One stitch at a time: Students hooked on clothes-making hobby

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By Chanelle Ongagna, Staff Reporter Freshman Sienna Nguyen was bored and senior Olivia Dufour needed a new bag, so Nguyen took up crocheting and Dufour took up sewing. What began as mere hobbies soon blossomed into a deeper appreciation for clothes-making, and now Nguyen and Dufour wear and make their own cardigans, purses and other...

By Chanelle Ongagna, Staff Reporter

Freshman Sienna Nguyen was bored and senior Olivia Dufour needed a new bag, so Nguyen took up crocheting and Dufour took up sewing. What began as mere hobbies soon blossomed into a deeper appreciation for clothes-making, and now Nguyen and Dufour wear and make their own cardigans, purses and other attire.

Nguyen toyed with learning to knit when she was younger, but eventually gave up in frustration, finding it too difficult. Quarantine gave her the time and patience to explore a similar skill: crochet. Equipped with a new five-millimeter crochet hook and a ball of acrylic yarn, Nguyen soon learned how to complete basic crochet patterns by following YouTube videos and online tutorials. Figuring out how to handle her materials was one of the most challenging things she learned. In crochet, yarn tension determines the quality of the stitchwork. Pulling the yarn too tight creates a higher tension, resulting in smaller stitches and shorter rows. Make the rows too loose, however, and the stitches quickly come undone. Getting the right tension, Nguyen says, was one thing she could only learn through practice.

“I would say just learning how to hold everything correctly (was hard),” Nguyen said. “You have to hold your yarn a certain way for it to work. Just getting into the groove of learning how to do everything comfortably was difficult. It was just a trial-and-error thing.”

Dufour faced a similar learning curve when learning how to sew. For a Positive Psychology project first semester, she chose to learn how to sew a bag, since she needed a new one and already had a sewing machine at home. Though her grandmother often advised her, Dufour figured out much of what she learned as she went along, including how to work the sewing machine: her biggest challenge.

“I think troubleshooting with the sewing machine was really difficult,” Dufour said. “If something bad would happen with the sewing machine, I would not be able to figure it out for like an hour, and I’d be so frustrated.”

Despite the difficulties of learning these new skills, ultimately, both Nguyen and Dufour find clothes-making to be a comforting activity. Nguyen can now complete entire cardigans in mere hours, some of which she has gifted to friends. Dufour also made a wallet for her friend, as well as hats and a St. Patrick’s Day-themed corset she later wore to a party. She is even considering sewing her own prom dress.

“I just kind of realized that I love sewing so much,” Dufour said. “Then I thought it’d be more special if I made my prom dress and it wasn’t just something I bought at the store. Then it would mean more to me and I’d be able to hold that with me for the rest of my life.”

In making their own clothes, both Dufour and Nguyen found a source of pride and relaxation. Both enjoy being able to wear the end result of their effort and encourage anyone interested in making their own clothes to try it out, regardless of whether they have prior experience. Nguyen is now even relearning how to knit. From making clothes, both learned the value of patience and perseverance.

“Definitely give (clothes-making) a shot,” Nguyen said. “It’s very rewarding, after you make something you’re really proud of. Even if you hit a bunch of roadblocks or a bunch of obstacles, it’s just trial and error. Just keep at it because you’re going to get it at some point.”


Chanelle Ongagna can be reached at [email protected]

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