Over the last few years I have been trying out and learning several new crafts through trial and error and the advice of some amazing family, friends and colleagues. I’ve learned / worked out how to do some pretty cool stuff and the most recent fascination I have is with sewing / dressmaking.
I’ve decided to start writing this blog in an attempt to document my progress and because I have a passion for writing, not because I’m big headed enough to believe that anyone will be interested in reading it but just in case anyone does happen by, I want to make a few things clear…
I don’t know anything about dressmaking.
But I’m learning! I’m also in a very fortunate position to learn because I work in a fabric shop. I spend every day surrounded by dressmakers and some incredibly knowledgeable colleagues who are always willing to provide some advice. I mostly follow people around asking questions and muttering to myself.
I hate fashion
But I love it. The part I hate is the definition of “what’s hot” and “what’s not.” The judgement and the intolerance. Most women’s magazines fill me with nothing but bile due to their fickle nature, their questionable role models and in particular their constant dangling of indulgent, unattainable and frankly shallow lifestyles in front of “normal” looking, average earning, impressionable young women. To me they’re just marketing tools – “Buy this, everyone else is and you’re an idiot who will be laughed at if you don’t.”
I also find it difficult to understand or respect the concept that anyone would pay hundreds of pounds for a name, especially for a basic item with a name or logo emblazoned all over it. Even if I could afford to dress only in Chanel, I wouldn’t. That’s not a lie. I would love to own a designer dress or suit and I’m not saying that if I did they wouldnt be beautifully tailored or excellent quality. I am saying that I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on clothes or shoes.
I think it is important to know your body shape and to understand which styles and colours look best on you. Ultimately this, and not flicking through pages and pages of models, bitchy columnists, circles of shame and quizzes about what men really think about you is what builds confidence and empowers women to get on with the really important “inner work”* that makes us who we are. I’m going to come right out and say that anyone, man or woman, who worries about what they don’t have instead of making use of what they do needs to get to know themselves a little better.
Oh and for the record, Grazia’s the worst. I really hate Grazia.
*homage to my dear friend over at Wattland who has not only given me my sewing machine, but some stuff to think about while I sew!
I’m a big ol’ girl
This is worth mentioning, not because I’m flying the flag for curves or any such nonsense. I just am who I am and who I am takes up 5’11” and approximately a size 16. I will never be “thin” because it’s not the way I’m meant to be.
The reason I mention this is my size and in particular my height very much determine what I wear and what I make. I guess this will become more apparent as I add posts.
I am my style
I have always liked vintage style and am quite influenced by old movies I used to watch with my Mum. In particular I love Westerns and although I don’t dress like a saloon girl or wear a bustle, they have influenced me in terms of values and ideologies. No, not the Injun killing, racism and misogyny which is pretty rife- more the respect for manners, for elders and for the way a woman ought to present herself.
For the most part you won’t find me showing a lot of skin and you won’t find me wearing trousers. But then again, I wear what I see fit for the occasion, sexy is in the eye of the beholder! My issue with trousers is mostly that I don’t feel that I suit them, I struggle to find a pair that fit because of my height and a skirt makes me feel more feminine in a world where I’m taller than many men and I know that it flatters my shape better.
I hate shopping
I am not a social shopper, I prefer to do it alone. I mostly walk down a shopping street with no idea where I’m going to go and then panic and surprise myself by ‘diving’ man in raincoat in Soho style into a shop just at the last minute as I pass. Once I’m in I am often followed by a security guard because I behave like a criminal. I do a quick ‘recce’ lap and more often than not shoot straight back out the door as nothing has grabbed my attention. Sometimes I do see some things I like and will then spend a long time agonising over whether I can justify spending £35 on a top! If I do make the purchase, it will eat away at me until often I am compelled to return the item or cannot get any joy out of wearing it. Sigh.
I mostly shop in charity shops, not because I’m cool and “random” and bohemian blah blah blah but because I find things that I like there and more often than in High Street stores, stuff that actually FITS!