We are so excited Shams of Communing with Fabric will be our guest speaker hosting a trunk show of her creations on April 16 at 7:30pm. Please email to save a spot or sign up in the classroom. There is a $10 donation requested at the door for our fashion scholarship fund. To introduce you to her, we’ve asked her a few questions. She has also generously let us use images from her blog. All images are hers.

Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): Where do you find your inspiration?
Shams (S): Everywhere! No matter where I am, I study clothing and details. Where I work, there are many young women wearing trendy clothing that I stealthily observe. I’ve surreptitiously photographed outfits on the subway. I sometimes go into interesting shops and study their garments. Online, I make liberal use of Google and Pinterest.

CFD: How has sewing helped you with fit issues?
S: It’s very difficult for me to go into a “regular” store and find clothing that fits my body. Clothes just don’t seem to be designed for my shape – which features a large bust, narrow shoulders, a large waist, and small hips and legs. Many RTW clothes that go around my bust don’t flatter me – they just hang from the bust and overwhelm me everywhere else. RTW pants that fit my hips tend to throttle my waist. Most RTW sleeves are too long.

CFD: How long have you been sewing?
S: As long as I can remember. My mother sewed and I remember taking her scraps and fashioning clothes for my troll doll. Later, I made clothes for my Barbie. I remember sewing real garments by 7 or so, under the guidance of my mother. My first “real” project, in the mid 60s, was an a-line skirt with a lapped zipper in dark brown cotton.

CFD: Your favorite project? Why?
S: Coats and jackets! I just love making that garment that one wears over a top or (in colder weather) a jacket. I am not interested in making or wearing dresses. Even tops are something I rarely sew. After coats and jackets, my favorite thing to sew is pants and skirts.

CFD: Your most-used project.
S: Coats! I have coats that I have worn most every day for years. I live in a foggy San Francisco neighborhood, so coats and jackets are needed for much of the year. Chilly weather makes me happy because I love to wear them!

CFD: How do you deal with “wadders” or things that don’t work out?
S: It depends. If I can tell that it’s really a lost cause, the pattern goes into the recycling, and the partially sewn fabric into the scrap bin. But I try to save a project, if at all possible. Occasionally, I finish a garment and then decide that it’s not working – sometimes it’s not until I see photos of myself wearing it. When that happens, I generally donate it.

CFD: Your favorite tool? Technique?
S: I love tools! I especially love hand made tools. I have some wonderful hand made pressing tools that I use all of the time, as well as several hand-turned seam rippers. One can never have too many seam rippers. And, of course, I have many pair of Kai Scissors, the best scissors I’ve used.

CFD: What do you like most about the designing/sewing process?
S: I absolutely love a challenge! In fact, when I find myself sewing patterns exactly as designed, I quickly get bored. As soon as I decide to make a project, I start thinking about how I can change it up, add my stamp on it. Can I use an unusual fabric? Interesting hardware? An unexpected technique? How about mixing textures, colors, or prints? What about a fun lining? How can I make that design flatter my body? I like that my sewing and pattern making skills are proficient enough that I can tackle most anything that I want to.

CFD: What do you enjoy most about blogging about your sewing?
S: I like to write and sew in almost equal measure, but blogging has helped me in two ways. First, I love having a record of my sewing! I’m rather lazy about keeping records, so it’s great to be able to refer to my blog to see when I made something, where the materials came from, what changes I made, and any relevant resources I found. Second, my blog has allowed me to connect with other sewers all over the world. I’ve made real friendships, and wonderful experiences and opportunities have resulted. It’s been fun!

Thanks, Shams! We hope you will join us for this fun event. Please RSVP in the classroom or email to save your spot.

Here’s an image of Shams and some friends at Artistry in Fashion in 2013. Image from her blog.