From Childhood Memories to Custom Creations: Unleashing Creativity with MyBodyModel

Read along as Lauren shares her journey, from childhood memories of sewing with her mother to her creative process for her passion now. By incorporating her own style and body shape, she has gained a clearer sense of her taste and is excited to create unique garments that reflect her personality.

My name is Lauren, and I’m also known as ‘Ginger Kelly’ through my work as an illustrator, fabric designer and sewist for my handmade business Thistle and Fox where I create one-of-a-kind quilts, homewares and accessories. 

My sewing journey

My earliest memories of sewing are from childhood, watching my mum sew her own clothes (and ours, my brothers and mine) in the attic bedroom of our first family home (built by my dad, an apprentice carpenter at the time).

I have a clear memory of playing with the zippers and buttons in my Mum’s blue sewing box and being allowed to take the scraps. I would sew little blankets for my toy horses. I was always very crafty—I haven’t ever stopped making things! I’m happiest when I’m working with my hands, fully absorbed in being creative. 

In recent years, my fabric design business had been keeping me very busy. But now I have a little more brain space, so I’ve been focusing on sewing my own clothes as I have a large stash of scraps from Thistle and Fox products, and I’d love to use my own fabrics to make some special pieces for myself and my family. 

How I use MyBodyModel

I came across MyBodyModel via a SewMyStyle blog post a few years ago. Being a very visual learner, I like to draw out a plan when I’m working on a new design or figuring out how to make something I haven’t tried before. I have sketchbooks filled with scraps of paper covered in detailed sketches of seam finishes, collar designs, plackets and pocket shapes and little scribbled ideas jotted down. Whenever I’m watching a film or tv (particularly any historical drama with amazing costumes) I’m always pausing the show to sketch ideas. 

Although I’m drawn to all the incredible handcrafted details, stunning fabrics and elegant outfit silhouettes of the 1920s-1930s, I want to incorporate these details in some form into my everyday wardrobe without the garments feeling ‘too precious’ to be worn. It helps to sketch these ideas out and record them for future projects. Even if I’m focusing on sewing T-shirts right now, at some point I’m going to sew a coat or jacket and it’s going to be inspired by these designs in some way. 

Getting back into sewing my own clothes has changed the way I look at and feel about my body and my taste in what I love to wear has become clearer the more I’ve been using my custom croquis for sketching and designing outfits, planning pattern hacks and alterations and figuring out the best way to use my fabric stash to create the clothes I want to wear and need the most. 

I sketch out an idea on my body to see if I like the silhouette, or how I would alter it to balance the look on my body. I often use the DIY lightbox I set up on my sewing table to help with tracing patterns. It’s made from a spare glass shelf from my fridge propped up on the timber legs and base from a repurposed broken bedside table and an LED touch lamp with a flexible neck providing the light source beneath the glass. 

When I see a sewing pattern I like the look of (usually discovered via the Seamwork community forums and the Instagram sewing community) I follow the pattern hashtag and look at the way other sewists have interpreted it, how it looks on various bodies and am truly delighted when I see someone who looks similar to my shape wearing an outfit or silhouette in a fabric I love.

I know what I want my clothes to feel like on my body, where I want them to drape, how much ease I like… but I find interpreting this into a drawing on my actual body shape to be most helpful in making decisions for altering length and choosing sleeves or design details. Planning my projects is as creatively satisfying as actually making them!

Planning for the Future

It’s fun to play dress up with my personalized paper doll—it really connects me to my childhood memories and the source of my creativity; the freedom of expression I’m always looking for when designing. It’s also a very practical approach, as it’s much easier and faster than trying on all my clothes to select outfits and find gaps in my handmade wardrobe. 

For example, I have my favourite dark denim bottoms and well-loved green pants. And almost all my tops are either dark blue or green. I absolutely love prints and have masses of unused printed yardage in my stash so I need to sew many more tops in various colours and prints so I have more options to wear than just green or blue. 

I spend most days working in my studio and often find when I’m getting dressed I tend to reach for my comfy green dress, my velveteen leggings – another shade of green… and then my duster/day robe (oh wait, it’s also green).

One of my goals this year has been to make more versions of my favourite clothing in other colours and add some bolder colour choices for the outerwear projects I have planned for this winter.

I love being able to try out different colours and prints on my croquis first before I go to the effort of sewing a project. I can make sure it’s going to fit into my wardrobe or fill a gap or simply make me happy to be creating something I really love rather than something that’s not inspiring and likely won’t get worn as a result. 

I’ve been using my croquis throughout Seamworks’ Design Your Wardrobe course and created an Instagram reel of all the outfits I’ve planned to make for the upcoming season (and beyond).

I’ve already made a few pieces from my Autumn Winter 2023 Collection and have been wearing them often. I finally have corduroy overalls in my wardrobe, a collection of flowy blouses, basic woven tees and have been trying my hand at some ice-dyed fabric and garments I’ve sewn from upcycled fabrics that needed a colour shift to give them new life.

There’s also a stash of precious fabrics in my studio printed with my own designs that I’ve been saving for a while. Now I know what I want to create, I’m really excited to make these clothes and wear them too!

4 thoughts on “From Childhood Memories to Custom Creations: Unleashing Creativity with MyBodyModel”

  1. Hi! Love this!! I want to be more intentional about my wardrobe making process. I signed up for MBM and am excited to be a part. I am not good at drawing….and am wondering if the designs at Seamwork match the croquis at MBM. Thinking trace the line drawings as opposed to free hand sketching. Thank you!

    1. Hi Alyson,
      I often overlay the Seamwork pattern flats (line drawings) over the top of my croquis to get an idea of where to place style lines when sketching but every MBM croquis is unique to the body it represents while pattern flats are generic (& meant to represent the flat garment) so even if scaling the designs up or down to get an ‘almost’ fit to your shape, it’s only going to represent how the flat garment may look when held against your body. Your sketching skills will improve with practice – remember – they don’t have to be perfect on the first try! I often draw the same garment or outfit a half dozen times before I’m happy with how I’ve represented it, but then I’m a perfectionist when it comes to drawing as it’s been my job and passion for the last 20 years 😉
      Practice makes progress.
      And remember, this is fun! Happy sketching!

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