Way back in January, Lindsay of Lindsay T Sews (Again) wrote her sewing backstory and asked other sewing bloggers to tell theirs. Well, I don’t have much of one and after reading so many blogs for so long now, my story is probably not going to compare, but here goes…
Both my grandmother on my mother’s side and my mom sewed. My grandmother used to work at a furniture manufacturer, now defunct, Homer Brothers. I vaguely remember them. She sewed upholstery. However my mom remembers that she used to sew dresses for her daughters as well. Mom doesn’t remember how Grandma learned to sew. Grandma didn’t sew after she retired from the factory I don’t think. And since then, her eyesight has deteriorated from macular degeneration. So she couldn’t sew if she wanted to now.
My mother started sewing for herself, her sisters and me when I was about 3 yrs old. She taught herself from patterns. She said the first thing she made for me was an Easter cape. She made prom dresses, fully lined (!), for my aunts and dresses for herself. Mom stopped sewing when she started working full-time and when we kids started becoming a lot more active in after school activities. However, when I was in high school, she took out the sewing machine again and made one of my prom dresses. I still have it! It’s a beautiful teal, watered taffeta, single shoulder strap (correct term???) full length dress. When I was still singing for a living, much later, I used it as recital gown; it’s a timeless style. Note to self, take picture of it tonight. (ETA: ACK! I can’t find the dress!!! I must have given it away in one of my many moves in recent years. I know I brought it with me to NY though. SO SAD!!!) She’s taken up quilting in the last few years and makes beautiful quilts for all the grandkids. I will take a picture of Jack’s quilt tonight and add it to this post later.
I came into sewing a bit sideways. I was never interested in taking a sewing Home Ec class in Jr High or high school. Nor did I take any interest whenever my mom sewed. Never. I made really bad curtains once for an apt back when I was still in Chicago (by bad, I mean that I didn’t take into account that you need more fabric when you gather the curtain). When I moved to New York, I was making mosaics and taking classes from a mosaic artist in the city, Valerie Carmet. Still no interest in sewing although I thought I could tackle a slipcover for my grandmother’s couch. LOL I bought my Singer and 12 yds of home dec fabric at that time with the intention of making the slipcover. I made it as far as sewing 1/2 a muslin mockup and then just gave up. I even found someone on Craig’s List who was willing to give me sewing lessons at home and helped me start the muslin, but I think that project killed my sewing enthusiasm for a while.
I have knitted for about 6 years and have even started garment knitting (as opposed to accessories, such as scarves). But still no interest in sewing. Then I started reading a ton of craft blogs. Not sure how that happened, but it did. And then the list of blogs gradually morphed into mostly sewing blogs by sometime in 2008 (I know, I am so exact in my timing here). I recall that the sewing blogs became a priority for me after I sewed aprons for all the women in my family for Christmas two years ago. A friend of mine, Leslie, sewed the difficult parts held my hand throughout the process and I was very pleased with the aprons! I wrapped them around cookbooks like wrapping paper. I loved making those gifts. The whole process, from picking out the fabric for each person to figuring out how to size each apron appropriately and sewing each stitch, just mesmerized me. I was hooked. That’s when the frenzy of sewing blog reading really reached a pitch fever. My blog roll is so long! I had to start using a blog reader to get me through it all each day. LOL.
The next step in my sewing evolution was a totebag making class at Purl. I use my totebag every day. I bought the fabrics there, both the lining and outer fabric. The teacher was young, creative and she took time to answer all of our questions. Then I took a beginner’s sewing class series called Stitch and Bitch University at Sew Fast Sew Easy. I think it lasted 10 weeks with a class per week. I reviewed the class on Pattern Review, so you can read the details there. I’ve also taken some classes online with Pattern Review, Serger 101 and Techniques for Underlining, both very good!
With all these classes under my belt, I am off to a good start. If only I had more time to sew. I am a slow sewer, especially if I don’t have any visual instruction. Reading directions is challenging for me as I usually can’t visualize them well in my mind’s eye. I usually accost my co-worker and friend, Victoria, every morning with questions on directions or sewing/knitting in general. She’s very knowledgeable; she used to sew and still knits quite a bit. I am working really hard to convince her she needs to get back into sewing again. Anyway, I may not be prolific like other bloggers, but I will keep chugging along.
My main purpose with learning to sew is to make my own clothes. I would love to be able to sew my whole work wardrobe, including suits, but hand tailoring is a bit scary to me. I have never even attempted pants. I wish I could keep taking classes, but it’s expensive and the babysitting fees are killing me. Hopefully I can teach myself like my mom did. But I’m worried that my understanding directions “impairment” will hamper my efforts.
I’m also not a fashionista like my friend Victoria or my fellow bloggers, Cidell or Mica, but hopefully I will avoid making any fashion faux pas like a floral jacquard blazer or something equally horrific. I wear suits to work almost every day because it’s like wearing Garanimals as my friend Cayce calls it; you don’t have to put an outfit together. Maybe sewing my own clothes will actually make me more fashionable? Who knows? Stranger things have happened.
So, there it is, my backstory (apologies for the length). How I came from professional singer to part-time mosaicist to humble beginner sewist. I will add some pictures either tonight or later this weekend. So check back!
Happy sewing everyone…