Welcome to the premier post of our first blog series: Designer of the Month. On (or near) the first of each month, we will be sharing a spotlight interview with a featured designer whose work we love. We hope you enjoy the behind-the-designs insight to be gained!
Our first featured designer is Ivey Crenshaw of Hahira, Georgia. Ivey is an employee of Sew Blessed, a sewing shop also located in Hahira. You can see her work in "Spring in Full Bloom," a pictorial published in the current March/April 2010 issue of Sew Beautiful (#129; pages 16-19). We're also looking forward to publishing Ivey's work in yet another pictorial in our November/December issue (#133), this time offering a series of fun, casual Christmas looks in bright cotton prints. For now, on with the interview!
SB: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Ivey: I am a happily married housewife, who works part-time at Sew Blessed. Before I started working at the shop, I had my own business making curtains and anything to do with decorative textiles. One day, I was hanging curtains for a client and I mentioned to her that I needed a new sewing machine and a part-time job so that I could get out of the house some every week before I go stir crazy. Well, that client was Sharon, who is the owner of Sew Blessed and now my wonderful boss! Eventually I got out of the drapery making business and started sewing for fun again. Jeff and I do not have any kids but that does not stop me from sewing children's clothes. I love it! I have an Art Degree in Fashion Design and when I was in college, children's wear was my forte. Working at Sew Blessed has just given me the perfect excuse to sew cute children's clothes again! I guess you could say that I have been "sew blessed" - haha!
SB: How did you get started sewing?
Ivey: My grandmother was an excellent sewist and as a young child she always fascinated me with all that she would sew. She passed away when I was eight and was never able to teach me. My mom inherited her fabric collections, 2 sewing machines, and U.F.O.'s (unfinished objects). I loved to play with all those fabrics and I would try to make things by studying her U.F.O. projects. Mom noticed that I was interested in sewing and found me a summer sewing class through 4-H when I was about 11 years old.
SB: Many of us who sew also participate in other crafts and hobbies; do you?
Ivey: Yes! Although I try to limit the crafts I get involved with cause it can get expensive and time consuming. My true love is sewing. Next to sewing is decorating. Seems like my parents and I have always got a decorating project going on. Alot of the crafts that I do are because I was trying to come up with clever wall art or decorate for a party.Some of my other crafts and hobbies I dabble in are flower arranging, beading, photography, paper crafts...Give me a book on the subject and I will try to figure it out! I would love to get into gardening.
SB: How long have you been a part of the Sew Blessed shop, and what is your role there?
Ivey: I have been part of Sew Blessed now for 5 years. My role at the shop I guess would be Marketing Director. I'm all about trying to make our shop look good. I make the shop samples, choose fabrics and patterns we sell in the shop, rearange store displays, take pictures for our ads... you know, whatever is going to market our shop well.
SB: From where would you say you get your inspiration for your sewing projects?
Ivey: I find inspiration everywhere!!! It could be from something as simple as a novelty button or a fabric collection from a favorite fabric designer. Magazines are some of the best places to find inspiration and not just sewing ones. I don't scrapbook, but I love to buy scrapbook magazines because they are full of ideas for appliques and unusual color combinations. A movie, artwork, a road trip through the mountains in the fall, pretty packaging; these are all things that have inspired past sewing projects.
SB: Hand-in-hand with inspiration goes motivation. As creative beings, sometimes even though we have plenty of inspiration, we can't seem to motivate ourselves to actually keep creating! How do you combat this struggle?
Ivey: I'm not always motivated to create, but it makes me upset when I go through the day and I have accomplished absolutely nothing.It actually makes me feel depressed. So to avoid that feeling, I will pick out a U.F.O. project and make myself work on it. Well in the process, I will actually start to enjoy what I am working on. When I finish, I usually feel good about what I have done and will be excited to work on another project.
SB: You have such a creative take on children's clothing, from your integration of designer fabrics, patterns and machine embroidery to your own take on appliques and embellishments. How would you describe the process you go through when planning and sewing a unique garment?
Ivey: It depends on my source of inspiration, but I always lay out my fabric and trims so that I can get a visual image of how things are going together. Most of the time I'm not real sure it is going to work out but I will do it anyways because I like that element of surprise with the finished product. That's what makes designing so much fun!
SB: What would your advice be for a true beginner who wants to learn how to sew garments for children?
Ivey: Just keep on sewing! Make yourself try new patterns. I taught myself new sewing techniques by trying out different pattern styles and designers. Don't get caught up in trying to custom fit children's clothing. It should be loose and fun! You know, something they can play in.
SB: What are some of your favorite go-to sewing tools?
Ivey: My favorite sewing tool (besides my sewing machines) is my set of "Fasturn" tube turners! Whew, that's a mouthful! Helps me turn all those sashes and straps out in no time at all.
SB: What are some of your favorite resources when it come to sewing?
Ivey: I love all the A-Z Series of books for sewing. The reason, they have great directions and wonderful instruction pictures. My other favorite resource for sewing are my video collection of Martha's Sewing Room. I don't always practice my heirloom techniques but I can watch those videos and I know exactly what to do!
SB: Any last words for our readers?
Ivey: When I was asked to do the SB pictorial, the first thing I did was find my favorite issue, Issue #100. It was the very first issue I ever purchased. The pages are worn out and there is some water damage cause I took it to the beach with me one time, but I still go through it every now and then. This particular issue is very important to me because it was what inspired me to start sewing children's clothing again! I can only hope that my pictorial will become a sewing inspiration to someone like issue 100 did for me.
SB: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Ivey! To our readers, you can check out more of Ivey's work online at her blog and Flickr photostream. And of course, be sure to stop by Sew Blessed if you're ever in Hahira, GA. Stay tuned for our April Designer of the Month, Jeannie Baumeister of The Old Fashioned Baby.