8 Questions: Style and Sewing

Thursday, August 06, 2015

It's exactly 2 years today since I finished my first (wearable) garment, the Miette Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons. A lot's changed in the past couple of years, particularly in the way I approach dressmaking. With this in mind, I've given my blog a bit of a makeover, and thought I'd reintroduce myself and The Magnificent Thread through 8 questions.

1. How did you learn to sew?

My Dad is very practical and good at designing and making things, and my Mum has always knitted, sewn and made things, as has her Mum, so I must have inherited a bit of a creative flair. My Mum taught me how to sew as a child, but other than having a toy sewing machine, I can't remember doing much machine work. I did Textiles all the way through school where I picked up more skills, but a lot of the dressmaking stuff came afterwards and is self taught.

I used books like Love at First Stitch and The Great British Sewing Bee - Sew your own wardrobe and blogs as go-to reference points if I got stuck, and then it all started coming quite naturally with a bit of practice.

2. Why do you sew?

I've been sewing, drawing and making things since I was small. I stopped enjoying the creative subjects at school when it felt like I was doing it because I had to rather than wanting to. So I chose to study History it uni, and making became fun again. I think I started dressmaking seriously because I needed a focus - I had so many unfinished bits of knitting, patchwork, etc - I just wanted to finish something I could get use out of. I was quite anxious in day-to-day life too, so it helped to come home and concentrate on the next bit of the garment. Of course, once I'd caught the bug, I had to carry on!

The Miette Skirt - my first finished garment
3. How does your style influence your dressmaking?

Clothes shopping was always my biggest 'hobby', and I still love it, but today I'm more interested in browsing what styles are being stocked to see if I can make them myself. I like the edgier styles that Whistles and COS put out, but they're a bit too 'minimalist' for me - I'm a lover of all things patterned! I take inspiration from elements of vintage fashion, from the forties to the nineties (if you can really call the nineties 'vintage'). I also struggle to find tops and dresses that fit right as I have quite a big bust for my size. So really, my approach to dressmaking is about creating affordable garments that suit me, in style and shape, and making them just a little bit different so they stand out from the 'norm'.

Pattern! - Stokholm street style from Carolines Mode
Style - COS
Style - 60s (source: Pinterest)
Style - Whistles
I still like buying RTW though, often mixing it in with handmade. My absolute weaknesses are &otherstories - I'd happily buy out all of their collections if money permitted - and shoes (more specifically Doc Martens) because you can never have too many right?

4. Where do you sew?

I live in Leeds and have my sewing station set up in the corner of my room. I bought the Ikea Raskog trolley to keep things in  one place, but sewing paraphernalia is gradually taking over the flat.
Most of my fabric is tucked away, but I keep the best in my stash out on display so I can admire it and plan my next makes!

5. Favourite project?

My favourite project is usually changes every time I make something new, but I'd probably say the Megan dress was one of my best early makes. It was my first time adjusting a pattern, inserting an invisible zip and I made my first attempt at pattern drafting to add the collar.

Megan dress
My other favourite is any of the dresses made with a pattern I drafted in evening classes at Leeds College of Art. If you like dressmaking and have some ideas of your own, I'd definitely recommend a pattern drafting course!

Self-drafted dress

6. What's your approach to blogging?

I was always in two minds about blogging. I never thought I had enough direction to blog, and I always thought I could make better use of my time by actually making things, rather than writing about it. Then I realised that I was using blogs all the time; seeing if anyone had made a pattern before or reviewed a book, or had any tips, and I wanted to join in the conversation! So I started The Magnificent Thread to record my dressmaking progress. It's great for me to sum up the construction of a garment, and think over what I liked about it or what I'd do differently, and if other people read it and find it helpful, that's great!

7. What's on your 'to-make' list?

At the minute, I'm making the Vogue 1395 - I liked the Kielo Wrap Dress so much, I thought I'd try another tie-front dress. After that, the list is fairly lengthy, some of which I'll never get round to making!

Sneak peak of progress on the V1395
In short, I'll hopefully be making a final teal version of my self-drafted pattern to wear to a wedding, many pairs of the 'Casual Trouser' from the latest GBSB book - I already have a pair that are currently unblogged, but they're amazing! - and the Lily Sage & Co 'Wonderland Skirt'.

8. Other than sewing...

I used to work in museums, and now work at a University, trying to engage young people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects - a world away from sewing. When I'm not working or making, I like spending time with my friends and boyfriend, going out for food, watching bands, shopping (usually for shoes) and a good gin and tonic.

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  1. Heya! Well done on the blog overhaul - it looks amazing! I've been following your blog for some time but I never realised that you were a Leeds girl. Anyway, I'm living in Leeds at the mo (although I'm moving back to Portugal in September) and I'm trying to get together with other Northern based sewing bloggers. Are you around this summer for a meet up? Would be lovely to meet as I think we have a lot in common :)

    1. Ps, Twitter is the best contact @boonyboo

    2. Thanks so much :) And it's great to hear from another Leeds girl! I had intentions to arrange a Northern-based sewist get together earlier in the year but never really got it off the ground, so would absolutely love to meet up. Will get in touch via twitter! x


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