So... I am an absolute rank beginner. When I see people advising beginners to take sewing machines for a "test drive" before buying, I think, "But I don't have a driver's permit!"
Around 30 years ago, I took home ec in junior high and made the ugliest shirt imaginable. I believe the only reason the teacher gave me a C was because she felt sorry for me because I tried so hard.
Just to be clear that I have *no* idea. I am so utterly amazingly clueless.
About a year or so ago, I decided I need to rethink my wardrobe and began designing a simple wardrobe in my head. This is my problem... I worked a corporate job for years, got burnt out on that world, and quit. I work from home now, I garden, I raise chickens... and in between cooking from scratch, I do some programming out of my house.
I have a closet full of my old corporate clothes inappropriate to wear anymore hardly ever. So... for 3 or 4 years now, I pretty much always wear sweatpants and sweatshirts all winter and t-shirts and shorts all summer. And... while I'm not a real girly type of chick, it would be nice to wear something other than sweats.
So... about a year ago, I started designing a basic wardrobe in my head. I started off thinking about basic Amish and Mennonite type fashions... something terribly practical to work in, but still feminine. Basically, I want a *practical* wardrobe that I can muck about in the garden or trudge through snow to help butcher a deer in, but I'd like to look a bit more female than can be accomplished in sweatpants and sweatshirts.
This is a tad tricky because I have no idea about fabrics or such. I've been reading online various places and developing my ideas a bit.
The basic thing I begin with is a pair of lycra leggings I currently own. Some places call these yoga pants, others call them bootleg leggings. Basically, they are like plain leggings from the waist down somewhere between the knee and midcalf and then they flare slightly to the ankle. I find these very flattering on me, they make me look about 20 lbs thinner than I am. Pants like these: http://www.newport-news.com/shop/product.asp?superstyleid=232484&productindex=&gpcatid=1875&pacatid=&subcatid=&catid=4880&sz=&firstpagetypeid=&pageindex=&previouspage=subcat_twelve.asp&mainstyleid=301392&isfeature=
. I hear that learning to sew with stretchy fabrics is really tricky and I'm completly unqualified to sew anything even easy.
The next thing is the basic top I want to do. I want the top to be a basic v-neck blouse (my husband is very fond of cleavage) with an empire waist, a longish midriff (sort of tunic-length) with *long* sleeves with elastic at the ends. I have learned that short sleeves are terribly impractical, even in summer, due to close encounters with burdock and poison ivy and such. But I like the idea of them being elasticized so I can push them up over my elbows if they're in the way. I'd like it sort of a light summery fabric, slightly fitted, but mostly loose so lots of air gets in there and it's cool even in miserable weather like we had a couple weeks ago.
Finally, is the top layer. I want a long, loose "blazer" type thing, sort of like a salwar, but open down the middle, and a broomstick skirt, with a length well below the knees when worn on my waist, and no more than ankle-length when worn on the hips.
That is my basic wardrobe that I want. I figure on a bunch of the pants in black, some of the shirts in solids, some in prints, and then the top layer contrasting with the shirts (solid of the shirt is printed and vice-versa). Basic idea is I can wear the pants and tops most of the time around here and still look relatively feminine, but throw on the top layer either to look nicer for going out, or for layering up when it's colder out.
I think this basic outfit would work with sneakers, sandals or pumps. It could be dressy or casual depending on accessories... and practical both in terms of comfort and ability to work in it.
As noted, I've been thinking about this for about a year now. I have a picture in my head of what I want, but thinking about proceeding is a bit overwhelming. I don't see anyone who sells the type of outfits I want pre-made... and frankly, even if they did, I'd be less than enthusiastic. I am looking at this as almost a "uniform" for my life, I want it available 5 years from now or whenever, regardless of how fashions change, ya know? I'd like to get the basic uniform down and just add new clothes with different colors and fabrics over time.
I've also thought about just hiring a seamstress locally, but wouldn't know where to start. I've been through patterns in stores and online, and I find *bits* of what I want in one pattern or another, but never *quite* what I want. And... well, I don't really want to hire it out. I want to learn to do this myself. I mean, I'm quite fine hiring it if someone will *teach* me as we go, but I don't just want to pay someone else to do this.
It seems one begins by buying a sewing machine, but as noted, I'm not even qualified to do a test drive. All I know for sure is I don't want one with computers in them. I may be a programmer, but I'm a Luddite about computers, they should only be in *computers*, not in cars and phones and refrigerators and everything else. Drives me crazy.
I do own a machine that is probably worth fixing at some point. It's an old White... and I mean *old*, it's a treadle machine! I don't even know if it works or is worth fixing, I've been using it as furniture for several years. I'm quite willing to buy an electric machine (just not a computerized one), and I would hesitate to buy something really expensive given that I'm a rank amatuer and sewing may not "take" after all.
I need not just a seamstress, but a mentor/teacher, preferably someone who'd be actually *interested* in this specific project and working with an utterly clueless newbie who doesn't seem to understand how to search for patterns, or what type of machine she needs or anything.
I'd be willing to hire someone or barter. Besides programming, I am a great cook and have an abundance of eggs.
I have a relatively large workspace here (I live a few miles outside of Carlisle in dickinson township) or would be willing to travel somewhere relatively closeby for work sessions.
I'd like to start this new sewing project in about a month (I have a huge coding project going on right now) if I can find someone to "adopt" me.