It’s my 100th blog post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To celebrate, I decided to do a little giveaway! But more about that at the end of the post. First, I’m going to make you read a walk down memory lane…
Reaching my 100th blog post got me all nostalgic. I went back through my blog and I was actually amazed at (and proud of) what I’ve made over the past two years. It got me thinking about my relationship with sewing – a lifelong off again, on again love affair (that is in full swing right now).
(****Faces have been blurred to protect the (not so) innocent and because I’m sure not everyone wants their mug plastered all over the interwebs)
Like a lot of little girls my very first sewing projects were hand-sewing Barbie clothes with scraps of fabric my mom gave me. But the first time I sewed something for myself on a machine was in Home Ec. in middle school when we learned to sew simple boxer shorts. My best friend and I both loved it! At the time, the photo above pretty accurately represents our daily color-blocked uniform. We went crazy that summer sewing up a bunch of random shorts – I remember some Flintstones patterned and some picnic ant covered pairs in particular. At 12 or 13 I was really just starting to develop my own style for the first time. I think sewing our crazy shorts gave us a chance to express ourselves and find our own unique look. Over the next couple years we’d sew a little here and there making Halloween costumes and outfits for our school’s lipsynching contest but then as I moved on to high school I drifted away from sewing for a few years.
Instead, in high school I found thrift shopping as my way of expressing myself through my wardrobe. I became obsessed with styles from the 60’s and 70’s (and still am, though now I’m more partial to mod looks while back then I was fully committed to scruffy hippie) and would buy anything I could find with bell bottoms or wide lapels (or both, as is the case in the photo below). My parents were 100% on board with their teenage daughter announcing that she would only buy used clothes and happily handed over the $50 in September that would cover all my back-to-school shopping at Value Village.
If you’re going to be a serious thrifter it definitely helps to be able to sew! I’m an O.G. Refashioner, I guess. I would embroider little daisies to embellish the bottom of my bell bottoms or change pussy bows on dresses into waist ties. Lots of my clothes would see a few iterations: they’d start as a pair of pants and as I grew up I would cut them into shorts, then as I grew out I would sew side panels of contrasting fabric.
What really got me back into sewing for realsies though, was prom. I was still in my hippie phase and couldn’t find anything in the thrift stores that would work. Until, that is, I stumbled upon an amazing bold, bright and beautiful heavy polyester floral fabric.
I remember feeling really self-conscious at prom when I showed up in this dress among a sea of black-clad peers. Now I’m so proud of my high school self that I had the courage to dare to be a little different! In fact….I still love this dress! During grad school I hacked it off into a micro-mini (but had the sense to leave a ton of fabric at the hem) and have recently lengthened it again just a wee bit, but it’s still above the knee.
It can be tough sometimes to be a thrift store shopper when you’re a tall, busty lady. I was much slimmer in high school than I am now but, even then I was 5’9″ and wearing a C cup! I would often find things I loved in the thrift stores but too often they’d be too small. My prom dress was a mini-revelation for me, if I could find a fabric that I liked I could sew it into an outfit that actually fit me!
I made a couple other brightly colored dresses but my me-made revelation was destined to be short lived. When undergrad hit (and I turned 19, the drinking age where I grew up), there were suddenly a whole new set of extracurriculars that seemed more interesting than sewing.
I didn’t give it up entirely though. My mom gave me a sewing machine one birthday so my room mates and I all decided to sew up our Halloween costumes that year, going with sexy fairy tale characters (Disclaimer: the choices made my 22 year old me are not at all a reflection of my current tastes or values and I do NOT endorse the fashion choices made at that time).
That last year of undergrad I continued to sew mainly “special” clothes, fancy dresses and pretty things that wouldn’t be a part of my daily wardrobe. (I have a vague memory of a terrible pair of high waisted pants sewn in fabric with such a loose weave that the seams were threatening to give after the first wearing. Thank God, no photographic evidence exists).
And I didn’t entirely give up my thrifting ways. I remember finding a strange green spandex paisley that somehow screamed “SKIRT!!!!” at me, then later screamed “TUBE TOP!!!!”.
Throughout grad school my sewing tapered off almost completely. If it weren’t for Halloween and a group of friends who were equally enthusiastic about dressing up every year, I might have lost my sewing chops entirely! I think I made a costume every year during grad school (I posted about them here), starting with Alice from the Resident Evil games/movies….
…..and reaching it’s peak with my infamous (among my friends) Bjork costume.
When I moved to San Francisco after grad school I was fortunate enough to make some seriously crafty friends who I credit with inspiring my to get back to my crafty roots and eventually start this blog. Really, while this post is about sewing and that has definitely been my focus of late, sewing and I have a pretty open relationship. I always come back to it, but I’ve dabbled with painting, bead making, cross stitching, knitting (that’s an on-going casual affair), scrap booking and probably pretty much any other craft you can imagine!
My good friend Sandy, who you may remember from such posts as my NYC Fabric Shopping Roundup, taught me how to knit again (I had known how when I was a kid but never knit anything more complicated than mittens and hadn’t done it in about 15 years) and suddenly I was whipping up hats and mitts in no time!
But you know, when you live somewhere that never drops below freezing or requires anything heavier than a Fall jacket, there are only so many hats and mitts you can knit yourself! I think that’s when I finally came back to sewing. I started looking around online for creative blogs and found the fantastic sewist blogging community that I am so proud to be a part of today! I sewed up a couple shirts and dresses and before I knew it I was fully in love again with my old flame, sewing.
And you know the rest, because it’s all documented here!
I am surprised by how excited I am to hit my 100th post with this blog and I really really wanted to celebrate, so I decided to host a giveaway! And what goes better with this nostalgic trip down my sewing memory lane than three vintage sewing patterns from the 60’s and 70’s?! My blog doesn’t reach a huge audience so please post this wherever you think interested parties may be found! Or, selfishly keep to yourself – if you are the only entrant you’re guaranteed to win, LOL! Here are the patterns I’m giving away.
Each pattern is uncut (except the skirt from 9067 which my granny must have made). The first pattern from the 60’s is one I bought in a moment of over-zealousness on a fabric shopping excursion in Portland, OR last year (the pattern includes that Coco-esque top in Views 1 and 3!). The other two patterns are ones I inherited from my Granny’s sewing stash. I always forget that she was much, much tinier than me in every proportion so these patterns are much too small for me! I can definitely imagine some of you, with much more swagger than I, rockin’ these patterns. One lucky winner will receive all three patterns and the giveaway is open to everyone everywhere.
To enter the giveaway please leave a comment on this post telling me about your own love affair with sewing by midnight on June 26. Has it always been hot and heavy or just a casual relationship? Are you high school sweethearts or is it a new romance?
I’ll announce the winner in a week, so go ahead and follow my blog (link for Blog Lovin’ on the side bar) to be the first to hear the winner and keep up on future giveaways and fun happenings here at Crafty Little Secret!
Congrats on your 100th post Eileen! Loving the photos…particularly the Bjork costume. Well done.
Hi Eileen! WOW! I took home ec in jr. high but I had only sewn one top ever back then! I have two sewing machines at home (inherited one from my mom recently), and I’m actually in the process of making Aydan’s his first Halloween costume ever…King Koopa aka “Bowser” in Mario Brothers. I’ll post some of the pics on FB (sometimes in Oct!) so check it out later. I’m actually anxious to finish his costume. So far, I have the headpiece, shell, pants done. The top I’m waiting a little bit longer since he’s still growing. The excitement in his voice about when will it be done makes me super happy! Anyway, CONGRATS on your 100th post! And keep up with the awesome passion – SEWING! Love all your Halloween costumes! – Yours truly, Yen 🙂
Yen, good to hear from you! You will definitely have to post the “Bowser” pictures online! I love making Halloween costumes. You can be totally ridiculous and they only have to last one night 🙂
I’ve had a love affair with sewing since I was younger, probably Middle School aged. It’s always been a casual relationship with me because I’ll pick it up then not touch a machine for ages. I didn’t own my own machine, however, until 2 years ago when my father bought me one for Christmas. The first project that I did was made pillows for my Father for Christmas years ago. I’ve made random quick skirts for high school dances (usually themed like St. Patrick’s Day), tried my hand at Halloween costumes, pillows, pillow cases, shorts, and a few bags, and hemmed a few items. There’s a few things on my list I need to cross off, just need to make the plans and get to it!
Aren’t sewing machines just the best gift ever???! Truly the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for sharing your story!
I fantasize about sewing but I have not developed a real committed relationship. I got my sewing machine maybe 2 years ago. I like to think about what a good time we could have together. It sounds good but I can’t seem to commit myself to making it work out. Instead I have sporadic affairs with it that just result in a big mess. Hah I amuse myself
Haha, sometimes I think that fantasizing is about 70% of my sewing hobby! I sit and imagine and pin things and imagine some more, and all this has to go on for quite some time before I get around to actually making something. Maybe one day your sporadic affairs will evolve into something more long term 😉
Love your trip down memory lane. You were and are adorable. I think I made that Simplicity jumper in a tweed when in high school….very Jackie Kennedy so I thought. I loved it. Its a claadikc and looks good on every figure. Happy 100th. Keep the inspiration coming. It always makes me smile.
Thanks Karen! A technician in my old lab wanted me to bring in baby pictures of myself and when I did she laughed and just exclaimed “Little Eileen!!!” because I’ve pretty much looked exactly the same my whole life. Easily spotted in old class photos.
I’ve been really into the idea of making myself a jumper for the fall/winter but this pattern is just too small for me. Maybe I’ll be so skilled at pattern in a couple months I’ll be able to just whip one up myself 😉
See you soon!
Happy 100th post, Eileen! I really, really enjoyed hearing more about your crafty and thrifty past. I too shopped almost exclusively at thrift stores from 16-ish on and stole a lot of my parents’ old clothes for costumes and everyday wear! That prom dress and Bjork dress are legit – I’m envious. And hey, don’t beat yourself up for your style past; I’m guessing we came of page in the same era and it was rough. I found pics of myself in an iridescent-glitter halter top and a low-rise skirt with vintage Adidas track jacket on top… these things happen!
Thanks! And LOL at the glitter halter top outfit 😉 It made me have a sudden flashback to an outfit I used to wear – hip huggers, blue tie-dye crop top with huge ugly brown striped knit cardigan. I’ll just blame it all on Grunge???
Such a lovely story with such fun pictures 🙂 I don’t sew for myself so no need to enter the giveaway, but just wanted to post to say congrats on making it to 100 posts – it’s quite an achievement!
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I remember the thrill of thrift hunts (when I go now I am in search of fabric…). 100 posts! Marvelous.
I didn’t catch the sewing bug until after grad school. But I am completely smitten. If I manage to get picutres, I will have a blog post soon…
Great, I hope you do find pictures and post!
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