Flashback Friday: Jenny from The Southern Institute

Welcome to Flashback Friday! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and were able to spend some quality time with family and friends. Today is our last flashback guest of the year, and I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Jenny from The Southern Institute!
I’ve gotten to know Jenny over the last few years, which in blogging terms seems like forever! There’s something about Jenny and her blog that is so welcoming, unpretentious, and genuine. She’s never been afraid to speak honestly and from the heart, and I really admire that about her.
In addition to sewing up a storm, Jenny is also an author, who’s written an eBook titled Unbound Birth, which I had the pleasure of reading shortly before Lola was born. Today Jenny is kindly sharing some of her very first sewing projects with us – enjoy!

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be here at Sew Much Ado today for Flashback Friday. Abby is such a sweet blog friend and is so kind to share her beautiful blog space. Thank you for having me, Abby! I have to admit that my history with sewing is not much of a history. I began sewing about three years ago… about the time that I started my blog, The Southern Institute. There is no immediate legacy of sewing in my family. My mom doesn’t sew, and neither did either of my grandmothers, at least not that I know of. Family quilts did not grace the feet of our beds. My aunt did sew a bit when we were younger, and I remember a dress that she made for me when I was about eight or nine years old. Oh how I LOVED that dress! I called it my Little House on the Prairie Dress, because that’s what it reminded me of… something that Laura or Mary would have worn. Does that date me? :) I cherished that dress- it was so special to me!

Three and a half years ago I discovered blogs and it was like discovering a whole new world! Can I get an “Amen”? Somehow I stumbled upon a couple of sewing blogs (Katydid and MADE) that completely inspired me. (I didn’t know about Sew Much Ado right off the bat.) I realized that there were women (really cool women, not old and stodgy women), women my age, who were sharing photos and tutorials of things that they were making for their children and I thought, “Maybe I can do that too!” I wanted my kids to have some items that were made especially for them, things that they could be proud of and that would make them feel special, the way that my “Little House on the Prairie Dress” had. I had a sewing machine that my mother-in-law gave me, so I got it out of the box, dusted it off and plugged it in. I found a few tutorials that I liked and jumped right in! Here are a few of the items that I made that first year of sewing…

I did make a few things for myself. :) That Anna Maria Horner Museum Tunic was so much fun to make. Anna herself gave me permission to post the in-depth tutorial for that on my blog (squeal)… it’s a great summer dress! The red “1” shirt is not one that I sewed, but I created and embroidered the patch. One of my favorites is that little dress in the upper left corner. I made that as part of a impromptu sewing challenge at a sewing workshop at Whipstitch in Atlanta. We were given a little bag with materials and told to come up with something with them. About the only thing I knew how to do at that point was sew a little gathered shirt with elastic thread, so I made one in a tunic length and added that sweet little hanky that I found in my grab bag. Another thing that I love to do is repurpose old fabrics into new things, and as a beginner at sewing I did a lot of this because I didn’t want to spend much money on fabrics for fear that I would mess up and be out the money and the fabric. The two long-sleeved tees are made of Goodwill t-shirts, the brown short-sleeved button down is made from one of my husband’s old shirts, and the red banner skirt was made from a red chambray sheet from Goodwill and a few scraps of fabric.

I’m so glad that I discovered sewing blogs like Abby’s back in 2009! My love for sewing has grown over the last three and a half years, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings. I’m looking forward to making more clothes for myself and my children, as well as finishing up a quilt for my niece that I started over two years ago (oops!).

What inspired you to sew and when did you start?

 Thanks for sharing, Jenny! That Anna Maria Horner tunic is one of my very favorite projects that Jenny has posted – and if only I could rock cute short hair like she can! I have some things I’ve been working on to share with you next week – see you then!

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  1. I started sewing about four years ago after my husband braved the Black Friday sales (at Walmart, no less!) to buy me a sewing machine. I’d been looking at the simple elastic-waist skirts and such that my daughters and I wore and thinking, I could make this. After he bought me that, I figured I should at least try. I live it, but I haven’t sewed that much — er, hardly anything — this year. Sewing is on my resolution list! :-)

  2. Jenny! I had no idea that you’ve only been sewing for 3 years!! Makes sewing seem so much less intimidating. I should say that is makes making clothes so much less intimidating. The sewing part doesn’t scare me so much as the constructing part. I don’t even know if that makes any sense. I’m so impressed with your skills in such a short amount of time. I guess it just really goes to show what can happen when you put your energy and time into something! Woot! Go you!

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