Beginning Sewist Interview: Brooke
Start January 2020 off right by picking up a hobby, setting a new year’s resolution, or learning something new. One of our staff members, Brooke, tried sewing for the first time this past year. Read our interview with this beginning sewist to see how she managed!
Brooke is our photographer and digital designer who puts together our catalog, photographs our finished models, and helps with our social media marketing.
Q: What was your sewing experience prior to attempting the Roll With It bag?
A: When I was about 8 years-old my mom showed me how to sew a pillow. My mom also had my sister and me attempt to sew a quilt. I didn’t really enjoy making the quilt; it was a lot of work to cut all those squares out and it didn’t help that the fabric I chose was corduroy.
I didn’t touch a sewing machine again for nearly 15 years, after that. Between school, life, art and work there was no time. My first sewing project was a Just Desserts. The ByAnnie staff and I all sewed our own so that we could have an ice cream party!
Just Desserts was the first sewing pattern I had ever read. It was hard at first, but once I asked a few questions and understood a couple of the terms it practically made itself. It was a great warm up for my first large ByAnnie bag!
Why did you want to sew a ByAnnie bag?
For starters, working on the social media team at ByAnnie.com I’ve seen many sewists make successful bags using our patterns and I figured that it was probably a good place to start. ByAnnie patterns are easy to understand and there are lots of tutorials and resources. I also thought that sewing a ByAnnie bag would help me understand more about what I was doing at work.
As another motivation, I’ve been designing fabric in my free time as a hobby. Prior to working full-time at ByAnnie.com, I had taken a Bonnie Christine surface design course after meeting her at the International Quilt Market in Salt Lake City (Spring 2016). Annie, Casey, and Gloria had invited me to go with them and the experience really blew my mind. I had never seen so many different colors and patterns in one place.
Fast-forward to this past year: Through a lot of trial and error, I finally pulled together a group of designs that I felt really strongly about and got them printed on Spoonflower. My next natural step was to make something out of them. Annie was kind enough to have my fabrics quilted to some Soft and Stable so I could start sewing something with it. I’m really lucky to work somewhere that promotes creativity and learning.
Why did you choose the Roll With It bag?
I don’t live near a beach and I don’t do much yoga, but I really liked the design of the bag and I knew I could give it as a gift to my sister who really enjoys yoga (Plus, if it turned out REALLY bad I wouldn’t have to look at it again as she lives states away! Joke’s on me, it turned out great).
Roll With It also lays flat, so I figured that it couldn’t be too terribly difficult for a beginner. I am happy to say that finishing it made me feel so much more confident at the sewing machine.
What is your advice to someone who hasn't sewn a ByAnnie bag before?
Jump in with both feet! And find someone who can help you if you’re nervous. As far as my project went, the pattern was so well-written I never had questions about what I was supposed to do.
Most of my nervousness regarding the process was assuaged by the Add-on Video (which is free through a coupon that comes with the printed pattern), and I was able to figure out all the different techniques through tutorials on the ByAnnie website.
Any of my other questions had to do with not understanding terms, not knowing when and how to change my needle, how to put thread on the bobbin, etc, and I just asked my more experienced coworkers/mentors (thank you, Annie, Diana, Mindy, and Angela!).
And by the way, if you don’t know someone who can help you, anyone on the customer service team at ByAnnie.com is willing to assist, simply email us at email@example.com or call us. We want you to make something you’re proud of!
Were there any tools or tricks that made the process easier?
One part of sewing I never enjoyed when I was a kid were those darn pins. Using Wonder Clips made my life so much easier. I was able to quickly clip and unclip pieces and parts of my project as I was sewing.
I also would have been in a world of hurt without the ByAnnie Stiletto and Pressing Tool. That tool helped a lot when it came to holding pieces in place as I was sewing, especially pulling the binding over in the final stages!
In the end, I learned how to work with fabric-covered strapping (SOOOO much strapping), how to use hardware and sew-in magnets, how to cut and install zippers (which was so easy I thought I was doing it wrong!), how to use fusible interfacing, and how to attach bias binding. The Add-On Video really was invaluable.
Oh, and those little cut-out label tags on the back of the pattern, definitely use those when you cut your pieces out. I would’ve been so lost without them.
What's next on your to-sew list?
I’m in love with the Petit Four Baskets pattern. They only take a bit of Soft and Stable and a couple fat quarters, but they’re so cute! I have a Petit Four Basket on my desk at work and it keeps my slightly chaotic desk from being completely chaotic. It holds my keys, a marker, sticky notes, loose change and rubber bands, and my giant container of cinnamon lip balm. I already have fabrics picked out for the Petit Four Basket I want to make. I designed some fabric with boobies on it during breast cancer awareness month in the spirit of our #SewPINK Initiative and I can’t decide if I want it on the outside of the basket or the inside.
I also really love the look of the Lynne Wilson Designs quilts on the ByAnnie website, I especially love the Hexagon Magic II and the Pleated Log Cabin. Lynne’s quilts are supposed to be super easy to do, so I’m sure that I could figure it out.
Over all, I really enjoyed my sewing experience more than I thought I would. After sewing Roll With It (and that Just Desserts!) I feel much more confident sitting down at a sewing machine and so proud of myself for doing something I hadn’t done before. I’m not sure if it’ll be a steady hobby for the future or not, but I really like knowing that if I had the urge to whip out fifty Petit Four Baskets as gifts, I could!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Brooke! We can’t wait to see what you make in 2020. Find Brooke on social media at @Brooke.Elayyne.
Find Brooke's sewing supplies for the bag she made: