How did you get in to sewing? - by Jackie Barry

Jackie and Eleni

I did not learn to sew while playing at my grandma's knee. Though as it turns out, my yiayia was a seamstress whose skills I did not understand or appreciate until long after she passed. Nor did I wake up one morning with a burning desire to sew my own clothes. In truth, the idea never entered my mind. In our consumer driven culture, sewing seemed outdated, unnecessary and almost regressive. Oh how wrong I was! 

My one and only experience of operating a sewing machine was to create a bunny shaped cushion in my seventh grade home economics class. I still remember the blue paisley print, chosen especially to match the sky blue walls of my bedroom. It had floppy ears and button eyes which were sewn on by hand using far more wobbly stitches than were absolutely necessary. I wish I was imaginative enough or quirky enough to have named it. I didn't. Though it was proudly displayed on my bed for years to come. 

A couple years ago, my daughter and I were invited to a Halloween party. She was only a few months old and would likely spend the entire time sleeping in her carrier. I turned to google, looking for a costume which could incorporate the carrier but I didn't find anything I liked. Being a 'give anything a try' kind of girl, I went to the local craft store looking for fabric to make my own. The idea was to glue the pieces together, maybe even do a bit of hand sewing (something I had marginally more experience with in the form of making minor repairs to my fencing equipment) but left with a very cheap, very small travel sewing machine. 

I read the thin manual and made the simple costume, a turtle shell which would encase the carrier. It was cute. Then the machine went up on a shelf. 

Costume the first sew

Months later, a friend suggested we meet at a funky coffee shop that had just opened. And as with most big things in life, that one decision has changed me, to my core.

It was an awesome amalgamation of coffee, tasty cakes and beautiful fabrics and haberdashery. A lovely environment that I just wanted to be a part of and not just because night feeds left me operating as a sleepless zombie who needed an IV drip of caffeine and sugar. The fabric called to me and before I knew it, my mind was consumed with different ideas of things I could make. I booked into a beginner's sewing course and turned up with my entire kit stuffed into my purse: some fabric, a pattern for a child's dress, scissors and my teeny, tiny machine.

I made a child's dress, then hacked a few more. Children's clothes felt like a safe place to experiment and I still didn't foresee making anything for myself. Then I had a go. A simple summer tank. The minute I finished the hem, I threw it on and wore it with more pride than my university graduation robes. 

Jackie and her top

The realisation that I could wear clothes that suited me perfectly both in style and fit was a revelation. I was never even remotely fashion forward or adventurous when choosing clothes. In fact, I dreaded shopping for them. Something that looked great on the hanger just didn't sit right on my body. I'd piece together new outfits and would quickly become disenchanted when I found myself tugging at sleeves and fidgeting with hems. Soon enough, they'd end up in the charity bin. The whole process was thankless and wasteful. 

I couldn't believe that I never considered making my own! 

I'm new to the game and learning as I go but am so excited to be making my own wardrobe staples. I love the thoughtfulness that goes into selecting a fabric and doing it and your aesthetic justice. I already love hacking patterns to create the perfect garment and am building the courage to attempt to draft my own. In shops I even find myself thinking, "I won't get that, I can make it myself..." or "hmm I like that, how is it constructed?"  

That's my story, how did you get into sewing?

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