Featured Members

Featured Member: Erika from SwinginVintage

January 6, 2012
Bernina Sewing Machine

If you’ve only just joined us, you might have missed our first couple of features, on BoPeep and PatternVault.

This month’s lovely lady has been with us as a reader for years, but only recently took the plunge to post one of her creations. And what a creation it was! I think I heard us all simultaneously say “ooooohhh” when Erika made her first post. Despite the hectic Christmas season, she graciously agreed to give us access to the creator behind the coat…

Hi Erika! So, how long have you been sewing and why do you do it?

I’ve known the basics since I was a child, and got my sewing machine when I was 7. It’s a machine my grandmother bought in the 50s, and I’m still using it. It weighs a ton, doesn’t do buttonholes, but it can sew through anything and the stitches are straight and even.

However, while I’ve always known the basics, it wasn’t until I joined the medieval society SCA that I began sewing in earnest. I then sewed for the simple reason of having anything at all to wear to the events, an excellent motivator that effectivly silenced the perfectionist in me and let me just get all those hours of setting the theoretical knowlegde in my backbones.

Bernina Sewing Machine
Today I sew clothes for everyday wear, but with the same eye to historical inspiration, I’ve just switched the 14th century for the 40s =)

Sewing vintage/retro really did start as costume sewing for me. I wanted something to wear to the lindy hop dances, something that would feel “authentic”, so I searched for information on the fashion from the 30s/40s, and slowly it’s gone from dance outfits to my everyday style. In the process I stumbled over the amazing vintage- and/or sewing community online, and what started as a hobby is now a lifestyle.

During this process I’ve discovered not only what styles I like to wear, but also how clothes should fit. It’s become so very easy not to buy RTW, as nothing ever fits as I now want it to.

1570s Flemish gown

I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Sweden. How would you describe the area where you live? Is there a thriving vintage scene?

I guess Sweden isn’t first on most people’s travelling agenda =) I live in northern Sweden, a beautiful landscape that’s light in the summer (literally it doesn’t get 100% dark, although the sun does set, just below the horizon) and dark in the winter.

As winter tends to cover almost 6 months, it’s a good thing I love snow, cold and sewing wool!

Winter in Umeå
Seriously, who would not love winter when it looks like this?

Sweden’s a fairly small nation, with only 9 million inhabitans, but it does have a great vintage scene. Not that many vintage superbargains to be found, but a lot of people dressing vintage. Vintage here is for many closely linked to sustainable living, as a part of making an effort to lessen our impact on nature by consuming less factory-new things.

What is it that appeals to you about vintage sewing?

I love the styles! The 30s with all the interesting cuts, ruffles, pockets, shirrings and overall details is my favorite to look at, the 50s feminine elegance always seems right when dressing up, but for everyday wear it’s the 40s practical, comfortable, downtoned classy-ness I turn to.

I adore all the fun details and techniques that comes with vintage patterns! I’m also partial to the types of fabrics suited for vintage sewing, as sewing medieval taught me that natural fabrics (linen, wool, cotton, silk) are the best to wear and the best to work with.

30s Loveliness

I’ve hesitantly and with great caution recently started playing around with synthetic fabrics – it’s a whole new world! Not totally convinced yet that it’s a better world…

I know you love to Lindy Hop and teach medieval dance…how did you get involved in those two very different styles? Which one do you prefer?

They are indeed very different! But then I really love all types of dancing… When joining the medieval society, it was a given for me to take to the historical dancing being taught. It’s very special, with many choerographies, geometrical patterns done by sets of dancers etc.

I’ve flirted with a lot of modern dances, but when I tried lindy hop it was love at first step. Six years later it’s still the most joy-bringing hobby I know. The jazz, the playfulness of the moves and rythms, the finetuned lead/following, it’s impossible to not smile while dancing lindy!


I have to admit, all my other hobbies tends to come second to lindy, one of the reasons why my sewing takes a halt when the dance scene is very intense. I’ve barely even been to a medieval event since the lindy hop caught me… (I have still been teaching medieval dance though)

What’s your favorite outfit that you’ve made?

Erhm… I know I’ve already posted about it, but I have to confess: everyday when I slip it on, I fall in love again with my coat. I love the quality of the materials, the cut of the bodice, the fit and how very comfortable these things makes a coat that weighs a lot when you just hold it.

Another favorite is a red dress I made in 40s style. I made the pattern myself and the fabric is an organic interlocked cotton jersey. Again, comfort is important, and this dress is the easiest I’ve ever worn. I like the cut on the bodice and I also like the colour. This was my first attempt at working with knits, but I’m certain there will be more knits in my future as this make is my go-to dress for all semi-formal events. Comfort and style in harmony!

Red swing dress

Finally, you’ve got to teach us how to say “Wow Erika, your coat is amazing!” in Swedish 😉

Lol! Absolutley: “Wow, Erika, din kappa är fantastisk!”


Ok everyone, altogether now “Wow, Erika, din kappa är fantastisk!” Let us know what you thought of the feature in the comments below. You can get to know Erika better over at her blog.

  1. I also have a bernina 730 i bought second hand in 1993 ..i.love it so much more than my modern jenome and always end up using it for my projects…i love your style and the coat is especialy fabulous…great job 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for sharing – it always so interesting to meet the people behind the sewing! And yes that coat is amazing. You’ve inspired me to attempt my own once it gets a bit colder her.

  3. That coat is a knockout! I’m a total coat fiend, which is absurd since I live on the U.S. Gulf Coast, where you need a coat for about four days a year.

    And for the record: I’d totally go to Sweden if it were in the travel budget. I spent a summer in Norway when I was 14/15 and loved it. How could I not want to see more of the Scandinavian countries?

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