I belong to the Atlanta chapter of the American Sewing Guild. The annual meeting was this past weekend, and the guest speaker was Sarah Gunn.
Sarah is well known in sewing circles as the blogger behind Goodbye Valentino. I’m paraphrasing her story, but about five years ago she got tired of spending huge dollars on garments that she could sew herself. Hasn’t every sewist thought the same thing? So she put herself on a Ready to Wear fast for one year, and she sewed instead of buying. She blogged about her experiences over the past five years, and the journey that her RTW fast and blog has taken her. It’s a great story!
A couple of things struck me as I listened to her presentation:
First, she made beautiful clothing in gorgeous fabrics. She didn’t make yoga pants or t-shirts (well, maybe she did, but if she did she didn’t show them). Sarah is from South Carolina and as a transplant to the South, I will say that I’ve noticed that Southern women tend to take more care with their appearance. No offense fellow Canadians, but in general, Southern women really amp up the style. As Clairee said in Steel Magnolias, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” Southern women really know how to accessorize.
Second, I listened to Sarah’s story and looked around the room at the 100 or so women at the ASG event. So many women are returning to sewing in their 40s and 50s. We all have the same story to tell … we’re tired of clothes that don’t fit, or crappy fabric that doesn’t wash well, or being force fed styles that we hate. Many of the women I know have money to spend on clothing for the first time in their adult lives – but they can’t find things they love in retail stores.
After the presentation I perused Sarah’s trunk show and was completely inspired. Sarah wears her own sewing to white tie dinners, to charity balls, and on her everyday errands. The garments she makes rival anything in stores. If she can do it, why can’t I? Why don’t I buy the best quality fabric, and take the time to create things that are just right for me?
Over the past year I have purchased a few really nice pieces of fabric. There’s a wool silk blend that would be perfect for a winter dress, two cotton knits from France, a Tana lawn from Liberty, and some stunning silk. All bought and paid for and doing me no good sitting folded in a plastic box in my closet. So Saturday night, after debating over patterns for probably a month, I held my breath and put scissors to a grey pure virgin wool coating I purchased in Calgary last August and I began to make my cape. Sunday I steamed and clapped the front seams and I marveled at the beauty of quality fabric. The design is simple, but I think it will be beautiful once it’s fitted and finished properly.
I appreciate the women (and men) who share their projects and challenges through their blogs. Seeing real people succeed gives me confidence. Thanks Sarah, for the inspiration!