Part the second to the Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby (the giveaway is the next post down), isn't it nice being able to string this out over a couple posts? I eat my chocolate bars the same way, small nibbles make them last longer. Mat eats his in about 3 bites and then gets annoyed because I still have so much enjoyment left.
H: The first thing that always strikes me when I see your projects is your fabulous use of colour and pattern. When I set out to combine colours and patterns, no matter how hard I try, I always seem to default to the safe and conventional. Do you have any advice for those of us who are a bit challenged in this regard?
AMH: Well, outside of the obvious process of first laying colors together side by side as swatches, there are a few tricks that I like to use. One is let every main color in the palette have two versions of itself. For instance if you have blue, orange, and lavender in your palette (which sounds totally weirdo, huh?) make sure there are two versions of each. Two blues, Two oranges, Two Lavenders. The two versions of blue might come in the form of one being mroe royal, and one being more tourquoise. The two versions of orage might be one bright orange and the other rust. The two versions of lavender might be one dusty grey lavender and the otehr deeper purple. So in other words, the difference between the two shades might be in lightness, intensity or murkiness. But providing both shades in one palette sets it on the ground and gives one color something to refer to and sort of keeps the peace.
H: The Dad Bag was a bit of a surprise to me which made me realise that guys seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to sewing for a new baby. You mentioned in a recent blog post that your husband swore he'd never use it - even though he does, do you think that's the typical reaction of men to sewing which is why there's a dearth of projects intended for them? Or do women just tend to sew for themselves?
AMH: I think yes to both might be the case! If I were to sew something for my husband in secret then offer it to him under the guise of having BOUGHT it for him, he would likely say, oh wow, thanks! Right? I do imagine that most men equate a sewn item with a woman's item because that is what we are doing at the machine most of the time. Nevertheless, keeping a pre-baby sewing to-do for Dad was something that was important to me. And I am pretty sure it's been appreciated, just as my sweet husband is appreciated!
H: When I first went back to work after having my daughter I had an awful time switching mind-sets from being a mummy to being an academic. It was much easier to go back the other way! I often wondered whether it was me or my profession that caused that - working in a more creative/artistic field, do you find that disconnect trying to work while having Roman sitting in the same room?
AMH: Hmm. I would agree that there are several fields of work where the transition from mothering to working is a bit smoother. And in fact, I imagine the same for just the work/life transition in general. But every career has its challenges and distractions. Having creative work can some days go hand in hand really well with mothering however, other times you really can't predict when and idea is going to drop into your lap and inspire hours of work to realize. So the biggest challenge for me is being able to harness the spark of creativity and hang on to it until the most opportune parenting time arrives. It requires SO much patience. But I have learned that knowing myself and my family really well helps. Don't expect the impossible out of yourself or anyone around you. We all have our schedules and our limits and the key is finding the workable overlap in all those variables where you can make some things happen.
H: With the introduction of the voiles into your range, do you find yourself designing differently than you did when it was only the quilting-weight cottons? Which comes first, the project or the fabric?
AMH: Most definitely. The volies just felt sooo sweet and soft, and I wanted the prints in the first voile range to reflect that sweetness. So the finer hand lent itself beautifuly to the finer prints. Anymore the fabric and the prints are being realized at the same time. My next collection will include home dec, quilting weight, voile and velveteen. Therefore while its all still one collection with a very large but cohesive color story, each of the different base cloths gets to take its own slightly different direction with color. For instance the voiles are very wearable colors due to the fact that many will end up being used as stand-alone apparel fabrics. The quilting cottons have a broader range of colors and are beautifully bright, etc.
H: So many women seem to pick up sewing again, or start for the first time, when there's a baby on the way - theirs or someone close to them. What is it about a baby that makes people want to get creative and express their love and excitement in such a material way - pun fully intended! :)
AMH: I think the intro to my book can answer that perfectly! I mention that the sewing I do for my babies is very much like my way of nurturing. And I am quite certain I am not alone there! And when we hear baby news, something just jumps inside the heart and makes us want to provide- not just for baby but also for the expectant mom. By design we want to care for others. Sewing just happens to be a wonderful way to do it!
Thank you so much for such thoughtful questions!
H: And thank you Anna Maria!
I got the booties done last night - just in time to take them down to Benjamin tomorrow. They're so cute and scrummy soft, I wonder if you could scale up the pattern to adult size? Certainly to Hazel's size wouldn't be too hard. So just to make it harder, I made them the first time out of knit fabrics to match some other things I'd made (more on that tomorrow) but they still turned out well. I suspect they'll be a bit big, although I've been told he's got very big feet for a newborn so it may work out just right!
The outer is this wonderful stripy jersey I picked up at Spotlight years ago and though I love it Hazel won't have a bar of it so it's nice to be able to use it on something. They're lined with cotton sherpa and have cotton quilt batting so they should be fairly warm for the coming winter. Oh who am I kidding, it's here already!