Meet Lydia! Stitcher, Teacher & DIY Boss


How did you first get into sewing?

My grandmother attempted to teach me as a kid but, unfortunately, my attention span just wasn’t ready for it yet. It wasn’t until an ex-boyfriend’s mother gifted me a used sewing machine that I really picked it up. As I dove deeper into the sewing world, I was really inspired by all the wonderful indie pattern designers and bloggers who are making such cool, handmade wardrobes. Garment sewing became my focus, and I’ve only become more obsessed the more I’ve learned!  

What do you enjoy most about sewing?

I really love every part of the process. Being intentional about choosing the right pattern to fit into my current wardrobe, scouring bolt after bolt of fabric to find something I love, starting to piece together the project and see it come to life, then finally putting the finished project on and wearing it out of the house. On a higher level, it’s important because it’s become a part of my self-care routine. After working all day in the studio or at home on my business, it’s my way of shutting all of that down for a couple hours and focusing on doing something for myself. Having a new sewing project I’m excited about is the easiest way for me to schedule some me-time.

Do you have a proudest sewing moment?

I can think of two. The first was when I finished my very first garment. I made a pair of sweatpants for my then boyfriend, and they were terrible. I chose the wrong fabric, they were way too big, and they had 4 mistake buttonholes sewn into the waistband…but I made them! The boyfriend was even nice enough to wear them for awhile.  

Fast forward 8 years later when I finished my first button-up, plaid flannel shirt. It took me three hours just to cut the pattern and fabric out, so it was my longest project yet, but I was SO proud when I put it on and it fit so well. I matched plaids, inserted a collar, sewed my first button plackets, and added pearl snaps down the front. It’s my favorite make yet.

What does your sewing practice look like?

This past year, I vowed to no longer buy any new clothing (especially cheap, fast-fashion garments). I’m on a mission to make all of my clothing myself, which is really helpful for a few reasons. One, it forces me to be mindful about what pieces are missing from my wardrobe and what I truly need. Two, I can challenge myself with new techniques or fabric, which helps me improve both as a stitcher and a teacher. It’s been fun to pack for vacations recently and notice how many of my items are me-made. The real challenge is up next though--I’m about to make my first pair of jeans!

What’s your favorite part of teaching?

My absolute favorite part of teaching is experiencing the joy with my students when they finish their first project. So many folks walk through our doors hesitant and nervous about their creative abilities and many worry they won’t have the skills to complete the project. To this day, I’ve never had a student not finish a project and time and time again they are SO impressed with themselves and what they were able to accomplish. I feel very lucky to be a part of that process with all my students and still get so excited to see their finished projects.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into sewing?

Start small, use what you’ve got, and learn your machine! You don’t need a fancy sewing machine, a big box of tools, or years of experience, but understanding how your machine works will save you hours of frustration and headaches. Being able to troubleshoot issues will allow you to get back to your project quickly when something goes wrong.

Definitely take a class! While the internet is a fabulous resource for so many tips and tricks, learning in person has been invaluable for me. Not only do you get to interact with the teacher (ask questions, watch demos, etc.), you are in a group environment with other folks just like you. The creative energy is inspiring, and it’s so fun to be able to share the learning experience with other students. Finally, don’t get too discouraged when something doesn’t come out the way you expect. Even if the end result isn’t useable/wearable, you most likely learned exactly why by the end of the project. Try again and you’ll be so surprised how much you will improve by round two.

Tell us about Brass Button Events!

Brass Button Events is my creative events and DIY workshop business, specializing in experiences for private or corporate groups. We teach beginner-friendly workshops that are perfect for team building events, office holiday parties, baby showers, bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, etc. We provide all the materials, set-up, and clean-up to make it easy to host a fun, creative event for a group. We can also help with food and drinks from local Portland restaurants to make the whole thing even easier on your end while impressing all your guests.

STUDIOEllen BrownComment