One of the things I love about the internet, social media, and Twitter in particular is that you get to "meet" so many wonderful people. Jodi is one of those people. She loves and is passionate about sewing and learning in a way that will draw you in and get you excited about it too. I love what she shares on her sewing journey, and I am inspired by her attitude.
I'll let her tell you about it...
Your website/blog is called Sew Fearless, which I love, can you tell us a little bit of the background on that?
Well.. the name "Sew Fearless" is a little bit of me "faking it until I make it". I really really really really want to be good at sewing, but it is intimidating and scary reaching out of my comfort zone and setting myself up for failures along the way, especially when sharing the journey in a public way on a blog. Realizing that I was never going to get where I wanted to be without overcoming those fears, I decided to choose a Fearless attitude in my sewing even if I didn't feel fearless yet.
When did you start embroidering and what drew you to it?
My mom always let us kids do our own thing, so I spent a lot of my childhood making little crafty projects, which included loads of friendship bracelets, embroidering over the holes in my jeans, and starting a cross-stitch project that I never finished. I didn't get back into it until last summer when it seemed like the whole craft world was sharing about their embroidery projects. With the help of your stitching videos, I made a pretty cover for a needle book for a friend. Just like that, I was hooked.
What do you like most about embroidery?
It has really got to be the portability of it. I have 4 kids, ages 6 and under, and they keep me crazy busy. This summer has been a real struggle for me to find time to spend at my beloved sewing machine, but embroidery has been so easy to grab and take wherever. I get the pleasure of touching textiles, working with color, and having a lovely finished project to feel accomplished about in the end. Score!
I also like how accessible it is for beginners. Really, all you need to know is the backstitch and less than $15 in supplies and you can dive right in. You don't even need any sort of drawing skills, because there are so many lovely patterns available to follow. (Good news for the drawing-impaired like me!)
What are some of your favorite projects?
My hands down favorite-ist project EVER is this one.
I was pretty geeked about the necklace itself when I started making it, but then my nerdy video-poet husband had the crazy idea of making a stop-motion video out of the embroidery.
Ideas lead to more ideas and the project developed into a reflection on the place of creativity in the family life. I had never thought about my sewing in this introspective way and it was the slowness of hand embroidery that allowed for it. That, and my husband has skillz. That helped a lot too.
I know the pillows bring them a lot of joy, and I am happy to be a part of that.
What are your favorite tools/supplies/flosses?
I must confess, I'm not much a supply snob. One of the things I like about embroidery is that I could get started on the cheap. I keep things simple with what I have access to at a local fabric shop - i.e. DMC floss. Me and DMC are in an open relationship though, so I'll be exploring other kinds of floss in the future, I'm sure.
Where can we see more of your work?
I post my embroidery projects on my blog (click here to view embroidery posts only) and I'll post mini updates of my projects on my Facebook page and Twitter. I love to chat with sewing enthusiasts of all kinds, so be sure to say "Hi!".
Jodi was kind enough to share how she mounted her wonderful embroidered necklace...
Right before quilt market in May I received an email from Melissa simply wishing me luck. There I was right in the middle of the craziness that is getting ready for a trade show, and in comes this sweet message. Is it sad that it's surprising to me to get an email that isn't someone asking for anything... just a simple wish of good luck? But it was surprising to me, and that generosity is what I'll hold to be true about Melissa. It said something to me, and it made me want to pass that goodness along too.
This statement on her "about" page of her website says it all to me: "If I can help one person try something new, something they never had confidence to try in the past; if I can spark that “Aha!” moment, when the world suddenly opens up and someone gets “it”; if I can provide tools for someone to start out on their own creative journey, that is success. That is what I’m all about."
I think that Melissa's own beauty translates into work that has that same appeal, and I've been wanting to share it with you. I had the opportunity to ask a few questions... here's more in her own words:
Can you tell us a bit about your company and website, 100 Billion Stars?
Certainly! I design patterns for quilts, bags and other lifestyle projects. A few of my patterns can be purchased in my Etsy shop. Others have been sold to magazines and Free Spirit Fabrics. Recently, I launched my website to provide a more comprehensive experience for crafters, quilters and sewists who are looking for inspiration, free projects and ideas to jump start their own creativity. My interests are wide ranging so you’ll find everything from Mod Podge to yarn to thread to fabric and a lot more besides.
You've been playing with thread since you were a child. How and when did you learn to embroider?
For a long time, playing was all I was “allowed” to do. My sister and my mother weren’t keen on teaching me. So I had to teach myself, a process that involved a lot of observation and peering over shoulders. I pilfered their thread trash and scrounged for needles. The backsides of my work were a bit like a cubist version of the front—all chopped up, rearranged and barely recognizable. But I persisted and somehow got to where I am today.
What are your favorite stitches?
French Knots, bullions, satin stitches. I really appreciate the way a few “fancy” stitches can make a piece remarkable. But I love the workhorse stitches too—the chain stitch, the stem stitch, etc.
When do you do your embroidery? Some people have a favorite place and time for the hobby.
I like to embroider in the late afternoons and evenings. It’s so relaxing to give yourself over to the space in the hoop. It’s the same with crochet work. There’s always something at my chair to keep my hands busy.
Do you have any embroidery books you could recommend?
My “go to” book is Marion Nichols’ Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches, Including Crewel. No pretty pictures but an indispensable resource for stitches. I also have other Dover Publication books for reference.
Are there any artists that inspire your work?
I’m most inspired by needlework of other cultures, like Kazak, Mexican, Guatemalan, Incan, Hungarian, Polish, well…you get the idea. In most of these cultures, embroidery wasn’t reserved for their best dress or ceremonial clothing. Everyday items, like the huipil, are lavishly covered with needlework. And the colors! I love the exuberant use of color.
Favorite tools, supplies, flosses?
Lately, reading glasses have become my most important tool!
Do you teach, and if so, where and when?
Currently, I don’t have any classes. But I am considering ways to incorporate an online learning environment within my website. I would love to share my enthusiasm and passion for creating with a bigger audience.
Is there anything special you want to tell the readers of WLFK about you or your business?
My shop will be getting an overhaul in the next month or two. A new look for the current patterns and brand new patterns, including some embroidery designs, will debut soon. All patterns are pdf files so you can pay and play with no delay.
My goal is to encourage and inspire people to create, whatever craft they practice. If you have a question, need a word of encouragement or just want to share the story of your journey, email me. I’d love to hear from you.