I have had this blog idea on my to do list for what feels like years and now I have the fabulous Colette on board, halving my workload I am getting round to all sorts of things! So here is the first edition of Sew Confident's Sew-er of the Month!
Meet Amanda! A fabulous sew-er who has come on leaps and bounds in the short time I have known her. She makes clothes for herself and her adorable wee girls. We had a wee chat about her sewing journey so far.
Amanda, how long have you been sewing?
I’ve owned a sewing machine, (my mum’s old one) since I was about 16, so almost 20 years, but I wouldn’t say I could sew! I remember being about 17 and trying to make a pair of trousers for myself, they were a complete disaster, there was nothing right about them at all! I’d say I've actually been sewing as in actually successfully for only about 6 months, that’s when it all fell into place and I thought, I think I can do this, I can say to people, I can sew!
I think we've all been there with trousers to be fair! Why did you start sewing?
When we bought our first house it needed lots of work done to it so spending a fortune on curtains and blinds was just not an option. I got out mum’s old sewing machine and taught myself how to make roman blinds and curtains. Every blind and pair of curtains in my house is handmade. I enjoyed making curtains, essentially it’s just sewing straight lines, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do anything else, but actually working with such massive lengths of heavy curtain fabric is hard, hard work! It’s nothing like the joy of sitting with comparatively tiny bit of beautiful fabric and making clothes!
Every curtain and blind?! You are putting us all to shame here Amanda! Apart from the soft furnishings what sewing project are you most proud of?
I’ve recently started making clothes for my two little girls and when I see them in the clothes I’ve made I do feel so proud of myself. I’ve made them lots of little pinafores and some blouses. It’s lovely when people comment on their clothes and are shocked to learn I’ve made them myself. My fabric stash is high and my plans are infinite, it’s just time that’s the problem!!
Honestly some of your holiday pictures on Instagram looked like they were straight out Spanish Vogue! You have an adorable little family! What do your friends and family think about your sewing skills, are they impressed or do they use you as a free alterations service?
I actually find alterations quite stressful and I haven’t done many. I thing sewing and creating something step by step is one thing, but to try to undo some of the steps and alter things is a different story, you could be taking in a side seam of a fully constructed garment, but it you were making it from scratch the side seams would be done much earlier in the process. I have done a few alterations for family, but it is something I’ve still got my knickers in a bit of a knot about!!
Well you're not alone there, I think alterations are the least exciting sewing activity you could get involved with! So moving onto equipment - you've got one of our Elna 340s don't you? Apart from your machine what sewing accessory could you not live without?
I am not lucky enough to have a sewing room and I found that I didn’t sew as much as I’d like to because if I only had half an hour or so to spare the thought of getting everything out of the cupboard and set up put me off. I am a total neat freak so I also just couldn’t leave everything lying around my dining room table, so although it probably doesn’t seem sewing related at all, my can’t live without item is an amazing little wheeled trolley from Ikea. It’s got all my essentials pilled on I just wheel it out, grab my machine & iron and I’m good to go! It’s such a silly thing but it works for me, I’m sure it’s all in the mind but I love me little sewing room on wheels!
I recently got one of these for the studio!! It's a total game changer and saves so much space! Take me back to your beginner days...If you could go back and give yourself one sewing tip or piece of advice what would it be?
It would absolutely be just give it a go, what are you afraid of? I’ve noticed at classes that everyone who is new is nervous and scared, I was too, but actually it’s just sewing together bits of material, just have a bash, what’s the worst that can happen? And you’ll probably find your much better at it than you thought you would be, and that’s when the real problems start because you’ll be hooked!!
Haha, I think you are definitely hooked, you must have had a few sewing disasters along the way?
No, not really. I guess it’s early days though. I have definitely done my fair share of unpicking, asking for help and Youtubing but nothing that’s ever been that bad. The things I have made that I feel are not perfect and I can see the flaws in no one else ever can, we are all too critical of ourselves.
I'm always saying that in class to students, people are way to hard on themselves! How many classes have you attended? Do you have a favourite?
I think I have been to 5 classes and I have two more booked in, the kids hoodie class and the portfolio class. I’ve also had a couple of one to ones with Jenny and been to a Sew-cial. My favourite class without a doubt was the shirt dress class. It was the first time I’d attempted a collar, button stands, technical things I thought would be a real challenge, so it was such a great feeling to complete the dress. I loved the shirt dress so much I had two on the go at the same time, one in class and one at home, it was also the first time I’d ever made something and actually worn it.
I'm so glad you liked the shirt dress class. It's one of my personal favourite patterns too, so versatile! What would you like to be able to sew in the future, what is the dream?
The dream, dream, the pipe dream is to make a living designing and making children’s clothes. My own little label, worn by more than just my children, but on a slightly more realistic note I guess the dream is to have more time to sew more, to keep learning, to make more things for myself and keep pushing myself, I’d like to make myself a blazer and get better on my overlocker.
If you can dream it you can do it! Your own kidswear label sound very exciting! What projects do you have on the go right now?
A couple of last minute summer dresses for my daughters before we go on holiday in October and lots more Autumn / Winter designs for the girls. I’ve just ordered lots of lovely soft needle cord to make pinafores for the girls and some gorgeous liberty print cotton for beautiful blouses for underneath. I’ve also just bought myself the Tilly & The Button’s Cleo dungaree dress pattern and the Sew Over It Coco jacket pattern, but I’ll always make for the girls before myself. I’ve got the Sew Confident Portfolio class and the kids hoodie class too coming up so I’m keeping busy!
I'll need to keep my eyes on your Instagram in October, to see what adorable outfits your girls wear on that holiday! What would you say to someone who was thinking of taking up sewing?
Do it! Give it a go, book some classes and one to ones and give it a go. With some guidance it’s not as tricky you perceive it’s going to be. If I’d done that when I was 17 and made the dodgy trousers, who knows maybe I could have my own children’s clothing company by now.
Lovely chatting to you Amanda, i'm sure you'll be one to watch on the designer kidswear front!
Do you want to follow Amanda and see all the lovely things she has been sewing? You can check out her instagram here!