18 October 2010

Stash Amnesty! featuring Rachel Boo Dogg

It's interview time again, and this month I talk to the effortlessly stylish Rachel of Boo Dogg and Me from Melbourne, Australia. I'm constantly in awe of Rachel's sewing productivity - for every project I finish, this lady produces ten, and they're are consistently chic! So let's hear from Rachel about her sewing stash...

What's your sewing area like?

Rachel: "My sewing area is one half of my study. I have a large table as the sewing table that I only keep my machine and my threads on. Next to that I have my sewing chest that houses my stash in one drawer, various notions in the next drawer, and all my patterns in the top drawer. On top sits my sewing books, my little sewing basket with rulers and other various items, a box with all my scissors and necessities (i.e., unpicker) in it and three boxes that have zippers, trims, and buttons. I got the sewing chest at Ikea – it was only $100 and it really does keep my sewing table much more ‘use-able’ as there is not a great big hodge-podge of everything on the table like before! I used to have a poky little hole in the corner of the kitchen, and move my machine onto the dining room table, so my new space is much improved and much loved!"

You're one of the most productive stitchers on the blogosphere! How do you fit so much sewing around your job and life? Tell us your secret!

Rachel: "At the moment I don’t feel very productive at all! I’ve really hit a brick wall. Usually though, I think there are a few things that work in my favour: I don’t have children; my hubby also works Saturdays at the moment, so this leaves me with a fair bit of spare time to sew if I wish; I don’t really own very many clothing items that I’ve bought - as my sewing skills have improved over the last year I’ve really wanted to update and improve my hand-sewn wardrobe, so I’ve been working like a maniac to do that; until this time, I haven’t chosen projects that have been overly difficult (with a few exceptions) - my plan over the next few months is to sew something more difficult than I’ve sewn before and really challenges myself - I think this will slow me down; I really, really love sewing (most of the time) - it is my number one hobby." 

Talk us through some of your favourite items in your sewing stash...

Rachel: "I don’t have a huge fabric stash. My favourite stashed fabric at the moment though is 4m of checked Japanese cotton that I bought with some birthday money. It is soooo soft and so pretty. I’m planning on making a 60’s dress out of it (think the dresses in Rosemary’s Baby).

I went through a massive stage of buying vintage patterns, soon after I discovered the wonders of etsy. Some of my favourites are: Simplicity 2838 from the 1940s; Advance 5180 from the 1940s; Advance 3929 from 1949; Simplicity 4758 from the 1940s.

I do hoard buttons. I love buttons, but don’t really sew a lot of items that require them. My favourites (there are so many!) include: Gorgeous white flower buttons from the 1950s; lovely green ones from the 1940s; blue and white ones from the 1940s.

Do you tend to hoard or use things up quickly? What pattern or fabric has been sitting untouched in your stash the longest?

Rachel: "I don’t really have a huge stash. It really is just the bottom drawer in my sewing chest. My hubby used to chide me for stashing until I showed him pictures of other seamstress’ and bloggers’ stashes, and then he realized that I really had no stash at all!

I generally buy fabric for a purpose and use it pretty quickly. I do hoard buttons though, and really love them. I think they’re so pretty, and will see ones I love (most often on etsy or in second-hand or antique shops) and buy them thinking 'I’ll make a great shirt-dress (or something similar) with them'… and then they just sit in my button box because I haven’t found the perfect fabric for them!

The pattern sitting in my stash for the longest is the infamous vintage repro Butterick 'Walk Away' dress. It was the first pattern I bought, as I wanted to make something vintage and it was rated 'easy'. Then I looked on Pattern Review and read a huge number of bad reviews and never made it. I don’t think I actually ever will."

How did you learn to sew?

Rachel: "I did do Grade 8 Home Economics where I learnt really basic straight stitching. We made a cushion cover with a felt animal stitched on. Mine was a green cushion with a frog. 

I didn’t sew after the froggy cushion until around 2.5 years ago when I became interested in vintage fashion. I was doing my PhD at the time, and was in an office with a lovely friend of mine, Maree (Maree P on Pattern Review), who always wore very cool clothing. I discovered she sewed these garments, and made vintage frocks for her daughter.

In what was very fortuitous timing, I was living with another lovely friend who owned a sewing machine. One very hot evening, we cut out a simple A-line skirt, and my friend taught me to stitch it together. I sewed in the zip without her there, and it was truly awful. I didn’t know there was a zipper foot.

From there, I took every opportunity to bug Maree with sewing talk. Her wonderful advice and wisdom, amazing online tutorials, and very generous bloggers detailing their sewing adventures taught me how to sew. I bought my own machine, and have never looked back."

What sewing projects have you got planned for the future?

Rachel: "I have a few things floating around in my mind: a fitted jacket; the sixties Rosemary’s Baby dress; a wrap around dress made in cool cotton; a beach cover-up (I have a holiday at the beach coming up); a pair of shorts. I have no real order for these, but I’d like to do them!"


Thank you, Rachel, and keep up the good work! Readers, if you're willing to come clean about your sewing stash and would like to feature in a future Stash Amnesty post, get in touch! (Previous Stash Amnesty interviews here and here.)