Meet the Maker—Michele

We are excited to share the next installment of our Meet the Maker blog series. Over the course of the pandemic, we have been captivated by Michele’s DIY adventures on Instagram. From introducing us to tracing sewing patterns using a projector to creating the perfect Otter Pop holder or drafting a stylish teddy bear tee, she really does it all! Not only do we love her style, she is also a wealth of knowledge, and you never know what you might learn next. Let’s meet Michele!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Michele. I am a 36-year-old wife and stay at home mom. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and still living in Arizona with my husband and children. Before making the decision to stay at home with the kids,  I worked in the dental field for 12 years. 

As a child, I remembered seeing the sewing machine in the house and using it to make crafts. As I got older and through home economics class I learned how to read a pattern. From then I mainly used the sewing machines to do alterations for myself. It wasn’t until I had kids that I took making garments seriously.

I fell in love with making garments so much that I started to become obsessed about the whole process from the beginning. Like how garment making starts from pencil and paper- the pattern making side of it. I wanted to learn more but felt very limited to resources that were available. So I enrolled at my local college fashion program, mainly focusing on pattern design. The passion for pattern designing took off from there. 

What is your definition of being a maker? What specific crafts does that include for you?

Being a maker to me means creating something that gives you joy and enhances your life. For me, a lot of the things I create improves my life. Like the crafts that I make with my kids, it teaches them some sort of skill or has a lesson behind it. The crafts I make are for the home or have some sort of use for us. The garments I make are tailored to me and made with the intention of having it last a long time.

You are the ultimate DIYer! What is the craziest thing you have ever created? Most useful?

There are so many things I dabble in the DIY world. I don’t know if I can remember them all, but the most fun and out of my box for me was a rhinestone pink jean jacket I made. There was a jacket on the runway that inspired me to make my version of it. It went as far as dying the fabric to constructing the jacket, gluing every single rhinestone onto the jacket, and it took a LONG time. It’s so loud and flashy than my normal everyday style, but I enjoyed making it.

The most useful DIYs I do are things for the home. Like from glass bottle cutting to rope basket making.

What role does cooking play for you as a maker? Is it just something you have to do or something you love?

At home, I am the main person who cooks all the meals, and I love food! We are culturally diverse in our home so it’s important to me that my children try a lot of different types of food from around the world. Plus, there is nothing better than eating something that is so delicious and just sitting and enjoying it with the people you love. I want to practice improving my cooking but in a time-effective way. So I am always looking for new recipes or finding ways to improve the things I already cook. 

Having taken classes in pattern drafting, which do you prefer—drafting something yourself, or, using an existing pattern and altering it?

If it’s a simple style, like just a few pattern pieces, I find it quicker for me just to draft it myself than it is to print/assemble the pattern and then have to check and muslin the fit. But if it’s a more involved style with lots of pieces, let’s say a button-up shirt, then I prefer to just buy a pattern. Most of the work for me is done, and I just need to check the fit.

What drafting skills should all sewists understand and/or know?

What I have learned and have found to be so important is knowing how to measure a pattern, knowing the anatomy of a pattern, and in what order to make adjustments. In school, we were taught how to measure ourselves and find those fit points on the pattern. It’s the connection between the pattern and our bodies that I realized you can find fit issues before ever making a muslin. So I always encourage others to measure and check the pattern before making a muslin.

What is the most valuable sewing tip you have learned in school? How about outside of school?

The most valuable sewing tip I learned from school was learning how to gather fabric effectively. Learning how to gather fabric is so easy and there are many sewing hacks how to do it quickly, but school taught me how to nail it easily and evenly every time. We were taught to always make two lines of basting stitches but not two separate lines. Make the two lines by doing a U-turn at the end and the two lines need to be at the very least ¼” or more apart. The stitch length will vary depending on the fabric weight. The thinner the fabric (3.5mm) to the thickest (5mm) the stitch length will be different. To make the gathers even, pin mark the area in halves or quarters and pin the, to be gathered fabric, to the other fabric piece before you gather. That was a game-changer.

Have you always lived in the desert? How does that influence your sewing and handmade wardrobe?

I have lived in the desert all my life and it definitely has a major influence in my wardrobe. I wear spring/summer almost all year long since we don’t get much of a winter here. So making more things out of lightweight natural fiber fabrics is what I gravitate towards. What you will find me mostly wearing are jeans, shorts, tanks, and short sleeve tops.

What makes you most proud of and why?

I have a few that I love, but the one that I am proud of was this jumpsuit I made by draping the pattern. I saw a picture of a jumpsuit that looks similar. There were no patterns like it at the time and no pattern making book showed how to make it, so I had no idea how to make the pattern with flat pattern making techniques. So I draped it. Not only did I drape it, but I found out (with the help of another professional pattern maker) that I was able to create a unique solution with the dart issue I was having on this bodice. I created a sideway princess seam instead of the traditional princess seam you see going vertical. I learned so much from this project and gave me more confidence in my pattern making.

During these unusual times of COVID-19, what are you finding is most important for you as a maker and balancing between your family and personal needs.

At a time like this it has taught me that putting your mental health comes first. It’s ok to put things on hold and focus on what’s important to you. Taking the time to just be in the moment with family and making memories with them. If it involves crafts and it’s messy, so be it. It’s the memories you create with your loved one that matter. It’s not what you’ve accomplished or how many things you’ve made. What matters is how you feel and how you make others feel.  That’s what makes a lasting impression on our lives. Set up those boundaries so when stress hits you will feel in control.

A Few Quick Questions!

Last but not least…where can people reach/follow you and see what you are up to?

I am very active on Instagram stories @WinMichele. I have a website where I love to type up more in-depth tutorials And every once in awhile I will post very short videos on my Youtube channel. 

Thank you Style Maker Fabrics for always delivering us with such beautiful high-quality fabrics. I love shopping on your site and your company is my TNT fabric shop.

Thank you, Michele! And thanks to the readers for joining us as we get to know more of the incredible makers in our very talented community. If you have any suggestions for next month’s interview or questions we should ask, leave them in the comments below or contact us HERE.

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