I’m sure you’re all wondering how the gown is coming . . . there have been so many revelations! I’ve spent the past two weeks wondering how to articulate and I’m hoping my jumble of thoughts and words will translate well to paper. I feel it’s important, as I know I’m not alone.
I am an excellent seamstress and have enormous confidence in my work. I have created hundreds of gowns and dresses in my lifetime. Most of those have been for others. Part of my responsibility, I feel, when sewing for others, is to make them feel good about themselves, accept their body, as it is today. Not what they hope it might be in the future. Now I’m trying to tell myself these same things. Why is it that it always sounds better coming from someone else?
I have come to realize that as I’ve gotten older, gone through menopause, my body has drastically changed! I think that’s really what they mean when they say ‘the change’!! Add to that that I have spent the last 10 years or so rarely sewing for myself. I have lots of started projects, but very little end results. Mostly due to starting and not finding time to finish, often times having to put customer work first. OR, and this one is a biggie, I don’t like the way it looks on me, the fit or lack thereof, over my boobs. Yes, I do all the full bust adjustments and am well aware of the tweaks that are needed for that perfect fit. It’s much easier to do those playing with someone else’s ta tas rather than my own!
There, I’ve said it . . . I hate my body! And with only three months to go, will I be that beautiful bride that I envision in my head or just a fat lavender boob that looks ridiculous? I vow to start eating nothing but fruits and vegetables, no carbs and to exercise like crazy . . . Ha! I’ve been saying that for months now and I’ve yet to really adhere to this change. Face it, it’s not happening. Or at least not enough to really make a difference.
Once I had this revelation last weekend, I realized why I’d been shying away from my studio. I hadn’t sewn anything since November. I have put all customer work on hiatus so I only have myself to sew for. It was time to tackle this body and get reacquainted with it, lumps, bumps, flaws and all.
Prior to the ‘revelation’ I had been going through my old photos and posted on Instagram one of my proudest pieces, hoping to get me motivated. I think it worked, I went up to the loft, sifted through several patterns and chose one that I thought would be quick enough to put together and help me start building up that confidence that I can make myself look and feel just as good as I can my clients. Ironically, my stash contained a pieces from my IG motivation photo and I had enough yardage to make it work.
Let’s see if I can create something cute for myself and get over this hurdle! Stay tuned . . .
In four months, a mere 117 days, 23 hours, and 28 minutes, I’ll be married. But who’s counting. YIKES!! So much to do. Why is it when we got engaged last February it felt so far away. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s first and foremost in my mind.
Luckily our church and reception venue has been reserved since last spring and I finally got the save the date cards in the mail the first week of December. Man did that make things real! This first week of 2018 we’ve been busy making phone calls and sending emails working on securing a caterer, florist, cake maker, photographer, musicians and probably others that aren’t coming to mind at the moment. Luckily, everyone, thus far, has been available for our date. Now we just need to start making decisions and doling out those deposits. And every time I think I have thought of everything one more item pops into my head. I know it will all come together we’ll have a beautiful and special day!
The most important thing, my dress . . . YES, of course I’ll be making it! I’d been looking at silhouettes online and even dabbling with sketches and a few months ago came up with a vision in my head. Although I will soon be 60, I wanted a traditional wedding dress. I was thinking a full, gored,a-line ivory gown would be flattering for my body type. What princess doesn’t want layers and layers of crinolines under her skirt! I also wanted it to have a train and some type of sleeve. It had to be me, but as a designer, I also wanted a statement piece.
I had made some client gowns this past year and loved the drape and feel of silk dupioni. I also loved how it photographed. I ordered a few swatches from my various resources and on a whim ordered a very soft lavender from Mood. Those who know me, know my favorite color is purple and I already knew my wedding colors were going to be hues of purple. Did Pantone pick Ultra Violet just for me? It sure seems like it!! The minute I opened the envelope and saw this 5″ x 5″ piece of fabric, I knew it was my gown.
I had also decided that I wanted a lace bodice and elbow length lace sleeves. I’d been looking in my local Jo Ann’s, again doing more searching online, but nothing was doing it for me. I was about to place my Mood order for the dupioni and did one last search so I could order any swatches I wanted at the same time. I kept gravitating to a pearled and sequined three dimensional lavender and beige floral embroidered lace. The picture wasn’t great and it was $99/yard, but I figured what the heck, for $5 for a sample I’d go for it.
Again, my package arrived and I was excited for the silk, but I couldn’t wait to see the lace . . . O M G, it was exquisite! And it was a perfect match. They only had 14 yards and then the next day it was down to 12, so I knew I had to make a decision fast. Was I worth it, we all know the answer to that question, yes I am!! I have the talents and confidence to work with couture fabrics . . . for my clients. So, I’m looking at myself as a client. I can do this . . . The package arrived mid-week and I finally opened it yesterday. WOW is all I can say.
Sew . . . it’s time for me to get busy. I want to get a muslin mock done by the end of January to start working on fit with the gown completed by the end of March. I still have to find lining fabric and since I’ll be underlining the entire gown with cotton broadcloth that will have to be ordered as well. I perspire a lot, so I want to keep the gown all natural fibers (no, that lace doesn’t fall into this category – oh well) and it’s an early May wedding in North Carolina, so it could be warm. I also have to find the fabrics for the train . . . I did say statement piece, didn’t I?? Stay tuned while I chronicle this next venture in our lives.
Here I sit, the last day of 2017. As I drink my coffee on this cold, chilly morning, bundled in fleece, I reflect on my accomplishments. There are many. I participated in three runway shows, created two collections, “La Paci Primavera” in April and “Plums the Word” in August. I made two wedding gowns based on photos for two very different brides. I created numerous prom gowns and shed tears over a mother of the groom outfit that my client decided she didn’t like. I alterated 40 evening gowns for sick kids to attend a special prom for The Sandbox. I did my first ever quilt blocks and created an ugly Christmas sweater for my soon to be husband. Whew, no wonder my studio looks like World War III!!
There are also those numerous projects that didn’t get accomplished. A lovely summer red dress for me, Carl’s frock coat for holiday caroling that was started in 2015, sketches on paper, designs in my head, numerous patterns, and yards and yards of fabric. However, I’ve learned how to say no to clients. I just can’t do every single project any more and I am busy enough that I don’t have too. I keep alterations to a minimum, refer all home dec items, and even hand off some custom sewing if the time constraints don’t fit my schedule. I think there is plenty of sewing to go around for all of us.
On a personal level, I got a promotion at work, basically a better title and more money! I dealt with an aging 90 year old parent having heart valve replacement surgery. I had a concussion, spent time at the ocean, had numerous dinner parties, visited my Mom in Florida, cooked some luscious food, and held my dying friends hand, making promises I don’t know if I can keep. And I got engaged!
One of my last sewing projects for the year was for a client celebrating her 50th birthday. She liked a halter top she’d seen online, even ordering it. It was cheap polyester, unfinished hems and even worse construction. She wanted it to be royal blue with a soft drape, but not flimsy and it had to cover her tummy pooch. She also wanted matching cigarette pants. I had made a prom gown earlier in the year with a peachskin from JoAnn’s and they had the perfect shade of blue for this outfit. I have decided to make this my entry for the Designin’ December Challenge.
I started with a muslin to work on the fit, especially in the bust. Having the original, I could tear it apart and make a rough pattern from it, although it fit so poorly I didn’t want to rely on it too much, besides it was a knit and I was doing a top out of a woven fabric. Getting the front to lay right over her full bust and not gape was a problem. This is one of those garments that you need to wear the same bra for all of your fittings. One time she didn’t and the fit was totally different! And not in a good way . . . she had to return the following day with the right bra.
To make final tweaks, I had to tear apart at center front, under the bust, and pin on her to get it to lay correctly. Stitching and refitting a couple of times while she stood in the studio holding a tee shirt over herself while I stitched. I put an invisible zipper in the side seam and used a silicone coated elastic to hold the top against her back so as not slip down – a great product but difficult to sew with the machine! I also had to add a waistband on the pants to allow for them to not be baggy in the crotch yet fit her backside correctly. All in all, we were both very happy with the final outcome. I hope she had a wonderful birthday bash . . . I know the 50s have been my best decade.
As this year comes to a close and my coffee cup sits here empty, I can proudly say that I’ve accomplished enormous feats in 2017. My customer sewing for 2018 has been put on hiatus, I’ve got a wedding gown to create – my own! And I plan on blogging about the journey – 125 days to go and sew much to do! Maybe I should start with a tidy studio . . . Happy New Year and here’s to an even better 2018!!!!
A beautiful Sunday here in North Carolina . . . bright blue skies, lots of sunshine, the temperature and humidity letting you know that summer is just about here. And it’s Father’s Day. I’ve wanted to do nothing but watch sappy movies and pull the covers over my head. I haven’t even been able to post well wishes for those great Dad’s I know on my Facebook feed.
You see, five years ago this month, I lost my Dad. We didn’t have that close bond like a lot of daughter’s do with their fat Continue reading →
The Oxford Dictionary states the definition of the verb BLOSSOM as, “mature or develop in a promising or healthy way” and that’s what I’ve been doing! About the time I wrote my last post, I received an invite asking me to participate in ‘Repurposed: An Upcycled Fashion Show & Auction.’ It was being sponsored by The City of Charlotte’s Solid Waste Services and Healthy Communities. The city of Charlotte has a trash problem and they wanted to raise awareness about recycling. Residents accumulate about 1,600 pounds of garbage per person per year. It goes into landfills and produces dangerous gasses, which cause pollution and ultimately diseases. Upcycling is a waste reduction solution. It was a unique, innovative concept and something I felt I really wanted to participate in. Continue reading →
In September of 2015, I was chatting online with my good friend, Margaret, and she told me about a conference she’d just heard about taking place in Chicago the following year, Sew Pro, for sewing professionals. She shared the link, and within 15 minutes we were both signed up. I wasn’t a quilter, pattern maker, fabric designer, or any of the other professions this conference appeared geared towards, it didn’t matter. I was missing my good friend, I hadn’t seen her in over six years, and I’d never been to Chicago . . . girls weekend, birthday celebration (it was her birthday weekend!), and a little sewing talk, woo hoo!! I was sold!
As the days were getting closer, I was getting more and more excited. The Facebook page was buzzing and I was already meeting some fellow sewists. I still didn’t feel that any of the tracks were for me, but was glad to learn that we didn’t have to follow a specific one. I’ll admit, I’m embarrassed now to say, I wasn’t familiar with any of the names on the roster (sorry Pat,Tula, Sara,Kristin, Spoonflower, etc.) . . . except for Mimi G. I knew she had a line of patterns for Simplicity and I liked her style. My expectations of the weekend were nil . . . I’d lived in my own little sewing bubble for eons, I didn’t know anyone else that sewed. I always felt alone in this creative world of turning large rectangles of fabric into pieces of art that hug women’s curves. You see, I’m a sewist who creates clothes, mostly for others. And I’ve been doing it a long, long time!
I met my first fellow cloth lover at the airport . . . we were both arriving very early, hours before check in, and had connected online. From that initial meeting, I knew I was where I should be and it was just the start of developing friendships and networking that will continue for years to come.
It’s a jumble, still to me now, who I learned or heard what details from. I never realized there were so many avenues available that I could branch into and blossom my sewing brand. Like Mimi G said, pick one, get good at it, and then move on another. I think the biggest impact came from Roseann Kermes of Rosebud Cottage when she told me, “You can do this, and start with getting on social media!” I have my work cut out for me, but I’m happy to say that I immediately got on Instagram and Pinterest, got a new computer, and now I’m delving into the blog arena. I have so much to learn and even more knowledge to share.
After SewPro concluded on Saturday, there were a group of us that boarded the El train and headed into the city. Crazy photos at The Bean in Millennium Park, being tourists and snapping pictures of everything we saw on the streets, and getting six women to agree on where to eat dinner, so much fun and there was lots of bonding with new friends.
We walked several blocks and came across Bohemian House, a restaurant just over the river and down a little side street. We walked in and I exclaimed, “Sewing machines!!” Yep on the back bar, fate . . . and there have been more signs since, which I’ll save for other blogs, but I am confident I’m heading in the right direction.
I came home with a head full of ideas and plans and an email message, “I have a client, she’s a fabric designer, and attending Quilt Market in Houston, and looking for someone to create some garments for her out of her new line, are you interested?” Ummmmmm, yes I am!!!! The stars were already starting to align . . . I had just heard about quilt market at Sew Pro and had made a mental note that I’d like to work with a fabric designer (or two) on some clothing samples. Never did I expect to do so for an event that was mere weeks away!
From all my takeaways of this experience, I wanted to design something. Oh, okay, it was a requirement to participate in this blog hop . . . so, I quickly put my pencil to paper to see what transpired. I wanted something to wrap myself in that was my aesthetic, my style and would forever keep the memories alive. A jacket, perfect for the fall September days of Chicago, grey like The Bean mirrors, to always reflect who I am. Some chevron shaped inserts to remind me to always reach for the stars, these pieces should be colorful and pieced like a quilt, to remind me of all my friendships and how different people are entwined in our lives, placed close to my heart and waist, like a hug. A Mimi G pattern as my base, to always remember how she inspired me. A hi/low hem as I know there will be ups and downs. The SewPro experience is still surreal to me.
The gray suiting has finally arrived and pattern altering (Simplicity #1016) has begun. I’ll need to do a muslin first to get the fit right. The fabric designer, Jackie McFee of Camelot Fabrics, from Market has given me permission to use her scraps. One is a chevron and her line, My Gray or the Highway is befitting, don’t you think . . .
***Enter the Sew Pro Giveaway below to win a Fabric Bundle and Patterns***
According to Threads Magazine, Sewist: a relatively new term, combining the words “sew” and “artist”, to describe someone who creates sewn works of art, which can include clothing or other items made with sewn elements. Sewer vs. Sewist – ThreadsIt sure beats being a Sewer! (an underground conduit for carrying off drainage water and waste matter.) After calling myself a ‘seamstress,’ for the past 30 plus years, this term is starting to grow on me!
I began my foray down the creative path with fabrics and my sewing machine in my youth. Designing cloth clothing for my paper dolls when I was around seven, or so my mother tells me. Fifty years later and the passion has not waned. Over the years I’ve made numerous articles of clothing for myself as well as sewing for others, primarily women, curvaceous women at that. I’ve taken on the aesthetic of ‘Real Women have Curves’ with a tag line of ‘Let me flatter yours!’ It’s a niche I’ve found myself very good at, being a big, curvy girl myself!!
I’m starting this venture to document all the things I create with fabric, needle and thread. There have been so many items and people, and as I get older I want something to go back to, to remember and relive these moments, some good and some not so good. Along the way I hope to weave tales of times past, what I’ve learned, and what I can teach, share and pass on to others who are as passionate about sewing as I am. I hope you’ll follow me on this journey – what’s more amazing than taking a rectangle of cloth, cutting it into different shapes, zip it under the pressure foot of a sewing machine, stitch away, and in no time you have an article of clothing to wear! Yep, it’s an art.
I have no professional training, I’ve read very little literature on sewing and couture, my skills have been developed over many years, with lots of patience, and a damn good seam ripper!! I didn’t have the internet or you tube tutorials to hone my craft, very few others in my adult life even know how to thread a needle and sew on a button. For me, it’s just been practice, practice, practice. And all that practicing sure has paid off!!
I’m heading into the studio now, but will be back soon with a lot more to share!