The Seamstress Tag

This #TheSeamstressTag thing has been doing the sewing blog and vlog rounds lately, so I thought I should probably join in. This is me, then 🙂

Who are you?

My name’s Anna, although some know me as Jo as I write gay romance under the name Josephine Myles. I live in the vibrant town of Frome in beautiful Somerset, in a fab 1960s bungalow with my partner Andy, my daughter Daisy (aged 11), our son Gabriel (22 months), and the two cats, Lottie and Dottie.

Gabriel and Daisy
Me and Andy. I’m wearing one of my dresses here, but you can’t see much of it so you’ll just have to take my word that it’s gorgeous!

When & why did you start sewing?

I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember, although my childhood makes were confined to embroidery and soft toys. I made a few garments for school in my teens, but a nasty incident sewing through my finger put me off sewing machines for a long while. I didn’t take up garment sewing again until my daughter was a couple of years old, so I reckon that must be nine years ago now. I was motivated originally by wanting to make vintage style clothing that fit me properly and I sewed a lot of evening dresses, but now I’m more into making everyday sort of clothes. I tend to be really specific about what I’m looking for when clothes shopping so it can be tough to find anything that fits the bill. Sewing allows me to make exactly what I want, out of the fabrics I love.

What is your favourite or proudest make?

I think I’m still proudest of the corset I made, which not only involved learning a whole new skillset, but was probably the first time I ever achieved a perfectly fitted garment which is way comfier than I ever imagined a corset could be. Admittedly I hardly ever wear it as I no longer get the chance to go to cabaret shows very often, but perhaps when Gabriel is older I’ll get out more. Or I could start wearing it over regular clothing as is apparently ultra fashionable this season…

Steampunk outfit
I made all these clothes. Go me! (not the boots or tights, obvs)

What is your most disastrous make?

There have been a fair few over the years, but I think the pair of brown corduroy trousers were the worst. I hadn’t realised then that corduroy has a nap, and so the back looked a distinctly different colour to the front because of the way the nap caught the light differently. I quickly relegated them to lounging around the house wear, and at some point I must have given them to a charity shop as I no longer have them.

Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?

I’ve never been fabric shopping in London, so I’m going to plump for my best local fabric shop: The Sewing Studio in Bath, which Winnie from Scruffy Badger Time wrote an excellent blog about here. They always have a great selection on quality fabrics and are really generous with their cuts and “student” discounts. Even to those of us approaching 40 who haven’t been a student for many years…

What is your most used pattern?

So far I haven’t been a big repeat offender, so it’s probably something I’ve made just twice: Simplicity 1469 which is a maternity top/dress. I’m not likely to make it again unless I have another child (hey, never say never!) but I’m currently making a similar pattern as I love this style of wrap front knit dress.

Simplicity 1469

Your most dreaded sewing task is…

Unpicking things that have gone wrong, along with alterations to RTW clothing. I’m always really pleased when I’ve finished alterations, but it’s tough to find the motivation to start when I could be sewing something new and shiny instead.

And your favourite sewing task?

I’d say learning any new skill is always a buzz, but I’m particularly fond of that moment when your stack of cut pieces of fabric suddenly becomes one piece: a whole garment. It might not be totally finished yet, but sewing that last seam and seeing it take shape is so exciting!

I’m also a real fan of hand-sewing, which I know is something many sewists dread. Perhaps it’s because I started with embroidery, but I love doing couture hand finishing. Not much time to indulge that at the moment, but I still hand pick the odd zip and hand stitch some hems. I take pride in my tiny neat stitches 🙂

What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?

I tend to go for blissful peace and quiet when sewing, but I have been known to listen to podcasts or Radio Four. Usually something factual, but I used to listen to the Archers podcast while sewing.

Printed or PDF?

I prefer printed as it saves so much time, but I do love the value for money of PDF and I’ve got a pretty good tracing technique these days, which doesn’t involve taping hundreds of sheets of paper together. Yay!

What sewing machine do you use?

I bought my sister’s old Bernina 1001 which is a really basic workhorse of a machine and I love it dearly, even if the presser feet cost an absolute fortune. I also have her old Janome overlocker, the MyLock 134D, which gets lots of use as I love sewing knits. I’d love a coverstitch machine too, and a second regular machine for projects that involve topstitching, but those are a long way off in the future. Unless we win the lottery…

Do you have any other hobbies?

I crochet and knit too–mainly crochet as I’m best at that, but I love sock knitting. There is no time for other hobbies what with having young children, but I do occasionally read a book if allowed a few minutes peace. I’m currently into crime novels and pop psychology books 🙂

So, that’s me. Feel free to join in with your answers to these questions if you have a blog or vlog, or here in the comments if you don’t 🙂

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