My name is Allison.
Here’s a little background information on me. I am not a professional sewer. I’m not even sure I’d consider myself intermediate. I think I’m more like a beginner with lots of years of experience, and is at least comfortable trying new projects. That being said, I have a couple of personality traits that work against me, and yet somehow help get me through my sewing projects. I am compulsive, anal-retentive, a bit of a perfectionist, into instant gratification, always multi-tasking, very organized, and can get a bit distracted (sort of like adult ADD). And yet, I do actually get projects finished (and not always as quickly as I like), tend to misplace things (but eventually usually find them), and my projects are by no means perfect, and yet, for the most part, I’m very happy with projects I’m completed (though if you compliment me, usually the first thing I’ll do is tell you everything I did wrong with the project).
I did not grow up in a sewing household. The only really strong sewing memory that sticks out to me is from high school. I had broken the strap on a slip. My mom was not home, and I had asked me dad about it. He offered to fix it for me. I told him that I didn’t know he knew how to sew. He responded that he learned how in the Marines. Which just goes to show you, that even the Marine’s acknowledge the importance of sewing.
I live in Lake Worth, Florida (2nd generation Native Floridian). I’m an attorney by day (specializing in family law), but my nights and weekends are filled with all of my other obsessions. These activities usually fuel my creative urges – from chocolate making, jewelry making, quilting, sewing, to writing children’s stories (not published, but always available to be read to my nieces and nephew). I have a love of vintage and antiques combined with a love of futuristic things (think mid-century modern). I have a vintage wardrobe collection that not only do I collect, but actually use and wear. I am very fond of vintage Lilly Pulitzer (growing up in Palm Beach will do that to you), and Vested Gentress (whimsical prints similar to Lilly’s).
I really began my sewing “career” about 9 years ago, when I began taking a quilting class. I was using a machine that one of my very close friends loaned me (a very solid Brother machine). I was mostly doing quilting (or, to be more accurate, quilt “squares,” not finished quilts). Just to give you an idea of how clueless I was in the beginning, when I ran out of fabric for doing one of my quilt square homework assignment (learning if you cut wrong, you can run out of fabric), I tried to remedy the situation by…using superglue to adhere the fabric pieces together to get the desired size. Yes, I said superglue. I think I’ve come a long way since then.
I then ventured in clothing with a few easy pieces like elastic waist pants and elastic skirts. I also started making my favorite basic shift dress (sleeveless, no zippers, no buttons). Of course, at that time I wasn’t taking any sewing lessons, and so when I got to a part that I didn’t understand how to do (and didn’t want to take the time to learn), I “fudged” it. That was when I first came to love stitch witchery. If I didn’t want to sew a hem (or didn’t know how), stitch witchery. If a facing kept popping out of the sleeves, stitch witchery.
Fast forward to now. I am older, a little wiser, a little more learned, but not that much more patient. I started taking a sewing class through the local Community Educator (held at a local high school), and that is when I started becoming a much more avid sewer, and a better quilter. Those same shift dresses that I initially made I have since gone back and “cleaned” them up. No more stitch witchery for me unless the directions call for it. And my new teacher – she’s great – and she won’t let me slide on things like doing hems, and doing them right.
Now I am branching out to things like sleeves and zippers, and purses with hardware. I still haven’t done button-holes or hidden zippers, but they’re on my list. I’m currently using a great Kenmore machine, that has some ebroidery stitch capabilities. I also love vintage sewing books. I have a Pellon pamphlet from the 70s that is quite fun to read. I also have a Coats and Clarks book from the 60s. My funniest find is a sewing manual from the 70s. It talks about the importance of building your wardrobe from basics, and to show you how 70s it is, it lists as wardrobe staples your casual gauchos, and your dressy gauchos. I also think it’s attrocious how they labeled sizes – the fact that there is a size called “husky” just appalls me (maybe because that might have been my size?).
So, when you read my blog, and see that I don’t always follow directions, and might go about things a little differently, keep all of the above things in mind, and in the end I at least get the project finished, and usually enough to my liking that I’m willing to wear it in public. This is still very much a learning process for me, and as long as I keep enjoying the learning, I’ll keep enjoying sewing, and continue to be a sewing fiend. Hopefully I can help others as well, as we all try and conquer the demons who don’t write patterns or instructions clearly or accurately.