Living the dream

I’ve had some excellent news this morning. I will soon be the proud owner of my own private space for sewing. So I’ve started looking at how I can get it set up to best suit my needs. The stash itself should be pretty easy to arrange. Afterall, I have my shelving unit, and it mostly fits now. But there’s the crucial machine placement (and whether I can find a way to upgrade to industrial machines, but that’s a question for another day).

I have to factor in lighting. Afterall, the best sewing is done with plenty of light, right? And I need cutting space – not to mention a proper cutting table. I’m thinking that the folding picnic table I’ve been using up until now is probably not going to cut it. So I’ve been searching the internet for inspiration. And boy, is there plenty of it.

I’m liking the look of space some of these have, the elegant simplicity.

I could happily work here – although I doubt it would look like that for too long. So perhaps something a bit less minimalist would work better. The one below has a lot to recommend it in terms of practicality. It is an actual work space, rather than a designers dream of how a work space would be.

Still, it’s a little too cramped for my taste. Practical, but not spacious enough (although I am jealous of that pattern drawer unit). I’d take either of these instead:

Nice, bright, and seemingly well laid out. They look like spaces that I could easily spend hours in – provided I had the right tunes going in the background, of course.

Before I get too carried away, though, a reality ceck might be in order. Because my sewing space is not going to be a whole room, or anything close to any of the images above. It’s a storage room under the house. It has a low ceiling, no natural light, and lovely brown tiles to match the creamy bricks exposed on all four walls. Oh, and in the most interesting feature, it has a 10cm gap at the top of the door, so I’m not even certain it’s weather tight because I know it’s no dust or spider tight. It is also home to a large Ikea expedit shelving unit that I couldn’t fit upstairs when I moved in. Or rather, which I couldn’t convince the movers that they would be able to get up the turn in the stairs (so could have done it, they were just lazy). So really, my sewing room? Yeah, it’s a glorified cupboard with a couple of power points. But I still have hope. I could always do something like these:

I think I’ll start my letter to the landlord now:

Dear Landlord,

Please let me paint/wall paper/otherwise decorate the store room under the house. I want to work under there. Oh, and can I please have a glass hinged door that goes full height, to let natural light in? And while we’re at it, can I pull up the hideous floor tiles and replace them with something more…well, pretty?

Yeah. I think I’ll just start planning my trip to the hardware store for some MDF sheets that can leave with me when I eventually move out, that I can pin stuff all over, and then to Ikea to pick up a few of the gorgeous work laps I’ve seen in their catalogues. And I’ll give Dad the good news that his wood porking skills will be required for a small collapsible cutting table. See? I have a realistic plan of sorts. And, it means my machines are out of my bedroom. It’s progress.


The Dreamstress

One of the reasons that I started this blog – besides and insatiable urge to write stuff that has seen me start at least 2 other blogs, one of which lasted for about 6 years before I tired of it – is the inspiration of other bloggers. One of my main sewing muses is The Dreamstress. Her blog has the added bonus of being entertaining and educational. I can pretend that I’m learning stuff when I check in for my daily fix. It’s quite often information that I will never find any earthly use for – my favourite kind of learning – but there are some tid bits that I have picked up from her that I have put to good use in my own sewing.

The Dreamstress is also responsible for my discovery that it is possible to make a career other than costume designing out of an interest in historical clothing. Until that point, I never knew. If only I’d had this information years ago, things might have turned out very differently. As it is, I’ve been investigating my options study-wise to get into this field, but I’ve been disappointed to find that there doesn’t seem to be anything appropriate available for study in Australia, unless I want to go to Canberra and be an undergrad again. Call me nuts, but 4 undergrad degrees are more than enough for this little black duck. If anyone knows where I could find some sort of study, please, point me in that direction. In the mean time, I’ll keep making lists of books on Amazon, to be purchased when I have spare cash, for my own research purposes. And day-dreaming about studying at NYU, Georgia, Glasgow and, most exciting, the V&A in London (even though it’s not technically on the history of dress).

This isn’t just a random ode to a fellow blogger, though. She’s running a competition at the moment which requires a link back, as well as a comment on her blog. So here is my way of responding – because I love reading her blog, and I think it’s fair enough that she should get some kudos for all her efforts. With that in mind, I’ll occassionally blog about other bloggers – spread the love, as it were. You’ll hear about the American Duchess, various mantua makers, and someone who once discussed a dress a day – or near enough. If I love it, I’ll share it. Enjoy.

The Lady’s Work Room

Ongoing internet dramas mean I am once again posting from my day job. I know. Technology. Don’t get me started.

Lack of interwebs at home has created time that I might otherwise spend playing online, doing things like reading other people’s blogs, that I’m using for sewing. But I have so much other stuff crammed into my fortunately large space that it makes sewing a rather cramped activity. The joys of sharing a house and having no spare room – I take over spare corners where I find them. Like this.


Struggling to juggle furniture, sewing, living, and – on this particular day, due to terrible weather – drying laundry. Earlier this week, this table – the dining table, actually – was the only space available for some summer wardrobe planning.


And yes, before you ask, that is my beloved Singer buried under a mountain of crap in the background of the photo. Needs must, sometimes. Hence, the cutting…er, dining… table usage. In the living room, scrunched up against the back of the couch. At least the wardrobe planning exercise cleared some space in my stash storage, a corner of my bedroom. If you look closely at the photo below, you might be able to spot the square inches of space these fabrics formerly occupied. You might also spot the cubicle where I stash my UFOs. At last check, there were 3 pairs of pants, 2 baby dresses (my niece is now 3, just to give you some idea of how quickly I’m moving on those), 2 dresses, 2 blouses and one jacket. Points for finding which shelf they’re on.


There was once order in this chaos. There was something by way of sorting (by type of fabric, in case you’re wondering…wools, cottons, “shiny” – silks and satins – linings…I can do it when I have to) but then the space began to run out and I panicked, cramming things in wherever there was a hint of space. Hence my current rule, that I’m not allowed to buy any fabric until I’ve used some stash. Unless it’s REALLY cheap and/or pretty. Yeah, I’m great with rules…

Making both of the above seem spacious, though, is the area where the magic actually happens – my sewing space. I have experienced the luxury of a dedicated sewing room. It was a glorious six months before I started sharing a flat, when it was just me and my machines (and a guest bed) in the room. That was given up 18 months and two flats ago. Now, I have my bedroom in a ridiculously awkward arrangement to allow me to fit my sewing table into a corner near both power and light. Then I began to crib the space back for storage. For resting things (note the books…my other obsession is also seriously space intensive. One day, I will have not only a sewing room, but a library as well. One day…Not long after pigs start to fly). My dress form became a secondary wardrobe for coats (that’s the dark bit on the edge of the pic below) and scarves (the cream, red and black confection above). The end result, on a good day, was this:


You can see why I scour the web at lunchtime looking for a cheap space to rent out for my sewing. Anything where I don’t need to move into a different room to press a seam would be nice. But until I find one, I’m doomed to an awkward and uncomfortable sewing life. And daydreams about what I would do to the garage if it had a power point.

The Place Holder

Once again, my technology has stymied my blogging. This time it’s a failure of my internet provider. So I can’t show any pictures of the fabulous 50s blouse that I’ve been hand sewing for the past week, on and off (what can I say, my hand sewing moves at glacial pace. But still faster than my home internet right now).

But in the mean time, I thought I’d at least tease with the pattern.



I’ve gone with the bottom left option, in a floral/striped cotton. So far, it’s looking good, apart from one minor issue with the facings around the neck. I’ve had to do some fairly serious re-sizing to get the pattern to fit me – I wish I could say that I was a 32″ bust, but sadly I’m not – and forgot to add to the back facing to compensate, so there’s an infill in the facing. Part apart from that, it’s been a breeze to put together, and I’m loving it. Fingers crossed, I’ll have some internet at home to upload pictures soon…