Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Happy Blogoversary to Me

So it’s my blogoversary...

When I first stumbled on fashion and sewing (and fashion sewing) blogs and sites like Pattern Review about 18 months ago (I can’t even remember how it happened now) it was as if a whole world opened up. Even though I have friends and family who are interested in fashion and sewing, I just love reading about people’s projects from all over the world. I really thought long and hard before starting my own blog as a) I wasn’t sure what I had to contribute to the sewing community and b) I wasn’t sure I had the dedication it would take. So here I am, a whole year later, having managed 57 posts which is a reasonable rate IMHO, I have had times where life got in the way or my mojo went on holiday and other times where I have been super-productive. But overall I have achieved my aims in starting my blog, namely to improve my standards and stop being lazy, and to stay motivated to sew more of my own clothes.

To celebrate I am not going to do an annual retrospective, but I am going to follow Lindsay T’s lead and give you my sewing back story…

One of my earliest and most favourite Christmas memories is the sounds I always heard on Christmas Eve after my sister and I had gone to bed. The wonderful, deep slicing sound of shears against the kitchen table (I still love that sound) and the whirring and rattling of the sewing machine. I didn’t know what exactly those sounds were but I knew they meant that on Christmas morning I would wake up and my sister and I would have a new dress each, made with love by our Mum. They were always identical except the colour and every year I loved and looked forward to my Christmas dress. I never felt that home made was ‘less than’ – I’ve always believed (even at that young age) that love and craftsmanship counted for more than the label on the inside.

When I was about 7 or 8 I started dance classes, which meant dancing costumes and my Mum patiently made those for me too.

The girl in the shamrock dress is my sister but I love the costume-I really wished it was mine. Our concert that year had an international theme - I scored the hula! I am probably about 7 or 8 here.

This lovely Spanish number is made from poplin. And I LOVED this jumpsuit (you can't tell from the picture but it's shorts). Mum took the tinsel off after the concert and I wore it everywhere until I grew out of it!

Thank goodness I was not talented at dance and didn’t carry on past my early teens, it must have been such a pressure on Mum as she always worked full time and, after I was 13, she was a single mother. I used to watch her sewing on sequins and wish that I could help but she would never let me. All the nagging must have worked though because she started to teach me to sew – by hand. She helped me cut out an evening dress for my Sindy doll – cobalt blue voile with white ribbon for the straps and belt. My reward for making this dress entirely by hand was my first sewing machine.

Ah, my first machine! It was a Holly Hobby design and had a crank that fitted into the fly wheel so I could wind by hand at first, then it had a little foot peddle that I moved onto when I was confident enough. It didn’t do zig zag or anything but I loved it, not to mention I had the best dressed dolls in the neighbourhood!

At about 15 I started making my own clothes and let me tell you there were some shockers! I didn’t really use patterns then but just felt my way through it. I believe this has helped me later in life with pattern drafting and fitting as I developed a sense of how a flat piece of fabric can be made to cover a curved surface.

Here's my year 10 formal dress (I'm 15) check out the fingerless gloves - I crocheted them! And yes, I did like 'A Flock of Seagulls'!

And next is my year 12 formal dress, it was 1986 and I was channeling Kylie Minogue with the hairdo (I should be so lucky!). I don't know what was going on with the dress - all I can remember is that I thought it ROCKED.
After year 11 I applied and was accepted to fashion design at the local technical college but I was convinced to complete high school as I had good grades (yes, I know, it was good advice!). I ended up studying psychology at university and after a round about journey ended up in market research.

For some reason I didn't do much sewing at this stage in my life. I did a lot of cross stitch, embroidery and bobbin lacemaking. On a trip to the UK in 2001 I even did a short course at the Royal School of Needlework.

After 61/2 years as a consultant I was burned out and completely miserable so I decided to pack it in and finally pursue my dreams, studying costume at WAAPA. I had a brilliant 3 years of study (at least I was sewing again even if it was for other people more than myself) and then 2 years scraping a living working as a theatre dresser, in a fancy dress shop, at a bridal design studio and in a fabric shop (where I also started teaching).

Working as a dresser on 'Boy From Oz'. Best. Job. Ever.
Sadly part time and casual work isn't enough for a single girl on the wrong side of 35 with a mortgage so when an opportunity came up to go back to market research I took it.

So that's where I am now. Constantly battling to maintain my work-life balance as I know all too well the consequences of letting that slide, but nevertheless happy that for the first time in five years I don't have to choose between paying bills and eating (or, more realistically, getting in more debt!). I'm also happy to have an outlet for my creative side, I have discovered that career wear really is my niche and it's great to be able to afford nice fabrics to work with. I'm also happy that I did decide to start this blog a year ago. I am chuffed to bits that anyone stops by and over the moon when I get comments from people. Sometimes when I feel work start to get on top of me I read my favourite blogs and I am reminded that so many of you have the same issues (namely you'd rather sew than just about anything else!), I just love that sense of connection.

So welcome to any new readers and thanks to any regulars for sticking with me. I hope you enjoy my little walk down memory lane. Feel free to chuckle at my shameful photos (I know I did!) but please don't judge - I am a victim of the times!


Teena in Toronto said...

Happy blogoversary!

Sew4Fun said...

Your post had me laughing and cringing at the same time. I can SO relate to being a victim of the times, with my high school formal dresses that "rocked". LOL!

And what's this? You were Hugh Jackman's dresser??!!!!! Talk about die and go to heaven. Droooool.....

Mary Nanna said...

Happy blog anniversary.. it's quite something to keep a blog going for a year.. don't worry I was a teen in the 80's too but fortunately there are no photos to bear evidence against me...

I love the way you share your successes and failures because I make lots of awful stuff all the time so I am always comforted by other people's wadders.

claire said...

happy 1 year! i love that you can still give me sewing advice (in wonderful jo detail!) from the other side of the country.

ahhh, mr. hugh jackman. nice work.

Tany said...

Happy Blogoversary! That's a lovely Sewing Backstory!

Sew Wilde said...

Happy Belated Blogoversary! I just found your blog and really like it. Your sewing backstory is good-I was a teen in the 80's too.

I am drooling that you got to dress Hugh Jackman-he is one of my favorite actors!

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

I'm a little late but Happy Blogoversary! What an interesting story!

angie.a said...

Really great backstory! Thanks for sharing, I LOVE the pictures!!

NessaKnits said...

Giggles at dresses and admits mine weren't much better! LOL