Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blog Hop - Why I write

My far away on-line friend Yoshimi of the blog yoshimi the flying squirrel has passed the blog hop baton over to me. She has a talent for creating effortlessly cool garments and I wish I could meet her in real life. Someday! So the blog hop is moving around and we are supposed to answer the following questions on why we write. Here are my answers.

1. Why do you write?

OK, I will be completely candid here - I am one of those people that see something and always say to myself "I can do that".  Not always successfully but more often than not it really does work out well. I am a big time try-er (if that can be a word I just made up). So I read blogs for a while and finally said to myself - jump in! At first I didn't have much to write about but over the months I got into a routine and along with that I was doing more sewing for myself and other people so the topics developed from that. 
There have been two things about writing this sewing blog that have been the most happy and unexpected effects and these will keep me doing it for a long time.

First - I am surprised at how much I enjoy the writing process. Crafting the sentences, having a theme, a story or topic that flows, something that connects with a lot of readers, that has been really fun. Now I can confess that almost everything I sew gets a little mental scrutiny - I analyze how I can turn every project into a blog post. All sewing doesn't make the cut but most things I sew for myself show up on the blog eventually. 

Second - The friendships and opportunities that have come my way are just amazing. I have met so many fantastic people and have a whole new circle of enthusiastic friends just because I decided to both join in and reach out to the people I met online via their sewing blogs. One day I had an unexpected email from Karen in London asking if I would do a week of sewing and tailoring instruction with her here. Since then I have continued teaching many other wonderful women who are interested in fitting, tailoring and all things sewing. And we never run out of subjects to talk about.

Meetup at Britex to say goodbye to Amy of Sew-Well

2. How is your blog different to others of the same genre?

I make a lot of Vogue and Simplicity/New Look patterns, plus a smattering of Burda so that is not different from other seamsters,  but almost no independent patterns. I tend to make more tailored items that others I see (so that is a bit different) lots of jackets and coats, probably more than I need. This may surprise you to hear but I don't think I have ever called one of my posts a tutorial. Sometimes I like to show how I do a particular technique or tackle some pattern but I don't like to write tutorials. That is a lot of responsibility: to remember to take all the photos, make sure every step is included, post all the photos in proper order. Whew! too much work. 

One difference in my blog and my sewing is that sometimes my fabric choices are a bit weird. Not the fabrics but the backstory on them. A few years ago I bought some very nice fabrics at a garage sale and ever since then I have an overwhelming urge to find extremely low-cost mystery fabrics and try to turn them into something fabulous. So far I have been darn lucky in my finds and have made a beautiful blue coat, a favorite Vogue dress, this skirt and this jacket plus lots more. I was telling someone recently that at this point in my sewing life (at it since about age 7) I feel like I could sew anything and use any fabric so the challenge is not going to the store and picking out something just right for a particular pattern, but taking the oddball fabric and visualizing what it could be. Plus the minimal expense takes any pressure off. The Vogue pattern seen below I made with some wool I bought at a tag sale.

Rose jacket1
Another thing I like to do on my blog is write posts in series, so that the stories unfold over several different chapters. My first one was the story of the Vintage Treasure dress, a series that still gets lots of readers. I made a very unusual wedding dress using vintage Japanese kimono silk for a local bride who had an eco-friendly wedding in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. That was fun and the process lent itself to doing a series of posts because we all knew the culmination would be the wedding, and the photos provided by the bride were great. I did a series on what I call the "One-Hit-Wonders" in my wardrobe, items I made and wore only once. I can report that some of those have been revived and worn again, others sent on to someone else and the finale dress seen below will stay in my closet forever.

Navy party dress on me

3. What am I working on right now?

Right now I am working on several things at once, which is the usual state of affairs around here. Before I left on vacation I cut out a denim jacket, using the pattern I made copying a ready to wear jacket I owned. Alas, this may be a rare fail – completely due to operator error. I was rushing before I left and started cutting it out very quickly. Then I realized that contrary to any stretch denim I have EVER used, the stretch is longways on the fabric, not crossways. WHAT?  So I am forging ahead and it may turn out fine in the end. But I was so damn angry when I sewed a few seams and realized that I shoved it in a bin. Took it out the other day and figured I should finish it. I love the color. 

turquoise denim jacket start

Also I am cloning another dress for a friend and making versions with different necklines. In my queue is a totally unnecessary dress pattern that I really want to make, Vogue 8946. And I have shirt pattern that I am going to experiment with fitting and then blog about it with a pattern giveaway for fall sewing.

4. What is your writing process?

I have a mix of planned posts and things that I sew up quickly and show on the blog. So the quick ones are more pattern review type posts where I like to choose one or two features of the project, it could be a pocket, the fitting or maybe the fabric that are potentially interesting so I write a post around that feature. Longer posts or series often are things I think about and they kind of marinate in my brain for a while – I may be overstating things but I like to have some underlying theme and then the sentences seem to flow from that. Usually I write the posts late at night when it is very quiet and I am often surprised when I sit down intending to work on a post for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and then realize an hour has gone by and it is done. I always struggle with photos, they are necessary for a visual medium like sewing but are my least favorite part of the whole thing. I wish I could post more often but maybe sticking to around once a week is a good idea, gives me time to think of things to say and actually spend my time sewing instead of typing.

So that's the scoop!

and now I pass the Why I Write blog topic over to the following bloggers:

LauraMae of the blog Lilacs and Lace. She makes fantastic vintage and vintage inspired garments, sews meticulously, knits as well and is one of those wonderful people that I have now become friends with in real life :)

Manju of the blog SewManju. She is in the UK so I have not had the pleasure of a real life meeting, but as with Yoshimi - you never know what the next years may bring.  Manju makes chic, colorful and sophisticated garments and always seems to sew up the precise Vogue or New Look pattern that I am contemplating. Thank you for that!

Now it should be back to actual sewing around here but wow, our summer is lingering on and on. For which I am not complaining, summer girl that I am. I have worn a couple of my recent favorites to various parties recently, a Marfy and a Vogue repeat, and not a coat needed. Yippee! but I do have the slightest hankering to make a wool blazer.....

Happy pre-Halloween sewing to all,  Beth

(this is the time of year where I stay FAR away from the fabric stores during after school hours and on weekends, filled with novice sewers and desperate crowds,  that is where the really spooky things happen!!!!)


  1. YOu sound very organised and disciplined! And I always look forward to posts from you. Good luck with the jacket. Hope it fits ok without the stretch going around.

  2. I've always enjoyed everything you sew and write!

  3. Beth, you have been a very welcome addition to the blogging community and I'm so glad that we get to hang out in person!

  4. I always love your blog posts! Your writing as well as your sewing is very inspiring to me.

  5. So glad you decided to try blogging on for size or else we may never have met!

    And you better hide that dress next week, or it may go missing . . . too, too fabulous . . . and it has a petticoat!! The 90s are back, so I think you are going to have to figure out a way to wear it for a third outing.

  6. I so enjoy your blog- info, style- personality

  7. So glad you started blogging! I love your blog!