Marguerite dress
Loose ends

Something About Me: The Seamstress Tag

I am about four years late to this party, but I think The Seamstress Tag, which was set up by the lovely Hollie Dolly sometime in 2016 is a great way to introduce myself and tell you about my sewing journey. So here goes:

Who are you?

I am Magda, an avid fabric collector and lover of feminine dresses. I also think bows are essential to almost any outfit. I am also a big lover of tea. Black. Earl Grey is my favourite.

I am from České Budějovice, a town in the south of the Czech Republic, but I have lived in Prague since 2011. I have also lived in Australia for a while, spending a year of high school and a semester at uni there – I love it there so much – the sun, the people, the easy-going nature of it all – it’s my second home.

By day, I am a PhD student of English linguistics and a course coordinator at a language school, however, I am in the process of making a bit of a career change (fingers crossed).

When & why did you start sewing?

When I was little, I loved playing with Barbie dolls. Mum used to make new dresses for them and I did too, though mine were much less sophisticated and usually held together with a couple of pieces of ribbon or, at best, a couple of stitches. But my great-grandmother was a seamstress and though she died when I was very young, I do remember her sewing machine and tools – particularly a huge piece of magnet she used to gather pins, which I loved playing with. So dressmaking runs in the family!

As a teenager, my fashion tastes were never what one would call trendy and I always had quite particular ideas of what I wanted to wear, but could never find it in shops. So when I was about 16, I borrowed my grandmothers sewing machine, bought some fabric with my Mum and dug out an issue of Burda, skipping the usual totes and cushion cover beginnings. Surprisingly undaunted by the mess of criss-crossing pattern lines, not knowing any different, I traced a wrap dress pattern and sewn it with the help of my Mum and lots of swearing at the old machine. The fabric choice was awful (slippery blue satin with white spirals) and the fit was poor. Needless to say, I never wore it, but I still felt accomplished.

Keeping it real with this picture of my sewing space

Several similar attempts followed. It wasn’t until after I got my own machine after my 18th birthday that my makes started to improve. My Dad always has to pick the best stuff, so he chose Janome Memory Craft 6600 with so many bells and whistles I never thought I’d use. How much I appreciate it now! It’s still going strong 10 years on and can tackle anything from quilts to slippery silks. And boy has it been getting used a lot, especially over the past couple of years.

What is your favourite or proudest make?

This has to be a toss up between my magenta wool winter coat with bound button-holes, pad-stitching and lots of hand-sewing, and a prom dress I made for my cousin out of a gorgeous deep blue shimmery silk-viscose blend.

The coat was from Burda (issue 12/2016) and came with the minimalistic instructions one expects, which were no help whatsoever, so I had rely mostly on myself.

The dress was Butterick 5708, which was not very complicated, but it was the first time I made something so fitted for anyone else, not to mention the importance of the occasion. But it turned out great and seeing my cousin feeling like a princess on the day was the best reward.

What is your most disastrous make?

Well, probably that first dress I mentioned, since I never wore it and it was kind of hideous :-D. Also, early this year I made a blouse from a Burda pattern with a sort of shawl collar cut on the bias, but it didn’t work out very well, it’s all wrinkly and the neckline has stretched….so it’s sitting in the corner waiting to be salvaged.

Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?

I was in seventh heaven on the Goldhawk road, but London is a bit out of the way, unfortunately.

I love Látky Mráz for ArtGallery jerseys and quilting cottons, peonygarden and REVOART for Atelier Brunette, and Evi látky and Pavelka for more special occasion stuff. My local shop is nanitce, which is literally about 400 meters from my place and sells a great range of jerseys and cottons.

Sometimes if I feel like treating myself, I order fabric from England as well – some gorgeous Lady McElroy fabric from Minerva, Rifle Paper co. from Lamazi fabrics, or Lisa Comfort fabric from Sew Over It.

What is your most used pattern?

The Acacia underwear from Megan Nielsen (free pattern). They’re a great scrap-buster and I have made so many already, for myself or friends and family. Apart from that, I would say Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top – I have made several versions and hacks.

For woven garments, I have made several patterns twice, but there is no clear winner, as I like to try out new patterns more than for the knit basics.

Your most dreaded sewing task is…

I don’t enjoy cutting out. If I had a big cutting table, I think it would be different, but as I’m cutting on the floor, I would happily skip this step. Putting in zips is not my favourite step either.

And your favourite sewing task?

I enjoy sewing darts, as it gives the pieces shape. I also like hand-sewing hems and bias binding. It’s quite meditative, plus it’s usually the final step before I can wear the garment.

What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?

I love the Love to Sew podcast or putting a good series on. I only tend to watch things I’ve seen before, because I hardly ever look at the screen, but I enjoy it as background.

Printed or PDF?

PDF. It makes patterns from the other side of the world accessible everywhere, which is amazing. But I do occasionally splurge on a printed pattern, especially one with gorgeous packaging, such as the Selkie patterns London dress and skirt.

What sewing machine do you use?

Janome Memory craft 6600 – it’s perfect!

Do you have any other hobbies?

Yes! I love music (I play the guitar and the piano), reading, travelling, and spending time with my friends, whether in a cosy café or outside exploring. I also enjoy other creative things – from decorating pottery to having recently picked up knitting again, making a huge Find Your Fade shawl (and I hear the Wool & Honey sweater calling my name soon).  

That’s a wrap. If there is anything you would like more detail on, feel free to ask!

Please leave a comment if you would like to share your sewing journey with us, I would love to know!

Until next time,

Magda

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