The lovely and charming Sara Lawson is one of our top contributors in the area of handbags for Pellon Projects™. She is also the voice and the talent behind popular blog, Sew Sweetness. Sara uses the blog as an outlet for her creativity, sharing new projects, sewing tips, giveaways, tutorials, and so much more. The site has quickly become a go-to destination for quilters, crafters and sewers and we can understand why! She is innovative, design savvy, has a great eye for pattern and is super sweet! Sara lives in Chicago with her family and is mom to two adorable children, William and Violet. She is kind and thoughtful and we’re so thrilled to introduce you to her today.
We had a chance to chat with Sara to give you an insider look into her creative process, her inspirations, her favorite designers, and, well, why she loves what she does!
Pellon Projects: How did you first get started with sewing?
Sara Lawson: My mom taught my friend and I how to sew in the 3rd grade, but I didn’t take it up again until I met my boyfriend (now husband). He encouraged me to work on sewing (I made bags assembly-line style, I think around 30 bags, and I didn’t even finish them, which is sort of funny). After I had my 2 children, I needed a hobby which I could do late at night while they were in bed. I was pretty hopeless at the beginning, I didn’t understand store-bought sewing patterns, and I felt really frustrated. However, I bought indie sewing patterns (mostly on Etsy) and started off small and easy. The more projects I made, the more confident I got. I started blogging 2 years ago, and that’s when the obsession really started.
PP: Was there an inspiring influence in your life that pushed you in a particular creative direction?
SL: Sewing bloggers on the internet have been really inspirational. However, the bag pattern writing didn’t really start until after I got in contact with Pellon®. I wrote the Naughty Secretary Bag last summer (which is the Lindsay Bag on the Pellon Projects™ website), and decided I really loved experimenting with interfacing (I also wrote a tutorial explaining interfacing on my blog last year). Then I got the call from Pellon® right before Christmas of 2011, and that’s where it all started for me.
PP: Describe your process a bit… How do you come up with new patterns and how to you move through the steps from idea conception to project completion?
SL: First I visualize an idea for a project. I might get some form of an assignment (i.e. to create a bag with ruffles, or a pattern using half-square triangles), but usually I try to formulate a bag that would look modern and interesting. Next, I’ll draft any pattern pieces, write down measurements, and come up with the fabric requirements. From there, I’ll spend a few hours writing out the text for the pattern instructions. Usually, I don’t even touch the fabric until I’ve finished writing. While I am actually sewing the bag up, I go back into the pattern instructions and make any adjustments or changes. The step-by-step photos are also taken while sewing up the bag.
PP: Do you find yourself seeking out other sewers both in your area and in the online arena for inspiration and support?
SL: The online community has been a huge support system for me. Sewing bloggers are the most wonderful people! If I am stuck and don’t know how to do something, I ask someone online or watch a video on YouTube. If I can’t find an out-of-print fabric, I can usually find someone to swap fabrics with me. My closest friend is Kim from My Go-Go Life. She is the most awesome person and my biggest cheerleader. I think everyone needs their own personal cheerleader.
PP: How do your children inspire your creations?
SL: I find that I’m able to be a better parent if I am first happy with myself as a person. Sewing allows me to fulfill personal goals that I have for myself.
PP: You’ve created a pretty impressive line-up of handbags for Pellon Projects™. Do you have a favorite and why?
SL: My favorite so far is probably the Urban Jungle Bag; it is so sleek and modern, yet it uses techniques that most people can pick up with a bit of effort.
PP: Any advice for new sewers and quilters out there?
SL: I would say to work on as many different projects as you can! The more things that you try, the more new techniques you will learn. Every project finished (even if you’ve made errors) is a learning experience!
PP: Who is your favorite fabric designer?
SL: My favorite fabric designers are Etsuko Furaya (Echino), Melody Miller (Ruby Star), Anna Maria Horner, Jennifer Paganelli, Laurie Wisbrun and Amy Butler.
PP: What is your favorite Pellon® product and why?
SL: This is a tough call, and I’m going to have to go ahead and cheat! My favorite 3 products are 520F, Thermolam, and SF-101. 520F blows all my previous methods of extra-heavy interfacing out of the water. It is super-sturdy while being almost as thin as a piece of construction paper, yet can hold a finger press (in fact, when I finish a bag with 520F, that is what I often do). I love SF-101 because I use it for linings and pockets every single time. I like Thermolam because it gives bags shape and body.
PP: What is your go-to, can’t-live-without-it tool?
SL: Definitely my iron! I also use my quilting ruler (I have a 6″ x 12″ Omnigrid that I use excessively) and invisible fabric marker just about every day.
PP: What is your ultimate sewing goal and is there a pie-in-the-sky project that you’re just aching to create?
SL: I would love to write a bag sewing book, and being able to teach sewing classes for a living. My ultimate project goal is to make a Dear Jane quilt!
PP: I have to admit, I just spent a good chunk of time thumbing through your sewing projects photo album and am super impressed. If I were just going by what I saw on Pellon Projects™, I’d think you were primarily a bag designer, but you do oh-so-much-more. Do you have a favorite project type?
SL: I like doing everything! Most of my friends mainly make quilted projects. I admit that quilts are huge undertakings, but I would be fine with making several a year. I do love sewing clothing too, because I love tailoring things to fit my body and choosing fabrics that I love.
PP: What do you love most about sewing your own clothing? How about sewing clothes for your kids?
SL: I have a whole stack of fabric waiting to be turned into clothing! There are just not enough hours in the day! I do enjoy sewing things for my children as well, although I always worry that their changing tastes will leave my creations with little time to be loved, lol.
We’d like to thank Sara for taking the time to chat with us! We love hearing all about the process and how our products intersect with amazing fabric designs and the creativity of an individual to create something amazing! For information about Sara, head to her artist page on pellonprojects.com or check out her blog, Sew Sweetness. You can find her on Facebook and if you’re one of the lucky attendees of October’s Sewing Summit out in Utah, make sure you sign up for her class on bag-making and interfacing! It’s going to be a good one:).
Sara’s projects for Pellon Projects™:
Urban Jungle Bag
Frou Frou Bag
Planetary Mini Quilt
(& 2 new bags are coming soon!!)
All photos courtesy of Sara Lawson ©2010-2012 Sew Sweetness