I first sewed in Year 7 when everyone had to do it for a term in high school. I think I may have done another semester of it in Year 8 (the exact subject memories are a little hazy). Somewhere in there I made an elephant pencil case with flappy ears that I adored until it fell to pieces. Far more useful than the pooper scooper we had to make in metalwork.
A few years later I was fascinated with my mother’s sewing machine and announced I was going to make myself some pyjamas. As I recall, I chose the fabric and patterns, did one seam on the top and she finished it off. And bought me some shorts.
Almost two years ago I decided that someone as dress-obsessed as myself perhaps should know how to sew. Also, I intended to be a dolly varden cake at a fancy dress party and couldn’t find a white skirt long enough in the shops. So I bought a pattern and some fabric and, armed with both, headed to my parents’ place to use my mother’s sewing machine and expertise. She was trying to work in the garden and build alpaca fences but showed me how to thread the machine and said it’s a skirt, how hard can it be. The pattern I’d chosen had 12 pieces. Fortunately they were mostly straight lines. (The party didn’t happen and the skirt is sitting crumpled somewhere in a box, unloved and unpacked since we moved 18 months ago. I mean, how unpractical is a white skirt?)
Sewing since then has come in fits and starts with perhaps a 75 per cent success rate. But mainly it’s been accompanied by fearlessness and a willingness to make mistakes. I did an evening course at CIT to help cement the basics and just headed out on my own adventures since then. I’ve surely tried my mother’s patience as I, yet again, head over for dinner with another garment to be fitted or a sleeve that just won’t work.
But it’s most satisfying when it does work and you’ve got something real to show for it.
Some years ago I bought a black jersey maxi dress from Sportsgirl. I love it. It’s light enough in summer and great with a cardigan for autumn or spring. It’s my go-to dress for travelling because the length means you don’t get cold on planes and it’s easy to layer (although it also means the TSA can’t see your legs so you have to wait 15 minutes for a female TSA officer to show up and pat you down to make sure you’re not hiding anything under your voluminous skirt. I did offer to just pull it up to my thighs but the male TSA officer looked even more alarmed). I wish I’d bought two.
So when I discovered the Mission Maxi pattern from Jamie Christina, I thought I’d have to give it a go. Discovering lovely Tencel knit at The Fabric Store made me more determined. Et la voila. Though if I sewed it again (which I suspect I will) I would cut the neck and armhole binding wider because it was a bit fiddly to fold over.
(PS Thanks to the Tara Who Tweets from over here for encouraging me to blog again.)