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How the SOI Team Started Sewing
As we are dedicating this September to sewing beginners we thought it’d be the perfect time to share with you how the Sew Over It team started sewing.
Some of us have been sewing since a really young age, some of us started sewing during lockdown. One way or another, the sewing machine has carved a space into our lives. Read on to find out about how we came to this wonderful hobby and have a peek at some of our first makes!
I grew up in a small village in North Yorkshire and was the only girl in my year of 8 pupils in my school! So I learned to entertain myself in my room making stuff, when my sister was busy with her friends. It was our childminder Mrs Robinson who introduced me to sewing. She first taught me hand-sewing and then leant me her sewing machine for a weekend. After that, I was fixed, and for my 11th birthday was bought a second-hand machine. I can still smell it – metal and oil!! The first garment I sewed was an elasticated pencil skirt in navy blue. I ran out of blue thread so some of it was sewn in red thread. It was botchy for sure! But the buzz I felt from making it I still feel today every time I finish something.
My earliest memory of sewing is turning the hand wheel on my Mum’s machine when she made curtains. That and being dressed as a Haberdashery for a school fete when I was about 5! The first thing I made myself was a bold gingham two-piece and cape for my barbie, Yvette (hairstyle by my sister, she didn’t become a hairdresser surprisingly…). After school I then didn’t really sew for about 10 years. My first dressmaking project was a dress in a very scratchy polycotton. I didn’t wear it much but it started the momentum going to my now me-made wardrobe. Well, that and Yvette obviously!
As a child of the 70s I learned to dressmake at school and my mother made lots of our clothes. She still is an amazing seamstress in her 80s. Laura Ashley was very fashionable, so I made a smock top and a patchwork skirt in her fabrics. Here I am wearing a Laura Ashley Christmas dress, made by my mother. I sewed the cotton lace down the front. The Little House on the Prairie look was all the rage!
I’d never even been near a sewing machine in my life, but I was obsessed with the sewing challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, where the contestants had to create costumes from scratch. I kept thinking how amazing it would be to learn to do that and then for my 30th birthday and to my total surprise, my (now) husband Pat bought me a sewing machine! I was so shocked and happy I cried. I found a tutorial on YouTube to make a simple zip bag which went all kinds of wrong, but I still have it and cherish it, because I really caught the sewing bug and I haven’t stopped since. Five years later and almost everything in my wardrobe is a me-made.
My sewing skills were passed down through the generations from my mum and my nana. They taught me to sew from an early age and one of the first things I remember making were some little bags from oilcloth fabric that were sewn up on a hand-crank machine!
Probably the most well-timed gift in history was the sewing machine that my parents bought for me for Christmas 2019. When I asked for a sewing machine I had imagined using it mainly for repairs – in an effort to reduce waste. I couldn’t have imagined that within three months we would be living through a world-wide lockdown which would make having an indoor hobby indispensable! When I was furloughed from work, every excuse to procrastinate was suddenly gone. I spent 6 months teaching myself to sew.
The first top that I made was terrible – the neckline is a real mess and I don’t seem to have bothered to choose a matching thread, but I was so pleased with it and even now I can’t quite bring myself to repurpose the material. It goes without saying that 2020 was a difficult year in so many ways but looking back on it now, it was a gift to be able to dedicate so much time to something that I now love. Almost two years later it’s safe to say that the little red sewing machine I got for Christmas has earned its keep!
How about you, how did you get into sewing?
Over the past ten years we’ve taught so many people how to sew through our in-person and online classes and it’s great to see that there are new sewers popping up all the time. If you learnt with us, through classes or simply by using our patterns, we’d love you to share your early Sew Over It makes on Instagram using the hashtag #SOIbeginnermonth. You will inspire any beginner sewers out there by showing them what’s possible once you sit at a sewing machine!