My name is Laurence (it is a girl’s name in French). I am 31 and I live in The Netherlands, Europe. I originally come from Belgium. My native language is French so please pardon me if you find typos here and there… I also speak Dutch and English. I also lived in Ireland for a year a while ago.
I studied Health Psychology and Neuropsychology in Belgium and I now work in finance in a European Shared Service Centre for an international company that owns a few well-known brands.
After working ours, I sew a lot. I bicycle to work and also go to boxing and tae bo classes. In my free time, I spend a lot of time daydreaming and preparing my next vacation, pushing my husband’s boundaries, trying to discover the world.
I love to watch TV series on my laptop while working on projects. I became an expert at harassing my colleagues with the latest instalments of Game of Thrones, trying to not spoil anything to the ones that have not read the books (it was especially hard when they were wondering what would happen during an episode called “The Red Wedding”).
I also enjoy the company of two cats at home. They are brothers from the same litter: Wellington and Napoleon, and our house is their Waterloo play field… In a few months, the family will grow with a third little human.
I started blogging in 2010 at QuirkyPrettyCute.
You may wonder, how a European girl did end up in the Curvy Sewing Collective?
Back in March, Jenny from Cashmerette left me a very mysterious comment asking if I would be interested in a special project. After a heart rate peak, I sent her my e-mail address and the rest is history. We all worked on the Curvy Colette Blog tour. Within all the e-mails, we were all itching for more. The mail trails were bursting with ideas. This is where the Curvy Sewing Collective was born.
This adventure came into my life at the perfect moment. Until earlier this year, I had left aside the feelings attached to my own body image and I only started to dig in a little bit. I tried to understand why sewing was making me feel happier, healthier and more accomplished. A few month ago, I even wrote a very heartfelt post about it. I got so much feedback with such intense reflexions! It only encouraged me to focus more on that side of sewing.
The Curvy Sewing Collective is the perfect outlet to just accept yourself and get rid of negative feelings that are holding you back in life, love and health. Since I started sewing, I never limited myself to the sizes of the patterns. I immediately learned to upgrade everything I could get my hands on. And I keep doing so.
There is so much to do for Curvy ladies! I wish they would all use sewing as an acceptance tool and see their body for what it is.
I often receive compliments on the clothes I am wearing at work. When I explain to colleagues or friends that I made them myself, they never understand how I managed to learn everything without instructors! When I look back, the way I got to this point always makes me smile.
My Grand-Ma was a seamstress, married to a milk delivery man. She made all my mum’s clothing and all my little girl’s dresses. Every time we were in a clothing store or watching a magazine, she would always say: “That is too expensive, I could just make it myself”. I can still see myself sitting next to her at her sewing table, sewing leftover buttons on fabric scraps or making Barbie dresses. Mind you, those dresses were simple rectangles folded, hand stitched, turned inside out, slipped on a doll and cinched in at the waist with a piece of string.
My Grand-Ma never really wanted to share her sewing skills because she’d rather do everything herself and not fix our mistakes, something she did a lot with my mum’s projects. That’s why I never tried to look into the process. Basically, my brain knew that sewing was no rocket science but I never really went for it because it was my Grand-Ma’s territory and pride.
The year I moved to the Netherlands, I had just put on a lot of weight (25 kilos approximately, 55 pounds) after a bad break up. Even if I always had been overweight, this was a big hit to my mental and physical health. I met Mister (now my loving husband) and nothing was fitting me anymore. Even if he loved me the way I was from the first day on, I wanted to look good and I tried to widen some clothing I already owned. All by hand of course. I had not touched any sewing machine in my entire life yet. For Halloween in 2009, I wanted to dress up as Fiona, and Mister as Shreck and that is where it all started! I purchased some green curtain fabric at IKEA and some golden thread. I literally folded the 3m rectangle on top of my head, cutting a whole for my head and draping the rest on my body. I stitched everything by hand. I also improvised the sleeves and the outfit for Mister.
In the months after, I annoyed everyone with that project, so much so that my family got me a basic Singer for Christmas! I bought my first Burda and started sewing in March 2010. The rest is history!
I did A LOT of experience based learning. I studied books, tutorials, blogs and instructions. At that point I was unemployed (except for a few freelance editing jobs), depressed (familiar much?) and bored. Sewing filled all the gaps in my life. It cured insomnia and gave me a purpose for a few months, between Dutch classes and job interviews.
My first projects were patterns from the Burda magazine, made with cheap fabric. I still wear some of them. I would always go for the funky designs and my pretty and quirky ideas or fabric coordination. While reading blogs, I discovered other pattern companies from the Big 4 and then some Indies, like Colette. I went for everything, armed with my unconditional belief in upgrading patterns. Ok, it sometimes failed, but it mostly worked.
Since then, I have sewn a lot of dresses, my Bridesmaid’s dresses, and many more! I also try to learn new skills, because I am still at an intermediary level. The project I am the most proud of is my Wiggle Dress from Gertie’s book. I feel great in it.
I am very ashamed to admit it, but I worked on so many projects that I never really focused on a TNT. I must however say that I tend to go back to a couple of patterns for a quick fix: 1) A Bias Skirt from Burda, 2)The Plantain T-shirt from Deer & Doe, 3) The Laurel dress from Colette
To be more concrete and technical, some numbers! At the moment, my measurements are 115 cm (45 in) at the bust, 103 cm (40.5 in) at the waist, 135 cm (53 in) at the hips/tummy. I would describe myself as a mash between an Apple and a Hourglass shape, with a kangaroo pouch in the lower tummy area.
Most of the time, I need to upgrade the patterns. My bust measurements just fall in many companies offerings, but I need to upgrade 1 size for the waist, and 2 sizes for the hips/tummy area. I also try to upgrade patterns that do not even include my bust size. The worst that could happen is a waste of muslin fabric…
I also sometimes need to widen the sleeves in the biceps area. But I usually try to avoid it in my pattern choices, or by shortening the sleeves. Luckily, I am only a C or D cup so I rarely need FBA adjustments.
To be brief, I am a unconditionally positive sewing enthusiast! I am also really good at finding the fabric that would make a project pop and imagining an end result, not taking into account most limitations!
So ladies! Are you as excited as I am?