05
Apr
08

Amateur couture

It started with diapers, believe it or not.  I’d sewn a bit here and there for a good ten years, but nothing like this. A few months into my pregnancy, my husband looked and me and said, “You know, I bet we’d save a lot of money if we used cloth diapers.”  I did a bit of research online and decided that hands down I wanted the ease of use provided by all-in-one diapers, but I cringed at the cost.  A friend at babyfit.com suggested I sew my own to save money, so I did.

I sewed over 100 cloth diapers, through the length of my pregnancy and several months after my daughter was born.  I knelt in the tiny living room of our apartment, cutting out fabric on the floor, reaching around my pregnant belly to do so, in order to make my own dipes and save us, in the end, over $2,000 compared with disposable diapers and hundreds compared to new purchased all-in-one cloth diapers.

The obligatory Mommy's shoes picture

Here’s a picture of my daughter wearing one of the cloth diapers, and a pair of Mommy’s heels!

In the midst of the diaper craze, my sister got married, and asked me to be her bridesmaid.  Her wedding was to be in July, around my fifth month of pregnancy, when I was sure to have a bump showing.  I needed to wear something relatively formal of course.  And she wanted me to wear silver.  Have you ever seen a formal silver maternity dress in a retail shop in June?  I haven’t.  And I looked everywhere.  So, I found silver fabric online and a pattern and I sewed my silver maternity bridesmaid dress myself, because it was the only way such a dress was going to exist in the first place!

Towards the end of my pregnancy, and heading towards Christmastime, my husband suggested that I sew a fur coat for his sister for Christmas.  I cannot for the life of me remember what inspired such a suggestion, or what momentary lapse of sanity made me agree to it, but this is what we did.  I bought several yards of faux fur from the fabric shop, as well as purple lining and gorgeous buttons.  I couldn’t find a pattern I liked anywhere.  All I could find were patterns for leather jackets, or for women’s suit blazers.  I wanted something nearly full length, with a dramatic hourglass shape and maybe some fullness towards the bottom.  This was my first time buying a pattern to use for a wholly different purpose than the authors intended.  I bought a dress pattern and with a little creative tweaking (including inventing a pattern piece for the collar!) I made a stunning fur coat.

By this point, family members had it in their heads that I knew how to sew.  I was basing everything on one home ec class I’d taken back in junior high, and the handful of tips I could find online, and blind luck.  But it seemed to be working for me, and I was having fun!

My mom asked me to sew her a skirt, hem some pants, alter a shirt, and generally help her revamp her wardrobe.  This continues to be an ongoing project today.  But, I’ve gotten into increasingly creative and dramatic projects outside of what she has me do, and I find the simple repairs, hems, and easy garments made directly from a pattern that was actually meant for said garment to be extremely dull.  I tell her it’s “chore sewing” and I do it only for her, because she’s my mom, and she did after all lend me the cash with which I bought my Singer in the first place!

When it really got interesting though was when my mother in law started ballroom dancing.  And asked me to sew her costumes!  Now HERE is what I had been waiting for (without knowing it)!  The gorgeous fabrics!  The impractically full skirts!  The RHINESTONES just blanketing the gowns!  I spent months sewing 2 gowns for her, and I look forward to the someday when she is ready for more.

Standard and Latin ballgowns for my mother in law, more details on these later.

Well I don’t suppose that this first post really needs intricate details of every project I’ve ever worked on!  If so, what else will I have to write about going forward?  The point is, my obsession has grown and changed and I love to sew!  But not just to sew – to imagine, to alter, to tweak, to reconstruct, to create, to drape, to DESIGN clothes that no one actually needs to wear on a day to day basis.

I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

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2 Responses to “Amateur couture”


  1. April 5, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I need a picture of the coat!

  2. 2 Sarah
    April 10, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Oh I know! I don’t have one, sadly. Blame it on the fact that I was 41 weeks pregnant when I finished the thing, but it honestly didn’t even occur to me to take one. I’m not positive whether SIL still has it but if she does I want a photo!


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