Monday, May 2, 2011


It's time for some (blog) housekeeping - not the real kind of course, that never gets done around here..

I've been tagged for a me-me and an award so thank you all for thinking of me! ( I mean you, EmilyKate, Big in Japan and Katie)

It is lovely to be included in this wonderful blog community even if saying so sounds such a cliche.

Now I'm going to combine the meme and award together and answer some of the questions of both:

1) shoe size - 38.

2) kissed anyone I shouldn't have?
Of course. I imagine a life of regret otherwise.

3) 30's or 60's

Oh definitely 60's - the time of hope and freedom and the desire to make difference. The 30's were characterised by the Great Depression and the lead up to WW11.

4) Ever been poisoned
Food poisoned many many times. When I first moved up North I got it quite frequently. I think it was because in my home town you don't need to worry about food hygiene so much because of the cold.

5) Famous people you'd like to meet?
This question surprises me and it's simply because it assumed that I thought famous people were - per se - worth meeting. The people I enjoy meeting are kind and funny and you don't have to be famous to be either of those so I have to say "pass." (you know how only 2 billion people watched the royal wedding - I was one of the other 3 billion).

6) There are 3 periods of my life I would describe as extremely challenging. I am in the middle of one of them right now. I do believe it is making me a better person though. Oh yes nothing like fire for refining. I have to say, what keeps me sane is sewing. Having something else to focus on, something enjoyable and useful, is very therapeutic.

7) I recently won a copy of the "Dress Circle" - a wonderful book about the history of fashion in New Zealand. I was amazed to learn that the biggest competition for early designers in this country were home sewers. Apparently New Zealand women were excellent seamstresses - a skill handed down from mother to daughter. I have to say that the only thing I would have learned about sewing from my mother was swearing. (no disrespect intended dear mama)

Anyway, the authors of the Dress Circle are giving a talk in about a month's time - to which I have already purchased tickets and I feel I shall have to put an excellent home sewn outfit together to mark the occasion. If I am brave enough when they ask for questions at the end, I shall ask, "do you ever think home sewers will be a threat to designers in this country again?"

At any rate, I am embarrassed to admit I am almost finished another coat which is the basis of the outfit I shall wear to this talk. It's very bold people, very bold.

At this stage I'm not imagining any New Zealand designers are going to feel under a great deal of pressure.

We have just come back from a holiday in Rotorua - I popped into the local fabric shop and the woman was wearing a home sewn outfit from top to toe - she looked really nice but you could tell it was homesewn. Not because it was unprofessional or weird looking - it was just not ready to wear. There's always a little something that makes homesewn things stand apart. Maybe professional designers need never fear the home sewer - the product is as different and unique as the seamstress who conjured them up.


  1. I saw the title 'housekeeping' and thought, this is new. Not at all.
    Can't wait to see the coat.

  2. I agree with your comment that alot of homesewn looks homesewn. I don't think it's so much the workmanship as the fabric choices we make.
    There's some great homesewn garments out there in blogland but I doubt you'd see much of it in RTW. I wonder if that's the point or if it's that we sewers are limited by fabric availability.

  3. I loved reading your answers!
    I have decided one of the big giveaways for something being homesewn is drape. Most of us can't always get the EXACT fabric we want for a project, and you can't always predict how fabric will sit and flow over your body, so homesewn things often seem to 'sit out' from the body or droop a bit, even when the measurements and size are accurate. It's not something I think I'll ever be able to get exactly right with every garment. Designers have so much more breadth of choice and they get to muslin everything to the nth degree.

  4. That home-sewn comment is so true. I think the Biggest Challenge to us to make it look "different" (otherwise you may as well buy) but a garment still has to be professionally finished. It's a fine line.
    I think the point about home sewers being the primary experts used to be the same in Australia, but sadly not so anymore. I'm always waving the banner for making your own, because I REALLY don't want to see it die out here.
    Oh, and I loved your answers! you seem both kind and funny yourself, so I think it'd be great to meet you!

  5. If all goes well in home sewing the fit is much, much better. I also have noticed with all these drapey fashions that have been around for a while, that the home sewn version are more generous with the fabric. I figure RTW is skimping on the fabric to increase the margin.

    BTW, nice fit on your jeans in the previous post :-)

  6. Marie-ChristineMay 2, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    Whyever would you be sorry to admit you're almost done with a coat :-)? I'd be trumpeting it all over if I was almost done with the most time-consuming part of anything :-).

    I know what you mean about home-sewn showing. I think partly it's that we recognize the fit is better, you jut don't see that ever any more, unless it's on some particularly sleazy men with custom tailoring, usually on tv. But it may also be that the clothes fit the person's personality better than usual. I know that my lack of time and energy and therefore low production mean that I end up with stuff that's much more focused on what I'm like. And then there's the good/bad part about how you can totally ignore fashion if you're so inclined. Or afford stuff that's several rungs higher than what would leap to mind for your 'condition' as they used to say (office work, or cutting fabric). All of those things, pretty small in and of themselves, add up to an impression of unusual..

    Anyway, sorry to hear that things aren't so hot right now. I totally agree with the therapeutic value of sewing through those trying times, so I'm glad you have an occasion to give you concrete projects. Looking forward to the coat at least :-).

  7. I haven't seen the Dress Circle book, must seek it out as it sounds interesting!
    In manufacturing we're lucky enough to sample everything, and resample, re-resample, or ditch it altogether. For the home sewer it's a bit different, and the time and money invested can be substantial so it's harder to bin! I do think fabric availability is an issue. Remember the fabric stores that used to exist?!
    Maybe there's a lot of good stuff wandering around out there that is so great we just don't notice it is 'homemade'!

  8. I hope your stressful time leaves you quickly and leaves you stronger. I loved your thoughts on homesewn looking homesewn. Not sure where I stand on that issue though. More thinking needs to be done on this. Another coat? No embarassment necessary. I am jealous!

  9. Oh, and I forgot to mention, that I wish I could meet you IRL. I think you are one of my long lost sisters. :)

  10. Your home sewn observation is really interesting. What made the home sewing obvious?

  11. I could probably talk for days about home sewing vs. RTW. Lucky for you, you live half the world away so I won't inflict that upon you. ;) Just a quick thought that home sewing is so very *personal*. Every choice is ours. Sometimes a garment can be very obviously personal, like if we love gnomes we can wear a shirt with gnomes printed on the fabric. And sometimes a garment is discreetly personal, like the fit or length is just spot-on, or that we sew something remarkable in a style that isn't on the sales racks, so someone assumes we made it ourselves. A few people who know I sew also seem to play a game sometimes to guess what I've sewn vs. what I've bought.

  12. I'm curious, too, what made the home sewing obvious...
    I think the main things that make things look homesewn (in the uncomplimentary sense) are fabric choice and the details (or usually, a lack of details and closures). Also, there is the ability to "put it all together" that comes on a huge learning curve.

  13. Great post. I could relate to so many things you shared. And I love your style of writing. Can't wait to see the bold, bold jacket!

  14. Sorry to hear that you're going through a challenging time Mary. What you said about sewing helping you get through it really resonated with me and so I mentioned it on my blog and referenced it - I hope you don't mind but if you do please let me know.

    Also, did you mean you could tell the salewoman's clothes were handmade in a good or bad way, or just different? I'm always interested in the perceptions of handmade and I guess a little sensitive about my things looking a bit hokey, if you know what I mean :-)

  15. hiya,

    Glad to hear your trip to Vegas went well. Will have to catch up for coffee sometime soon. I've remembered my login so I can now comment...woohoo!

    Hope things are all ok at your place.

    J xx

  16. It is true, "homesew" can ruin many times the work of a dress, I hope you go over that "moment" you are going through right now and get back to normal soon.

  17. Sometimes I wear something and feel very "homesewn." But then I remember I love the fit, the color, and the process that went into the garment and forget the rest.

    Your jacket will turn a few heads, I am sure. In a good way.

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