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Helena of Gray All Day on Sewing & Style

Today in my series of interviews with sewing bloggers on their connection between sewing & style, I’m delighted to feature Helena of GrayAllDay. I first met Helena when she took part in my Bow Neck Blouse sewalong and I was smitten with her style then as I still am now. I totally agree with her about how delightful it is to execute your own vision and I’m delighted to share her thoughts.

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My name is Helena and I blog it GrayAllDay.com and I just opened a pattern shop — GrayDay Patterns. I am constantly sewing for myself or my two daughters. I just have way more ideas than time! To keep myself organized, I keep four boxes under my sewing sideboard, where I put my works in progress, 1 to a box. So that should keep me to no more than 4 projects going at one time, right? Nope. My sewing room is big, and I stash projects all over the place, so it can and does get out of control. At the moment I am writing this I am in the midst of 7 sewing projects and two pattern drafting projects. I just can’t control myself!

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Why sew?
I love the challenge and creative freedom I get from sewing my own clothes. I love clothes, and I buy my share, too, but making something that you imagined yourself is much more satisfying than putting together a great outfit of RTW. Yes, it is fun to wear cute clothes and I feel great either way, but creating and executing my vision is another level fun to me.

My Style
I like to sew modern shapes with special details. I love fabric (big surprise!) and so picking just the right fabric plays a big part of what I make. I don’t use a lot of solids or plain colors; it is too boring to sew! I want my fabric choice to be part of the statement that says “This is unique. This is my own creation.”

Inspiration and Influences
I’m inspired by catalogs, magazines, fashion bloggers, and of course, the amazing sewing community we are a part of! Some of the things you guys make just kill me with their details!
I’m also cold all the time, so comfort and layers influence what I make and wear. I wear pants nine days out of 10 in the cold, rainy weather, so I recently tackled the hurdle of making my own pant and jeans. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it takes time. It is especially hard because even when you have perfected your pattern after a muslin or 2, the different fabrics behave differently on your body! You will still need to make adjustments on each new pair. But by making my own pants, my style universe has opened up. I’ve made floral pants, people pants, and ikat pants. I used to wear a cute, handmade top with my store-bought jeans each day, but now I am mixing it up and my style has been elevated!

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Dress-up
I think sewing most definitely influences my style. I feel I can try new styles out if I sew them, like my totally impractical but gorgeous kimono. I saw them selling those things for $100+ and there is no way I was going to invest that kind of money in a passing trend! But since I sewed it out of thrifted fabric, I had fun with it and ended up liking and wearing it a lot during the warmer months.
The influence of the sewing community nudges my style out of my comfort zone, too. I see how different patterns look made up and it can totally change my initial feeling about it. I can make that pattern up with confidence, even if I didn’t think it was my style at first! And so my style evolves despite myself. Yay!

Enabling
Ha! My sewing totally enables my older daughter to only wear skirts or dresses every single day. In her over five years in school she is worn pants just twice. She is a tall, skinny girl who doesn’t like her skirts shorter than her knees (we like to joke and call her Amish) so I have to make many of those skirts and dresses. But now that she is 10, we can buy her X-Small skirts from the juniors section and I can take them in a couple inches. This is great stylistic freedom for her, and great sewing freedom for me! I’m sick of making the dang skirts, though making her dresses is still very fun. I’m making her a wrap dress right now!

Why I learned to sew
I learned to sew so long ago, it is just part of me. I never set out to learn to sew because it would afford me stylistic freedom or anything. But it does offer that freedom, and a wealth of other benefits, too. Like feeling confident that your clothes fit you correctly, that you got to make each design choice, and that you are not a slave to finding something off the rack. But, most importantly to me, is the feeling of confidence that you can do it and figure it out! I know we have all had the experience of a person exclaiming incredulously “You made that? That is amazing!” like it is a magic trick you conjured. But the magic for me is knowing that sewing isn’t magic, it is a skill you are learning and figuring out and improving on. We are capable, confident women who can give life to a flat piece of fabric. So cool!

Even more style freedom
Since sewing is all about challenge and creative freedom, I recently decided to tackle patternmaking. This appeals to my desire to figure things out and feeds my creative need to truly conjure a thing from a vision in my head. But the best part so far is I get to see how other seamstresses interpret my patterns, and it blows my mind! It is a whole new level of inspiration!

Thank you, Erin, for having my over to your blog and letting me ramble on and on about my favorite subject! And congrats on the wedding and enjoy the rest of your amazing trip. We love reading all about it!

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