Friday, 26 January 2018

If at first you don't succeed...

As a sewing blogger, or as a sewist in general, we love to show off the makes we are proud of.  The pieces where we have done our best work.
But the reality of sewing is that not everything works out. Sometimes it simply does not work out, or you are not happy with it.
Do you have an area of sewing that is currently just beyond your reach?
For me it is bag making.
I can make a lovely tote bag until the cows come home. However, when I attempt a handbag it just doesn't work out. My first attempt was so bad I didn't even photograph it! The fact that I tried to self draft it based on an existing bag probably had a LOT to do with the fail!
My next attempt was better (top right photo below). I used a free pattern by Blue Calla (see here). However, I didn't have any hardware on hand so just didn't use any. This resulted in a really "homemade" looking bag, but not in a good way. I used this bag for a little while, but don't love it.
I have just finished another bag (bottom right photo below), also a free pattern by Blue Calla (see here). I used hardware salvaged from a worn out bag. Yes, it is better than the last one but I'm still not thrilled with it. I used suede scraps & leftover fabric from my previous bag making attempt. The pattern is great, it's my execution I'm not happy with.
My garment sewing has precision & is as nice on the inside as it is outside. Why is my bag making a hot mess??? Argh! It's frustrating!
Currently, I have so little confidence in my skill that I refuse to buy a pattern. Why spend money on something I'm going to mess up?? But this defeatist attitude is not going to get me anywhere!
I'm considering trying the Necessary Clutch Wallet by Emmaline Bags.  I've seen so many beautiful versions on insta, I especially love those made in cork fabric. Or the Magnolia Mini Messenger by Blue Calla, also a chance to experiment with cork fabric!
I certainly do NOT need another bag or wallet. I just want to conquer this aspect of sewing that seems to ellude me!
Of course, I should stop comparing my attempts to the high quality professional leather bags I have. Lets be honest, I have neither the skill or equipment to come close to my Carbotti or Coach handbags!
Big sigh...I will just keep ploding along and hope for something functional that isn't a hot mess!
Is there an area of sewing that you want to improve in? Or perhaps you want to start sewing, but think you will mess it up (contact me, I can recommend fool proof patterns for beginners!)
Happy Sewing! Wish me luck!!

Xox Allison
On the left is how I want my bags to look, on the right are what I have so far.
Granted, I have neither the tools or skill to make a Chanel bag...

Thursday, 18 January 2018

White Pants Confession #smyly2018

Currently on Instagram there is a tag gaining momentum amongst the sewing community: #smyly2018
Sewing makes you love yourself.
For me, this is SO true.
As a teen, growing up in Australia, there were no tall retailers and it was before online shopping.
I truly believed there was something wrong with me, with my body, because the clothes I wanted to wear and buy did not fit me properly. They did not fit at all.
I was a very chubby teen, which didn't help, but being 6 feet tall meant everything was too short.
It wasn't until I started sewing that I realized that the problem was with the clothes, not with me. But even then, I felt somehow wrong or different because I had to make so many changes to patterns.
I have a rare congenital bone defect in my lower left leg (congenital pseudarthrosis, which caused a non union in my fibula and bow & fracture in the tibia). So my left leg is 2.5 cm (1 inch) shorter than my right leg. My hips are uneven, which makes fitting pants really difficult. I would do my best to hide this "flaw" in the way I dress and stand. I even avoided wearing a belt because it drew focus to how uneven my hips were (which was ridiculous, sometimes you need a belt to hold your pants up!).
I would never wear light colours on my lower half because I thought it drew attention to my uneven hips and was not flattering to my pear shape.
Fast forward to a few years ago and I came across the blog Pretty Tall Style by the fabulous Tanasha. She made beautiful clothes and she was tall. Tanasha talked about the modifications she made to patterns to fit her tall frame in a straight forward and matter of fact way, because that's what you do to make a pattern fit you.
It was like a light went on for me! Of course it was normal to make adjustments. Why did I see that so clearly for someone else, but for myself I still felt a bit "not normal" about it.
Then I got on Instagram and the seeing all the adjustments and fitting issues of marvellous women of all shapes and sizes was like a shining light and Hallelujah chorus from heaven. EVERYONE has fit issues! Everyone!
I already had a good sense of style that suited me and worked for my body. Sewing made me focus further on fit and really changed my thinking from "my body isn't right for that skirt/trouser/dress" to "that clothing item isn't right for my body".
It was a small but powerful shift.
The problem was not me. The clothes were not right for me.
This shift in thinking encouraged me to challenge my thoughts about what I could & could not wear. I always loved the look of white pants on others, women of all shapes and sizes. So why did I think I couldn't wear them?
I decided to make myself a pair. To be honest, the pattern I used did not suit my body so I had 3 attempts at getting them right (with long frustrated breaks in between!) but I finally got there.
They are not perfect. With my uneven hips & leg length discrepancy getting a perfect fit is beyond my capabilities currently, but the pants are comfortable and wearable. One of my sewing goals for 2018 is to create a pants block for my body, which means drafting each side sperately to accommodate my wonky shape.
Sewing has helped me accept my body for what it is. Honestly, I'm lucky just to have my leg as most people with my condition have had the limb amputated in childhood. When I remind myself of that, a few pull lines on a pair of pants really aren't a big deal!
Happy Sewing!
Xox Allison
Left: you can see my uneven shape
Right: how I always stand to even up my hips!