Meg the Grand on Sewing and Style

I’m intrigued by individual style, how someone defines her style, how she finds that style. I’m particularly intrigued by how a sewer’s ability to create her own clothes influences that style. To explore this, I’m going to be posting a series of guest posts from different bloggers who sew, each exploring their individual connection between sewing and style. First up, the wonderful Meg of Meg the Grand. I can’t thank her enough for her insightful and thorough exploration!

Hello all!  I’m Meg from Meg the Grand.  I am an intermediate sewer and beginning knitter, and I love the feeling of making something with my hands … especially if it’s something geeky in nature. Many thanks to the delightful Erin for asking me to guest blog with you lovelies today!!  Erin is a true blue kindred spirit who spreads sunshine in her blog posts.  I, for one, am a huge fan and so honored to be included in this discussion about style!

My style is a tricky thing to define.  I spent all of grade school and high school wearing a uniform, so once I was off to public university, I went through a crisis of sorts.  I had no idea what to wear OR how to handle the fact that I was going to be in classes with boys for the first time in four years.  I actually had to care about my appearance (somewhat) and that was hard.  Many of my friends called me a hippie during my Freshman year of college.  I wore my hair long, bell bottom jeans, and colorful tops.  There may or may not have been tie dye in there.  I basically settled into jeans and tees because they were easy and I had lots of tee shirts.  Technically, I’ve only been defining my style for ten years and I don’t think I’ve settled on a definition yet.  It might be safe to say that I am still experimenting.  I lean towards “classic” styles of clothing (A-line skirts, wrap dresses, 3/4 sleeves, cowl necks, pencil skirts, etc) but I love injecting color into these different classic styles.  The Red, White, and Blue dress is a great example – I LOVE the colors and the sheath dress style.  It’s a perfect melding of worlds for me right now.
I should also give some major props to the Sew Weekly challenges for helping me figure out what I don’t like: extra large Peter Pan collars, and high-waisted A-line skirts, and pattern mixing.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I like wearing one patterned piece with a complimentary color patterned piece.  I feel more polished and put together; pattern mixing makes me feel like I am trying to hard to be something I am not.  I’ve also learned that I don’t like asymmetrical hems – they accentuate my cankles like whoa.
Currently, I am sewing things to wear to work, which is pretty boring and possibly killing my sewing mojo.  Most of my purchased in the past work pants are biting the dust, and I’ve just made two new pairs.  These two pairs are actually high waisted (a first for me) and I am loving them.  I tend to sew things based on whether I can wear them to work or not, because I know they will get worn more often if they are “workable.”  It’s hard to sew strictly “icing” because it will never get worn.  I haven’t worn my Colette Crepe or Ceylon since making them, and that’s a bit hard to stomach since I spent so many hours on the Ceylon to just have it sit there.  The pants have already been worn three times.  Work is definitely the biggest influence on my sewing right now, but so is comfort and warmth.  I detest being cold with all of my heart, so when I am sewing for winter, I plan for long sleeve jersey tops and heavy knit dresses, as well as pants and possible onesies.  I’m starting to alter some of the vintage patterns in my collection for jersey fabrics and currently have one set pattern to make jersey bow neck blouses.
 
It makes me feel so boring to say this, but I am not much for dressing up right now.  When we were on vacation, all of my me-made dresses felt positively glamorous.  Now that it’s winter, I just want to be warm and so all of the glorious clothes go back under the bed in their bins.  I am working to make marvelous winter pieces, but they are slow going.  I know once I venture into knitting sweaters, there will be a lot more dressing up.  I try and add accessories to sweaters for a little touch of sparkle, but usually I forget because it’s so early in the morning!  Work also puts quite a damper on dressing up.  One of my favorite ensembles that I ever created was for the Royal Wedding.  I loved it with all my heart.  I wore it to work and got in a TON of trouble – all the way up the chain of command.  Apparently, people didn’t think it was humorous to wear a fashionable shoulderpad on my head.  I haven’t worn the dress since, as I just feel shame and anger whenever I look at it.  I would also make attempts to fix the dress if I could ever bring myself to wear it again.  It was made prior to learning French seams, and it’s pure silk.  The seams are beginning to fray and I wish I had taken the time to learn that technique prior to making the dress.
I feel that my sewing skills have definitely increased over the last few years.  I now understand the importance of hooks and eyes (bane of my existence), darts (ironing them = awful), bias tape (yay for replacing facings), hem lace (perfect for fraying fabric), and French seams.  I’m not afraid to tackle fabrics now, or to learn a new technique because I am definitely using all of the things that I am learning.  It’s invigorating to see a problem down the line and being able to intercept it.  I definitely didn’t start out this way.  I learned to sew as part of scholarship in college.  I was on acting scholarship, and if I didn’t get cast in shows, I had to work in the costume shop.  I had NO IDEA about anything sewing, not even how to sew a button.  I was sat down at a table and I had to make a sampler with buttons, hem stitches, hooks and eyes, and snaps.  I assisted in making costumes, but wow, there was a learning curve.  I made a corset wrong TWICE.  I’ve now learned to mark the notches on the pattern so things aren’t made upside-down.  Eventually, I was acting in shows and working in the costume shop on the side, and also being Costume Crew Head for the larger musicals on campus. It was stressful at times, but I loved all that I was learning, and I had the chance to know some fantastic people.  I got a sewing machine for Christmas in 2005, and tried my hand at costume designing some shows off campus and in the community (no budget, and it was difficult to sew without a dummy and no model in front of me at all times).  I definitely gave up sewing for a bit after that.  That was possibly because I was so involved with World of Warcraft at the time (FOR THE HORDE.  AND THE ALLIANCE.)
Once I moved to Chicago, and my budget for gaming and cigarettes went away, I gave up both and thought about making a wardrobe for myself.  I had inherited some fabric from friends and from family, and I am still sewing with some of that fabric today.  Sometimes my stash defines my style.  Even if I’m not crazy about some fabric I’ve been given, I might be able to make something amazing with it that I’ll love.  My Comic Book Skirt and Night at the Opera jacket are two examples of weird fabrics that ended up being much loved pieces.  I think in this upcoming year we are going to see a great deal of my stash influencing my style, as I want to work my way through all of it, every single bit, in 2013.  It’s going to be quite an interesting year!  I may be forced to break my jeans + everything = okay outfit to leave the house in.  I don’t think my style requires that I sew, but I love to sew and I have so much fabric, that to expand my horizon and my closet only takes a few hours per project.  Well … more like five hours per project, but who’s counting?  :)
I’ve never really given my style much thought before this post and I’ve learned quite a bit about myself in thinking about these answers.  It’s been a really interesting process from my end!  Many, many thanks to you, fabulous Erin, for asking me to do this and be part of your wonderful blog for a day.  You are magnificent!

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3 Responses to Meg the Grand on Sewing and Style

  1. megthegrand November 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    HA!! I need to wear those overalls right now because it’s the perfect weather for them. Seriously – I’m going to go home and put them on asap. Thank you again for having me on your wonderful blog!! I think your new website is completely awesome – what a marvelous birthday gift to yourself!! Happy belated birthday!!

  2. Donna November 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    I can’t believe you got in trouble for your wedding ensemble fascinator!! I’m sorry to hear that. I was shamed at work once too – relating to personal habits – and I still get upset when I think about it.

  3. Elisabeth November 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I was also going to say that I can’t believe you got in trouble for your wedding ensemble fascinator! It looked beautiful in the pictures, I wouldn’t have known it started life as a shoulder pad if you hadn’t said so (and it was way tame compared to some of the fascinators that actually appeared at the royal wedding). You must work in a very stuffy office. I’m sorry you can’t look at the dress anymore because it’s really lovely. Maybe one day you can wear it to something fun (like tea at the Drake) and it won’t have such bad memories for you anymore.