Recently, I have been engaged in a bit of a mammoth run of sewing projects, as any followers of my Twitter account will undoubtedly have noticed. This is partly because I am now entirely freelance in my career and therefore have bonus time in the day from avoiding the dreaded commute, but partly it’s because I’ve always loved sewing and after many years of only imagining things I wanted to make I instead decided to knuckle down and actually get started.
It was a conversation with a friend about sewing that really kick-started my plans though as he kindly offered a large square of gorgeous green cotton with a pink flower pattern. The fabric was so lovely I was instantly inspired and galvanised to go home and start designing that very evening.
|The lovely fabric|
I dug out my sewing equipment that was kept in a carrier bag and thought about what basic supplies I’d need to begin work. I requested a tool box for Christmas and found a great one in The Range so now all my bits and bobs are safely stored in one place. I also dusted off my little John Lewis craft sewing machine and prepared to put it through its paces.
|Handy storage in the lid for spools of thread|
|Decent fabric scissors are essential|
|Threads, pins and bobbins!|
As a bit of background I should say my mother was a fashion designer in her youth, working for many high street names, and as such it was quite normal to find her tucked behind her own sewing machine running up dresses and skirts when I was little. Sewing can often be perceived as a bit of a dark art by the completely uninitiated but I knew from watching my mother that mistakes are part of the process, and actually all it took was enthusiasm and careful planning rather than any innate skill.
I completed a GCSE in textiles technology at school but I can honestly say it was the most uninspiring of all my classes and actually killed off my passion for sewing for a very long time. I remember making utterly pointless dance leotards and coffee pot covers that I had no use for (what a weird syllabus that must have been). The idea that our creativity should have guided our lessons went out of the window and as is often the case a budding skill was quickly discarded.
So here I am several (ahem) years later rediscovering the passion I held as a child for imagining a garment and then making it a reality. I’ve sewn a few bits and pieces over the years but nothing too ambitious. If clothes needed taking in or fixing I was happy to have a go, and likewise I would undertake the odd craft project like the Christmas stockings I made a few years ago. However, as useful as those projects were they don’t offer the same satisfaction as designing and making unique clothing. To boost my confidence I also invested in a couple of sewing books to help refresh my memory on basic techniques, which is never a bad thing to do.
|A very welcome Christmas present|
|This book from Aldi has lots of handy pictures|
Sewing is as much about maths and design as it is about fashion. Growing up under the tutelage of a fashion designer means that I have never used commercial patterns, and instead design and make all pattern pieces from scratch. This is a skill in itself and will often take longer than the actual construction of the garment. However, I find it far more satisfying knowing that nobody else will have clothes exactly the same as mine! Just like sewing, designing and making patterns isn’t as tricky as it might seem, and doesn’t require super skills, just a bit of patience. I’ve made pattern pieces from wrapping paper and brown paper before, although specially marked pattern paper with dots and crosses 2cm apart in a grid has been an invaluable discovery of mine in making more accurate patterns, and certainly proved a wise investment.
|Invaluable for making patterns|
Like many sewers I’ve started off by designing children’s clothes because it means beginning – quite literally – on a more manageable scale. Smaller pattern pieces are easier to measure correctly and to pin onto fabric for cutting, also children have a simpler body shape to design for, none of the complicated contours of adults. Designing for children uses less fabric, which can be quite an expensive commodity, so there’s not as much of a risk of accidentally wasting a small fortune if a garment ends up ruined beyond repair (although that is highly unlikely as errant stitches are easy to unpick, although snagged or torn fabric is harder to reuse). All the skills I’m learning with children’s clothing can then be translated into trickier clothing for grownups. So, for those of you who enjoyed my run of furniture upcycling reports, please prepare yourselves for my series of sewing inspired blogs!
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