What is in a name?:
I am a kid of the 80s. To be more precise, I was born in November 1980. I grew up watching teen movies when I was super young along with really inappropriate 1980s horror movies. Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, etc. etc. John Hughes’ movies were on our TV practically every week. Pretty in Pink was one I particularly loved. Not because of the story, because I always thought Blane was lame, but because Andie designed her own clothes and she was just a teenager. She wasn’t popular and she wasn’t rich, but she designed what she wanted and didn’t care about wearing the right brand. Andie became my hero as a pre-teen. Only recently did I think about Pretty in Pink again and only recently did I connect our names together. It seemed like a fitting name for a sewing blog.
Who are you?:
Hi, my name is Andie. I grew up as Andrea. I’ve been Andie for about 5 years. My wonderful boyfriend gave me the nickname and I didn’t resist (I wasn’t a fan of nicknames before). Andie just makes sense for me now.
When did you start sewing?:
At 14, I designed my own skirt. I took a pair of jeans and cut off the waist band and then gave it a floral skirt. I had a white with blue floral pattern and a blue with white floral pattern. So, I created a skirt that was half and half and then added floral pockets. I was terrified of my Mom’s Husqvarna sewing machine from the 1950s or 1960s. It was clunky and old and avocado green, but my Mom loved it. My Mom still uses that thing.
Why was I terrified? Mom put a sewing needle through her thumb and had to get it removed at the Emergency Room…TWICE. I’d developed a fear, but just of that sewing machine, because I used the ones in Home Ec without issue in high school. Designing clothes and not being able to use the sewing machine at my house was a bit of a roadblock in my “career” as a designer. I designed a few more dresses and got my Mom to sew them.
Then at 16 and onwards until 27, I focused on school more and my other hobbies: reading, dollhouses, cross stitch, needlepoint, knitting, drawing, and other things. I still designed clothes. I sketched out all sorts of wonderful patterns and dreamed of the day I would be able to make them all. I also hand sewed little dresses and other things for my dollhouse. Perhaps I will post pictures one day of my dollhouse.
Fast forward to 27: I joined a Burlesque troupe, took classes, and then started dancing and performing. Burlesque is all costumes. You have to have them and they can’t usually be bought except at crazy prices. I was in the first few years of my PhD at the time and broke. My option was to either buy something at a crazy price or buy a sewing machine and some fabric and then be able to make a new costume every time.
I really started sewing at 27, when I purchased my first sewing machine.
What was your first sewing machine?:
My first sewing machine was a pink Kenmore Mini Ultra. It was not great, but it was under $100. The thread tension would go off in the middle of sewing and screw up a garment easily. I cleaned it constantly and it would still get dirty and stop working. It was loud. So. Loud. But you never forget your first sewing machine.
What were your first sewing projects?:
I made my first costume on it: a Little Red Riding Hood/Big Bad Wolf Frankensteined costume. I had a wolf tail, wolf claws and pads on my gloves, wolf ears, my red skirt was torn to show the black organza beneath. It was cute and I adored it.
My second costume was a blue wrap dress and a white apron for an Alice in Wonderland dance, my first solo dance. I was hooked on sewing. I used a pattern for this dress and am still pleased with it. Unfortunately, since I made it, my bust has grown crazy amounts due to my boyfriend’s voodoo and the dress is a little scandalous to wear everyday, but I will fix it one day to accommodate my chest.
Since then, I suffered an injury to my knee (fell down some stairs and took about 6 months to recover enough to walk without a limp and about two years to get my knees back to working order) and haven’t danced since. I also moved to Toronto. I’m still working on my PhD and I work full time, as well. I started doing improv with my boyfriend almost 2 years ago and we run a monthly Star Trek themed variety show. There will be Star Trek things posted here! I proudly wear my geek badge.
What is my sewing machine?:
Brother SQ9050 Computerized sewing machine.
My Mom bought it for me last year as an early Christmas present to replace the Mini Ultra, which has no zipper foot (who makes a sewing machine without a zipper foot?! On the other hand, who buys one without one? 😛 ).
My Brother sewing machine is wonderful. It’s quiet. It’s clean. It’s easy to load the bobbin. A little finicky to thread it, but that is okay. Easy to switch the feet. Easy to switch the stitch. It has millions of stiches (okay, 100, but compared with the Mini Ultra, that is a lot).
I love it. I’ve noticed that other people name their sewing machines. I have decided to name it Jane Eyre, after my favourite novel (I’m doing a PhD in English Lit).
I love this machine.
What is your sewing skill level?:
I’m not quite a beginner and not quite an expert. I guess I am in the intermediate level, but there are some things that I still struggle with: zippers, stretch materials, sheers, etc. Sometimes with really slippery fabric I have trouble. I place myself closer to beginner than intermediate. I want my skill level to increase, though. I am challenging myself with different types of fabric and more intermediate patterns. It may take me longer, but, as I learn, it gets easier. I discover more and more how much I know when it comes to sewing.
What have I made?:
Red Riding Hood Wolf costume (polyester, fleece, and organza)
Blue wrap dress and white apron (cotton)
Harley Quinn costume (top, leggings, hoodie): black and red stretch cotton
Blue skirt with purple flowers (corduroy)
Teal-lined grey wrap skirt (cotton and wool)
Light purple faux wrap dress (stretch cotton)
Pink with white polka dots elastic band flare skirt (polyester, I believe)
Tribbles (faux fur)
Other stuffed toys (mostly cotton)
Red bag with black and white gingham cherry applique (polyester and cotton)
Purple bag with button details (repurposed cotton sheet)
Red tile bag for Carcassonne tiles (polyester)
I’m sure there are others, but this is the list I remember.
What am I working on?:
The Kirsten Plus dress on BurdaStyle
I am using stretch suit material. It has purple lines in the plaid. The plackets are purple satin.
I am proud of this. I cut the pattern out in 2010 and set it aside because the plackets were not working for me. I’ve since come back to it and figured out how to fit a garment to my bust. I have the side zipper, sleeves, and hem left to sew. Since I took this picture, I have sewed the lining and the collar.
What have I learned about sewing over the years?:
1. You can’t have everything perfect, but you can make something perfect for you. I won’t be selling my dresses in haute couture shops ever, but I am making garments that are perfect for me. It’s tough for me to shop for things because I am large in the chest and I have a smaller mid-section than the rest of my body. Also, I like vintage and pinup styles. I mostly online shop for dresses because all of the vintage and pinup in Toronto is either far outside my price range or far outside my size range. I am a size 16-18. I can find some things in the regular stores and some things in the plus-size stores, but I tend to get really frustrated when shopping because the dress is almost perfect, but not perfect for me. Sewing my own dresses means I can make things perfect for me. There may be a stitch or two out of whack, but the dress is perfect for me.
2. Always check the fit twice before sewing. I ripped out this bodice twice because the fit was wrong. It was frustrating. I’ve learned my lesson!
3. I need a dress form customized to me. It’s really tough to check fitting on your own body!
What is my goal with this blog?:
I made a pledge to stop ordering dresses online (my bank account isn’t happy and we are running out of closet space!). I have a huge stack of patterns and material that I bought last year or years ago on sales and such. My goal is to sew something once a month. The Kirsten dress is the first one. By the end of the year, I should have 6 dresses sewn.
Another goal is to connect and learn. I’ve been following a lot of sewing blogs silently and wanting to comment and ask questions, but I haven’t. I’ve decided I want to be part of that sewing community, because it flippin’ rocks!
Welcome to Andie’s sewing blog. Please ignore the piles of material and feel free to grab a glass of wine and sit down to chat.