D & H Fabrics

Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body with Emma @sewdoitemma

Tammy Lee
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Hey, I'm Emma and I have a blog over at www.sewdoitemma.com and I'm on instagram as @sewdoitemma.
Firstly, I want to thank Tammy aka D&H Fabrics Co for giving me this opportunity to speak as part of the “Sewing is for Everyone” initiative and for gifting me some wonderful fabric, which I will talk about later on in the post.

From my earliest memories I've always had something craft related going on. My Gran briefly had me into machine knitting with a mini version of her machine. Seamstress and a Tailor run in my mum's Paternal and Maternal family tree, which is quite a humbling feeling. Any craft hobby that I've tried has been quite thearaputic for my well being, especially since I lost my Mum to cancer almost two years ago.  Losing someone that close, leaves a void that just can't be filled.

In the last couple of years my dressmaking has accelerated after not really touching a sewing machine for most of my adult life.  I was spurred on by getting annoyed with the fit and the quality of material used in retail fashion stores, especially the plus sized ones, at least in the UK.  For example from season to season the fit would change, so I would find a fitting pair of trousers one season and the next season they no longer would, this was quite annoying.

My acceleration in dressmaking would not have been the same without the phenomenal group of ladies that make up @Sew_Scottish.  The foundations of this group were laid down at a meeting on a cold Sunday morning in November 2016, where after a brief conversation between myself and Lesley @sew_sleep_deprived, we both realised that we wanted to get a group of Scottish sewists together after seeing so many brilliant events being created South of the Border. Well, we managed to make it happen, and over the years we've organised a number of events and we've all gone on to become friends. It's great to have a lovely group of people with which to talk all things sewing.

Below is a snapshot from my wardrobe which is all handmade and I'm quite surprised at how much I have sewn.  The RTW garments are slowly disappearing to new homes!

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Sewing has helped me gain confidence with my body shape.  I'm about a 46' bust and the same for the waist and then it just gets annoying with my hips being 57" which means losing out on a lot of patterns both Indie and some of the Big 4 (but really 7, if you count them up!).  Usually my bust and hips fit most patterns but the hips do cause a bit of a problem when I like a long top.

In the last couple of months there has been a really important conversation about size inclusivity and how there is a feeling of being excluded from the indie patterns.  I'm glad things are now slowly changing and I'm happy to be a tester for any pattern designer who wants to make a positive change to their brand and to other sewists' lives.

It hasn't been easy though, this major topic was the starting point of so many different conversations, we all had to be mindful of keeping the main focus on the sizing issue and that voices were being heard.  There were so many excuses why bigger ranges of sizes weren't being done but often they didn't stack up as there are pattern companies like Cashmerette that have been able to cater to a broader range of sizes, which has helped them gain a massive following.

I know the feeling of being excluded all too well as I'm hard of hearing.  Yes, I wear hearing aids but often when I have a lot of background noise the main conversation that I'm trying to keep up with gets lost.  For example; take a busy bar add loud music and people trying to talk over it and then you see me with a dazed look on my face because my head is about to pop from the concentration that I've been giving trying to keep up with the groups' chat. It all gets a little "under water" and "cloudy" for me after a while and hence that's why I go quiet!  I am generally up front to everyone about my hard of hearing and most people are brilliant, once I say that I'll try to read their lips if they are face to face in a noisy situation.

 So that's my story. Now without much further ado here is my make.  Using the "Summer Time Poppy's" cotton with the Amy Nicoles' Roski Top I made this.

In hindsight, (yah, it's a great thing hindsight, isn't it?) I should've used a Georgette or Challis for this pattern and not a woven as I feel it's too stiff to allow the desired drape.  But that won't stop me wearing it when we hopefully get some warm weather in Scotland! And yes I shall be making another in the required fabrics!

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Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body with Stephanie Decker

Tammy Lee
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When I was 7, my mom signed me up for sewing lessons to learn how to hem pants for my short family. I continued those lessons for years, eventually working my way up to making clothes for myself. That was when my love affair with sewing began.

As a plus-size kid, I always had trouble finding trendy clothes. I would get so upset because I had to wear “old lady clothes” since there were no “cool” options for larger kids. For a long time, it affected my self-confidence (and not in a positive way). I remember the very first garment I made for myself, a teal satin dress, and how excited, proud, and confident I was to have made something that fit my body and my tastes exactly. Even then, my instructor had to teach me to alter the pattern to fit my size because I didn’t fit into the readily-available pattern sets.

My love affair with sewing continued long after the lessons stopped, with me making my homecoming, prom, and graduation dresses in high school. It was during those years that I also started working on costuming for the theatre program (which I still do today) to make sure my kids don’t have the same costume and resulting confidence issues I dealt with throughout the multiple theatre programs I was in.

I went to college for fashion design, where I spent four years learning the mechanics behind designing, illustrating, fabrics, pattern drafting, draping, construction, fit, and more. This helped shape me into a knowledgeable designer who can see things that most can’t, and I honestly think that learning how to draft patterns alone was well worth all of the money I spent for that piece of paper. During those years, I stepped away from making for myself because of the amount of work my classes required. It wasn’t until recently that I started getting back into designing for myself but sadly, not much has seemed to have changed in the sewing world in terms of patterns being able to fit larger sizes like myself.

When I purchase patterns, I almost always have to alter them to even have a possibility of fitting me. Depending on pattern complexity, it can take me anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours to make those changes. I pay for patterns that *should* be able to fit me with just a few quick changes, but most patterns require so much extra work that it would’ve been cheaper and quicker to just draft my own from the start.

I love sewing. I love patterning. I love making things for myself. But it gets frustrating and exhausting when you have to do both the patterning and the sewing. It takes a toll on your stamina and positive mentality when it can take two weeks or more to create a single project, while other people are able to crank out multiple a week.

I was so thrilled when Tammy approached me about joining in on the Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body project. I had so much fun making this Roski Trio dress thanks to Amy at Amy Nicole Studio, using the adorable fabrics from Tammy at D&H Fabrics. I was a bit worried about using the floral cotton on the bottom since it looked a little see-through, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it was opaque enough to not be an issue. I initially chose this pattern because I loved how simple and effortless it looked, and I was so thankful and relieved that I only had to add a little extra on the side seams for it to fit me perfectly.

I started my small, local business doing alterations and custom work about a year ago. I created an Instagram account to share my work and sewing process, which introduced me to the Instagram Sewing Community. Through the community, I’ve met so many incredible, inspiring, and supportive women who truly keep me going. My motivation behind my work has always been to make alterations and custom work for my clients that make them feel as comfortable, confident, and happy as possible. I know from personal experience how influential clothes can be on your mood and confidence, which is why I’m so passionate about what I do.

While I understand an “average” measurement system is needed to produce patterns, there comes a time when change is needed to give the same sewing opportunities to a wider audience. That time has to be now.



Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body with Nancy Ravindra

Tammy Lee
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Hi y’ail!  I want to let you know that I am no blogger so I will just type away as me.  A bit about myself, I am Nancy. I had sewn when I was younger (in my teens and 20’s)….then I stopped sewing for a long while (about 20+ years). Fast forward to about a year and half ago, I stumbled across some Instagram posts by accident on fabrics and indie patterns. My curiosity got me the best of me. I decided to explore further and was surprised at how much sewing has changed the past 20+ years. I got excited by the vast information out there readily available via social media. That got me started to sew once again.  

One day I saw Tammy with D&H Fabrics’ post in Instagram about sewing community and inclusivity. Without really thinking and being impulsive at that moment, I told her that as a Deaf person, I did not feel included by the sewing community. With Instagram and Facebook, many sewing tutorials or sew a longs are readily available for anyone in the sewing community to learn, HOWEVER, without captions, they are no good. Where do I (and many other deaf or hard of hearing people) fit in and get the information readily just like others?  Over the past year and half when I asked for captions to be added, I was told it’d not be financially feasible or too time consuming to add captions as they are all ‘small business owners’, etc.  Most of the times, they offer no alternative solutions. They pretty much dropped the ball and leave it there. To be honest, I am not okay with that. Because of that constant experience, it has influenced me to be more mindful as to who to buy my patterns and fabrics from.

I want to give a shout out to Sewcialists in Instagram. I like their post last January asking who add captions to their instastories. I appreciate that they recognize that we exist.    With this in mind, I am asking the sewing community (yes, I am talking to you… the patternmakers, pattern designers, small or growing fabric companies, etc) to please be considerate and add captions. There are some apps available that are either free or do not cost that much. To name a few, they are Clips or Clipomatic.

Back to Tammy, she asked me to be part of her Sewing is for Every Body initiative. I was honored to be asked. Thank you, Tammy, for this opportunity to share my story as a Deaf sewist in the non-deaf sewing community and for gifting me the beautiful night blue French terry fabric for this Sewing is for Every Body initiative. Not really thinking it through, I decided to choose Fulton Sweater Blazer by Alina Designs Co. Ahhh, it has been one tedious sewing project. I am happy to say the outcome is worth it.   The Fulton Sweater Blazer is comfortable and I love the collar! And, the pockets!

How do you like the label (made by @kylieandthemachine) I got for myself?  Cool, eh? 

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The pictures don’t do the fabric justice. They look much better in person.

@dhfabricsandco @alinadesignco #fultonsweaterblazer @kylieandthemachine #memade #sewover50 #sewingisforeverybody #deaf