Thanks for visiting! Before I jump into the big scary world of blogging, let me properly introduce myself. I have answered 12 sewing related questions below to help with this somewhat difficult task. Thanks Hollie Sews for these questions and for creating #theseamstresstag.
Who are you? // My name is Barbara Bakker-Ruis and I am 29 years old. I’m Dutch, tall, creative, organised, bespectacled, a perfectionist and I love to sew! I was born in the Netherlands but currently living in Aberdeen, Scotland together with my husband.
When & why did you start sewing? // When I was about 15 I had a growing need to be unique and not be like everybody else. Altering and making my own clothes was a way of expressing myself. At that point I didn’t have any training and I was just experimenting. When I was 16 I started to volunteer at a costume atelier where they made costumes for musicals and events. This is where I had the ‘this is what I want to do when I grow up’ moment and I ended up working there for about 4 years. At the same time I studied Theatre Design at the Akademie Vogue in Amsterdam and after that it was time for change. I started working for Stage Entertainment (who produce the big ass musicals in the Netherlands). I was a dresser for musicals like Mary Poppins, Zorro, The Little Mermaid and Wicked, which was a lot of fun to do but I missed my creative outlet.
Then we moved to Aberdeen. I came up with the name RockingStitch in October 2012 and it has had many faces since then. I started with making and selling handmade products like tote bags and cushion covers. I regularly attended handmade craft fairs and it was a lot of hard work, making little money. A friend of mine asked if I was interested in teaching, something I never knew I liked! The sewing classes were a great success, at some point I was running my classes at 4 different addresses. On the 17th of November 2014 I opened the doors to my very own Sewing Studio and I quit my part-time job a few months after that. I thoroughly enjoyed having created my own dream job and working for myself for 2 whole years.
Now it’s time for RockingStitch 3.0! I want to do more online, next to teaching on a freelance basis which I will continue with as well. The first step is this blog and the second is a YouTube channel. I’m hoping to spread my love for sewing and inspire more people to start creating their own clothes instead of supporting the fast fashion industry.
What is your favourite or proudest make? // My favourite make is always my latest make. Once a new outfit is finished I want to wear it straight away and for at least 3 days in a row. Like I don’t have anything else to wear – ha! So far, there is not just one particular garment that I am really proud of. I am however, proud that I vowed to support the slow fashion industry. I’m making all my own clothes this year and I’m not buying any new clothes. I am doing great so far, and I’m planning on sharing this journey with you on this blog.
What is your most disastrous make? // I am an expert in making mistakes, but I’m also an expert in fixing my own mistakes. So I don’t have a garment that is beyond wearable or has ended up in the bin. Fingers crossed that I can keep this up!
Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping? // Unfortunately there aren’t many options for me to shop local. John Lewis is the only place where they sell dressmaking fabrics in the centre of Aberdeen. I love to go fabric shopping when visiting the Netherlands though. My favourite place is the fabric market in Utrecht, lots and lots of choice for great prices. I especially like to shop for fabrics when I’m on holiday and I quite often buy online.
What is your most used pattern? // That would have to be the Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons. I’ve made three different versions so far and I’m pretty sure I will make more in the future. I’m a huge fan of Tilly’s patterns in general. The designs are right up my street and her instructions are the clearest I’ve seen so far.
Your most dreaded sewing task is… // Doing alterations! My husband gave me about 5 different pairs of his jeans to mend in the past few months and I still haven’t done any of them. It’s actually hard to describe why I don’t like doing it, I just prefer making things from scratch.
And your favourite sewing task? // Just about the whole process of making clothes is my favourite sewing task, but if I would have to pick, it would be cutting the fabric. I know most people actually hate this part but it’s something I can be really precise with and that just makes me happy! Same as pattern matching, I like giving it my very best so that the end result is spot on.
What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’? // When I’m sewing I don’t watch or listen to anything. I like it to just be me and the sound of fabric running through my sewing machine.
Printed or PDF? // This is not a hard one, I prefer printed! Apart from being lazy and hating to piece all the bits together, I just like owning all the pretty pattern envelopes. I’m a collector by heart so that’s probably why all my patterns together make me so happy. .
What sewing machine do you use? // I own a Bernina 330. I bought it about 5 years ago. If our house is ever on fire, my machine is the first thing I would save (my husband can totally save himself!). This machine is an absolute dream to sew with but it also means a lot to me because I bought it with money I received from my mom a few months before she passed away. My overlocker is a Lewenstein 700 DE.
Do you have any other hobbies? // Okay, so this is where it gets awkward… nope… not really. Unless you consider sleeping or eating a hobby! Now before you think I’m a weird sewing lady (a sewing version of a cat lady), I do like other things than sewing, I just don’t consider them a hobby. I like travelling, going to the cinema, Disney, working out, fabric shopping (oops there I go again), stationery, little things, animals and going out with friends.
If you’re still here after reading this looong post, thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me. I’m planning to blog about my makes, my dreams and everything that goes on in my sewing life in the future. If you like the sound of that please come back again..
Hi Barbara, I really enjoyed your post, enjoyable and easy to read. You were the first kindred spirit I met on my arrival in Aberdeen and have always regretted not being able to take a class at rocking stitch. (Too long to go in to) I have followed you on social media since then. Look forward to future posts and tips. Thanks
Hi Sarah, thank you so much for following me! I hope to keep inspiring you 🙂 Love, Barbara