Saturday, August 5, 2017

Day 5: Origin Story

            As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been sewing since I was eight years old. My mom and both of my grandmothers sewed, and my mom really wanted me to learn too. However, as much as we love each other, we definitely have a tendency to butt heads, and so it was decided that someone outside of the family should probably teach me how to sew.
            Luckily, our local 4-H group offered a sewing class, and so my third grade teacher, as head of the class, provided me with an introduction to sewing. I still fought with my mom a bit when I worked on my earlier projects at home, but I quickly grew to enjoy sewing with my mom present, as well as discussing project ideas with her or working out solutions to whatever problems arose.

Mommy and me, accidentally matching on her latest trip to visit me - the skills she helped me to develop have definitely paid off!

            As part of my 4-H sewing education, I was required to complete one project every year; the first year it was a simple drawstring skirt, the second year it was pants with an elastic waist, and the third year I could get a little more creative. I sewed a pleated skirt and a sundress, but when I was twelve I decided I wanted an 18th century gown to wear to Williamsburg. I’d been completely enamored with Colonial Williamsburg since age seven – we visited for the first time when I was five, and when we returned two years later I declared that I wanted to go to William and Mary and then work for CW. So, my mom helped me find a pattern, and using some fabric that we had been given she whipped up a gown for me to make sure that it wouldn’t be too difficult. I then made a second gown using the same pattern for a friend who we were taking to Williamsburg with us.

            After that, I loved sewing. I was sewing things I liked, and I couldn’t get enough of it. If you want to see the longer story, you can check out this post, but the short version is that both my family and I started to recognize sewing as one of my marketable skills. I spent two summers working in a sewing factory in town, where I learned how to sew quickly and without pins, as well as exploring how the most basic shapes could come together to make things used every day (backpacks have never seemed so easy to sew!). The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college, I became uncertain about my future in a museum. (For those of you still in school, that’s something that happens to almost everyone. I knew that I would love the work if I could get it, but I was so worried that there just wouldn’t be any jobs for me once I graduated. It’s alright to have a bit of doubt, just find a back-up plan that you also like, and then keep heading towards what you want!) I started applying to theater companies and film productions, looking for work as a costumer.
            I ended up spending the summer of 2015 working as a First Hand in the costume shop for the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, which was an incredible experience. I learned just how good my work actually was, and I had a super supportive boss to help me improve even more. I got to attend fittings, work with designers, and even step away from the sewing side of things to gain experience with aging/dying/adding wear to costumes, and to work with the dramaturge. I also got to know a great group of girls, all of whom held the degrees in costuming that I lacked, and who were happy to fill me in on everything I missed out on by not attending design school.

A sewing apron from costume scraps was a must for a few of us in the costume shop!

There's something a little bit magical about costume closets, I'll never tire of looking through them!

In addition to sewing, I got to paint accessories!

Career advice: Find a job that lets you have fun. Optional: Find a job that lets you feel like a princess.

My time with the ager/dyers was well spent - these jeans were brand new when I started!

Ability to construct a fat suit... that goes on the resume, right?

There were soooo many shoes! This isn't even a quarter of the boots used for Fiddler on the Roof!

Merry Wives of Windsor was an outdoor show with a super awesome set!

            As much as I loved my time in Arkansas, I knew after that that I was meant to be at Colonial Williamsburg. I worked there the summer before my senior year, sewing all the while, and in March of my senior year I was hired to work as a full-time historic interpreter. I have the best job in the world, I get to live in my favorite town, and I get to sew every day! I couldn’t imagine anything better! 

I love my job, even cleaning is fun!

1 comment:

  1. It is such an amazing job you have! I admire the interpreting work done at Colonial Williamsburg a lot. One day, I would love to fly over and see it for myself. :)