When did you learn to sew? Who taught you?
My mom used to sew a lot of my clothes when I was a kid, but I didn’t appreciate it at the time, and refused to learn because I thought it was silly to make things when you could just buy them from a store. She passed away in 2004, and there have been many times since then that I wish I had listened when she tried to teach me. It wasn’t until I had my own kids that I saw how useful it is to be able to create clothing for them that is tailored to their size and activities.
I officially started learning to sew on November 26, 2011. I had bought my girls (ages 4 and 1 1/2 then) a kitchen set for Christmas, and decided to sew them each a set of aprons, chef hats, oven mitts, and hot pads. Other than some occasional mending, I’d never sewn anything, or followed any patterns. I bought all of my materials, and took everything over to my Mom’s best friend’s house and she patiently started showing me how to use a sewing machine, how to cut the fabric properly, and basically walked me through the steps to make all of the restaurant set pieces I had planned. We worked on it for 12 straight hours.
The next big jump in sewing came with my older daughter’s desire to have a special hoodie made. My younger daughter got a My Little Pony hoodie for her second birthday that had ears, a mane, a tail, and pegasus wings. My older daughter loved it and was a bit jealous, so I tried to find one online in her size. Even though she was only 5, she was the size of an average 8 year-old and we just couldn’t find anything. So, I enlisted Kelie’s assistance to alter a store-made hoodie into a My Little Pony one for her 6th birthday. Kelie has been my teacher/mentor ever since.
It started to snowball from there. My girls started having special requests for Halloween costumes and birthday dresses. I’ve made shirts and leotards specially fit to their tall and skinny mini-Amazonian bodies. I started to branch out into making bags and purses, and I bought an embroidery machine when just picking fun fabrics wasn’t enough anymore.
Where do you gather inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from my girls. They’ll ask if I can make something that we just can’t find in a store, and we make it work. Sometimes, I’ll see something online or that someone near me is wearing, and snap a pic to see if I can figure out how to duplicate it later.
What’s your favorite part of creating?
My favorite part of creating is feeling the little sparkle of excitement when the project comes together. There’s one at the beginning when you can visualize what your project will look like because you’ve gathered everything you’re going to use to make it, and there’s another as the project has physically taken shape and you can hold it. When the project is for me, that’s my favorite part.
If I’m making something for my girls, my excitement is nothing compared to the look on their face when they finally get the finished project in their hands. <3
What are your sewing superpower and weakness?
My sewing superpower is my willingness to jump into a pattern and go for it. I may not have done a particular technique before, or tried something so complicated, but I just take it one step at a time and work my way through it.
My weakness is that I generally can’t leave a pattern as-is. I have a habit of tweaking things to add features I want instead of just making it as it was designed. Kelie calls it “Frankenpatterning” when I get a little more out of control than usual.
What’s your style?
Comfortable casual. I’m a jeans and T-shirt kinda gal, and I pick my clothing and bags by utility rather than fashion. I aim for practical over trendy, but love seeing unique features on tried and true favorites.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My girls. They inspire me to try new things. They appreciate my crafty hobbies in a way my husband just doesn’t understand, and I’m quickly converting them to be little handcrafters in their own rights.
What are you doing when you’re not sewing/designing?
I work full-time outside the home as a front-line manager for a software company. But my biggest time sink…er… non-sewing “fun” activity is Girl Scouts. I’m one of the leaders of the biggest troop in our area and that takes a lot of time to maintain. My girls absolutely love it, though, so it looks like I won’t be giving that up any time soon.
I also dabble in other crafty-like things. I am a hobbyist baker and cake decorator. I like painting stuff like ornaments or gaming miniatures. My family also plays a lot of board and card games.
What machines do you have? What’s on your machine wishlist?
My primary sewing machine is a Janome HD3000. It works great for getting through the thick seams on bags, but it doesn’t have any of the “laziness” features that are helpful because it’s a purely mechanical machine.
My older daughter is using my Brother CS6000i. I like how it has speed control and automatic needle settings, but it just couldn’t do really thick seams, so my daughter is using it to learn to sew right now. I steal it back when I need the fancy stitches. 🙂
I also have a Singer Futura XL-580. It’s a sewing/embroidery combo machine, but I’ve only ever used it for embroidery. I love to embellish projects with bits of embroidery. It really just takes projects up a notch.
My last machine is my Brother 1034 Serger. I’ve had it about 6 months, and it is really helping me speed up the making of my kids’ clothes.
My wishlist is really just to upgrade what I already have. I would love to have a heavy-duty computerized sewing machine that has all the bells and whistles and fancy stitches of the high-end computerized machines, but it needs to be able to sew through whatever crazy combination of layers I might throw at it. For embroidery, it might be nice to someday have a multi-needle machine or something with a bigger embroidery area, but I’m quite happy with what I have right now.
What’s your advice to someone new to sewing?
Have no fear. You get do-overs. If you don’t like how a seam looked when you finished stitching it, pull out your trusty seam-ripper, and take it out. Try, try again.
What’s your sewing pet peeve?
I really don’t like pinning things. Either putting them in, or pulling them out as I’m sewing. I got in the habit of just sewing over them when I was primarily using my Brother CS6000i and that worked really, really well (Kelie is shaking her head right now, I assure you). But my HD3000 has more oomph, and when it hits a pin, it doesn’t just slide around it, it tries to punch through it and scary noises happen.
What’s a funny thing most people don’t know about you?
I dressed up as a clown for Halloween when I was in my late teens. My mom made the outfit, which was one of the few times I had ever asked her to sew for me. After Halloween, I would occasionally dress up in the costume (sometimes, including the make-up) and hang out in my room teaching myself to make balloon animals. For some reason, it was just more fun while dressed up. My older daughter found my stash of balloons one day and asked what they were for. Even though I hadn’t made anything in about 10 years, we sat together and made some flowers and animals (sans costume).