Teacher Feature: Melanie Elron from Elevator Girl Vintage September 28, 2016 12:24
I'm a dressmaker and teacher specialising in vintage fashion. I'm a librarian in my day job, so researching historical sewing skills came naturally to me. I have a large library of vintage sewing patterns from the 1930s onwards and I love making garments for clients who live a vintage lifestyle, or just want a touch of vintage style for an event. I also love sharing skills that were common in our grandmothers' day. Being able to create well-fitting clothes and mend or alter your own wardrobe gives a sense of independence that I think has been lost in the cheap accessibility of 'fast' fashion today.
Where did you first learn how to sew?
I was draping fabric scraps on my Barbie dolls, trying to replicate gowns I'd seen on Sophia Loren or Betty Grable in old movies, when I was about 10. After some sewing in high school I didn't touch a machine again until 5 years ago, and I became quickly obsessed - learning from sewing blogs, trawling online pattern sellers and collecting vintage sewing books. It all came back to me so quickly, something just clicked. I did a few sewing courses but realised there was a gap in the market - no one was teaching the old-school techniques that I really wanted to learn. So I taught myself and I'm still learning with every project.
What drew you to vintage fashion?
I've always loved vintage styles since growing up watching classic movies and musicals with my mum. I love elements of all decades of the 20th century, and how each era reflected the changing role of women. I started collecting and wearing vintage 20 years ago, and it's amazing how well made they are. I doubt many of our clothes today will still be wearable in 60+ plus years from now!
What's the most enjoyable vintage project you have worked on?
I had the privilege of making a wedding dress for a client a few years ago, and it was such a pleasure working with her and her mother-in-law, who came along to the fittings. The MIL was a country woman who had been sewing for 40+ years. That was a little daunting! We started with Vogue 2903, and I naively suggested doing the neckline and sleeves in lace. Sometimes what you can see in your head far exceeds your capacity to execute it! She was totally into it and bought a gorgeous piece of lace that cost her 2 months rent (no pressure!). So I just worked my ass off until I made it look as good as I had described to her. I learned a lot from that project!
Have you had any memorable teaching experiences?
We really do come in all shapes, even people who are the same size will be a different shape, and I love working with each student to get standard patterns to fit them. Every student who leaves my class with a garment she can wear, and the skills to make more, makes me happy.
What piece of advice would you give to any aspiring makers/ sewists?
Just go ahead and dive in. You've got nothing to lose and you'll only get better every time you make something.
Where can we find more about you/ what you're up to?
I’m pretty active on Pinterest – it’s so addictive! I post my projects on there and spend way too much time pinning patterns and styles I love. I have two little girls that keep me very busy, so while I don't have a lot of time to sew right now teaching here at Bobbin & Ink keeps me connected to the practice of sewing.
Check out Melanie's BLOG: Elevator Girl Vintage Blog
Sun Oct 9 to Nov 13, 10am to 1pm
Bobbin and Ink