Sewcializing with a Sewcialist – November Edition

Hello fellow Sewcialists!  It’s Nisha from Blue Sunday  back with the November edition of Sewcializing with a Sewcialist.  This is our monthly highlight of a sewist from the Flicker pool.  We can never have too many resources or sources of inspiration … and that’s what Sewcializing is all about.  Sharing resources and inspiration.

The holiday season is fast approaching.  Why don’t we kick it off with a with a bit of happy?  I can’t think of a better catalyst for all things that bring joy than Winnie from Scruffy Badger Time.  I was initially exposed to Winnie’s blog during Oonapalooza, where she made the dress pictured below.  Queue the upbeat holiday music and the beverage of your choice … let’s settle in and hang out with Winnie for a bit.

Scruffy Badger Oona

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How did you start sewing?

I have been sewing since I was a child (I’d say from about age 7) and was taught by my Mum (who was taught by her Mum who was taught by her sisters).    I can remember dreaming of the dolls’ clothes I was going to make as I fell asleep, these days it’s my clothes….I picked it back up again with gusto in a reaction to my emptying nest when my children left home….

What are a few of the ways you learn new skills and challenge yourself?

Learning new skills is such fun!  And for me that generally comes by picking something with a harder skill level & following the instructions.  I generally am a pattern instruction reader, as opposed to researching on the internet, & really enjoy seeing different approaches for completing the same process.  For example I have tried quite a few different methods for invisible zip insertion & it fascinates me how results can vary & be improved by small bits of others’ know how.  HOWEVER saying that, I love reading sewing blogs & some bloggers also leave revelations they discover about making a particular process easier by doing xyz.  It’s just one of the cool things about the online sewing community.

Scruffy Badger Pants

What is your best sewing organizational tip you can share and how has it helped keep you organized?

Oh I am organised am I?  My best organisational tip at a time when I had a long list of projects with various events to sew for, was to get down in the detail and project plan, with a whiteboard and my google calendar.  It was the only way that I could understand if this long list of projects was achievable.  I wrote more about that here.

What is your favorite online shopping retailer (for sewing fabric, notions, supplies) and why?

There are so many wonderful fabric shops, and I don’t think I’ve had a bad online experience.  I’ve had quite a few dealings with Minerva Crafts and Plush Addict.  Minerva offers a vast choice with a massive range available online, with quite a lot of bargains- if you know what you want it’s a good place to look first.  Plush addict on the other hand may cost a little more, but the quality of fabric is superb, and the prints available are cute, quirky and interesting. It’s a browser’s heaven, and sure to inspire.

Scruffy Badger Red Dress

What sewing tool can you absolutely not live without and why?

Now this is an interesting one!  In addition to the standard kit of scissors, pins, seam ripper I would have to say I’m a late convert to a silk organza press cloth & a sleeve board.  If I had to pick one, it would be the sleeve board – it’s good for so much more than sleeves – trouser legs can be pressed so much easier using one of these minis.  The silk organza is a huge boon for pressing whilst being able to see through the press cloth.  I use it to get a hotter iron heat on fabrics that maybe would shine, or scorch if ironing directly on them.  I also use it for attaching fusible interfacing to save my iron getting goo on it.

How do you sewcialize?

I have a workday routine that most days involves checking out Bloglovin with my morning cuppa to get a quick overview of what’s been happening.  During the workday I can’t sewcialise (and the temptation is greatly reduced by lack of wifi/ 3G coverage in my office 🙂  ).  In non working hours, like everyone else I have to limit myself otherwise I wouldn’t get sewing,  I mean there is just so much out there!  But I dabble in twitter, instagram and a sprinkling of facebook- but I will generally return to Bloglovin or Pinterest for a quick fix maybe over my evening meal.  Then Saturday mornings spent lost in Pinterest …..sound familiar?! I reckon my contribution on IG/ Twitter has to be noticeably larger at weekends!  I love the Firehose – I think it’s such a cool idea.  (Then there is my own blog which I try to update with a couple of posts a week & respond to the lovely comments & queries- I suppose that is Sewcialising too)!

What’s your proudest sewing moment to date?

I have struggled with this one!!  I think I am probably most proud of things that use more skill (whether sewing techniques/ tailoring or learning about fitting) particularly if they are made from expensive fabric.    And out of all of my sewing output, I do not tend to sew a lot that fits this category!  (That’s a useful bit of self reflection!! And an area for improvement) So, my top three garments:  The Spearmint Coat that I pattern tested for Lolita patterns – it is made from Wool Melton and has a bound buttonhole, is embellished with some badger ricrac too.  It was my first coat & it feel so special.

scruffy-badger- Spearmint Coat

The Crepe Dress by Colette Patterns – I have only made it once, but it was my first real fitting challenge – I learnt soooo much through trial and error.  (The fabric was from Walthamstow, so not an expensive one).

Colette Dress

And my Flora dress by By Hand London – the fabric was awesome John Kaldor “pansies on acid” and I’d lined & piped it.  I love this dress.

By Hand London Flora

Since the holiday season is right on our heels and we’ll all need something FABULOUS in our closets to wear … what’s your “go to” party outfit?

My holiday staple over the Christmas period? It has to be my peplum charlotte skirt! It’s my party skirt without ever feeling over dressed!

Scruffy Badger Charlotte Skirt

Winnie’s my kind of girl.  There is no better way to end an interview than with a glass of champagne!  Winnie, thanks for taking the time to answer the questions AND for tolerating the emails.  It is greatly appreciated.  I love the happy you bring into the world with your enthusiasm and passion for sewing … its reflected in all you do!

What about you fellow Sewcialists?  Do you have “go to” pattern or outfit for the holidays?  Please share in the comments below.  Until next time!!

 

Sewcializing with a Sewcialist – October Edition

Hi Everyone, it’s Nisha from Blue Sunday and I’m so excited to introduce to you our featured sewer for the month of October.  If you’re seeing Sewcializing with a Sewcialist for the first time … these articles are all about getting to know those friendly faces featured in the Sewcialist Flickr Pool.   Every month a Sewcialist gives us a little peak inside their world to inspire and share their knowledge.

This month we’ll be hanging out with Jenny from Cashmerette & Curvy Sewing Collective.  This sewcialist is going to be fun and inspiring!  She’s already inspired me to get out of my sewing comfort zone, buy a Burda pattern & add making a coat to my sewing list!  Grab your favorite beverage and let’s hang with Jenny.

Jenny Cashmerette Featured photo

Jenny – how did you get your start sewing?

A colleague came to the office one day in a fabulous skirt and when I asked her where she’d bought it, she said she’s sewed it with fabric from IKEA! I was stunned at the idea of being able to make my own clothes. It took me another year, but I took a simple introduction class and then jumped straight in, using lots of online tutorials and following blogs. I’ve been sewing for about 4 years now, and I’m constantly learning.

What is your best sewing organizational  tip and how has it helped keep you organized?

I hang all my pattern pieces on clothes hangers, which I keep on a rail in my sewing room. Everything’s easy to access, and there’s no need to fold the pieces.

Jenny Cashmerette Swim Suit

What sewing tool can you absolutely not live without and why?

My rotary cutter and mat – I’m so much more accurate using them, and an awful lot faster!

What is your favorite online shopping retailer?

For fabric, I absolutely adore Emma One Sock – she buys fabric directly from designers, and the variety and quality are fantastic.

Jenny Casmerette Wrap Dress

Where do you find inspiration?

I find a lot of inspiration from plus size fashion bloggers, like Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason. They show how curvy women can wear the latest fashions – thanks to Gabi, I even recently made a crop top and wore it out in public!

How do you sewcialize?

I set up the Curvy Sewing Collective with some of my other plus size sewing blogger friends, and it’s been a fantastic way to come together and help the whole community of curvy sewists. We have a forum and lots of guest contributors, and it’s been a  lovely way to meet other women just like me. In addition, I go to the Crafty Foxes sewing group every Wednesday night at Grey’s Fabrics – it’s such a fun group, including Katy and Laney, Ping, and many others.

Jenny Cashmerette Dress

Speaking of the Curvy Sewing Collective what’s your best advice for curvy sewists?

While everyone can enjoy the fun of sewing, I think it’s curvy women who can get the most out of it! It’s so hard to find well fitting and modern RTW clothes, but once you learn how to sew, you can create your own wardrobe that flatters and fits. If you’re starting, great options are making things like a simple wrap skirt or the Colette Moneta dress which is really drafted well for plus sizes. Then, you’re going to need to learn the basic adjustments, like a Full Bust Adjustment and widening waists – they’re actually pretty simple, and once you have them down it will make a huge difference to your fitting.

In terms of pattern companies, unfortunately I don’t think there’s a single company that really meets all our needs right now. However, Colette’s new knit patterns go up to 3XL (the Moneta and Myrtle are particularly great), Style Arc has all their patterns up to a size 30 (although unfortunately the instructions are really bad, so they’re not good for beginners), and I’ve heard good things about Hot Patterns, too. And of course the Big 4 often (though not always) goes into plus sizes – if you do go the Big 4 route though, make sure you choose your size based on finished garment measurement and not the body measurement as they assume enormous amounts of ease. I often “size down” 2 – 3 sizes from the suggested size.

What’s your proudest sewing moment to date?

Making my winter coat last year! It took me a very long time and I painstakingly researched and executed every step. I ended up wearing it all winter, and felt fantastic every time I put it on. I’m planning an emerald green version this year!

Jenny Cashmerette Coat

What’s on your sewing table right now?

I’m making my second winter coat! I’m using an amazing emerald green 100% cashmere coating from Mood, lined with a flamingo poly crepe de chine from EmmaOne Sock. Last year I made Simplicity 1759 and fit it for my chest, so I’m going to use that pattern again, but use view B which is a narrow collar which stands up. I’m hoping to make a medium weight coat that will work for Fall and Spring, so I need to get going quickly!

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You have got to love these makes and by the way that super hot black jersey dress at the top of the post that is EVERYTHING … is Jenny’s first Burda pattern. And if you want know more about Jenny and the Curvy Sewing Collective, definitely check our her blog, Cashmerette.  Jenny – big thanks for allowing me access to you and your pictures.

Don’t forget to post those makes to the Sewcialist Flickr Pool!  See ya next month.

Sewcializing with a Sewcialist – Meet Meg!

Hello fellow makers!  I’m Nisha Williams and from time to time I’ll be taking a break from my blog, Blue Sunday, to hang out with you all over here!  I’ve been sewing for a little over 3 years, but the last year my sewing has improved greatly (meaning … I can wear what I sew in public!).

What changed?  I added people into the mix.  While I struggled to learn to sew on my own with online classes and You Tube videos … it wasn’t until I discovered this world of bloggers who so openly share their knowledge, techniques, and resources that my sewing skills have taken on new heights!

When Gillian asked if people would like to write for this blog, I thought wouldn’t it be great if we could really get to know the people we see on the Flickr page.  We see what they make … but what inspires them?  How did they get their start?  How do they continue to grow?

Every Sewist has a story, and every month I’ll bring you a new sewist from the Flickr pool.  Grab your favorite beverage.  Make yourself comfy while we “sewcialize” for a bit.  Let’s hang out with Meg McCarthy or on Flickr …  McCarthy_Meg 1979.

Meg Profile

Hello Sewcialists! Thank you so much for choosing me to interview, Nisha! I am honored and a bit surprised. I still feel like a sewing newbie, so the idea of sharing my knowledge and resources is funny to me… I have knowledge to share?!

 How did you get your start sewing?

My mother is an extremely accomplished sewist: garments, quilts… pretty much anything you can think of, she’s sewn it. She was always sewing (and knitting and crafting) when we were growing up, so I was always steeped in it. Despite her best efforts to teach me, I only had a fleeting interest in sewing as a child, making a project here and there. She bought me a beginner sewing machine when I was in my 20’s and I expressed an interest, but even then I really hadn’t been fully bitten by the sewing bug. It wasn’t until I moved abroad a few years ago, struggled to find a job, and was quite lonely that I began sewing more intensely, spurred on by the active, inspiring, and super supportive online sewing community. I used a lot of online resources, mainly, to answer sewing questions: tutorials, YouTube videos, blogs. Now I’ve learned so much that I can share tips with my mom! She’s trying her hand at sewing with knits after my recent knit sewing successes… fun!

Meg McCarthy 2

What are a few of the ways you learn new skills and challenge yourself?

I like to challenge myself with increasingly more difficult patterns or techniques. But I try to take them one at a time to keep it manageable. I finally feel, after months of trepidation and several wonky installations, more confident with zippers. But zip flys? Slippery fabrics? Sleeve plackets? Any serious pattern alterations? OMG, terrifying. Baby steps…

What is your best sewing organizational tip you can share and how has it helped keep you organized?

Ha ha ha… organized? I don’t think I am very organized. I go in spurts: massive clean-ups and organizational overhauls of my sewing stuff followed by months of messing up said organization by pulling fabric and patterns out for inspiration and then not returning them to their proper location for weeks and weeks.

What is your favorite online shopping retailer (for sewing fabric, notions, supplies) and why?

I live abroad (Bangkok, Thailand and previously in Jakarta, Indonesia) and only recently have a reliable means of receiving packages, so I actually haven’t done all that much online fabric shopping. I’ve had decent although occasionally mixed experiences with Fabric.com and Girl Charlee, but am excited to try a couple shops I’ve learned about via other bloggers (Michael Levine, Cali Fabrics, Fashion Fabrics Club). Also, over at Imagine Gnats, Rachael is seriously the world’s fastest shipper (she ships same day most of the time!!) and has some amazing fabrics in her curated collection.

Meg McCarthy 3

What sewing tool can you absolutely not live without and why?

Seam ripper, for sure. Cures all sewing ills: pieces sewn wrong sides together, wonky stitching… all common occurrences in my sewing!

Where do you find inspiration?

A combination: other sewing bloggers (so many creative folks out there!), ready-to-wear browsing (Anthropologie, etc.), people-watching. Bangkok has some amazing people-watching, clothes-wise. People are not afraid of outside-the-box fashion here… funky fabrics, pattern mixing, super bright colors, crazy details. Jakarta people-watching was also fun: gorgeous batik and ikat fabrics in all sorts of fun combinations. Highly inspiring!

Meg McCarthy 4

How do you sewcialize?

When I first started sewing I was immediately posting my stuff on my blog, but otherwise I was a bit shy about “sewcializing.” I did a lot of lurking. Recently I started getting more into it, realizing how lovely and supportive everyone in the sewing world is and how fun it is to share this fabric/sewing/garment-making obsession with others who “get” it. So now I’m sewcializing all over the place, including on my blog, Twitter, Instagram, Kollabora, Flickr, participating in sewalongs, commenting on blogs, participating in Me Made May, etc. Sewcializing more has brought me some awesome opportunities to contribute to other blogs, participate in blog tours and even do a little bit of pattern testing, which has been really fun. I might even have a sewing meet-up soon, even though I live so far away in Bangkok, and I couldn’t be more excited!

What’s your proudest sewing moment to date?

Hmmm… I can’t decide! Maybe my ikat By Hand London Victoria blazer? Love that thing! At the time I made it, it was by far my most complicated make.

 Meg McCarthy Ikat

In that same vein, I was quite proud of my plaid Negroni for my husband… it’s not quite his style, but I think I did a great job putting it together, pattern matching and sewing the bias yoke and pockets! But perhaps one of my more recent sewing adventures makes me the most proud: I am super proud of my successful invisible zip and (almost) pattern matching on my Southwestern Emery dress (first picture in this post). I worked really hard on it and think it came out pretty great. Plus, I drafted neckline facings for the Emery, which was a first for me.

Meg McCarthy Emery Back

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Seriously, don’t you  just want to hop on a plane, fly to Bangkok and have a beer with Meg?!?  Meg thanks for taking the time to provide all of the detail and providing access to your pictures.  We appreciate your willingness to Sewcialize with us and providing a peak us into your sewing & crafting world.  Want more Meg?  Check out her blog.

Do you have any burning questions you would like to add to the interview list?  Leave them in comments below or email me at nishawilliams [at] msn [dot] com.  And don’t forget, scrappy September has just started.  What will you be making?  We’ll be following the Flickr page for your amazing Sraptember makes.  Happy Sewing!