28 Jan Meet Andrea Birkan
You must meet Andrea Birkan, a 2014 and 2015 RTW Faster! Andrea’s garments display such inspirational creativity that I asked her to write a guest post. I’m writing very little to avoid spoiling the lovely text and photos to follow.
Read on to learn more about Andrea, and visit her blog at: http://sewbusy.weebly.com
I discovered Sarah’s blog while searching for some fabric off the Mood Fabrics website one morning, and have been an avid reader of the blog ever since. I’ve always had a love for sewing, but she really inspired me to get back to sewing on a daily basis. By doing RTW Fasters in 2014, it made me realize how much I love creating garments and how much pleasure I get out of wearing things I have made rather than purchasing ill-fitting ready to wear clothes.
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was a little girl and have been sewing all my life. I immigrated to the United States 18 years ago from South Africa and have lived in Chicago ever since. Since I was a child, I’ve always sewed my own clothes and reading Sarah’s blog re-inspired me to start making my own clothes again and stop purchasing ready to wear clothing. By joining RTW Fasters in 2014, I have been inspired by all the amazing creations others have posted. I was really honored when Sarah asked me to write a guest post for her blog and share some of my creations and inspirations over the past year.
Due to my work commitments, I was never able to sew as much as I wanted, but I recently retired from my corporate administrative position and have devoted most of my time to my sewing and other crafts. Through Sarah’s blog and all the other blogs I started to read, it reinvigorated my love of sewing.
I have always been an extremely creative person; I never take patterns and sew them as it looks on the pattern envelope, but rather, I put my own twist on it. I particularly enjoy using vintage patterns that I find on Etsy or Ebay and seeing all the vintage sewing techniques they used. One of my favorite fabrics to use is Liberty Fabrics. Every time I travel to London my first stop is always Liberty and have accumulated a number of pieces over the years.
I’ve really learned a lot of skills I didn’t know by reading the pattern sheets from the vintage patterns. I also love taking unusual things such as old tablecloths or fabric scraps and turning them into wearable pieces as well as re-purposing leftover scraps into new pieces of clothing.
Above is a blouse made from an old tablecloth.
In March, I will be attending Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School in Baltimore for a week, which I’m sure will inspire me and definitely influence and improve my sewing techniques.
I am always on the look out for unique and different embellishments and the first stop in any city I visit are the various fabric stores. Embellishment is very important part of my own personal style, and I always try add some sort of embroidery, trim, lace, vintage buttons, etc. to my creations to make them stand out.
My love of heirloom sewing was really cultivated after attending a number Martha Pullen’s School of Art Fashion classes in the summer over the past few years. Heirloom sewing has really come back into style, and has been featured in all the top fashion magazines such as Vogue and Marie Claire. Last summer, numerous designers incorporated heirloom sewing into their runway shows.
Home town: Suburban Chicago, Illinois; moved from South Africa in 1997
Family: Husband, Brian; two sons – Jaron, 28 who is a lawyer in Chicago and Seth, 26, studying for his Masters in Dramatic Writing at NYU.
Yorkie-poo Beasley; Toy Poodle Yati
When not sewing: I’m knitting, baking, gardening, entertaining, or walking.
Major sewing accomplishments for 2014: My major achievement in 2014 was having a blouse I created out of scraps of lace and fabric featured in the January 2014 issue of Sew Beautiful magazine. Also attending a one-day sewing seminar with Rhonda Buss and Susan Khalje at Soutache in Chicago.
THANK YOU, ANDREA!