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jenny young

KCW interviews
summer

kcw interview: holli from hello holli

Hello again, it’s Jenny from Mend & Make New, and today I’m very excited to be interviewing Holli from ‘Hello Holli’!

One of the things I love best about Kid’s Clothes Week is discovering new sewers and bloggers to follow and be inspired by. This KCW I discovered Holli. Holli by no means is new to this whole KCW scene (she’s been joining in since October 2013 – see more on that below), but it was the first time that her creations caught my eye and then it seemed, everywhere I looked Holli was there. I browsed Instagram, she was there; I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, she was there  and I looked in the KCW project pool and she was there too. And I like what I saw. A lot! I’ve also recently discovered the pattern she has just designed, the Blue Ridge Dress, and I am in love!

Hello Holli intro1. Black & White & Cute All Over / 2. Wool Nituna Coat / 3. Mini Blinging Prefontaines / 4. Stitched Geranium & Fancy Pants Leggings

Anyway, that’s enough from me, let’s hear what Holli has to say!
1. When did you start sewing your children’s clothes and why?
I sewed the first clothing item for my oldest before she was born- an embellished onesie and a simple skirt. I didn’t sew much for her when she was a baby, a pair of baby shoes and probably a few skirts, but when she was about 2 I discovered this magical world online where everyone was sewing amazing clothes for their kids. Once I started seeing all the indie patterns available I couldn’t help myself. I started with a Geranium dress upcycled from a large women’s tunic and a Maggie Mae dress made from a silky 80’s yellow top and a bed sheet. And then I was HOOKED. I’ve always loved kid fashion so being able to create my own kid fashion is immensely satisfying for me, and I also love being able to make clothes in the colors and styles I love. My girls closet is full of red and blue and yellow and black- you can barely find a smidgen of pink! That wouldn’t be the case if most of their clothes came from Target!
2. When was your first KCW and how did it go?
I followed Kid’s Clothes week for a while, and I finally joined in in October 2013. I had a pretty ambitious list of things to sew , and while I didn’t finish it all I did an amazing amount of work for 1 week! Sewing at that pace and having that community feel was amazing to me so I’ve tried to sew along each season since. Sometimes moves or vacations get in the way but since there are 4 each year now I never have to wait too long if I miss one!
3. What do you like the best about joining in with KCW?
I love sharing and seeing what everyone else is making. I don’t join in many sewing community events or sewalongs, but KCW is my fave because I’m sewing what I want to sew and I totally get inspired from everyone else, too!
Hello Holli more projects
4. How do you balance your work/family/sewing time?
I used to get really stressed about not having time for everything, but at some point I realized that I’d never have time for everything- it just isn’t possible! So I prioritize, which for me means I lowered my cleanliness standard for my house and I try to plan really simple meals so the prep time and clean up is less. I sew during naps and after my kids go to bed, and balance my evenings with some TV time with my husband 🙂 Every time I try to sew while my kids are awake I’m reminded why it’s a bad idea for me- I start to feel and act like my children are a burden or distraction from my real work of sewing, which isn’t the mom I want to be. I try (and often fail) to be present during my time with my children and not distracted by my sewing ideas, which for me is really hard. My mind is constantly working and if I could sew half the things I dream up it would be amazing! I also balance by letting my husband know when I could use a catch up day- he’ll take the kids out for a few hours on a Saturday so I can spend some solid time on pattern making or sewing. If I know I’ll have some uninterrupted work time it is easier to lay projects aside and enjoy time with my family.
5. How do your children influence your sewing?
They definitely influence my fabric choices. I love neutrals on kids. One of my favorite KCW makes is a black and white Bimaa dress (see photo below) and my daughter refused to wear it for most of last year because she said she only kind of liked black and it wasn’t twirly enough. I still love that dress, but it taught me that I definitely need to consider the color (or lack thereof) for my kids wardrobes. Charly loves red and twirly things so that is dominating my sewing lately. Caroline doesn’t have too much of an opinion yet so I get a little more creative license with her, haha! I’ve also tried to customize to their interests. Charly loves princesses, so many of her dresses are very loosely princess inspired. A green dress becomes a Tiana dress, dark blue is Merida, etc. She loves mushrooms and nature too, so adding pockets for collecting rocks and mushroom print fabric makes her super excited to wear the things I make.
6. What is your favorite thing you’ve ever sewn for one of your kids?
Hmmm. This is a tough one. I really love this upcycled shirt I made in February but my all time Favorite is probably this Nituna Coat . It was one of the first indie patterns I fell in love with. I love that it is upcycled- the challenge of fitting all the pattern pieces on with the correct grain is super fun to me. I love that lovely grey herringbone wool and the red pops of color in the buttons and the lining. Outerwear is really satisfying because it gets worn so much, too. I’m excited my younger daughter Caroline will get to wear that one this year!
7. Have you found yourself in the middle of a creative rut? If yes, what do you do to break it?
Oh yes, I’ve definitely had my fair share of ruts! Sometimes seeing something made by others will inspire me, but sometimes I just need a bit of a break. I sew nearly every day now, so if I get in a rut I take a few evenings off and watch TV with my husband. Usually some time apart from my sewing machine leaves me with a brain full of ideas trying to claw their way out! I also pick a quick sew sometimes to just finish something I know I can do quickly and easily with success. The feeling of finishing something will usually leave me craving more of that feeling, so I jump in to another project. Does it sound like I’m an addict? I think I might be. Hi, I’m Holli, and I’m addicted to making.
8. Do you enjoy any other creative pursuits apart from sewing?
Yes, but I rarely make time for them! I’ve dabbled in a lot of things- knitting, block carving, and photography to name a few. I’ve been learning pattern making this year which I love, but sewing is still my first love.
9. Do you have any tips on achieving photographs that show off your sewing skills?
Don’t forget the details! Sewing is all in the details, so I try to take a good amount of close ups to showcase sweet pattern matching or topstitching or gorgeously finished seams. Seeing that handiwork close up gives you a sort of connection with the hands that made it.
Photography tips

10. Congratulations on your recently released pattern the ‘Blue Ridge Dress‘ – what was your inspiration behind it and have you got any more designs on the horizon?

Thank you! I began to design the pattern while I was working on a spread for STYLO. I was given the fabric- Handcrafted by Alison Glass- to make an item for the spread and I just couldn’t find a pattern that jived with that fabric for me. Eventually I saw an old dress from Crew Cuts that had a similar front bodice shape- sleeveless, higher neck, curved yoke- and I LOVED it. I couldn’t find a picture of the back so I created what I’d want the back of that dress to be. The pattern was created with that fabric in mind from the beginning and it is still my favorite version. I love the color pops at the bodice seams with the neutral of the background color in that fabric. The curves on both the back and front bodice remind me of the Blue Ridge Mountains where I went to college and lived for several years after, so that’s where the name came from.
I’m in the early stages of creating my next pattern, so you can definitely expect more to come this year!
Blue Ridge dress 2
Charly’s Alison Glass Blue Ridge Dress , (dress pattern available here.) 

Thank you Jenny!

No, thank you Holli! I really loved reading everything you had to say. (Now please excuse me as I run away to scour the thrift shops for things to upcycle and then sew all the Blue Ridge Dresses!)

Jenny x

why I sew
summer

why i sew: jenny from mend and make new

Hi again, it’s Jenny from Mend & Make New here sharing ‘why I sew.’ I love this topic, so much so that about a year ago I wrote a post about it on my own blog, something that I’m now drawing on and adding new thoughts that have recently come to me.

Simply put, I sew because I LOVE it… in fact, I would go so far to say that I’m perhaps a bit addicted. I love the creative challenge of taking a few bits of fabric and some thread and turning them into something useful, beautiful and unique and something that will keep my children warm or shaded from the sun and make them feel special and loved.

mend and make new

 1. Floral Leggings & Cat Sweater / 2. Liberty Top / 3. Lua Sleep Sack

But did I always love sewing? No!

I only started sewing (in earnest) after I had my kids. Sure, I sewed a bit as a kid – my Mum is an awesome sewer and got me a kiddie sewing machine and old black Singer as a kid, but I had the attention span of a gold fish. Seriously! I left a large trail of unfinished projects.

Fast forward twenty or so years and I had just finished quite a few years of study and was working hard. My Mum very generously bought me a sewing machine (still the one I have today), but it gathered dust for a few years while I was working. I’d work long hours, come home exhausted and creativity was the last thing on my agenda. I think on one occasion I tried to thread the machine and it freaked me out. My husband, whose Mum had taught him to sew so he could make sails for his model boats, had (much) more skills than me!

Mend & Make New 2

1. Little Tee / 2. Pineapple Playsuit / 3. Arrow Top

But then I had Noah (now 6 ) and everything changed. I think having kids/ being a stay at home Mom gives you both less freedom, yet more freedom. That’s a bit confusing, so I’ll explain. As a Mom, you might not be able to go to the bathroom by yourself or get optimal sleep for a few years BUT you have the freedom (in those pre-school days at least) to choose how you want to spend your days. Maybe we’ll go to the park or have a play date, maybe we wont. Today I’ll sleep when you sleep, tomorrow I’ll sew. For me, I used this freedom to learn new skills, which at the same time I think, kept me sane, gave me a sense of achievement and fulfilment and helped me to meet new people.

I decided, quite early on that if I was going to do this stay at home Mom thing, I was going to enjoy being at home, rather than resent it. I was going to enjoy my environment and never get bored. And truthfully, I don’t think I ever have. I’ve suffered a little from cabin fever yes, but bored – not really.

Mend & Make New 3

 1. Isabelle’s Merino PJs / 2. Bambi Vest / 3. Pixie Shorts

There is a lot of fulfillment that comes from being able to make something too – especially for kids. Kids clothes are great to start on, they are small, simple (no darts etc that you find in women’s clothing) and my kids LOVE it when I sew something for them, For me it’s just another way I can show love to them, by sewing it into every stitch. There is nothing better than being able to look over a finished garment and see that you have achieved something today, even though despite your best efforts your kids are still squabbling and your house keeps getting messed up, no matter how much you clean it! 

So, in a nutshell … that’s why I sew. For fun, fulfillment and for that creative kick… and because it helps keep me sane!  Also, it’s not just the result I enjoy… it’s the process, the community and the learning. And hearing your kid say,“Yes, my Mum made my top. She can sew anything!” That is priceless.

Why do you sew? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

Jenny x

 

TRAVELING around the world // kid's clothes week
summer

kcw inspiration: traveling around the world

Hi I’m Jenny,  hailing all the way from New Zealand! (Kia Ora!)

I sew for my three kids (and occasionally for myself) and document it all over at my blog, Mend & Make New. I’ve been joining in with the seasonal KCW challenges for a little while now and just love it!

I’m very excited to be bringing you some sewing inspiration from around the world. I don’t know about you but I’d love to go on a fabric and sewing tour of this planet. I would fill my suitcase with Liberty fabrics from London and hand embroidered dresses from Mexico, I’d marvel at the traditional batik fabric stamping methods in India and run my hands through beautiful silks from China. I’d admire the simplicity of Japanese patterns and take photos of French fashion while strolling along the River Seine. Although this is only a dream, it doesn’t mean we can’t take a virtual trip right now!

Today’s destinations? France, India and Japan.

International sewing inspiration

top row (l-r): 1. Mango Kids  2. Dr Seuss art print  (used as inspiration) 3. Arnhem Child; bottom row (l-r) 4. Le Carrousel A/W 2011 5. Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids book by Ruriko Yamada  6. Tea Collection Metallic Print Harem Pants 

Grab your croissant because our first stop is France, the fashion capital of the World.

When I think French children’s wear, I think of crisp linen, blue and white stripes, beautiful tailoring and smartly dressed boys. It’s true that often boys get the raw end of the deal in terms of patterns available and general sewing inspiration out there online. However, there is just so much you can sew for your petit homme within the French theme. I’ve used the Blank Slate Basic Blazer in my collage below, but so many of the Blank Slate patterns can be used with a French twist.

French inspiration

(l-r) 1. Gardenia Dress PDF pattern by CaliFaye 2.Reversible blue and white striped double knit fabric from Miss Matatabi 3. Basic Blazer by Blank Slate Patterns 4.Kaufman Essex yarn dyed linen blend flax from Fabric.com  5. Pixie Shorts Pattern by BigLittle Handmade 

Now we say ‘au revoir’ to France and ‘namaste’ to India. When I think of Indian clothing I think of vibrant colours, gorgeous saris, lovely lightweight cotton often hand stamped with the most elaborate designs. You might want to have a go at stamping some fabric yourself and then whip your child up a one of a kind kaftan or pair of harem pants. You should be able to find a stamp either on Etsy (like this beautiful one) or perhaps at your local craft store. (Or you could just buy some pre-made; Fabric.com has a great selection … including metallics ohh!)

Indian theme

(l-r) 1. Artisan Block Printing in Bagru Village, image via Mehera Shaw 2. Indian Batik Tribal Diamond Metallic Fabric (Rose/Green) from Fabric.com 3. Flutterby Romper PDF pattern by LittleKiwisCloset 4.Indian Batik Montego Metallic Peacock Feathers Fabric (Blue/Purple) from Fabric.com  5. Valori Wells Karavan Marrakech Artis Bone fabric from Fabric.com

Our final destination in this jet setting adventure is Japan. I love Japanese fabric and Japanese clothing designs, don’t  you? How could you not love gorgeous Nani Iro fabric and simple, classic pattern designs?

The little unisex hoodie design featured below is the ‘pullover parka’ from the beautiful Japanese kid’s sewing patterns book: Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids book by Ruriko Yamada and would look gorgeous made from a lovely Japanese linen. Or, if you have a brand new baby to sew for you could make this Newborn Kimono Shirt, a free pattern and tutorial by the Purl Bee.

Japanese Inspiration

(l-r) 1. Nani Iro EN GARDEN double gauze – michi from Miss Matatabi 2.Nani Iro Kokka Fuccra: rakuen Japanese Fabric – light butter yellow from Miss Matatabi  3. Free pom pom kimono tutorial from iCandy Handmade 4. The pull-over parka pattern from Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids book by Ruriko Yamada (line drawing by You & Mie.) 5. Kokochi double gauze – reversible dots BK from Miss Matatabi

Well, that short lived adventure has come to an end, but if you’re anything like me you may have collected some Japanese fabric or PDF patterns along the way!

Be sure to be back here tomorrow for more KCW travel inspiration!

Jenny x