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In the day-to-day slog, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. With anything, really—parenting, hobbies, work, you name it. And then you reach a point where you look at where you are, and look at where you were a few years (or months, or decades) ago, and you realize just how far you’ve come.

I had a moment like that just this evening. I was working on adapting a dress pattern for Joy and Grace – they were a size 12 so far as torso was concerned, size 4 for width, and size 7 for overall height. And the pattern I had only went up to size 6. So, a lot of lengthening, getting out my Swedish tracing paper to draft longer sizes, cut the armholes larger, all that. Then I got out plain white cotton and cut a mock bodice out of my re-drafted pattern, sewed that together to try on the girls tomorrow and make sure it works, doesn’t need any other sort of adjusting, before cutting out the dress fabric.

And I had to stop and marvel because, wow. As much of a pain as it was to do all this, I did it, and without even really thinking about it too much. Seven years ago, five years ago, even two years ago? No way. I was way too timid a seamstress to dream of even tackling this pattern without having to adapt it, much less all of this work on it.

I am still not the world’s finest dressmaker. There are still patterns out there which terrify me. I am still too impatient, too lackadaisical, to really excel at this craft. But oh boy, have I come a long way.

And the girls are only 6 and 7, so I have years of sewing to practice and continue to improve!