Melissa inspires us with her style and gorgeous makes. She is also a generous member in the TAL Community, always helping others out with guidance. We asked her to tell us more about her style and sewing.
How did you first get into sewing?
I taught myself how to sew just after my twins were born. I had designed and illustrated a series of animal characters that I wanted to bring to life. I made up the patterns and through trial and error, I made a series of baby-safe stuffies. Two years ago I had the opportunity to write and publish a book based on those dolls called Handmade Animal Dolls 🙂
I went from making tiny clothes to eventually exploring clothing for myself. It took me two years after I started making dolls to make my first garment (a dress). After that, it took me another year before fully submerging myself in the wonderful sewing community.
It might’ve taken me a while to get here but I’m so glad I arrived!
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say I’m a combination of being modern and relaxed with a dash of the feminine (Ha!). I love patterns (as I design them for a living) but also enjoy solid colours.
Which is your favourite sewing tool and why?
My Janome! I still have the very first one that I bought while I was on maternity leave and it works perfectly fine. It doesn’t have all the newest bells and whistles (which would be nice) but it’s never failed me and I love her for it.
What are your best sewing tips/tricks?
Always pin your pieces, it really does make a difference! It’s really easy to keep going without spending the time to line up notches and markings but it really does make a big difference in ensuring your garment turns out just the way it’s supposed to.
What are the best (and worst) bits of sewing?
For me the worst part of sewing a project is cutting the fabric. Sometimes it takes longer than sewing the actual project lol. But it’s important to follow the process carefully to ensure you’re following the grainline directions and you don’t waste your fabric.
The best part is trying on the final piece. It’s an amazing feeling to have made something that’s tailored to your body, and then when someone asks where you got it you can proudly say “I made it!”
What’s your most memorable sewing mistake?
Once I tried to make a pair of pants with a fabric that was way too thick (and I knew it). I loved the colour so much that I decided to give it a go. The pattern had pleats on the front and it was just not working out but I kept going, I had already cut the fabric so why not?
As I was preparing to add the final panel I realized that I had cut the last pieces in the wrong direction and therefore the nap was going in a different way. What a bummer! I was so frustrated that I had completely wasted not-so-cheap fabric that I didn’t even finish the pants.
I learned my lesson to follow fabric recommendations and to pay careful attention to the grainline!
What’s your proudest sewing moment?
I think one of my proudest sewing moments was when I completed my TAL hoodie parka. I never thought in a million years that I would be confident enough in my sewing to make a coat. It fit me perfectly and I was so happy with my choice of fabric, I ended up with a stunning piece.
Every time I put it on I remind myself of how far I’ve come in my sewing journey, and most importantly that I taught myself!
Do you have a favourite fabric you often choose?
I can’t say I have a favourite, I enjoy working with all kinds of fabrics as every project has a different requirement. If I had to choose though I really like sewing sand washed cotton and twill (and any blend of those).
What would you want to say to someone who’s trying to get started in sewing?
It’s a process and it’s not a cheap one either. I always tell people who are looking to start to not expect to make a garment for $20 or $25, this is an investment but a great one. You’re investing in yourself while building a sustainable wardrobe and it’s a million times more rewarding to wear something you’ve made specifically for your body type.
Look for patterns according to your skill level to start, even better if they have sew-along videos. If you get stuck, don’t be discouraged!
Ask for help, the sewing community is amazing and always willing to help out. Look for the hashtags and ask those who have already made that piece; chances are someone has gone through the same thing.
Get started, you won’t regret it. You’re investing in yourself while building a sustainable wardrobe and it’s a million times more rewarding to wear something you’ve made specifically for your body type.
What do you do when you’re not sewing?
I’m fortunate to have found lots of disciplines I thrive in. I’m a pattern designer (illustrator) and enjoy licensing my designs on products, I also make jewellery out of polymer clay and do some punch needle on the side. I also love to stay active and enjoy working out.
Milton, Ontario, Canada though I’m originally from Monterrey, Mexico.
FAVOURITE TAL PATTERN
I have two! The v-neck jumpsuit and the cuff top. They are both so comfortable and regular staples in my wardrobe. I love their simple yet elegant design. I get compliments whenever I wear them.
LISTEN TO WHILE SEWING
Podcasts! I love murder podcasts (My favourite murder, Dark poutine, Criminal) and other random ones like This is actually happening or Stuff you should know.