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Even tho I've been hand-sewing ever since my Mom let me grab a needle, my experience with sewing machines was not as early, mainly because my Mom would not let me play with her sewing machine. And even when she allowed me to use it, she didn't have time to teach me, so I learn by myself just trying to sew simple things. I started fixing clothes first, because they were the items that require less sewing. When I was 14 years old I started up-cycling my own clothes. And a few years after that, I decided to make my own clothes, but I never liked patterns because they seemed too advanced for me, and even now I don't really like them. So my jump to making clothes from scratch was a little intimidating at first.

I still remember the first time I went to a fabric store all by myself and purchased the fabric I used for this top. I had the idea of what I wanted to make but no clue about how I was going to make it happen. I just went for it, measure myself and drew fast sketch of the minimun measurements I needed to cut. Then I draw the shapes for each piece I was going to use and cut them out of newspaper, I taped them and measure it on me. I always end up making some changes to later on cut the fabric; Even now I am used to cut all my pieces about an inch bigger, just in case I did something wrong. I pinned everything together and try it on me (there is never to many times your try things on) Once I was happy I sew all the pieces. It didi took me ages to sew it and even with all the time I put into it my lines where not very straight, hehe.

That's the story of my very first top.

I save this top and cherish it, I made it more than 10 years a go and up until 2 years a go it used to still fit me (Oh that extra weight I put on after our wedding =[ ) I have it as a reminder that even when I had no tools, very limited experience and only the excitement about making something, I never let anything discourage me from trying. The sewing lines are far from perfect, the zipper in the back was probably one of the first ones and more horribly sewed and it doesn't really have clean terminations, but I think it's the piece I am most proud of.

It's funny to think that I liked ruffles way back then. I wore this top SO much. and I am happy the fabric is still in very good condition. It was the first time I spent more than $2 a yard. So worth it =]

I really wanted to share this with you all as a reminder that you should never feel discourage to sew (or any other activity) because your piece is not perfect. You should always cherish the fact that you tried, most times it will take more than a few attempts to make it perfect, so just keep trying and you will get there =]

It took me a few years to feel really comfortable sewing clothes, and this simple top is my reminder of how scared and clueless I was, so now I can look back and really be proud of my sewing accomplishments.

If you haven't saved your first project I would totally recommend you to do it. It's so rewarding when you look at it and remember the beginning =]

Have any of you saved a project you cherish? what's your story? I'd love to read!
Have a great day!



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Joy Kelley is a Chilean Designer & lettering Artist. Mom to 3 little boys. Crafter. Pattern lover. Color obsessed. Lemon pie dependent. And the hand behind the HowJoyful Studio & HowJoyful Shop. Read more about her & the blog here →

7 replies
  1. Anni
    Anni says:

    This post is such an inspiration, I never thought about saving my first project (from not so long a go) so Thank you Joy!

  2. wendy
    wendy says:

    It’s lovely! I can’t believe it’s the first top you made. I’ve never made clothes and I know that if I tried, it certainly wouldn’t come out looking as good as this!!

  3. Kim
    Kim says:

    I made a really similar top for my first one! Way to go :) You’ve come a long way and I look up to your mad chair covering skills.

  4. Kirsten
    Kirsten says:

    I have been doing a one year upcycling/sewing project for a little over a year (life got in the way) and still look back on my first few dresses with both disgust and admiration. I have learned so much in a year and can see the flaws in my first few dresses but also am quite prideful too.

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