Friday, April 6, 2012

Wearing Your Creations: Delightful or Dreadful?


This week, I wore my Joan-inspired dress out into the real world for the first time. At work, a coworker complimented my outfit and I got to explain that I'd made it.

Once word got out (my supervisor grabbed passers by - "Um, she MADE this!!!"), my other nearby coworkers insisted I come out of my little cave cubicle, stand up, show them my dress, and turn around so they could see. I was excited to share but very, very sheepish at the same time!
Joan dress, released from captivity.

Am I the only sewer out there who acts this way?

It seems a bit odd, even to me, because I'm definitely proud of myself for making the dress (yay!), and always wish my friends were into sewing so I could gush more to them about these things. But, here, I clammed up and could barely make eye-contact with my peops when they asked me to show and tell.

Maybe it's just that I don't have much experience wearing my creations in daily life and fielding people's reactions? Also, I'm awkward! I get a bit anxious when I'm the center of attention, so that didn't help. ;-)

Part of what gets to me, though, is feeling like an exotic animal on display for people to gawk at -- "you sew??" In internet sewing land, I feel like I fit right in and I'm just like all y'all. Like, duh, I'm trying to make my clothes and am obsessed with projects, patterns, fabric, and notions and want to talk about them all the time, blah, blah, blah.

In real life, though, I feel kind of like an oddity. When my passion for sewing comes up, people seem kind of surprised and confused -- or just bored...which is fine! I'm comfortable handling that, for whatever reason. It's when people show interest or enthusiasm that I end up getting shy and freaked out.

Part of getting "freaked out," for me, includes worrying that, when explaining something sewing-related to a non-sewing friend, I'm instantly boring them to death while simultaneously not making any sense. Is that crazy?

I sort of go into what I like to call a "public-speaking blackout," which would happen whenever I gave a speech or presentation in school.
In these situations, I know I'm talking, (and most likely blushing) since I can hear the sound of my voice (which creeps me out a little bit!), I have lots of thoughts and details to share, but I end up with no idea what I've said when I'm done blabbing and usually have the distinct feeling that I've only confused everyone. I can't be sure, but it probably sounded something like, "Well, um, Mad Men... collar...ZIPPER ISSUES... um, um green fabric? Pattern."

Do any of you feel the least bit flustered or put on the spot when asked to share about your sewing to non-sewers, or am I just a big weirdo?

31 comments:

  1. It's a lovely dress and it's nice that others appreciated your hard work! I don't think this reaction makes you weird though. Then again, I'm biased - This post described me awfully well too. My friends and family are back home in VA so, it's not as awkward when they gush because it's online. But, I've stopped telling any local complimenters that I made the item, so I can avoid the situation you described! (and then, I still turn beet red!). If you figure out how to stop the blushing and blackouts, let me know! :-).

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer!(yay for VA!) I might end up going your route for local complimenters as well...
      Glad to know I'm not alone!

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  2. You just completely described in exact detail how I feel as well! Now at least I know I'm not alone. Good thing for the Internet where we can share with those that area truly interested. I absolutely love your Joan dress BTW!

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    1. Thanks, Kim! Glad to know I'm not alone. :)

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  3. I'm not as shy telling people I made my garments, but I am SO shy talking about my blog to non-sewers. Many of my co-workers and friends know about my blog so when they make comments about my photos or posts IRL I get so tense and embarrassed. My boyfriend recently promoted my blog address on his Facebook (not by my suggestion!) and so all day I was incredibly anxious thinking about all my male college friends, former professors and people's grandmas checking out my awkward photo poses and dumb sewing humor. Not my target audience! Agh.

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    1. Aahh, Andrea! I feel the same way about my blog, too. Whenever my bf or parents bring it up I feel myself tense up and start blushing!

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    2. Me too! When people I haven't talked to IRL about a topic comment on it because I wrote about it in my blog, I get all weirded out. Or when my husband tells people that they should read my blog (which they really shouldn't, as it's all just sewing all day and every day!)...So glad to know other people feel that way!!

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  4. I think you just described us all in a nut shell. Online we have personality, passion, humour and slightly obsessive tendencies. But in the real world people really react to you and I agree that it's quite uncomfortable talking about what you make (or how much time you spend on your blog!). I haven't found this balance yet but now that those around me know I sew so regularly it gets a little easier to talk about it. Even though they have no clue what I'm talking about it's cute that they nod and seem interested when I grumble about unpicking things.

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  5. Yes this feeling is very familiar! I also hate that once people cotton on that you sew they ask you about EVERY OUTFIT "did you make that?" Um no. This is from Target...(does my sewing look like its from Target?!?!) Anyway... it always feels awkward! So when I get a compliment on an outfit I just say "thank you!" Haha!
    I think I'm way more awkward about my blog. Not to my husband or family, but the other day a friend let slip that I have a blog around my boss and I immediately started stammering and got really really awkward! I think we present one version of ourselves on our blog and another version in real life. Some of these people may appreciate seeing the well-rounded version - but for others, like my boss, its just tmi...

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    1. Haha, the day after I'd worn my me-made dress to work, I was literally wearing some dress from Target and someone at work asked if I'd made that too!! Then she went on to suggest that I start a sewing/fashion blog. I just said "hmm, we'll see."
      Yeah, definitely a tiny bit awkward. :)

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  6. You are completely and utterly normal! And too cute for words. You've described what it's like to be "on display" to non-sewers to a T. You'll gain confidence as more and more of your chic creations hit the office "stage"! Think about it, you ARE a rare and exotic creature as a sewist - strut your stuff!

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  7. Wow, you've definitely hit a nerve with this one! I'm embarrassed enough asking people to take pictures of my in my handmade goods. I'm happy enough to tell students or coworkers at school that I made my own outfit (I always like presenting kids with a wide range of role models, though I'd NEVER tell them that I blog about it!) but the thought of everyone at a party knowing that I made my own clothes is somehow mortifying!

    Are you planning on participating in Me-Made May? I've set myself the challenge of wearing a handmade garment or accessory everyday - I'm hoping that will help me get over the shyness of admiting what I've made! :)

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    1. Funny - I'd always thought that one of the perks of sewing my own (wearable) clothes would be that if I was ever complimented on an outfit I could blow everyone away with the fact that I'd sewn/made it... now I'm not so sure that's a good thing!

      Unfortunately, I don't have enough completed handmade garments yet to participate in Me-Made-May, but I definitely like the idea. :)

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  8. Your post describes me EXACTLY!!!! Sue, we are so alike!

    I hate being centre of attention, and I don't really tell people what I'm wearing is handmade. My friends and family know I sew, but I think they think i have only sewn one garment.

    I keep my blogging private and don't promote it on Facebook, only on Twitter because my followers are mostly strangers. Only about 3-4 friends regularly read my blog.

    When I was published in the newspaper, some friends and family saw the article and read my blog, they were so surprised at how many dresses I had made... they finally understood that i actually really DO sew! HAHA.

    I have worn my handmades in public heaps, around strangers!! Wore my first handmade to work last week for OWOP and I was sooo self conscious.. was on edge all day waiting for someone to ask if i was wearing something I made... but no one asked me...

    It's strange because when i wear a RTW dress/skirt (esp from ASOS) I always get asked if I made it... but when I wear a handmade, no one asks if I made it... wonder what thats all about?!?!?!?

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    1. ... and on a couple of occasions when I shared with someone that I sew dresses for myself, they looked at me like I was poor and had no money to buy a dress.... LOL If y=only they knew that the lining ALONE costs more that the polyester mess they are wearing! Non-sewers don't really understand... but there are some great ppl that are interested in sewing but don't sew and I love how they ask me questions and stuff :)

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    2. Haha, we are twins! I've thought of promoting my blog on fb, but would feel totally weird about the 99% of people who would see it who are not, like Andrea mentioned, the intended audience. Yikes!

      You're right, non-sewers often have no idea how expensive sewing your own clothes can be! Most of them just don't get it, but it is definitely fun and kind of exciting to share with the ones who are actually more interested in the sewing process.

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  9. Ah, now your co-workers know that you sew, you'll be asked if every outfit you wear is homemade! :) The good thing about non-sewers is that they think making your own clothes is a lot more difficult than it often is, so they will usually be impressed. Be proud of your fab creations, but if you don't want to get asked about them, make sure you go into loads of technical detail when you talk about something and you'll never get asked again!

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    1. Haha, that's a good way to look at it!

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  10. LOL! I understand completely!

    My personal style is that I prefer to make and wear really simple clothes (except that they actually fit me, as opposed to RTW.) So, nobody really notices them and I only discuss them with one woman at work that also sews.

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  11. I totally understand. I work at night a couple days a week at a department store and the girls all know I make my own stuff. They always ask if I made what I'm wearing. I am immediately self conscious that you see a crooked button or are eyeballing a slightly off center top stitching. I think what is more mortifying for me is when people stare at my dresses like I'm a time warp from 1957. I know it's bound to happen bc I do look different but when people stare and ask me WHY I wear it I get uncomfortable. What can one say as to why they like vintage dresses rather than wearing some cheap poly/cotton dress from Old Navy that everyone wears without getting into that I also like vintage cars and kitchen stuff and dishes etc. then it becomes a diatribe on my loving a bygone era and how things were made in America and bla bla bla. The clothes I feel most comfortable in are the ones I make myself, I need to stop being so self deprecating about it. And I never talk about my blog, holy cow I get weird about that. I would do it if no one actually read it, it's not about having traffic for me; just shared projects and inspiration.

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  12. Sue, you're totally on the money here, I feel exactly the same! I'm slowly getting more confident though (and I do mean sloooowllyyyy) so hopefully I'll be good enough one day to be totally proud of everything I wear. It's a learning process! It does frustrate me that people think it's a good way of saving money - since when did any hobby SAVE you money? hehe, but it's a labour of love and I can't think of anything more enjoyable, so I'll just keep gushing about sewing online and absorbing every last detail of other sewing-enthusiasts gushing. Thanks GOODNESS for the internet - what would we have done 30 years ago???

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  13. Huhu! Just have you the "Versatile Blogger"-Award. Have a good day!

    http://frautipmatic.blogspot.de/2012/04/ich-danke-der-academy-thanks-to-academy.html

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  14. This post made me giggle as so much of it resonates with me! I don't actively tell people what I've made, but when they ask its always interesting. Most people are impressed (which is nice), but don't actually get it (which is fine). Like you though, it's the people who seem to think that it's the most amazing thing ever that make me shy! And then of course there's the majority of people who don't understand why a 'young' person likes to sew and where I find time to blog etc, etc. Last week, a stranger on the train actually asked me 'Aren't you too young to be knitting?' - I never knew there was an age restriction ;o) Hehe!

    Anyway, your dress is stunning and deserves all the attention it gets and more!

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  15. It took me a long time to get comfortable with telling people that I made an item or outfit(and 90% of my wardrobe is self made), but now I realise that they are generally impressed before anything else. Now if they ask me "Did you make that?" I say "You're not suggesting that I do Ready-To-Wear are you?"

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  16. Hello Sue!

    I have awarded you the Sunshine Award.

    Details on my blog: http://www.sewmelove.com/2012/04/my-sunshine-award.html

    xo

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  17. I concur! In my head, I think I will blow non-sewers away with my creations, "yeah, I made this"! But when it comes down to it, it embarrasses me, all the attention. The difference being, if that person expresses an interest in learning to sew, then it's full on geek out.

    Now, when I'm with my husband, wearing something I've made, HE will tell everyone I made it, and it's blush city for me!!

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  18. Totally agree! Only difference being my non-sewing friends/family (all of them!) don't bother to hide the fact that they find the whole process crushingly boring. I'm waiting for a grandchilld to come along that I can coerce with candy into becoming the next Alexander Mcqueen, Dior or Schiaparelli - that'll teach 'em!
    Your Mad Men dress is beautiful and fits you so well, you should enjoy the attention and be justly proud of your achievement Xxxx

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  19. I am so surprised that most, if I am bold enough to say almost all, seamstress feel and act the same way. I am surprised and glad that I'm not the only one that feels this way. You're right, in internet sewing land we support and encourage each other because we understand the whole process, there's a kinship. In the real world, it's different. Thanks for leading me to your post, I enjoyed reading it because I can totally relate.

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