Today I’m talking with the very talented Charity, who you probably know as vegbee, from Indie Tutes (Blueprints). Despite her being allergic to money, she has started selling patterns, Little Print Designs while keeping the awesome tutorials coming on her blog. Charity has some of the best, and most original tutorials on the web, as well as lots of general sewing information, so be sure to check out her blog after your done reading more about her.
How long have you been crafting and how did you first get started?
My grandmother is skilled in needlework and my mother has dabbled in all sorts of crafts as I grew up; being creative and making things has always been foundational in the way my family and I live. In my younger years, I drifted towards the fine arts and dramatics, and I thought of myself as somewhat of an artist. Identifying myself as a crafty person did not come until about 8 years ago when my significant other and I began having ‘crafty Sundays’, when we would play around with polymer clay, origami, paper mache, or any other project that caught our fancy. Eventually crafty Sundays became crafty everyday and I found myself having my entire apartment taken over with the tools and creations of my new found obsession.
What area is your specialty and has this always been your area of interest?
My area is sewing and I never would have dreamed I’d ever be even remotely proficient at it. Until four years ago, I was sufficiently traumatized by my seventh grade home economics teacher to believe that I was genetically incapable of assembling anything made of fabric.
I think you have done a pretty good job of proving that teacher wrong! How did you hone your skills?
I am mainly self-taught by spending time studying ready-made garments and their construction, with a smattering of advice from various lovely grannies in my life, and a whole lot time reading, looking, and thinking about all the information out there online, in books, and magazines. An incredible resource has been online crafting communities and forums, where I have found general inspiration, lots of ideas, continuing motivation in feedback for my projects, and, when needed, a very specific answer to a unique issue when asked. Another powerful source for learning has been blogging – I’ve solidified and enhanced my skills as I’ve written about them in tutorials. Helping others and sharing ideas is a brilliant way to learn. I can’t thank my readers enough for that!
I’m always impressed with the new things you come up with for your tutorials/patterns, as well as your ability to repurpose items. Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from music and the styles of popular and subcultures. I like to sew what fits my mood, which is created and reflected by the music I am listening to at the moment. If you look back at my projects through the years, you can pretty much guess what genre of music I was listening to at the time. I have garments reflecting punk, rockabilly, political folk, ‘80s pop and ’60s rock and roll. Right now I’m listening to a lot of country folk music and have just upcycled a country and western gingham patterned man`s shirt with pearl snaps into peasant blouse style shirts for my daughter.
My kids are my guinea pigs, my conspirators, and my muses. Almost everything I`ve sewn has been for my children, good and bad. On a technical level, having small children to care has forced me to focus my sewing on fast and forgiving type projects, such as reconstructions. I do not have the time right now to play with small details or embellishments, and given how fast the kids stain, tear or grow out of what I do make, it helps not to invest too much time or money in any particular garment. It is sewing with a touch of abandon, furiously and a bit on the edge, knowing that what you make can be undone so quickly.
About how much time do you spend a day/week working on your projects?
I spend anywhere from two to twenty hours a week on projects, depending on my other commitments and needs. Usually that time is broken into twenty minute jumps, as daily activities permit small pockets in which to work.
Do you like to start and finish a project before starting another one, or work on multiple projects at once?
I usually have several on the go, since I have an intense aversion to frustration and find that if I`m getting irritated with a project or feel overwhelmed I can put it aside for a few days, work on something else, and return to it feeling much more relaxed and productive.
Where do you like to get your fabric/supplies for your projects? Do you impulse buy, or only buy what you need when you need it?
Most everything I have comes from thrift stores: clothing to reconstruct and I pick up various notions as I find them. I try to work with what I have, which sometimes leads down surprising roads. I do, however, buy new thread and needles in the fabric shop. I’ve never found needles any other place and any thread in the second hand store is most likely too old and will cause more tears than anything.
I began selling patterns about the time when people started asking for a copy of whatever I had designed for myself. I had no problem with sharing my patterns out, but my husband always bugs me about being allergic to making money, so I decided to ask for a fair price for them. For anyone interested in selling patterns online, Etsy is a great place to start, and developing your own website would be a natural next step. I highly recommend blogging as a way to reach other to others and show them that you can write well and present ideas clearly. There is something almost intimate between a sewer and a pattern maker – they need to be able to understand each other clearly to successfully complete a garment. A pattern producer may work well for one person and appear completely incomprehensible to the next. There is a style of communication and a building of trust that will bring people to try your first pattern and then, if your presentation is clear, they’ll come back for more. The pattern makers job is to make things as easy as possible for the sewer. Start with that and the rest will come along.
For someone who has never visited your blog, what are 5 of your must read posts/tutorials?
Thank you Charity for taking time to answer my questions. It was very fun to find out more about one of my favorite crafters and how you create. Readers, be sure to head on over to Charity’s blog and check out all she has to offer, and stop by her shop and grab a pattern to try while you’re at it.
Want to try one of Charity’s patterns for free? She has generously agreed to giveaway an the choice of one of her e-patterns to one lucky commenter. To enter, leave a comment below answering the question, “Do you prefer to sew with patterns or without?” Only one entry per person, please. Winner will be drawn and announced on February 13th. Good luck!
Comments for giveaway are now closed, but you are welcome to leave a comment anyways. I’d love to hear from you!