Why does the sewjo go?

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Looking back there wasn’t just one reason why my sewjo had upped and left, but several.

Work had got busier.

I had got more involved with my cycling club; which I loved.

I was really enjoying my portable crochet.

But the biggest reason was that the time and money I was investing in my sewing wasn’t resulting in a wardrobe which matched my efforts and investment.

As I became a little more knowledgeable I had begun to see the glaring fitting issues in my garments and they bothered me.

I had begun to realise how much I didn’t know.

I really enjoyed the planning and the buying of fabric but was getting despondent around the actual sewing part – the supposedly fun bit!

My stash was huge, my confidence, low.

Gaping neckline

(clicking on the image titles will take you to the original post)

Burda 7113 70's vintage shift dress
Stretched out neck
Too big, couldn’t bend over for fear of giving everyone an eye-full

Many of my carefully chosen images of myself wearing a great looking garment hid things that were actually wrong with it.

True Bias Sutton Blouse1
Inappropriate fabric

At the time I thought it was just me, and that every other blogger was producing perfect looking and fitting clothes. I was hiding a gaping front neck line, a gaping back neckline, sleeves that fell off shoulders, skirts that wouldn’t stay up and then banishing them all to the stash pile.

Dress 15 Burda 7557
Stretched out neck, shoulder straps too loose

When I actually realised that dressmaking wasn’t just about cutting out pieces of a pattern, sewing them together and viola – a perfect fitting garment, I felt utterly daunted about the amount I had to learn.

Last garment I made was in March 2016 , almost 3 years ago!!

Myrtle 3
Material too thick, dress not my usual silhouette. Didn’t get worn.

I had become conscious of my own incompetence.

It sounds awfully sad but, with hindsight and now, with some knowledge, looking back I had reached the second stage of competency.

Did you know about the 4 stages of competency?

Stage 1: Unconsciously Incompetent
At this level, you are blissfully ignorant: you have a complete lack of knowledge and skills in a specific area, and you’re unaware of this. Your confidence therefore far exceeds your abilities.

It is an exciting time. All you see is the possibilities ahead of you. The fact that you are simply wearing something you have made is enough. I remember this well

First top Burda 6914

Level 2 – Consciously Unskilled
By this stage, you’ve discovered that you need to learn new skills. You realize that others are much more competent than you are, and that they can easily do things that you are struggling with.

Ah, yes this was me 3 years ago. So much to learn. All I wanted to do was sew but there seemed so many fitting issues to know and techniques to pick up.

Apparently, ‘this level can be demoralizing, causing people to lose confidence or even give up on their learning efforts altogether. Therefore, it’s important to stay positive at this stage.’

Yep, that was me!

Gaping Back neck

Level 3 – Consciously Skilled
At this level, you know that you have acquired the skills and knowledge you need. You put your learning into practice regularly, and you gain even more confidence as you use your new skills.

I never got there.

Level 4 – Unconsciously Skilled
At this level, you use your new skills effortlessly, and you perform tasks without conscious effort. You are completely confident of success.

As if!!! Although it did seem that every other sewing blogger was at this stage. I appreciate now, that they probably weren’t.

So what changed?

Well I have enough crochet blankets to furnish several settees and beds and my downstairs loo now has an entire embroidery wall!

I needed something new. I had discovered all the amazing sewers on YouTube and I rediscovered an itch that needed scratching that led me to dust down my machine.

What has changed in the world of sewing? So much!!!!!

I think social media and the resources available has changed enormously in the last 3 years. Soooo many tutorials and resources for help. And so many groups to reach out to.

I think the amount of Indie designers producing modern but simple patterns with detailed clear instructions and in many cases online courses and sewalongs has completely changed the accessibility of sewing.

Fabric too has come along way. The jersey and viscose sections in fabric shops has quadrupled in size!

Looking back over my blog I made some really great stuff!

Burda 6914

Stuff I still wear now, completely forgetting that it is not RTW.

True Bias Sutton

I’m so excited about my sewing future. I just need to be patient, slow down, research, and not recreate my errors.

So did you recognise yourself at any of the competency levels?

Hopefully another year might see me part way to stage 3!

Love, Lucie xx


  1. Good for you for seeing that there is a way forward. Have fun, and you can probably find many ways to fix the necklines and details that you are not happy with in earlier works, as well as great new insights for going forward. I haven’t sewn in years, due to a million reasons: being busy, not busy, ill, well, moving, this, that, many excuses, but perhaps I will do it again sometime soon. Best wishes with your sewing–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by. I know what you mean by other things taking priority. Isn’t there always something else to be doing? Or something preventing us from doing? I suppose we are lucky we have something to take up again should the urge take us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucie, I think I bounce between 2 and 3. One of the best things for me was finding \crafts _ now Bluprint and following the fitting classes on their has really helped me. I am not one for too many clothes sewing but my size seems to fluctuate and that puts me off. Like you I get out cycling a lot and am looking forward to our Easter cycle camp

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so looking forward to the spring! Ive been out with my club tonight. Just 20 miles to keep the legs turning!
      I’m been watching sooo many videos on YouTube regarding trouser fitting. I’ve made a pair I’m ‘almost’ happy with.


  3. Sooo nice to see you back, Lucie! And thank you for laying out these four stages. They certainly are true for me, as I continue to bounce between 2 and 3. Some things have become easier, but some things – like getting the right fabric for the right pattern – I suspect will continue to challenge occasionally. 😉 Fabrics are continually being changed and making a bad choice has become less frequent, but still occurs. 🥴 If it is a good piece of fabric I try to remake it into something else. And continue onward. Oh, and I wear the ‘mistakes’ unless they’re really bad. People who don’t sew don’t see what we see, and if they do sew they are generous, kind folk more apt to reflect on similar things in their own closet… or naughty corner. Do continue your journey, Lucie, and let us know how you’re doing. 😘 Don’t hesitate to ask if you don’t have a solution. (Sorry for the length.) del xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right in us being over critical about our makes and about others not seeing what you can see. But also don’t you find you get more critical of RTW too? I have trouble with buying RTW trousers. I’ve learnt recently that I have a flat bum. I never knew! Onwards and upwards!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yes, RTW definitely gets looked at very differently now I’ve gotten more experience! You know you can modify for your lovely bum (to which I would gladly donate bits from mine 🥴 Lol!). I think I might know a blogger with just the fitting solution for you, if you haven’t already got one. Just let me know!


          1. Lucie, my apologies for not getting back to you more promptly. I cannot locate my source, after checking several possible locations. So another apology. Am grateful you have another source. If – or when 🥴 – I locate mine I’ll send it. Meanwhile, I reeeally enjoy your post!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I really understand all of the feelings you have described, even though I have been making my own clothes for many years. I came back after a hiatus to the world of the online sewing community and the wealth of resources available. My older body shape caused massive problems with sizing which resulted in loads of unwearable stuffstill make mistakes with fitting and fabric but I am more patient with my

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry….
    I am more patient with my preparation now and I have been much more successful.
    Keep going and treat each project as a learning journey. Your makes look great, use what you identify as improvements with them and feed into the next item.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I am definitely more patient this time around. I have found that partitioning everything into different preparation activities has definitely helped. And I’ve learnt to stop when I’m tired and not just plough on to get something finished!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I might have finally made it to the third stage – although I can dip down into second occasionally. I have come to the conclusion that dressmaking is easy – it’s getting the fit right that’s hard.
    Come join me in the Flat Bum Society. Typical that it is now deemed good to have a big, round one.
    Reading dressmaking blogs can knock your confidence if you really believe nobody else apart from you makes mistakes. Of course they do! You were a bit naughty to hide yours from us – we would have understood and cheered you on to do better next time. I am probably the other way and point out mistakes I’ve made with gay abandon just in case somebody else notices them first and, horror of horrors , feels secretly sorry for me in my ignorance. I’m getting very fussy both with things I make and R T W which is a good thing as I have a wardrobe beyond reasonable life expectancy already.
    Looking forward to seeing what happens now you have your sewjo back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comments always bring a smile to my face! And yes, spent all my life working on getting my bum smaller only for current fashions to deem the larger bum a goal!
      I did have you down as at the 3rd stage, glad to hear you agree!
      I sewed with a lot of woven before, I’m wondering if I stick to jersey, I’ll never have to worry about fitting again. But what would be the challenge in that?


      1. You say that but not all jersey is made the same. I have made the Skater Dress (by Kitschycoo) in a size 3, size 4 and size 5 depending on the amount of stretch in the fabric. Just last week, I tried one of my size 4s on my daughter for fit and decided she needed a size 5. It’s now mine – the bodice was too tight on her 🙄 I made her a Renfrew top with the leftovers.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t think anyone ever gets to 4. And there is no problem with that. I sew a lot, I love it, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I give what doesn’t work, if I can’t fix it, to charity in case it fits someone else and I move on. Hopefully I have learned something making it. I love seeing and learning what others have done all the time. 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Linda. I’m currently in a love state with sewing, but who knows when that will end – probably with my first return to woven fabrics!!
      I think that part of my trouble is that I only have a few precious chunks of time to sew each week and I get really frustrated if my investment of those precious few hours does not result in something amazing!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. As a teacher I love this post. I am always moving people from one stage to another and it is harder for some to grow than others and the time differences are varied from one person to the next. I love to learn (i don’t really care what it is!) I really like to learn and experience anything new and I think this has helped me to succeed in sewing. I have made some humdingers a swimsuit with a flat chest springs to mind! Gaping necks – stay stitch the cut piece as soon as it is cut and baggy jersey necks are when the neck band is too big for the hole (it should be 10% shorter than the hole) and it becomes even baggier teamed with neckline that has not been stay stitched if the fabric requires it. Roll on stage 3 for you my friend! Jo xx

    Your typo had me laughing – voila!/viola

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, just found that typo!!! I’m going to leave it there, just to make people laugh. I wonder how many will notice?
      I have since learnt about stay stitching. Lack of stay stitching has definitely been the cause of all my stretched out neck lines. I always wondered why my facings wouldn’t fit!!!! I think that I started off using a lot of burda patterns. They never tell you the things that you should know, if you had been doing it a while.
      I had thought that I should have been making up a smaller size and doing a FBA or making up the right size and doing a narrow back adjustment. But no, stay stitching would have sorted most of these issues!!


  9. I didn’t know there were four official stages to sewing confidence! I hesitate to claim to be at stage 4, because that sounds big-headed and I’m really not. However, I look back at my last Ascot gown which I started the day before, and all the couture gowns I’ve made in the past with the merest glance at the instructions, and that would seem to be where I’m at. Still learning all the time though, confident or not, and fitting issues arise regularly what with the dreaded middle age spread! My advice is to keep sewing, keep enjoying it and deal with any issues at the time, using YouTube as your teacher. If something is wrong, sort it out straight away or you’ll always focus on the ‘bad’ bits and never wear it – a waste of time and money. Chin up!


    1. The 4 stages of competence is applicable to everything, not particularly sewing. Someone explained them to me when I was going through a tough time at work, in a new role. I was stuck in stage 2 and was quite despondent. When I look back over any time I have learnt a new skill or been put into a new role I can see me going through these 4 stages. It’s just daft that you can’t see it at the time!
      Your are definitely at Stage 4!!!!!!
      And I know what you mean about changing body shape. Although I’m a slave to my bike and the gym, I have completely lost my waist. I used to be ‘curvy’, I’m now ‘boyish’!!!


  10. I can completely relate – I`m in the exact same position, not with my sewing but with my piano playing. I’m going from crisis of confidence to crisis of confidence, thinking about giving it up, not having any talent whatsoever. So your post served as a timely reminder that things take time and I just need to power through the valleys to get at least towards an ascent to the top. Thanks for reminding me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad my post has been of use. It can be applied to most learning experiences I think. But I also think you can move between stages and back again on a weekly basis!! Good luck with the piano. I had lessons as a child. I got to grade 5 but only through determination, not through talent. I would love to tinker again, now though.


  11. I love this! Thanks for introducing this concept, it really clarifies the learning curve. I am definitely in level 2 and this explains why I’ve been treading water a bit. I hope this mindset helps me move forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it really helps to acknowledge why we might be feeling we are struggling. I wish I had known at the time but that’s hindsight for you. Maybe we can move forward together!!


  12. So nice to see you back lucie . This article hits the nail on the head for me . I am now trying to see using online classes . Your crochet is beautiful I purchased a baby blanket you made a few years ago from wool couture , it’s georgeous. Good luck with the renewed sewing mojo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve purchased the Sew Over It trouser and shirt online classes. I’ve just finished the trouser one, and it was great just to give me the confidence I needed to do have a go although I thought the course could have been filmed a lot better, but more on that in another post! Funny about you buying my crochet blanket. How lovely to know it has gone to someone who appreciates it. That’s really nice to know. Thank you


  13. Oh, such a timely post (for me)! I’ve been wading about in the stage 2 pool for a while now, itching to bump it up a notch, but to afraid to do so. But with several sewing challenges and projects in mind….I’m forging ahead. And your sewing has always seemed so good, no one would guess you were unsure of your talents. So just keep on, I look forward to your new makes.


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