I’m excited to share another interview with you today. This time I’m featuring Marsha of Seam of my Pants. She’s a blogger who’s fairly local to me and although we’ve never met in person, I’ve been told that she’s a friend of a friend of a friend… I think.. There might be one too many friends in there. Anyway, as Marsha explains below, while her blog is fairly new, she’s not new to the blogging world but why not pop over and say hi and encourage her to write some more posts anyway!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which are Marsha’s links. All affiliate links are marked with an asterisk (*).
Note: Usually I have the questions that were answered by the interviewee in the post, but Marsha’s writing flowed from one topic to the next so nicely that I didn’t want to ruin it by adding the questions back in.
Hey! I’m Marsha, the artsy-craftsy contrarian and crazy cat lady who’s winging it over at Seam of my Pants. I love to tell stories so we’ll start this little tale off with a bit of self-disclosure. A couple of things become obvious once you start getting personal. First, I never know what I’m doing until I’m in mid air. I get an idea and I jump, hoping the wind will pick up before I hit the ground. Even when I make a plan, I rarely stick to it because there are so many detours along the way that I like to go off and explore. It sure makes life fun and interesting.
The second thing is that patterns and recipes are just mild suggestions to me. It’s not that I absolutely can’t follow directions. I can follow exam instructions like a champ. It’s that when it comes to anything creative, I just have to move this here, add that over there… Ok, I’m a hack! Let’s just go with it.
My furbabies keep me grounded here in Montreal, but before they adopted me, I lived all over – Jamaica, Edmonton, Toronto, New York City, Singapore.
I’d still be moving around if I hadn’t fallen in love with a bunch of little soft critters. These 6 adorable rescues help me with my sewing, drawing, cooking, napping… and everything else I do. I’ve actually developed this grand life plan for starting a cat sanctuary. (Ok, it’s still a half-baked idea but one step at a time!) Here’s the beginning of the Zod Complex, named after the most self-assured little shelter kitty ever! .
My Grandma Ivy and Aunt Betty are responsible for infecting me with the sewing bug! Grandma was a seamstress part-time and the only person in our little rural village with a sewing machine. She let me play with scissors and help her pump her Singer treadle before I could even talk. I followed her about like a faithful puppy until I was 10 and my parents moved to Canada. For the next 30 years, my sewing was sporadic at best. I had Home Ec class in junior high and high school, and I watched Sewing with Nancy on PBS every weekend. Once in a blue moon when I got frustrated with the embarrassment of wearing high-water pants (I’m tall and skinny), I would buy a pattern, borrow a machine and make a pair of pants. In my 30’s I became close friends with a woman, Rosie, who made all her own clothes and I would hang out with her while she sewed. Truth is, she would mostly wail about having nothing to wear, and I would mock her for the boxes of unfinished clothes she had stashed under her bed. I learned a lot about fabric from her because she was a fussy lady about using only quality materials.
Fast forward to 2011. My then-husband and I were renovating the house and he built a custom recycling cabinet for the kitchen. He wanted a liner for it that would be easy to remove and carry out to the curbside bin. We made a deal that if he would buy me a sewing machine, I’d design and sew one for him. Worked out really well for both of us—I got a pretty good sewing machine and he got his perfectly fitted bin liner. Since then I’ve been watching classes on Craftsy*, reading tutorials, and learning from trial and error. I hate to say it, but this has turned into an obsessive fabric hoarding adventure because fabric just feels good! (Joke’s on me now because I have more UFO’s under my bed than Rosie ever did!)
I’ve tried all kinds of arts and crafts, from glue gun accidents to painting scary glow faces on the flowerpots when no one was looking. Crochet and knitting aren’t my bag but I love to sew and I have a blast with hand embroidery and applique when I’m in the right mood. I just added doodling, mixed-media journaling and colouring to the list of things that make me happy when I’m not scooping kitty litter. It’s funny but since I got thrown out of my friends’ colouring club when I was about 9-ish, I was convinced I didn’t have an artistic bone in my body. Yet somehow I still felt compelled to take one art elective in junior high, one in high school, and one in university. But ever since we spent an afternoon painting my garbage bins with glow-in-the-dark paint to freak out my neighbours, my best friend (and brilliant artist in her own right) has been encouraging me to explore art more seriously.
There are two people in my life right now who give me wings to fly and an abundance of nutty ideas to try. First, my mom tells me all the time that she’s my Pampers – no matter what kind of poop I get myself into, she’s behind me all the way. Mom has crocheted since she was three years old and makes the most exquisite and complex items. I sometimes use those as inspiration for something I want to sew. Then there’s my BFF and partner in crafty crime, CC. For the last 10 years, ever since I picked her up in the ladies room at a conference (story for another time), CC has been my creative muse. From all-day shopping at Michael’s to all-night Pinterest pinning sessions, there’s no shortage of cockamamie ideas between us. Nothing good ever follows when one of us sends a Facebook message or pin with, “OMG!!! We GOTTA make this!”
All these different types of crafting activities are competing for space in my tiny “playroom”, which was once the living room of my apartment. It’s a disaster! I’d be embarrassed to show a picture of it but I’m taking no responsibility or blame for the state of it. Normally, I’m super organized and I start each project with my workroom neat and tidy, because my creative process is so messy. That hasn’t been the case lately, and it’s incredible but I can feel the disorganization sapping my sew-jo. I totally blame the moving fairies and the organizing unicorns for the state of the room. I’d fire them all but I can’t find them. Next time I move, I’m hiring elves and pixies, but in the meantime, I better sort it myself. It also doesn’t help that my workspace can’t decide if it’s drawing, gluing or sewing so there are markers in the sewing machine and thread in the glue, with my computer and cat sitting atop the whole mess. You sure you want to see what it looks like?
Going into business for myself was a bit of a no-brainer for me. (And believe me! It took me a long time to find my brains.) My family has always been entrepreneurial. I opened my first business when I was 21, not because I loved what I was doing, but because I wanted to work for myself. After that failed like a firecracker under water, I tried to be normal and work the 9-5 grind like everyone else. But I just couldn’t help starting side businesses (and losing jobs.) Apparently being a contrarian and not following instructions makes me a terrible employee.
A lot shifted for me over the last couple of years. I slogged my way through some tough personal transitions that left me wondering about my raison d’etre. When the fog cleared, two things were for sure: I needed to be my own boss, and I had to do something creative. Before my mid-life meltdown, it had never occurred to me to take sewing seriously as a business because I had big plans to save the world with that Psychology degree I was studying so hard for.
Then a friend posted a picture of a pet bow tie she found online and wanted to order it. I offered to make her one and that was the start of Pet Ties which quickly changed to Furbaby Fashions.
But I still wanted to sew aprons and handbags for my mom and BFF without starting yet another handmade product business. I figured that blogging would give me the creative freedom to make whatever I wanted whenever inspiration struck. I had been blogging off and on for more than 10 years and I gravitated right back to it.
I had actually started my first blog back in 2005 when it was mostly weird people posting their personal diaries online. I really was a magnet for oddballs and freak incidents back then. A few months after I started it, it became the thing for businesses to have blogs so I converted my dance school’s newsletter to a group blog for the instructors. (Yes, I also taught Latin dancing in another life.)
I’ve closed the school and the original blogs since then. I went back to university and then started to have chronic health issues, which meant I had to make some drastic lifestyle changes. That included letting go of my Energizer Bunny routine and getting used to a much slower pace over the last couple of years.
Challenges? You mean besides fabric money, right? I’ve had a few. All the fun and games aside though, middle age is catching up to me and I do have some chronic health problems that slow me down considerably. Not to mention suddenly needing reading glasses to find my reading glasses. I’ve had to accept that deadlines are fluid, so I create and blog when I can instead of sticking to a regular schedule.
With all that though, my biggest challenge has been getting my head into the game. That sounds like one of those sports clichés that I hate, but the mental obstacles have truly been the hardest. First I had to accept and believe that I was a creative person, and that I had a right to earn a living doing something artistic that I loved. I had to make myself stop being logical and intellectual about everything. I used to “listen to reason” and only ended up sabotaging my creative self in every way possible. Taking off the mask I thought I had to wear to succeed and just doing me—foibles and all—what a job!
But you know, messy playroom, achy middle-aged body and other issues aside, I really love where my life is going these days. My flexible schedule and minimalist lifestyle give me time to work on crafts and practise my newly discovered drawing skills. (I mean really! Who waits until their late 40s before they find out they can draw?) Sewing, crafting, doodling, writing, catting… I’ve finally found my place. I’m flying by the seat of my pants and it feels soooo good!
You can also find her at Fur Baby Fashions on Facebook!
P.S. Check out my ‘Featured Interviews‘ page to find even more interviews with some of my favourite bloggers and pattern designers!