For me, sewing has been both a passion and an art, as well as a practicality. I began this creative voyage as a 9 year old, with dolls - Barbie and otherwise – to dress. My mother made many of my clothes, as did my paternal aunts and grandmother, so the concept wasn’t foreign to me – but like many girls, I never thought MY skills would measure up to the standards set by my elders. Initially, I sewed my doll clothes by hand, then later, with a bit of maturity under my belt, on a sewing machine! At this point, though, I hadn’t dared to sew anything for myself. It wasn’t until much later, at the ripe old age of 12 that this developing skill blossomed into something that would be with me forever.
My awakening? A required sewing class in junior high school, to which I vehemently objected. The reason – I hated being forced to do anything based on gender and sewing class was the aforementioned “requirement” for 7th grade girls. So despite my innate interest in sewing, I inwardly (I kept telling myself this wasn’t for me, that I’d never be able to sew as well as my mother and other assorted excuses) rebelled, until I finally made something that I was proud enough to wear. As a teenager with an interest in fashion, but little cash to support that interest beyond my allowance and babysitting money, I quickly surmised that I could easily triple my wardrobe, at a fraction of the off-the-rack cost, by sewing. To borrow a racing term, I was off and running!
I sewed my back-to-school clothes, dresses (one of which was a formal gown for the same grandmother who sometimes sewed for me!), anything that suited my fancy and for a rather dorky teen, it was great to be viewed as a fashion plate. My “aha moment” was when I was finally able to set in a sleeve smoothly and without puckers or gathers. I’d see an outfit in a magazine or movie that I thought would be becoming on me and set about copying it, putting my own touches on it. As a college student in jeans most of the time, I focused my attention on creating bohemian tops, belts for my hip-hugger jeans, as they were called then, and casual vests, which evolved into more sophisticated, tailor garments of which I’d become enamored watching movies of the 40s and 50s that my mother and I loved. It was the 1970s, a time that spelled casual, laid back attire - but crisply tailored suits and coats fascinated me and the idea that I could possible make them was exciting. Tailoring became a skill I was driven to conquer.
Fast forward to the 1980s, when power suits ruled the roost in the business world. I was in middle management at a Detroit TV station at that time and a woman who wanted to be taken seriously dressed the part. I was also newly married and didn’t have the budget to afford such a wardrobe off the rack, so with my sewing machine humming, I created my business wardrobe at a rate of about one suit per weekend. Working in television, deadlines are the reality, so the idea of producing professionally tailored suits and coats over a weekend didn’t even cause me to blink – it was a dearly familiar challenge that I was more than prepared to meet. In 1989, I was a working mom-to-be who couldn’t find suitable maternity clothes, so once again, it was my Sears Kenmore to the rescue! I cranked out tailored maternity suits and dresses, most of which came from the same two patterns. I simply changed buttons, added pockets, collars, bindings, you name it, for variety. No one ever thought these maternity fashions were the result of my anxious fingers and my sewing machine!
My daughter, Christina, the other half of the L2 blog, was born in 1990, but my quest for sewing didn’t wane – it grew! And as you no doubt know by now, my passion for sewing was passed on to her, along with a specific taste for well-tailored attire. That’s our story in a nutshell - or should I say in a thimble – and we invite you to visit us for The Weekly Stitch, our musings about our sewing adventures of the week; Popped Seams, our sewing misadventures and L2’s Lair, where we’ll chat about new fabric and equipment finds.
You’ll also find a button for Go Red For Women, one of the American Heart Association’s biggest campaigns. Heart disease, as well as sewing, is something that is near to both of our hearts due to my father’s multiple strokes in the late ‘90s and my mother’s near-stroke just a year ago. Christina, who interns at the American Heart Association, found these Go Red donation buttons while at work and we both felt that, since we, like many people, have been touched by heart disease and now have a way to use the buttons, we should “volunteer” our blog space to Go Red.
In short, we look forward to hearing from you, and until then, happy sewing!