Hello, lovely people! I’m Anna (sometimes also known as Jo) and I’m a 40-year-old sewist living in Somerset, England. These days I share house space with my partner, Andy, and two kids: Daisy (11 and in that delightful pre-teen phase–sigh) and Gabriel (2, but fortunately not too terrible with it). There are two cats here as well, but they don’t get much of a look-in these days. Sorry, cats!
I’ve been sewing pretty much all of my life now. I learnt to sew at my Mum’s knee, and my very first sewing project was a little soft toy made of lots of felt scraps. I called him Mouseshaker, for reasons best known to my five-year-old self, and he’s somewhere in the attic, in a box full of sentimental crap. One day I’ll get on with my decluttering and find him again, and there will be pictures (that’s a threat and a promise!)
So, Mum was good for teaching me embroidery, but she wasn’t a dressmaker. I didn’t learn to make clothes until reaching secondary school. I made myself a dreadful pair of MC Hammer-style dropped-crotch trousers in a lovely skeleton leaf woven fabric. They had a wide elasticated waist and were extremely comfortable, but not very stylish even in the early 90s. I seemed to remember they were relegated purely to loungewear, but then I found this picture from a summer holiday in 1992. Proof I did indeed wear them out of the house on at least one occasion. Please ignore the bandana. I was going through a (mercifully) brief Guns ‘n’ Roses phase at the time.
My second school dressmaking project wasn’t as successful. I made a long-sleeved knit tee in powder blue, but finished before the rest of the class so my teacher made me add a patch pocket on the front, despite my stylistic objections. And then I accidentally left the presser foot up and sewed right through my finger. There was a lot of blood. I never wore that blood-stained tee and I perhaps unsurprisingly I didn’t carry on with dressmaking the next year…
So, for a long time I was afraid of sewing machines and the only sewing I did was the odd bit of repair work by hand. But then after having my daughter, I felt the need for a new creative outlet. And for clothes that fit my post-childbearing body properly. And so I faced my fears, enrolled on a dressmaking evening class at my local college and sewed up a few Butterick and McCalls patterns, to varying degrees of success. I haven’t kept any of those garments and I don’t have photographic evidence either. Actually, that’s a lie. I have one red wool self-drafted lined skirt that I fully intend to remake into something that fits me now I’ve lost all the baby weight. I would post a photograph but it’s just hanging off me now and would look like one of those dodgy ads for the latest diet fad.
After those initial early disasters I took up running, lost a load of weight, and then discovered Craftsy. Taking a few classes there really upped my game when it came to making garments that fit me properly. From this period in my sewing career I have a fairly extensive range of cocktail dresses, a steampunk burlesque costume and a corset. Yep, technically impressive but not the kind of clothes that really get worn all that often. Still, I’m spoiled for choice when choosing clothes for a posh night out. Shame that doesn’t happen more than a couple of times a year!
It wasn’t until I discovered the world of sewing blogs (about four years ago) and the wonderful challenge that is Me Made May that I started to realise the possibilities for making the kind of clothes that I would wear every day. It took me a while to get started–getting pregnant with Gabriel put the brakes on temporarily as I knew my body would change size massively over the next couple of years–but in 2016 I finally felt like I had enough me-made items to take part in Me Made May. And it was a huge amount of fun.
Learning to sew with knit fabrics has really been a revelation. I had lots of technical skills when it came to fitting and sewing tricky fabrics, but the things I made rarely felt comfortable enough to want to wear all that often. Now I’m a bit of an old hand at knits I’m wondering why I found them so scary to begin with. I’d now much rather sew with knits than with wovens–I just wish it was easier to find a good range of knits in fabric stores!
This blog’s been going for a couple of years now (first post 23rd January 2015) and I’ve learnt lots along the way. I’m now posting most weeks and getting way more organised about my sewing. I’m also homing in on my personal style and hoping to get a better ratio of hits to misses in future. I haven’t completely vetoed the idea of buying ready-to-wear clothing, but I’m finding these days that I’m way more likely to think first: can I make it myself (in a reasonable timeframe)?
Please browse my past makes (handily indexed for you in the menu above) and I’d love to read your comments. Sewing is more fun when we can chat about it with others, and I’d love to make more sewing friends!
And here are my two little lovelies, Daisy and Gabriel: