I am so happy to introduce you to my dear friend Bree today! Bree and I met at the very first Perth Frocktails hosted by Nat and we immediately got on like a house on fire. To this day if we start talking one of us will be late for something because we always have just one more thing to say ;) Along with sewing gorgeous garments Bree is a fabulous bag maker and used to run her own business making beautiful school library bags. Bree was inspired by the #dresslikeacrayon tag to create a coordinating outfit and I love what she came up with! She chose a gorgeous recycled denim from my studio to make a pair of lovely tapered leg Dawn jeans paired with a Darling Ranges blouse made from our Antique wash Masala linen . I love how Bree has styled her outfit from the cuffed sleeves to the bow tied in the front and the woven flats!
I really hope you enjoy meeting Bree and learning all about her sewing journey and her community!!
What did you choose to sew for this project?
I chose to sew the Dawn Jeans and Darling Ranges top for this project. I had made a pair of Dawn Jeans before and love the fit and style so another pair was an easy choice. When I was in Megan’s studio, I tried on a Darling Ranges top sample with the high-waisted jeans I was wearing and my outfit idea was decided. I think my style is pretty eclectic, maybe less-so in my 40’s, but this outfit fits very well into my everyday wardrobe and the two pieces will get a lot of wear, together and with other items.
The fabrics I picked were normal choices but the colours were a little bolder, I guess. I have been trying to be brave with my colour choices. I also have loved Katie’s (@whatkatiesews) whole “dress like a crayon” idea, actually, I love everything she does, but haven’t really explored it as much as I would like. This photoshoot seemed like a good opportunity to push myself a little and I knew the colours would look lovely together.
Were there any new skills you picked up using your pattern/s?
I didn’t learn any new sewing skills making these two items as such, but I did do my first narrow shoulder pattern adjustment! I have been a bit allergic to making pattern adjustments for some unknown reason. I get away with it as my measurements mostly fit the standard pattern sizes, waist to hip ratio mainly as my bust size is normally a bit larger but I just squeeze myself in :) I did a ¾ inch narrow shoulder adjustment but it turned out I probably need a bit more taken in. The advice was that if it was more than that, I would have to change the sleeve too. I will have to do that on the next one as I am planning on making the dress version in the near future.
Did you have any challenges while sewing?
I really love how my jeans turned out. Nothing went wrong…yay! I had decided that I would just do straight topstitching on the back pockets as my thread was the colour of the fabric but when I was stitching the first one on, I was compelled to stitch a subtle little design on them. I actually love it and will definitely use it again for future jeans.
Who got you into sewing?
I have always been interested in clothes. I never throw clothes on and walk out the door, it is almost always a considered choice. I used to love op-shopping, finding amazing treasures of statement pieces with interesting and unique details. I definitely like wearing items that nobody else has and I think that my love of sewing led perfectly on from this. Being able to create unique clothing and gifts for people, is very rewarding to me.
I grew up with my Nana and Mum sewing and knitting around me. I remember my Nan taking me to her local fabric store when I was about ten and we picked out a skirt pattern and fabric and she taught me how to follow the pattern and make the skirt on her machine. I think I found it too much like frustrating work as I didn’t try sewing again until much later. I tried different projects on and off over the years but I only had the ideas, not the skills. About twelve years ago, I did a skirt block class at TAFE and that gave me a few more skills and set me on my current trajectory. Sewing became my main pursuit about seven years ago when I started making clothes for my son and myself. I also had a little sewing business, Tee Tee Tom Tom, for a while, selling library bags for kids.
Who do you mostly sew for?
I have been making a lot of gifts lately but mainly I sew for myself, my son and occasionally, my partner has been bestowed a few items. I have been lucky that my son has always been happy to wear anything I make for him. He sees it as normal that his Mum makes his clothes. There are so many warm fuzzies to be gathered up when you go about the place dressed in clothes you have made and see garments you have made being worn. I’m not talking about the compliments, although of course they are nice, it is the feeling of wearing a layer of achievement. I am embellishing the sentiment here but all sewists know what I am talking about.
What do you hate about sewing?
I always keep coming back for more so I must not hate anything about sewing too much. Cutting out can be tedious if it is a big project. I don’t like sewing slippery fabric so I tend to avoid it and of course, I hate having to unpick mistakes. All my bad stories come from running out of time and staying up late trying to finish things. Bad things happen late at night in the sewing room sometimes. I know, I have been there many times.
If you could be someone’s fairy sewing mother, what gift of knowledge/skill would you bestow upon them?
I echo others when I say that pressing is nearly the most important thing to achieve the best item possible. I read somewhere to press the seams as sewn first, then press apart or wherever need be. That stuck in my mind and following that definitely improved my sewing.
What’s been an important lesson you’ve learnt while sewing that’s stuck with you?
I think I have finally gotten to the point where I don’t think that any project is too hard for me to attempt. I know now that it might just involve more steps. For a long time, I put off projects (like jeans) that I thought were beyond me and so my hardest lesson to learn in sewing was to be brave. It is a lesson I still need to revisit quite often though, like recently with the narrow shoulder pattern adjustment :)
What has been your crowning sewing achievement to date?
My sewing business was a great personal achievement, mainly for the fact that I undertook the challenge of it, not that it was any great success. I did put a lot of effort and love into everything I made and I still get great feedback from the people who bought things from me.
What has been your biggest sewing failure to date?
I have had quite a few failures but most of them involve the routine of big ideas, procrastination, running out of time and late-night tears. I do have to say here that most of my great successes have been subject to this routine too, minus the tears.
Do you have a favourite sewing story?
A favourite story that I like telling is that, probably 11 years ago now, just after that skirt block class, I got the big idea that I would sew a bag for all the ladies in mine and my partner’s family for Christmas. Eight bags in total and I’m sure I didn’t have enough time to do it as on Christmas eve at midnight (well, actually it was Christmas morning), I was starting to sew the last bag. My partner was still up making fruit mince pies and gave me a few cherries to keep me going. I didn’t have time to get up and move away, of course, and I bit into one and it exploded, sending cherry juice (lethal!) all over the bag pieces. That was the moment I gave up and my Mum missed out on getting a bag that Christmas Day. Classic Bree!
How do you interact with your fellow sewers?
I have involved myself in the sewing community both locally at social sewing and online on Instagram. I am a member of the Australian Sewing Guild and attend two local sewing meet-ups as often as I can. I never get much sewing done at these meet-ups but I do love sharing my hobby with other like-minded ladies and seeing what other people are working on. I just love “show and tell”!
How did you start getting involved in the sewing community?
I think I started a blog, signed-up to Instagram and joined a local craft group called Brown Owls, all in 2013. I had been obsessed with sewing blogs for a few years and had been building up my fabric stash but 2013 is when my sewing really started to take off. My blog only lasted 13 posts but I am glad it still exists to document my makes back then. Instagram, pre-ads, was really great back then and I met practically all my sewing friends through it. A few of them were local sewists who I ended up meeting in real life at the first Perth Frocktails event in 2015, organised by Nat from Sew for Life. Instagram is still great, of course, and it is my main way of keeping up with what everyone is doing. It is the ultimate “show and tell” so I will always love it :)
How would you recommend new sewers get involved in the community?
There are lots of ways to get involved! Join Instagram and maybe participate in a challenge, join a local ASG social sewing group or attend the annual Frocktails event. I know that there are heaps of Facebook sewing groups too but I have never joined one so I am not the person to ask about that! :)
I really hope you enjoyed meeting Bree! You can find her on Instagram @bree_bree_obree
See you next week for the next Community Project Feature!!