“Embrace Your Inner Dressmaker”

(A saying from BMV UK magazine ‘Sew Today’ in early 2010.)

This week Imogen Lamport at Inside-Out Style has a Thought of the Day :
“Understanding your style is about discovering your identity. The more your know about who you are the better you can express it through your image.”

I think this applies to how and what we sew as well.
And it also works the other way round – by noticing how and what we like to sew, we learn about ourselves :D

Here’s another post by Imogen with links to her comments on identifying your clothing style.

And what about identifying your personal sewing style !
What aspects of sewing make you feel you’re having a special treat ?
Here are a few ruminations on personal differences in how and what we sew.

What do you enjoy sewing ? how do you like to improve fit ? do you like detailed plans ? what supports your learning ? As often happens I had so much to say on this I’ve made several posts, this on what you like to sew, posts to come on fitting and learning. (I’ve written before about planning/ not planning, see Index on personal style.)

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Why, how, what do you sew ?

Do you sew to sew or sew to wear ?
There are good responses on this here at Stitchers Guild.

- Do you sew as a hobby, and get a feeling of pleasure/ relaxation/ interest/ creativity/ skill/ accomplishment from the processes of sewing ? If so, what do you most enjoy/ find most rewarding ?
If you sew to sew, it doesn’t really matter if you make wadders which get thrown away or handed on. Making them is what you enjoy – the final product is less important.

- Or do you sew to wear flattering co-ordinated quality clothes which show your personal style ?
Then you might find it helpful to do a wardrobe and style review as a starting point. And find what alterations you need for a good fit.

When I was a child, most women had to sew their own clothes to get anything at reasonable price, and certainly to be able to afford fashion and high quality.

These days most of us sew for hobby rather than necessity.
We may (like me) need to sew to get clothes that fit, in styles we like and flattering colours.
But mainly we sew for the pleasure of it.

So do you sew mainly to make clothes that you wear, that fit in with your wardrobe ?
Or do you lovingly construct dazzling special occasion clothes from fabulous fabrics, or impeccably tailored jackets, or beautifully hand stitched heirloom lace and lawn, that there is absolutely no niche in your life-style for you to wear, but making them gives you great pleasure. If so, the money spent on materials and tools is hobby money not clothing money.

Do you sew for relaxation, and prefer to make easy styles?
Or do you want your sewing to be a challenge, and enjoy learning new skills ?

Or perhaps it’s the creativity which gives you a surge of “hey, wow” – adapting styles so they’re best for you, devising or altering patterns, adding embellishment, even spinning, weaving, dying, printing your own fabric. Though don’t try to force yourself to ‘be creative’. This is supposed to be fun after all. Just notice if there’s something you’re always having ideas about. Or what it is that gives you the most pleasure to make or do. Me, I’m always having ideas for ‘better’ patterns and instructions. And my brain automatically pulls together details into an overview.

Is it quality that gives you the biggest kick ? Are you unhappy to compromise, so even the hidden bits have to be ‘just right’ ? Or is that something that doesn’t worry you ? Do you slowly make few items of the highest quality ? Or do you get your biggest rewards from making clothes quickly so you have something new to wear in an hour’s time :D

What fabrics do you love to use ?
What techniques and tools are your favourites ?

Do you love to sew for yourself, or get more happiness from sewing for other adults, for children, for pets, for dolls, for your home ?
Do you prefer to make clothes, or bags, hats, aprons, quilts, home dec, gifts ?

Personally, I sew dolls clothes and quilts for escapism and relaxation (though I do find myself ‘improving’ the patterns :D ). Making clothes for myself I find much more challenging.

My ‘inner child’ loves making doll clothes – a quick way of getting that ‘hey look at what I made’ glee. As a child my favourite doll was a bright blue rag doll called Belinda, but I remember a doll which came with her own range of patterns – a clever marketing ploy in the days when many girls learned to make clothes at quite a young age.

Do you love to show and tell other people what you’ve been sewing, and how ? I may express my opinions about style, but I have a no-no about displaying my sewing. I have taught quilting, but I’m not a natural teacher. Happily many other people are very good at it.

Do you do better when with good company, so you love to take part in live classes, and on-line sewalongs and sewing contests ?
Personally I don’t take part in timed events as I disintegrate under pressure, but some people thrive on deadlines.

Do you get a big buzz from finishing a project, or quiet contentment from slow hand sewing ?

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Or of course any combination of these on alternate days !

What we love doing doesn’t always match up with what we are good at – but sewing is a hobby so that doesn’t matter.
What are your favourite sewing treats ?
How do you experience that inner feeling of something special ?
There are so many rich possibilities for joy, rest, relaxation, reward. A hobby is leisure time not responsible time – so each of us can choose what’s right for us, without worrying about other people’s choices.

What type of sewing will make this holiday period and 2013 into happier and more rewarding times for you :D

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Links available December 2012

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Explore posts in the same categories: personal style

6 Comments on ““Embrace Your Inner Dressmaker””

  1. sara Says:

    Great post! It’s true that for us who sew, it’s not just about putting together a wardrobe that suits us, it’s also about sewing what we like.
    I went through several phases since I bought my sewing machine 5 years ago.
    First a learning phase. I was very enthusiastic about trying new techniques and challenging myself with complex projects. I sewed a lot, not worrying much about how the garments I was sewing fit in with my lifestyle, or if they went with other items in my wardrobe. During that phase, I made a lot of wadders, but that’s ok, as I was learning.
    Then I reached a point where I felt much more confident in my sewing and decided I should sew all my clothes, except for underwear. Again, I was being very enthusiastic, but not very realistic. I ended up with many holes in my closet.
    So, for the past couple of years, I’ve been planning seasonal capsules, which include purchased items, and this is working out quite well. I don’t always make everything I had planned, but that’s ok. It will always be a work in progress. And I don’t always follow the plan exactly. When I find fabric I must have, I don’t always have a garment in mind when I purchase it. So I’ll look at patterns for a while until I find the right one. So this garment might not actually be in my original plan, but I usually find a way to work it in.
    I used to buy fabrics I liked without thinking too much about how they would work with the rest of my wardrobe, but now my purchases are much more reasonable. Even if I don’t know exactly what a piece of fabric will become, I have gotten much better at purchasing fabrics that fit within a color scheme, and that aren’t all dress-weight. I get less excited about bottom-weights, but I do need them!
    As far as patterns are concerned, I’ve been sewing more simple shapes, perfecting TNTs that I know suit my body and my lifestyle.
    Of course, now I suddenly really want to sew a pretty, sophisticated dress. I guess after sewing many basics, I need to add some spice to my wardrobe. As I said, a work in progress…

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks for your interesting comments Sara. Your idea that we go through phases is a good one. I made a lot of clothes from aged about 5 – 35, including many Vogue Designer special occasion dresses, and the first level of professional dressmaker training. Then ‘life intervened’ for about 25 years, and machines, techniques, fabrics, tools have changed – so I think of myself as an ‘expert beginner’. Going from a hand-operated straight stitch machine to a computerised machine with 100 decorative stitches was rather a shock :D Now I’m rebuilding confidence in techniques and pattern making, and learning about fit and styling for a different life, body shape, colouring. It helps to enjoy learning, as sewing has near infinite learning possibilities !

  2. Lynn Mally Says:

    Since I retired a year and a half ago, my sewing style has changed. I love to make silk jackets and since I was a college professor I always had a place to wear them. Now a few times I have laid out a pattern with beautiful fabric and asked myself just when it would ever see the light of day. So now I am concentrating more on things I can wear day to day.

    • sewingplums Says:

      Well Lynn, if you enjoy making the silk jackets, why not go on making them. Have a special closet full of clothes to admire rather than wear. It took me a long time to realise that retirement doesn’t have to be about doing something useful all the time :D

  3. Sewmodest Says:

    Your blog is one of my favorite to read, so I have nominated you for a blog award, if you like you can get it at http://farhanasews.blogspot.com/2012/12/i-got-award.html
    thank you for the inspiraton

    • sewingplums Says:

      Wow – thanks Sewmodest – how amazing, I’ve never received an award before ! It will take some thought – hope to write about it next weekend. Best Wishes for your sewing.


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