I remember being in grade school and looking in the store at the selection of outfits for Barbie. To be honest, there wasn’t much of a selection. And also to be honest, I had seen some pretty slick ensembles that there was no way they were going to be in the 5 & dime of my small town. But next door was the fabric store and they always had remnants and they were usually around 5¢ to 10¢ a piece – they were a steal – and it was going to be a much better ensemble that I had even seen in the most promising of catalogs!
So I was off sewing. I couldn’t wait. I had this immediate passion and the ability to turn my dreams into reality has been a constant intoxication for me.
It’s followed me ever since.
I can not express to you the empowerment of making my prom dress. I felt like the bell of the ball in absolutely the very latest look.
The scoop neck, the raised waist, the short sleeves, the fuller skirt, this was a rayon/acetate taffeta in light pink and with a matching pink ribbon around the waist.
It really was the cat’s meow.
This is how I started and it only got more intoxicating as I grew older.
Unfortunately as I grew older, and I’ve made light of this, but it was very hard for me to understand at the time, I had somehow offended the Home Ec. Dept in high school and by the time I got to college, Home Ec. had become such an antiquated, that there was not a sewing course to be had, and no self-respective young modern girl would openly admit that she wanted to learn to create her own clothes, much less search for such instruction.
So I did without. I sewed a little, but it was fraught with major mistakes, and certainly not wearable. I couldn’t find what I wanted and pretty much had to live with that. I still had to and wanted to create so I spent my college years in art classes and learning art, but my lack of sewing was a huge hole in my heart and my soul.
It was only years later after I had settled that a local lady who had sewn for many of the ladies of society in my city, started teaching classes. I had known she was an expert professional seamstress, and just never figured that she would teach. But she did. On a lark, I took classes with her. I thought would just find out how much this “professional” knew and would teach me.
This had all the points I wanted to learn – I probably bit off more than I could handle for my first class. At the time (and this really dates me), this was a hot Ralph Lauren look – the white trimmed collar, cuffs, and plackets were all key to the look, and if there was just a little mistake, this style would show it…in spades.
Not only did I make the dress up, I did it in half the class time.
It was wonderful, but I nearly had heart failure when I discovered that I would have to go another 3 months before she was teaching again. As time went on she had classes every week – on Wednesdays – these were my most fun and cherished days during this time.
How fun this was. Anything I could dream or saw and wanted, I had. It was like a blank check only better. I didn’t rely upon retailers or someone else’s imagination or choices – I had all the power and could do anything I wanted. This dress wasn’t even available at the time as it was a promotional dress done by a designer I still admire, Yves St. Laurent, for his Opium line of perfume. Of course his was done with semi-precious stones – mine was done with sequins & beads. It took about 48 hours and I did it in 3 days – yep, no sleep – a thing the youth can do!!!
Additionally, there is a woefully abundant lack of knowledge on how garments are constructed, much less what they are constructed with in the buying public. Even with the most simple class and garment construction you can gain so much knowledge of how clothes are made to make you a far better, empowered and knowledgeable buyer. Part of what happens is that you find the garment you made is so superior than anything you’ve had on your body in a long time, that you now know what to compare it to.
Often there is very little, except a full design degree that will teach expert sewing techniques and methods. There are a few programs that teach anything more than craft-type garment sewing. Either the program or the teacher can’t advance you past aprons, totes and bibs (from the famous “bib” incident in my sewing education!), or there is just nothing offered past those levels of sewing. But I can. I can take you as far as you want to go, or to just as far as the next garment.
Do you know a budding sewist out there?
Or are you just wanting to be an empowered buyer?
A Christmas gift of sewing lessons can be the perfect gift for this person, or just for yourself!
If you know someone is interested in sewing lessons, check the schedule above, or contact me here and we can arrange for lessons on their schedule. I teach at several locations and on different schedules. This can be a dream come true for a designer, technician or even the empowered buyer!
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