Interviewing other sewists and posting pictures of their studios and work is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time now. When the chance to chat (electronically) with Christie came along, I had so many questions! That picture above is not her... but the photo was so awesome I had to put it first. It's her daughter in a costume she made. This costume impressed the SYFY channel folks so much that they put it on TV during their "Heroes of Cosplay'' event.
Here's Christie. She's is the self-proclaimed 'Stitch Witch' behind the amazing new online sewing tool Sew Essential. I'm going to let her tell you about it in my 'interview'...
- Your service is so exciting and I've already found it useful to help me stay on schedule with my blog projects. Will you describe it and tell me your favorite feature?
Sew Essential is a cloud based program that allows you to keep track of your entire crafting “stash” online from any device. It doesn't matter if you want to do everything on your PC or laptop, your phone, or a portable pad like an iPad or Android tablet. Patterns, notions, fabric, and projects, complete with being able to give your project a deadline and keep yourself on track using that. Personally, I use my laptop in my sewing room or my desktop PC to enter my new purchases in to the database. I then take my iPad and my phone with me shopping and pull up my lists that way.
My favorite feature is probably the whole starting point as to why it was developed. PATTERNS! I am a pattern hoarder. When they go on sale, for instance for 99 cents each, limit 10, I ALWAYS buy 10!
I would be browsing through the pattern drawers at my local craft store, and I would see a pattern I really liked, or at least one of its components I knew would be useful to redesign, and many times it would look familiar. Was it because I already had it? Or had I just been admiring it and waiting for the sale? With my daughter now on the “Sewing Sunday” team, we were both having the same issues. We were shopping for fabrics and patterns one day and I ran across a pattern I thought I might be able to use as a tool to design a certain aspect of a particular costume. But I was sure I already had the pattern. I thought. Maybe.
When we got home we mentioned to the non sewer, but geeky engineer guy that it would be great if there was something out there that would let us inventory our pattern hoard, and maybe even put together a project list and assign the various things we already had in inventory, and make a shopping list of what we did NOT yet have. I know I just hate it when I am grooving right along and then I realize I need a zipper. That run to the store, in the middle of stitching right along always frustrates me. So does coming home with 10 new patterns I got on sale, only to find I had already purchased 3 of them previously.
Our Geeky engineer guy “Mr. Sew” came to the rescue and said “Write down what it needs to do and we have people that can build that.” I should probably add we already owned a software company that did completely different kinds of software, and apparently these brilliant software people can pretty much build anything once they know what you want!
Once the product was developed, I took a look at my very LARGE collection of patterns and kind of didn’t know where to start! So I started with my last purchase and started entering those patterns and threads and notions. That definitely got the ball rolling and soon after I dedicated an entire weekend to organizing and cataloguing absolutely everything! My patterns ended up moving into a cute little yard sale bureau I found, complete with dividers and their categories! Talk about an easy way to find what I want fast! I was so inspired I pulled out every single piece of fabric I had, measured it and logged it in.
This sounds tedious, but it was actually quite inspirational! I found fabric I didn’t even remember buying! I even organized my UFOs!
So being able to pull up my pattern inventory while at the store has saved me a bundle already!
- What inspired you to make this tool available to sewists and quilters?
My daughter had asked me to teach her to sew. She enjoys going to conventions where people “cosplay” or wear costumes that are replications of videogames, television shows, animated programs, etc. Taking on that kind of a project is pretty detail oriented because there are no patterns. More often than not you are sewing a garment and creating it’s accessories based upon pictures and drawings.
The Sew Essential organizing program that my husband worked on was so valuable to us in our creative process, that we realized that other sewists and quilters could benefit from it too.
- Christie, tell us about your sewing background and the things you love to make.
I have been sewing since I was 9 years old. I had a cousin that came over and just started teaching me, I don’t even recall why, and I learned to sew on an old Singer treadle machine that had belonged to my mother’s Great Aunt Aggie who was a tailor back at the turn of the century. Not this most recent one, but way back when it was unusual for women to be considered tailors! I fell in love with the creation process! I made clothes for school and even earned money doing alterations for stores when I was a teenager for hemming pants and jeans.
When I was young and in the Navy, I made almost all my gifts for friends and family on my sewing machine, which by then had been upgraded to a swanky new Sears Kenmore.
These days, I make occasional garments for myself, things for my granddaughters and lots of costumes for both my daughter and myself! Having my daughter ask me to teach her to sew two years ago because she wanted to be able to make her own costumes and maybe sew for her daughter was one of the best moments in my sewing life! Although, seeing her on television in a costume contest in one of the outfits I made from an artist’s concept drawing is a close second.
- You and your employees have some sweet nicknames... tell me more.
Someone gifted me with my nickname “Stitch Witch” a long time ago. “Fabric Fairy” got her name because she has the magic touch of making that scrap into “just enough to finish the project” and “Threader” is our main tech support person. I named him that because threading the darn needles is the hardest thing there is be it machine, serger, or regular needle. And since explaining technology to right brained people can be a challenge, it seemed to fit. Plus, we are kind of funny and whimsical people, so why not have fun and quirky names? Goofy names keep us in stitches! Oh look! A pun!
- Are there any new features or developments to Sew-Essential that you foresee in the future?
The developers have been adding things routinely every time we get feedback from users as to what they would like to see added! We just added “categories” in Patterns i.e. Men’s Women’s Childs, etc. based upon a few requests by some Sew Essential Sewologists. That hadn’t occurred to me when I was giving my initial Wish List.
We also this year added the ability to print out your shopping list in case you end up shopping without your phone. Being able to print the list is also helpful if you are sending someone else out to grab your needed notions.
And then we added pictures recently as well. Since I’m a costumer mostly these days, I usually add my inspiration picture, and progress pictures, pictures of my trim, fabric and finished project!
A new area for me is quilting. I don’t quilt, so I have been asking quilters I know and on our Twitter and Facebook pages for feedback regularly. We are thrilled to be getting feedback from quilters to see what enhancements we can make for them. The other MAJOR upgrade coming in the future will be measurements, and the ability to list specific measurements to specific people.
The sky is the limit really! If anyone has feedback or suggestions, we would love to hear them! You can email us from the contact page, or on Facebook. Fabric Fairy and I are always hanging out on Facebook looking for new ideas!
Big thanks to Christie, for sharing so much with us in this interview! I'm sure my readers will be inspired by all these fun studio photos and excited like I am about this great online sewing tool Sew Essential.