so impressed withy our work!

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  17. Way to go!
    I think I wrote that making mistakes is actually good because you appreciate the success so much more. If we never failed and there would be sunshine and birdsong every single day, what good would that do? Now you actually felt that longing in your heart and that urge that tells us we can do better. And we want to and we need to. And you did!! They are absolutely fabulous, I would buy them instantly!!! The boldest thing I ever did was to take my drivers license...at the age of 37!!! I thought I'd never succeed, but finally I did. You made a pair of wonderful jeans from scratch, good work!!!! Still I'm quite confident that you have managed even greater things, like being a mother....Please tell us when you are about to start your internetjeansshop!!!!

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    1. Well done you for getting your driver's license at age 37! Learning to drive as an adult is way more difficult than when you are younger. It certainly took way more courage than me working on a sewing project! I have to say there won't be an internet jean shop. I'm afraid there wouldn't be any customers who would want to wait months to get a pair of jeans. :-)

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    2. Well thank you!!! I was kind of proud...you see, i'm a minister and the days are gone when the farmers took turns to drive the vicar around....so there were applause and relieved sighs when I swirled in to the parking lot...
      But not to diminish your achievment; If I had turned up in a pair of beautiful homemade jeans, my entire parish would faint...

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  18. I am all about the process and frankly rarely look at something I have made again. I forget all about all the things I have made and focus on what I currently have on the needles. I think your jeans are fantastic, I love them on you and you did a terrific job.
    Well done, by the way I like that tank too.
    MEredith

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  19. Wow. You made Jeans. What a concept. And they look just like the jeans you buy ready-made. I AM impressed!! The best part of making your own stuff is getting the fit you like instead of having to take the fit you get. Congratulations. I hope you never have to buy another pair. Keep up the good work.

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  20. Wow, those jeans look amazing! Rivets and top-stitching and zipper and everything. You're so right about being willing to take risks in our crafts. At worst, we lost some time and fabric or yarn. At best, we learn a new technique or craft that we love, stretch the brain, and maybe wind up with a great-looking pair of jeans.
    I'm a process crafter for sure. I get antsy if I don't have something on the go, but am not attached to the finished products. I'm very happy to give them away.

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  21. Have you seen some of the lopsided seams on a pair of Levi's?
    Your jeans are amazing and I am so impressed.
    My sewing machine is dusted more than the pedal is pressed.
    I am a trier but alas not one that preservers so I get a lot of things just waiting to be finished.

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  22. First of all, I echo all the commenters and say (with my own style) -- holy crap, you made jeans!! Interestingly I didn't even realize people made jeans (I do read quite a few sewing blogs and this is the first time I've seen someone sew jeans). They look amazing! Go you!

    As for myself, I used to think I was more product oriented but I'm learning I'm more about the process (given how many almost finished things I have sitting around, that should be a given!). That said, with some mediums I have this crazy fear of failure so often I don't even try. And I think it depends on whether a failure means totally ruined or not. Knitting - one can always unravel and start again and I rarely have any fear of trying anything. Sewing though -- once you cut, you can't go back (at least for that particular project). And in a way, the same holds for my drawings etc -- so much time can go into one piece and one little slip of a pencil can 'ruin' it. These 'failures' are part of the process and the way one learns, but sometimes the fear of them keeps me from starting. This post was incredibly inspiring Kristie -- thank you for that.

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