Life is returning to a pattern since Dad’s passing. I have thought about blogging a couple of times over the last month, but I just didn’t have it in me. I started back on the dress yesterday. I made some progress on refining the muslin.
I decided to take a side trip on this blog and tell you about my sewing history.
I don’t really remember learning to sew. When I was young, my mother sewed all the time. She would tell the story of how, when I was 2 or 3, she was sewing and I needed to entertain myself. Apparently, I quietly sat and put straight pins in all of the oiling holes on her singer sewing maching. She was able to get it serviced, but I think she learned that I needed a little more guidance then she had given me.
My first memory of making something was when I was about 8 when I made an elastic waist skirt. I don’t remember making anything before it, but I do remember that it was not the first thing I made. It was the first piece of clothing. At that age, I knew how to lay out a pattern, cut it and basic construction. My mother held a sewing class for women in our home when I was 9-ish and I remember helping her teach the ladies how to do the layout. I remember because one of the ladies was not too happy that I knew more than she did and she was rather snippy about it.
When I was about 15, I remember spending a hot spring sewing cushion covers for the White Van with my mother. And again a few years later for the Open Road!
I started sewing regularly in my early 20’s. I was fed up with trying to find clothing in fashion stores. At that time, I sore a size 14 or 16. The plus size stores only carried things my grandmother would wear. And the regular stores had very little merchandise over a size 10. I decided it was just as easy to make a skirt or blouse as it was to spend most of a day combing through stores to find one that fit and was a decent color.
I started with skirts, simple blouses, a few knit tops and pajamas. Pajamas were good because I could try new types of things without having to go out in public. And it grew from there to a point where I made much of my own clothing. I also found that the things I made for myself, I wore often and for years. Whereas the things I bought, I would throw out after a year to two.
Then, I got really fed up with trying to buy a bathing suit. How hard could it be, really; the fabric is so stretchy. I made my first Tankini in 1985 – long before they were a new fashion design. I did it because I didn’t want to get entirely undress to go to the bathroom. We lived in Arizona and had a pool. Some days I put on a suit when I got up and didn’t take it off until I went to bed. All that dressing & undressing was exhausting. I cut a pattern for a mallot at the waist line. Added an inch or so to the top of the brief and the bottom of the tank – and I had a suit. 23 years later and I still use that pattern to make myself bathing suits!
Over the years, sometimes I make a lot of my clothing and sometimes I do not. Right now I have 4 or 5 blouses in my closet that I made at least 7 years ago. I have 2 fleece jackets. One was made 10 years ago and one about 6. I wear them often. Pants don’t seem to last as long as tops. I tend to wear out certain areas in a couple of years.
I learned new techniques to make things by watching Sewing with Nancy on PBS. I subscribed to Threads and have kept every issue. I attended sewing shows in Arizona and Massachusetts. Every one of these taught me something new in either a technique or a design.
How did you learn to sew? What are your earliest memories of sewing?
Sew…..enough about me. Next post will be about the dress.