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This week we share our interview with amazing BurdaStyle member buddingnaturalist.

Where are you from and where do you live? What do you do other than sewing?

I was born in India and have since lived in Britain, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand. I currently live in Australia, where I spent the last four years researching my PhD (which I received in October, 2012).

How did you start sewing? Why do you sew?

I bought a vintage pattern off of etsy on a whim and chopped up an old bed-sheet which I then sewed, by hand, over the next two weeks, into the godforsaken tent dress of doom. Obviously, there was no looking back.

That’s my partner Carl [in the photo]. He taught me how to use my sewing machine. He’s also awesome at taking it apart when it’s sputtering and getting it to run smoothly again. Among his other special powers: a high tolerance for all the sewing sh*t everywhere, accidental pin stabs out of the carpet and the ability to critique recent makes in 6 seconds or less (No. It’s too granny chic./ Yes but shorten it by 4 cm, etc).


The buddingnaturalist with Carl.

I sew because I enjoy the creative outlet it provides and, more importantly, because I don’t want to be responsible for the hideous sweatshoppery that comprises most fashion today. If my not buying clothes means there’s even one less blind three year old sewing up tights for two sesame seeds an hour then that is a totally awesome bonus.

How long have you been a member of BurdaStyle? How did you choose your username? What do you like about the site? How often do you visit? I’ve been a member for two+ years now (actual posting was preceded by a period of silent observation) and my username is based off of my second favourite activity. I visit the
site weekly (more often when under the influence of the urge to procrastinate) and love the contemporary, minimalist makes that some of the members post (which seem, unfortunately, few and far between these days).


The buddingnaturalist first dress.

What’s your sewing secret weapon?

The Metric system. Embrace it-it shall set you free. Aside from that I believe in not giving a sh*t what others think and never buying into trends (the latter tends to date clothing fantastically). I don’t mark seam allowances I use the gauge on my sewing machine instead. I use a clover adjustable double tracing wheel and carbon paper to add auto-magic seam and hem allowances to all my traced patterns. I generally don’t sew big four envelope patterns because I find the excessive ease involved combined with their general inconsistency in sizing disturbs my peace of mind and exponentially increases the number of exclamation marks in my thought bubbles.

Do you listen to music or watch TV while you sew?

I sew when I can and attribute my output to the fact that I don’t own a tv – all my entertainment (read TV shows, movies, etc) is live streamed on my computer, the screen of which sits just behind my sewing machine. If I come across anything involving sewing I take screenshots of it then poke fun at it on my blog in a section called Sewing in the Media.

Who or what inspires you?

I stick to a clean, modern, minimalist design aesthetic. Decade-wise this would include some of the fashion from the late 20 and early 30s and the late 90s and early 00s. 50s froufrou and 40s/80s shoulders are anathema to me. I don’t do trends because I don’t see the point of wearing the same thing as everyone else and sewing gives me the freedom not to have to do that. I prefer natural fabrics for dressing up and jersey for daily wear and follow a fairly bright colour palette.

What is your dream sewing project?

A fully functional (read, road-safe) leather Tron lightsuit with glow panels and built-in heating (with solar + kinetic movement rechargeable batteries) for motorcycling in.

What is the most frustrating thing about sewing for you? What is the most rewarding?

Historically, the insane amounts of excess ease incorporated into big four patterns (most notably McCall’s and New Look) have driven many sewists to near-homicidal mania/ raging alcoholism. The measurements shown on the back of the envelope never correspond with the finished measurements on the pattern inside the envelope (and you can’t check the latter without purchasing the pattern) so I definitely prefer magazine patterns – once you know your size and any alterations required (if any) every style you sew in that size is consistently awesome – the outcome only varies dependent on your mood, skill and amount of targeted effort you put in.

I love Burdastyle and Knipmode for their consistency in sizing and La Mia Boutique and Patrones for really unique, modern patterns and edgy styling. Another factor here in Australia is the cost. The average pattern magazine costs between A$16-22 while the average sewing pattern costs anywhere from $12-34; $5 sales are rare, so magazines are definitely the way to go.

Sewing is rewarding in many ways, notably the experience of making something yourself that fits you well, compliments your silhouette and style and looks completely different from everything else out there. I also love the fact that nothing I wear is contributing in any way to the suffering and continued enslavement of sweatshop/ bonded workers and child labourers. This, to me, is absolutely priceless. The interaction with other members of the online sewing community is also a definite plus. I’ve enjoyed all the swaps I’ve been part of, all the giveaways I’ve held and all the meetups I’ve attended, not to mention the interactions with people both via blogs and communities like BurdaStyle.

If you were to give a beginner one piece of sewing advice what would it be?

My advice for a beginner (or anyone at any level really) would be to read every resource you can get your hands on before starting something new. Go through the whole process in you head step by step (in 3D) before starting. If you reach a step where the faced armhole and neckline linings on your dress can’t be turned inside out (because it is now a mobius loop) you need to go back and read the instructions again.

28 Comments

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    Mar 15, 2013, 05.24 PMby mariely

    Love the red jacket.

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    Mar 14, 2013, 04.33 PMby joost52

    Hey, look who’s a star. Congratulations :)

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    Mar 14, 2013, 12.56 AMby yelmore

    Sweet! Great seeing you here :)

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    Mar 13, 2013, 01.46 PMby heatherlou

    “If my not buying clothes means there’s even one less blind three year old sewing up tights for two sesame seeds an hour then that is a totally awesome bonus.”. BRILIANTLY SAID! Thanks for the insight my dear!

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    Mar 13, 2013, 01.43 PMby kisses

    Congrats on the interview. I love your style and you made well fitted clothes.Your styling are on point and I so love that burgandy top with the blue skirt

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    Mar 13, 2013, 01.03 PMby heidilea

    Ha! The Mobius loop—-TOTALLY done that.

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    Mar 13, 2013, 11.38 AMby pambox

    First off, congrats on finishing your PhD – I’m battling/bluffing/stressing my way to the end of mine right now. Did your writing up limit your sewing time? And I love your creations, all have a sleek and classic feel to them.

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    Mar 13, 2013, 07.31 AMby Natalie Wepener

    Your work is fantastic and I think your interview was spectacular; it’s so amazing how I can relate to some of the things you said in your interview as that’s the same way I started to love sewing!

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    Mar 13, 2013, 06.02 AMby thewallinna

    Cudos for being featured! Today it’s really rare to see seamstresses who stand away from trends! Carry on surprising us and making beautiful clothes!

    1 Reply
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    Mar 13, 2013, 03.57 AMby emilykate

    Great profile of an awesome sewist and all-around fabulous gal :o)

    1 Reply
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    Mar 13, 2013, 01.25 AMby Gilbysan

    I adore your style and hope to create a wardrobe collection as interesting and beautiful as yours someday. I am a novice sewer and also agree on the goal of reducing child labour. Do you have any recommendations for fair trade textiles? I often wonder if I am really making an impact if I am buying fabric from my local fabric store. I have purchased some beautiful italian wools…etc that were quite pricy but even so .. I wonder if they are really made in Italy. Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful clothes. They are very inspirational.

    2 Replies
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      Mar 13, 2013, 06.57 AMby buddingnaturalist

      Hi Gilbysan, I’m not sure where you’re based but here in Melbourne there are a lot of op-shops where you can by vintage fabrics from time to time (just visit them often and you’ll find some good stuff-I’m not great at this but Sewbusylizzy seems to find great stuff all the time). The other thing you can do is find shops that see offcuts of fabrics made locally for local businesses (in Melbourne both Darn Cheap Fabrics and The Fabric Store buy remnant rolls from designers and local brands so you know you’re helping reduce leftovers). I’m not so sure on FairTrade textiles (I know the locally made stuff is safe because the labour laws here are very strong and force companies to pay a fair wage and have safe working +environmental conditions at their factories). When I travel around Asia I buy things from artisans/ artisan co-ops-that way you know for sure the person who made the fabric gets the profit rather than an agent/ middleman. I know Seva does a lot of this type of stuff in India (teaching women the skills to support themselves and creating products they can sell) but they don’t seem to have a webstore unfortunately..

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      Mar 15, 2013, 07.21 PMby Gilbysan

      Thank you for the advice!!! I am based in Ottawa Canada so I will definitely do some research.

      I tried to reply to your response on my mobile phone and ended up clicking “marked as inappropriate” by accident. So sorry! New to the site and apparently I am all thumbs. Thanks again for your ideas and inspiration!

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    Mar 12, 2013, 11.48 PMby merche

    I loved learning more about you. Great interview. Everything you sew is always unique, classy and colourful. So you always have us waiting for the next one. And I want to thank you for all that you share with the rest of us.

    1 Reply
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      Mar 13, 2013, 06.57 AMby buddingnaturalist

      Thanks Merche, that means a lot coming from you!

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    Mar 12, 2013, 11.28 PMby schnui

    Yes, great interview and I love your sense of humour. Are you sure you are not an Australian at birth??? You have the Australian humour down pat and I love reading your blog to enjoy your ideas and views on things. I also love the clothes that you sew as they seem perfect for you each time. Keep up the good work of entertaining me and all the other sewers out here in blog world.

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      Mar 13, 2013, 06.58 AMby buddingnaturalist

      Thanks schnui, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog as well-Cheers!

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    Mar 12, 2013, 10.52 PMby kleinfee

    I love your style. It´s perfect on you. So creative…

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    Mar 12, 2013, 10.01 PMby corinneski

    Even your tent dress of doom looks perfect for a hot summer’s day. Great philosophy on personal style, too. Keep up the good work.

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    Mar 12, 2013, 08.51 PMby rosarini

    Really enjoyed reading the interview.Wow a partner who can help give advice as well as fix machines but your creations are stunning ,beautiful,great fit & different.I agree totally that if we create garments we help stop sweat shop & the slave labour.Well done & hope you stay in Australia.

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    Mar 12, 2013, 08.11 PMby sewbecause

    Great interview! I enjoy your blog and everything you share, your modernist style is wonderful!

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    Mar 12, 2013, 07.10 PMby daisymomo

    thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading and see your photos…

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    Mar 12, 2013, 06.13 PMby Jodi Wade

    One of my fave sewing bloggers! Nice to learn a bit more about you. That first pic of you and your man – so adorable!!

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    Mar 12, 2013, 06.05 PMby ustabahippie

    You really know your style! Great post and great aesthetics and advice. Keep on!

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    Mar 12, 2013, 03.05 PMby nouvellegamine

    Great interview! Your blog has been a wonderful inspiration for classic, functional, beautiful clothes.

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      Mar 13, 2013, 07.00 AMby buddingnaturalist

      Thanks lady-this means a lot: I remember the first time I came across your stuff, it was your wedding dress and I was totally gobsmacked =D

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