The Seamstress Tag

Helen says…

Thanks so much to Hollie from Hollie Sews for putting this together! I’ve loved watching everyone responding on YouTube. Here are my answers…


1) Who are you?

I’m Helen, obviously, and I live in the Hills which is in the very outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. I’m studying history at the moment, undergraduate, and hoping to do post-grad in costume/fashion history. I’m just shy of 24 years-old. I also study French at University.

2) When & why did you start sewing?

I remember being a child, maybe 7-8 years-old, and having my mum teach me how to do blanket stitch on a little felt vest for my teddy-bear. Other than that, I started sewing clothes for myself in 2010. At the start my makes were very dodgy, and I never really learned proper techniques. I then stopped sewing steadily for a few years, basically because things just weren’t working. In the last couple of years I’ve started sewing properly again, and in the last 6 months particularly I have noticed a steep increase in my skills and confidence – basically coinciding with my discovery of Lisa from Sew Over It and the other vlogs on You Tube.
3) What is your favourite or proudest make?

Everything I’ve made in the last two weeks!! I just finished a couple of cotton tops that I LOVE, which will soon be on the blog. Also, a bow tie for my friend Ellie, 2 sleeveless dresses….and just a few days ago, a Mesa dress. The Mesa dress in particular has the NICEST neck band I have ever dreamed of making!

I think that these two weeks really represent a consolidation of skills I have been learning in the past year or so, and also show that I am taking more care, not necessarily more time, with each make.

4) What is your most disastrous make?

There were so many in my early days! One that particularly stands out though, not because it was so horrendous but rather because it was so disappointing, was a t-shirt I made for my sister. It was using the Chickadee raglan sleeve t-shirt pattern free on BurdaStyle, from the user Prudence Rabbit. Which, by the way, is a brilliant pattern if you’re size 8 or can grade patterns! Go get it! So I made the t-shirt from a thin, sheer white knit, with opaque hearts dotted all over it, and then used an old white t-shirt to line the bust area so it wasn’t see-through. Unfortunately the fabric was just too thin for my machine, and it all got eaten up. So then I added a strip of lace to the front (to cover up how messed up the seam was), but that then was hand-stitched on in the most embarrassingly awful way, and was a brighter shade of white than the rest of the top. I still gave it to my sister, and for some lovely, kind, generous, ill-advised reason she accepted it gracefully.

The next time I saw it was when she included it in a bag of clothes she was throwing away, a couple of years later (probably unworn). I actually pulled it out and decided to keep it, and even stubbornly wore it twice before admitting it was awful.

The sad part is that the fabric was very sweet, and I think if I had owned an overlocker and chosen a better fabric for the lining, there wouldn’t have been any problems. She might not have liked it still, but it would have been at least wearable!

5) Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?

The Fabric Store on an unlimited budget, for sure.

In my dreams, Sew Over It in person, also on an unlimited budget.

In reality, Spotlight. I could go to Remnant Warehouse which is also affordable, and have had some success recently with buying fabric online through them. It isn’t close to our house at all though, and it’s tricky-ish to get to from Uni so I haven’t gone there yet in person.

I am moving to the UK soon though, and seriously looking forward to fabric shopping there! If you live in Glasgow or Edinburgh, please let me know!

6) What is your most used pattern?

This is a tricky one, because I have a lot of patterns that I have used three times or so, but they aren’t necessarily my most favourite ones. I do tend to try loads and loads of patterns and never really get confident with any, although in the last few weeks that attitude has been changing. A top three would look like:

The Chickadee tee – I’ve made three of these, and I love this pattern. It fits me perfectly and they layer well, there are five pattern pieces but they’re small and easy to put together. I think this will soon be equaled in the knit top stakes by the Erin top from Sew Over It’s So City Break ebook though.

Vintage New Look 6425 – I’ve only made two of these so far but it is such a simple, flattering woven pattern, bangs together easily and I’ve just about worked out all my adjustments on it. If you find this pattern, I do have some recommended hacks, but I will save them until I post about the dresses I have made.

Seamwork Mesa Dress – admittedly I have only sewn two of these, but honestly they are brilliant and so, so easy. Great for layering, great neckline, great instructions. I’ll definitely be making more, hopefully a lot more before I move to the UK and no longer have access to an overlocker 😦
7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…

Buttonholes, zippers, any hand sewing.

There are so many unfinished makes of mine which just need fastening. I have just noticed a free craftsy course on zippers though, which I will be doing hopefully next week. I think if I could do zippers easily that would drastically change my top three patterns. Also if I can work out how to sew a button on using the machine!

Actually, specifically, I hate hate hate and don’t really know how to tie knots/secure the ends of thread in hand sewing. HOW DOES ONE DO THIS NEATLY????

8) And your favourite sewing task?

….side seams? Straight stitching? Over-locking?

Or, designing and planning the makes!!
9) What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?

There are so many TV shows I have watched the full seasons of and now miss! But generally I netflix TV shows, although I also love listening to the Threadcult and Seamwork Radio podcasts. You’ll notice the TV shows below are a mix of detective and costume-rich drama, finished with a lovely combination of both genres…

TV shows:
Downton Abbey
Upstairs Downstairs
The Bletchley Circle
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – watch this if you’ve never heard of it, funny, Australian, and great vintage costumes

10) Printed or PDF?

I’m going to say PDF at the moment, because they force me to trace the patterns which is better in the long-term, and easier to make adjustments to, and harder to lose because you always have the PDF.

I’ve also gotten very time-efficient at cutting out, sticking together, and tracing PDF patterns and I am planning to do a blog on my tips and tricks for the whole process.
11) What sewing machine do you use?

My mother’s Brother Super Ace II, Singer Confidence Quilter or something-or-rather Overlocker which I can’t quite remember the name off…

I have a more simple Brother which I have been meaning to get fixed all year, but haven’t been bothered to spend the money on (instead I’ve spent it on fabric!)

12) Do you have any other hobbies?

I like to knit simple things, I’m currently making my first jumper. I love beer tasting! Australia is so great for good craft beers. I also love to read, although with Uni I do tend to feel a bit text-fatigued and haven’t managed it as much in the last year. At the moment I’m reading The Old Ways which is a memoir/non-fiction book about walking ancient trails across the world by Robert Macfarlane. I also love walking! Although, again, I don’t do enough of it.

Well, thanks for reading and to everyone who has answered the call of the seamstress tag! I nominate, of course, Catherine!!!

One thought on “The Seamstress Tag

  1. Hi Helen!

    Thank you so much for your response to The Seamstress Tag! I really enjoyed reading it :). I have never seen the Mesa dress before but I am totally swooning over it now! I hope everything goes well with your move to the UK, Edinburgh & Glasgow are absolutely beautiful (I have lots of family there), but make sure to knit yourself a lot of woolly jumpers and sew a few raincoats whilst you’re at it!

    Hollie xxx


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