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 (thanks to my brothers!). Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, 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 and Andie should have been nicer to Duckie, 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. It seemed like a fitting name for a sewing blog.
You will notice that for someone with Pink in her sewing blog name I don’t often sew with pink fabric! What is in a name?
Who are you?:
Hi, my name is Andie. I grew up as Andrea. I’ve been Andie since my wonderful husband 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 Economics 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 designs 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, which I made.
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 a student 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.
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. And it vibrated the table like crazy. 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 still have issues with them). I also moved to Toronto and didn’t continue burlesque here, except for a couple of classes here and there. I still love performing, though. I started doing improv comedy with my boyfriend in 2011 as The Dandies and we run a monthly Star Trek themed variety show called Holodeck Follies. 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 in 2012 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 stitches (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 studied English Lit).
I love this machine.
I also have a serger! In 2015, my wonderful husband got it for me as a late Birthday present. It’s used and about ten years old, but it is an amazing machine. It’s a Janome My Lock 204D.
Since my other machine is named Jane Eyre and its quiet….I though I would name my serger Rochester since it is loud! Here they are together, a match made in heaven:
What is your sewing skill level?:
Some things I am still a beginner and others I feel like an expert. I guess I am in the intermediate level. There are some things that I still struggle with, but I am confident in my skills. I want my skill level to increase. I am challenging myself with different types of fabric, grading up patterns, intermediate and above patterns, and new techniques. 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 learned about sewing over the years?:
1. You can’t have everything perfect, but you can make something perfect for you. 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 used to mostly online shop for dresses because all of the vintage and pinup in Toronto is either far outside my price range or far under my size range. I am a size 18-20. I can find some things in the regular stores and some things in the plus-size stores, but I used 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. Now everything I wear is made by me and makes me feel great.
2. Always check the fit twice before sewing. I ripped out things all the time because the fit is 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 do I like making?:
I love skirts and tops with blazers or a cardigan. Layers are my way and nicely chosen coordinates. I wear leggings all the time. Sometimes in the summer I spandex shorts on under my skirts because Toronto can get windy!
What is your colour palette?:
You will most often see me in these colours: reds, blues, greens, purples, and pinks. Often I will accent with: black. Sometimes I will accent with: grey and brown. I rarely wear: yellow, orange, or peach. I love yellows and oranges, though.
What is my goal with this blog?:
This blog is all about sharing the good, the bad, the great, the ugly, and the hilarious. I love the sewing blog community.
Welcome to Andie’s sewing blog. Please ignore the piles of material and feel free to grab a glass of wine/tea, a cat, a book to flip through, and sit down to chat.