So Emily Ann and a number of others have recently done this Seamstress Tag questionnaire that’s been going round, I think primarily on IG. It’s been so nice getting to know people more. Emily Ann also did a show and tell of her working space (in a separate post), and I’ve tried to incorporate that here too.
Who are you?
Naomi van den Broek otherwise known as Naomi Ferguson. I am a 41 year old, New Zealand woman, living in Christchurch (the city with the earthquakes). As a day job I work part-time in fundraising for Not-for-Profit groups and the other part of my time I am a performer: singer, actor, pianist, writer, song-writer – all the things.
RIP Leonard Cohen
I live with my husband, whom I adore. His name is Alex and he is a composer, university lecturer, teacher and tennis player. We live in a green house which we share with two cats, Rita & Douglas (named after a famous NZ painter, Rita Angus, and composer, Douglas Lilburn, who were close friends), and three chickens named Betty, Consuela and Jolanda. We have a vegetable garden, beautiful art, one car and three bicycles. We bake bread, brew beer, make music together and try to laugh a lot.
Music we make together under the name Speak Softly
When / Why did you start sewing?
I think I was about seven years old. I was staying with my cousins and my older cousin helped me make a skirt for my teddybear from the cuff of an old shirt of my uncles. It was lemon yellow. It was my first make and my first upcycle – simultaneously.
Then my mother continued to teach me. Mainly I got to do the straight seams and she did all the hard parts like zips, buttons, shaping. When I was 21 my grandmother gave me her old sewing machine, an lovely little Elna, which a friend now has on permaloan. I continued to sew on and off throughout my adult life.
When Alex and I went to live in The Netherlands in 2011 my first purchase was second hand Singer. I had no patterns to speak of, so that’s when I started drafting my own patterns from clothes I already owned or from my head.
A neighbour had a tenant who was a fabric importer and he would bring me bags of swatches – sometimes 30 x 30cm, sometimes pieces 4m long! I also made a number of dresses and gifts from friends at that time.
Now I sew on the machine I learned on, my mother’s old Husqvarna 2000. It’s about 35 years old and is a total tank. It survived being dropped two stories in a shipping container (sadly, a number of the pieces of furniture it was sharing said container with did not fare as well.) I get it serviced by the people who used to own the retail company which my mother purchased it from. There’s a nice sense of symmetry in that.
This is the cutting table Alex made me, and underneath my stash. The cover for the table is an old flag which used to hang outside our (still damaged) Town Hall where I have performed on a number of occasions. My sister found it at a junk shop and bought it for me.
I try to sew with second hand fabric and notions where possible. I have a moderate stash of lovely pieces of fabric to choose from. I love print and bright colours. I am obsessed with trousers.
My pattern stash is housed in the set of drawers next door to the cutting table.
I have recently invested in a suitably tall ironing board for my height and a decent iron. While I don’t like to purchase things generally, investing in good tools is something I do like to do. I plan to look after these and own them until I die.
I made a coat for Alex when we were first seeing each other that was very lovely. I fit every piece of the pattern to him. It was made from lovely Italian wool. He still has it and often gets comments when wearing it.
I’ve made a wedding dress, and some pretty successful evening wear. I’ve made some trousers of which I am very proud.
Once, when I had just finished watching an episode of Project Runway, I thought I could drape and I made this hideous top that would have for sure put me in the “bottom 3”. It never saw the light of day. And recently this.
Mostly though, I don’t have disasters.
Favourite place for fabric shopping?
Op-Shops. Sometimes Trade Me (the NZ equivalent of Ebay). And very occasionally, The Fabric Store.
Most used pattern?
Either my own silky tee pattern or the vintage Simplicity 9037. Both have been made a multitude of times.
Most dreaded sewing task?
Cutting out! Every time. Then buttonholes – not because I find them tiresome, just because there is a narrow margin for error.
Favourite sewing task?
Designing – does that count? I love deciding what I am going to make, choosing the fabric, buttons etc. And of course wearing my clothes.
I pretty much enjoy most parts of sewing.
Favourite sewing entertainment?
I’ve recently discovered the joy of podcasts while sewing. Although it must be said I sort of go into my own world when I sew so sometimes it just acts like white noise.
Printed or PDF patterns?
Printed please. The pressure of printing and taping is too weighty! My own are always good too.
What sewing machine do you use?
Any other hobbies?
So many. Talking, reading, cooking, eating, gardening, listening to and playing music, going to art galleries and museums, hanging with my husband, films, lady stuff (anything where ladies are being unapologetically cool and strong), painting, writing, solving problems, giving advice, public speaking and performing. Did I mention eating?