Crafter Interview: Charity

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.

Musical inspiration, that’s very cool. How have your children influenced what and how you create?

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.

What made you decide to start selling your patterns, and how exactly does one go about that?

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?

Breaking Needles while Breaking Ground

Crayon Liberation

Toddler Backpack

Adding Pin tucks and Gathers

Creating Your Own T-shirt Pattern

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!


38 thoughts on “Crafter Interview: Charity

  1. Sometimes I sew with patterns…then I will take certain pieces & tweak it to create my own clothing. Lately I’ve been trying to draft my own!

  2. I love to sew with patterns, even though I almost always change them…even the first time around. This isn’t always successful, but at least it’s mine 🙂

  3. This is a hard question to answer!! I like following tutorials better than actual patterns but sometimes I need something that requires a pattern. I think most of my frustrations come from unclear directions or poorly designed patterns that I have to modify so that they will fit.

    But I will say this for Vegbee, I started sewing when I found her blog and everything that I have made from there fits beautifully!! She is my hero!!

  4. Although I like having a unique product by designing my own items, I prefer using patterns since my time is limited. If someone else has already done the drafting work for me, I can buckle down to the business of sewing.

  5. I love to use tutorials instead of patterns. I can’t be held down and told to do certain things, I like to just do as I see fit and learn as I go. Blueprints (Indietutes)was the very first sewing blog I discovered, and is still one of my favourite amoung another 20+ currently in my google reader! Although I just said I prefer not to use patterns, I’d love to win one of Charity’s patterns because I know her tutorials are easy to follow, and I’ve got to learn how to sew from a pattern sometime!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. I wing it! I look through tutes, look at stuff in stores/online, think “Oh, I could do that!” and then snip, snip, stitch, stitch and … fingers crossed, hope it fits my daughter.
    If it doesn’t, I have a littler daughter I can just reconstruct the item for! Total win-win.

  7. I’ve never been successful without a pattern, in fact it’s probably been more decades than I’d care to admit since I’ve tried, such was the trauma. Oddly enough, I doubt that I’ve ever followed a pattern exactly to the letter either…I guess the creativity is in there…it just needs a kick-start
    Actually, the math skills are lacking enough, and the laziness such, that I’d rather let creative types like Charity do the preliminary work….I’ll be only too happy to take it from there!

  8. I still need patterns. I would love to get to a point where I can wing it, but for now I rely on patterns and I am working to collect the best ones. With vegbee’s Birdie Briches I have created a whole wardrobe for my son (at least the bottom half).

  9. I love to sew with patterns. I always have and I’ve found when I try to do stuff without a pattern, I’m so scared to start and screw up. But I’m learning!

  10. Charity is one of my favorite bloggers. Her Crayon Liberation post is one of my faves too. 🙂

    Her blog is inspiring me to branch out more with my sewing too. I’m self taught, but now I don’t feel like I should let that hold me back!

  11. It is not that I prefer to sew without since I end up making my own; it is that commercially made and sold patterns scare me. Seriously, they intimidate me so greatly that I can even confuse a well seasoned seamstress and I have.

    Also, what a wonderful interview. I have been reading Indututes for about six months and yet I had no idea where the inspiration (save her children) came from. Quite refreshing.

  12. I learned to sew using premade patterns, but I’ve discovered, partly from blogs like indietutes, how to make my own. I’m not quite ready to freestyle completely, though!

  13. I prefer with a pattern- mostly because when I have a pattern (even just one to reference) I mangage to complete a project. Without a pattern, the idea gets put on the bottom of my things to do list…

    I love your stuff!!

  14. Definitely with a pattern. I’ve tried not using them and it’s always been a disaster!

    Btw, I love Charity’s blog – it’s a huge source of inspiration for me!

  15. For now I need patterns and tutorials. But as I learn and progress in my sewing skills I hope to be able to create my own. I LOVE vegbee’s site it is my favorite, and I would loooove to have one of her patterns!!:)

  16. I prefer sewing with tutorials and making my own patterns; I can rarely find exactly what I’m looking for in a purchased pattern. Charity is a big inspiration. While I rarely ‘copy’ what she’s made – she gets in my head & influences some of my creations. With no real-life sewing mentors, I am extremely grateful for gals who share their wit and wisdom via the internet.

  17. I love having a step by step pattern for things like purses, because I learn new ways of putting things together. But patterns don’t work for me for fitted garments – they NEVER fit. I like the Sew What books for garments.

  18. I mainly use patterns, as I think that I am just a beginner (verging on novice…hehe). Those that I do not use a pattern for are usually just simple projects – nothing hard or complicated in them at all.

  19. i love sewing with patterns specially if they are vegbee’s patterns … , i have to confess that i started sewing 3 or 3 1/2 years ago … and thanks to her blog now i have my own handmade store (kids wear) almost everything is sewn in the store by me . I can sew without patterns but i really love how easy she does it… and how simple she explains things that can be confusing . Congratulations to vegbee .

  20. Thank you so much for this interview. I found it extremely interesting to read. I love looking into people’s lives and seeing what makes them tick.
    As for the question, I prefer to sew with a pattern – or at least a tutorial giving me basic measurements. I have not been sewing long so I am not quite brave enough to take the leap of faith into “winging it” or drafting my own patterns.
    I have bought a couple of VegBee’s patterns and followed many of her tutorials, and I must say I love them all!

  21. Thanks for the interview. I always enjoy finding out a little more about my favourite bloggers. For me it really depends what I’m sewing. If it is fairly complicated I’ll use a pattern, but quick and dirty is also my friend. I’m also pretty good and cobbling together features for a whole lot of patterns until I’ve got what I want.

  22. I am still fairly new to sewing, so right now I rely on patterns. But I long for the day when I’ll feel courageous enough to adventure into patternless sewing!

  23. I like to have patterns in front of me so I know I’m not messing things up! It’s nice to have everything pre-measured and tested! However, I also enjoy making my own patterns. Then, when I get something right, I know what I did and how to do it again.

  24. I usually use patterns. I bought Professional Patternmaking for Designers: Women’s Wear and Men’s Casual Wear by Jack Handford hoping to teach myself pattern drafting, but so far I haven’t had enough free time. I find that it is easier to use a pattern than to measure three times, do a bunch of math, and cut once.

  25. I do like to sew with a pattern but usually change it a little – sometimes out of necessity & sometimes just for my style preference.

  26. I often trace around a garment I already have and hope for the best! It usually works out 🙂 I love using tutorials online too.
    Thanks Charity for all the time and effort you put into your blog – I have been reading with interest for a few years now and I love seeing all that you come up with!

  27. I love Charity’s patterns! She is wonderful to work with, providing both encouragement and support as requested. Because of the ease of her pdf patterns, I have developed a slight aversion to store bought patterns! This was a wonderful interview of her. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  28. I do use patterns. I wish I could just eyeball things and make them, but no such luck. I have been trying to combine patterns and it has worked pretty well!

  29. I have finally started feeling more comfortable sewing things from my imagination, but it takes a lot longer and I feel a lot more nervous! 😉 It’s usually toys or costumes that I do this with, although repurposing garments is another area I’ve begun to take an interest in (mostly thanks to Charity’s tutes…)

    Sometimes I feel that sewing is like cooking – I still follow recipes to the letter in the kitchen but feel like I MIGHT be on the verge of adding an extra pinch of this or that!

  30. I always think I prefer patterns, so I start with them, but inevitably I throw them out midway through a project and finish it on my own. 🙂
    Great interview…I’m a die hard Vegbee fan!!!

  31. Lovely interview! I read Charity’s blog on a regular basis.

    I do most of my sewing without specific patterns. I may use a tutorial but I do not feel that those can always qualify as a pattern.
    However, I prefer to sew with a pattern. It usually ends up with less frustration on my part if I use a pattern.
    I do not use one often for various reasons: cost, availability of a pattern that looks like something I want to make, availability to purchase a pattern at 11pm when I decide at the last minute I wan to make a skirt/dress/skirt to wear tomorrow.

  32. I would like to try a pattern maybe… but so far I’m living on tutorials! And some old clothes of mine. The tutes are great, thanks!

  33. I generally use patterns because I’m horrible at measuring for clothes, though I find the big corporate patterns to be confusing sometimes. I’ve recently started making my own or adapting existing patterns. I prefer tutorials, and Vegbee’s are easy to follow. I follow her blog and I love her humor.

  34. Pingback: And the Winner is… «

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