It’s the fourth interview in the new series of interviews with makers and designers, and I’m so happy to be interviewing Magda of House of Estrela today.
Magda is a refashion sewing queen! (She explains a bit about that below). She has been hosting a refashion series on her blog every year for the last few years, which you can see here. She also shares some free patterns on her blog, including this cute blazer for toddlers. After looking up the area of Portugal where she lives and seeing all the beautiful pictures, I so want to move there! Read more about her and her sewing in the interview below, and then go check out her blog!
Tell us a little about yourself and where you live.
My name is Magda Estrela, I was born and lived most of my life in Portugal, my father is Spanish though, and for a couple of years when I was a child, I lived in Spain too. I became a mom in 2011, with the most beautiful and wanted little girl, Gabriela. It was a long path until we had her, and so she became our miracle baby. Then three years later, we had the most beautiful baby boy, of course, Santiago. He was a blessing. I started sewing for myself in my teens, but sewing has been a passionate since I played with dolls. After a few alternative fashion shows, I started working on different pieces, such as baby items. I was invited to teach also, and I did for a few months, I was already pregnant with G. when I started so, it was off after I gave birth to her. After that, I mainly sewed for her, and then for S. too. Occasionally I get to sew for myself, but not as often as for the girl. At the moment, and for the last 4 years I’ve been a SAHM, and I’d love to work (more) from home, but I still need to figure out how.
Do you think that being from Portugal has an influence on what or how you create?
Living in a small, originally fishermen town in the Algarve (south of Portugal) has certainly influenced me in my sewing. I do a lot of refashioning for instance. And not only I do it to save some euros, and because I enjoy recycling, I also do it because it is so much easier to find nice fabrics in RTW clothes that I am donated by family and friends, or that I can buy at a thrift store, than actually being able to find those fabrics in my local fabric stores, which aren’t many, and the ones we have are so very small. Besides that, we have a wonderful sunlight almost through the whole year, and that gets me in the mood for sewing, it is inspiring over here, we’ve got it all, sun, sea and hills. We are a touristic area so we get to interact with a lot of different people, and cultures, and all that influence the way I look at the things I create.
How long have you been doing your art/craft? Where did you first learn it? Who taught you?
I have been sewing since I was a little girl, but I only got seriously into it when I was about 17 years old. I learnt hand stitching from my mind when I was about 5 or 6 years old, I was very interested in sewing my Barbie’s wardrobe back then already. Then, when my interest was back and I wanted to sew for myself, I joined some classes but they didn
‘t last long, I learnt a little then but most of what I know I’ve learnt on my own, doing and undoing, studying techniques that went really wrong at times. Later, PDF patterns have been a great way to enlarge my knowledge at sewing (a big to the wonderful designers I have had the pleasure to work with).
Where do you find your inspiration? Who or what inspires you?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. I am always looking at fabric patterns from other people’s clothes, or the pieces they are wearing, shape, way they are constructed. I also find inspiration in fashion catalogues and online, of course, but it is mostly in the daily life that I get most inspired by.
Describe your workspace.
I am lucky I have a room for myself, I had to put both kids in the same room, that’s true, but for now it works for all of us. I am pretty messy, and this way I can have my own mess don’t worrying about the other people in this house. I usually spend a lot of time just searching for things in me sewing room because, even though I am organised enough to find a place for everything, I am also messy enough to never return stuff to their place. When I am in great sewing mood, I keep sewing one thing after the other, and all the scraps just lay around, until the day I can’t actually concentrate and clean it all. Oh yeah, shameless here. I recently got myself a recycled cutting table, it’s different and fun.
Why did you decide to start a blog? For the sense of community? The fame? The free fabric?
Although I started House of Estrela only late 2012, I had been blogging about my crafts and clothes since 2008. I wrote that first blog in Portuguese, it was called Duas Estrelinhas (two little stars) – and got this name because I often blogged about my mom’s crochet and knitting (and Star is just the translation to our family name Estrela). After a few years, I started my current blog because I needed to communicate with people worldwide, I was looking for visibility, I was just doing it for the fun. In the last couple of years, I started pattern testing and pattern touring, but apart from the “free” patterns I get, I don’t make any money with my blog. At least not yet, I’d actually like some sponsoring in the near future.
Name your three favourite books or resources related to sewing
There are a lot of books out there, but if I have to mention resources for my sewing I think I will go for magazines. I started a huge Burda collection many years ago, so that has to be my number one. I am also an avid collector of the Spanish pattern magazine Patrones, and more recently I discovered Ottobre Design. All of them are always near me and they are my first go to when searching for a specific pattern.