Hello again, this is Marisa from Thirtynine, bringing you the first in a series of interviews with Kids Clothes Week participants.
Last Kids Clothes Week I ‘faved’ a project on the KCW site: a beautiful scoop-back dress modelled by a little blonde cherub with glasses. And this season I was pleased to see that the maker of the scoop-back dress was back, with more amazing self-drafted clothes and the cutest little Halloween outfit. I checked out her blog and was struck by the understated elegance of the things she sews. Today I’d like to introduce the very talented Amy, who blogs at Amos El (you can also see her KCW projects on her profile page here). Like me, Amy has a son and a daughter but sews mostly for her daughter, who is the lucky owner of a wardrobe that is stylish yet totally comfy and kid-friendly. A glance through the gallery section of Amy’s blog confirms her love of neutral shades with a splash of colour, and her preference for simplicity and classic lines – you won’t see any ruffles and rick-rack here. But there’s nothing staid or boring about Amy’s style: it’s creative, inventive and fun. She sews a simple item like a sweatshirt and transforms it with a giant reverse-appliqued heart. She turns old cardigans into new ones. She even does cool t-shirts!
1. cardigan 2. A-line sweatshirt 3. headstand shirt 4. Peg + Cat
I’m so happy to have discovered Amy’s sewing through Kids Clothes Week. I can see myself copying a few of her ideas already, and by the time you finish reading this interview, you might want to, too!
And now, on with the show.
When did you start sewing your children’s clothes and why?
I’ve been sewing on and off (more off than on, to be honest) most of my life. In middle school I won a trophy for highest grade in the eighth grade class for Home Ec and my mom still has that apron – some pretty awesome straight seams on that thing. Just after my son turned one we moved to be closer to family and I became a stay-at-home mom. With an easy toddler and a little free time on my hands I started picking up some projects here and there. I tried my hand at drafting some shirts and pajama pants for him with mixed results. Once my daughter was on the scene, though, it was a whole new story. I’m definitely guilty of being one of those people who thinks sewing for girls is more fun than sewing for boys. I think that why I like to sew for her is complicated. It’s a creative outlet, in that I’m creating something out of seemingly nothing. It’s also a matter of pride for me. My goal, when I make something, is for people who don’t know I sew not to say “did you MAKE that?” but for people who do know I sew to say “did you make THAT?”. It’s that fine line between home-made and hand-made that I’m always conscious of and the added challenge is exciting. Frustrating, too, but mostly exciting.
1. recess raglan 2. trio of sundresses 3. bimaa top 4. little zippy 5. roller skate tunic
When was your first Kids Clothes Week and how did it go?
My first KCW was Summer 2013. I remember being a little nervous about putting my stuff out there. I had been blogging for a bit, but up to that point I hadn’t really reached out or participated in a way that would actually bring people to the blog. I was and still am so glad I joined in when I did. It is such an amazing way for all of us to come together and share what we’re passionate about, and after that week I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for Fall!
1. swing tank 2. pinafore top
How do you balance your work/family/sewing time?
I don’t think I do – not very well, at least. I usually get inspired, cut and prep two or three garments, and then binge sew for a day or two. I don’t have a dedicated sewing area right now, so I have to take over the dining room table. Having to lug out two machines, an iron and ironing board and all the other paraphernalia necessary for some successful sewing has definitely helped me become more efficient.
How do your children influence your sewing?
Would it be wrong to say they don’t? They inspire me to sew, but neither one has much of an opinion on their wardrobe at this point (and yes, I do thank my lucky stars). A quick look at my KCW project page or blog and you’ll see I don’t sew for my son very often. I prefer a very simple look for him, and it’s hard to get inspired to make a basic t-shirt or pair of jeans when they can be purchased affordably. Every so often, though, he asks if it’s his turn and I take a break from the girl stuff and he and I make a plan. It usually involves a basic t-shirt with a freezer paper stencil. Simple enough for me, but super special to him.
1. amazing tee 2. arrow tee
Many of the things you sew are self-drafted, but you also use patterns from independent designers. Do you have a favourite pattern, one you use time and time again?
I’m pretty sure my most used pattern is the Lovely Rita Skinnies pattern by Shwin Designs. I think I’ve made five pairs total, three of those during previous KCWs. They actually all still fit her, but they’re a little too cropped for cooler weather now and are starting to ride a little low in the back. I have the next size up traced and ready to go, though. Baby’s growing up, as they do. I love this pattern because of the fit, and because of the simplicity. It has just enough detail and pattern pieces to make them feel legit, but not so many that making multiples feels overwhelming. I am toying with adding a fly to this next pair. Wish me luck.
1. flowery ritas 2. dotty ritas 3. red ritas
What is your favourite piece of clothing that you have sewn, and what is your daughter’s favourite?
My daughter’s favourite is definitely her Spinny Star Scarf Shirt. The top half is another favourite pattern, the Bimaa Sweater by LouBee Clothing, and the bottom is just two gathered rectangles. It’s actually one of the only articles of clothing she does have an opinion on – and that opinion is that it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
As for my favourite, it’s almost impossible for me to choose – but if choose I must, I’ll say that the self-drafted scoop-back tank dress with bias tape embellishment that I made this past summer could pass for a winner. It was somehow both entirely my style and just enough out of my comfort zone to feel like a real accomplishment. It turned out exactly as I imagined it would, both on the hanger and on the girl, which is less often the case than I would like to admit.
1. Scoop-back dress with bias tape 2. Bimaa up top
What other creative pursuits do you enjoy apart from sewing?
I enjoy photography, which seems to go hand in hand with having a sewing blog, doesn’t it? Cooking is also something I enjoy, especially in this rice, soup and stew season we’re entering up here. If only my kids enjoyed eating, then it would be all fun in the kitchen! I also enjoy the occasional craft project, whether it be creating with my kids or making something to make the home feel homier. I actually started my blog as a crafting/sewing blog but clearly my first creating love is sewing and it invariably took over.
Thanks again, Marisa, for inviting me to do this interview, and thank you and hooray to EVERYONE who participates in KCW season after season – it wouldn’t be so much fun if we weren’t all in it together, enjoying and inspiring each other. See you in the new year!
And thank YOU, Amy, for being the first interviewee of the season. I’m so looking forward to seeing what you make next. And if you ever publish a pattern for that scoop-back dress, I’ll be first in line!