There is a powerful sense of community among people who sew—we share the same excitement when finishing a garment, run into the same questions about tricky sewing techniques, and we love to geek out over fabric. Seeing finished sewing projects can help get ideas flowing, so we are taking you inside a Seamworker’s closet to talk about the joys of a handmade wardrobe.
Meet Mary! Mary is one of our Seamwork ambassadors, so she’s been helping us out with some exciting upcoming projects. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, she blogs over at Sablecraft to document her handmade wardrobe.
Mary is sharing three of her favorite Seamwork projects. Check out her Instagram to see more of her handmade garments.
Tell us about your sewing story! When did you first learn how to sew?
I learned the sewing basics from my very beloved grandmother when I was a kid. She taught me the ins and outs of the machine and pattern construction, but I never used much of that knowledge until college. I was always “crafty,” and I was very into embroidery, so when I got a job at Purl Soho in college, I really dove into learning to make clothes and quilts. I caught the bug and never quit.
Is there another maker or sewists who inspires you?
I’m a little biased, but my IRL sewing BFF is Hannah Corey, and I always admire her bold color and pattern play. She is literally so fearless and bold, and if I’m nervous to make something too crazy to wear, I always think of her and just dive in. Non-IRL BFFs include HelloAllieJ and Heather Lou of Closet Case.
Why is it important to you to sew your own clothing?
Besides all of the therapeutic reasons, shopping sucks. Fast fashion is garbage, and the fashion industry moves so fast that is creates so much textile waste and encourages inhumane working conditions in countries we as consumers feel we don’t have to worry about. It’s nuts. But even if this wasn’t the case, I feel like I would still make my own clothes. It’s like solving a puzzle but in the best way possible. Like a brain puzzle and you get a garment when you’re done.
Mary’s Leonora skirt sewn in black denim.
What’s your biggest challenge while sewing? What do you do to overcome it?
I’m impatient and a skimmer. I skip steps, skim directions, and cut corners. This is taboo in the sewing community, admitting to being anything other than a Type A perfectionist, but it’s me. I’m learning that if I take my time and employ special techniques, I have a lot more love for the final product.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just learning how to sew?
Get inspired by the community but don’t compare yourself. I was so gosh darn blind that my first projects were terrible and didn’t fit, and if I knew then what I know now I would be way too embarrassed to have kept sewing. Share your makes and reach out to the community. Live boldly.
What are three words that best describe your style?
Feminine, retro, bold.
Mary’s Veronica Dress
Fitting Tips and Modifications
Veronica is a wonderful base for exploration. I don’t live that no-bust dark life so I added a bust dart to the bodice instead of a no-dart FBA. I also flared the skirt out by slashing and splitting triangles into the skirt. I also did not include a back zipper and cut the back bodice on the fold and do a little hip boogie to get into this dress. I hate zippers on dresses A LOT.
I did include a…special detail inside the back collar facing.
I had to do a few mental gymnastics to figure out how to get the elastic into the waistband without a center back seam, but I figured out that if you feed it through flat and then seam the elastic into a loop, it’s much easier to put the waistband together.
Mary’s cheeky custom embroidery.
I literally want to make every single garment ever out of a large print gingham. It’s my favorite thing on earth. I like the look of the Robert Kaufman 1” Carolina gingham a lot, but it’s essentially a suped-up quilting cotton, and it wrinkles like the dickens. I’m not married to it, but it gets the job done.