Wednesday, 21 January 2015

When I started sewing

I feel like this should be a superhero origins story or something. I've been sewing for 2/3 of my life!

When I was 9, I joined Girl Guides and needed to sew badges on my sash.  I asked my mum to show me how to hand sew.  She had grown up in rural Newfoundland without modern conveniences of any sort, so had started making items the family needed from a very young age.  She was proficient in knitting, sewing, rug hooking, fishing net tying, and all sorts of other handcrafts. When she left home at 16 she promptly turned her back on all that and embraced the modern life.  She still remembers how to do things like work her sewing machine, whipstitch by hand, cast on, knit, and cast off. So she was able to start me on these things and I had to learn more on my own.

I sewed all my badges on my Guide sash and some odds and ends of craft projects by hand.  In grade 7 we took family studies class where we had our first formal instruction in sewing machine use.  I made a stuffed lizard. That was it, I was hooked! Several other small, patternless projects happened after that.  Hallowe'en bags, pillow cases, patching jeans, etc.

In grade 10 I took Fashion class.  I was super excited to be able to take a family studies class that was only about sewing!  My first pattern was a wrap skirt.  Four darts, two seams, a waistband, side hems, and bottom hem.  Easy stuff.
Simplicity 2572 in all it's 1999 styling.
I used a tie-dye orange quilting cotton with little gold foil hearts on it.  Eye-searingly bright.

My second project was a little more ambitious. The JNCO jeans were so cool, but so expensive, and totally something I lusted after.

Ah yes, pants for twelve.
These were only sold in Toronto, and were nearly $200 a pair. So I made my own.

McCall's 2360 to the rescue!
I'll scan in the finished project photo tomorrow as a Throw Back Thursday.  It was amazing.

This established me as a talented sewist among my family and friends and influenced me in taking another sewing class in my OAC year.  I was the last class to have OAC (Grade 13 or University preparatory year) so under the new curriculum my grade 10 sewing class was now a grade 11 sewing class.  Technically, I had already taken the class, but I was allowed to take it again since it had a new course number and counted as a new credit.  I sewed a terrible purse, and then my prom dress.  I was the top of the class and would have earned a scholarship had I went directly into sewing from there.  I chose sciences instead, so the scholarship went the next in line.

Out of high school, I worked at Fabricland, then in a mall tailor shop when I first moved to Vancouver.  I learned so many things in the three months I was in the tailor shop, it's crazy.

Now that the internet is the treasure trove of information that it is, if I need to learn a new sewing technique, or something isn't working out quite right with a pattern, I can just Google it and have solutions or answers almost instantly.  What an amazing time to be a maker.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Darn it. I'm sorry. Your comment published twice, so I tried to delete the duplicate and both disappeared instead. Guess I haven't figured out the comments part of Blogger yet.
      But yes, my mum hated the wide pants too. She complained that I dragged mud into the house and the pants stirred up dirt making my shoes and socks much dirtier than necessary. The winter was the worst because of the snow and slush. My jeans were often soaking wet up to the knees after walking to the pizza place for lunch.

  2. those pattern envelopes are something else! The wide-legged jeans… hmmm. I learned to sew in the '80s, so my first patterns were equally dated. Donna Karan bodies and Calvin Klein high-waisted skirts if I remember. In the '90s I kicked off the grunge era with a brown, wide-wale jumper/dress that I LOVED. Fun reading your blog!

    1. Oh man, I bet the 80's was at least an exciting time to learn to sew. Never a lack of poof or colour. And a brown wide-wale jumper? I can see that being something I'd have loved too. Corduroy is one of my guilty pleasure fabrics. It feels amazing, but my father teases me saying I look like an upholstered armchair.
      Thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoy it!