Sunday, January 26, 2014

Welcome to my sanctuary, an intro to my most favourite pastime

I'm not really sure how it is possible that I've been sewing for over 3 years now, yet I've never really notably discussed it here on my blog. I think it's about time.

My relapse into sewing was brought on by science! When I was little my grandma taught me the essentials, but when it was time to make hundreds of mesh bags for a field experiment, the sewing machine was the most optimal solution. I knew this solution would work since I had sewn many bags for experiments while working at CABI.

Now it was my Master's experiment, and the sewing machine was needed again. I looked up the cheapest option I could find on Kijiji, and then for 30$, I had my wonderful 1974 Singer247, stitching it's way like-a-boss through all that mesh.

Here's what the mesh bags looked like on the trees
(I was looking at the effects of jack pine budworm feeding on the needle chemistry of jack pine, and we had 10 larvae inside those bags for some time before collecting the needles for analyses)

Somehow having a sewing machine in my apartment inspired something in me. If I could make 100 mesh bags, why couldn't I make myself a small satchel??

The first attempt was quite... sloppy. No pattern, used up some old jeans and terrible pilly flannel, raw edges showing on the outside... But yet- It was a bag, and I made it myself, and I even used it for some months. It was even "reversible"!
I was so happy. I loved it!! Somehow sewing allowed me to let out some creative urges, while giving me a most unparalleled sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I can create useful, beautiful things! What more can one ask for in life;)

Since that joyous wonderful day, I resolved to learn how to make a real bag. I quickly found Noodle-head- a blog from an awesome sewist, blogger and pattern maker. She makes bags, and just the kind I liked and felt I could tackle. I got the Runaround-Bag, and was so thrilled with the result. I used old pieces of curtains, and random pieces I found here and there. The fabrics on all the blogs inspired me. I started somewhat of a fabric buying obsession. I got them on Etsy, on Fabricworm, on, and they just kept pilling in and in and in... Until I had way more fabrics than I had time to make bags with.... This continued for some time...

Even upon moving to Utrecht in 2012... Right around the corner from my house was the infamous Lapjesmarkt... The oldest and biggest fabric market in the Netherlands, and it's EVERY Saturday.

Was like a kid in a candy shop.

Anyway- I managed to accumulate quite a collection. 

While writing up my master's thesis, I managed to procrastinate enough (I mean, be "alternatively productive" enough) that I even managed to start up an etsy shop. Which in my view, was moderately successful! I managed to make back some of my money spend on those fabric splurges... and I had fun shipping orders around and getting some feedback. I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot about business strategies on Etsy. 

Moving to the Netherlands and starting a PhD quickly put the breaks on my little shop. I needed to get myself settled into a new life in a new country. And I had to leave my trusty Singer247 in Edmonton. It was very sad.

When we moved to our current place, Joost's mum stepped in when I mentioned my sewing-machine-sadness; and lent me a more recent Singer model, now from the 1980's!! I continued sewing bags, cases, useful things around the house and lots of presents. But the machine somehow lost a gear-tooth just a month before Christmas, and the repair man put a 120$ price on the repair. I was pretty devastated. And we agreed it wasn't worth the price to repair.

Not only was it NOT my machine, but I had also vowed to make all my presents (or as many as possible) for Christmas. Luckily a friend stepped in with another loaner- but I knew I needed to find a solution for myself- and fast, before I broke someone else's machine too!

I'm a lucky gal, and my wonderful family all helped to chip in for my very own brand-new machine. So here it is, in my very own little sewing-nook. 

Here's where the magic happens. My Sanctuary.

It's a small space, but I can make some pretty awesome things in there. Here are some of my completed Christmas-time sewings:

For all those friends with new offspring: a baby wrap, baskets (also Noodle-head) and my very first quilt!
Two new messenger bags, for three great gals:

and finally, my very first CLOTHING modified from free patterns I found online.
A couple of shirts for myself, 

and a modern creation 3/4 length for my mom, the angled collar was a happy accident/creative incident:

The back:
Here's to many more happy memories in the sewing-nook!!!


  1. i see my gifts! congrats on your new machine and thank you!!