Hi KCW sewers, Shelley from Bartacks and Singletrack here and I am truly delighted to be interviewing Lucinda for our series of meeting the sewists behind the kid’s clothes. By way of introduction, I’d like to share the story of how we “met”….
It was this time last year, minus a month or two, and KCW Summer 2013 was fast approaching. I was in the middle of an Australian winter and a miserable sewing slump, when I spied a gorgeous swing tank top that Lucinda had posted in her Flickr pool. Sadly, for her, it hadn’t fitted her youngest daughter. Hopping up and down with excitement I fired off a begging email, nominating my daughter as a worthy recipient, and she kindly sent the top to me in the mail.
And that was exactly the motivation I needed to join in with KCW and sew a summer tank top in the middle of winter to send back to her. Hopefully with the modifications required for it to fit her daughter. This top is typical of Lucinda’s style: Simple, classic shape, made of linen, striped and with an interesting pocket. Oh, and hers was cleverly cut from fabric thrifted from an old skirt.
Now, here’s Lucinda to tell us more about her sewing style and where she finds her inspiration….
When did you start sewing your kid’s clothes, and why?
Growing up, I watched my mom sew for both creative and financial reasons. One year for Christmas, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I received a certificate for sewing lessons from my mom. Lack of interest, too young; whatever the reason, I never redeemed them. It was just easier to have her sew for me than to put the effort forth myself.
Fast forward two plus decades later when my husband and I were waiting for our daughter to arrive home from South Korea. On a visit with my parents, I asked my mom if she would help me make a quilt for our baby girl to help fill the waiting time. What a significant and emotional project that was, and so satisfying to complete. I guess I would say this was a pivotal experience in my own interest in sewing. By the time my daughter was 3, I found myself reading sewing blogs and gradually growing in my confidence to sew something by myself. This was before the day of all the great Indie pattern companies that now exist, so I started with a simple Simplicity pattern and my mom’s old machine. A little halter dress with matching headband was the result. And when our second daughter joined our family a few years later, I had double the inspiration!
I was curious about Lucinda’s son, and eldest child, and how it is that he doesn’t feature in her sewing photos
By the time I became interested in sewing, my son was already almost 8 and was less enthusiastic about wearing my creations. However, for some years I did enjoy embellishing store bought t-shirts with freezer stencils of his current interests. That’s about as far as he would go with the handmade look! With all the inspiration and patterns available for girls clothes, there was never any lack of projects waiting to be sewn. These days I sew mostly for my youngest daughter as my 11 yr old is becoming less interested in handmade clothes. I also enjoy sewing gifts for my friends and love projects with hand stitching. I have an Etsy shop with some of these hand-stitched items.
When was your first KCW?
I have avidly followed along with KCW for a few years, but it often seemed to fall on the same week that I was gone on vacation. Last summer, the week again fell on the same period I was at a family reunion without a sewing machine. But I wanted to participate so I made a simple tunic before leaving and spent the week of KCW hand stitching the neckline. Not much for my first showing, but enough to enjoy the feeling of being part of a like-minded group enjoying sewing for our children. This year I came pretty close to at least an hour every day, most days more than that but one day not at all.
How do you balance your work/family/sewing time?
Ah, balance! Isn’t that the challenge with all things in life? Up to now, I have been blessed to be able to stay home with my kids and that gives me more day time flexibility for sewing. However, my days are also filled with volunteer opportunities, church study groups, grocery shopping, etc so realistically I don’t do as much sewing during the day as I would like. Lately I find that I seem to be getting into a sewing groove right about the time I should be getting ready for bed. Usually I give into this sewing urge and stay up later than I should, but when I do decide to go to bed, my mind is so busy whirring with sewing thoughts that I have a hard time falling asleep. I often read Japanese pattern books for my bedtime reading, trying to envision each step and see any potential instructions that might trip me up.
Would my house be cleaner if I didn’t sew? Undoubtedly. But I also know that I would be unhappier. I start to get a sewing itch if I’m away from my machine for more than few days. A home cooked meal still makes its way to the table most days so no one feels neglected!
I know Lucinda mostly through her Flickr pool, but I also see her all over the internet saying lovely things on people’s sewing blogs. I wondered how she managed to fit in the time to be so nice to so many other sewists!
Blog reading is a daily activity, usually with my breakfast or later at night after the kids are in bed. Oh wait! That’s the time I usually sew too! So yes – there are times when these two conflict. If I’m tired that day, it’s just easier to stay in front of the computer reading about everyone else’s sewing adventures. But just as often, I will be inspired by something I’ve seen and step away from the computer to look through my patterns, start laying out fabric combinations, and begin my own project.
I wish that I was better with leaving a comment on every blog I visit. I really feel grateful to all the wonderful women who give so much of their time to photograph and write about their sewing. That takes a lot of time! There are so many creative and generous bloggers who share their creations/tutorials with the sewing community and I feel blessed to be able to learn from them.
How do your children influence your sewing?
As I mentioned above, my oldest daughter as become quite picky about the clothes I make for her. Gone are the days when I can whip something up and toss it to her for her to try on. So now I have to be more intentional about going through patterns with her, letting her offer her thoughts on certain pattern features (no flutter sleeves – EVER!). The blouse I made for her this past KCW was inspired by a Boden catalog top in their teen collection, so I was pretty sure it would work. But the shorts I made with it got a very lukewarm reception.
My youngest child, however, is so gratifying to sew for! She loves everything I make – talk about an ego booster. 🙂 She is my little fashionista and surprisingly our design choices are very similar.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but rarely, (ever?) do I purchase a fabric that my child has picked out if I don’t like it. Because I sew mostly for my youngest and our tastes are similar, this typically isn’t an issue. There was actually a time recently that when asked, she would say grey was her favorite colour (yay!) My oldest daughter loves blues, greens and teal so those are usually the fabrics I would choose when sewing for her. I typically gravitate towards stripes, checks and polka dots in fairly neutral colors but lately I”ve been enjoying adding some more color. I honestly think that the harsh Michigan winter we recently experienced had something to do with this. By spring, I was craving COLOR! Lately I’m loving orange and coral.
What was the inspiration behind the Sunny Spot tunic that you sewed for this KCW season?
This Japanese pinafore was the garment I was most excited about – both for its ease of sewing and the finished product. I’ve been wanting to sew this pattern for ages, since seeing it on Sanae Ishida’s blog (see – the blog inspiration thing again!). I spotted the blue/white striped linen pillow sham at a thrift store about a year ago, and knew right away this was the pattern I would use for it. Then this past summer I was lucky enough to borrow the pattern book and the timing happily coincided with KCW! The finished product has everything I love: blue, stripes, linen and interesting pockets. Oh – and it used thrifted fabric which is another love of mine.
I love Lucinda’s style and had to confess to having bought new fabric thinking she would know what to do with it, but I’m also very impressed with her upcycling and thrift stores finds. I wondered if recycling fabric has become a challenge in itself
A look through my Flickr page will show you that thrifted fabric shows up often in my sewing, either as actual thrifted yardage or as clothing purchased with the intention of cutting it apart and reassembling it into something very different! The KCW blouse I made for Katie uses fabric from a thrifted women’s top, and the bias tape on the shorts is also made from thrifted fabric. I enjoy this aspect of sewing a great deal and consider a trip to the thrift store a huge treat. Recently one of my local thrift stores asked me to create a display of clothing I had sewn from thrifted goods to encourage others to do the same. Katie’s Easter Hide and Seek dress, upcycled from a XL linen skirt, and Lilah’s mustard yellow star twirl skirt, made from a thrifted sheet, are two of my favorites. I also appreciate the knit fabric selection at thrift stores, as my local fabric stores carry a rather boring selection. It can be tricky, however, to find a shirt with sufficient material , especially as the girls sizes get bigger.
Finally, it was when I saw Lucinda sewing from Japanese patterns that I wondered if I too, could do that. Via Flickr emails she gave me the encouragement I needed to dip my toe into that water. I asked how she had discovered Japanese patterns and first used them
Sewing with Japanese patterns is also another love of mine. My interest was first sparked when Katie was little after finding the blog of a cute fabric store in San Francisco. The aesthetic really appealed to me: simple lines with clean, neutral fabric choices. And of course the styling! My first pattern books were purchased at a Japanese bookstore in San Francisco with trepidation and a “at least I can enjoy looking at the pictures” attitude. But then, after poring over the diagrams for hours (remember – bedtime reading) and becoming more confident in my other “English” sewing, I began to see that the patterns were not that complicated or difficult. In fact, I would now rather trace and sew a Japanese pattern than one from an Ottobre magazine (which I have also done and nearly went blind trying to trace!). I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t mind adding seam allowances (and when I can revert back to my native metric system of working in centimeters!). By now I’ve figured out the symbols for “front” and “back” and the diagrams really make the rest pretty intuitive. That being said, I have been stumped by a few patterns that I just can’t figure out a step or two. Still waiting for that “lightbulb” moment to occur for those!
Well, even though I feel like I’m Luke and you’re Yoda, I hope one day I can help you out and return the favour!
Thanks Lucinda for sharing your sewing story with us, and thanks in advance when I, and possibly now lots of other sewists, shamelessly copy what you’ve just made.