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Study your references and learn from your own and other peoples' mistakes.
Laurie Tavan



It’s obvious. The more you do a thing, the better you will become as long as you continuously strive to improve.


I continue to strive to improve my skills and I continue to problem solve. I have found that working through problems and coming up with my own solutions rather helps keep me on my toes and gives me more satisfaction in my work. I began re-inventing the wheel out of necessity because I started making corsets before I had access to supplies, resources and support. It can be a slow process, but I believe that is what distinguishes a seamstress from a fashion designer. Before I ask a question, I do my best to figure it out myself. Sometimes I arrive at the same answer I could have gotten by asking. Other times I develop a new way of doing things that I may not have considered had I just accepted an easy solution the first time.

Alexis Black


Read between the lines of what both Laurie and Alexis have to say and you’ll discover a universal truth: however far down any road we go, there is always further to go, always more to learn. Even a teacher is not someone who has finished learning. In fact, it is often said that if you wish to learn, teach.


The costumer who wishes to go from strength to strength all her life must be continually willing to start again, to go somewhere new, to find the road that she has not yet travelled. By continually exploring new waters, new inspiration can continually be found so that we can continue to grow.


antique keysHowever, new lessons are not only found in new subjects, periods, garments or techniques. The most valuable lessons can be found in old territory, in the continual practice of refining the skills we have. A new way to finish a seam is just as possible after twenty years as it is after twenty weeks in sewing. In fact, to learn a new basic technique after twenty years can give a whole new lease of life to your art. Don’t judge yourself by the relative complexity of your latest lesson. Knowledge is knowledge. Celebrate!


Watch others work, too – there is no better portal through which to do so than the Internet. Read dress diaries; watch others work. Gems can be found in the work of someone less experienced than yourself, as well as in the work of your heroes.


Above all, keep practising. There is no better way to find new things to learn!


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