Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Sewing Back Story

Several weeks ago, Lindsay T asked about sewing back stories. Here's mine (I'm borrowing Dana's format):

My Pre-Sewing Days:
I'm the youngest of 5 children and grew up in a farm family. We weren't poor by any means, but we weren't overly wealthy either. My Mom sewed because it was economical. I remember many of my outfits in vivid detail. A navy blue top and pants with a red apple pocket. A pink pants suit with a striped blouse. They were adorable, coordinated outfits made primarily from polyester double knit. The pants pattern was made from newspaper and Mom joked that I never got any bigger around...she just kept making them longer.

Grade School:
I don't remember being taught to sew, but I know I learned from my Mom--probably by watching. I was probably in third grade when I began making
Barbie clothes--lots of them. I was only allowed to use my Mom's old Singer 301
and turn the wheel by hand--not use the knee control. That machine could fly, and I'm sure I would have sewn over my finger! Somewhere in this time period, I also learned how to knit, crochet, and embroider.

Jr. High/High School: I don't think I actually sewed anything for myself until my first Home Ec class in 7th grade. Everyone had to make an apron. I already knew how to sew and how to read a pattern sheet, so the apron was no problem. I added a hand-embroidered butterfly to the pocket of my apron. I still have the apron--somewhere here in one of the boxes. (We're waiting for our new home construction to be completed, and most of our stuff is packed away.) Through High School, I made some of my own clothes--mostly summer shorts, skirts, and blouses. I guess my sewing skills were pretty good because by the time I was a Senior, the Home Ec teacher asked me to do some sewing for her. And my friends would get me to help with their projects when the teacher wasn't looking---I inserted zippers and made buttonholes. I did some sewing for a boyfriend's mother and sister.

College: During my college years I made a few items--I mostly remember slim skirts, stirrup pants, and big shirts. One item wowed lots of people: I pink wool coat. My Mom showed me how to bag the lining. I lived at home and commuted to college every day, so I had ready access to my Mom's sewing room. When I moved away from home for an internship, she bought me a Singer sewing machine and loaned me her Singer serger. She bought me my own Singer serger after I graduated from college.

Early Career: Milwaukee was about 3 hours from home. Women were allowed to wear pants at my first place of employment! I bought suits and sewed the simpler pieces of my wardrobe--skirts and blouses--it was economical. Somewhere in here, volleyball, softball, and partying took up most of my free time, and I spent less time on sewing.

Sewing Revival: My first child, a daughter, was born in 2001, and I was thrilled to have a daughter to sew for! In 2002, I got my Bernina serger/coverstitch machine. In 2003, I discovered PR. I also got my Bernina 200E in 2003, and that's when my sewing life really changed. Thanks to the many feet available, sewing became incredibly easy. I rarely attempted invisible zippers or piping with my old machine--now they're a piece of cake! I began making lots of things for my daughter, but little or nothing for myself. As we all know, our bodies change with kids. I used to be able to make a size 10 from any of the Big 4 and it fit with few alterations. Not so anymore, and sewing for myself was very frustrating.

In 2005, I picked up an issue of Sew Beautiful and saw some amazing smocked dresses for little girls. "I need to add smocking to my repertoire", I thought. Before I even smocked a single stitch, I bought a pleater and subscribed to Australian Smocking and Embroidery. Here's the first thing I smocked:

For years, I had gone to our State Fair and analyzed the ribbon winners in the textile competition. "I could do that!" is what I always thought, but in order to enter the Fair competition, you have to be somewhat organized. Entry forms are due well in advance of the judging and Fair. In 2006, I finally got organized and entered 8 items in the children's clothing competition. I received 4 blue ribbons, three reds, and one pink. In 2007, I entered 6 items in the children's categories and took home 6 blue ribbons. In 2008, I finally took a stab at sewing for myself again and entered some items in the adult categories. Out of 11 items, I received 8 blue ribbons, two reds, and one white. Yeah, I'm just a little competitive!

2008 was also the year I discovered the world of sewing blogs. There are other people out there who love to sew as much as I do....and the internet brings us all together. So here I am....inspired by so many of the great sewists and bloggers, I have decided to create my own blog. I hope you will enjoy what I have to share!


Lindsay T said...

Welcome to blogging world, Marsha! You sound like a fantastic sewist so I'll look forward to seeing photos of your work. BTW, I spent my formative years just south of you in Wauwatosa and I have many happy memories of the greater Milwaukee area.

Bunny said...

While late to the party, I have enjoyed reading your back story. It is an amazing community we have here in blogland. Welcome to blogging and from what I can see you have a wonderful one that I will be visiting often. My sewing is much like yours, a combo of adult and heirloom/smocking. I will put you on my blogroll.

Insolvency advice said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. I can relate. When I was young my mom also used to sew our dress because as you say it's economical. But I really think it's nice.

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