welcome To The One Thimble Blog
Alana is the creator behind Rosie Petal, a boutique which specialises in fun, everyday separates for girls and boys. She has been sewing for over 20 years, and has been a regular contributor as a pattern designer and article contributor (she’s been writing our Ziplines column) to One Thimble for the past few years.
Can you tell me a little about how you got into sewing/pattern design?
I had a sewing machine in my bedroom from about age 12 or 13, and I started my sewing journey with 90s paper patterns. Can you picture it? Gored skirts, dresses full of darts and long back zips. Makes me giggle when I think about it. My machine was a 30 year old Bernina with a metal body that sat in a wooden box, much like the darling Singer that graces this issue of OT. To sew in reverse, I had to lift a knobbed lever up. It only had about 4 stitch types. I had to manually set each of the 4 sides of a buttonhole, and all manner of nonsense we take for granted on our modern machines. But I loved it so. Now that I have my own children, my idea of why I sew has changed quite a bit. Sewing is not always the most economical choice when it comes to clothing your children, but I simply could not find what I wanted in the stores. I also got disheartened by a lot of the shortcuts I came across in my journey in to PDF patterns, before I knew who the reputable designers were. So my pattern design goals are for a beautiful finish and gorgeous pieces that kids want to pull out of the drawers and wear over and over again.
What is your favourite habby item that you couldn’t live without?
The thing I could not live without is my elastic threading bobkin. So much better than threading elastic with a safety pin. I stole it from my mum about 20 years ago, shhh! My more recent best friend is my Clover unpicker. Honestly, using a cheap quick unpick is like the equivalent of trying to cut steak on a paper plate with a plastic knife. You need to buy one. It is so sharp and thin, it is a pleasure to use.
Who/what/where inspires you?
I am inspired by my girls. I want to make clothing that makes them feel awesome. So they can move, do whatever they want in it and feel comfortable. Clothes that make them feel strong, fierce and daring. When I photograph my girls, I don’t tell them to smile. I tell them to be amazons. Be brave, show strength.
Isla in my Harajuku collection in 2016, in a Pattern Emporium Love Bug Skirt.
What’s something people might not know about you?
Back in 2013, I was sewing to soothe my soul. My 7 year old had bone cancer. It was beyond a rough patch, and it was exceedingly difficult situation as she had to be treated in a different city. I was painfully lonely with my thoughts. I sewed a Pinny for Grace, and popped a photo up in the Boo! Pattern Club. From that day on, Grace had an incredible cheer squad, who still check on her to this day. The sewing community is so supportive; I really can’t thank everyone enough for helping me get through. When you are in an air-locked isolation room caring for a very ill child, those kind typed words, hugs and strength are truly food for the soul.
What is your biggest challenge and do you have any advice for someone else in a similar situation?
My biggest challenge was time! I was studying and working and I couldn’t find time to sew customs. So I sat myself down and looked at what I had on my plate. My brand was too diverse! So I got brave, and rebranded my store as a pattern shop. So my advice to you is, are you following your dream? Are you spread too thin? Cut back, and do a little with excellence, not a lot without passion.
What are you working on now/ what can we expect next from you?
I have the Rubik’s Skirt (wovens) next and a tank top (knits) in the New Year.
What’s your favourite thing you’ve made/designed and why?
I really struggled with this question. And you are going to laugh, but this is the favourite thing I have designed. A last-minute mouse costume for my daughter to wear to Kindy. She has been wearing every week for 3 years now. I put strawberry containers in the ears; it was a real hot mess. But only I notice that. It still brings her so much joy, and that’s all that really matters.