I'm leaving Oxford and England, for now. I've been busy paring down a lot of the things I'd accumulated so this is a non sewing post but I'd say for most of us life and sewing are pretty much intertwined. I've sold my machine to a very happy recipient who lives in my building. She told me something I'd heard so much over the past two weeks while the machine was for sale "I'd love to learn to sew" or "I used to sew and I'd love to get back into it" or "Oh I have a machine and I'd like to sew but I'm not that good at it". My reply was always the same "It's not that hard. You can do it" and "most sewing machine shops and technical colleges and even fabric shops hold classes."
Ok it's easy for me to say after a lifetime of sewing. I heard the sound of the machine in utero. My mother sewed. My grandmother lived with us and she sewed. I inhaled sewing like breathing, have always known and loved it. It's harder when it is a foreign world and are purely self taught. More power those of you who have done this. And who can remember learning anything pre internet? It is such a valuable resource. Nevertheless, I remember when I was afraid of knits, and hadn't sewn a T shirt let alone a decent fitting jacket. Everything is a learning curve and sometimes things daunt all of us. I love reading the blogs and reviews of creative beginners that have no fear and are happily creative. It is sad that some people like those I spoke to, are too afraid to start.
Fitting is another thing that discourages people and learning to alter for your own body is a huge thing. I remember the point at which I realized that patterns were drafted for a standardised body that looked like the back-of-the-pattern book croquis and that my sewing would be better if I didn't sew for an idealized version of my real silhouette. As a young sewer I thought it odd when I no longer fitted to the pattern's boundaries and was reluctant to shape the pattern to fit mine. It dawned on me slowly to vary the pattern where I needed it! I thought it was a failure not to have the pattern's statistics. Hey I am talking late teenage years here. Then slowly I gained a true perception of my own body. That is a gift that sewing gives us. Patterns are like the serving suggestions on the front of cake boxes. The reality can be very different and you have to take the idea and run. Same for pattern styles. This, I think, is the reason more people are returning to sewing. It feels good to take a pattern as a starting point and tweak it, change it, match it to your own particular vision.
This is what those people were telling me they would really like to do. I hope I encouraged them to just start. Then they will find themselves expressing who they are in cloth.
My goal for the year is to express my style in a more cohesive way. Things that match could be a way to start ..
I fly back to Sydney, Australia tomorrow. Look out for some summer sewing!
Here is a flikr link to some of my memories of Europe. England and Europe 2011
Goodbye England and Europe! I'll be back! xx Val