I was in elementary school when my mother taught me to sew. The first big project I made completely on my own, a dress, was hard, definitely, but I am nothing if not dogged and focused when I put my mind to something. The pattern had the option of using two coordinating fabrics which I decided to attempt. I made the whole thing from scrap pieces from my mother’s ample collection. I worked for hours and hours on that dress, even adding buttons up the straight skirt. I was so proud of myself, but what I remember most is how proud my mom was. That was the beginning of a lifelong love of sewing.
Sewing is, in some ways, a lost art. I’m trying to teach my daughter. She went to a fashion camp this summer. She doesn’t love sewing (it’s hard work, after all), but thanks to Project Runway, there seems to be a renewed interest in fashion, in general, and she has an interest in it.
But attention spans are different now from when I was a kid, and it’s so easy to go into a store and buy something nice at a fairly reasonable price. So, why sew?
I asked myself this question as I came up with and wrote Pleating for Mercy, the first Magical Dressmaking mystery (which was released on August 2nd and has since been on the Barnes & Noble mass market mystery bestsellers list, as well as Bookscan’s mystery bestseller list!). What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires my character, Harlow Jane Cassidy (a descendent of Butch Cassidy)? What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires anyone who has a love for this craft?
For Harlow, it’s about the creativity, the art, and the heritage of hand sewing in her family. I have that in my family, as well. Generation upon generation of women have sewn, quilted, embroidered, and knitted. It’s a legacy, and that’s something infused in Harlow’s fictional DNA.
One of the best parts of writing this series is that I get to research fabrics, fashion, style, and accessories. I bought Nina Garcia’s (from Project Runway) The One Hundred (tips for every fashionable woman). I bought a book on vintage 1800s dress design (book 2, A Fitting End has Harlow creating a period gown for a town historical pageant). I get to buy dress forms and trims and myriad other goodies to inspire me. How cool is that?
“No, honey, the black and white decorative dress form from Hobby Lobby is not an extravagant luxury. It’s for research and inspiration.”
I may not have much time to actually sew, but I get to write about sewing machines, technique, and notions. And I get to peruse bridal magazines, and anything else that strikes my sewing fancy. It may not be the same as sitting down at my Pfaff® and creating a color-blocked dress or a quilted tote, but it works. For now.
So tell me, are there any sewers out there? Any quilters, knitters, or crocheters? What is your take on sewing for today’s generation of girls (and boys) as compared to what it was in the past?
I’m giving away a copy of Pleating for Mercy to a commenter today, so weigh in!
Praise for Pleating for Mercy:
“Enchanting! Prepare to be spellbound from page one by this well-written and deftly-plotted cozy. It’s charming, clever and completely captivating! Fantasy, fashion and a foul play—all sewn together by a wise and witty heroine you’ll instantly want as a best friend. Loved it!”~Hank Phillippi Ryan Agatha, Anthony and Macavity winning author
“A crime-solving ghost and magical charms from the past make PLEATING FOR MERCY a sure winner! The Cassidy women are naturally drawn to mystery and mischief. You’ll love meeting them! ” —NYT Bestselling Author Maggie Sefton
“A seamless blend of mystery, magic, and dress-making, with a cast of masterfully tailored characters you’ll want to visit again and again.”~Nationally Bestselling Author, Jennie Bentley
“A fun read, and the historical tie-in with Butch Cassidy was a kick. Harlow’s character [is] compelling and relatable as a down-to-earth designer and seamstress.” ~Fresh Fiction
“Cozy couture! Harlow Jane Cassidy is a tailor-made amateur sleuth. Bourbon stitches together a seamless mystery, adorned with magic, whimsy, and small-town Texas charm.”~Wendy Lyn Watson, Author of NAL’s Mystery a la Mode series
“A who done it that will keep you guessing the whole time.” ~PatternReview
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About the Book:
All the Cassidy women possess special gifts. Harlow Jane Cassidy’s is creating beautiful dresses. But she’s about to discover secrets in her own family, and another gift—one that can reach beyond the grave…
When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow Jane
Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas. But soon after she opens Buttons & Bows, a custom dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century farmhouse she inherited, Harlow begins to feel an inexplicable presence… One of her first clients is her old friend Josie, who needs a gown for her upcoming wedding. But when Josie’s boss turns up dead, it starts to look as if the bride-to-be may be wearing handcuffs instead of a veil. Suddenly Josie needs a lot more from Harlow than hemming a dress. Can Harlow find the real killer—with a little help from beyond.
About the Author:
Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latinaby-marriage name Misa Ramirez, is the marketing director with Entangled Publishing. She is the founder of Books on the House, the co-founder of The Naked Hero and is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery Series and two upcoming romantic suspense novels (written as Misa Ramirez).