19 December 2010

Stash Amnesty! featuring Casey's Elegant Musings

In this month's Stash Amnesty! post, I interview the adorable Casey from Elegant Musings. I'm so excited about this as Casey was the very first sewing blog I ever found, and this fortuitous discovery was one of the catalysts that prompted me to take up sewing. And blogging. I'm always excited when a post by Casey pops up in my blog reader - her blog is beautifully designed and her handmade, vintage-style clothes are always so swoonsome. If, for some bizarre reason, you haven't come across Casey's blog before, go and make yourself a cup of tea, put your pyjamas on, and prepare to be sucked in for hours... But first! The interview...

How is your sewing stash organised?

Casey: "Up until the past year things were pretty spread out and disorganized - I admit I am not the most organized seamstress in the world! My personality is such that I like a little bit of creative chaos. Though complete and total mess is more discouraging to creativity. lol.

I generally keep my patterns divided among three boxes: modern/self drafted, pre-1950 and pre-1990. I also have been scanning in all my pattern covers to a file folder on my computer so I can digitally browse them and not have to pull the boxes out each time the sewing urge hits!

Keeping my fabric neat is a bit harder - right now I have about half my stash on the shelves and the other half in two boxes. The boxes generally hold the smaller pieces, things that are too bulky to keep on the shelves, and scraps. I also keep all my interfacings, laces and tapes in boxes on the shelves for ease of accessibility.

As far as notions go, those are something I'm still working on devising a streamlined system for; they're pretty much divided between the Ikea mini-drawer unit on my sewing desk (marking/cutting tools, pins, hand sewing needles, thread), boxes on the shelves (serger supplies), and the drawers in the treadle machine base (miscellaneous bits). I have all my buttons in a plastic hardware storage unit that I got years ago, divided by color. But I really want to find a prettier way to store those - and possibly sort and organize them even further!"

Please talk us through some of your favourite things in your stash...

Casey: "Oh golly... this feels a bit like asking a mother to choose her favorite child! I think perhaps my most prized patterns would be my box of pre-1950 ones; especially my collection of Dubarry and Hollywood patterns. I just love the designs so much and they're becoming harder to find. I find so much inspiration in flipping through those and sewing with them!

Fabric wise, right now my favorite pieces are a light silk print that I thrifted and a length of a kitschy tropical print linen I bought last year. The silk is such a tiny piece; I'm still looking for the right project to use it as an accent on - a blouse perhaps? Or maybe constrast collar and pockets on a dress? Knowing me I'll probably hang on to it for a couple years before I decide to cut it up! The linen was supposed to be a playsuit or dress this past summer, but I never could decide on which I wanted to use it for, so I'm saving it for my spring sewing in 2011. It'll probably become a little 40s dress... or not! (Yes, I can be horridly indecisive about sewing projects!)

Favorite notions would have to be my beloved Ginger dressmaking shears (I bought those when I was 18/19 and it was a revelation getting good quality shears!), the vintage Dritz bound buttonhole tool (makes bound buttonholes a breeze) and the vintage "Tack It" marking tool I picked up over the summer (no more pesky tailors tacks!)."

How long has your fabric stash been accumulating? Are you a hoarder or do you tend to use fabric up quite quickly?

Casey: "I've been 'stashing' since I was a teenager - and maybe even before! Between the prospect of moving around a lot (my husband is in the US Navy) and being overwhelmed easily, having a smallish stash is key. I can't just acquire loads of fabric with no set plan - oddly enough having too much fabric makes me cranky and feel like my stuff is starting to own me - not the other way around! However, I do have a stash of sorts - but it's mostly fabrics that either I got for such a good price I couldn't pass them up or for future projects. So in other words, I try not to buy just for the sake of buying. I will definitely not even place in the 'she who dies with the most fabric wins' contest. lol. But I do admire seasmtresses who have vast stashes to pull from - one bad side to not having a lot of fabric on hand is that if I want to make something particular, I have to hunt it down in the shops or online!"

Do you have a system for matching up patterns, fabrics and project ideas?

Casey: "Not really... Sometimes I make up a little spreadsheet of seasonal sewing projects I'd like to accomplish. It usually includes pattern information, fabric I want to use (and if it needs to be purchased), fitting notes, design changes to be made, notions to be bought, and listed by priority. Now sticking with that is a totally different matter! Otherwise things tend to be a happy accident of having a pattern that inspires me to find or use fabric, or more often than not a sketch in my sketchbook gets me going on a certain project and things go from there!"

What are your favourite places for sourcing fabric?

Casey: "Locally things aren't that great, although there are a couple local shops that are nice, they just don't have a huge selection and more often then not don't have enough of what I need in stock! When I lived in Virginia my favorite fabric store was GStreet Fabrics - talk about sewing heaven. Otherwise I do a lot of fabric shopping online: Denver Fabrics, Fabric.com and FabricMart Fabrics are jumping off places. Occasionally I'll thrift something too, although this is totally hit or miss and can't be counted on! Though I do prefer doing that - I like to recycle and reuse old textiles when possible!"

You're an expert seamstress, but are there any advanced sewing techniques you're itching to learn?

Casey: "Aw, thank you! I have to admit, I don't consider myself an expert at all--sewing is one of those skills you never stop learning new things or refining your techniques. Why, just last week I learned a new (and frankly brilliant) way to bag line a vented pencil skirt - it totally revolutionized how I look at lining skirts, I have to admit! I've been tinkering with tailoring lately, thanks to Gertie's sew-along for the Lady Grey pattern (which yes, I'm still working on - it's a project that I'm taking my time with!), and am mesmerized by that and would love to learn more.

Leather work, as odd as it sounds, is an aspect of sewing I'd like to delve more into. Learning how to sew with leather and work with it would open up a lot of creative possibilities for accessory - making as well as eventually making my dream jacket (based on a 40s bomber style jacket).

I think I'd also like to learn more about pattern making and fitting - one of my dreams is to one day take one of Susan Khalje's couture classes that she holds in Baltimore, MD. To learn from someone whose books I've read and talents I admire, as well as learn a bunch of new techniques, would be amazing!"

Can you tell us about any future projects (whether impending or dream!) that you have lined up?

Casey: "Oh golly... You've caught me right at a time when I'm scheming my winter sewing! This past fall was pretty sparse as far as sewing accomplishments went, mostly due to a lot of personal projects. So I'm looking forward to some new sewing come January! Definitely finishing up my Lady Grey jacket is top on the list. Other than that, I'd like to make some late 40s/early 50s jeans. Those have long been on my list, and is now at a point where I have to replace my old, store bought jeans. Lauren of Wearing History made jeans last year and I've been itching to do this ever since! I also would like to make a jacket from her recently released hooded jacket pattern - have I ever mentioned on my blog I have a thing for jackets? lol. Other than that, I have a few surprise projects of a sewing nature in the works, as well as some "everyday" type sewing to replace some skirts and dresses in my wardrobe. I definitely want to start using more of my pattern stash; that is one stash that I can't say no to adding new things to -especially when I find a bargain on Ebay or Etsy!"

Thanks, Casey, and I can't wait to see your surprise sewing projects!

Previous Stash Amnesty interviews can be found here

Readers, are you as disciplined as Casey when it comes to fabric stashing? Or do you need to 'fess up?!