Ramblings, Randomness

On Sewing and Blogging

Last week the lovely Michelle of Handmade Martini invited me to participate in this blog hop that’s making the rounds of the sewing internets.

To be honest, when I first saw the email hit my inbox with the sender listed only as “Michelle,” my first thought was , “Who the $&%# is this and what are they trying to sell me?” But I quickly realized what was going on, and I was quite flattered! I mean, Michelle is big time. Or at least big time next to little ol’ me, toiling away in relative obscurity in my basement sewing dungeon in my corner of Kansas.

But now down to business. Michelle deviated from the standard “why do you write” questions for this blog hop and asked me sewing questions instead. Good decision — the reasons that I sew are likely way more interesting than the reason I write. Let’s face it, I write because I can’t have a blog without writing and because I’m a lawyer. Law school and my subsequent 10 years of practice has pretty much instilled in me the need to share every bit of knowledge in my head with anyone who will listen. My husband will attest that you really don’t want to get caught in the middle of a dinner conversation with two lawyers. Well, I guess you might if you need a cure for insomnia šŸ™‚

Why Do I Sew?

Ooh, this is a really good question and really hard to articulate. The best way I can put it is that I sew because it provides me with a creative outlet and satisfies the part of me that needs to make things.

Yeah, yeah, that’s the same cliche line that everyone uses, so let me explain a little more.

There are certain professions and jobs that carry a distinct set of stereotypes and expectations — doctor, accountant, lawyer. Everyone has a mental image of these people and certain qualities and characteristics that they’re supposed to have. And when you’re in one of those fields, it’s very easy, almost inevitable really, that you cater to those expectations and stereotypes (because honestly, a lot of them are based on truth!).

But there’s so much more to me than that!

Lawyering is what I do, but it’s only a small part of who I am.

All my life, I have had creative pursuits. All my life that is, until I went to law school. When I was a kid, it was music. I played piano for several years, and then took up the flute in 5th grade, which I continued until I graduated from high school.

In high school and college, it was theater. I was a drama geek, involved in every school production, playing improv games with my friends in the backyard for fun.

In college, I took up drawing. I took advantage of the super-cheap art supplies at the university bookstore (seriously, how I wish I could buy nice charcoal artist pencils for under $1.00 now!), and filled sketchbooks with random charcoal sketches of faces, hands, landscapes, etc.

Then I went to law school. I packed up my flute and my charcoals, and traded in my thespian mask for casebooks, civil procedure, and Marbury v. Madison. I graduated and went to work at a big law firm. I learned about vicarious liability, quantum meruit, and replevin (to borrow a phrase from my partner and mentor, that means “get your sh%$ back”). I flexed a lot of muscles, but none of them creative.

Fast forward 7 years. I’d spent 7 years in private practice with no creative outlet to speak of. I had just had my second baby, N, and was enjoying dressing her in pretty, frilly outfits. One day my friend Julie posted pictures on her blog of some cute outfits she had made her daughter and I thought to myself, “I can do that.”

Four little words and the rest, as they say, is history!

My first projects were very rough and had a lot of crooked seams and bunched-up bobbin thread. But I loved it and felt like I was reconnecting with a part of myself that had spent the last 10 years in hibernation.

First dress ever made by Katie @ www.creative-counselor.com
The first dress I ever made. It’s the Made by Petchy Baby Dress. Great first project!
First dress ever made by Katie @ www.creative-counselor.com
N modeling her first dress, just shy of 2 months old!
Since I was immediately obsessed, I decided to make N's outfit for her 3-month photos.   Same Made by Petchy dress with bloomer from the Oliver + S Tea Party Dress.
Since I was immediately obsessed, I decided to make N’s outfit for her 3-month photos. Same Made by Petchy dress with bloomers from the Oliver + S Tea Party Dress.
Tee for Two -- early project by Katie at www.creative-counselor.com
And a t-shirt for J from the Patterns by Figgy Tee for Two pattern. One benefit of just diving in and teaching myself, rather than having someone else teach me, is that I never knew I was supposed to be afraid of sewing with knits. I’ve been sewing them from the beginning!

And here’s where I apologize for my long, rambling explanation. But I do think it helps put my love of sewing into context.

What Am I Working On?

Currently I am working on dresses for me and for N for my brother’s wedding in Florida in a couple of weeks! N will be the flower girl and J will be the ring bearer. I’ve already made J’s outfit when he was ring bearer in our friend Leslie’s wedding this spring, so thankfully I didn’t have to make him a new suit.

Basic Blazer and Clean Slate Pants suit and review by Katie @ Creative Counselor
J and N in their spring wedding duds.

N’s dress is pretty much done — I just have to sew on the button.

I’ve started on my dress, but I still have quite a bit of work to do. I’m using a gorgeous floral silk and I’m taking my time and finishing the insides properly. It’s gonna be purdy.

And then if I have some time to spare after I finish my dress (or if I need a break from hand-sewing silk), I have cut a few additional projects that I’d like to take with me when we go to Florida. You know, beachy wear like basic knit dresses, comfy maxis, and swishy skirts. We’ll see how far I get šŸ™‚

And I’d still like to make the kids something for Baby J’s one-year photos next week. Oh, my list never ends…

How Does My Sewing Process Work?

I’m a big enough girl to admit that I am a complete pattern addict. In fact, I’m kind of like a dog when it comes to patterns. “Ooh, shiny new pattern — Anna! Ooh shiny new pattern — Anima! Ooh shiny new pattern — Moneta!” You get the picture.

My sewing process is probably best described as “sew as the spirit moves me.”

I have a prodigious fabric stash and while I generally bought each with a pattern in mind, I’d say about 25% of the time I end up using fabric as I originally intended.

I tend to cut multiple projects at one time since I find cutting tedious and annoying and I’m the kind of person who likes to get unpleasant things out of the way first.

So then when I sit down to sew, I pretty much just work on whatever I’m in the mood for that night. If I’m feeling brain-dead, I’ll probably opt for an easy knit dress or t-shirt. If I’m feeling like being challenged, maybe an Archer. If I’m feeling knitted-out, I’ll go for a woven dress.

As you can see, my “process,” if you can call it that, is quite sporadic!

What Keeps Me Motivated to Blog?

Here’s where I get all mushy and cliche. What keeps me motivated to blog is all of you! (awwwww)

But in all seriousness, blogging and getting into the online sewing community is the best way I’ve found to connect with like-minded people.

Sewing is enjoying a resurgence but it’s still a fairly uncommon hobby for women in my generation. I am blessed to have several close friends who also sew, but none of them live in the KC area. So the Internet and blogging is how I keep in touch with that community, find inspiration, and get help when I’m stumped.

When I started reading sewing blogs, I quickly realized that I wanted to make my own contribution. I don’t have the time, lighting, or mad camera skills to churn out all kinds of tutorials, but I use a lot of patterns and knew that I could at least offer honest reviews of those patterns. If any of you have ever found them to be helpful, I know that I have made some small contribution to this great community.

Whew! That was a lot of Katie talking.

And now here’s the part where I get to pass the baton on to another awesome blogger. Melizza, mama to a beautiful little boy, blogs about her sewing journey over at Pincushion Treats. Melizza was my first bloggy friend when I first started dipping my toes into this world a couple of years ago. She was living in London at the time and her life was far more glamorous than mine (which was dominated by 2 children under 3). She has since moved back across the pond and had a gorgeous little boy, all the while documenting her adventures in sewing, parenting and exploring the Bay Area. Melizza is a patient, meticulous sewist (frequently a great contrast to me) and her projects are always thought out and well-executed. Look for her post next week!

Thanks to everyone who made it this far! I really appreciate every page view and comment — it’s a great feeling to know that I’m connecting with amazing and talented people all over the world!

12 thoughts on “On Sewing and Blogging

  1. “I have a prodigious fabric stash and while I generally bought each with a pattern in mind, Iā€™d say about 25% of the time I end up using fabric as I originally intended.” THIS IS ME! I pick up some pieces and I’m like, what the heck was this intended for?

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful words. I must be a great pretender…I swear I don’t always feel that meticulous about my sewing. Sometimes I can be a real spazz head.

    Have you kept the clothes you’ve sewn that the kids have outgrown? That wee little dress for N is so sweet!

    1. Thank you!

      I have kept some of the clothes I’ve made for the kids, but not all of them. Once J outgrows something, I pack it away for Baby J but now that I’m done having babies, I don’t keep most of the clothes that N and Baby J outgrow. I have a box in my attic of a few pieces from each stage that I keep for sentimental reasons, but I pass the rest on. I don’t send handmades to Goodwill though. Those I give to a couple of good friends who know that I sew and appreciate the work that went into them.

  2. great idea to change up the questions! i suspect this whole blog hop didn’t start with the sewing community… wonder how it got around to us! i’ve always needed some sort of creative outlet as well. i’ve been reading a lot about the whole “maker movement” and educating kids for more than just test scores. turns out that, by and large, the most successful people are those who tinker and make things (i would definitely include those who sew in this category). they have a creativity and approach to problem solving that just can’t be taught from a book. it is surprising to me the wide variety of backgrounds of those who sew, every stereo-type has been broken!

    1. I suspect that you’re right.

      I find the maker movement interesting as well. As J approaches kindergarten, I think more and more about getting our lives to a point where we could afford to homeschool if we needed to and incorporate more of that philosophy.

      1. i’ve been struggling with the same thoughts… we’re lucky that our kids go to a really good school, but there’s only so much catering that can be given to a child’s learning style. these things just can’t be accommodated in the tradional school setting. until there is a push to change how school is structured, many kids simply fall through the cracks, under perform, or don’t reach their potential. it’s hard to make up for those shortcomings in the few hours we have after school… so much to think about!

  3. Your review of the Julia cardigan made me want it so bad. So I got it for a birthday present! Thanks for writing reviews. I would love to support these ladies, but need to know what to expect beyond tester photos. The size of the individual that the garment is being sewn for always helps me! Thanks a bunch!

  4. I certainly enjoy reading your blog, from the coffee dates to the pattern reviews, especially all your posts related to sewing for maternity and nursing. Have fun sewing up those items for yhe wedding. Looking forward to seeing how they turn out!

    1. Thanks! There are so few good nursing patterns out there. I even had a few more planned but never had time to make it photograph them before my BFing days were over. Maybe a pattern round up one of these days though!

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