Our eleventh Castaway: Melissa from Fehr Trade

I love leaving this series for Fridays, girl Fridays!! Have you been eager with anticipation for this?

Because Oh I am so excited! I was out looking through some binoculars I found on the beach, scouring the horizon for hunky dudes, when I spied some fabulously dressed athlete taking in some beach running on a distant island. When I zoomed in who should I spy but Melissa, from Fehr Trade. Now Melissa has to be up there as one of my ultimate sewing heroes & I have a huge sewing crush on her (you didn’t know that did you Melissa? ;-s) . She sews everything, I mean from lingerie to garments that have interesting & unusual construction details, jeans, coats – oh you name it, she’s sewn it. But most of all Melissa continues to wow & inspire me with the clothing she makes to run in – leggings (colour blocked no less), running tops, refashioning race day shirts – this lady is queen. I am in awe of her creations & her actual running achievements (I mean she’s done more than one marathon & not been put off!) see why I’m a superfan now? So when she agreed to place herself on the desert island I squealed & couldn’t wait to see what she would choose to take with her.

Here we are….

You are stranded on a desert island, surrounded by beautiful crystal blue water populated by turtles & tropical fish (no sharks!). You have a comfy cosy shelter, an abundance of food & drinking water & a solar generator. Upon exploring the island you find a container that has fallen off a cargo ship & guess what? It is filled with what seems to be a never ending supply of fabrics of all descriptions, threads & notions!! What chance!

You are allowed to take your sewing machine & sewing box but which would be your 8 desert island patterns?

 

Ok first of all – let me clarify that my desert island is TEMPERATE. None of this sand, sun, and palm trees stuff – that really doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time, and I’d just end up sunburnt and bored with (as Pam from True Blood put it) “sand in my cooch”.

I’m more envisioning my desert island to have a nice beach or two, yes, but also rocky inlets, forests for exploring, and plenty of mountains and waterfalls in the interior! I just felt I needed to explain why you don’t see a single item of clothing you’d find on your typical beach is all!

 

  1. Jalie 2908 jeans

Everyone needs a great pair of jeans, and for myself and many others, these are IT. With a tweak or two you essentially have an endless supply of perfectly fitting and perfectly flattering jeans. So far I’ve made these three times, and I’ll make more only when my existing ones wear out from overuse!

Melissa’s write up

2. Papercut Patterns “Ooh La Leggings”

My time on the island will likely involve a lot of trail-running as well as lounging, and these hold the record for the pattern I’ve sewn the most times ever – currently SEVEN TIMES!

I’ve run marathons on these, as well as found they work just as well paired with teeshirts in “denim-look lycra”. The curved seams and side panels are super flattering, too.

3. Ruby Slip

Who cares if anyone else is with me on the island – a girl deserves to feel pretty no matter what her circumstances, and the gorgeous lace and bias-cut slip of a good slip or camisole is one way to guarantee you have a good day.

I’ve made this four times so far (two long and two short), and playing with lace placement may be my ultimate guilty pastime.

4. Burda chic sweatshirt (09-2012 #106)

The evenings are likely to get chilly on my desert island, so I’ll need something to throw on to keep warm, and there’s nothing finer than the “chic sweatshirt” pattern Burda produced last year, with curved darts, back V neck, and ¾ length sleeves.

So far I’ve made it twice for myself and twice for my mom, and it’s once of those pieces you can truly dress up or down depending on your mood.

5. Burda September 2010 cover dress (#122)

As far as I’m concerned, you absolutely cannot beat a good knit sheath dress, and this pattern is totally unique in its series of curved, horizontal panels in front giving way to a long panel in back.

The boat neck is super flattering, and I’ve already made both winter and summer versions by just changing the sleeves and fabric, so I’m certain I wouldn’t get bored making this a few more times with the fabric that washes up on the beach (we do get fabric, right?? Not just patterns to forlornly thumb through??) [Yes- a never ending supply of fabric – floor to ceiling of a massive container of all fabric imaginable 😉 ]

6. Hot Patterns Nairobi handbag

A handbag is not only a fashionable accessory, but in my eyes is also very practical – in my normal life I use mine to carry around my wallet, phone, chapstick, umbrella, and a staggering array of crumpled receipts. I imagine on my desert island I’ll want somewhere to stash the fruits and nuts I find in the forest, but also one of my chosen books and a nice bit of hand sewing to work on.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve sewn this handbag pattern, but I can remember it in red leather, yellow leather, black leather, brown faux suede, black corduroy… and I’m sure there are more!

7 & 8. My knit slopers

I was very close to listing “Patternmaking for Underwear Design” by Kristina Shin, PhD as my sewing-related book, but then I realised what I really truly wanted from it was my knit sloper.

I drafted both a top and leggings from her instructions recently and they have quickly become an irreplaceable part of my sewing diet, having formed the base of not just my running gear but also the starting point for everything in the “Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics” book, so there’s a ton of versatility in these!

 

You are also allowed to take two books, firstly which sewing related book would you take & why?

This was a difficult one for me, but ultimately I think I’d pick the first “Pattern Magic” book by Tomoko Nakamichi, because there’s just SO much in there and I never have enough time to try everything I want to.

I figure on my desert island I’ve got time in abundance, so I could take a few weeks on each of the designs in the book and really explore the design idea. It took my taking a course on the second book to realise that some of the designs which look completely insane and unwearable could easily become the highlight of a garment when they’re just changed slightly – an open-weave detail on the front looks shocking, but switch it to the back or sleeve and it’s stunning!

Secondly, which non-sewing related book would you take & why?

This one was an easy choice – Neal Stephenson’s “The Baroque Cycle”, nevermind that it’s so long it had to be printed in 3 parts!

This book covers everything I love – history, adventure, drama, feminism, epidemiology, codebreaking, espionage, and all woven together into a story that you just can’t put down. I can’t look at the London Monument anymore without envisioning a zipline carrying Jack Shaftoe from it into the Tower, and cross-stitch for me will forever be about hidden, coded messages! When I reached the end of the book I realised with great sadness that I could never again read it for the first time.

Next your one luxury. What would you choose (doesn’t have to be sewing related this time!)

Since we’re already supplied with a sewing machine, I’m going to definitely say that I’ll need an overlocker (w/coverstitch capabilities) in order to not have a frustrating stay on the island! Some of you may be surprised I didn’t say running shoes, but I figure I’ve got enough time to toughen up my feet to run barefoot, but I can’t easily reproduce the magic of a good overlocker with time alone!

And finally your one album of music/ audio …

Strangely, this was the toughest one for me to answer. I’ve worked in the music industry for 11years and before that, was heavily involved in student radio in two different countries, have been to countless gigs and music festivals, and eagerly compile my Top Albums & Singles of the Year each December. So narrowing it down to one album for the foreseeable future is very difficult! Should I go for the album I’m most into now, or go for one I loved intensely in the past? One that encompasses a time in my life full of memories, or one that reminds me of absent friends? Perhaps I should choose a compilation that allows me to get a wide variety of moods? No matter what I choose, I’m sure I’ll want to change my mind the instant I hit Send, so perhaps I’ll just go for one I know I could sing along to for the end of time, and one that’s intrinsically linked with my husband – The Bird and the Bee “Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future”.

Oh Melissa you have really inspired me & shown just a few examples of your intrepid & skillful sewing. Thank you so much for taking the time to narrow down your pattern choices.  Readers I urge you to check out links to Melissa’s posts about her makes as you’ll also get to see many more photos showing the details – & they all have details to shout about. Now, I’m just off to check out Melissa’s book choice ….I love new recommendations & this sounds like perfect holiday reading to me!

6 thoughts on “Our eleventh Castaway: Melissa from Fehr Trade

  1. Gjeometry

    Always so much fun to see what folks would take with them to the island and Melissa has made some terrific stuff! I’m curious about that pattern magic book for sure.

    Reply
  2. melissa

    omg I’m blushing! I never could deal well with flattery!

    I found my music answer, it was in the same document but must’ve been separated in the riptide! 😉

    Strangely, this was the toughest one for me to answer. I’ve worked in the music industry for 11years and before that, was heavily involved in student radio in two different countries, have been to countless gigs and music festivals, and eagerly compile my Top Albums & Singles of the Year each December. So narrowing it down to one album for the foreseeable future is very difficult! Should I go for the album I’m most into now, or go for one I loved intensely in the past? One that encompasses a time in my life full of memories, or one that reminds me of absent friends? Perhaps I should choose a compilation that allows me to get a wide variety of moods? No matter what I choose, I’m sure I’ll want to change my mind the instant I hit Send, so perhaps I’ll just go for one I know I could sing along to for the end of time, and one that’s intrinsically linked with my husband – The Bird and the Bee “Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future”.

    Reply
  3. Liz

    I love all of Melissa’s choices, such great basics and such comfortable choices too! Loving that handbag, I hadn’t seen that one before.

    Reply
  4. Katy

    I enjoy reading both your blogs, so extra lovely today that they coincided!

    I am going to do a little more research into making my own jeans, but I’m inspired by how many you’ve made, Melissa. I find them a bit intimidating, but I should get over it! At 5’3″ finding RTW jeans is an effort, and when I do find some that I like I usually try to buy more than one pair. I love your pattern choices – very wide-ranging so you’ll definitely be all covered on the island!

    Reply

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