my sewing journey

Hi I’m Sam and I love to sew.

I live with my partner, also called Sam, and our two cats Ruby and Kratos (he’s very a bit touched).  By day I’m a family and criminal lawyer and in my limited spare time I love to sew.

I live on the North Coast of New South Wales Australia – home of Russell Crowe and 500 km from Sydney.  Its not a small town but it’s not a city.

I’m a plus size lady and my personal style is a mash up of vintage and modern.  Buying clothes is hard and some days it’s soul destroying.  We have a some great independent retailers in my town but as as a plus size lady who has a professional job, there isn’t really anywhere to appropriate clothes unless you shop online and that’s a whole different kettle of fish.  This need for work clothes lead me to sewing.

I’m a third generation sewer.  My mum sews her own clothes and has done since she was at school.  She made our clothes as kids.  She learnt embroidery, patchwork and quilting and is now operating an on demand costume service for my niece (she’s currently very experienced in all things Belle).  I don’t remember a period of my life when she didn’t sew.  It always came in handy at school formal (Australian for prom) time.

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In my Mum made Races Dress during fitting

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Just a small selection of her handiwork circa 1980

Both of my grandmothers were creative.  My Dad’s mum sewed her own clothes and crocheted.  My Dad’s sister studied dressmaking and made clothes for people.  One of the most vivid memories as a child for me is playing dress ups with the op shop clothes on a dressmaker’s dummy in the back room of my grandma’s house.

My Mum’s Mum was a knitter.  Gran specialised in making baby clothes.  I can still remember her one summer when we had all gone to my Aunt’s farm for Christmas sitting inside listening to the cricket on the radio and watching the tennis on the television without sound, all while making a babies jacket.

With a background like that was it a wonder I caught the bug?

As a child I was always fascinated with jewellery and for many years I made beaded jewellery.  I eventually picked up knitting but the limit to my skill was straight lines of knit and purl.  I’ve come a bit further these days but not very.

I have always had a love of beautiful fabric and started making cushions and bunting for my house.

A few months after I met my partner he was hosting a friends Christmas party.  For a lark I decided to make him some outrageous Christmas pants.  I made sure there were pockets which will fit a beer in and trimmed them in pom poms.  I’d never made a garment before let alone pants so I traced them off a pair of his pants.  The results was a fabulous pair of pants with an incredibly short crutches.  He loved them.

He now insists on wearing them to work on Christmas eve.

After that I finally tried my first dress pattern and was hooked.  I’ve had some absolute disasters but have finally amassed a handmade wardrobe which is about 50% of my clothes.

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Being able to sew my own clothes has also meant that I have a wardrobe that is bright and colourful and makes me feel confident.

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Not long after I started sewing I started reading blogs.  Which lead me to the  Sewcialists Firehose 

The Sewcialists is my go to source for reading blogs.  There many great people writing about the amazing things they make.

When it comes to trying a new pattern I find myself googling to see what other people have made before tackling it myself.  It is also how I try to learn new things and my confidence in making has grown.

I also love putting in the quirky details into my clothes.  I make my own bias binding from my left over fabric and I like to use a contrasting binding when I hem a piece.  I take pride in handstitching my hems.  I also use a different fabric for a pocket or facing.

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I recently spent two weekends at a fitting class run by a local couture dressmaker and it has helped me understand my body and what adjustments I need to make.

I’ve never been petite.  I’ve always had curves and for much of my teenage years I’ve had a love hate relationship with them.  Since I’ve been sewing I’ve learnt to accept my body as it exists.  Wearing clothes that fit you properly can do wonders for your self love.

The only downside for me is that I live on the other side of the world and whilst I am currently inspired to make a coat – I am currently experiencing summer.  It can be difficult to participate in some of the challenges when there is no practical reason to sew something you may want.  I would love to make a coat but living where I do I rarely wear a coat even in winter.  The upside is winter here isn’t ever too cold so I don’t really have seasonal wardrobes and summer dresses work all year round.

Sewing as a hobby hasn’t quite exploded here the way it seems it has in the US and UK.  It takes us a bit to catch up.  We have two major stores Spotlight and Lincraft and there quite a few independent retailers all over Australia.

I’m lucky that my hometown has a Spotlight and a few quilting stores.  They are great resources.  I do tend to buy a lot of my fabric from eBay and online retailers.

When it comes to patterns since discovery independent pattern companies I’ve can’t really imagine not using them.  I have a soft spot for Sew Over It, Tilly and the Buttons, True Bias and Cashmerette.

Whilst the Australian exchange rate isn’t very favorable when it comes to buying for the UK (it’s almost double) and the US (1 dollar buys 65 cents) – you can’t really help yourself.  We also pay more for our Big 4 patterns – Vogue are usually about $30 unless they are on sale and Butterick retail at full price for around $10 – $20.  We do get specials but the lowest I’ve seen are $3.50 for Butterick or Simplicity.

Each time I’ve thought something was too difficult to do I give it a go.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  But nothing beats the feeling when it does.  I’m still learning jackets, underwear, pants and jeans are on my two conquer list but I’ll get there.

Thanks for reading my ramble.

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Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

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