Maker Spotlight: Janelle of Dear Daydream Sewing & Design

I have decided to start a new recurring series on my blog called Maker Spotlight. In this series, I will be featuring other makers of different crafts -- included but not limited to art, woodworking, and other DIY magic. My hope is to learn more about these friends as well as glean some wisdom and inspiration from their journeys as artists and makers.

To kick off this series, I thought it was only fair to begin by interviewing myself. The following questions are similar to the questions I provide to my Featured Makers.

So here we go!

Tell me about your business and what you do. When did you start sewing, why do you “make"?

I am a sewist with a specialty in pattern making. I use the term sewist because it is gender neutral, unlike the term "seamstress". I have a background in the fashion industry as an apparel pattern maker, but right now I am building my reputation as a sewing educator to introduce others to the joy of sewing.

I learned to sew when I was in high school, starting with very simple projects like resizing T-shirts and making tote bags for my school books. The first formal sewing class I ever took was in high school where I learned how to use commercial sewing patterns and proper techniques for seam finishing and installing zippers. After high school, my sewing hobby took a back seat while I was in college, but I resumed my sewing work with renewed fervor after graduating with a degree in Psychology. The year after graduation, I did some soul searching and decided I wanted to go to design school. I completed a two-year degree in Fashion Design in 2014 and spent about three years in the fashion industry as a pattern maker and designer for small apparel startups in San Diego County.

When I explain why I sew and make, I say it's because it makes me happy. I identify as an introverted person, so the solitary act of sewing is very relaxing to me. I also love the problem solving aspect of sewing (and pattern making) and the satisfaction of having created something with my own hands. I think sewing is a good exercise in patience and persistence. 

What small bit of career advice would you share with your younger self? What would you tell yourself to do more of? Less of?

I would tell my younger self to work harder, and keep working, even when things got hard. I would ask myself why I was procrastinating on the things that I needed to do -- was it because I didn't want to do it or because I was afraid of failing once I started? 

I would also tell myself to spend more time with my friends and family. You can never have too much of that.

What's your spirit animal and why?

My husband and I joke that my spirit animal is a dangerous yet fuzzy rabbit - a white one that turns red when it misbehaves. I like to think of myself like the Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python. My Chinese Zodiac symbol is a Fire Rabbit, and I identify with certain attributes such as having an appreciation for art, intellectual inquiry, and peaceful living. 

What are some of your favorite books?

Ever since I was a child, I really enjoyed reading. Some of my favorite books include Ella Enchanted, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Franny and Zooey, and Memoirs of a Geisha. One thing that all these books have in common are protagonists that experience some difficulty "fitting in" with what is considered "normal" but manage to find kindred spirits who help them find a place among friends that feels right. 

What tools and materials do you recommend to those who want to start sewing and pattern making?

I try to encourage those who are new to sewing to get started with a few basic tools. To hand sew, all you need are needle, thread, fabric, and scissors. To get started with machine sewing, you need a machine, machine needles, thread & fabric, fabric scissors, and the right attitude. 

I have written articles about Essential Sewing and Pattern Making Tools here as well.

What are your ideal working conditions? 

My current favorite working conditions are sewing at our kitchen table while my husband is doing his own work at his desk (our living room is basically our office). 

How do you get inspired? What do you do if you ever get into a creative slump?

Pinterest and Instagram is very inspiring. I love seeing what other people are making! If I'm ever in a creative slump, however, sometimes I look to my fabric stash to get inspired about what I can make with materials I have on hand.

What is next for Dear Daydream and beyond?

I feel like I have so many plans, I just need to execute. The first step is to start building curriculum and lesson plans to help share the world of sewing with ours. Actually, before that even, I need to find interested students. Know anyone who wants to learn to sew? Send them my way!


Thank you for reading the first segment of Maker Spotlight. Next Monday, we will be chatting with Kim Nguyen of Kimposed. Stay tuned!


For more reading....

Read more about Janelle of Dear Daydream Sewing & Design.

New to sewing? Consider taking a sewing class with Janelle, or read blog posts related to learning to sew.

Looking for inspiration? Read about my DIY Wedding Dress.


To follow and support Dear Daydream Sewing & Design...

Visit me on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest.
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