Mother’s Day – My sewing journey

For this blog, on Mother’s Day, I wanted to tell you all about my sewing journey and how my lovely mum helped ignite my passion to sew.

How it started:

When I cast my mind back, I started sewing at the age of 8 officially, but I think I could have started earlier as I was always so fascinated watching my mum sew. So, at aged 8 I excitedly asked for my very own sewing machine for Christmas. Christmas morning came by and I could not wait to open, what I thought, was my first sewing machine (just like mums!). However, I was disappointed when I realised it was actually just a toy sewing machine…looking back I can see why my mum was reluctant to buy me a real sewing machine, it could have been dangerous if I was just messing about with it without taking the time to really learn how to use one. Still feeling disheartened about not getting my own sewing machine, I persuaded my mum to teach me how to use hers.

My first business venture: 

My dad was a market trader, I used to love going to help him at the market, I actually think I got my entrepreneurial spirit from him. I decided I wanted to sell things alongside him at the market, so I made some stuffed toys – it was the ‘Honey Monster’ from the cereal adverts, and I wanted to try my luck and see if I could sell any. To my surprise, and my mums, I sold all five of those toys for £1 each. When I told my mum she could not believe it, she was so proud of me and could see how seriously I wanted to take sewing. So, me and my mum set out making more of the ‘Honey Monster’ toys and we sold hundreds!

A turning point: 

Now, this part is really bittersweet for me to write. My loving dad sadly passed away when I was 10 years old… our world stopped still. Now money was tight, life was becoming difficult, complicated and well…I had to just get on with it! I turned my attention to my passion, sewing. As mentioned, money was tight, so I decided to make my own school clothes. I did have sewing lessons at school, but I really did not get on with my teacher, she was very old fashioned and strict – she hindered my creative spirit actually! I remember she actually slapped my hands (hard!) when I didn’t put a zip in a pair of trousers like she said. I am left-handed so I always had my own way of sewing, the results were the same, but I liked to do it in my own way. I also found that I could make things really quickly and I didn’t need to follow all of the steps that the teacher would make us all follow (yawn!). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got my sewing qualification when a left school, and it was the only qualification I left school with!

Next steps:

So, I left school, and the joy in my life came when I would design and make my own clothes – I liked to be different and loved wearing an outfit that I knew no one else would have, it made me feel special and proud. The most talked about outfit I made was an outfit from chamois leather, it was a two piece and I felt amazing in it! My mum used to love seeing my creations, she could not believe how creative I had become. I also made outfits for my twin sister, our friends, my mum and I even tailored suits for my boyfriend. If I am honest, it was getting a bit much, you know, it was sucking the fun out of sewing. Sewing wasn’t my job then, so when I had to dedicate a lot of time to sew for others, as well as keeping a job and sewing for myself it got a bit overwhelming.

When I moved in with my husband, we were so excited to decorate our own house. We never got any financial support from anybody, everything we had was second hand and it didn’t matter to us as I could upcycle and make things look good and my husband was really handy. The talk of the street was our curtains that I made (swags and tails – very popular in the 90s!), in fact my husband used to laugh as he would spend hours painting and decorating and I would quickly mock up a pair of curtains, he would hang them in the window and everyone would complement the curtains…not his decorating (lol!).

Fast Forward: 

Sewing had to take a bit of a back seat in 1996 as I welcomed my beautiful twins into this world, Montana and Logan. My journey as a mother began and it was my best venture yet! And then two years later, my lovely baby boy Travis was born. As you can imagine, being a mother of 3 was a handful, and me and my husband poured every moment into making their lives special. I did do the odd bit of sewing here and there, but my children were my priority. I couldn’t see sewing actually being my fulltime income, I never ever charged anyone before so why would I start now is what I thought back then. So, I opened up a print company with my friend, we even had 40 members of staff at one point, and even though I’m retired, the business is still going strong today. Whilst in the beautiful chaos of bringing up my 3 children and the pressure of keeping a business going, I did manage to make a few dance costumes for my daughter and her friends, a few beautifully extravagant christening gowns, wedding dresses and fancy dress costumes for my son (who had to be a different superhero every day – that was a lot of face paint and creating, and he had to have it perfect…I don’t know where he gets that from, lol!). I also got the chance to make my daughter her prom dress – no way was she going to wear a dress off the hanger from a shop, she deserved a one off, and so my creative passion ignited once more…and she looked breath-taking!

The birth of my 4th child…Rumpelstiltskin:

As my retirement was approaching, I really wanted to put my mind and skills to something else, I am not the type of person to just sit back, put my feet up and think my job is done. So, I dusted the cobwebs from my sewing machine and began to plan how I could make a bit of pocket money from my sewing (finally!). I began by coming home from work and turning scraps of fabric into beautiful pieces. I even made people lovely cushions, personalised baby clothes and blankets etc etc. But I could not help but think I am not challenging myself enough, and so I turned my interest to dance costumes. I got a few orders in, and alongside working for my print business I would be bedazzling costumes at my desk whilst strumming up business on the phone to clients (multi-tasking at its finest lol!). When I got home from work, I would sit for hours on end on a night doing research on how to make tutus, the books I read were just so complicated, a thousands steps to get results…now if you remember (from school), I don’t like to follow complex steps. I like to do things my own way and that way is, fast, efficient and pour my creative soul into outfits to make them one off pieces that no other dancer would be wearing, that is why I called my business Rumpelstiltskin as I truly felt I was spinning straw into gold. My business became so popular I knew that when I retired I would be able to comfortably continue with Rumpelstiltskin and I feel like I am living my dream come true.

Here and now: 

I now to pass my skills on to others, from videoing tutorials that you can find on my site to doing in person classes that have been really popular – let’s face it there are so many dancers compared to the amount of costume makers! I spend my days now looking after my two beautiful grandchildren and making very elaborate costumes, alongside sharing all the tips and tricks to other woman that share my passion.

I think that the decision to teach is one that leaves me feeling exhilarated, I see these women grow from not being able to sew in a straight line to making costumes that they can be proud of.

 

Its all down to one woman…… my mother.

So a big round of applause to all the mums out there that have done their best for their kids!

Happy Mother’s day!

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