From My Mother to Me # 4. Compagnie M.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


The Sunday Series continues after a little Easter break! It seems I'm not the only one who had some 'time out' last week for a spring break. I made a real effort not to switch on the laptop and spend some proper time with my children. Lovely...And I'm making it a policy to be very gentle on us working, sewing, blogging mums...  so we all took a break last Sunday (hopefully to eat chocolate). 
But we're back on the journey to Mother's Day on May 11, with Marte from Compagnie M sharing her sewing heritage! 

I'm sure I hardly need to introduce Marte, her Louisa dress pattern remains the best-worn dress in my daughter's wardrobe, and  her new Lotta dress pattern launches tomorrow! And perhaps because I'm a twin too, I adore her  two little girls! Over to you Marte..



My name is Marte and I blog at Compagnie-m.com. First of all I would like to thank Victoria for inviting me to this wonderful series! I could talk about my mother for hours, but when it comes to explaining how I’ve developed my own Compagnie M. project, I can’t ignore my father’s influence. So I kind of made my own interpretation for this series. Hope that’s ok!?

My mother is the sweetest person ever. When I was little, she did everything to give my sister and I the opportunity to develop our ‘creative skills’.
I went dancing, to music school, followed drawing courses and so on and so on! She had a really tight schedule to drive us from one place to the other… How sweet is that? So my initial creative skills are thanks to my mother. That’s for sure!



My mother herself was more advanced in knitting then sewing (as far as I can remember). She knocked off Oilily sweaters and sewed us the perfect carnival outfits!
 
I don’t know whether it’s a good idea to show you these pictures, but, what the heck…



Meanwhile, my father was a bit absent from time to time; working very hard to develop his independent business as an architect!

Without realizing at that time, it was my father that was the first to ‘shape’ me to the person I am today. I earned most of his genes. You can tell by the shape of our nose (we have typical big ‘Lambin’ noses that every one laughs with…). Apart from his nose, I also inherited his way of thinking, his skills in so many ways!

When I graduated from high school and I had to choose what to study, my father took me to The Academia, a famous school in Antwerp. He had studied architecture there, but he wanted to show me another subject: industrial product development. It’s basically the same as architecture, simply replacing the ‘architect’s buildings’ by ‘industrial products’. It was a perfect mix between analytic courses and creativity! Perfect for me!

So that’s where I fully developed my creative skills which I now use every day when I try to develop new patterns from Compagnie M. After 5 years of studying, I was ready to start working at Ecover, an ecological company that produces ecological washing and cleaning products.

This was another important phase in my life. I started to get more conscious about the environment and the influence we all have on this one and only planet we own!

So when I got pregnant a couple of years later, I wanted to start making my own kids clothes. Next to sewing, I also decided to only buy second-hand clothes for Lisa and Nore. After three years, that’s what I still do. The only thing that has changed is that I’m designing my own patterns now. Out of frustration! I just ‘hate’ to finish a garment that doesn’t fit well. It’s such a waste of time and materials…

When I lost my job as a brand marketer last year and became unemployed, I saw it as an opportunity. I used my time to start experimenting with drawing my own patterns. To show my work I started blogging at Compagnie M. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
At the moment, I finally do what I love the most: I try to find the perfect mix between my creative work, building my own brand and finding the best way to communicate with my readers.

And that’s when I come back to my father’s influence. I would have never dared to start Compagnie M. when he didn’t give me the opportunity to start working for him part time. He’s not only my financial back up, but also my biggest fan.
He has never sewn before but when I still had this ‘page-view-counter’ on my previous blog, he knew better then me how many visits I had every day.

It’s strange to say, but now that I’m starting my own business I finally understand why my father was a little bit absent from time to time when I was younger. It’s just so difficult to combine family life with your own business.

I have the feeling that I’ve kind of ended up in the same situation. I could have never done this without my own partner, Bjorn, who has been very, very, very supportive from the beginning! Lately he’s taking more care of our children then I am. It might sound strange, but he does everything for Lisa and Nore! It seems like history’s repeating…. only the other way around!

And that’s when I come to the end of my story! The circle closes when I take my time to talk about my mother-in-law: she’s probably the only person in my environment that has sewn as much as I do these days!
She has always sewn all clothes for Bjorn and his brother. And guess what? She kept all pattern magazines she ever bought from the 70’s until now. More magazines then I shall probably ever own!
 

Pinterest used to be my most important place to find inspiration, until  I discovered these hidden treasures a couple of months ago; waiting for me in her closet!
 

I guess I will never run out of ideas or inspiration anymore. Although most patterns are outdated, I just start with using lines and details to created my own patterns… So thanks to all of you: mama, papa, Bjorn and Chris!

You’ve all been such a great support and inspiration to me!



Hopefully I will be able to pass my skills to Lisa and Nore. They are only three year old, but lately I bought a mini sewing machine at a flea market for them.

When I asked Lisa the first day of our Easter holiday what she wanted to do she was shouting out loud: SEWING!!! 




Thank you so much Marte! It's lovely to have fathers and mother-in-laws as well as mothers in this series! I love hearing about your creative journey. And those Burda magazines! What a treasure trove. Those crazy 80s pockets!
Next week, Jenya from While she was sleeping will be here....Exciting!

From My Mother to Me # 3; Petit à Petit and Family

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Don't the weeks fly by fast? Can you believe it's Sunday again and it's guest number 3 on the 'From my Mother to Me' weekly journey to Mother's Day on May 11. 
I'm sure I hardly need to introduce Celina from Petit à Petit and Family, or indeed her latest stunning creation for Project Run and Play.  So where do the roots of Celina's creativity lie? Read on...


Hello! My name is Celina and I blog over at Petit a Petit and Family where I talk about children's design and showcase some of my own creations. I am also the creator of Stylo Magazine, a fashion forward sewing online publication for kids. I am thrilled to be here today because if it weren't for my mom I am not sure I would be doing what I do! 


I have never seen my mom sew at a sewing machine. However, I cannot tell how many times I've had her hand stitch things for me! I don't even know if she knows how to use a sewing machine, however that doesn't mean she hasn't given me the love of making clothes. 
Honestly, sewing is the process I like the least about making clothes. I love coming up with ideas and designs. I love choosing fabrics and colors. I love figuring out the patterns to make what I envision. And of course I love seeing the end result. If I could, I would pay someone to sew - seriously. Specially the days where everything goes wrong and you are sewing sleeves to your collar. You all know what I am talking about, right? 



Oh but my mom has given me a lot. She has taught me about style and good taste. She has taught me about layering and mixing textures. Putting old and new things together.  She has taught me how to shop like a pro, scan the stores and find the magic piece or fabric. All this through watching and listening to her. 
She might not have been sewing, however she was quite crafty- she would make giant dolls for window displays, macrame lamps and pot holders. I can't tell you the amount of jewellery she has made. She would love to thrift shop ( and still does) only to come home and cut into what she had found, dye it and make it new. I can't tell you the amount of things we have dyed. She was the master of up-cycling, making clothes for me and my sister from hers.



I love hearing stories of when she was young, she grew up in Morocco and it was a normal thing to go to your tailor and get things custom made. She tells me how she wore her father's shirts and soon everyone else was doing it and how she started a trend. She also would go to Paris with her sister to buy clothing for their boutique. 
Interestingly enough, both her sisters sew. I just think my mom would have made a great stylist. And that is exactly what she passed on to me, not only the love of fashion, but more importantly to not be afraid to be unique, to set trends and follow your heart. 


You can see from all the photos above the attention to detail, the little things like the unusual collar, the great prints or the scarf on her head. She was quite stylish and everything seems so cool and effortless. It all just works together. I really try to do that when I style and create my clothes, I pay attention to small things and make it look effortless. 



You can see here my grandmother on the left. I think clothing, dressing up and looking good was passed on to my mom from her. Also, my grandmother was an amazing knitter, she made the most beautiful and intricate designs. 


Do you spot the sewing machine in this photo? 
Maybe all of this is part of my genes or maybe I learnt it simply by watching my mom who learnt it from hers. I just know that my kids see me sewing and do all the little projects I do and I hope they learn through watching and listening. I hope to teach them the same things my mother did, especially to be true to themselves. Mothers really are the best!

Happy Mother's Day! 
Oh Celina, I love all these photos! And that the gift from your mother isn't so much about sewing, but about seeing. I know exactly what you mean about actual sewing. It's the thinking, planning (and fabric shopping) I love most. Thank you so much for sharing your heritage. Next week Marte from Compagnie M will be here!

Take one dress 4: While she was sleeping to Sewpony

Sunday, 6 April 2014

When I started this blog  a year ago it was a step into the unknown. I sent Suz at Sewpony an email asking advice and she generously sent a really detailed response. I was touched. 
Since then I've been a Sewpony fan, for her sewing, but also her imagination. 
The Secret Squirrel series run by Sewpony and Straightgrain (who was here yesterday - how cool is that!)  is inspirational. So I'm thrilled that Suz agreed to take the baton for the next step in the Take One Dress challenge: 

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Hello everyone:) I'm Suz and I blog from sewpony all the way from Australia.  I have known Victoria for about a year now and we share a love of making dresses for our daughters!  So when she explained her concept of take one dress, I was really excited to take part.  I was given the dress below as my inspiration from Jenya (my Aussie neighbour), from While she was sleeping


Some of the things I thought after seeing this dress:
- like it
- don't want to make a big fancy collar as I hate ironing them, so I will make a softer, easier to iron collar!
- blue and white - love
- nautical
- I need a dress with a fitted bodice, some sort of different collar and a fullish skirt... the Antoinette dress - yay I get to finally use that pattern!



I must say, I really love this dress! The pattern is the Antoinette dress by Nele of the Dutch blog, Spiegelstiksels - of which I am a new follower and fan!  The pattern was passed on to me (with permission) by my friend Rachel from Nest full of eggs over Christmas and I have been waiting for an excuse to make it. Nele drafted the pattern for a charity project and it is no longer available for sale. The pattern is very professional, however, it is written in Dutch.  Rachel also kindly passed on the google translate email to me but I was too lazy to print it and just figured out the construction without it.  

The fabric is a super soft cotton shirting I found for $4 per metre (score).  The bodice is lined and the collar/bow (all in one) is just some blue quilting collar I chose to match the stripes. I think it is such a smart design. I love the slightly scooped neckline, the bow collar and the unusual pockets.

The back meets in a soft v with an invisible zip.


I was very pleased with myself with inserting this zip as I figured out how to conceal the lining in the zip without handstitching... something I knew must be possible but I had just not invested the time to work it out. It was easier than I thought and looks super neat inside!


So this is one of my current favourites already of Juliette's dresses!!


Now for my inspiration dress! I have the pleasure of choosing a dress to inspire the lovely Trine here is my post....please remind me the time you will post. hope you like it! thanks for having me:)) from Groovybaby...and mama!  It was so hard to narrow it down to just one dress.  I poured over my Little girl style board on pinterest and settled on this one that I love...


I hope you like it Trine! And thank you very much for having me Victoria!!

Thank you Suz! I love that dress so much! It's kept the nautical vibe, and strong collar idea but is so wearable for a little girl to wear. Stunning. And now Trine...over to you. Can't wait to see what Groovy Baby and Mama comes up with on May 5.

From My Mother to Me # 2; StraightGrain

Saturday, 5 April 2014

It's the next  step on the "From My Mother to Me" series, a weekly journey to Mothers Day on May 11. And I can't tell you how delighted I am to welcome An of StraightGrain here to As it Seams. 
I confess, I'm a 'StraightGrain Groupie.' 

An's simple patterns have formed the backbone of Missy's wardrobe this past year. I've used both her Tinny and Hanami dress patterns time and time again.They are classic and adaptable. So I'm intrigued to hear a bit more about An's sewing heritage and the roots of her talent...Over to you An


Hi everyone. I'm An from StraightGrain, and I'm happy to be sharing some tips and tricks from someone with around 70 years of professional sewing experience! 

When Victoria asked me to participate in this series, my first question was: Does it have to be about what my mom taught me, or can it also be about my grandmother? My mother learned to sew when I was a child, but she was never really passionate about it. 

For her, it was a purely practical thing: hemming pants, fixing holes - in short, all the things we passionate sewists hate so much :-) She hasn't touched  her sewing machine in years, which might also be due to the fact that I'm using it now. Thanks mom! 

My grandmother Maria, on the other hand, used to sew day in day out. She learned to sew from a tailor at age 14, and was a professional seamstress for many decades, creating luxurious garments for well-off clients. Perfectionism is her middle name. 

My grandmother Maria with my daughter Norah
When I visited her a few weeks ago, I asked her what would be the most important tips she could give. 

Here is what she said: 
1. "I always have a hot iron ready when I'm sewing. Only by meticulously pressing each seam as you are sewing, can you achieve perfect results" 
2. "When the front and back and/or top and botton of a fabric are hard to distinguish, I always indicate them on the fabric with tailor's chalk before cutting my fabrics." 
3. "Immediately after serging my pieces, I always press the serged edges with a hot iron. This way, they are pressed deep into the seam allowance, which prevents them from showing through the right side of the fabric when you iron your garment." 
4. "Instead of pre-washing your fabric, you can also press it with a lot of steam in order to prevent the finished garment from shrinking." (when sewing for clients like my grandmother did, this is the only option, because you want your clients to get 'new' garments, which have not been washed yet). 
5. "I always use a 3 cm seam allowance, so I can make the garment wider when gaining weight." 

 I would lie if I said that I apply all these tips. Tip 1 is one always use, and tip 4 is one I use sometimes when I didn't have the time to pre-wash.  

So which tips will I give Norah and Ava? 

1. Always soak your garments in cold water and vinegar for a night to fixate the colors. 
2. Don't use fabric scissors to cut off zippers. It ruins them. I know. From experience. 
3. Treat yourself to beautiful quality fabrics. Making clothes yourself will always be cheaper than buying clothes of the same quality anyway, so indulge yourself! 
4. Use blind zippers whenever you can. They are easy and superfast to install, and stylish too. 
5. Don't waste money on expensive thread. Spend it on nice fabrics instead. 

This was fun! Thank you so much for including me in this great series, Victoria. 


Thank you An! I love the 3cm seam allowance for 'putting on weight' - I sometimes do this for Missy, in the anticipation that I can make things bigger when she grows. But I never do. I'm too busy thinking about the next thing to sew. 
And I love seeing Norah with her great-grandmother, in her Tinny dress. Your grandmother must be so proud! 
 Next Sunday Celina from Petit a Petit and Family will be here to share her mother's wisdom. Do pop back!
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