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Taylor’d with Style: Sewing Your Style

A truly personal style is not always easy to find. Since I was fortunate to have learned how to sew, I was able to design and make nearly everything I wear.

By JeanAnn Taylor

tools of sewing a machine, tape measure and a dress form

I like to write about “style” opposed to “fashion” because our style is an intrinsic element of our essence. Fashion is simply the vast array of garments that designers and marketers want us to buy.

Developing your signature style shows your ability to put together an ensemble that expresses your personality and reflects who you are. Your individual clothing expression tells the world what is important to you—and what is not.

Taking care to develop your image will help give you the drive and self-assurance you need to conquer the world and make your dreams come true—or at least make you more comfortable and confident as you toil away.

My personal style is unlike many women. I feel most like “me” when I’m wearing a 1950s-type full skirt. I wear a lot of colors: pink, coral, mint, and mermaid blue. I prefer structured, fitted-clothing and floral or paisley prints.

The foundational element of my everyday ensemble is that it has an ultra feminine flair. As this style is not always easy to find, I’m fortunate to have learned how to sew and therefore able to design and make nearly everything I wear.

September is National Sewing Month, so now is the perfect time to advocate for this exceptionally beneficial and rewarding skill. As a young teenager, I learned to stitch on my great-grandmother’s treadle machine.

When I sew, I lose my sense of time, but I find my sense of self and a connection to my heritage. I see my great-grandmother sitting at her treadle sewing machine, rocking her feet to control the speed of the needle.

But, it wasn’t until I was expecting my first child that I became seriously interested in learning how to sew. I remember thinking, If I have a girl, I may want to sew for her. That was back when home extension classes were offered during the evenings at local high schools, so I took advantage of the opportunity.

It took only one or two classes for me to become completely obsessed with the idea of sewing my own clothes. I quickly realized that I loved fabric: the texture, the colors, the prints, and the idea that I could make anything I could dream up. The options of creativity were endless.

As my new obsession grew into a lifelong passion, I learned to sew everything from dresses to bluejeans, hats to purses, dance costumes to lingerie, and home decor to rag dolls. As with many interests, one thing can lead to another, and I soon decided that I wanted to learn how to quilt.

I needed a way to use up all my scraps! This needlework led to a desire to learn the art of crochet, then doll-making, and then on to embroidery. Trust me, there is a whole world of thread and yarn to discover!

Learning to sew not only allowed me to wear original designs, clothe my children, and decorate our home, I also had the honor of winning several awards. A special highlight was being featured in Vogue Sewing Magazine. All of this recognition helped to give me confidence and inspiration.

the hands of a young woman working on a sewing machine

When I sew, I lose my sense of time, but I find my sense of self. Sewing connects me to my heritage. I can visualize my great-grandmother sitting at her treadle sewing machine, rocking her feet to control the speed of the needle.

The only sewing machine I have right now is a 1952 Singer Featherweight. With this sweet machine, I’m on a mission to use up my stash of fabric scraps by creating interesting and unique designs.

What sewing has done for me, sewing can do for you. You may not become completely obsessed as I did, but if you take a chance on learning to sew, you may find that it offers a creative outlet of self-expression. You may gain the satisfaction of saying, “I made this myself!” And, you just may find a new passion.


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