Hello friends I hope you’ve had a good week and are looking forward to today’s Community feature!! I’m so happy to be introducing you to the very lovely Julia today. I was lucky enough to meet Julia last year at my studio grand opening day, and I am so glad I did because she is an absolute joy! Julia made a Banksia blouse with gorgeous Arrow Mountain moon phase buttons and tapered leg Dawn jeans with white Japanese denim from our website as well as our matching hardware kit. I think the thing that really takes these jeans to the next level is the embroidery. She embroidered not only one of the back pockets but also one of the front pockets, and I think she learnt the hard way that if you embroider your back pocket we will take approximately 500 million photos of your bottom. Sorry not sorry hehe!
What I love about Julia is how she has jumped head first into sewing. Do you know she’s only been sewing a little over a year? She is ALL IN, sewing all the things with joy and positivity and having a wonderful time – which is what it’s all about!
I have absolutely loved reading all about Julia’s sewing journey and I really hope you do too!
What did you choose to sew for this project?
I chose to make some white denim dawn tapered leg jeans with some hand-embroidered pocket details.
Why did you pick these patterns/fabrics?
The Dawn jean pattern is an all-time favourite pattern of mine – it is the ultimate mum-jean pattern, and something that I felt really reflected my style and what you would find me in 90% of the time on the weekend! Choosing white denim was a bit of a dream opportunity for me! I love wearing contrasting colours, and while a friend said it was ‘brave’ to go for white jeans, it’s something a bit different, and I had been looking for a nice white denim for ages. As soon as I saw the non-stretch white denim in Megan’s studio, that was a done deal for me!
I also chose to make a Banksia blouse. Most of my sewing decisions are made by impulse buying fabrics that inspire and excite me, and then letting the pattern come after that.
This was one of those decisions.
I came into the studio with the intention of a Briar top! But was smitten with the stormy-coloured, silky fabric, and I could just see it as a Banksia top, and I couldn’t think of anything else!
I remember heading off home after the afternoon in the studio, laughing and playing dress-up with Naomi (Design Assistant at Megan Nielsen Patterns), feeling so excited to get started!
Did you have any challenges while sewing?
My Dawn jeans were the third pair that I have made, and, while they are all different, I feel that I’m getting better with each time!
When sewing jeans, the bar-tacks and topstitching are always exciting challenges for me. I love doing it, but it certainly feels more of a high-stakes situation! I always have to get myself pumped, get set up with a cup of tea, a chocolate bickie, and a seam-ripper handy when top-stitching. And it’s certainly not an after 9pm task!
The fabric of the Banksia top was definitely challenging for me! I don’t have a lot of experience working with delicate, slippery fabrics! From things shifting when you are cutting out pieces to not pressing as my beloved linens do, it was refreshing (and at times, frustrating!) to work with.
A few times I worried that I had perhaps not made the best choice, but as the top came together, I felt so happy to have stuck it out and made something that I really put a lot of work, thought and patience into.
What do you love about your new outfit?
In my new outfit, I felt confident, and creative and most importantly: I feel like myself.
I love the colours on me! I love the stormy blue, and the cracking textured look of the banksia top.
I also want to mention the fit of the jeans! Every time I make this pattern, I make a new little tweak, and I feel like this pattern is now my ultimate pair of jeans. The fit is now so perfect and makes me feel so confident, that I can’t imagine a time when I’ll ever buy ready-made jeans again.
I’m a sucker for details in my sewing, and I feel that it’s a way to really bring a little bit of myself into the clothes that I make. Whether this is an obvious detail, or a secret pocket fabric or garment label just for the wearer, it’s something I’m always excited by.
For the dawn jeans, I had a lot of fun embroidering some purple Geraldton Wax to peep out of one of my front pockets, and also to border a back pocket. I was so proud of how this turned out.
As for the banksia top, I was so quickly drawn to arrow mountain’s moon phase buttons. I decided to add all of the moon phase buttons to the placket, adding a few more buttons than the pattern initially called for. I just had to include the entire cycle of button phases! I felt like Megan shared my brainwave on this, as she was tweaking the buttons throughout hanging out with me to make sure they were all facing the right way!
What would you do differently if you were to do it again?
If I were to do this again, I don’t think there is much that I would change! I was very happy with the outcome and felt very confident and happy to show it off. I’d love to try a hack of the banksia top someday with no sleeves! I think that would be a great look.
When did you start sewing?
I’ve only been sewing for about 15 months, so I’m a bit of a sewing baby!
My poor mum has been trying to get me into sewing for years. She sewed lots of pyjamas, bathers, and book bags for us growing up, and whenever she brought up the idea of getting me my own sewing machine, my response was a little less than enthusiastic. It all just seemed too complicated, ‘I could never do that’, I found myself thinking.
Well, as always, my mum was right! She and my, new husband bought me a machine together for Christmas 2018. She taught me to thread it, the different settings, and after making the world’s worst pencil case (it didn’t even close!), I was ready to tackle anything! Since then, she’s had ongoing ‘I told you so’ moments, and I can’t blame her! I always have a project on the go and I’m always thinking about what I’m working on at the moment, and what to make next.
I work full-time, and I often have people ask me where I find the time or energy to sew. Sewing and the feeling of putting something together with my hands gives me so much mental space and satisfaction, it gives me energy. I find myself feeling tired and flat when I’m not exercising those creative muscles.
My grandma has since said to me: If you can read a cooking recipe, you can sew.
I’ve found this to be true, especially when I discovered the indie sewing community!
I have the indie sewing community to thank for so many projects. The effort that these designers put into their instructions, the sewalongs, the resources, and the thought behind the designs is incredible.
I find myself turning to bookmarked articles from these designers all the time, on inserting zippers, buttons, and I keep my favourite pocket pieces cut out and ready for adding much-needed pockets to dresses.
Who do you mostly sew for?
I mostly sew for myself. It gives me so much joy to wear things that I’ve put together myself. I think there is a lot less pressure than sewing for other people – because if part of my stitching comes undone while I’m out and about, it’s a shrug, and I’ll fix it when I get home. I would be absolutely mortified about this happening to someone else if I had made I thought!
What are your favourite things to sew?
I really love to make things with a lot of little steps and details, like jeans, or fitted bodice dresses. I find any project with lots of pressing, folding, darts and details so much fun and I really enjoy the process.
My exception to the rule, however, is knits! I love making loungewear for my husband and my family (and myself of course!).
What do you love about sewing?
I think there’s a special feeling for us sewing people, the pride that comes with wearing something you’ve made. That when someone compliments you on your clothing, you can mention you made it yourself, and the feeling that you’re wearing something you’ve put together with your hands. It’s like wearing armour.
A friend recently asked me how much of my wardrobe was handmade, and I replied that it wasn’t the percentage of what was in my closet, but the percentage of what I wear on the day-to-day, that I find myself reaching for more often.
What in sewing makes you fist pump and happy dance around your sewing space, patting yourself on the back?
So many good moments in sewing!
French seams are my ultimate fist pump moment! I’ve recently learned this technique for finishing seams, and it makes me feel so fancy, and that I’m giving a project an extra special touch!
What in sewing makes you want to burn everything and crawl under your table to cry?
My absolute biggest sewing fail moments are when you realize too late into the project that you’ve cut out two left pieces of a pattern, instead of a right and a left. This one has happened to me far too often, and every time, it happens when I don’t have enough fabric to just cut out another piece. Absolutely heartbreaking.
There have been tears.
What do you wish you had known when you first started sewing?
I wish I had known about fitting adjustments when I first started! Grading between sizes, bust and waist adjustments have been an absolute game-changer for me.
If you could be someone’s fairy sewing mother, what gift of knowledge/skill would you bestow upon them?
I would tell any new sewer that it’s ok if you don’t fit into the size measurement range – the whole point of making your own clothes is that you can alter anything to suit your shape.
Also, once you learn what typical adjustments you need, you can apply these to whatever you make! It’s so rewarding to create a garment that is perfect fit for your unique body!
What’s been the best piece of sewing advice you’ve been given?
My best piece of sewing advice is something I remember reading once, that perfection is as good as your previous best, or better!
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of judging yourself for not having the straightest seams, wonky buttonholes, and edges that don’t quite match up. It’s all a learning process, and it doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it’s as good as, or better than your previous effort, you are progressing, and you can feel proud! It’s a skill like any other that you have to practise.
What’s been an important lesson you’ve learnt while sewing that’s stuck with you?
Don’t hurry! Whenever I’m stressed, sewing on a deadline, or trying to finish something to wear the next day, I’m almost always going to make a silly mistake.
What has been your crowning sewing moment/creation/achievement to date?
My crowning sewing creation so far was my frocktails dress for 2019! I really challenged myself to make a dream cocktail dress. I used boning, embroidered fabric, and added pockets of course! It was so much fun being in a room full of like-minded people, who were just as obsessed with this hobby as me, and I received so many compliments on this make.
What has been your biggest sewing failure to date?
My biggest sewing fail so far was an early make – I tried to make a turtle-neck-styled top for my brother, and decided to use this incredibly thick grey scuba fabric for some reason! I also didn’t follow a turtle-neck pattern, but just attempted to add a long band onto a standard raglan top.
It was just such a mess in every way!
(Though, my gorgeous brother still tells me it wasn’t that bad!! – it definitely was).
How are you involved in the sewing community?
I’m mostly online with my interaction, as I work full time, but I love to stick my hand up for whatever I can get involved in. I love taking part in online challenges, volunteering to pattern test, and having chats online about pattern suggestions, fits and fabrics.
In my spare time, I love to support local sewing businesses in Perth wherever I can. I collect notions, fabrics, and love to have a chat with like-minded people!
How did you start getting involved in the sewing community?
In a moment of bravery, I decided to sign up to attend Frocktails, despite not knowing anyone else from Perth, or at all, who was into sewing!
What a great night that was! I met so many amazing people and made so many friends.
After this, discovering the Perth sewing community online, and particularly on Instagram has been so amazing! I love to see what my fellow #PerthSews friends are up to and seeing creations from those living in the same hot, dry climate as me.
How would you recommend new sewers get involved in the community?
Instagram has been a fantastic tool to get to know other sewers in Perth, particularly if you aren’t sure you want to just jump blindly into Frocktails like I did (even though let’s be honest – sewing people are the best people, and you’ll have a great time!).
Getting involved in the community from here, I love to follow the hashtag #PerthSews on Instagram, and I’ve built up my local network this way.
It really helps if you put yourself out there a bit. If you love something someone has made – tell them! If you want to know how someone pulled off that tricky part from a pattern you’re making – ask them!
The Perth sewing community is incredible online – trolls just don’t seem to exist. Everyone is welcoming, inclusive, and happy to share their love of creating with you!
I really hope you enjoyed meeting lovely Julia! You can find her on Instagram @julia_sewing
I can’t wait for next week to introduce you to the next Community Project Feature!!