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Interview with Marga van der Vet, a Dutch Model and Seamstress

Marga van der Vet in a white dress

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by Elena Tran
January 23, 2021

 

Marga van der Vet, a beautiful 50+ model from the Netherlands, is one of the extraordinary women of our times. She has contagious zest for life, unique business acumen, great intelligence and very warm and genuine personality. In addition to managing her professional portfolio, this bright and energetic model also has the website for aspiring dressmakers https://www.sewingchanelstyle.com/ in Dutch and in English where she shares how to make Chanel-style jackets and all about the Chanel brand. She also has two other blogs: book reviews and a niche website for horse riding enthusiasts and she doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
I recently sat down with Marga (virtually, of course) to talk about her extraordinary life, her mistakes and triumphs, her challenges during the pandemic, multiple projects and her life lessons.

Marga van der Vet the seamstress
When did you get interested in sewing? Tell us how it all began.
Marga: I started sewing when I was twelve years old. I was just trying to make clothes for our guinea pigs. They were very happy when I started to make skirts for my sister and me (laugh).
Are you self-taught or did you take sewing/design courses?
Marga: I am self-taught, but when I was 15 years old, my mother and I went to sewing classes for two years. I did not like it as I was a stubborn child, and I did not want to do everything in small little steps. But looking back on it, these classes were wonderful. I cannot thank my mother and the teacher anymore. So, thanks!
What do you love about sewing/dressmaking?
Marga: I am very busy with my hands, I just need to be creative. I even love hand sewing, knitting and cutting the sewing patterns.
Do you have a particular preference for certain types of clothing? What do you avoid wearing?

Marga: I love the classics, the timeless clothes which are always ok. I especially love vintage clothes, the fifties, the twenties and even more back in time. If it were for me, I would walk around in dresses, blouses and coats as the ladies in 'Downtown Abbey'. I am not sure about the corset though (laugh).

I avoid 'looking like my daughter', meaning: trendy clothes which are not flattering for a 40+, tight leggings, hoodies and tiger-prints. If you are desperately trying to look young, you end up looking old. If you dress with respect for your age, you look younger and strong.

 

"If you dress with respect for your age, you look younger and strong".

 

What was the biggest lesson you’ve learned when you started sewing/dressmaking?
Marga: I still need to learn this lesson: being patient. I am always speeding up the process but it is better to slow down. To deal with it, I am always working on more projects at the same time. So I can take a break when it does not work out the way I want it and focus on another sewing project. It is like a puzzle. When you stop for a while, the next time it is: eureka!
Marga van der Vet in a boucle Chanel-style jacket
What was your biggest mistake?

Marga: I always make mistakes. Recently I was making a very difficult blazer (Vogue V8333), I ended up with two right sleeves (laugh). Thank God, I always buy extra fabric to deal with it. You cannot avoid making mistakes, it just happens. Accept it, make a note in a notebook and maybe next time you will not make the same mistake. But sewing without making mistakes is like baking (or any creative occupation) without making mistakes. Impossible!

 

"But sewing without making mistakes is like baking (or any creative occupation) without making mistakes. Impossible!"
What sewing project was your greatest achievement?
Marga: Some 'Chanel-style' jackets are really great. I wear them all the time, even when I am outside in the garden or working with the horses. It probably looks a bit overdressed, but the horses do not mind (laugh).
What advice would you give to those who are just starting out?
Marga: Just do it! Even with a very cheap sewing machine and cheap fabrics, you will have a great time. It does not have to cost a fortune. Start with easy sewing patterns, making pillows or face masks. Sooner or later you will start to sew your own perfectly-fitting-clothes!
You have so many projects happening. Tell us what you are currently working on and how do you balance your time?
Marga: The peaceful moments of the day are sewing and reading (or listening to audio books while sewing). I always try to have a few hours a day. I think women over the ages were always creative with knitting, embroidery etc. As you told us in an article, it is good for your mind and to stay balanced and healthy. It even makes you happy!
During the pandemic things changed for so many of us. What is your typical day now?

Marga: The only thing which changed for me is the family at home. Not so much time for myself but I love to have them around. I am walking with the dog for two hours a day, housekeeping, sewing, reading, writing, and working outdoors in the garden and with the horses. I miss the photo shoots but I hope it will be possible in a few months after most people have the vaccination and the Pandemic is more under control.

 

"Even with a very cheap sewing machine and cheap fabrics, you will have a great time."
You are an avid reader. What books do you enjoy reading the most and why?

Marga: I have a books review website (https://boekrecensiesblog.nl/) with five other writers. That's very nice because it motivates me a lot to read books and write reviews. I used to talk about books all the time and make my family and friends crazy. 'You really have to read this fantastic book' etc. and they never did… So even they are very happy with the website (laugh). I prefer to read fiction, but I read non-fiction as well. Over the years, I discovered I remember more about books than about movies. Reading a beautiful book is more intense and is more memorable.

I also built a platform for horse lovers (https://www.paardencolumns.com/), for all ages and all horse breeds. People can share their stories and information. It is really nice because it is not about sports or successes, but about the normal daily life of people with horses or people who love horses. I used to repair horse blankets for every horse in my surroundings mainly because nobody seems to have a sewing machine.

Marga van der Vet with a horse

Nowadays, because of the Pandemic, more people are sewing mainly because of the need to make face masks, which were not available in Europe. But it’s also because people have more time at home, and they started to be more creative. And also because we realize more and more that global trade has its negative sides as well. To deal with job losses etc. new local-made (fashion) products are getting more attention, and sustainability, recycling, upcycling etc. as well.

You are also a successful model. Tell us how your interest in modeling began.

Marga: I started modeling when I was 40 years old. I cannot remember why. Nobody told me anything. I just started to look around on the internet. Contacted photographers, joined forums, building up a portfolio and even tried to get signed in into model agencies. Some gave me paid jobs; some said I did not look like a model. Anyway, over the years I got better with posing and learned how to work with great photographers and to avoid the bad guys.
It is still fun although you have to be a tough cookie because photographers, model agencies and make-up artists can be really nasty: you are too old or too young, too fat, too normal or too commercial. It is never good enough.

What was your first paid modeling job and what was the most important thing you’ve learned from your first experience?

Marga: I cannot remember the first commercial shoot anymore, but I really had fun in a TV commercial: horseback riding on the beach for a pharmaceutical company. The production was from the early morning till the late evening. I was exhausted at the end of the day, and guess what, the commercial is 0.21 seconds. Anyway, the horses were great and they got a lot of breaks, the male model was a hunk, the make-up artist was a darling and the whole crew was very nice. It was like a (paid) dream! (Laugh)

Marga van der Vet in a commercial
What do you most enjoy about modeling? How does it influence your other projects?

Marga: I enjoy everything about it. The positive stress when I am preparing for the photo-shoot, the contact with the photographer, doing my make-up, posing and last but not least: getting the pictures and choosing the best of them. When I have a paid shoot, I need to be somewhere in time and you never know what will happen during the day of the shoot. You do not know anybody and you probably do not get to see the pictures, or receive some of them weeks later.
When I have the unpaid photo shoot, I always ask the photographer if I am allowed to use the pictures for my websites. I bring some extra sewing projects and I am grateful when the photographer makes some great shots.

What motivates and inspires you in your life and your career?

Marga: My biggest inspiration is the idea that we only have one life. I am just trying to make the best of it. Balance the time spending with my family and me-time. Balance normal life with the glitter and glamour of a photo-shoot. Sewing, reading and writing to connect with others to get my inspiration and to share it.

 

"My biggest inspiration is the idea that we only have one life. I am just trying to make the best of it."

 

What is your motto?

Marga: I do not have a motto. I used to say: 'no guts no glory'. I still have a lot of guts but I cannot define 'glory' anymore in terms of success or getting rich. I think nowadays 'glory' is being happy with your life and connecting with people who share the same interests.

Marga van der Vet



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