The Seamstress Tag

Hello! Erica of nominated me to do fill out this little questionnaire all about me as a sewist. I really enjoy this kind of thing (like my end-of-year review) as it really forces me to reflect on what and why I sew. Read on if you are interested!

1) Who are you?

My sewing club on wheels

I am Sam! I teach Grade 6 French Immersion in Ottawa, where I run a little sewing club Tuesdays and Thursdays. My husband and I are expecting our first child in May and we’re really excited! I’m unsure how much sewing I’ll get in once he or she arrives, so I’m trying to sew as much as I can now!

2) When & why did you start sewing?


My mom put me in sewing lessons when I started Grade 5, but I am fairly certain this is because I was hand-stitching little pillows and things before then. Around that same time, our family took a road trip to the East Coast of Canada and I remember my sister and I stitching fashionable clothes for our Beanie Babies to pass the time in the backseat of our van. I come from a very DIY family and I guess it made sense to me that I should learn to sew. Later, it became my way of having some say in my wardrobe. (My mom hated shopping and I spent the first 13 years of my life wearing ill-fitting jeans and grey t-shirts).

3) What is your favourite or proudest make?

The skirt I designed from scratch for Gwen. I had so much fun playing with the stripe in the fabric!

Probably the skirt I made for my sister-in-law.  I pulled her name for our family secret Santa and had just finished a pattern-making course. I designed it, drafted it, made two muslins and learned so much. The whole process took almost a year. Sewing for others forces you to be extra careful and precise. I loved it!

4) What is your most disastrous make?

Ever? I still cringe when thinking about a green satin dress I made for a formal dance in my first year of university. Luckily, I was unable to find any photos. This was my first foray into pattern alteration, and actually the first thing I had sewn myself in a while (I was living in Germany for my Grade 11 year, and Grade 12 was just too busy to do much beyond minor alterations). This was way before I knew anything about pattern alteration or even grading a pattern. Or knew well enough to make a muslin.

I wanted to make a cute, fifties style dress with a sort of sweetheart neckline and a halter with a full skirt (and I think there was tulle involved) and couldn’t find a pattern I wanted to I decided to combine two. I used one for the bodice and another for the skirt, and I think I cut a straight size 10 for both, but obviously, both dresses fit differently so after making both parts and trying to stick them together, I realized they were inches different in size.

This (and the slippery nature of satin) resulted in the zipper never going in straight, no matter how many times I tried. I knew it was awful, but wore it anyway. Ah.

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

My husband and I took a day trip to Montreal so I could fabric shop. He read and drank beer at various pubs while I navigated my way through several sketchy warehouses in the fashion district. This is one of many concerned selfies I sent him during my adventure.

On vacation. Ottawa doesn’t have a great fabric selection for people who sew clothes. We have two Fabriclands (good for notions, but I find the fabric low quality and several years behind trends), Fabrications (mostly woven cottons and pretty over-priced), Darrell Thomas Textiles (designer, so gorgeous, but also really expensive), and C & M Textiles (which is mostly home dec). Since I’m trying to sew more easily worn, every day items, I’m looking for fun, good quality stretchy fabric – which is really hard to find in Ottawa. I’ve made it a habit to seek out fabric stores whenever I’m out of town and build my stash that way. I spent a good portion of my summer travels this year buying fabric.

6) What is your most used pattern?

Since this batch, I’ve made two more tops with this pattern!

Easily McCalls 7195. So far, I have made 8 tops with this pattern. It’s essentially become my pattern block for tops. It works best with stretch fabrics, but I’ve done tons of wovens with it, too. I love it because it is so simple to put together and easy to alter.

7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…

Securing serged thread-ends. I know I should do this more/better but I am really lazy and generally just cut them, knowing they will be secured by more serging or a seam. It just seems so tedious.

8) And your favourite sewing task?

Matching patterns. I get such a thrill from perfectly aligned stripes or plaids. There is nothing nicer than opening your seam and seeing checks lined up to the millimetre. My second favourite task is pressing that seam open to have a crisp, flat seam. Swoon!

9) What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?

I used to watch Bewitched when it was on Netflix (this blog was almost named ‘Sewing with Samantha’ in her honour), then switched to Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe movies (Roman Holiday and How to Marry a Millionaire being my go-tos). Last summer, I listened to audiobooks about productivity. Generally, now, I don’t have anything on, unless my husband is watching TV at the same time. Lately, I’ve enjoyed sewing on a Saturday night to the sound of the hockey game in the background.

10) Printed or PDF?

Oh, man, printed any day. I understand the appeal of PDFs and the immediateness of them. I am a total homebody and prefer not to leave the house for anything, so in theory, I should love the capacity to print any pattern you want immediately. Practically, however, PDFs are a lot of work and I hate unnecessary fiddling with anything.

11) What sewing machine do you use?

I have a Janome PS3022 which I received as a Christmas gift in my first year of university. It’s pretty basic (as far as Janomes go), but it’s a workhorse and I love it. I also have a Singer Ultralock (I can’t find the exact model) that my mother actually purchased for $100 from a woman whose husband had bought it for her but she had no idea how to use it. My mother quickly realized I used it way more than she did (she’s a repair sewist, not a sew-from-scratch type), so I sort of inherited it.

12) Do you have any other hobbies?


Disclaimer: I never look this cute when I ride. Generally, I’m wearing a helmet and padded shorts and my silver hybrid, Anderson, is weighed down by saddle bags. This was taken on a trip to Mackinac Island a couple of years ago.

I’m a pretty general crafter and have dabbled in most crafts (scrap-booking and quilting are the two things I don’t really do). Lately, I enjoy wreath-making and upholstery the most (after sewing, of course) I also knit regularly, bike in the summer and snowshoe in the winter. I also dance – in the past I’ve done ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, modern and swing, but right now I’m focusing on ballet and tap!

So there you have it! I’m going to keep this little chain going and nominate Bianca @vintageontap and Jess @sew_susie as I love both of your styles and want to know more about you!

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