Featured Sewista: Renee

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Our patterns are the reward in store for the loyal Sewista community bursting with unique perspectives, loads of creativity and gifted with deft fingers. It’s also why we feature a different Sewista every month. This month we get a peek at Renees (@lankybyrenee) sewing life and how Fibre Mood plays a part in it.

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Why did you start sewing/knitting? 

I started sewing my own clothes because of my height. I'm quite tall at 1.82 meters, which means trousers and long sleeves have been too short all my life. 1.5 years ago, I decided to buy my own fabric and sat behind my grandmother's old sewing machine to put together my first garment just for me. 

Another important reason why I like to make my own clothing to step away from fast fashion and its impact on people and the environment. Trends are super fast and can be "out of fashion" before the season is over. The clothing is often of super poor quality and the conditions for the workers in the factories are often miserable. In addition, the current clothing industry has a greater impact on climate change than all air traffic put together. This can and must be done differently. For me, this is an important reason to sew my own clothing.

It’s nice to think that at least my clothing is not assembled under such conditions. And I like to use my IG to inspire other people to sew their own clothes, or to switch to buying honestly made clothes.

How did you learn to sew and/or knit?

As a little girl I learned the basics from my mother when I wanted to make my own Barbie and doll clothes. Assembling adult clothes and drawing patterns I taught myself by looking at clothes I already had in the closet, watching YouTube movies and of course the extensive instructions in the Fibre Mood magazines!

What is your favorite: sewing or knitting?

Sewing is really my favourite because I can put all my creative energy in it. I never got much further than knitting scarves because I always lose count and don't have the patience for it. 

Have you been creative from an early age?

Yes, I have! I come from a super creative family. My brother is an artist, my grandfather could build beautiful furniture and watercolour paintings with my father and my mother used to sell children's clothes from her own sewing studio. I always wanted to participate too and sewed my own Barbie clothes and made bead necklaces with my mother. In the summer I put a rug outside my house and sold "hair wraps" and things.

What do you consider your most beautiful creation?

I find it difficult to choose one garment because with every new creation I make, I learn new things and the newest one is always the most beautiful. For example, I designed my own pleated high waist pants with a perfect fit. But my latest creation, the Fibre Mood Leah from pattern book nr. 7, is my current favourite and I'm wearing it a lot. A boiler/jumpsuit is always so comfortable and is always nice and easy in the morning because you're ready in one go.  

What do you feel most proud of?

Everything I've made so far that has brought me to the level where I am now. I've taught myself everything and if I didn't know something I worked it out. With every project I complete, I think about the fact that I just created this all by myself, from a piece of fabric to a nice fitting garment!

Are there any challenges for you in this handicraft environment?

Yes, I keep coming up against new challenges. All the techniques and styles I haven't done before are a new challenge to master. So I keep learning new things and I am far from finished! I am a perfectionist and therefore my worst critic. I always see something that could be better. My biggest frustration is having to unpick seams. Believe me I do this very often until it is perfect in my eyes.

People who don’t sew/knit: how would you convince them?

I get a lot of positive reactions from people around me when they hear that I made my clothes myself. I notice that the many girls actually like to make their own clothes as well. It is so nice when you create something with your own hands and a lot of effort, and end up with a beautiful piece of clothing to wear. And it’s completely to your own taste and body. Who wouldn't want that?!

Where do you get inspiration for your sewing?

I have Pinterest boards full of inspiration for future clothing, I also follow various sewing accounts on Instagram such as the fun blog @contour_affair, there are sewing hashtags, also cool (clothing) brands like @Catwalk_junkie. I also love a bit of retro and vintage, especially the 70s and 80s. 

Where does the name of your Instagram handle (@lankybyrenee) come from? And why did you choose it?

I wanted a name that fits my idea of clothes for taller girls like me. I started making clothes because ready to wear never fits me well due to my height and non “standard” size. When I was looking for synonyms for a tall person, the word lanky caught my eye. This means "u̶n̶gracefully tall and thin person". That's how I often feel and that's why I think it's super appropriate to use this as my Instagram name.

Do you get satisfaction from the reactions on your Instagram? Do you have a lot of interaction with your followers/regular visitors?

Yes, at Instagram these days you have a super fun "sewing community" and I think its great fun and inspiring to be a part of it. I think we can learn a lot from each other and inspire each other here, even people who have never sewed before. I get the sweetest reactions from girls all over the world and that's what I love about social media. 

What does your workplace look like? And where is it located?

I live with my boyfriend in a one-room apartment in Rotterdam so as you can imagine there isn't a lot of space for my (out of control) hobby.  I have permanently claimed the dining table for my sewing projects but to be honest we didn't use it to eat very often anyway! The large scratching post for my cat Sam had to make way for extra storage space, so we transformed it for space for all my fabrics, haberdashery and machines. 

What would you like to make in the future?

I still have so many ideas in my head and there are only more ideas to come! I have fabrics for projects that I want to make immediately and I can already tell you that there will be a lot of ruffles and puff sleeves in here! On my list is a maxi-dress with puff sleeves, a top with puff sleeves, a long leopard print dress and shorts with matching top. My current project is dungarees with ruffles for my 1 year old niece is almost finished, then it's time for a personal project again!

What tips & tricks would you like to give to novice seamstresses and/or knitters?

It is not a problem to make mistakes and you will definitely make them. Always start with an (old) piece of fabric that your mother has left or an old (damaged) sheet. I've watched a lot of YouTube movies, read tutorials from fellow bloggers, and there are a lot of books for novices with clear explanations of terms and techniques. What also helped me a lot is that Fibre Mood clearly describes their steps including drawing so even a novice can sew! I advise you to start with a cotton or linen fabric instead of a smooth synthetic fabric as this makes sewing more difficult.

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