Friday, June 26, 2009

My very first projects

After all the glorious praise I heaped on my Janome just days ago, she decided to repay me by going all wacky-stitch on me! Yes. I have huge projects to finish and wanted to spend today, all day, sewing. However, she is on the blink. She is going to the sewing machine spa on Monday and will stay until she is healthy, well and in her right mind again. Thankfully, my wonderful parents are coming over the hill for Ahnalin's ballet recital tomorrow and graciously responded to my tearful plea to borrow mom's machine. Well, not really tearful, but definitely frantic!

But in our recent foray into the deep, dark cave commonly referred to as "The Storage Unit", I found a tub with my very first sewing projects and thought I would share them.

Both my mother and my grandmother sewed. My mother even took mens tailoring classes and upholstery classes. In the 70s she took classes with Ann Person of Stretch and Sew fame. She even sewed leather pants! She made all my dad's suits when I was a little girl.
I never saw the things my grandmother sewed, but she had an old Singer treadle machine in her home where I loved to sew. Sadly, when we had the estate sale, I let the machine go. It was offered to me, but I was in a state of grief and did not keep it. So we sold it. What was I thinking? I still kick myself over that one.

But between my mother and grandmother, I was sewing at a very early age. The very, very first things I sewed on where kleenex tissues. I sewed a lot of kleenex tissues! You would be surprised what you can learn sewing on them.

One Christmas when I was about 6 or 7 I requested a Barbie doll that was about 20 inches tall. I wanted her so that I could use her as a manniquin. Yes, I was already in love with manniquins and dress forms then. Have I mentioned that I currently have 5?

But back to Barbie..... She arrived in a slinky white satin and silver lame' number which has long since disapperared, along with Barbie herself. But I kept the first dress I made her. This was the very first item I sewed on real fabric. Even then, I was a bit crazy. I did not use a pattern and designed the dress myself.

I attempted darts, though they are uneven, and I successfully put in a zipper.

The dress is far from perfect, but it is still around 34 years later. I also made a matching dress for a Joan Walsh Englund doll, who is also missing.

I continued sewing doll clothes, pillows, little bags, and lots of accessories for my doll house over the years, hanging out with my mom and grandmother. My mother often made us matching dresses for Christmas and other occasions. I will have to find some of those photos at some point.

Fast forward to my Freshman year of high school. I took sewing in Home Ec and loved my teacher. Just like my first doll dresses, I chose a rather difficult project for my first garment. I figured that if I picked the most challenging pattern I could, and mastered it, then everything after than would seem easy.
This was in 1980 and "Gunne Sax" dresses were all in fashion. I wanted one of these dresses sooooooo badly! My mom took me to Payless and we dug through the 99 cent fabric table and came up with this soft grey calico fabric. Then we went to a hippie fabric store we loved called "Andreas" and poured over the laces and buttons and hauled off a bounty of frills. That may seem incongruous but I am sure they were growing "organics" out back! I miss that place though. They had great trims, buttons and fabrics for dirt cheap prices. It was a hippie fabric store kind of way!

When I got to school, my teacher thought I was a bit over-the-top, but she helped me each step of the way. I labored over this dress, while the other girls were sewing their a-line skirts and book bags. I got an A!

The dress form is far more busty than I was when I wore this dress!
Did I mention that I used 4 different laces, plus ribbon, loop tape, piping and a ton of teeny buttons?

Check out those "leg-o-mutton" sleeves. And notice how high the bustline is in this dress. Yes......oh gravity.....sigh....

The dress is almost too tiny for the mannequin but, again, check out the zipper. What was I, crazy?

Detail at the wrist

Hem detail

As you can see, I had not yet gotten to my current level of neurosis regarding the inside of a garment. Soon after this dress, I came to the conclusion that the inside of a garment needed to look as good as the outside. But I had much to learn at this point. Still do, in fact.
I wore this dress for many, many years. This teacher ended up getting me jobs in two different sewing stores and was a great encouragement to me.

Um.....and just in case you wondered......this dress does not fit anymore! HAHA!!!!

So......I realize that not everyone is a crazy as I am. Really.

But tell me about your first sewing projects. Remember, I can sew, but I am a terrible driver and rotten at organization, so do not feel like I am judging you by my own standards.

So, share with me your first sewing projects....and if you blog about it, share the link.....pretty please.

Have a great weekend!


wondermommy said...

One of my first projects was a skirt. I love seeing your first projects...thanks so much for sharing!

Beth Barcellos Bell said...

Sivje---I enjoyed your trip down memory lane. Brought back some memories of my own. My sisters and I used to spend hours making our own Barbie clothes by hand.....I still have the clothes I made put up somewhere. That's how I played w/my Barbies---making clothes for them! :-) But nothing as sophisticated as you with zippers!! Wow! And Stretch and Sew! We had the lady from S&S come one day to teach her method of sewing knits in our Home Ec class at James Monroe Jr. High back in the 70's----I loved my Home Ec classes!!


Goosegirl said...

Beth, did you ever go to Andreas? Hilyard street I think, really close to South Eugene High. It was right around the corner from Nancy's Yogurt I think. After it went out of business, a gelato store went in there but I have not been back for years so I don't know what is there any more.

Kristy said...

I love seeing your first projects! My mom is a quilter, so my first project was a quilt in 4th grade. It is hot pink, teal and baby blue! I still have it and we use it when we go picnicing!! I really need to get my sewing machine from my mom's house... you are such an inspiration!

lollipops said...

My mother took sewing classes too, learning to make men's suits, and doing the stretch & sew. I am no where near as talented as her, but Mom always made help her with sewing. I made a shirt in Home ed in school, but had a lot of help from home too. My first project all by myself was a baby dress I made for my husband's brother's daughter--wonder if they even put the dress on the child... I have no pictures though. My daughter wants to learn to sew. My mom is in heaven. I feel a bit like it'll be a case of the blind leading the blind...

April said...

I can't believe you picked that dress as your first garment. I am impressed!!!!

Bear's Mommy said...

I don't remember the little things I sewed, but I do remember the first big project I did. It was a blouse and a skirt. Completely over the top in this soft gauze-y white and Swiss dotted material. It was almost peasant blouse like but it had a high gathered neck and a paneled and gathered skirt. I was so proud of it I wore it for my 7th? grade school pictures. It was completely inappropriate for a middle schooler, but I loved it anyway and wore it to church a lot. I wish I had a picture of the full outfit. It's gone now...