Dressed and me – Barbara

Written by Camille
December 2 2019 | Featured garments, Inspirations

For the release of our new book, we’ve decided to interview a few of our reviewers to learn more about how they think about their sewing practice and wardrobes in light of the method presented in Dressed. Let’s start this series with Barbara, from Maison Elpida!

My view on sewing has changed a lot since I started, 4 or 5 years ago. For a long time, I sewed impulsively, whenever I found a pattern or fabric I liked. It didn’t matter whether I needed the garment or not. I also had a very small wardrobe, as my finances didn’t allow me to buy a lot of clothes, and I had no sense of style. So any addition to my wardrobe was welcome!

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Today there’s a little bit of everything in my wardrobe and I can’t say I have any real need anymore. However, I sew responsibly. If I create a garment, it’s because I’m sure to wear it on the regular. Sure that I’ll be confortable in it, and that the fabric (color, material) will go well with the rest of my clothes. For instance, even if I find some polyester fabrics beautiful, I never sew them because I know I won’t stand the feeling against my skin. I have been, and still am, very impulsive in my fabric purchases. Today I am much more reasonable. This year I managed for the very first time to not buy any fabric until my stash diminished by 3/4. A real challenge for me! I think I didn’t buy anything for at least four months. I also try to buy fabrics that are OEKO-TEX certified as much as possible. That’s the case for the fabric I used for my Dressed mockneck!

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I plan several projects at the same time, just because I have so many ideas I’m obsessed with. I’ve never been in a situation where I didn’t know what to sew. However, I only work on one project at a time. I’ve never set a project aside and left it in a corner. If I start something, I finish it. Creation is almost a libidinal thing for me. The idea of combining pattern and fabric, to project into the finished garment, it turns me on… And I’m fine with that! To create is to exist.

I have no problem wearing my handmade clothes, which is lucky since that’s pretty much all I wear… The only clothes I buy in stores are gym clothes, plus sweaters or wool jackets (I’m not good at knitting, and most of all I don’t have enough time for it… but I’m working on it!). To be honest, I still have some ready-to-wear clothes, and they’re the ones I have trouble wearing. Plus I’m proud to dress with my creations every day. I like my makes. They are unique and they fit my lifestyle and what I’m looking for in a garment: femininity and comfort.

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When you sew, it’s easy to fall into the dynamic of fashion trends, wanting for this fashionable cut or that new print to work for us, and to be as stylish and beautiful as the model on the picture. But the real question in this book, that I’ve been asking myself over the last few months, is: will it suit me?

Dressed feeds my ambition to sew more consciously. When you sew, it’s easy to fall into the dynamic of fashion trends, wanting for this fashionable cut or that new print to work for us, and to be as stylish and beautiful as the model on the picture. But the real question in this book, that I’ve been asking myself over the last few months, is: will it suit me? Will I be comfortable wearing this? Will I be self-conscious? Of course, I’ll always let myself be transported by the excitement I get when imagining a new project. My gut feeling is right most of the time. The knowledge I earned, about fabrics, pattern-making, and body acceptance, allows me today to sew clothes I wear daily. This is thanks to all my failed projects, to be honest. If I had had this book when I started sewing, I would have wasted much less fabric and time. I have no regrets, none at all. These experiences are part of my story, and sometimes they make me smile…

The chapter on understanding your colors is the one that appealed to me the most. Indeed, I never know which colors suits me… I read this chapter, but haven’t taken the time to really work on the it yet. My favorite tip I took away from it was to put a piece of colored fabric next to my face, to see if the color suits my complexion or not. Now that I went back to being a brunette, my color palette has widened significantly. As soon as I have more time, I’ll look into this more seriously!

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The mockneck and culottes are my favorite patterns. This is exactly what I like to wear in the winter. Moreover, as I wrote in my blog post presenting this first outfit: “[…] thanks to this book, I sewed two garments that I wear a lot and I like them so much I don’t even want to take them off to wash them (though hygiene standards prevent me from doing so…).”. This outfit is perfect for both work and chilling at home. I can’t stand to feel constrained around the stomach, and I want to be able to move without worrying that my bra straps or my underwear are going to be visible if the wind starts blowing.

I start talking about sewing patterns and end up on women rights! It goes to show, sewing really takes you to many places!

I work with teen boys. Beyond the need to be super comfortable in my clothes to run from one thing to the next, it’s important to me to show them that women can be feminine, dynamic, and respectable. What I put in my curriculum is important, of course, but young people also come to me and ask questions about how I dress. Answering “Je fais ce que je veux” (“I do what I want” / “I make the things I want”) may seem trivial, but it really isn’t… Their views on women are often shitty, honestly. So it appears that my sewing and the fact that I proudly wear what I make can have an impact on them. So, yeah… I warned you that I’m not good at restraining myself… I start talking about sewing patterns and end up on women rights! It goes to show, sewing really takes you to many places!

Get to know Barbara and her amazing garments on her blog, and get the Dressed book (FR) in our online shop!

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