welcome To The One Thimble Blog
Fashion from RMIT and has been working in the fashion industry since 1989. She has extensive experience in all areas of design and pattern making as well as with her own indie labels. Today Kate designs & sells her sewing patterns under the Pattern Emporium label, making her experience and skills accessible to home sewing enthusiasts. Kate has patterns for infants, children & women available through her website www.patternemporium.com
My stress levels. Now that I have kids, working for myself with my own timetable, my own workspace, my own routine (or lack of one if I feel like it) & my own deadlines is just so much less stress on so many levels. It means I can be home when the kids get home from school and, let’s face it, teenagers need just as much supervision as our little ones. We feel very blessed that I can work from home.
Do you draw/paint/sketch or design directly on the computer?
I draw, sketch & design wherever & whenever the urge finds me. I have folders on my computer, tablet, phone & bookshelf for each style I have done or am thinking about doing. I have a notebook in each of my handbags just in case an idea hits while I’m out & sitting on my desk you’ll find the backs of envelopes covered in little ideas or new thoughts on how to sew something or explain something in a tutorial. I have an ideas collage board & design book & another book just for notes on each style as I write a tutorial. It sounds all over the place when I write it down but it’s pretty organised…. in a creative kind of way.
What/Who/Where inspires you?
I’m a visual person. Every single thing I see inspires me. Constantly. Anything new is exciting. I love change. I live for change & it inspires me. Love and happiness inspire me. If I’m happy, I’m inspired. After being a designer in Melbourne for many years, and all the stress that goes along with the industry, the job and the city, now that I live by the beach on the southern end of the Gold Coast, I’m actually where everyone goes to be inspired. That, in itself, is inspiring.
What’s your favourite item you’ve designed?
They all have their good points. It’s a job that I simply love to do and consider myself so fortunate to do what I love. When I was an underwear designer, I got to design some gorgeous ranges exclusively for Myer & David Jones. Given free reign like that by our MD was a wonderful experience.
Do your kids come to you with things they want you to make for them – party dresses, casual gear?
No. LOL. My kids are teenagers. They like me to buy them things. They do bring me their mending, which sits by my desk unfinished while I pretend it’s not there. But there have been moments when they have wanted to learn my skills that have blown my mind. A few years ago my 2nd youngest son, then about 12, was home alone for the school holidays and decided he wanted to sew something. I showed him how to straight stitch and he practised that for half an hour then decided to make a little cushion, quickly followed by a tiny teddy bear. The next day he came to me with a picture of a penguin and asked to make that. I helped a little with explaining how to do the pattern. He blew me away with the results. It was an exact replica of the picture he’d shown me.
One of the most exciting things for me about One Thimble Issue 3 was including our first ladies-wear pattern – the Daisy Chain Pattern by Toni from Make it Perfect. I find it so satisfying and liberating to make clothing for myself and it felt like a massive leap forward to have such a fabulous ladies dress pattern in One Thimble!
|Toni Coward has been sewing for over 20 years and started her business, Make It Perfect in 2008.Her aim is to create hip, fresh and funky sewing patterns which are geared towards the new generation of younger sewers and stylish fabrics on the market today.
Toni contributed the Daisy Chain Dress Pattern to Issue 3. Be sure to visit her website & blog for lots more Make It Perfect goodness!
What, where or who inspires you?
I usually find inspiration when I am not looking for it! And then it comes in waves…because of our technological world I am always inspired by things I see online, but I’m loving Instagram at the moment, and all of the wonderfully creative people I meet there. Things usually have to be quiet and orderly for me to feel inspiration, I don’t work very well in a messy, crazy environment.
What is your favourite haby item?
As much as I detest using it, I would have to say my stitch unpicker! It’s never good when you have to use it but trying to unpick stitches without an unpicker is not fun!
Do you have a favourite pattern you have created? If so which and why?
Ooh, this one is tricky because I’m always saying that “this” pattern is my favourite!! My favourite women’s pattern at the moment is the Poppy Tunic. It is so comfortable to wear and great for layering. I like it because I feel dressed up without having to think too hard about it! My favourite girl’s patterns are Sprout and Zip-It. And for boys, the Hero Vest and Long Boards – I have 3 boys and these are the two patterns that get used over and over again.
Do you have any tips for balancing family life, building a new home with business?
It always takes a lot of thought, effort and reassessing to achieve a good balance. I have always made a point of making sure that family always comes first. Because of this, most of my Make It Perfect work happens during day time naps and when the kids are in bed at night – resulting in lots of late nights!! My Make It Perfect “work” doesn’t actually feel like work though, so designing, sewing and writing patterns is actually my reward at the end of the day! As soon as Make It Perfect starts to feel like a chore, I set it aside and do something else. I try really hard to keep it fun and enjoyable or else I lose motivation and I don’t don’t I could write a pattern well without enjoying myself. I am also lucky to have a supportive husband who works from home so it’s always helpful to have another adult around. It writing, it sounds like it all happens easily, but it really is a juggling act and something that I am continually trying to get my head around every day. As for building the new house – lucky again that my husband is an architect so he does most of the hard/stressful jobs that come with building a house and I just get to focus on the fun design aspects!!
|Tell me about “Make it Perfect” the book
I was approached by Penguin Publishing in the beginning of 2009 and offered a book contract. It was something that I hadn’t even thought about doing previously and was really shocked by the phone call (and all I could think about as we were talking was that the stir-fry I was cooking for dinner was going to go soggy!) It was a long process – about 18 months from that first phone call until the book was released for sale, and in that time I gave birth to my third (thankfully super happy) baby and managed to put together 21 patterns for women’s and children’s clothing. It was a busy 18 months, and a lot more involved than I thought it would be but I’m grateful for the opportunity, and hey – I can say I’ve published a book now! The book is starting to become hard to come by because it was released almost 4 years ago, but you can still find it at some craft and book stores and I sell signed copies online here.
|You can purchase Toni’s pattern for the Daisy Chain Dress as a single pattern or visit Toni’s website to find out more about her other patterns HERE
or Purchase Issue 3 which contains this pattern
One of the best bits about getting involved with the online sewing community has got to be meeting awesome people, people who you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to get to know IRL.
Strangely Lana and I missed meeting each other in real life, before online, by just a few weeks. Lana started working in the same pharmacy where I used to work a few months after I left to move to Cairns – what’re the odds!
When we finally met up late last year, we got along just as well in person. It was so fantastic to chat without the restrictions of chatting online and even better, our girls and husbands got along too!
Lana from Oh Baby
makes beautiful bows.
With an eye for the details that
complete an outfit Lana’s range of bows
and her coming range of accessory
patterns are sure to be
Lana has been such a fabulous
support with One Thimble.
She submitting the Starflower
Accessory Pattern to Issue One
and wrote two articles for Issue Two!
How’d you get into bows?
I have always loved bows although my attachment to them became much stronger after being blessed with the most beautiful baby girl back in 2010. It took so long for her hair to grow, which at this stage I commenced designing and making her very own accessories. Oh Baby came about as a result of having a bald baby, and fabric bows evolved after I purchased a set of Riley Blake charm squares a couple of years ago from my gorgeous friend Alana from Yumminess Textiles. Best fabric purchase ever!
Do you do other crafts? If not what would you like to have a go at?
Of course! Designing and creating is such a big part of my life, and always has been from as young as I can remember. My grandmother taught me to cross stitch at an early age and my love of hand sewing evolved from there. Give me a sewing machine and I’m pretty ordinary, although give me a needle and thread and I will work my magic! I love to work with dry pastels although it has been quite some time since I have dabbled with them. I have photography in my heart which I most definitely class as a crafty medium, and working weekends alongside a photographer for many years has assisted with my creativity. This year I would love to attend my local quilting store for sewing lessons and to familiarise myself a little better with my sewing machine.
Do you arrange your scraps? How do you do it?
Admittedly I am rather a neat freak, everything has to have a place and I require great organisation in my life! I have the best bunch of handmaiden friends who often forward me their pretty scraps, which in turn become my treasures. It’s really quite simple – I iron and fold them and place them in a neat little pile. (It’s all about the ironing and folding) For those scraps that I already have yardage of I place them together with their matching yardage so that I know to use the scraps first.
How do you manage building a house, parenthood, work and Oh Baby? Any tips?
Those who know me well know that I like to keep busy, it is just not in my nature to slow down! I think that if you are passionate enough about something you will always manage to find the time for it.
I wake up each and every morning with a smile and a list of expectations in my mind for completion by the end of the day. My determination, drive and enthusiasm assists in the completion of my tasks. It doesn’t always go my way (especially with 2 little children) although I am very fortunate to have the most supportive family who is always more than willing to come to my aid and assist with the girls.
Building a house has been a dream of ours for such a long time and fortunately my husband and I have similar taste – that’s easy!
Parenthood is probably the most challenging role I have faced in my life. Pre-motherhood I may have been a little naive as to the time and tasks involved into being a parent. I strive to be a great Mummy and one whom my girls will look up to and admire. Their needs are always placed first, above and beyond anything else which is why if you knock on my door at midnight that’s when you’ll find me completing the majority of my sewing tasks – when the girls are asleep! I am however, very fortunate that 75% of my work at Oh Baby is hand sewing and I can at times juggle it alongside painting, play doh, building blocks and bath time! My kitchen bench has become a fixed haven for a rotary mat, ruler and cutter, needles and thread and fabric. My ironing board resides adjacent to this area and I cannot remember the last time I folded it up and stored it away!
I’m not afraid to admit that I am the most terrible cook that I know. Thank goodness my husband loves to cook and I love to clean, teamwork is crucial in the everyday positive flow of a household! Not having to prepare and cook meals most certainly allows me more time with the kids and Oh Baby.
Having spent countless hours studying and working in the same busy pharmacy environment for the past 13 years has assisted me to work hard, fast and accurate. I most definitely use these skills each and every day at Oh Baby. At present I only work in my day job one day a week – which has most recently become my ‘recreation time/social life’… I adore my job as much as I adore sewing!
My best advice is to never, ever lose your passion – if you become bored, try something different and always work super hard until you nail it! Don’t bin it, make it work! And just when you think you have gone that extra mile, go a little further and be your own ultimate challenge.
What/Who/Where inspires you?
My husband, our beautiful girls, the online handmade community, feedback and kindness inspire me each and every day.
My husband is the most clever man I know, he has this uninhibited passion to do what he loves – his motivation and desire to be the best he can be inspires me to also strive my hardest to achieve my goals. He often has his head in a book and believes that one should never take knowledge for granted and always open your mind to new things. He has motivated me to challenge myself and evolve my little online business, and never, ever give up!
My girls have shown me a love like no other. I laugh when they laugh, I smile when they smile, they remind me how truly beautiful life really is. I sew from my heart because the smile that is received when my package is delivered and opened will hopefully radiate to another, that is inspiring!
The handmade community and the friendships I have forged as a part of it mean the absolute world to me. These beautiful ladies encourage me to place my all into my designs and dream big. I love their honesty and am a great believer in constructive feedback, that also inspires me to work even harder!
I believe the true essence of humankind is kindness. A genuine, good heart is the greatest gift you can give another. Those who show kindness in what they do are very inspirational and always make a positive difference.
A little inspiration also comes from a good novel written by Richard Branson titled ‘Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It’! Learning from another’s success is truly motivational!
When I first met Mr Fox he was working as an international tour guide for an American company. I really enjoyed meeting his travellers and found it fascinating discovering the ways we were similar as well as the ways we were different. I was excited and nervous in equal measures to have Laura on board for Issue 3 and expected it to be a similar learning experience. Turns out I was wrong. Working with Laura was a delight from beginning to end. Sewing really is an international language!
Laura Johnson is the owner/designer behind Ellie Inspired sewing patterns. She started Ellie Inspired in the beginning of 2010 with a vision to create classic clothing sewing patterns. They are designed for children who love to giggle with their friends, dress up for tea parties, and also climb trees and soak up the sun. The style is classic and timeless. The patterns will allow you to create fashionable clothing while celebrating the innocence and joy of childhood.
Laura resides in Illinois, USA with her husband and four children. She has created over 150 patterns and has a passion for teaching others to create a legacy for future generations. She has completed many self-courses in pattern drafting and design and is currently finishing her degree in Fashion Merchandising. Her patterns are available world-wide. More information available at www.ellieinspired.com
Who/what/where inspires you?
Classic clothing is what I love! I probably am most influenced by styles from the 1940’s and 1950’s. In America, this was when some of our biggest style icons emerged like Chanel, Christian Dior, and Anne Klein with their classic, elegant lines. I grew up watching movies from that era and just adore their style.
Do you have a favourite pattern? If so which and why?
My FAVORITE pattern of ones that I have created is Nantucket Girl.
img src=”http://www.onethimble.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/8120494_orig.png” alt=”Picture” />
The front can be smocked or shirred. I just love the collar on this one!!
Do you have a favourite sewing notion or gadget that you couldn’t live without?
My most loved sewing notion are my Wonderclips!! I never use pins anymore. My husband wishes I had discovered these amazing things many years ago. I tried to be careful when I was sewing but he usually stepped on the pin I missed shortly after getting home from work!
Do you have any tips for juggling motherhood, business and study?
Oh man – tips for juggling business, motherhood, and schooling. I’m still trying to figure that out I think! I don’t sleep much but you can quickly become burned out and sick when you push yourself too hard. In order to get everything done, I live by my lists and calendars! I took a typical week and added in all my kids’ activities. Then, I added in any community and church obligations. Then, since I’m finishing up my degree, I added in what nights I need to devote to which subjects so I wasn’t spending the weekend cramming. This was the first year that all four of my kids were in school all day so that helped a great deal too. I try to devote one day a week to sewing, two – three days to writing/drafting, one to marketing and paperwork, and one to photoshoots or research. But, since I LOVE everything I do, duties can easily spill into other days. It’s hard finding a balance. The thing I neglect…is me. Working out, eating right…those kinds of things and I’m trying to figure out how to schedule that in as well. My kids and husband also help out a lot around the house too which I’m so thankful for!
Tell me how you got into smocking.
I got into smocking shortly after Ellie was born. I had three boys and then was surprised to find out I was pregnant again. Most people thought I would be thrilled when I found out it was a girl – but I was actually panicked! I had NOTHING for a girl! So, I started sewing up a storm! A friend of mine introduced me to an online sewing forum and it was a fun place to share pictures of projects. From there, some woman saw something in me and asked me to be part of a private group with some of the most amazing seamstresses I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. I met ladies who designed clothing for heirloom sewing magazines, owned heirloom shops, and sewed for royalty. I was amazed at the level of quality I didn’t even know was possible. They took me under their wing and taught me how to smock and construct clothing with such attention to detail and professional finishes. I am so thankful for those few years of studying their techniques and getting to know them. It set me on a quest of my own studying and learning.
You can purchase Laura’s pattern for the Stardust Dress as a single pattern for regular fit HERE
or for slim fit HERE
Purchase Issue 3 which contains this pattern
or visit Laura’s website to find out more about her other patterns.