I first 'met' this sewist when she contacted me to ask for my permission to use my free Coco pattern to make an entry for the 2012 Hoffman Challenge.... Oh how THRILLED I was that she she ask and yes of course....I said YES! The rest is history....we have been chatting on and off ever since! (But at least NOW I know what she looks like! LOL) So today I would like to introduce you to Lorraine:
I really don’t remember not sewing! I think I was about 5 or 6 when I made my first (very pitiful) Barbie dress with help from my mom.
Who taught you to sew or are you self-taught?
My mom started me making doll clothes using my Singer hand-crank toy machine, and later when she helped my Girl Scout troop earn our sewing badge, I knew I was in love with sewing. I was so excited to make a skirt for me using the “real” sewing machine! Junior High Home Economics was the final push that got me making a majority of my own clothes. As a Fashion Merchandising major in college I had classes in flat pattern, draping and tailoring which really helped hone my skills. Those professors taught the “traditional old school” methods—no fusible anything, lots of hand basting, lots of ripping out what didn’t meet their standards—absolutely no shortcuts in those classes. I guess it’s good to know the rules before you start breaking them!
It’s easier to say what I don’t like to sew: anything traditionally tailored and I hate “production-line” repetitive sewing. I sewed for a living for a while, and I loved wedding gown sewing but when it came to making six identical dresses for the bridesmaids, I got soooo bored! Otherwise, I like making just about anything—garments, quilts, costumes, doll clothes, home dec , and the past few years it has been all about handbags and other accessories.
I wish I could be more “free form”, but with all that traditional training I had, it can be hard! Sometimes I have to make it up as I go, like when making bags from felted sweaters. But I love using well-designed patterns (like yours, Christine!) knowing I’ll get great results, and I will modify purse patterns for size, etc. My “designing” is really in my fabric, trim and embellishment choices.
My husband and I went on a two-week road trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and I had to have a new purse. The “Parisian Love Letters Collection” from Urban Threads embroidery was my inspiration. I love their “post card pillow” and thought the concept would work well on a bag, so I dyed some canvas to look “aged” and embroidered my heart out. Then I realized it was way too big to be a purse, so it became tote bag. I love it, use it often it and it reminds me of our trip looping through 12 states last year.
Do you have a favourite fabric type you prefer to work with? Favourite Fabric line or fabric designer?
If it’s fabric, I love it and probably use it! I buy remnants at the fabric store for my bags, and they are usually velvet, silk, chenille—higher-end fabrics I wouldn’t ordinarily purchase. I do really like Moda’s French General and Three Sisters romantic prints like “Paris Flea Market”.
1) Enjoy the process and realize there is something to learn from every project.
2) Marry someone who likes to cook so you have more time to sew! And make sure your partner understands this other love in your life.
What type of machine/s do you have?
Please keep in mind; I started this “collection” 35 years ago! I have a very basic Kenmore, a Riccar serger, a Viking serger, an Elna sewing machine, a Janome sewing/embroidery machine, a Brother sewing/embroidery machine, a Brother embroidery machine and a Janome embellisher. Oh, and I still have that Singer hand-crank toy that is almost 50 years old!
When I started thinking about my UFO’s, I realized most are quilts—one I started 1973 (!), one I started for my friend’s baby (and that “baby” just gave birth to her second baby!!!), one specifically for the house we moved out of 14 years ago—but there are a few garments as well. In a sense my entire stash is sort of a UFO since most of it was purchased to make something specific and it never happened. Thankfully I have learned not to cut fabric without immediate intent to sew.
I really need to deal with those UFO quilts! And then there’s the stash that needs to dwindle...
I have a full time job, so I only have evenings and weekends to sew. Occasionally I get up an hour or two early, but I’m not a morning person, so I’ve got to be desperate to meet a deadline to do it!
Do you have a dedicated sewing space or room?
I do. Several years ago I moved from a large spare bedroom to the basement. I got more floor space, but lost a foot of vertical space which was surprisingly annoying. There are no windows in the area I have down there, so I had no fresh air or natural light. I was on a mission to remedy that issue. Remodel the sunroom? Not too practical. Buy a new house? Even less practical. I kept mentioning to my husband what a nice sewing room the family room would make but he pointed out we actually use the family room and don’t really use the “formal” living room, so I moved up there with my machines and current projects. Storage and cutting table are still in the basement and I now have windows and fresh air upstairs. Unfortunately, it’s what you see the moment you walk into the house, but we figure everyone who comes over knows I sew, so it doesn’t really matter. The best part is the cats visit and “help” now—they rarely visited the basement, and usually just to let me know they were hungry or wanted out. So I’m right back where I was 30 years ago when I was sewing at one end of the living room in my apartment—with no door to close to hide the mess!
I love to read, and I occasionally knit and dabble a little in jewelry making, but I can’t stay away from fabric very long!
Thanks so much for interviewing me! I was so lucky the day I found you through your free “Coco” pattern. As long as I’ve been sewing and making purses, I never utilized hardware like I have since using your patterns! Also I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being able to use your patterns in my selling efforts.
Thanks for a fun interview Lorraine and thank you for sharing your awesome work with us! :)
You can find out more about Lorraine here:
Next week we have a Pattern Designer who sews with a 20 year old machine her mom gave her when I was 15. On a whim, she told her mom that she wanted to sew her own clothes and so off they went to the fabric store and bought a machine however the clothes saeing didn't work out and the machine was then left idle for about 15 years.....good job she decided to take up sewing again! LOL