I’m feeling so many feelings today! Not only is this the last feature in our Sewing Community Project (cry!) – but Roz is one of my very dearest friends, and I’m so thrilled to be able to introduce you to her!
I met Roz a few years ago a local handmade market . I had recently moved back to Perth after living in the US for a few years, and as working from home is so isolating I really wanted to have the chance to talk to people about my patterns in person. I signed up for a booth at UWA Upmarket and my husband Chris helped me run the booth that day. It was such a fun day and I loved meeting so many other makers and crafts people. Roz stopped by with her husband Brendan to look at my patterns, and to be honest we all just immediately clicked and it was basically immediate friendship. Since then Roz and Brendan have been two of our very closest friends, and I love that Roz and I get to share our love of sewing.
Roz made the Matilda dress in our Lead lightweight linen with coconut shell buttons from our studio. One of the details she added that i really adore is the double buttons on the waistband!
I really hope you enjoy reading all about Roz and her sewing journey!!
What did you choose to sew for this project? Were your choices your normal style, or did you try something different?
I chose to sew the MN Matilda using lightweight linen in this gorgeous “Lead” colourway. I love the effortless stylishness of a good shirt-dress and I had given myself the unofficial challenge this year to sew more button-downs and collars, so the Matilda was the perfect challenge. This dress hasn’t been my usual style in the past, but it’s something I’d like to wear more often.
Were there any new skills you picked up using your pattern?
I think I refined many skills sewing this pattern. I have owned this pattern for a while but hadn’t made it before. The idea of sewing 15 buttons and buttonholes intimidated me a little, but with Meg’s clear instructions and a little patience it was a breeze.
Did you have any challenges while sewing- did anything go wrong?
The fabric tended to “grow”, so I had to be super careful handling it, especially on details like the collar and pockets, but being linen it was delightful to sew. To get the pretty curves on the pockets I sewed them onto tear away paper to provide stability and to stop it shifting or stretching, that was a game changer.
Did anything go amazingly, and you want to brag about it?
I’m super happy with the fit of the bodice. I made a few toiles to get it right, balancing broad shoulders and fuller bust with a narrow upper bust and waist, but I’m so happy that I took the time to do that. The dress is super comfortable, and I feel great in it.
What do you love about your new outfit?
I love that it’s so swooshy! It’s wonderful fun to wear.
What would you do differently if you were to do it again?
If I were to make it again, I might use a different fabric, like a broderie anglaise, for a fun play against the more traditional, utilitarian styling of a shirt dress.
How did you learn to sew?
I have vivid memories of sitting in my grandmother’s spare room, light dancing through lace curtains, the heady smell of frangipani and the warbling of magpies drifting in from the garden while her beautiful green Husqvarna purred in the background. Her enthusiasm to make her grandchildren beautiful things inspired me. My grandmother and aunt gave me a few lessons when I was young, and I was away. Since then I have continued learning, taken patternmaking courses and just kept sewing – it’s the best way to grow your skills and confidence.
Who do you mostly sew for?
I sew mostly for myself and my family. It’s possibly no surprise that I love a good dress and the bigger the sleeve the better at the moment.
What do love about sewing?
I love that it feeds my hunger for creativity, experimentation, analysis and logic. I love that I’m always learning new things through sewing. I also love the connection to others, past and present, but especially to my grandmother.
What do you hate about sewing?
I’m trying to learn to enjoy sewing knits, but it’s honestly not my favourite thing ever.
Probably my biggest pet peeve about sewing is the inability to try a pattern on before you sew it. I find it super frustrating to make up a whole pattern only to find I really dislike wearing the garment either because the style just doesn’t work for me or the pattern didn’t come together as well as I had hoped.
What do you wish you had known when you first started sewing?
I wish I had known how to walk and measure a pattern before sewing it up. It has saved me so much time knowing the key places to measure to make sure a garment will fit me and/or pick the best size for me. I’m still refining my technique and getting used to what ease I prefer in different places, but that’s all part of learning.
What’s been the best piece of sewing advice you’ve been given?
Press your seams. Really, truly, honestly, press those seams! My grandmother was a stickler for making sure you pressed your seams.
If you could be someone’s fairy sewing mother, what gift of knowledge/skill would you bestow upon them?
In terms of sew-jo, just keep on sewing. If you want to improve, if you want to be better at fitting, if you want to build momentum, just keep sewing.
What’s been an important lesson you’ve learnt while sewing that’s stuck with you?
I have learned to embrace the concept of “it’s only fabric” and to just cut into the fabric already! I think part of that tension is from a desire to be careful with what I purchase (in terms of what I choose to purchase and financially), trying to minimise waste and trying to be responsible with my time. It’s finding balance in being ok with something failing and not being recoverable, but also knowing that if you don’t try you cannot succeed, learn or grow. I have found that as I continue to practice my craft, my instincts are clearer, my process is better, and I am less likely to make mistakes that are irredeemable.
What has been your crowning sewing moment/creation/achievement to date?
I’ve made several special occasion outfits for others, including a wedding dress (not mine), and getting the fit and the details right on those for someone else always makes my heart sing. Especially when the chosen garment is something well out of my comfort zone and the fit issues aren’t something I’m familiar with, it’s the ultimate challenge. I feel like one of my biggest triumphs was sewing my mum a fitted blazer out of this amazing floral scuba for a wedding. I cut the whole thing out while pregnant and nursing a broken rib. The blazer turned out beautifully, the rib healed, and I now have a beautiful two year old daughter. But cutting out with a broken rib: 0/10 would not recommend.
How are you involved in the sewing community?
I’ve been regularly involved on Instagram for about 6 months now. Prior to that it was spending time with friends who sew when I could. I think Instagram has been so helpful in connecting me with other creative people, especially those in my town, who love sewing as much as I do.
How did you start getting involved in the sewing community?
While I’ve been sewing for a long time, I’ve only been a regular on Instagram in the past 6 months. I joined because I only have a couple of real-life friends who sew, and I wanted to participate more in that world, be inspired by others, push myself to tackle new challenges and sew more. Since joining I have met many fellow sewers both online and in real life. I think once there’s a sewing group near me I’d be keen to join.
How would you recommend new sewers get involved in the community?
Depending on what is available to you, and how you feel best interacting with others, I would simply start being involved. If a local group is more your speed, join one. If you don’t have access to one, social media provides amazing platforms for being involved. Whichever you choose, be yourself, be kind, be willing to learn. If you’re unsure how to begin, perhaps find an online sewing challenge that you feel you could participate in (even partially) and join in.
What is your favourite thing about friends who sew?
Friends who sew are a unique breed. There’s the knowing smile when you say, “Yes! I made it myself!” and the stream of follow-up questions about fabric, pattern and adjustments. You can throw a stream of sewing acronyms at them and they won’t bat an eyelid. It’s a wonderful thing to find other kindred sewing spirits.
I really hope you enjoyed meeting my dear friend Roz! If you’d like to follow along her sewing adventures you can find her on Instagram @lastsewnsurvivor
I just what to say a huge thank you to everyone for following along with our Sewing Community Project, and to all the Perth makers who were involved in this project. This project is so close to my heart, and I have absolutely loved sharing it with you!!