As I sit here at my sewing table (ie, my desk with a sewing machine on it), I am feeling rather excited about a new project I’m taking on. However, I feel as if it deserves a bit of backstory.
So, when I was a little girl, I had a Gene Marshall doll. My mom bought her for me, along with a couple outfits. At the time, I didn’t really understand the doll or her clothes. They were vintage-style, and my own leanings were decidedly modern at the time. However, I had a dream on Samhain night about this doll. The dream was vivid and weird, as they so often are. Since then, I’ve been planning to sew versions of her clothes for myself. I’ve sourced a few fabrics, selected a handful of patterns, and started on one outfit in earnest. I hope to have it completed this weekend.
Though this brings me great excitement, I am a bit nervous. It’s been years since I’ve sewn anything, and longer since I was happy with a project. Perhaps I cut too many corners in my 20s; perhaps I rushed things. But now, I’m determined to do things properly. Interfacing, lining, hand finishing.
In addition, I’ve also made some rules for myself. (Type A personality alert.) One is that I’m going to be operating on a one in, one out basis. This won’t necessarily mean that I’ll be getting rid of like-for-like items, but it will mean that, with the completion of each piece, I’ll be selling or donating something else.
I’ve also decided to shop my wardrobe where possible, find secondhand or true vintage items when able, and also to shop others’ stashes before buying new fabric. So, purchasing new fabric will be a last resort measure. Already, I’ve had some success with this on eBay, and I’ve found metres of vintage cashmere, silk, and wool which others are de-stashing. My reasoning for this is twofold. One, I don’t want to create additional waste or demand for production. Two, this article from The Guardian horrified me, and I’ve decided to stop buying new wool as a result.
These conditions may mean that the finished product is a slightly different colour or texture, but I think this is okay. Also, the fact that I am not a doll with a doll’s figure will mean that the clothing will naturally look slightly different. This will be for reasons of practicality as well as aesthetic. For instance, I will not be lifting the ban on wearing heels. Therefore, everything will need to be of a length that works with flat shoes. Nor will I be changing my hair colour or buying expensive accessories that are hard to store; I’m working with what I have.
My purpose for embarking on this creative endeavour is to add some beauty to my life. Gene’s clothes are often Dior-inspired, and the colours and shapes look like a joy to wear. At present, I usually wear leggings with a big sweater around the house, and dog walking clothes outside of it. I am not overly glamorous, though I used to be. Not to mention that these days, I need something to hold my attention between writing and pet stuff, so that I don’t get too obsessed with the news. Getting caught up is easily done.
Thus, it is with glad tidings of great joy that I announce my new series: Becoming Gene Marshall. I hope that it helps me gain confidence in my sewing as well as revamping my wardrobe with things I love to wear.