Life Lessons from the Studio

It’s amazing how powerful a suggestion can be. You may find yourself accepting someone’s opinion of you as the honest-to-God truth, when their perception couldn’t be farther from reality. Last year, I started the continuing education program in apparel construction at Moore College of Art & Design.

At the time, I was having a quarter-life crisis. I was paying back student loans but I wasn’t using the knowledge I learned in my undergrad degree (B.S. in International Politics), and I had just started working in a completely different field (HR). I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. My intention wasn’t to become America’s next top fashion designer. I wanted to be happy, and sewing made me happy. Learning new things made me happy, and making new friends along the way in my classes was the icing on top.

I didn’t know much about fashion design beyond what I learned in school or picked up in documentaries like Alexa Chung’s Uncovering Fashion Industry Secrets or BBC’s The Secret World of Haute Couture. A teacher at Moore led me to believe that couture and more advanced techniques were not for (lowly) continuing education students like me. I used to think that because I didn’t study fashion design in undergrad, my sewing skills would never be good enough to sew (much less design) store-quality outfits or custom-made evening-wear pieces.

Even though I felt resigned to this fate, I was honestly overall content to make cute bralettes and adorable panties. I love making underwear, and to this day, intimate apparel is one of my favorite things to make.

After I finished the Fashion Design & Apparel Construction certificate at Moore, I was (and still am) very proud of myself. But I decided I wanted to push myself even more. I took an advanced sewing class at MADE Institute, and my whole perception of myself and what I was capable of completely changed. Our teacher, Rachel Ford – who is also the owner of the studio – taught us how to make a cocktail dress using advanced tailoring and couture (handsewn) techniques. She held every student to the highest standard, and most importantly – she believed in us.

When something was sewn wrong, she didn’t say it was “good enough.” She made us grab our seam ripper, take out the stitches, and do it again – until it was right. I adore this. If I’m doing something wrong, I want to know so that I can never make that mistake again.

Rachel showing us how to drape skirts on the dress form

I had to drape my skirt twice, because I made a mistake with the seam allowances the first time.
The whole process took 3-4 weeks, but I didn’t make that mistake again

I learned that patience, practice and persistence are the keys to success in sewing. Everything else is white noise. If you want to be a great sewer, you have to dedicate the time to sew and sew well. I now believe that I can sew anything that I can imagine. It simply takes time and patience. It’s amazing what a great teacher can inspire you to do.

The same is true of life in general – if you have a long-term goal that you haven’t achieved for a while now, perhaps months or years have passed by, ask yourself: Am I being patient? Am I being persistent? Am I practicing or doing everything I can to achieve this goal every day?

If not, then perhaps the reason why you haven’t achieved that goal is not because it’s “too hard” but because you’ve given up on yourself and you don’t believe in yourself anymore.

Entering into the fashion world has reminded me how especially important it is to surround myself with positive people in my life who will uplift me and push me to be better. It’s so important to reject the lies that people may persuade you to believe. What can be so insidious about this negativity is that it will hold you in a stagnant place, until the lie that you were told becomes your reality.

You are only as limited as you believe yourself to be. Always push yourself to be, do, and learn more. Your potential is as limitless and as eternal as your mentality.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. Life can complicated and then your hear someone’s story (testimony).I learned that patience, practice and persistence are the keys to success …in everything!

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