Flashback Friday: An from Straightgrain

Welcome to Flashback Friday! Today’s guest is the lovely An from Straightgrain. An lives in Belgium, and is a mother to an adorable little girl.
An is a master at sewing clothes for her daughter, which makes her flashback today extra fun. Although she’s only been sewing for a short time, she’s created amazing outfits like this Peplum Bubble Dress (and free pattern up to size 6!). And you won’t want to miss her Kids Clothes Belgium Style series that is going on right now! It actually makes me want to leave my computer at this moment and start sewing!

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be a guest here at Sew Much Ado! I’ve been following the Flashback Friday Series for quite some time, and I’m honored to have been invited to be part of it. Today, I’ll share the first things I ever sewed. ‘Flashback’ is a big word to use here, because I actually only started sewing two years ago. I had a lovely 1-year old, Norah, and I wanted to learn some basic sewing skills so I could make her some cute little blankets, and maybe even a sleeping bag. No way on earth was I going to make her clothes – spending hours of work on garments which would be outgrown within 3 months, that’s what crazy people do, I thought. I went to take 6 months of formal sewing classes here in Antwerp, where we would learn basic skills while creating 3 pieces: a tote, a kimono, and a pair of pyjamas. The tote was the first project, and back then, I didn’t know any cool fabric shops yet. So ended up using some boring grey fabric from the shop around the corner – which caters mostly to the elderly. In an attempt to make it a bit funkier, I cut a little felt whale (based on Twitter’s Fail Whale) and stitched it on the bag. My teacher was actually impressed by that.

old bag

The second project, the kimono, was a complete failure. The pattern we had to use was complete rubbish – the kimono was way too wide, and totally unflattering. I also used an extremely ugly fabric combination, and about a week after the kimono was finished, I cut it up to use the fabric for different ends. So luckily, no pics exist of this little catastrophe. The final project was a pyjama. We were allowed to make it in a kid’s size, but no smaller than 3 years. Back then, as a mom of a 1-year old, I couldn’t care less what the pyjama would look like. Norah three years old? That looked like ages away! So I just bought some super cheap fabric: 1 euro per meter (less than 1.5 dollars per yard) at some local fabric fair thing. I made the pyjama, and put it in Norah’s closet. About 6 months ago, I took it out of the closet again, and put it on Norah just for laughs (yes, I’m that kind of mother). And I fell completely in love with it. Objectively speaking, there’s nothing even remotely special or particularly pretty about it. But when Norah wears it, I think it’s really cute, and I don’t even know why…


So these were the projects I made for the sewing class. Soon enough, and against my initial lack of interest, I was sewing clothes for Norah. The first one was a really easy Summer’s dress in cheap gingham fabric, created from a simple rectangle of fabric. The second one was a dress I drew myself based on a store-bought dress, made in Amy Butler’s Martini Mustard. Indeed, by that time, I had finally discovered a cool fabric store :-)

  smocked sun dress dress in Martini Mustard

Looking back, I’m surprised about how my attitude towards sewing changed. In two years from never-planning-to-sew-clothes to being a total sewing addict who draws her own patterns and even blogs about sewing… I don’t know how that happened, really. All I know is that starting to sew was one of the best decisions I ever took.

Thanks for having me in this wonderful series, Abby!

Thank you, An! What an inspiration for everyone to see how far she’s come in only two years, and all the talent and creativity she shares with all of us. Happy Friday to you all!

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  1. What a great idea for a series!

    Hi An,
    I think your whale bag (so well done) definitely revealed a talent and a taste of projects to come. You’ve achieved so much and your progress is very inspiring.

    P.S. I too have a nearby fabric shop which “caters to the elderly” :0)

  2. Hi An!

    I smiled while reading your story. Mine is quite similar to yours, except for the fact that where I lived there were no sewing classes available and i had to learn everything surfing the Internet. I Also started with a bag (unlike yours, mine was a complete disaster) and never imagined I ‘d sew my children clothes.
    Now, I’m completely hooked. Can’t think of anything else but sewing. I think I’m sewing-sick ;-)
    At first I was embarrassed to admit I liked sewing, that was just for elder ladies. Now, I feel super proud about it!

  3. Loved reading An’s story – I agree that figuring out the right fabric prints is a big challenge for the beginning sewist! I feel like I’m now confident picking them for my kids but still struggle with picking it for my own garments…but I love An and I’m glad you had her!

  4. Thank you for all these nice comments, Marianna, Maria, and Kristin! And thank you to Abby for the flattering introduction she wrote. This series is so much fun!

  5. An…loved reading your story! I am super impressed with your first bag project. Amazed really. I love the things that you make for your daughter. It’s so fun to hear about how you got your start.

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