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Interview with Abbie & Jenna from Tigerlily Patterns

When Kt and I were in Brisbane for the school holidays I was lucky enough to meet the dynamic sister duo behind TigerLily Patterns.  It was such a lovely morning and if there hadn’t been a plane to catch I would’ve liked to just stay there chatting!


 

Jen & Abbie - Tigerlily

Abbie is the “Mrs Lily” half of Tigerlily Patterns being Mum to a Lily and Jenna is the “Mrs Tiger” half of Tigerlily Patterns, being a mum of two little Tigers.  Together they are Tigerlily Patterns, two sisters who love to sew and create.  They are a team that have been sewing and making for almost as long as they have known each other.  They combined together to become TigerLily to share their fun with you.

 


 

Can you tell me a little about how you got into sewing/designing patterns?

Abbie – Mum used to make a lot of our clothes growing up and taught us to make dolls clothes from primary school, then in high school I did Home Economics and really got into sewing clothes for me. I didn’t have a lot of time for sewing again until I stopped working to have Miss Lily. She has always been so tall for her age that store bought was always a funny fit so I made her clothes. As she got older I got more interested in designing things specifically for her and ended up doing a pattern making course which eventually led to Tigerlily Patterns

Jenna – Sewing has always been in my life- watching Mum sew as her hobby and she always let us (her 3 girls) use her machine to make and create. I loved taking Home Economics in high school and I was the one who made a patchwork quilt while everyone else was making a pillowcase. I began designing more of my own patterns after having my boys and finding a lack of choice, inspiring and fun things to make for them.

What is your best sewing tip or do you have a favourite haby item that you couldn’t live without.

Abbie – Best tip would be always keep scraps of all types of fabric to test different stitches, tensions, etc so it’s right before you start on your outfit. Haby item I can’t live without – sigh – My Seam ripper! Jen’s hubby loves woodwork and has made me a beautiful double ended wooden seam ripper that I use way to often.

Jenna – My tip is to ‘Measure twice, cut once’. Check, check, check before you cut, it is very hard to uncut fabric (some would even say impossible)! My favourite item is my random button collection- there is always the right button somewhere in the pile.

What inspires you?

Abbie – Miss Lily is my main inspiration – she will come and say “Mummy will you make me…..” From there a new pattern will be started

Jenna – Inspiration is everywhere, it doesn’t take much for an idea to pop into my head but mostly I am inspired by watching my boys (ages 4 and 8). I get so many ideas from their play, interests and needs. They also are constantly giving me detailed descriptions of costume requests- some of which turn into designs to share through TigerLily.

What’s your favourite (of your) patterns and why?

Abbie I think so far, that would have to be the Princess Hoodie. Miss Lily has a fun Pink one, a Frozen Fleece one , and this week has been a bit of a Disney inspired week and she now has a Snow White and Tinkerbell inspired one. I love how easy it has been to create so many different looks and she loves being able to dress up in the cold weather.

Jenna – That’s like asking who is your favourite child! I love them all but if I need to pick one I will choose the Crocodile Pants/Shark Shorts. It was the first pattern we released as TigerLily Patterns which in itself makes it special to me but also because it exemplifies so much of our philosophy of making more choices for boys that are fun and exciting. I have made many of these shorts for a range of ages and they are always popular.

Whats something that people might not know about you?

Abbie – I work in a fabric shop, and yes that is as dangerous as it sounds! even more so as it’s only 5 minutes away, so if I’m sewing and I “need” something it is only around the corner. I dropped off my resume just on the off chance they may need staff and a week later I was working there. It’s my local fabric store and I’ve been shopping there for 4 years so all the girls knew me already. I love working with other people who share my passion for sewing and chatting to people all day long about fabric and sewing.

Jenna – I am an early childhood teacher and have taught Prep and PrePrep students for many years. Children are my passion and I have had the privilege to teach and observe so many little personalities over the years. I have had some time away from teaching while my own little ones are still little which has given me the opportunity to, not only be involved in their school/kindy, but to develop TigerLily Patterns.

What is it like working together? do you think its easier because you are sisters? any tips for anyone else for working with family members?

Abbie – I think it’s easier as sisters who are friends than just friends as we have known each other forever (literally 🙂 ) and we know each others strengths and weakness like our own. We have a lot of fun working together and there is a lot of laughing all day long. Each of us have different skills and backgrounds with computers and design and complement each other really well. I think if you are working with anyone you always need to be upfront and honest about what you expect for your business, from each other and make sure you are always going in the same direction. It’s about constant communication with each other.

Jenna – We get asked this a lot! We are a team in every sense of the word. I think it is easy for us because we are friends as well as sisters. Like many siblings, we have different personalities and strengths and we combine our best attributes to make a dynamic partnership. I respect Abbie for who she is and how she works and don’t expect her to be anything else and she does the same for me (we are supposed to be our own person!). We are also equally involved and invested in our business. We don’t compete and compare. Her successes are my successes and vice versa. My tip comes down to three words; Trust, Communication and Respect.


Princess Hoodie Stand Alone Pattern Cover   Prince Hoodie PDF Sewing Pattern Cover You can purchase Abbie & Jenna’s patterns as a single PDF’s HERE or visit their website to see more of their patterns HERE or purchase Issue 7 which contains these patterns HERE.

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Interview with Michelle from The Toffee Tree

I first “met” Michelle from The Toffee Tree when she entered our Fat Quarter Competition last year.  It was so great to be able to get her onboard for Issue 7.

She contributed the “Li’l Red Capelet & Furry Friends Hoods” pattern to Issue 7 …. and a little birdie told me she’s got a super dolly skirt to share with us sometime soon!


 

Michelle Hall - The Toffee Tree - website

Michelle began The Toffee Tree as a personal blog in 2012.

She loves making practical and playful things with a storytale spin that encourage young imaginations.

She also loves anything chocolate, the colour green and works as a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

 


 

Can you tell me a little about how you got into sewing / blogging?

I’ve been into sewing since forever. My Mum made a lot of our clothes and she always encouraged me to sew. I was always making things for my dolls on my Mum’s sewing machine and even made up my own pattern for a backpack for my cousin when she started daycare. She was only 3, so I would have been about 11 or 12. Mum bought me a Husquvarna for my 23rd birthday, because that’s what her Mum bought her (and it still works) and because that’s what Grandma’s machine was (and that still works too!!). I used it sporadically, then my love for sewing was rekindled only a few years ago after a couple of my good friends gave me a kids clothes sewing book for my birthday. That was the deciding moment to begin blogging- I just wanted to share what I make and hopefully inspire some others along the way to have a go at sewing.

What is your favourite haby item that you couldn’t live without?

Apart from the essential scissors and rotary cutter, I’d have to say my super sharp quick unpick! I would be LOST without it! A blunt one is a potential deadly weapon for your beautiful garment.

What inspires you?

I am always completely enarmoured with the beautiful creations that the handmade world fills up Pinterest and Instagram with! That and the amazing photography that goes along with them. These are dangerous places to browse but are filled with so many fabulous things! When I came across Sanae Ishida’s blog I loved the simplicity of her style and fabric combinations. And the fact that she makes so much of her own wardrobe! I have collected a few Japanese pattern books over the past couple of years, that I often look wistfully at. I love fabrics that are natural and sustainable. I am also inspired by storybooks and toys that encourage creative play and encourage children to use their imagination.

What’s something people might not know about you (that you’d like to share)?

I love going camping. I have driven across Australia’s Longest Shortcut, from Laverton in WA to Winton in QLD. It’s not until you drive for 3 days non-stop that you realise just how big Western Australia is, let alone the rest of the country! It was 10 days from Perth to Cairns (with 2 small kids) and our boys still talk about going back to Cape York, even though one of them was a baby at the time! You’d think I would have learnt to knit or crochet for this trip but I didn’t! The crafty impulse didn’t come til a couple of years later!

What is your biggest challenge and do you have any advice for someone else in a similar situation?

My biggest challenge is keeping to the one task and not getting sidetracked with Pinterest or Facebook and the myriad of other things to look at! I’m always finding something else to try, have three projects on the go at once and float between them. I work better when I write a list and have a set timeframe, usually 15 minutes, to check social media, to give myself a bit of a buffer before moving on to what I’m supposed to be doing.


 

Lil Red Capelet & Furry Friends Hoods PDF Pattern Cover You can purchase Michelle’s pattern as a single PDF HERE or visit her blog to see more of her sewing adventures HERE or purchase Issue 7 which contains this pattern HERE.

 

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Interview with Nikki from Bubby & Me

I first came across Nikki in the Australian Designers Make & Create group on facebook and was really excited when she got in touch about contributing the Penny Dress to Issue 6.  I really enjoyed finding out a little more about her this week and hope you do too!


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Nikki has recently launched into designing PDF patterns for sale. With a strong history of sewing and creating, this is an exciting evolution of her business. Her designs are fun and practical with a modern twist.


Can you tell me a little about how you got into sewing / designing patterns?
When I first left school, I wanted to be able to sew clothes from start to finish, which included the pattern drafting process.  I enrolled in a private pattern drafting course in the city, which was just around the corner from Lincraft where I spent most of my lunchtimes.  I finally convinced the manager to give me a job there and eventually became full time in the fabric department…heaven, right?  I was then offered a job at Spotlight where I worked as a department manager for both craft and dress fabrics as well as working in the craft buying office.
I headed overseas for awhile to live in London and travel, but worked in administration roles before heading home.  I stayed in the corporate world upon my return to Melbourne but was always sewing something in the background.  When my first son was born and I was at home, I found I had more time to sew and really found my passion for sewing once again.  When number two son was born and I found myself housebound during naptimes, I turned once again to pattern drafting and starting to make clothes for them.  I then found Lauren Dahl’s fabulous course, Pattern Workshop, where she teaches you how to draft patterns using Adobe Illustrator which opened up so many more possibilities for me to work around my kids (I now have 3!).

What is your best sewing tip or do you have a favourite haby item that you couldn’t live without?
I can’t remember the exact quote, but I did read somewhere once that the more you pin, the less chance you have of having to unpick (kind of like, measure twice, cut once!).  And I definitely could not live without my sewing and knitting gauge.  I love that it has both metric and imperial measurements as well as that little slider thingy.

What inspires you?
I love Pinterest and get many ideas and inspiration for my designs there.  I also love seeing what kids are currently wearing already (the school playground is great for this!!) and seeing what design features I could possibly use in my future designs.

What’s your favourite (of your) patterns and why?
At the moment, my favourite pattern is the Eloise dress.  I love the little cap like sleeves and the pleating details in the front and back…I am a sucker for pleats!

Eloise Dress by Bubby and me

What’s something people might not know about you (that you’d like to share)?
When I was living in London, I bought a sewing machine, which raised a few eyebrows in my share house!!  Needless to say, it didn’t make it into the backpack for my trip home, but I did still have it shipped over!

What is your biggest challenge and do you have any advice for someone else in a similar situation?
I think believing in yourself, regardless of the set backs you may encounter and to keep trying new things until you find your niche.


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You can purchase Nikki’s pattern for the Penny Dress as a single pattern HERE  or visit Nikki’s website to find out more about her other patterns HERE
or Purchase Issue 6 which contains this pattern HERE

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Interview with Victoria from Eliana and Thea

I “discovered” Victoria from Eliana and Thea when she entered our Fat Quarter Competition late last year.  I thought her little skirt was adorable and was over the moon when she agreed to contribute it to Issue 6 of One Thimble!


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Victoria’s love of sewing was reignited while making baby essentials and lots of modern cloth nappies for her daughter. This inspired her to start her business Eliana & Thea as a welcome creative outlet after years of study and work in science and engineering.


How did you get into sewing and pattern designing?
I started sewing again seriously about 7 years ago. I had forgotten a lot of what I had learned from my mum and at school. So I bought myself a cheap little Brother machine, a few commercial patterns and a step-by-step sewing techniques book for Christmas.  In my spare time I started re-learning by slowly sewing up the patterns. I chose styles I would wear so they were not at all beginner level but I learnt so much and loved every second.

Pattern designing felt like a natural progression, I found there were a lot of things I wanted to change about the fit of the MCN I made for my daughter. I was also disappointed in the quality, options and sizing of store bought children’s wear. So I took a pattern making course and learnt the basics of manual pattern drafting.

What is your best sewing tip/product you couldn’t live without?
For a long time I persisted with very pretty but not at all practical fabric scissors. I would get a bruised thumb with a blister on top after cutting out all my pattern pieces. I began to put-off sewing because of it. So I relented and purchased some old school boring looking scissors which cost far too much but snipped like a dream.

How well fabric is cut out will determine how the garment sews up. So sharp scissors are a must.  My best piece of advice is to designate your scissors a particular job. Then label them! Just like we wouldn’t use our precious fabric scissors for paper, I only use my best scissors for thin cotton type fabrics. I have another pair only for cutting heavy bamboo type fibres. A huge long pair for cutting wading. And also my pinking shears, rotary cutters and craft knife.  Now I have so many scissors that when people see my scissor bucket (yup I have a cute little easy access bucket) they ask, why so many?!?

What is something people may not know about you?
On my 30th birthday, with a 5 month old very fussy baby, and nothing better to do I taught myself to crochet. I watched YouTube videos while Eliana slept and started making little flowers. I think I made about 50! Now I am hooked!

What has been your biggest challenge and do you have any tips for others facing the same thing?
Time! I need more! Before becoming a mum I was a sit down and spend hours sewing kind of person. I like to get things finished and move onto the next project. With a baby who doesn’t enjoy sleeping this is not remotely possible.

I have had to adjust (and still am) to only being able to draft/sew for maybe an hour at a time. And mostly late at night. If I am lucky. To help with this change I use a dedicated pattern making notebook to keep track of where I am in a project. This is a habit I picked up from my engineering degree – keeping track of everything so that if you can’t get back to it for hours or days you can pick up right where you left off. And you also have a record of all the changes and adaptations so if something turns out a bit bizarre you can figure out what you did. Oh and SAVE your work on the computer! Even if you only get up for a second. You never know when a furry friend will try to ‘help’.


Picture You can purchase Victoria’s pattern for the Blossom Skirt as a single pattern HERE 
or visit Victoria’s facebook page to keep track of what she’s up to HERE
or Purchase Issue 6 which contains this pattern HERE
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Interview with Robyn from Obbie Dobbie

Today on the blog we have Robyn from Obbie Dobbie.  One of my favourite things about the hand applique Robyn submitted to Issue 6 is its versatility.  You can handsew it as Robyn shows, or use your machine.  Make it the included size or blow it up bigger to make a real statement piece.  Later in the week we have Lauren from Molly & Mama on the blog with a tutorial for making a Hoop Art with this applique!


Picture Robyn is a wife, Mother and Grandmother and has been sewing and crafting for around 45 years, taught by her Mother who is a beautiful seamstress. Robyn is employed by Queensland DETE as a School Business Services Manager and is making retirement plans to dedicate more time to the craft she loves. She is wanting to replace her Diploma in Government Management for an embroidery machine manual. Obbie Dobbie began in 2010 after requests from family and friends for copies of clothing sewn for her new granddaughter. Her business motto is …for uniqueness…. as Robyn’s creations are often OOAK or no more than 3 identical items so ensure her customers are purchasing a unique creation. Robyn finds hand applique a relaxing and enjoyable form of creativity as the design come to life when laying fabric to create a project.

Tell me how you got into sewing?
I have to give credit to my Mother who is a beautiful seamstress and I often feel bless that she instilled in me my love of sewing at a young age.  Mum did dressmaking from home and would always sew for my three sisters and I.  We were impeccably dressed, sometimes in the identical fabric, maybe a different style, but always with lots of frills and lace.  My Barbie (yes, I only had one) was beautifully dressed although at first her clothes were pinned to her body!  I still have her, the many pin holes still evident of the pain I inflicted on her. I excelled in sewing at school and when I first started working at 15½, I would sew most of my clothes. When we were newlyweds, my husband gave me my first sewing machine (yes, his Mother sewed as well).  I can remember it still – a compact Singer Genie very colourful in orange. I loved it and it taught me to love sewing. Before we had even planned our children, I had sewn several matinee jackets and rompers for my “baby hope chest.”  Our two sons regularly wore my handsewn rompers, often with applique boats, helicopters and cars. After the arrival of our granddaughter in 2009, her pretty outfits with oodles of pink, ribbons and lace were sought after by family and friends.   My love of creating and the many requests led to the creation of Obbie Dobbie.

What is your best sewing tip?
I have a few…. Practice makes perfect; Take your time; Quality far outweighs quantity and of course the old saying, Measure twice – cut once.

What is your favourite haby item? 
A small razor sharp pair of bird shaped scissors.  They’re light, the pointed tip gets into the tiniest of spaces for snipping that elusive cotton.  I take them everywhere. Also, they are not an item the males in our home would want to be seen using!

What is your favourite pattern and why?
My all time favourite would have to be the peasant dress.  We wore these as children, they were as popular back then as they are now.  (I have a photo of myself in a peasant romper at the age of around 8.) Not only are they comfy to wear, cool in our humid climate, they’re easy to sew, easy for littlies to dress themselves. As the elastic softens and stretches, the dress can be worn for several seasons to eventually be worn as a top, making it very economical as well as pretty.  It is also the first item sold from my Obbie Dobbie page.

What inspires you?
Pretty, dainty and feminine is what Obbie Dobbie is all about and best describes my style. I often visualise a garment soon after spotting a pretty piece of fabric. This colour, texture and pattern in the fabric often dictates to me how it should be sewn.  I am way too practical for my own good at times and constantly consider the safety and comfort of the child as well as designing items that parents can easily launder and care for. I’ve always loved creating, from crochet, knitting, quilting, anything to keep busy with the satisfaction of “I made that”. Of course, my granddaughters inspire me to create gorgeous garments for them so they can feel as loved and pretty as we believe theme to be.  The positive comments from my lovely customers, and the smiles on little ones’ faces when they wear an Obbie Dobbie garment, inspires me to continue to create.

What people don’t know about me?
Goodness, where do I start? What are my secrets? Do I tell you that I am a Royalist…or that I love to op shop, or how much I love vintage, that I love to quilt, that I love anything British or French, that I love to plan and host bridal and baby showers?  No. I will tell you that I have a blog. Yes, back in 2011, I created my blog (see, I am always creating something with my hands). I haven’t posted for ages as now I tend to stay with Facebook and my sewing surpasses my computer skills by miles. I would love to start a webpage to sell my garments, maybe in the near future this will become a reality (with some computer help I might add). Oh yes, I recently featured in the One Thimble magazine, which is a huge honour. To see a tutorial written by oneself is very rewarding.

What has been your biggest challenge and do you have any advice for people in similar situation?
As a Wife, Mother and employee, my biggest challenge has been (and still is) setting aside time to follow my sewing passion and dreams of creating beautiful and functional garments. With working full-time, studying and attending TAFE at night, caring for my family, keeping house, my sewing time was often the last item on the agenda.  I would often feel it was indulgent of me to follow my creative passion and “guilt” would prevent me from hiding away doing what I loved. My prevailing “rule” was to always have an immaculate house, the washing and ironing up to date, meals and school lunches prepared for my family before I could even contemplate sewing. Of course, if I could go back a few years, no doubt I would still do these things but the guilt wouldn’t be so heavy on my mind.  It is important to have an outlet to create or have something special you love, be it going to the gym, painting, walking. You shouldn’t feel guilty to have an interest.  Now that the boys have left the nest, I regularly stay up until the early hours of the morning and then sleep in way too long on a Sunday. We can still be great wives, Mothers and Grandmothers and fulfil that urge to have an outlet just for yourself. No matter what it is, have faith in yourself and your ability to at least try anything new or challenging.

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
Coco Chanel, Believing in Ourselves: The Wisdom of Women


Picture You can purchase Robyn’s pattern for the Fairywood Cottage and Woodfairy Applique as a single pattern HERE 
or visit Robyn’s website to find out more about her other patterns HERE
or Purchase Issue 6 which contains this pattern
HERE
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