Sunday, 1 January 2012

2011 - my sewing year

These are truly tumultuous times. There’ve been some pretty major changes in the last few years – becoming a Mrs. and starting graduate studies in 2007, and having two little girls in 2008 and 2010.

And I'll always remember 2011 as the year I started sewing properly. The year I made the leap from crafty/homey-type projects to real garments. That I wore out of the house! to work! to outings!

And people told me they loved them. This possibly means more to me out here, living in a shy Asian culture where you don't make social/personal comments unless you know the guy pretty well, than if I were living in a nice open stranger-friendly culture like the US or UK has.

So here's me thinking to myself, I am DA BOMB! I make clothes that fit! I can wear clothes again!


It wasn't so long ago when I didn't care which grubby T-shirt I wore with which grubby pair of baggy jeans (hello, uni days!). And my boring, mass-market days are not long left behind (this went with the whole scientific-academia environment I grew up and eventually worked in). I've always been around people who give you the suspicious eye if you're in any colour other than black, grey or brown, and if you wear a Dress, will ask if you've got a wedding to attend!

Starting graduate studies meant I worked in a lab, and fashion-wise, that meant freedom from the monochromatic trousers/skirt stereotype. Lab rats can be as weird and wild as they come. Not me though - I just went back to T-shirts/jeans (though admittedly I'd learnt a thing or two about fit by then).

Then I got married, and needed to look a bit better so as to accompany Mr Tropical out in the evenings.

Cue babies.

Cue loss of awesome hourglass figure.


And you have the real reason why I thought about getting into this sewing thing. Because with the likes of MNG, Zara, Topshop and H&M, why'd anyone even bother to sew these days?

Except that those mountains of clothing no longer fit either my body or my budget. I can't carry off a mini-skirt these days. Or skinny jeans. Or thin jersey anything. And I can't plonk down all my spare cash on beautifully tailored separates, however much I want to!

It was a bad time. For a year or so after the first baby, shopping actually made me depressed. I'd try on oodles of things and the only ones I was happy to wear were the ones I couldn't buy. I was surviving on five nice leftover early-maternity outfits, and improvisations with maxi skirts and men's shirts!

I found Burdastyle in late 2010 while preggers again (I think I was referred from Etsy, on which I ran two crafty shops), and as they say, the rest is history.

I dug out my dusty old sewing machine and made my first garment, a cheery but awfully shapeless cotton smock that I still wear around the house (the bright orange armhole binding is its only saving grace).

It was a moderate success, so I invested in some more fabric and patterns. And waited breathlessly for the return of some semblance of a figure so I could start sewing dresses.

I made my first very shapeless shift in early 2011, and have come a little way since. So far, I have 16 garments to my name, mostly very simple shift dresses, tops and shorts. But some of them have been very well received (see Press), which is absolutely gratifying :)

I've accumulated quite a stash of patterns, about half of which are vintage (and cost pennies! woo!). I'm also quite the fan of downloadable patterns. And I'm just starting to learn how to customize patterns by changing or adding things, or by using features from a few different patterns in one garment.

I also have a small-but-growing library. Next on the wish-list: Pattern Magic 1 and 2, and a nice McQueen picture-book.

I'm too embarrassed to photograph my fabric stash, because the pile I've acquired in one year is HUMUNGOUS. It fills up 50% of one floor-to-ceiling unit of shelving. Oops!

I'm having such a ball of a time here, I even have half a mind to make 2012 the year I forego conventional clothes shopping. What do you think? Will I make it?

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