This week we were lucky to have skilled sewist, author, and Craftsy instructor of Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt, Deborah Moebes, join us! After being a schoolteacher and an archaeologist, Deborah stumbled (kinda backward) into sewing and boy, are we happy about that! Deborah firmly believes that sewing is for everyone, and as such we were interested to learn her advice, background with sewing, and her Tony Danza wall quilt.
Tell us about how you got our start sewing.
I come from a family that sews, so it seemed very natural to me to take up sewing and put it back down throughout my childhood. I feel really fortunate to have had a growing-up in which sewing and making things seemed like the most normal thing in the world–need something? Make it! I had no idea that wasn’t the average experience, and the older I get, the more grateful I am for it. At the same time, it does tend to make you appreciate it a bit less when you’re younger–I learned to sew at age 7, but didn’t really get seriously into it until graduate school or so. I started sewing when I should have been researching my thesis, and I really haven’t ever stopped!
What was something you made early on that you were very proud of?
I remember my first pair of pants that I made all on my own, in tenth grade. They were tragic by today’s standards–hideous early-90s fabric, sad elastic waist, droopy fit in the behind–but I had made them all by myself from start to finish, with only supervisory input from my mom. I felt tremendously accomplished and excited, to the point that I was blissfully unaware of how ugly they were.
As a talented sewist, what types of garments do you prefer to sew?
I love to make dresses, both for me and for my girls. They’re very rewarding to both sew and to wear, and they showcase fabrics in such a lovely way. I’m beginning to lean toward styles with more and subtle details, the kinds of thing that you would spot in a shop that would make you buy one. more. dress. even when you already own a zillion–those are so fun to develop and apply to a garment.
Where do you find your inspiration?
From magazine and shopping, to some extent, but largely from people-watching: I love to see someone walk by and either love the garment they have on and want to make something similar, or notice that one detail or change you could make to take a garment from ho-hum to really special. Plus, I love looking for details in garments that make them more wearable or practical–adding that little something to a child’s garment that makes it more useful for them and for you is pure play.
We think your monthly sewing circle is a great idea. How did that get started and what size has it grown to?
Really it was just a chance to hang out with other folks who didn’t think it was crazy to sleep with fabric tucked under your pillow! Over time, organizations like the Modern Quilt Guild have sprung up with similar missions, and the sewing circle has largely been absorbed into them–which is so wonderful, to see something that started among friends and students grow to be part of a larger group that spans the globe. We even have a new Modern Quilting Guild launching next week in West Atlanta, which is hugely exciting!
Building upon that, we’ve also heard about the Modern Sewing Lounge. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
The sewing lounge started as a classroom space and grew to a retail fabric shop, and over time, it became clear that while folks loved the fabric, what they really lacked was a place where they could go to meet other like-minded souls and spread out to get some sewing done in good company with a great atmosphere. So Whipstitch in Atlanta is now a membership location where they can do just that! Drop by for a cup of coffee and some hand sewing, or take a class or workshop, or use the machines and cutting tables to spread out and make something beautiful in a lovely setting. The community aspect of sewing in a local space was always what drew me, and the lounge allows me to share that with folks here in my own city as well as online, which is such a rewarding honor.
Any advice for someone who’s intimidated by the thought of sewing an A-line skirt?
Jump in! Sewing is a journey, and everyone starts somewhere. Take it easy on yourself and recognize that your first attempt–at ANYTHING–might not turn out perfectly or even the way you pictured, but that’s part of the experience. With every stitch, you’re growing skills that you’ll apply to the next stitch, so keep going and take every seam as a step toward what you’ll make in the future. As your skills catch up with your vision, you’ll realize that you needed every mistake along the way to learn how to make what you pictured turn out just right.
Oh, and now that the Tony Danza (Quilt) has met Tony Danza (Legend), who’s the next celebrity you’re going to quilt?
Ha! I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle that just yet. I have seen some amazing and inspirational art quilters who make such lovely things, and I’m so intrigued by the idea of making a photo-realistic quilt; maybe I’ll try my hand at that next. But I have some garment ideas in my head that I want to get down on paper first.
Subscribe to our blog, as our Maker Monday series continues next week! And in case you missed it last week, learn more about fierce sewist Claudia Miller.