I’m currently working on a wedding dress for Jacquie for her marriage to Max. Below is Jacquie with her friend Lou, they’re sewing together the toile for her dress prior to our first fitting. First question, what does this have to do with Frocktober? Jacquie and a team from the Melbourne Zoo are taking part in this fundraising event for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. Participants pledge to wear a dress every day during October (and the wedding dress we are working on will be one of them). You can sponsor their efforts here: www.everydayhero.com.au/frock_the_zoo
Secondly, why are Jacquie and Lou sewing the dress that I am supposedly making? I’m trialling a participative made-to-measure concept, where recipients of my special occasion designs are involved in the sewing and construction of their own gown. Our fittings have involved: food (on different occasions, baklava, sushi, spinach tart and roasted vegies), cups of tea or glasses of wine, shoe admiration (again from Melissa, a theme is developing on this blog I feel!), dress fitting and pinning, and finally some hand sewing. Last night’s fitting also involved Jacquie’s mum who accomplished about twice as much as the rest of us. What do you think? Have you been involved in the creation of an important dress for your own red carpet moment? What did it mean to you? Oh, and here’s that link again to sponsor Jacquie!
There are a couple of days left to vote in the Tessuti Awards, run by Australian fabric store Tessuti. My entry is in a sorry state; I opted to hand stitch it entirely from a length of linen and a length of lace (as per the brief) that I’d had lying around forever and then life got in the way… I do still hope to be wearing it by Summer.
I have however been loving looking at and reading the entries. This competition attracts sewers of all sorts, from professional designers, to aspiring students to domestic sewers, and to me challenges boundaries between professional and domestic, and about what activities constitute design. While the competition is a sewing or making one, what is being judged is essentially design. But best of all is the narratives generated around sewing, with each entrant asked to reflect on how they came to sew, what it means to them to sew and the thought process behind how they worked their way through their design.
Typical among the stories is a “moment” that counts as an induction into sewing. Says entrant Emily Pierce:
My Mum used to sew for us when I was little, and I remember sitting with her one day and cutting out a little tshirt shape and cellotaping it together and saying ‘this isnt hard!’ so from then on its history…I have excelled from that somewhat now however!
And I also love the stories about sewing that locate it firmly in contemporary life as opposed to a nostalgic pursuit practiced by our mothers, as expressed by Andy Truong:
I am a self taught sewer and I have been sewing ever since I can remember. I first started sewing when I did hand sewing projects. In year seven, I knitted phone and Ipod pockets and sold them to friends. With the money I made from selling them, I saved up for a sewing machine.