Monday, 3 November 2014
Sewing Spaces of my Life
Where do you sew? In the past, I've been really fortunate to have had my own desk to work at. A big bedroom and a big surface to really spread everything out on: sewing machine, sketchbooks, laptop, and endless cups of tea! As I progressed with sewing, I decided to study costume making at art college. My sewing space at uni was amazing: huge tables in large studios with amazing equipment; and in my final year, we were allowed to colonise a space for ourselves. When I entered the workplace, though, things were vastly different! You have to make do with whatever space you're given, whether it's a proper worktable in a studio - or setting up a sewing machine on top of a washing machine and sitting on a box to do last-minute repairs on tour.
Since moving in with my boy-friend, I've had to make-do with sharing the kitchen table - which means that we eat off our laps a lot of the time! Not (currently) having my own special place to sew has made me feel nostalgic for my past work spaces. As I've been in the habit of photographing my desks, here's a line-up of my personal sewing places of the past 8 years. I haven't included workplace studios however!
Aged 15-18: sewing beginnings
I had a lovely bedroom at my mum's house, with this great desk that I practically lived at. It was a really creative time of my life, and I drew a lot as well as learnt to sew and knit here. I first sewed on my mum's 1970s sewing machine (top left corner of the first photo). Later my grandmother gave me her amazing Bernina Sport sewing machine for my 17th birthday (spy it in the bottom right corner of the second photo).
I loved to work with paper and ink for my A level art, and spread out onto the floor when I ran out of space on my desk (a habit that continued for quite some years.)
Moving to uni..
I took this photo just after I'd moved into my first student house. It was a terrible house (the truly awful furniture and ugly curtains were not even the half of it!) - but I had a massive room. My desk was in the bay window and overlooked a football pitch, which wasn't too bad.
Settling into second year
I moved house every year at uni, and my room in 2nd year was truly enormous with loads of storage and great light. I worked at a paint-splattered artist's table, and did a lot of tailoring and millinery.
In second year I specialised in tailoring at uni, and for a few weeks the two other tailors and I had the privilege of colonising a studio space in an amazing light-filled part of the costume department. (As you can see, they really didn't want me taking their photo though!)
Temporary summer studio
That summer, I did a lot of freelance work in London and temporarily had an a whole room (!) to use as my studio. I got my artist's table back to the city and decked it out with all kinds of cacti and roses from the garden. It was seriously amazing, and not always this tidy. (Check out my kitschy sewing machine and overlocker covers!)
3rd year: serious studying, good friends
My final year at uni was definitely my best one. I moved house again, but though the curtains were still hideous, it had insulation! I also made my best friends in the last months before moving back to London. I had studio space at uni during this time, so mostly used the desk to write my dissertation and do sewing homework, rather than being based there permanently.
I also had quite a comfy bed, which Nelly decided to transform to my studio for a photography project.
At uni, Dorte and I laid claim to a great table to work at. We were very cosy there, working on 20th century dressmaking projects and drinking cups of tea (PG Tips).
We were pretty static here and guarded it jealously. I did however still prance around the rest of the department in my costume. (I think that here I was trying to see what my sleeve looked like when I raised my arms…)
Life as a new grad
I lived with my grandparents for a few months after graduating. I was a bit burnt out with sewing, plus was sewing every day at work, so I didn't make that many things freelance or for myself. But it was great to be surrounded by all my things, and my huge haberdashery stash! I then went on tour for a year so the bedroom - and my life - was just a permanent state of mess and transience.
The here and now
That brings me up to now! I live with my boyfriend in North West London, and we're very lucky to have a flat to ourselves. But it's a rental, with limited space - and we both own a lot of things! So I sew on the kitchen table, and set up the ironing board between the fridge and the cooker. It's a shame that I don't yet have a cutting table at home to work on - but it's also really nice not to have a studio and bedroom be the same room.
Where do you sew? Do you have a space set up in your bedroom, work sociably in your living room - or are you lucky enough to have your own stand-alone studio?