Community Post - Meet Jayne

I was pleasantly surprised when Zoe asked me to write a blog entry for the website, but I am so happy to reflect on my love of sewing. I come by my interest quite naturally, through my mother and grandmother. My grandmother was a typical child of the Depression. The second of nine children, she dropped out of high school at 15 in order to work and help care for her younger siblings. They lived in Wheeling, West Virginia, which at that time was quite a thriving town. She took up work as a seamstress to earn money and sewed all the clothes her younger sisters and brothers wore.

My grandmother worked as a seamstress her entire life, sometimes taking in work at her house for alterations and sometimes working formally with a tailor. Of course, she sewed all of my mother’s clothes. I remember hearing stories of how they would go to department stores to look for store-bought clothes, but inevitably they would end up at the fabric shop because my grandmother could always make whatever my mom wanted, and make it better. Every story I heard in childhood included a description of what my mom or grandma were wearing and how they had designed it. 

My mother started sewing around eight years of age. She sewed all of my prom dresses in high school. They were never conventional. Instead, we would put two or three patterns together until we achieved exactly what I had envisioned. She even sewed and hand-beaded a wedding dress for a family friend. My mother’s work is beautiful and artistic, but I think she lacks confidence in it and frequently compares herself (negatively, of course) to my grandmother. While my grandmother was extremely talented, she approached sewing as a tradecraft. My mother, on the other hand, sews first from a place of love and creativity. The projects I have done with her were labours of love and deeply meaningful, from the Christmas tree skirt from my first flat in New York City to the incredibly elaborate dog coats we put together for my first dogs after college. 

Like my mother, I began sewing at eight. Shortly after my second son was born in 2007, I stopped sewing. My grandmother had recently passed away, and it actually made me quite sad. So, for over a decade I only occasionally pulled out my machine to make a repair or throw together a Halloween costume. Also, I took up knitting shortly after my eldest was born, and that became the primary focus for my artistic impulses. 

Then, last winter I saw a Facebook post from 852 Fabrics, and I was inspired to order some of Pui’s gorgeous patterns. That started me back on my sewing path. I was amazed at how much things in the world of sewing had changed since I last plugged in my machine. Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram - I have become sewing-obsessed!

My husband has been extremely encouraging as well, merely rolling his eyes when yet another delivery of fabric arrives at the door. But it was his idea that we get rid of an old piano in our living room and replace it with a custom-designed sewing cabinet. Sewing during Covid-19 lockdown has been an act of self-preservation for me, giving me something productive and joyful to do. But, it’s always bittersweet because EVERY time I sit down at my machines, I desperately miss my mother, who is stuck in the US for now, and my grandmother, who passed away in 2006.

I was so excited when Zoe opened up Wild Boar Fabrics because I love supporting local businesses. One of my favourite things she carries is the waffle knit fabric. Even though it’s a stretch fabric, it sews beautifully. Recently I made the Isa Sweater by Bel E'toile from the waffle knit. I was inspired to make it with the dark green as a base after seeing another garment on the Wild Boar Fabrics Facebook page. I knew I had to make something with that dark green! 

I love chevron patterns, but I haven’t done any sewing that required such precise lines and corners in a long time. While the instructions to the pattern are very clear, getting the white chevron lines to match perfectly at the sleeves was quite a pain. The finished product looks fantastic in the waffle knit, but the loft of the fabric actually made the process of precisely matching the lines more difficult than I had anticipated. I plan to make a pair of matching lounge pants in the black waffle knit that I will self-draft based on a pair of my favourite sweatpants from Majestic Filatures that I bought at Rue Madame in the spring.

I have about 20+ projects in the queue for the next 6 weeks. Not kidding! I plan to make several Blackwood Cardigans from Helen’s Closet in the French Terry that Zoe stocks as well as some aprons from the 852 Fabrics canvas for Christmas gifts. Also, I owe my helper a tank top out of the Navy Leopards cotton. And of course I have about 7-8 items for myself - including a Wiksten Haori jacket, Helen’s Closet Yanta Overalls, Merchant & Mills Thelma Boilersuit and Fielder top. It’s going to be a busy holiday season!


  • Posted by Karen on

    I have enjoyed every single project that we have undertaken . In the beginning my mother sewed for lack of money to buy and later she sewed by choice-mine even more than hers. I have always sewed for the love of it. Sewing has provided much joy to my life ( and my beautiful daughters have been the perfect models for my work.)

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