I first asked for a sewing machine as a gift/consultation prize for graduating with my BA from college. At the time, I live with my husband in the basement of a house. We were both students and working. Money was tight, but together we bought my machine. This was back in 2007. I tried for months and months to sew these small, blue and red curtains with a sun design on them (a glorious vision in my brain) to go in our shower, that also happened to have a window in it that opened to the inside of a garage. I eventually gave up and boxed the machine for the rest of the year. Yes, consequently some flashing did occur.
2008 our first child was born. I took the machine back out and self drafted a series of ill fitting dresses, with a haphazard quilt thrown in. Zippers, buttons and knits scared me so I just made huge neck holes and hoped for the best.
I attempted several more garments over the next few years, each without a pattern and each taking me months and months to complete, if in fact I ever made it to the end. It wasn't until my daughter was almost four that my neighbor, whom I loved, introduced me to indie patterns. This was pandoras box for me. I have been sewing since.
It is only recently though (the last few years) that I have returned to self drafting the things that I wear, which is what intrigued me about sewing in the first place. I have continued over the years to build my skill base in sewing, allowing me now to confidently veer from a pattern and make the visions in my head.
Why do I wish I had moved toward patterns (indie patterns specifically) sooner, even though I love the creativity of self drafting? I remember having my mind blown with the first three patterns I followed. I learned SO much! There was so much less trial and error, and Indie patterns I felt were way easier to read and understand for a beginner, compared to big box store patterns.
So, my advice to new sewists: Follow patterns, specifically indie patterns, until you learn construction, techniques and methods (move to big box patterns once you are confident with Indie Patterns). Each item you sew will be a jam packed learning experience. Then when you feel ready, start making things on your own. Above all, make those mistakes. Use that seam ripper. It means you're learning and you're trying and you’re improving.
Top: Self Drafted with high/low hem, leather pocket, and drop shoulders