A Q&A with Lori Beckstead of Clothes Making Mavens Podcast

One of my favourite sewing podcasts to listen to is Clothes Making Mavens co-hosted by Helena Ashbridge (GrayAllDay.com) and Lori Beckstead (Frivolousat Last.com).

Helena and Lori are two women who love to talk sewing but have exhausted the good humour of their non-sewing friends and family, so they now talk to each other! From across the continent they Skype to discuss their obsession with garment sewing. They also interview other like-minded sewists and delight in the wonderful international sewing community.

Lori shares her own experiences, motivation, inspiration and even her most used swear word!

What was your lightbulb moment for starting Clothes Making Mavens ).

I responded to Helena’s call on her blog GrayAllDay.com for a potential co-host. I had actually been thinking it would be good to start up a podcast but oftentimes my perfectionism or fear of failure gets in the way of jumping into something, so I think if it hadn’t been for Helena’s call I would never have done it on my own. And it turns out we make a great team! It’s like it was meant to happen.

What makes your podcast unique?

I think when it comes to sewing podcasts, it’s hard to be absolutely unique within that genre. Our main goal is for listeners to feel like they’re hanging out with their sewing friends having a chat. I like to say it’s like throwing a sewing get-together in your home except you don’t have to tidy up and bake banana bread! We try to highlight sewists from around the world. And, we make sure the audio quality is always high so it’s a great listening experience.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?

I cringe a bit when I hear myself on the first episode — I can hear in my voice that I was nervous. But I think that’s perfectly normal…it’s the same when I think back to the first garment I sewed and wore out in public. It wasn’t perfect, but I was pretty proud of it. (It was a black crushed velvet jumpsuit, by the way, with awkwardly short legs which I had very badly attempted to modify to be flared.) Overall there isn’t anything I’d do differently with the podcast. And the great thing about a podcast is there’s always a chance to do another episode if there’s something you want to try or something new you want to talk about.

What has been your proudest moment so far on this journey

I think just actually DOING this podcast makes me proud. It’s a ton of work: researching, networking, writing scripts, organizing recording times around multiple time zones, helping guests set up the right technology, and then I spend hours editing each episode. So I feel a great sense of accomplishment with each new episode we release. And of course, I always feel very proud when someone takes the time to let us know that they enjoy listening.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a podcast?

I have two pieces of advice, which may actually be contradictory! One, if you’re wanting to give it a try, go for it! I absolutely love doing a podcast, so I’d recommend it. But two, do your research so you know what’s involved. It’s a huge commitment, and there’s a lot to know about equipment, software, web hosting, how to do effective interviews, etc. Reach out to other podcasters for advice if you’re thinking of starting one up. Podcasters tend to be a pretty helpful bunch, which I discovered when I did my share of reaching out for help and advice. And if you happen to be near Toronto, come join us at the Toronto Women’s Podcasting Network! I recently started this group up to provide support and networking for women interested in podcasting.

How do you balance producing a podcast with a full-time job, a sewing blog and actually sewing?

I have no idea! Lol. I guess it’s a labour of love, and it’s part of how I like to express my creativity. I put a high value and priority on exercising my creative muscles; I think having the right creative outlets in one’s life adds immensely to overall quality of life and happiness. Sewing is a great creative outlet but so is creating media about sewing: photos, blog posts, podcasts. I enjoy doing it all. I am also very lucky that my full-time job is being a professor in a media production department at a university. So being an actual producer of media allows me to keep developing my own skills and understanding of media, to stay on top of new developments in media platforms and production software, and to bring all that to my students. So I get to do this creative thing that I love but technically it’s also professional development! Lucky me!

How do you switch off and relax?

I knit. I can really get into a zen state through the regular rhythm of knitting. And knitting is so portable so I can do it just about anywhere, including at meetings at work (where I am most likely to be in need of a little zen calm). And I drink wine. But I’m not allowed to do that at work meetings, unfortunately. ;-).

What does the future hold for Clothes Making Mavens?

More chatting about sewing! We don’t have any big changes in the works; we just hope to keep putting out episodes that we enjoy producing and that people hopefully enjoy listening to. Helena and I are always trying to dream up ways to get more people’s voices on the podcast, so I hope listeners will keep contributing their stories and comments. My favourite episodes are always ones in which listeners have sent in a recording or contributed a voice message for us to play.

What are your other interests/hobbies?

I am an avid volleyball player, both indoor and beach, so I play year-round. I like to do yoga. And I like to bake tasty things that are also healthy to eat (well, mostly!). I love to travel and am lucky/privileged enough to have been to a LOT of different places around the world. I dabble in jewellery making and have made various pieces of silver jewellery, but silversmithing is pretty involved and not quite so easy to do as an at-home hobby. I love birds and would probably be an avid bird watcher if that didn’t necessitate me getting out of bed before 9 am on a weekend! Lol. I read a ton of fiction. But in general, I’m pretty sure that if it weren’t for external expectations and obligations I would just spend all my days lying around napping with my cats. 🙂

What is your most used swear word when sewing?

Most used is “fuck” but actual favourite swear word is “clusterfuck”. I swear so often I don’t even realize it when I drop an F-bomb around my much-more-refined mother. Lol.

Dogs or Cats?

Cats. I love dogs, too, but I’m far too lazy to deal with having a dog. Maybe if they breed a new species of dog that knows how to use a litter box and can lick itself clean, I’d consider it. 😉

Scary movie or happy endings?

Scary movies with happy endings, of course!

Can you share your favourite quote with us?

“Better is the enemy of good.” I think of this whenever I feel perfectionism start to creep in and spoil my good time. :-).

Thank you so much Lori for taking the time to answer these questions!

The Mavens are hoping to bring lots of different voices to the podcast by allowing you to record your own answers and send them along to us to share with the sewing world! So if you fancy having a go at being on a podcast click here .

Links

Clothes Making Mavens podcast: clothesmakingmavens.com
instagram: @frivolousatlast
pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lbeckste/

FrivolousAtLast.com (Lori Beckstead’s blog)

GrayAllDay.com (Helena Ashbridges’s blog)

 

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Swishy Yoga Skirt BurdaStyle 01/2016 #113 #burdachallenge2018

This project is something of a fail. More specifically, a fabric fail. The pattern is a yoga skirt from the 01/2016 issue of BurdaStyle. The style caught my eye with the overlayered skirt, the ruched waistband and I am sucker for high low hemlines. Here is the line drawing and style picture:

 

Burdastyle 01/2016 #113

I like the idea of building up my yoga wardrobe. I traced this pattern way back in 2016 when I received the magazine. This is the second time I made this. The first one was sent to my little sister. She never reported back on it so I can assume all is well with the skirt.

The design calls for a side zipper but I omitted this because I couldn’t be asked (perhaps I subconsciously realised that this was headed for the fail category). The instructions were quite good with this pattern (translates as no head scratching). Its a  bit of a fabric piggy on account of the overlays.

To cut a long tale short – the fabric – a four way stretch viscose jersey – did not like being overlocked. This picture succinctly captures the issue. 

I have been wearing it despite the imminent disintegration. I quite like how it moves – very swishy. I tend to alternate between a saunter and a sashay when I am wearing it.  So its worth making it again but I need a better quality fabric. The fabric has been in my collection since 2014 – I picked it up from a closing down sale in Bradford. It cost 50p per meter. Pictures –

BurdaStyle 01/2017 #113

 

Back to pattern. So taking out the zipper means that I cant get the snug fit shown on the model so I am playing with the idea of inserting elastic in the waistband for my third try. Wish me luck 🙂

This was one of my January #burdachallenge2018 planned makes. I need to get better at blogging my makes sooner 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and until next time Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

 

Offset Jersey Tops BurdaStyle 02/2018 #107 #burdachallenge2018

When I received the February issue of BurdaStyle this pattern immediately jumped out at me. I could see this working well for a beautiful multi colour fabric that I had bought with no particular pattern in mind. Here is the line drawing

BurdaStyle 02/2018 #107

The line drawing doesnt the top much justice so here is the fashion photo

The front and back pattern pieces are nearly identical but you have to absolutely make sure to note the seam numbers on the fabric for when you have to put it together. Otherwise, like me, you might get into a bit of a muddle. But once you have everything properly marked (and traced – when I traced out the pattern pieces I forgot to put on the seam numbers so when the instructions said to sew seam No.1 – I had no idea where it was) its actually a very easy garment to sew up.

I made 2 of these tops. The first one was not as successful because of incorrect fabric selection. I used a medium weight 2 way knit fabric. I felt that it was didnt have enough drape for the pattern and given that the hip is snug on this pattern it wasnt what I envisioned. 

The hips are snug on this, which would have been fine in my much younger days 🙂

It better when I move the hem up to my natural waist.
Its a shame because I really liked the fabric but this was totally wrong pattern for it.

 

Not to be deterred I immediately dug into my fabrics and found a grey 4 way stretch viscose jersey that I thought might work better. Having learnt my lessons before – it took less than an hour to cut and finish this top.

BurdaStyle 02/2018 #107

As you can see this fabric was more suitable for the pattern. I love this top and I have worn it so many times already. By the time we did this photoshoot (indoors because it was the big snow week) it has been washed about 4 times already. Here I am wearing it with my DP Studio Skirt

This is a pattern that I will definitely be coming back to. I need it many different colours. It makes a nice alternative to a normal T Shirt. This was one of my February #burdachallenge2018 makes.

Thanks for stopping by and until next time – Happy Sewing.

Hila

XoX

The Great British Sewing Bee From Stitch to Style: The Breton Dress

It gives me great pleasure to share this dress with you. Its from the book, The Great British Sewing Bee From Stitch to Style

The Breton jersey dress attracted me with its wide boat neck line. It also looked simple enough to make and yet it took me nearly 18 months between tracing out the pattern and actually sewing it. Here is the picture from the book:

Sewing the dress was a pleasure as it is instant gratification of the best kind. And to end up with something that makes me feel like a stylish well considered adult, well, that’s just the cherry on the cake! The sewing instructions in the book are really good. Plus the sizing was spot on. This size was selected based on my bust and without any alterations at all this is what it looks like.

Great British Sewing Bee: From Stitch to Style. Jersey Dress
No. I did not stripe match.
I love how the neckline is finished.
I get such a buzz from putting my name on my clothes 🙂
Going for an artistic pose…….(please ignore the holey tights)

If I had to nit pick I’d say that there is a swayback issue on the back but honestly I asked my husband what he thought and he earnestly said that the behind was fine. And that is good enough for me :-).

Fabric was from Jacks Fabrics in Leeds market, bought last year so I am quite pleased at how quickly this fabric was turned around :-).

Overall there are many things that pleased me about this project.

The book only cost £9.99 on Amazon with free P&P. Its great value given the number of patterns that come with the book (27 I think). There are a few more patterns I want to make from there. I did make the Japanese top already.

 

I have already traced out this skirt which was the reason that I bought the book. sewing-bee-book-a-skirtAfter seeing Beth’s version I was very inspired to make it.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Sewing!

Peave and love,

Hila

XXX

Vogue V1486 Pt. 3 Skirt in Bright Floral Scuba

This is a skirt that I have made 2 times already (bright floral here) and (cobalt scuba here). I always said that I wasnt done with this pattern and it still feels accurate even after this 3rd make.

Perhaps its how easy it is to make the skirt that attracts me so. Or it might be the shape of it – not quite a plain A line skirt, it has the drama of the side box pleats on the lower skirt section. left out the back zip and cut the back piece on a fold. Scuba has great stretch and recovery.

 

Size wise I traced a 10 based on the finished garment measurements (I am normally a 12 on Vogue patterns). I did this because the scuba has some stretch in it. The fabric was an impulse online purchase from FC Fabric Studio . One of those posts you see on IG and click away and before you know it, you are receiving a lovely package of fabric. And it really is lovely, just look at it. Continue reading

Better Late than Never Blazer : BurdaStyle Blazer 03/2016 116A #burdachallenge2018

This jacket has been waiting a long time to be made. I bought and cut this fabric over a year ago, changed my mind about the style and left it in my UFO box, forgotten. Until I was browsing all my March issues while planning my #burdachallenge2018 makes for this month.

Reaching for my UFO box is never a nice experience. I like to pretend it doesn’t exist. You understand don’t you, gentle reader, that being confronted by your own personality defects must be avoided? Especially if said defects might justify a fabric fast?

But I reached for it, if only to refresh my memory of the project.

On a tangent, diving into the UFO was just as unpleasant as I thought it would be – too many carrier bags of projects in there. They were very angry. They hadn’t seen the light of day for a long time. I did not like facing them. I decided that I was going to have a sort through later on and chuck most of them (after all if I havent sewn them by now then I dont need to).

Back to the story at hand – once I saw the fabric I decided to have a go at sewing the jacket – It looked like an easy enough pattern. The jacket is unlined. Here is the line drawing: 

 

 

BurdaStyle 03/2016 116

I cant recall much about the fabric except that I bought it from B&M Fabrics. It has some lycra in it I think based on the cross grain stretch.

The fabric was quite nice to work with – it has that beautiful quality of letting stitches sink in and become invisible so you can unpick and mess up royally with little visible impact :-).

The jacket came together quickly. I made my usual size 38 without any alterations. The only change was to leave my sleeve band unfolded. In the instructions, the sleeve band is folded in half and sewn on to sleeve giving it a three-quarter length. My sleeve band had been cut on the selvedge so I thought it would be nice to incorporate the selvedges thereby also making the sleeve longer.

Verdict: Quite simply – I LOVE IT! Love it! Nuff said.

BurdaStyle 03/2016 #116

 

So coming back to my UFO box – I get why they are angry with me. All they want is to show me how beautiful and useful they can be. They just want to be given a chance.

Because somewhere, at some point a tiny spark of an idea had emerged and I started pulling it together.

The idea was excited about coming to fruition but then I dropped it like a hot potato.

Of Course, they are angry. And I am shamed.

Shamed into action.

I nearly threw out this project because of unpleasant feelings of shame. Well if there is one thing this beautiful spring jacket has taught me – its that it is never too late!

So do not worry my lovely UFOs – you will not be left behind. I am coming to get all of you and give you your chance! 

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internets. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

 

March Minerva Make: Burda 6602 and Art Gallery Fabric Jersey

I made another Burda 6602 T-shirt for my husband and he loves it! Its a fabric that he chose himself on the Minerva website. Unlike the first one I made ( Trekkie Tee Shirt), I didn’t use a contrast ribbing for the neckline. I quite like the look of all over same print. I am quite envious of this T-shirt and I suspect it will occasionally make its way to my side of the closet :-).

And here is the link that will take you to the post on the Minerva Craft Blogger Network. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace and love,

Hila

 

Burda 6602 T-shirt Sewing Pattern Review #burdachallenge2018

Recently I discovered a new fabric shop in Leeds called Fabrics for All. I went there to investigate and came away with a bagful of fabric despite the fact that I had only gone to suss it out and get 2 pieces of Christmas themed fabric t make tree skirts. I was impressed with the quality of fabrics they had and seriously restrained myself from buying more fabric.

The selection of jersey was so good but when I saw this print – I knew that this had to be a T-Shirt for my hubs. His dinosaurs one get loads of wear and another one was due. He got really excited when he saw it – we are watching all the Star Treks – movies and TV series – as long-term goal together. 

Though I have a drafted a T Shirt for him I really wanted to try out Burda 6602. It has been residing in my collection for a long time. Burda drafting has always impressed me so I was curious to see how my drafting measured up.

I cut size 40 based on finished bust measurements. View C has the short sleeves and I managed to squeeze this out of 0.75 meters of fabric. I had no luxury of pattern matching.

The crew neckline is made using contrast black cuffing. The pattern does call for using same fabric but I like the contrast.

Burda BD6602 T Shirt Sewing Pattern

BurdaStyle 6602 T Shirt

 

The fit was perfectly spot on – I made exactly zero alterations. Sewing it took under an hour. If you are used to sewing T-shirts this is an easy make. I definitely prefer this armhole to the one I drafted using Winifred Aldrich’s book. It had far too mach ease.

I tried something new for the hemming by using the extra long zig zag stitch. Its something defferent isnt it?

Here is he is wearing for casual Friday at work. He loves his new top and what more can I ask for :-).

This is the first make of my #burdachallenge2018 March makes. Paper/PDFs/magazine patterns all count for the challenge :-).

Thanks so much for stopping by! Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

Links used in post

Fabrics for All Haberdashery and Fabric Shop

Burda 6602 T Shirt sewing pattern

BurdaStyle 01/2018 #107 Leggings #burdachallenge2018

I made these leggings at the beginning of the year and already they have become my go-to for yoga. By the time I got round to taking blog pictures (during the snow days), they had been washed about 5 times already.

In the magazine they are described as ; So practical: To keep these leggings from pulling during a workout, we’ve sewn wide ankle cuffs at the hem. The front waistband has an overlap that is not only comfortable, but stylish, as well. 

Here is the line drawing:

BurdaStyle 01/2018 #107 Leggings

The leg cuffs piqued my interest – I have Reynaud’s Syndrome which means I really feel cold in my feet and hands all the time. I do ashtanga yoga which is a dynamic yoga practice and you are not supposed to have socks on during the practice (for safety reasons as they can slip). So this simple idea of covering some of my foot while the crucial parts that grip on to the mat are left able to do just that, was a tantalising prospect.

Before reviewing them I wanted to see how well they did in situ and I am converted! Though my feet still feel cold, I don’t feel it as acutely as I did before. The leggings performed exceptionally well because of the high waist. There are a lot of forward bends in Ashtanga and low rise leggings constantly need to be pulled back up. But not with these ones. Not once have I felt the creeping chill of an ever lowering waistband. So yeah the verdict is that I LOVE these leggings! Plus the wrap effect band is quite stylish too :-).

BurdaStyle 01/2018 #107 Leggings
BurdaStyle 01/2018 #107 Wrap effect wide waist band

 

I traced my usual Burda 38 and without any alterations at all. The fabric is a jersey that I was given by a friend. It is not a drapey sort of knit but it has more heft than T-Shirt jersey but less than ponte. I used my overlocker for all seams except for the hems on the foot cuffs. The instructions were good on this one. Well done Burda!

This was the first of my January #burdachallenge2018 makes. More coming soon as I race to catch up with all my unblogged makes.

Thanks for stopping by and until next time, Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

Links:

BurdaStyle 01/2018 #107 Leggings Pattern

 

 

Vogue 9259 Tropical Jumpsuit: Pattern Review

This is a long wide legged jumpsuit that I absolutely loved wearing last summer. Pardon me for posting such an obviously summery make in winter but bear with me, please. Spring is on the way and I am very excited about moving on to sewing with lightweight fabrics so this is whetting my appetite.

I knew that I was getting Vogue 9259 the moment I saw it. Unfortunately, I had to wait months before collecting my patterns while we visited the USA. It was worth the wait though.

It has a criss-cross halter neck front. Here is the line drawing:

The line drawing looks like the band is at the waist but I found that for me it was a smidge higher than my natural waist. I looked at the model pic and it also looks a bit higher than the waist. It is not uncomfortable or anything but it does make me look like I have very long legs.

Although we only had a few days where it was hot enough to wear this on its own I cant tell you how lovely it was! I loved the feel of the sun on my back and the breeze against my skin.

My initial worry about making it had been than my breasts wouldn’t be secured and that I would constantly be tucking them in. But this was not the case at all. I found that there was no gaping (to be fair I am not very endowed in that area when I am braless so I might not be best placed to recommend this if you are a larger cup size than B). On other days I wore it with a lightweight black elbow length cardigan.

I took my son to a birthday party that had a bouncy castle which I snuck into while everyone was singing Happy Birthday and had a go. No escapees. They were safe and secure. 

These days I am trying to qualify myself when I say that something was easy to make. As an intermediate seamstress, I found this to be a straightforward make that was easy to sew and get a good fit on. I cut my usual size 12 for Vogue patterns and made no alterations.

I do like the lightness of viscose. It was a swish factor that I love.

Verdict: Its a winner! Deep pockets and comfortable while making me look like I made an effort.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

xox

4th Birthday Dresses: Ottobre Summer 3/2016 #19

When my twins turned 3 years old in 2016 I left it until the very last minute to make them birthday outfits which turned out ok, but I knew they should have been so much better. You can read about it all here <link>. In 2017, armed with the determination that is bourne out of a desire to learn from a past mistake, I set out to make them the most awesome birthday dresses I could.

They love fabric shopping as much as I do and so I thought I’d let them choose the fabrics and the pattern. They flipped through my Ottobre Kids Design Magazines and they choose this fancy looking shirtdress. I heard them say things like twirly swirly.

Ottobre Kids Design Summer 3/2016

 

Though they are identical twins they actually have very different personalities. The floral print is a Liberty craft cotton and the multicolour geometric is a cotton lawn. Both were purchased from Leeds Market. I was really proud of myself for cutting into the Liberty as I had been precious about that for over 2 years :-).

Once the dresses were sewn up, they went through my buttons collection and made their choices.

The twins love their dresses and they love twirling in them.

I really enjoyed making these dresses with them. In future, I will take that co-creative approach as opposed to me just making something without their input. In theory, it should mean they are more likely to wear it.

I rate Ottobre Kids patterns as they are so true to size. I sewed size 110cms and my girls are about 102cm tall. The instructions are excellent. The armhole is finished with bias binding.

Thanks so much for stopping by and until next time, Happy Sewing!!!!

Peace and love,

Hila

xoxo