Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Obligatory Introductions


I figured that a first blog postbesides just being a terrifying precipice for meshould be two basic things: an introduction and a mission statement. I like to think that makes things less scary. I’m a woman on a mission. I have a path. I know what I’m doing.

I totally know what I’m doing, guys, trust me.

Now you’re complacent in the rest of the madness. Congratulations. We’re on this path together, you and I, and I want to hope that it will be filled with joy and pretty clothing and useful information, but let’s face it, you’re probably in for an emotional roller coaster in which seams always manage to get bunched in the machine and darts are always crooked.

But at least we’re together. That’s what’s important.

And since I have no real way of knowing you, other than scrying the blood crystals in the desert, I guess we’ll have to be content with you knowing me.

Again, hello. I’m Alison and the titular atelier here in Austin is a cramped Ikea table in an otherwise cramped room. As ateliers go, rather pathetic really, and I dream of large sprawling sewing tables where entire projects can be spread out fully and you don’t need to move the sewing machine to use the iron. I like to think that’s what’s holding me back from being an organized and tidy sewist, but in truth I know that blame can only be set squarely on my own shoulders, Ikea table or no.

So, calling my blog “Atelier Austin” is half cheek and half lofty goal. It’s like how you expect to one day wake up and be properly Adult... for me, part of that day is that I will have a dedicated sewing space. Dream big, Alison. Dream big.

More on me: I’m an Austin native (an elusive and endangered creature), I have in the past worked in costume workshops and I have sewed my own clothing, but I have discovered that I’m pretty selfish with my sewing. It’s not that I only make things for myself (although the majority of my projects are exactly that), but rather that I find the business of sewing to be too stressful. I dread the way people perk up when you mention you sew, “Oh! Can I get you to make something for me?” But I feel that is a rant that deserves its own post entirely.

Physically (it’s bound to come up anyway) I’m rather Junoesque. I stand an imposing almost-six-feet-tall, with a large frame and shapely assets. Or hey, to phrase that another way, I’m fat. And while--like everyone else--I can look in the mirror and point out flaws and faults and problem areas, the truth is that I like myself. I think I’m a looker and I like my curves and I realize that’s not generally acceptable by society if you’re not 34-24-35, but to hell with that, I think the sewing blogosphere (Gracious, did I just use the word “blogosphere”? What have I become?) needs more plus-size sewists entering the fray. Mary of Idle Fancy has discussed it in more depth.

So, to boil that down to its bare bones: I’m 5’10 and 46-38-47.5. Boom. Hard part is down. Everything is easy like Sunday morning from there.

Which brings me to the misison statement. Why am I starting Atelier Austin? What are my goals? What can I possibly bring to the conversation?

Firstly, personal accountability. If I’m documenting my goals and my projects and my progress, that’s permission for the world to judge those goals, projects, progress. Sure, it might just be yelling into the void, but afterwards my voice will still be hoarse. So basically, even if no one else is paying attention, at least I will know. By writing down my expectations, I’m committing to them.

Seccondly, improving. I have plenty of room for improvement, believe me. I’m self-taught and have a history of throwing out instructions in order to do things my own way. There’s a certain nobility to that, following your own path, or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m angrily plucking out my stray stitches, but the truth is that experience isn’t the only teacher and when I am moved to read tutorials or watch other methods I’m always struck by clever conceits that would never occur to me. Another issue with the whole being self-taught is that I don’t have the techincal terminology and tricks down. And that’s something I’d like to change. To improve, I need to train and not continue going along as I always have. This means reading instructions, this means finding tutorials, this means finishing seams and creating muslins. All the non-glamorous bits of home sewing.

Thirdly, organizing. I have a terrible tendency to build up a collection of UFOs. Or buy all I need for a project and then never actually making the project. Or, like all sewists, building up an untenable hoard of fabric that I really, really, desperately need to work through. I feel that by organizing my thoughts and projects here in blog-form, I will be able to manage them more affectively. This breaks down to three different categories: planned new projects, unfinished projects, and fixing/mending/changing wayward projects.

Fourthly (and fourthly doesn’t sound like a word at all, does it?), local flavor. This one is easyalthough those words will come back and bite me in the assI want to look into and patronize local sewist joints. Fabric shops, maker spaces, and other crafter paradises. After all, Austin is right there in the blog title. So my personal journey would be entirely incomplete without it.

Finally, wardrobe building. I think it was Lucky Lucille that started this 2014 trend, but I could be wrong. What I’m certain of though, is when I read her post about making a commitment to make good, wearable pieces and not just fill your closet with “hanger candy” I was emphatically WITH HER. “Yes,” I thought. “This is good. This is what I need.” My ideal wardrobe is going to be a little different, a little unconventional, but I do feel that 2014 needs to be the year of wearable clothes.

Well... that’s a lot to ingest, isn’t it? But we’re finally at the end. Congratulations, we made it through. I’m proud of us. Now I just need to make all the above a reality. That’s not at all daunting, right?

Right, guys?


  1. Hello, Alison! I'm so excited that another gorgeous, curvy, Austin sewist has entered the blogging fray. The sewing community needs more of everything you've got going. Welcome to the "blogosphere!" Happy sewing and writing!

    Also, if you ever want to talk shop or go on Austin fabric adventures, drop me a line at AnIdleFancy (at) gmail.com. We curvy native Austinites need to stick together, after all...

    1. Mary! Thank you so much for your support. I'm a huge fan of your blogs and I was very flattered (and, yes, okay, geeked out a little) when I saw your comment.

      Would love a sewing adventure!