August 1, 2016

The Curvy Confidence Interviews: Naomi of @NaomiMolly

Welcome to the latest installment of the Curvy Confidence Interviews, where I get the chance to interview my favourite, most inspiring curvy sewists and learn more about their lives. Today I’m thrilled to be chatting to Naomi Abramowicz, also known as @naomimolly on Instagram. I was first introduced to Naomi through Mary, who asked me if I was already following this drop-dead gorgeous vintage sewing journalist from Stockholm… and I was immediately a fan! Naomi has fabulous style, a phenomenal commitment to pattern fitting, and is sharp as a tack to boot. Over to you, Naomi!

Tell us a little about yourself:  how old are you, where do you live, what do you do for work, how long have you been sewing? 
 First I just want to say, what an honour it is to be interviewed by one of my favourite curvy girls! Right, to business. I’m 28 years old, I live in the capital of Sweden, Stockholm in a beautiful 40’s flat with my fiancé aka the Love of my life aka Mats. My day job is as an editorial writer which pretty much means that people pay me to write about my views on politics, not too shabby! I haven’t been sewing very long, only since 2012.
What are attitudes towards body image and appearance like in Sweden? How did these affect you as you grew up – did you feel like you fit in?  
You know the image that comes up in your head when you think of what a Swedish woman looks like? Blonde, leggy and slim? Yeah, that isn’t a myth. Of course, not all Swedish women look like that but in general they’re rather slim, tall and sporty – something that I’ve never been able to identify with. I’ve always been curvy with wide hips, boobs and a rather small waist and stubby little legs. And I have a shock of dark hair and ridiculously fair skin. So no, I most definitely didn’t fit in when growing up, not in any way. It took me a long time to accept that I’m never going to look good in the sporty Swedish look that verges on the androgynous. During one time in my life I also did the whole skin tight jeans-thing, a pair of skinny jeans can be found in practically every Swedish woman’s closet, but it just wasn’t me! When I was younger I strived to fit in, but I’m just one of those people who’s meant to stick out. I’ve made peace with it now and rather enjoy flouncing about with my full skirted dresses.
Who or what most influenced your perception of what women’s bodies are “meant” to look like?
It’s neither movies nor magazines that have shaped my idea of what a woman should look like. The single thing that has influenced me the most is the fit of RTW clothing. And more specifically, the way they never fit me. I’ve never been one size, I’ve always been all over the place. So I always had that sinking feeling when I entered a dressing room, I just knew that clothes off the rack would never fit me the way I wanted them to. My boobs were too big or my hips too wide or my upper arms too thick. It was apparent that  they weren’t meant to fit someone who looked like me. And I never felt it more than when I stood in front of a mirror, half dressed and my flaws all too obvious in that unflattering light that seems to be mandatory in changing rooms.
When – and why – did you learn to sew, and how did it affect the way you feel about your appearance? Did anything/anyone else in particular help you to become more body-positive? 
I’m so envious of those who learned how to sew from their mothers and grandmothers. But we didn’t even have a sewing machine when I was growing up! Instead my sewing journey began with my love of all things vintage.
When I started dressing in vintage style clothing about five years ago I was so frustrated that I couldn’t find clothing my size and that fit me the way I wanted to. Vintage clothes are typically rather small and when you have a 32/33ish waist like I do the pickings are rather slim, especially if you’re fussy about what colours you like to wear – which I am. I didn’t want to compromise and buy clothes that didn’t suit my colouring or fork out a fortune for a simple cotton dress. And I didn’t want to settle for “repro clothing”, especially since they didn’t fit me the way I wanted them to. That’s when I decided that I was going to learn how to sew, no matter what it took! It really wasn’t something that came natural to me, I’m a rather impatient person and I hate being a beginner.
I read lots of sewing blogs, bought a plethora of sewing books and proceeded to make a horrible a-line skirt in home dec fabric. It was a complete disaster. But even though I’m exceedingly impatient I’m also incredibly stubborn. So I decided that I was going to do this thing properly. I went to a class at Tygverket, a sewing shop in Stockholm that’s also a sewing studio, and I sewed my first ever garment – a wool felt circle skirt. And to quote Tilly Walnes – it was love at first stitch! I had been looking for some kind of creative outlet for years and with sewing I finally found it.
The feeling that I had made something with my own two hands that I could actually wear was just mind-blowing. Little old me, the same girl who barely scraped a pass grade in shop class, had made a fully wearable garment; a beautiful dark green wool circle skirt that was just made for twirling. I went to another class, sewed a pencil skirt and I was hooked! The girl who had taught the two classes, the stylish seamstress Amanda Sharp, became my mentor and started teaching me one on one. Ever since that first circle skirt class she has been my go to gal. Whenever I need help fitting a pattern I go to her for advice. I wish every seamstress had an Amanda in their lives!
The clothing that I was able to create together with Amanda fit me better than anything off the rack ever had. It was such a revelation. There was no need to ever stand in a harshly lit changing room again, critically examining my body and all its so called faults. Now I had the ability to sew clothing that was made just for me. For once, my body was the standard. If something didn’t fit I wasn’t the one who had to change, I could just change the pattern instead.
I started to appreciate my voluptuous body that I had once found so annoying. And I think that others started seeing me differently too. The amount of compliments I got on my clothing was staggering. I loved to be able to say smugly “Why thank you very much, I made it myself”. And I’ve never looked back! Going to that circle skirt class was, hands down, one of the best things that I’ve ever done.
I’ve also been blessed with a fabulous man who cheers me on and is always eager to see what I’m going to sew next. Luckily he shares my love of style and clothing. And he never complains when our living room is covered in sewing paraphernalia and pins are strewn all over the floor. And he might be the best compliment giver ever. Mats has the ability to make me feel beautiful whatever I’m wearing and no matter how I feel about myself.
You have a very distinctive style – have you always worn fit and flare dresses? 
I’ve had loads of crazy styles! I’ve always loved expressing myself through clothing. I started thrift shopping when I was around fifteen. I remember a gorgeous emerald 60’s wool suit that I bought for something like 12 dollars, its somewhere in the back of my closet now, way too small but oh so pretty. During one time in high school I used to wear men’s trousers with suspenders and super tight white tank tops. And then I had my very weird phase where I wore high necked polyester blouses from the 70’s. At one time all I wore was band t-shirts, mini skirts and knee high striped stockings. When I started to wear dresses and vintage inspired clothing it felt like I had finally come home. I love wearing full skirts and feeling feminine. It’s a rather unexpected clash since I’m very career-minded, assertive and have a deep voice.
What role has social media played in building your self-confidence? 
Oh, I could talk on and on about the friends I’ve made on Instagram! The online sewing community is so supportive. We cheer each other on, give fitting advice and help one another if someone is having a bad day. There’s a feeling of sisterhood, something that I’ve never felt before. I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it!
What are the biggest challenges you face today in being positive about your body, and how do you overcome them? 
I’ve had acne since my late teens and still struggle with it today, even though it’s a lot better than it was a couple of years ago. But some days I just want to hide under the covers. During a couple of months in my early twenties, when my acne was at its worst, I used to avoid mirrors. I wore grey and black to try and make myself invisible. Now I’m determined to not let it control my life.
When I get breakouts nowadays I just sigh, put on some makeup and try to get on with my day. Then I whine a bit to Mats who gives me a big hug and says that I’m beautiful no matter what.
How do you think issues around body positivity affect women’s broader role in society? 
It annoys me to no end that women always have, and sadly still are, valued according to how their bodies live up to the current beauty ideal. I hope that the body positive movement, that has been gaining ground in social media, can make more women realise that their bodies are for them and them alone – not objects for the outside world to desire or despise.
What advice do you have for other women who still struggle to feel beautiful?
First I want to say that I feel you. Self love doesn’t come easy, at least not for me. But there are two things that have helped me along the way. The first is to stop comparing yourself to other women. It won’t get you anywhere and it’s just plain depressing. My second piece of advice is to only say nice things to yourself. Never say anything to yourself that you couldn’t say to another woman. For example, would you call another woman ugly or say that her arms are hideous or criticise her for her cellulite? Just try to be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

Thanks Naomi for sharing your story with us! Do you have any questions for Naomi? And who would you like to see interviewed next?

42 thoughts on “The Curvy Confidence Interviews: Naomi of @NaomiMolly

  1. Debra Wortman says:

    Inspiring interview!

    1. Naomi says:

      That makes me so happy to hear, thanks Debra!

  2. Meghan says:

    Does she have a blog? Lovely dresses on her instagram account!

    1. Naomi says:

      Hi Meghan! Unfortunately I don’t, not yet anyway 🙂

      1. Meghan says:

        Bummer! I’m following you on instagram at least. Congratulations to you and Mats on your recent engagement!!

        1. Naomi says:

          Aw, thank you so much! We’re ridiculously happy!

  3. Carolyn says:

    Naomi – it was so good getting to know you better. I follow you on IG and love the dresses you sew and how you interpret a pattern over and over again. A woman after my own heart!

    1. Naomi says:

      Carolyn, you’re such a sweetheart! I follow you too and you’re a true inspiration!

  4. Loved reading more about the gorgeous Naomi! Everything she makes is beautiful, and her wardrobe is incredibly inspiring.

    1. Naomi says:

      Thank you so much, Susan! By the way, I totally love your Leralynn dresses. They’re so pretty and the fit is stunning!

  5. Naomi!!!! Lovely to see your interview here! I just love your fabulous dresses. You have great taste.

    1. Naomi says:

      Jessica!!! That makes me so happy to hear <3 And I love your dresses too, that blue Washington hack was so pretty! I must make one of those too!

      1. Yes, you do! So easy to wear and I bet it would look smashing in some Liberty jersey.

  6. Brenda says:

    Jenny – thanks for another great interview with an articulate, inspiring guest!

    Naomi- thank you for sharing your experiences and attitude. It’s nice to know more about you- IG is great but the short format can only convey so much.

    1. Naomi says:

      Thank you for reading, Brenda! I agree, IG can only convey so much.

  7. James says:

    Thank you for an uplifting article.
    I love the quote: “When I was younger I strived to fit in, but I’m just one of those people who’s meant to stick out” – Hooray for all those who make the world more colourful!

    1. Naomi says:

      Yay, thank you James! Living in Sweden, I sometimes feel like a cartoon character since black and grey are the most common colours. But hey, I’m happy with being the most colourful person in the room 😀

  8. Lovely pics, lively interview. I agree with some of the other posts- you need to make us all happy with a blog!

    1. Naomi says:

      Thank you! <3 I'm definitely considering it, I do like the idea of being able to convey a bit more than on IG =)

  9. Kay says:

    What a fantastic interview! I loved reading your story and thoughts!

    1. Naomi says:

      Yay, that makes me so happy to hear! Thanks Kay!

  10. Tanya Maile says:

    I loved reading more about Naomi! I always loved her style and she’s one of the highlights of my ig feed. She’s always so stylish and beautiful and such a dear, sweet woman. Wishing her all the best with her fabulous fiance!

    1. Naomi says:

      Tanya, you’re such a sweetheart and thank you so much for your comment! I want to see you featured here and know more about you! <3

  11. Ginny says:

    What a great interview! Naomi, I so enjoyed learning a bit more about you. I follow you on Instagram and your photos always make me feel happy and inspired 😀

    1. Naomi says:

      Aw, thanks Ginny! That makes me so happy to hear!

  12. PsychicKathleen says:

    I just can’t say enough about how heart warming it was to read your thoughts and see your beautiful pictures! I’m 61 years old and been a feminist for more than 40 of those. You truly represent the absolutely BEST of what us old timer feminists hope to see happen in the next generations of women – a love of themselves born not of conformity to the norms of femininity but rather from authentic appreciation and celebration of who they ARE. The irony of seeing young women like yourselves dress in a vintage fashion which symbolizes so MUCH of how women were pushed into socially defined body shapes… yet using those styles to showcase their own unique beauty with such delightfully cheeky self confidence is well just simply JOY incarnate. You are so lovely, creative, intelligent and inspiring – it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet you 🙂

    1. Naomi says:

      What a lovely compliment! Thank you so much, Kathleen. This comment truly made my day <3

    2. Birthe says:

      I totally agree with Naomi, PsychicKathleen. So well ‘spoken’, SPOT ON! Such a good reminder for me. Pushed me towards more self-confidence; suddenly I cannot believe how I, as an old feminist at 54 (on sunday:-) jumped into that big mistake demeaning myself being too low, fat, and out of shape!
      Thank you for that comment! Made my day too 😀

  13. BusyLizzie says:

    What a lovely interview Naomi, it’s great to learn more about you and your viewpoint. Especially regarding positive body images. I also never imagined you’d have a deep voice!! Keep up the positivity, you always look gorgeous!

    1. Naomi says:

      Thanks, Liz! I’m thinking about making a super short IG video so you can all hear what I sound like 😉

  14. Tamara says:

    Such a lovely young lady! I was once told by my grandmother that I looked the “most Swedish” in my family when she returned from her only visit there. Yes I have Swedish genes but from what you say in your interview, we need to start a “not looking Swedish” club???? I have the height but it stops there! I love your clothes and I think my average height little sister would be quite comfortable in a vintage fashion line were you to suddenly start one. For someone quite new to sewing, I think you’ve shown some of us “veterans” a thing or two (but then I am only 12 years older than yourself and to be fair I have until recently swapped back from a sole child only garment sewing stint). You look fabulous! Thankyou so much for sharing your story with us.

    1. Naomi says:

      Haha, well – Swedes are known to be tall! I’m Jewish, my dad came to Sweden from Poland during the 50’s and my mum’s family was originally Jewish too, from Russia. So that’s why I look decidedly un-Swedish! 😀

      Aw, thank you so much! I have a lot to learn from you veterans. I definitely need to up my zipper game! Luckily, most people don’t stare at my back so they don’t see that my zippers are a bit wonky 😉

      1. Tamara says:

        It’s always handy to wear a cardigan just in case????

  15. Elizabeth says:

    You have such a great style! Do you have favorite patterns that you like to hack? I’m just getting started with all of this and would love some pattern suggestions! Thanks!!!

    1. Naomi says:

      Aw, thank you Elizabeth! I’m a big fan of Jenny and really love both the Appleton and the Upton dresses. The Moneta by Colette patterns is a really good intro to knits, but I recommend you to skip their fussy way of attaching the elastic and just sew it to the bodice pieces instead (this will make sense of you sew the dress, promise!).

  16. Rebekah says:

    What a fantastic interview! I have similar proportions: I’m short with a short waist, narrow shoulders, round bust and hips and have to make a million adjustments too (except since my baby my middle just filled that hourglass right in lol). Plus my sister lives in north Sweden, so I am excited Jenny shared your instagram with us. Following! Thanks for sharing, Naomi I love your style!

  17. Birthe says:

    Great interview – thanks a lot! So nice to hear about Naomi’s path to finding her own way in style and realizing that sewing was her way out! 🙂 I am my self a dane, who was skinny and blonde in my twenties…. in my fifties I’m not at all and I recognize Naomi’s experience when shopping clothes – augh!!
    Will definitely have a look at your instagram. Actually my daughter works a lot in Sweeden as a (blonde:) model and my half jewish niece lives in Stockholm 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your story Naomi. We need to accept that to some level we cannot control our bodies! Keep sewing and being a roll model for others.

  18. Donna says:

    Another great interview. I love this series and always look forward to reading the next one. Thank you!

  19. LadyxBec says:

    Great interview – I log Naomi’s style and she has such a great attitude 🙂

  20. danvillegirl says:

    Great interview! I was always extremely skinny when growing up and I was picked on all the time for being so skinny, this was in the 1960’s. So my experience was the opposite and I finally learned to accept who I was. I wish the message of accepting that “you were born this way” is okay and that diversity and inclusion should be accepted and part of all of our lives.

  21. Kerebsthecat says:

    Loved your interview. I am new to Instagram and have loved seeing your updates. Your style is beautiful and colourful. I used to sew all the time but got out of the habit. You are giving me the inspiration I need.

  22. Vicki Kate says:

    I love this interview!! Your answer regarding what influenced your perception of what women’s bodies are ‘meant’ to look like really resonated. I love seeing your posts pop up in my IG feed and I love seeing how happy and relaxed and in love you are in all your photos with Mats. You’re an inspiration, Naomi!

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