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.