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Sonja of Ginger Makes on Sewing and Style

For the latest installment in guest posts from sewing bloggers on their connection between Sewing and Style, I have the spunky Sonja of Ginger Makes. She does a great job of introducing herself, so I’ll just say that I love the fact that her giant smile is a constant accessory to her sewn creations. Without further ado…
Sonja of Ginger Makes

Hi, guys!  I’m Sonja, and I blog about sewing, knitting, and, well, making things, over at Ginger Makes.  I live in NYC with my husband and two pugs, and I work in the film/TV industry.  When I’m not sewing or blogging, you can usually find me wandering around the city or snacking (both on a good day!).

I like to describe my style as “tomboy chic”, and that’s only half tongue in cheek!  I spend most of my time in skinny trousers, raglan tees, and slouchy sweaters, but I love having a chance to dress up every now and then and show people that I’m actually a girl!  Because of that, my sewing is split between everyday, tomboy clothes and tailored, girly clothes.  I love to make and sew both kinds of garments, even though I wear everyday clothes, well, every day!

My biggest style influences come from the world of music rather than fashion.  I’m a huge fan of early- to mid-1960’s fashion, and my favorite fashion icon is Mick Jagger.  I LOVE his style– he puts his own spin on classic menswear and always looks sharply tailored, youthful, and cheeky!  My love of slim trousers, immaculately-fitted jackets, and skinny buttondowns can probably all be traced back to my decades-long Jagger obsession (holy crow, can that man wear a jacket!).  I’ve also always loved Francoise Hardy.  She’s tough and has a bit of an edge, but at the same time she looks chic and put together at all times.  I love that she always looked equally confident in a biker jacket or in a minidress.  That’s something I aspire to!  I just generally love all the Brit Invasion style– peacoats, fur-collared trenches, minis with knee-high boots… But in my fantasy life, I’m a backup singer (c’mon, I don’t have to be the star!) in a girl group like The Supremes and I get to wear flashy, tailored sheath dresses all the time… yum!

That said, one of my favorite things about sewing is that I don’t have to commit to one specific style.  I love that I can experiment and explore different versions of myself just by spending a few (OK, sometimes a few dozen) hours at the sewing machine.  Clothes don’t make the gal, but sometimes they can help her tell a story about herself or present herself in a new and different way.  You can get this effect by shopping, of course, but I feel like I can more authentically tell a story about myself with clothing that I’ve made myself.

I didn’t actually learn how to sew because I wanted to dress uniquely, although I’ve always loved to dress a little bit differently.  I sort of fell into it accidentally– my friend convinced me to go to a sewing class with her, and I fell in love with the tactile nature of sewing.  But my first few sewing projects, the things that I made in my first year or so of sewing, were less about exercising my style than about just figuring out how to put a garment together.  Now I finally have a level of confidence at the sewing machine that allows me to think of something I want to wear, figure out how to make it, and then sit down and sew the garment that was in my head!  As a result of this, I feel like all of a sudden I’m dressing in a way that really expresses who I am (instead of the years in high school and college when I wore whatever I could afford that sort of fit me, regardless of whether or not I even liked it).

My style has been split between easy androgynous and ’60’s chic for a long time, and this wasn’t an easy way to dress.  I bought little boys’ tees that made me laugh from truck stops, garage sales, and tourist destinations, and for the other look, I spent lots of time on eBay tracking down cool vintage dresses that may or may not fit once they arrived.  I had a great guy on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that did a killer job altering my internet beauties, but sometimes even he couldn’t make them work for me.  I have some real treasures that I scooped up on eBay and Etsy years ago, but vintage clothing is getting more expensive and harder to find online (and in real life).  Learning how to sew came at the perfect time in my life!  I was having difficulty finding things I liked in thrift shops and online, but I had already abandoned shopping in malls, so my wardrobe was thin and I would show up to things like weddings in outfits that weren’t quite appropriate for the occasion.  Now that I can sew, “What am I gonna wear???” isn’t really a problem so much as a challenge!  I’m so grateful that I can express myself through sewing, and that I can sharpen and define my style more and more each day (unless I don’t want to… then I can make something that’s totally not my style for a change of pace!).  Thanks to sewing, whether I’m wearing a slouchy shirt made out of buffalo check flannel or a snug chartreuse ’60’s sheath, I feel like I look like “me”.

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  1. Pingback: Odds + Ends Vol. 2: Guest Post, Me-Made-May ’13, + Giveaway Winner! | Ginger Makes...

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