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#SewTalk: How long it takes to learn to sew?

Hi Everyone!

Good to be back to #SewTalk Mondays – I love sewing, but I love talking about it as well, so these little chats are always very refreshing! If you have any question about sewing – please let me know if the comments below, I will be glad to answer them on my next #SewTalk! Let’s move to today’s interesting topic:

How long it takes to learn to sew?

Very good question, though I do not have a definite answer to it: some people are naturally talented at it and catch up with how things work quite fast; others – like me – may not be that gifted in this field, but compensates through hard work and putting extra hours to it. Because of that, I am able to answer this question only based on my own journey, meaning it may or may not apply to others.

There is a great book by Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers: The Story of Success” which analyses why some people are successful and others are not – one of the main points in it is that you have to put at least 10.000 hours into something you want to excel at. Of course, these are number of hours you need to put in if you want to become a professional at a certain field, but the idea applies everywhere: if you want to become good at something, you need to put time to it.

The first garment that I made and dared to wear in public was a blouse and I worked on it each evening for one week (roughly, it was about 10-12 hours of work); before this blouse I tried (but miserably failed at) making two garments (approx. 8 hours in total) – all this combined, it took me about 20 hours of sewingjust to learn to make a somewhat decent looking garment.

The first well-fitting garment that I made was a white linen unlined jacket and it was a first garment that I wore more than once. However, to gather enough skills to make it, I had to first make about 3-4 not-so-well-fitting clothing pieces, worth about 30 additional hours of sewing. To sum up, it took about 50 hours of sewing to make my first nicely fitting clothing piece, which was the beginning of my me-made wardrobe.

The math of hours gets lost later on, as I got distracted from sewing as the years went by and I was making around 4-6 garments a year (yup, I had such stages in life where sewing machine was the last thing on my mind). Those were not the times my sewing skills grew much, but at least I was learning a little bit of something new with every clothing piece that I made, no matter how rare it happened.

Fast forward to last year, when I felt I was not happy where my skills are and decided to enroll to sewing school, which means clocking at least 2.5 hours of sewing every day after work. I made a commitment to learn as much as I can throughout these 2 years of school and I try to squeeze in as much sewing to my schedule as I can, meaning I try to find at least 10 hours for it on weekend as well. These hours combine to approx. 22 hours a week, or 1215 hours of sewing a year. Now this input gave significant boost: my sewing skills got better; I sew much quicker (it took me about 5 hours to complete a well-fitted lined jacket you recently saw on my Instagram – unimaginable speed to earlier days, where I would have spent more than a week on a clothing like that) and I even feel comfortable and skilled enough to sew for others, which was a big no-no for me before.

Of course, I only feel comfortable in putting so many hours to sewing because I truly love it; to others such hours might sound out of touch (and it’s okay – to many it’s a fun hobby that does not need to be taken to the extremes), but I hope my point is clear: everyone can learn to sew and it depends how much time and work you put in it. Even dressmakers at Dior haute couture atelier where once novices, think about that!

Wish you all a productive work week.

Yours truly, Julie


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