The Seamstress Tag, created by Hollie Sews, a totally gorgeous and talented sewing blogger, has been appearing on quite a few sewing blogs I follow, so I thought it would be fun to do it too. I apologise if I bore you, but once I start talking about sewing it’s hard to make me stop. You may find this out in a couple of months time too, because I very recently did a interview with a certain magazine all about vintage and vintage sewing. It was very hard to stop me waffling on, so I pity the editor who has to go through it!
Who are you?
If you’re new to the blog, then welcome, I’m Cate. It’s a pleasure to meet you! I’m from the UK and a lover of all things old and have a passion for the earlier decades of the 20th Century, particularly the 1930s. I sew a lot of my own vintage clothes from original patterns of the period and am currently learning how to crochet. My day job is in ecommerce web design, which is a complete opposite to my life outside work. It moves incredibly fast, is super modern and all about technology, a bit like the 1930s then!
When and why did you start sewing?
I did a little bit of sewing as a child because it was one of my mum’s passions, but it never really interested me much. Then, as a teenager, I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer and ended up going to university to study for a fashion degree. Of course this involved lots and lots of sewing and I instantly caught the bug. All of a sudden I could not only dream up my own dream wardrobe, but I could make it too!
For many, many reasons I won’t go into here, I didn’t end up becoming a fashion designer, but I’m still very glad I spent my college years studying for it. I can now design something in my head, create a pattern to use and sew it together. It’s a great skill to have!
What is your favourite or proudest make?
That’s such a hard one as I’ve made so many garments over the years! One thing from years ago that I was really proud of was a pair of perfectly fitting jeans with my own label on the pocket, just like Levi’s!
However, I think possibly my favourite of more recent years is the burgundy wool crepe 1930s dress I made about 18 months ago. It was the first one I’d made from an original 1930s pattern using completely era-authentic techniques. It created something that looked like a genuine vintage dress, rather than a reproduction. I also love wearing it too, it’s unbelievably comfortable.
What is your most disastrous make?
I’m generally one of those people that never gives up on my sewing, I will always persist until it’s done and I don’t have a UFO pile at all. However, probably the most pointless one I made was a padded gilet for myself. Seriously, I don’t even own a pair of trainers, what would I need a padded gilet for?!! I actually don’t know what possesed me to make it, perhaps I wanted to try my hand at wadding. Needless to say, I’ve never worn it, ever!
Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?
One of my most favourite online shops is ClothSpot and I’ve bought loads of really beautiful fabrics from them. I do also really love Fabworks for absolutely stunning wools and My Fabrics (who are actually based in Germany) for really good sturdy linens in all sorts of colours. In terms of bricks and mortar shops, well, there’s a severe lack of them around where I live. I would highly recommend Ditto Fabrics and Fabric Fair in Brighton though, I do like to visit them whenever I take a trip down there.
I also buy a lot of vintage fabrics from vintage fairs such as The Vintage Bazaar and The West Country Vintage Textile Markets, as well as flea markets and vintage online sellers. Etsy is obviously a good place to start for vintage fabrics online, but I always ask a ton of questions before committing to anything. Donna Flower Vintage is also very good, and there are several Facebook groups selling vintage fabrics too.
What is your most used pattern?
It’s probably the skirt from this original 1930s three piece patterns. I’ve used this time and time again as a basis for skirt styles that I’ve then gone on to create a totally different style. It’s a really simple and straight forward pattern of a front and back and it fits me perfectly. It’s also a classic 1930s shape of fitted waist, slim hips and slightly fluted bottom. I think I’ve used it about 6 times since I bought it last November!
Your most dreaded sewing task is?
That’s definitely button holes. Even after all these years it still terrifies me to cut into the fabric. And what’s worse is that I prefer to do them by hand, so you have to cut the fabric first before stitching it. It’s slightly less stressful doing it by machine but my button hole foot is rough underneath and tends to pull at the fabric.
And your favourite sewing task?
That’s really hard as I pretty much love all of it (apart from button holes!). I do really enjoy pressing, which sounds weird as it’s not really sewing at all, and I hate ironing. However, with pressing it creates such a clean crisp finish to garments when seams are pressed properly during construction. I also love all the manipulation you can do with pressing, such as shaping a collar or a sleeve head. It gives it a lovely couture look that just isn’t ever achieved in fast fashion.
What is your favourite sewing entertainment?
I always have Netflix on my iPad as I’m sewing but it always has to be something I’ve watched before so I don’t miss anything vital! I’ve rewatched the whole of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Absolutely Fabulous, The Good Wife and The Tudors, as well as tons of 1980s and 90s films. It’s the perfect accompaniment!
Printed or PDF?
Neither, my favourites are either original pre-cut, non-printed patterns from the 1930s and 40s or my own drafted patterns. I find modern, multi-sized patterns really irritating having to cut them out. Vintage patterns are already pre-cut to one size, so you don’t have to worry about this. PDF patterns are great for getting patterns at cheaper prices, and much quicker than waiting for them to arrive in the post, but again I get irritated with all the taping of pieces together and cutting them out. I just want to get on with it!
I do enjoy draft at home patterns, much like the Lutterloh System and Mrs Depew’s vintage French versions. They aren’t always that simple but they’re great to really push yourself and understand the construction of each garment.
What sewing machine do you use?
These are my two babies, the Toyota 2440 sewing machine and the Toyota SL3404D overlocker. I guess that makes me a Toyota girl! I bought both of them in the early 90s during college and they’ve both been absolute winners this whole time. I know the sewing machine probably looks rather dated compared to most modern machines now, but it does absolutely everything I need it to.
I couldn’t be without my overlocker, although I did nearly throw it out of the window a few weeks ago. I generally never thread it from scratch, but rather tie the next cottons on and pull them through. However, for some reason this didn’t work on this occasion and I had to thread it from scratch. It still wasn’t working properly and it took 12 more attempts to get it right. I was in tears by the end of it!
Any other hobbies?
Ooo, lots! As I mentioned before, I’ve now started crocheting, which I absolutely love. I’m very close to finishing my very first jumper, so I’m sure that’ll be on the blog soon. I also do a lot of revamping my house and I’m a big interior design fan, having worked in that industry in the past. The lounge is my current project and I’m about to make two pairs of matching curtains for the lounge, ready for once it’s all been redecorated.
I also belong to a writing group, which I go to every week, and I’m trying (I say trying as I find it so hard to find the time) to write a book. Not very surprisingly, it’s based in the late 20s to the late 30s and is about a young girl of 16 who loses her mother and is left trying to find her own way in the world, because none of the men in her life know quite what to do with her.
I’m not going to tag anyone, but I do know several seamstresses read my little blog, so if any of you decide to join in on your own blog, please comment below to let me know so I can have a read!