How has everyone’s week been?! I am so happy to introduce you to wonderful Sue this week for our Sewing Community Project! I met Sue a few years ago at a sewing dinner and since then I love nothing more than to beeline for her at any sewing event and have a good long chat ;) I admire her so much! Her many travel and creative adventures are so wonderful to follow. She and her husband love to travel around WA taking glamping to whole new levels, setting up a sewing tent complete with vintage Elna so she can keep sewing on their trips. That’s the kind of camping I can get on board with!
For our Sewing Community Project Sue decided to make a Peace Silk Floreat top from a very small remnant of deadstock Peace Silk we received and paired it with the Tania culottes made from lovely antique wash bronze linen. As if this outfit wasn’t gorgeous enough, she also picked up the matching Tencel print to her peace silk Floreat top to make some Flint shorts and made a Floreat top from the antique wash linen to match her culottes. So now she has four gorgeous mix-and-match outfit combinations! See, I told you she was awesome ;)
I really hope you enjoy reading all about Sue and her sewing journey in her own words!
What did you choose to sew for this project?
I chose the MN Tania Culottes and the MN Floreat top. I have always been attracted to the Tania culottes but hadn’t really noticed the Floreat pattern as I don’t think the dress would suit me. However, I really liked the top when I tried it on in the shop. I found the peace silk remnants first for the top and then chose the coordinating linen for the culottes.
Were your choices your normal style, or did you try something different?
I think I went with garments that I knew would suit me, rather than taking a risk.
Did you have any challenges while sewing/did anything go wrong?
I had quite a few challenges with the silk for the top. The pattern was printed off grain and I had to decide whether to cut the top on grain and have the pattern meander around the top, and forget pattern matching, or to cut it slightly off-grain which would allow the pattern to look straight. I chose the latter option. With some serious fabric wrangling, I managed to get it to look reasonable. I didn’t put the seam in the back of the top, which meant that I had to do a tiny hand-stitched rolled hem for the neck opening. I used a button and rouleau loop to close the neck rather than a hook and eye.
What do you love about your new outfit?
I adore that peace silk! The feel is just amazing. I also love the culottes and know that I will wear them a lot and now have many coordinating tops to go with them. I don’t think I would do anything differently. I chose patterns and fabrics that I love and which suit my style. I did feel much more personal pressure with these two makes as the patterns and fabric had been provided and the prospect of the photo shoot was a bit scary. I didn’t want to let anyone down!
How did you learn to sew?
I began sewing when I was very young with my mother and then honed my skills at boarding school in the UK. I feel as though I’ve been sewing my whole life, but never quite feel that I’m a natural at it. I love the problem-solving aspects and the excitement of beginning a new project. These days I am almost incapable of wearing anything bought. I haven’t bought any clothes since 2013.
Who do you mostly sew for?
I sew for myself and my husband. I love to sew for my husband and he now exclusively wears what I make for him, which is a big thrill. I am a garment sewer predominantly, although I dabble with bags and other things. I have made a couple of quilts but I’m not very good at quilting. I do enjoy converting vintage linens into clothing and have boxes of them just waiting for me to find the perfect things to make.
What do you love about sewing?
I love the problem-solving and the creative aspects. When I’m sewing the world disappears and I often experience a “flow” state, where I lose track of time. This is good and bad. I love the fact that I can think about sewing when I’m doing mindless activities such as swimming, and often find that I do my best problem solving when I’m exercising or sleeping! I am really happy when I can solve a problem or create something that I consider to be as near to perfect as I can get it.
I have come to love the sewing community. This is relatively recent for me – the last seven years or so, but I have made friends all over the world and I never feel isolated. That feeling of being connected is the absolute best.
What do you hate about sewing?
I hate pernickety machines! When thread breaks, bobbins jam, or things don’t go smoothly. I think I have a love/hate relationship with my main sewing machine and I often get an old one out to give myself a break. I also find that I never have quite enough material to make whatever it is I want to make. This is where the problem solving comes in!
If you could be someone’s fairy sewing mother, what gift of knowledge/skill would you bestow upon them?
I really wish I hadn’t indulged myself with gadgets and stashed fabrics, although I do love my fabric and struggle to destash. I think I would advise people to not buy anything on a whim, but to consider everything carefully. I would also advise that a new sewist asks for advice and perhaps takes some classes, either in person or online. Getting connected is quite important, even if it’s with only a few people.
What’s been the best piece of sewing advice you’ve been given? Who gave it to you?
My mother always had the expression “don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar”. In other words, don’t cut corners, don’t skimp on fabric, and don’t ruin a wonderful thing by scrimping on the finishing touches. I frequently think about this as I try to cut corners!! I’m happy to report that it works.
What’s been an important lesson you’ve learnt while sewing that’s stuck with you?
It took me a while to realise that near enough is not good enough. Nowadays I will unpick a garment back to its component pieces if I’m not happy with it. I never would have done this in my teens and twenties. I believe in high-quality fabrics, sewing notions and tools.
What has been your crowning sewing achievement to date?
I made my son’s Christening robe and it was sewn according to heirloom principles.
What has been your biggest sewing failure to date?
I have so many sewing failures I can’t think of the biggest – I have probably wiped it from my memory!
How are you involved in the sewing community?
I blog and am quite active on Instagram. I have lots of catch-ups with other makers in Perth. I am now the secretary for Fibres West which runs a biennial week-long residential program. This provides me with an opportunity to connect to many different types of artists and makers. I have also been invited to give talks for WAFTA, the Holmes à Court Gallery and other groups. I am lucky enough to have met with other sewists from all over the world as I holiday in their home countries.
How did you start getting involved in the sewing community?
I don’t actually belong to a sewing group (yet). I connected with lots of makers through my blog and many more through Instagram. The Perth sewcialists functions have allowed me to connect with many local makers.’
How would you recommend new sewers get involved in the community?
I think Instagram is a great start, as well as one of the local sewing groups. I think that makers are really generous people, and asking questions and giving things a try is a great way to connect.
What’s your favourite thing about having sewing friends?
I have quite a few friends who sew and it is a joy. It is lovely to compare notes, share resources, fondle fabrics, and just talk about all things sewing. Many of these friends are people I met through sewing and it’s always such fun to catch up.
I really hope you enjoyed meeting wonderful Sue! You can find her on Instagram @suestoney
Looking forward to sharing next week’s Sewing Community Project Feature!!