Welcome to the first day of the Canadian Pattern Designer blog tour! In today’s interview I talk to Jess of Gracious Threads who is based in Alberta. If you’d like to see the rest of the schedule go here.
Jess is offering readers a discount in her Etsy shop for one week only, read through to the end to get the details!
Jess’ pattern shop opened a little over a year ago when she released her first pattern, however she’s been blogging and sharing tutorials for longer than that. She recently made this cute outfit for one of her daughters’ to celebrate her pattern shop anniversary. You can see more of this outfit on her blog. She takes beautiful photos as well making great outfits for her children. Well worth a look if you don’t already follow her.
Read on to learn a little bit about Jess and Gracious Threads!
Your About page clearly explains that your pattern designing evolved from your love of sewing. Do you think that sewing for your son and doing the Embellish for Boys series helped you move in that direction? Or were you always planning on designing patterns from the start?
I actually became interested in pattern design before my son was born. I am always interested in learning the ‘how it works’ behind everything, and learning how to adapt and draft my own designs was a natural extension of my sewing. It also helped me transition from my role as a teacher to a stay at home mom. Although I still do work as a substitute teacher occasionally, pattern design and blogging keeps me challenged and constantly learning new skills.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
I begin my day quite early at 4:30 when my husband’s alarm goes off. After a quick ‘goodbye’ I roll over and go back to sleep for a few hours By 6:30 I get my kids up and ready for school. I drive my oldest two to school, then try to do my housework. Nap time is when I do most of my sewing, and I try to do all my computer work (drafting, blogging, photo editing) once my kids are in bed at 7:00. My husband is in the barn until 8:30, so those 90 minutes are my main ‘online’ time.
What was the first thing you ever sewed that you can remember? How did it go?
I think my first garment was a nightgown I tried to make for myself. I was about 8 years old, and followed an old Kwik Sew pattern. I had no clue what I was doing, and didn’t realize that the pattern was meant for knits, not the flannel I used. Needless to say, it didn’t fit, and I abandoned the project once I realized that I couldn’t get it over my head, even without the neckband on!
Since this is Canadian blog tour, I’d like to learn a little about where you live. Your about page says you dairy farm in Alberta, can you describe it a bit? Is there oneplace nearby that you always recommend to new visitors?
My husband and I dairy farm just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. I grew up in the city (near Vancouver, BC), so it has been quite the adjustment, but I love it! Dairy farming is a labour of love; we milk twice a day, 7 days a week, but are very proud of providing excellent care for the animals and producing a clean, healthy product. When we have visitors, we often will take them to the Edmonton river valley, or to the quaint Village at Pigeon Lake.
Is there any other place in Canada that you’ve always wanted to visit or that you do visit on a regular basis?
I spent 4 months as a university student living in Montreal. I haven’t been back since, but would love to one day. I think two of my favourite places in Canada are old Quebec City and the west side of Vancouver Island.
I can guess that living on a farm you might be more inclined to sew practical designs, but do you think that being Canadian itself influences your designs?
For sure! I enjoy looking at the pretty sundresses that are popular with many designers, but it just doesn’t make sense for me to spend a lot of time and effort on a garment that is appropriate for 2 months of the year. And if you’ve ever tried to stuff a skirt or dress into bib snowpants, you’ll know why my girls stick with pants rather than dresses from November to April! I’m also a big believer in letting kids play, and our big farmyard is free for them to explore. I don’t raise a fuss when clothes get ripped and stained, so I like drafting simple designs that are quick to sew and don’t take a lot of fabric so that they can be replaced easily.
What are your top 3 favourite sewing or creative resources? (books, websites, etc)
Pinterest has to be the place I go to for most inspiration. I like taking ideas for shapes and colours from trends in home decor. When I’m not sewing up my own designs, I often use patterns from the Ottobre sewing magazine. I really appreciate the scandinavian style, and their use of bright colours and kid friendly designs. Finally, unlike many areas in Canada, I am lucky to have an amazing local fabric store (Marshalls Fabrics). They carry very nice knit solids, and specialty fabrics like stretch leather and metallic lurex. I love browsing the aisles and thinking of things to sew.
What is your #1 sewing tip or trick?
Purchase an iron with a good steam setting and use it! There is nothing more amazing than watching a stretched out binding or neckband shrink back before your very eyes. A good press goes a long way in making a garment look professional.
I know that you are expecting a new baby very soon and will be releasing some new patterns shortly (or will have released them by the time this interview is posted). Do you have any other future plans for Gracious Threads (shop or blog) that you would like to share? Or will you be taking a little break?
I actually have 5 patterns due for release in the next few weeks! Yes, a little crazy, but my third trimester is when I finally get my energy back. I also have an exciting blog series planned for the month of June, where guest bloggers will take over my blog showing off projects and tutorials with the theme of Baby Shower! I’m planning to take July and August a bit slow, but hope to be back at it in September when my older kids are in school.
These bloggers will be sharing their versions of a Gracious Threads pattern:
June 1st: Creative Bug – June 2nd: The Wholesome Mama – June 3rd: stitched by crystal
Enter to win 1 pattern of choice from Gracious Threads in the Rafflecopter below.
Giveaway closes June 4th at 12am EDT.
There are more prizes to be won! Giveaway and prize details for the Grand Prize and Second Prize can be found here. Sew up a pattern from one of the featured designers and you could win the Grand Prize!!