SeamstressTag – Getting to know me

A few weeks ago, Stefanie of Sea of Teal tagged me to participate in #SeamstressTag – a way for other sewists to get to know one another. I’ve been following Stef on Instagram (@seaofteal) for a while now. I enjoy seeing what she makes as well as the beautiful photos of nature and sunsets. And I discovered from her SteamstressTag post, that her photos are taken by her talented husband. He takes great photos of her and she always looks great!

She has a lovely photo of herself in her blog post that I decided to see if I could find a blog photo that didn’t have a lighting issue. I’ve made a lot of garments using black fabric (so hard to get the exposure right!) and I’m slowly getting better with using the timer on my camera. I went all the way back to 2015 to find this photo I took of my Deer & Doe Chardon skirt (blogged here) and wearing a velvet vintage hat.

Deer and Doe - Chardon Skirt - sewing pattern - SeamstressTag

Stef has given me a set of questions to answer as part of #SeamstressTag. Here are the questions and my answers:

1) Who are you?
This is an interesting question. My first response is a list of nouns (woman, wife, sister, daughter and so on) but that doesn’t really say much, does it? So here are a few random facts. I grew up in upstate New York with three sisters – one older and two younger, no brothers. My parents liked musical theater. When we traveled to New York City (a 4.5 hour road trip), we’d sometimes sees a Broadway musical. The ones that stand out the most are Annie and The King and I, starring Yul Brynner, during his final Broadway run in 1985 before he died of cancer later that year.

I live in Berkeley, California, which is in the northern part of the state. It gets cold in the winter in Berkeley – but not usually cooler than 40-something degrees Fahrenheit (about 4 degrees Celsius). Los Angeles is roughly 376 miles (604 km) south of Berkeley. It’s L.A. that has the warm weather, palm trees and beaches usually associated with California.

When I’m not sewing, I’m writing, editing or managing copy for a variety of clients.

2) When & why did you start sewing?
My mother taught me and my sisters to how to use her sewing machine. I can’t remember how old we were when she gave us the basics on threading the machine and using the straight stitch. She made all of our clothes, such as the ensembles we’re wearing below, when we were growing up. I’m wearing the white top with red shorts, petting the goat.

Sisters wearing clothes made by mom

English wasn’t my mother’s first language so she just looked at the step-by-step illustrations to figure out how to construct the garments. I remember many trips to Jo-Ann Fabric over the years to buy fabric – that was back when Jo-Ann’s was primarily a fabric store.

In junior high school, I took a mandatory home economics class and we all sewed stuffed animals from kits. I made a whale. I really enjoyed that class and learned how to sew fake fur. I sewed off and on throughout college – making some of my first hats on my mom’s Singer Golden Touch when I was home on break. I didn’t use a pattern. I just experimented, trying to copy hats I saw that I liked. After college I didn’t sew for years and years.

In 2009 I got a machine as a Christmas gift and began sewing again, making dresses from vintage patterns and sewing other garments. I forgot how much I enjoyed sewing and began sewing knit fabrics, which was new for me back then. Two years later, I started this blog.

I continue to sew because I get so much pleasure from it. I love having a finished garment to wear. I also enjoy seeing what other sewists make on Instagram.

3) What is your favorite or proudest make?

I don’t think I really have a favorite make. But one of the dresses I wear most often is my first Anna dress, a By Hand London pattern, which I made with a border print in 2014 for Sewing Indie Month. It was a finalist for the Dressed to the Nines sewing contest. I wore it to a wedding last summer. The fabric is from Britex Fabrics. I’ve also worn the dress to a Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex. (Thanks to writing this post, I found the better photos from the original photo shoot and just updated some of the photos in the blog post.)

By Hand London Anna Dress - border print fabric - SeamstressTag

4) What is your most disastrous make?

I don’t know think I’d call it disastrous but probably the most challenging make was when I had to figure out a lot of pattern adjustments to make the Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan for my husband. The pattern is drafted for slim figures and I had to make many adjustments that I had never done before to get it to fit right. I made the largest size and it was too tight everywhere. i nearly gave up. It took me three tries to get it right. You can see some of my adjustments in this post.

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

I’m really lucky to live in the Bay Area where we still have family-owned and -operated fabric stores. I live within walking distance of Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which carries a wide array of fabrics and indie sewing patterns. San Francisco’s Britex Fabrics has four floors of fabric and is easily accessible via public transportation – just a 23-minute train ride from where I live. And just a few stops from Britex is Fabric Outlet in the Mission District in San Francisco.

Britex Fabrics in San Francisco and Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley

6) What is your most used pattern?

I have made four different Deer & Doe Chardon skirts so it’s definitely one of my favorite patterns. (Here are some links if you’d like to read about the other three, besides the floral one pictured above: my black-and-white Chardon, my maxi Chardon in an African wax print, and my linen Chardon (pictured below). I’m planning on making one or two more this year. I just love the inverted pleats which are great for wide hips.

Deer and Doe - Chardon skirt - linen fabric - csews.com

7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…

Making pattern adjustments for my husband. He’s a big guy and all the adjustments are different from anything I do for myself. So I really dread making them pattern adjustments but I’m getting better and I get help from other sewists via Instagram (@sewbrooke is particularly helpful because she works as a costumer). Now I tissue-fit first and make as many flat pattern adjustments as I can so I can reduce the number of muslins. I’m hoping I only have to make one muslin of the Kwik Sew cardigan I’m making for him now (fingers crossed!).

8) And your favorite sewing task?

Choosing fabric and hemming – because it means I’m nearly done!

9) What is your favorite ‘sewing entertainment’?

Lately, I haven’t really been listening to anything when I’m sewing on my machine unless my husband is around, then I’ll listen to whatever he’s playing, usually jazz or R&B. If I’m doing hand sewing, I’ll do that in front of the TV.

10) Printed or PDF?

I prefer printed but I also sew PDF patterns.

11) What sewing machine do you use?

I use a Kenmore sewing machine from Sears, which I got in 2009. It’s a good basic machine. Unfortunately, Sears no longer carries sewing machines, which you can read about on here on the Sewing Machine Lady’s website. The Kenmore machines were made by Janome. In 2014, I got a used Bernina 1008, which is a mechanical machine, no fancy electronics. It stitches very nicely but you can’t adjust the pressure of the presser foot which is a problem when sewing knit fabrics. So then I switch to the Kenmore or use my serger (a Janome 204D), which was gifted to me by a generous Bay Area Sewists member at then end of 2015.

12) Do you have any other hobbies?

I’m a hat collector. I haven’t done a recent count but I likely have more than 60 hats now. I’ve been buying and making hats for more than 20 years. I’ve taken a few millinery classes, learning about embellishing hats, covering buckram frames with fabric and even making a sculptural lace hat. In all of my blog photos, you’ll see me wearing one of my hats.

Hat collection

Before a photo shoot, I’ll usually stare at the hats on the bedroom wall or on the small hat rack on the dresser – and then pick one or two to wear with my ensemble. I have many vintage hats and some new hats, too. I made the red hat in the top row using upholstery fabric. You can sort of see the lace hat I made – it’s just below the grey wool beret with the tan button in the middle. The lace hat is sitting on top of a linen and velvet vintage hat.

I don’t have enough room for all of my hats so some are stacked on top of each other. And yes, they do collect some dust. I have a special brush that’s just for my hats. So I’ll just give them a once-over with the brush before I wear them. I have hats in a few hat boxes, too. They are the hats with sequins and feathers. I have a lot of “flat” hats, such as berets that are in the closet.

This is one of my favorite wool berets, which my sister got for me in London more than 20 years ago. This photo was taken by professional photographer Sarah Deragon of Portraits to the People. It was one of the rejects for the editor’s page of a publication I used to edit.

Beret - Chuleenan of C Sews -csews.com

If you want to see a few more of my hats, check out my January newsletter, which has a column showing five of my hats, also taken during this photo shoot. I brought a hat box full of hats that day.

Thanks so much for tagging me, Stef! Now it’s my turn to pick a few sewists I’d like to know better. I’m tagging:

I really enjoy seeing what they make on Instagram and need to visit their blogs more often. They are all very talented and creative sewists whose work I admire. I look forward to their answers!

The questions:
1) Who are you?
2) When & why did you start sewing?
3) What is your favorite or proudest make?
4) What is your most disastrous make?
5) Where is your favorite place to go fabric shopping?
6) What is your most used pattern?
7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…
8) And your favorite sewing task?
9) What is your favorite ‘sewing entertainment’?
10) Printed or PDF?
11) What sewing machine do you use?
12) Do you have any other hobbies?

#SeamstressTag - Getting to know me, Chardon skirt and Anna Dress by Chuleenan of CSews.com

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2 Responses to “SeamstressTag – Getting to know me”

  1. January 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm #

    Hi Chuleenan,
    I’m excited to read your answers! Especially I loved to learn more about your sewing skills and how you lerned them!
    I’m also happy you chose these three seamstress and tagged them, I follow two of them and can`t wait to get to know all three a bit better.
    Thank you for taking part at #seamstresstag.
    Can’t wait to see more of your wonderful makings and hats (I love to wear them, too) 🙂
    Greetings from Germany,
    Stef

    • January 10, 2017 at 1:42 am #

      Hi, Stef! Thanks so much for tagging me. It was fun to participate!

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