How did you first get into sewing?
I took Home Economics in high school. I made a ghastly pair of shorts (which somehow still exist), but I don’t ever recall wearing them!
Fast forward many years and I was curious to learn to make my own clothes about five years ago. I was given a sewing machine as a gift and it sat unused for over a year before I took the plunge and bought a pattern and some fabric. Never looked back.
How would you describe your personal style?
Simple, clean unfussy lines, structured fabrics and colours. I like to use colour and patterns to ‘pop’ somewhere in the ensemble – be it the shoes or the glasses, the facing or pockets.
Which is your favourite sewing tool and why?
Certainly NOT the seam ripper. I hate that thing. A necessary evil. Seriously? My serger/overlocker. It was a gift from my mother because she was proud of my interest and growing skills in sewing and wanted to support it. Then she promptly asked me to make her an outfit. So I made her a Kaftan Dress. She loves it. As soon as it’s out of the wash she wears it again and again.
What are your best sewing tips/tricks?
The second you make a stupid mistake, walk away. Fast. Do something else and come back to it later.
What are the best (and worst) bits of sewing?
The best; knowing that all the things I hate about shopping in stores – poor fit (I’m tall), overly sexualized styles, unnatural fabrics, bubble gum pink, I can address. I have the super power to make my own clothes. Exactly how I want. To present myself to the world the way I want to. It’s magical.
The worst; prepping fabric – washing, ironing, placing the pattern pieces. For me it’s all on the floor as I don’t have a fancy big sewing table (that’s the dream).
What’s your most memorable sewing mistake?
Wrongly sewing the pleat on the Box Pleat Dress. It was my first pleat. Totally messed it up. So I cut a mock up, took it to work with me, practiced folding pleats in the office with paper, came home, picked it out and did it again. Perfect. I was so pleased with it. I’m a visual person, it all helped to ‘see it’ and make it properly.
What’s your proudest sewing moment?
My mother asking me to make her an outfit. Greatest compliment ever!
Do you have a favourite fabric you often choose?
Black denim. Heavyweight. I can’t get enough of it. I love tailored outfits in a strong good quality dark denim.
Which fabric shop/s do you usually buy from, online and/or Brick & Mortar?
Loads. Leon’s in Manchester. Marimekko is my happy place, Cloth House and Fabrics Galore in London. So many others (like IKEA…shhh).
What would you want to say to someone who’s trying to get started in sewing?
Just do it! Have fun. Make mistakes, you learn from them. Also, you’ll meet some amazing folk on your journey.
Thanks to TAL I now have an awesome group of women I chat with regularly, we have Zoom calls monthly and I got to meet Kirsten on a recent trip home to Canada! We give each other support, and advice and generally have a good laugh. We are all different and all really interesting humans. It’s been such a great experience. All from a love of making and shared love of TAL patterns.
What is you next project?
An a-line leather skirt. I was gifted some gorgeous oxblood red leather. I need to learn what to do with it! It’s a new challenge.
What do you do when you’re not sewing?
It feels good to make. I cook, I bake, I recently started growing vegetables. I prefer to fix things rather than buy new like when I fixed my iPod instead of throwing it away – it was very satisfying. I once took a workshop to make my own eyeglasses. That was amazing!
I am a birth photographer, documenting life unfolding in the moment. I also work in a university specializing in equality, diversity and inclusion. Love both in equal measure.
Thank you for making and sharing Tara!
I currently live in Manchester in the UK, but I grew up in Toronto, Canada.
FAVOURITE TAL PATTERN
No question, the Cuff Top, which I’ve made as a hack into four dresses (this was before the official Cuff Dress, but I love that they are different), in addition to two actual tops. I just love the fit of the Cuff Top and those sleeves are 🔥 I’ve had so many compliments on them. My favourite was someone telling me she wanted to pull the dress off me and keep it for herself. She loved it even more when I told her I made it.
LISTEN TO WHILE SEWING
Silence. I don’t like noise, or people around, when I’m in my zone.