What makes for an admiration is to encounter a person with harmony within. A quiet yet determined sense of achievement, not only in the realms of a career, but as a mother, a wife, an active member of her community, and an inspiration to her sewing circle of sisters. Today, our heroine Victoria Smith, a doctor, a mother of three and a keen sewing enthusiast conveys the necessity and possibility of staying true to your wellbeing as well as being actively present for both your family and your community.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I am a full time Doctor working as an Anesthesiologist in a small town in Northern Alabama. I have 3 beautiful children, ages 10, 6, and 3, and an amazing stay-at-home hubby that takes very good care of the house and children! We also have an exchange student, age 15, staying with us right now from Switzerland! We have 2 dogs and 3 cats! I love to travel and love fashion. I find expanding my horizons, be it with medical knowledge, fashion trends, or new (to me) cultures are what I love most. I love to create and challenge myself daily in all areas of life. I love music, art, drama, ballet, and all other forms of expression! I was a dancer for most of my life until college! I thoroughly enjoy the arts as well as science. Balancing work, family, and creativity is a challenge but it is great to be alive and well and have the ability to even have a problem such as this!
Why do you sew?
I sew because it combines so many of my talents and things I love into one hobby. I enjoy being precise and making things according to very clear directions. At the same time, I love to go off book sometimes and create something completely new. I love to challenge myself and learn new hobbies. I can get lost in beautifully pressed seams and topstitching for a very long time. I am a little bit of a perfectionist with sewing, but at the same time, sometimes I let things go. I have an obsession with always looking different, challenging myself to dress outside of my comfort zone, mixing and matching prints, and never wearing the same combo of clothing twice! I am always mixing it up with new accessories or in an interesting way. Sewing allows me to create something unique, gives me a control over my fabric choice and quality, and gives me the notion that I won’t look like anyone else and that makes me really happy! I love to sew garments that lead me in a new direction and that will enhance all of my other makes. I love how I can fit my long torso, smaller bust, smaller waist, and wider hips with alterations! I have never been happier than when I made my first pair of perfectly fitting pants!
I like to make garments that challenge the norm and cause some people to notice me, either in a good or bad way. Either way, it doesn’t affect me because I am doing it for myself! I try to be lightyears ahead of the little small town I live in, which means I probably look weird to everyone around me 90% of the time. What can I say, I love the confidence and creativity sewing has helped flourish. I am more confident all around just by enjoying and embracing this hobby! Have I given you enough reason to start or keep sewing if you were not convinced already!? HA!
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
To be honest, I am mostly in silence because if I am reading directions, I like to really focus. I think about a lot of things in silence or use the time to talk to my hubby in the room next to my sewing room. I also interact with the kids as they pass to and fro through my sewing room. I don’t like to shut them off from talking to me or not seem available for interaction! I like to be aware of what is going around me in the house. If I am home alone, I will put on music sometimes. If so, it is either current music of today, or classical music. I also love musical theater, so I play songs from many musicals I am familiar with and love. If I am making a pattern I have made before or if it is very easy, I might put on an old movie on my laptop or just listen to a podcast. So the long answer to that question is that it depends! It is always different, just like the clothing I create!
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
I always thought my mother was and IS so beautiful. There is a picture I have of her as a prom queen in high school and she was so gorgeous. She looks about 30 years younger than she actually is. She is so beautiful inside and out and I am so blessed to get to look up to her everyday! I also admire Audrey Hepburn and grew up watching her in many movies. I think she was a great role model inside and out.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
I think my current living situation has afforded me the time and energy to devote to my craft and hobby. I live in a small town with essentially less to do. I enjoy staying home and indoors to work on my creative outlet whenever I can. My job affords me some extra time and vacation I wouldn’t have otherwise if I lived in a city with a busier medical center. It is a healthy balance of lifestyle, vacation, family, work and church.
How do you balance motherhood and the importance of staying creative?
This is a very hard question for me. Because not only am I balancing motherhood, but also a full-time job, and trying to contribute to home life so that my husband is not stuck with everything or too overwhelmed. My husband stays at home with the kids. Being a mother that works away from home, I feel like I have a unique perspective on things in regards to children. I essentially get time away from them all the time, so it is especially hard for me to come home and ignore them while I sew or go on trips without them. When I get home from work, I feel like I am in tune with their needs and more sensitive to them because they are not constantly nagging me all day, so its easier to approach them with a fresh attitude and face. I ALSO know that I need to sew for my health and well being and creativity, and need time for that too. There are times when I feel like I need to stop and take a break and spend extra time with the kids and times where I feel like I can allow myself to sew. Luckily, my sewing room is in a central part of the house. I refuse to move my sewing room upstairs or to the basement, because that is not where the majority of the family resides at most times. I enjoy having my sewing be in the middle of everything. I think this helps me balance it well. My 3 year old invades my personal space and sewing space constantly and I actually enjoy it because he spends time with mommy regardless of what I am doing. He will sit in the same room as me and drive his cars around and just play in general. The older two will sometimes be in there with me or paint something and bring it to me. It works and it ends up being a good balance. I just use my judgement and intuition and hope I am doing the right thing!
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
It’s not super recent but my favorite book has to be Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have read it once but want to read it again. It is such a beautiful story of unconditional love and makes me cry good happy tears!
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
I remember the first time I made something, I was freshly married and I fiddled with my mom’s Bernina 930. I had so much trouble with the front loading bobbin! It was an old machine so there was not a lot out there to assist me in this other than calling my mom! I decided on making some raw silk curtains for our dining room with some crystal dangle trim at the bottom and they were beautiful! When someone came to buy our house, the couple said they would only buy the house if we left the curtains (all eventually homemade)! That was pretty exciting and a proud moment!
Who are your muses and inspiration?
I am CONSTANTLY inspired by the sewing and fashion community. I get inspiration from pattern makers, home sewers, design and sewing shows, magazines, famous designers, etc. I even watched a Masterclass by Anna Wintour the other day and it was amazing to learn how she thinks and manages being in charge of so much. I love to learn how fashion decisions are made and what goes into making a garment. I also watched a Masterclass by Marc Jacobs, and to hear him describe making a garment from the sketch to the finished product was so illuminating! I am also inspired by fashion photographers and seeing what they can create. Photography is a big part of what I do and is also part of the creative process even though I am not taking the photos! My husband, Jody Smith takes all of my pictures! I love nature as well and some of my favorite waterfalls and lakes have inspired many designs I have come up with. What can I say, the world is inspiring and I am like a sponge soaking it all in!
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
I think the instagram community is the best way for me to connect with other makers. I have made so many friends, many I have met in real life, that I will always treasure!
How important is it to make something with your hands?
VERY IMPORTANT! Before I was sewing everyday, I was learning to crochet and then I picked up knitting. It is very rare that my hands are idle and using my creativity while accomplishing something is so important to me. I just feel so much better if I can knit and watch a movie and end up with a sweater after a couple of movies rather than nothing! I also do enjoy sitting and doing nothing at times. It is good to be idle every once in a while, or to snuggle with a little one or the hubby!
What does success mean to you?
In my mind, I have achieved success! I enjoy what I do everyday, I have so many loved ones around me! Material possessions, although they are great and I have weaknesses for accessories and shoes, do not last forever. They are not meant to come with us after we are done here on earth and they mean nothing in the long run. What matters is the memories we make, the little things we can do to encourage others and make a difference, and that we live each day to the fullest! I have a strong faith and love in my Christianity and community and that is what drives and fulfills my joy daily. Without it, I would just be an empty vessel searching for more boots to buy, acknowledgements, likes on instagram, or garments to make to fill me up! I enjoy what I do and whatever I make, is a reflection of something I truly wanted to see come to life. I feel satisfied and proud when it is done usually, and what other people think of it really doesn’t matter! But it is nice when you guys love it!
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I have been needing more red in my life lately and I chose the beautiful CRIMSON signature finish linen so that I could feel luxurious in my special garment. I decided on the Nenuphar jacket from Deer and Doe Patterns, view B! I love the gathered sleeves and back. I got a medium weight linen because I wanted my garment to have a little structure. I decided that I wanted just a light jacket for those days in Southern Alabama when it is supposed to be cold according to the date on the calendar, but the state is disagreeing and giving us hot weather! I can still look festive and “cozy” while wearing a breathable garment. It will be very easy to layer with a turtleneck or even a light camisole if it is really warm. A sequinned camisole would look lovely underneath for night out! I think it is also perfect for the summer and on the yacht I don’t have. I decided to add elastic in the sleeves to make them poof out and I love this. I just used the hem to create a casing and made the elastic tight enough to where it stayed in place on my arm.
I hope you have enjoyed this and thanks for coming along with me on my journey!