A longish personal update

Whew! It’s been awhile since I last blogged or even sewn for that matter. Lot of reasons for that…

  • Started sewing Butterick B5526 over Christmas break. After spending way too much time trying to pattern match the pockets, ripping them out as the pockets are rather high(!), cutting out new pockets, and still having them turn out horribly, I threw the shirt into a corner in a fit of rage. Sewed a simple Burda shell top as a palette cleanser which turned out kind of meh…  And kind of lost of my sewing mojo for awhile.
  • Started a new job closer to home! Meaning no more 3 hour commutes when I would surf sewing related stuff to feed my obsession, instead focusing on adjusting to the over-stimulus of a new workplace while trying to start a healthier lifestyle with my newfound time.
  • Stress of my mother getting diagnosed with a serious illness, flying home for a week while simultaneously worrying about the impression I was making at my new job. Which probably contributed to myself being sick for a month. Luckily my mom is well now ❤

I feel slightly guilty that I don’t really like wearing most of the things I’ve sewn so far, and that some of the patterns I picked up are probably not quite my style and may likely not wear. By wanting to reduce wastefulness in consuming, my own mistakes will also be wasteful. I realize I probably should let go of my perfectionist tendencies, that it will take time before the things I make will even get close to the quality of even fast fashion. (I have so much respect now for women working as sewists.)

For awhile I have been trying to (re)find my style, thanks to the immensely helpful advice from Anushka Rees aka Into mind. I realized I couldn’t continue on my goal not to purchase any new clothing as I simply can’t sew fast or well enough, and the few items that I actually liked wearing in my small wardrobe were wearing out after several years of use. So I went shopping. And miracle of miracles, I found 3 pairs of jeans that fit and flatter me (2 of which were on sale!). Usually pants are hard for me, as I have a “flat ass”, skinny thighs and a “big” stomach, at least according to clothing manufacturers – so pants will be billowing off my backside yet strangling my stomach.

After that, it feels this year has been like a series of events where everything is falling into place. A new job where with every passing week I feel more and more excited that I landed at the right place. Biking to work everyday. Having time to lift weights twice a week just a block from work, which has boosted my self image. Lost 3 kg, probably from leaving the stress of my old job behind me. Taking more time for skincare, while trying to change my inner criticisms of how bad my skin is to instead talking to myself as “caring for myself”. Outlet shopping with my uncle while visiting home, finding a pair of boots that make me feel amazing. Even reflecting on the sewing mistakes I made during 2016 (technically, only August to December). All these things together, along with what has felt like a long time to rediscover my style – my vision of my personal style has finally clicked.

I know it sounds superficial, and this was the inner dialog I had for the past several years. Though having gone through that I much prefer this version of myself. Taking time to take care of myself and do things for myself. Rather than feeling bad about how I am different and do not fit in, I can look at what makes me uniquely beautiful.

And I finally (nearly finished) Butterick B5526 this Easter weekend 🙂 Reviews coming soon.

 

 

Why I started sewing

Welcome to Swedish Seams! (Instead of French seams, get it?) I’m not actually Swedish though, but a Canadian expat in Sweden.

Up to now, my sewing education consisted of a short sewing module in junior high school Home Economics. I hand sewed a pincushion, very hastily sewn with long basting stitches, and a pair of red polka dot boxer shorts. There was one iron in the class, but I didn’t know why we we needed to bother with it.

For the past few years, I’ve been unsatisfied with my wardrobe. A looong time ago, in the last year of studying my bachelor’s degree, as a 22 year old I worked in a clothing store. I remember I used to love dressing up and experimenting with different styles – wide legged trousers, high neck victorian tops, jumpsuits, toile printed dresses. Several years working as the youngest female in a male dominated office, a career change and a move to a new country (Sweden!) at the age of 30 to study design… And now at 37, I feel like I have a complete loss of confidence in myself due to constantly feeling “not good enough” in an extremely competitive industry, feeling like I’ve rapidly aged due to stress, and like I’ve kind of lost myself in a new country where I don’t quite fit in… But I won’t get too deep into that right now.

In the last year I’ve been dabbling with sewing small projects which I’ve found really enjoyable, such as hemming curtains, taking in the flare on an old pair of pants, sewing a sleep eye mask. I used to wear more dressy clothing in Canada, partly because I wanted to be taken more seriously at work, and being a student in Sweden I took to dressing very casually in loose tops. I found quite a huge cultural difference in the way women dress here (but maybe also due to fashion trends) – which is often very loose and practical (and almost always black!) which is somewhat freeing, but I realized that on my short-waisted  slim frame that I simply feel frumpy and washed out. Since finishing my second bout of school, I’ve been constantly looking for clothes to replace my masters student wardrobe which was literally falling apart and filled with holes. I started to make a wardrobe plan using into-mind.com‘s extremely helpful style and wardrobe advice, reflecting over the clothes I bought, and which clothes I felt good in. And I realized that I had bought nearly no clothing in 2015 aside from shoes and underwear, simply because I couldn’t find clothing I liked – the stores are filled with black, polyester, loose tops that fall to my knee… Nothing I would want to wear or would feel good in. In 2016, really desperate for long-overdue new clothes, after searching for weeks, I would normally end up buying something that was “good enough”… but really not, since many of the items were shoddily made or with cheap fabric, despite paying more money for some of these items. And my entire wardrobe was made up of these so-so purchases, bringing me back to the hunt for new clothing items…

Over the summer, I’ve been reading Overdressed, about the fast fashion industry. And one book reviewer said “It’s just not practical to expect people to sew their own clothes!” And somehow, the idea got into my head, almost like a challenge. A google search brought up loads of inspiring people who were indeed sewing their own clothes, like Tilly and the Buttons, Colette, and a huge community of blogging sewers – I completely want in, though at the same time I strangely feel the fear of rejection. So just shy of my 37th birthday, I’ve become completely obsessed with sewing my clothes. For the first time I feel like I have my own “thing”, which combines right and left brain creativity and problem solving, but does not throw me the pressure of producing a result for client – I only need to please myself. 🙂

Now I think it’s time to leave off here and start blogging about several of the makes I’ve already been working on.