Today, we visit Lauren, self-proclaimed costume history nerd, and the author of the fabulous blog, Wearing History. She also has a line of patterns. Check out her newest pattern, the Moderne. Gorgeous. Absolutely.
Yes, I have a room that is a sewing space/library that I keep everything in, and I have a cutting table in the garage. I have just resituated myself, so I'm so excited about my newly organized workspace!
What do you like best about your sewing area?
I like that everything has a home. I have things organized by what they are and/or project type so I know where to go when I'm midproject and don't have to halt the creative process to go hunting for things. I also like the natural light that comes through the window. It does wonders for the creative process and mood to get a little sunlight!
What would you change about your space?
There's still quite a bit of organizing to do. Eventually, I'd love to have little shelves around the countertop and a wooden rod I can thread spools of thread or rickrack through and shelves overhead to store my pattern boxes. In my head, it looks like a tool workbench, but take away the tools/nails/etc. and put sewing things in its place.
I try to keep it organized by type. Next to my machine, I have oil, needles, tape measure, scissors and other things I need while sewing, and I have a fishbowl I can throw my thread spools in to keep them from skittering all over the table and getting lost. My patterns are organized in comic book boxes for the most part, my fabric is in cupboards or stacked in the back of the closet in clear bins by fabric type, so I can see through them. I also have a collection of vintage ephemera (like magazines, catalogs, etc) and sewing books that I keep in archival covers by type, year or maker (though it gets disorganized pretty quickly).
If you have a fabric stash, how do you impose order?
Yes, I have a stash of doom. I've been sewing since I was a kid, so I've had a quite healthy fabric accumulation over the years (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it). I have them organized by type in plastic bins — so all the wools in one, vintage fabrics in one, and then I also have one for trims and one for scrap. I roll up my scrap and tie with strips of muslin to keep them organized. I love seeing through the plastic bins so I don't have to go hunting through boxes and boxes before I find the fabric I was looking for.
I organize my patterns by type and decade. I separate womens, mens, childrens, crafts, costumes, etc., then sort by maker and date. I keep my modern patterns together, my repro patterns and vintage pattern tracings together, and I keep the patterns I made in manila envelopes with labeling, size and a picture (if I have one) on the outside.
Are your patterns archived? How are they stored?
My vintage patterns are stored primarily in archival comic book boxes, and each individually is stored in an archival plastic sleeve.
Do you have a mannequin made to measure?
Not made to measure, but I have a Wolf special occasion form. It's my baby, and I love using her for draping. She was a gift to me from my dad after I graduated from fashion school.
Do you find it helpful?
Very helpful for pattern making and taking pictures of clothing! I don't do my fitting on dressforms at all. I worked in theater for several years and found out how different body proportions can be even if measurements are the same, so I find fitting on myself better than fitting on a form. I know I have a short torso and high hip on one side, so have better luck trying garments on myself and pestering my husband to check the back fit for me.
What do you cut out your patterns on?
I have a cutting table out in my garage that has a corkboardlike surface I covered in muslin. I roll my fabric out on it, pin through the fabric and pattern and straight onto the board to keep things all lined up on grain.
What is your most helpful tool? Why?
Hard one! I think my sewing machine is honestly my best tool. I fought with machines growing up, and as soon as I got a decent machine, it was amazing how quickly my sewing skills progressed, because I didn't have to fight with a fussy machine.
What tools do you recommend for the beginning sewer?
There's so many good tools out there, but I would say make sure you've got plenty of machine needles, machine oil and use good thread. So many projects don't come out as well as they could have because of dull needles and cheap thread. I think we forget sewing machines really are machines and need maintenance, just like you would give a car. Oil and care go a long way!
Are there any books you recommend for the novice sewer?
I really like the Singer Sewing Book from the late 40s. It's a great reference for vintage sewing. In school, we used Guide to Fashion Sewing by Crawford, and I still pull out that book, especially for pockets and zipper insertion techniques.
What kind of machine do you use?
I have a Pfaff Tiptronic 6270 for my sewing machine.
It's a serious workhorse. My mom bought it for me used, and I've had it for ten years, and it's still going strong. I love my Pfaff.
Do you use a serger? If so, why do you like it?
I have a Pfaff Creative serger which I use all the time for basic things but I still haven't used the "Creative" part. I will never go back to unfinished seams again. I can throw things I made in the washer and dryer and not worry about them looking a mess inside. Love it.
It's still developing! I think as long as you sew you'll be thinking of new ways to do things and ways to make life easier when sewing. Sewing for me has become my way of relaxation and is my "me" time, so I want my sewing space to be as stress-free as possible. It's taken me years to figure that out! For a long time, we couldn't even eat at our kitchen table, because I took it over, so it's nice to have things in their own home and where I can get to them when I have a spare moment.