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Our Team

by Cathy

DENISE WILD Founder

FIRST PROJECT: I made the standard boxers and apron in home ec, but my first real project was a brown plaid button-down shirt, complete with a collar and cuffs. Although I chose the pattern and the fabric myself (even before the days of grunge) and couldn’t wait to finish it, I think I wore it only once. And then I tossed it.

Favourite stitch: stitch-in-the-ditch (to do and to say)

Bad sewing habit: I rarely pin. But don’t follow my bad example—it leads to a lot of stitch ripping.

Gift idea: Aprons are great to give. They’re easy to make, don’t require a lot of fabric, and everyone loves to get one that actually looks good. Personalize it with a patchwork monogram, embellish it with appliqués, and make your own bias tape (with a bright-coloured or bold-patterned fabric) to use for the trim and ties.

Sewing tip: Cut the pattern pieces for your favourite garment out of oilcloth—the pattern’s tissue pieces won’t last through repeated use. Drape the oilcloth pieces over a hanger and file the directions and the original tissue pieces in a plastic folder for safekeeping.

Stephanie

STEPHANIE DAGA Managing Director

FIRST PROJECT: Barbie doll dresses!!!

Favourite stitch: Backtacking. Is that considered a stitch? Loose threads bother me…

Bad sewing habit: Sometimes I ignore whether my tension is right or not. I always think, “Ah, no one will see it!” And I rush my cutting sometimes. I shouldn’t rush!

Gift idea: Tote/reusable rags. Everyone should do their part to save the earth.

Sewing tip: Don’t be scared to create, to embellish, and to use your imagination.

KRISTINA ZOMMERS Creative Director

FIRST PROJECT: Clothes for my Barbie! I started on a little plastic toy machine when I was about five, and quickly moved to my mother’s Singer. She would sew cloths for my sister and I, and I would use the scraps for doll cloths and take turns on her machine.

Favourite stitch:backstitch (Who doesn’t like the backstitch lever?)

Bad sewing habit:Name one and I have it! If I use pins (I hardly ever do) I sew over them and ruin my needles. I also draft straight onto my fabric (but I use tailor’s chalk so it does come off when it’s washed). And I don’t like to read or follow instructions—that way I don’t make any mistakes! These bad habits all get me into trouble so don’t pick them up.

Gift idea:Handbags always make nice gifts! And you can create you own patterns and make them one of a kind!

Sewing tip:If you like exploring and making your own patterns (which isn’t that hard) have a bunch of muslin or broadcloth around to make your pattern templates out of. Then sew them together and adjust them as you go. Then you can see if it works without sacrificing your fabric.

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NASYA NEWPORT Studio Director

FIRST PROJECT: Pants! I did a lot of pants, which is pry why I love dresses so much now. I think the first pair that I did was a pair of dress pants with an overlapping waistband and zipper in lightweight wool. It was defiantly a learning experience. Sort of jumped in to it, cause starting with PJ bottoms would have just been too logical, LOL.

Favourite stitch: Pick stitch, I love how you can see the little picks of thread on the outside of the garment. Reminds me of a time when making your own clothes was standard practice and couture sewing/tailoring was not a lost art.

Bad sewing habit:Pins!!! Always go right into my mouth! Not safe people, really not safe. Use a pincushion; I’m working on it 😉

Gift idea: I love the idea of getting custom made pillows. Make a basic pillow slip cover and stamp a word, name or symbol that represents them. Chose a solid color so it can be added easily to any room and will make a great conversation piece.

Sewing tip: Laying out all your cut pattern pieces in order before you start sewing, as if the garment was flattened out. This way you never have the pattern pieces the wrong way and you make sure your sewing the correct pieces together.Trust me, it solves a lot of “why do I have an extra piece?” or “what does this piece go to?” Also if at all possible, hand-baste seams or layers of fabric together before sewing. It makes for a crisp finished garment and prevents any puckers or fabric slipping while sewing.

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RACHEL SIMPSON Office Manager

FIRST PROJECT: “A Gollywogg Doll in my 8th grade home ec class. We made them for children at Shriners Children’s Hospital and delivered them in person. It was a rewarding experience all around.”

Favourite stitch: “A regular ol’ Topstitch. It’s an old favorite that can be used to make casual garments a little more fun.”

Bad sewing habit:”Forgetting to pretreat my fabric. I get too focused on completing the project so I totally forget to wash the fabric ahead of time. This has lead to garment shrinkage in the past.”

Gift idea: “T-Shirt wine bottle drawstring bags. This is a take on the drawstring bag we teach in our Introductory Sewing class. If you’re attending a party find out the host’s favorite band and make a wine bottle drawstring bag out of the band’s t-shirt. They will always be shocked and thrilled!”

Sewing tip: “Always remember to backstitch! You don’t want your garments coming apart at the seams while you’re wearing them!”

Sewing tip: “Always remember to backstitch! You don’t want your garments coming apart at the seams while you’re wearing them!”

Portia

PORTIA MAUNATLALA Studio Manager

FIRST PROJECT: A drawstring bag made at The Sewing Studio NYC.

Favourite stitch: Regular zig-zag stitch because it creates a different look to every design.

Bad sewing habit: My bad sewing habit? Not sewing enough! We all know that practice makes perfect and I’m surrounded by such talented instructors every day! I should really be a pro by now.

Gift idea: Making a drawstring bag into a wine bag because wine is a great gift for most occasions, the personally sewn bag adds a special touch.

Sewing tip: Always have a seam ripper close by 🙂
Jessica

JESSICA PONCE Web Manager

FIRST PROJECT: My first project was an apron I made in grade 8 home ec class. I gave it to my mom as a gift, I think she still has it 🙂

Favourite stitch: I like the serger stitch, it’s such a neat and tidy stitch yet very strong.

Bad sewing habit: Sometimes I rush to get my project done. I use the seam ripper allot more then I should when I rush and I end up taking more time fixing my mistakes. Take your time!

Gift idea: A zippered pouch is a great gift, it can be used for so many things….a makeup case, shoe bag, pencil case. I’ve even used it to hold my son’s diapers and wipes.

Sewing tip: Make sure you have everything you need (material, fabric, notions) before you start a project.
Dawn

DAWN WILD

FIRST PROJECT: A zippered pouch that I gave to my mom. It had weird pieces of lace sewn on and the zipper was inside out and never really worked. She pretended to love it and I think she still has it in a box somewhere!

Favourite stitch: Your basic straight stitch. It’s amazing what you can do with such a simple stitch and a few tricks you pick up over the years!

Bad sewing habit: Never properly finishing the seams on the inside of a garment. No one will ever see them and by the time they fray, I’ll be into something else anyway!

Gift idea: Anything for the home always makes a great gift. A matching set of napkins, a colour block tablecloth, or a one-of-a-kind table runner are excellent hostess gifts. Not enough time to sew from scratch? Monogram a nice set of towels or pillowcases.

Sewing tip: Sew within your skill level. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and you’ll learn something new with each project anyway. There’s nothing more disappointing than spending more time stitch ripping than sewing!
Christine

CHRISTINE CARSON Social Media

FIRST PROJECT: Doll clothes (when I was 7ish years old)

Favourite stitch: There’s so many, it’s hard to choose just one.

Bad sewing habit: Diving in!

Gift idea: Tote bags

Sewing tip: Take good care of your shears and other sewing tools.
Katherine

ASHLEE RUDERT

FIRST PROJECT: Attempting to sew doll clothes on my mother’s coral pink Brother machine, which she registered for when she married my dad in 1971. I still sew on this machine today. It’s amazingly sturdy and powerful for its age. My first “real” project at age 12 was a denim skirt with rhinestones on the back pockets. No one notices crooked top-stitching when you have glitter on your clothes!

Favourite stitch: Blind Hem – not only does it look great when done well, but it sounds like a magic trick.

Bad sewing habit: I litter pins. I put them in my mouth, stick them in my sleeve while I’m sewing, leave them in strange places…you’d think I’ve never heard of a pin cushion!

Gift idea: Hmm….I think I need a new one! For a while I was making fabric flowers to turn into hair accessories or pins to go on a lapel, but after a while I made one for everyone I know and I am sure they’d love it if I got a new idea.

Sewing tip: One of the best mantras ever taught to me in a sewing class is “Measure twice, cut once.” You never want to waste fabric by guessing. I have learned to apply this to all sorts of sewing related situations where I ought to think through things more than once to really be sure – estimating how much fabric to buy, drafting a pattern, selecting trims or deciding what sewing technique I want to use. Another saying I like is “Slow down to speed up.” I always get through a project faster when I do every step right. Those silly tricks I make up as I go along thinking they will save me time always leave me grumbling over my seam ripper an hour later.

Emily

EMILY BUCKINGHAM

FIRST PROJECT: I think I made a pillow out of some denim that was laying around in my mom’s sewing room. I hand stitched the sides and stuffed it with stuffing from one of my stuffed animals.

Favourite stitch: In hand sewing, I like the catch stitch. The needle moves opposite the direction of the stitch and creates a cool little x’d pattern. On the machine, I like the blind hem. It’s great for finishing skirts.

Bad sewing habit: Not switching out my machine needles often enough. I usually get to the point where my fabric starts to snag before I replace a needle. Oops!

Gift idea: I like making tote bags for friends. I use old leather belts for the handles, line them with bed sheets and print my own fabric. The bags are absolutely a labor of love.

Sewing tip: Try threading your machine using your index fingers instead of your index finger and thumb. You have a lot more control even though it feels a little awkward at first.

sara

SARA MCMILLEN

FIRST PROJECT: A pair of denim elastic waisted shorts

Favourite stitch: My favourite stitch is the straight stitch.

Bad sewing habit: Forgetting to clip my threads.

Gift idea: I love sewing quilts for gifts.

Sewing tip: Buy a magnetic pin cushion!!!

sara

AMANDA KAUFMANN

FIRST PROJECT: When I first learned to sew by hand, I made tons of little pillows and
drawstring bags, which I then gifted to my parents. I have no idea what they did with all of them… It’s also at that early stage that I started altering my clothes.

Favourite stitch: The understitch. I just think it’s like magic how easy it makes pressing under my facings and inner waistbands. Plus, it gives a nice tailored finish to the garment.

Bad sewing habit: Sewing almost all of a garment and then putting off the hand sewing finishes and/or the fit changes.

Gift idea: For weddings without a registry (or just as a nice addition), I make table settings of cloth placemats and napkins, or matching aprons. I will also use insulated padding and make matching oven mitts or pot holders.

Sewing tip: Don’t let yourself get lazy about the little steps that save you so much
trouble in the future. Press the seams, staystitch, pin, clip—the 30 seconds it takes now will save you 30 minutes of avoidable frustration later.

sara

DESIRA PESTA

FIRST PROJECT: Probably something as a very young person, but my first design was a purple cotton jersey halter top in probably 7th grade. The fabric was oriented vertically, so the stretch was up and down my body instead of across. Hahah. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved that top!

Favourite stitch: zig zag! so so useful for so many things!

Bad sewing habit: :.I love draping and am a very visual person, so with my own designs, I work backwards a lot, draping and pining and cutting, and then measuring to make sure things will fit. I love abstraction and asymmetry doesn’t bother me, but sometimes you really need to hash out your pattern and measurements. Bad girl!

Gift idea: For the Holidays this year, I made a bunch of sleep masks. They are super easy and require very little material and they’re useful for the sleepless bunch, big windows, airplane rides, etc. You can make then really fun and over the top too. I screenprinted eyes on mine,

Sewing tip: Let go of your fears. Let go of your desire to be perfect. Allowing yourself to mess up and start again opens your mind up so much to the nuances of sewing and designing. Don’t be afraid in sewing. I’ve messed up thousands of times, but it’s part of the learning process, it’s part of becoming a great sewer and an experienced one at that!
sara

KIMBERLI MACKAY

FIRST PROJECT: Hats for my teddy bear!

Favourite stitch:Blind stitch

Bad sewing habit: :.Not using pins.

Gift idea: PJ pants, Aprons and Tea Towels (the last two with hand embroidery and beadwork!)

Sewing tip: Sew slowly rather than racing ahead. You’ll take out fewer seams and be finished faster in the end!

sara

JULIANA JACOBS

FIRST PROJECT: Was a drawstring laundry bag. It was bright red gingham, because my first sewing teacher insisted that we use gingham for our first few projects to learn about grain lines. It was a valuable lesson, and the bag was really cute!

Favourite stitch:Is the Understitch. I love how clean it makes collars and edges look.

Bad sewing habit: :.I personally love cutting fabric, I find it very soothing and it is always my favorite part of a starting a project. But sometimes I get a little too excited to start cutting and skip out on some of the measuring. Remember always measure twice cut once!

Gift idea: I love the idea of making people little potpourri sachets, they are so cute and easy to put together, and make your closets smell wonderful!

Sewing tip: Always edge stitch your curved pattern pieces, especially your armholes. It makes life so much easier when you are trying to set in the sleeves!

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