Hi, I’m Caroline! I grew up in Montreal, but now I live with my partner and our cat in Vancouver, BC! I’ve been sewing since childhood, studied fashion design in college, and then worked for a fashion textile company for a few years (that job brought me to the west coast!). I fell in love with making clothes again when I discovered the sewing community through a friend about 5 years ago. Now I own an online fabric shop, Blackbird Fabrics. We specialize in sourcing quality garment fabrics for home sewists.
Hello! I’m Helen. I was born and raised in Vancouver and I am proud to still live in the same neighbourhood I grew up in. I studied design in college and worked as a graphic designer for many years. I eventually went back to school to study web design and worked as a user experience designer for a few years. During that time, I decided to start my own website where I could share my makes with the sewing community. Eventually, I designed my indie pattern line and moved to designing patterns full time this past summer! Helen’s Closet Patterns are modern wardrobe staples for the home sewist.
How did you get into sewing?
Caroline: Sewing has been a part of my life since a young age. My mom used to sew our halloween costumes every year, and my grandmother and great-grandmother were also seamstresses. When I was around 8 or 9 I asked my mom to show me how to use her old Singer machine, and the rest is history!
Helen: My mom taught me how to sew at a young age and I became infatuated with it in my high school home-ec class. After high school, I fell out of touch with sewing and was struggling to find my own style with ready-to-wear. I eventually stumbled upon sewing blogs and I was so impressed with all these women making their own clothes! It reminded me that sewing was something I always enjoyed and I took it up again. Thank goodness I did because my whole life now revolves around sewing and I could not be happier for it!
What is your favorite thing about the sewing community?
We love how open and accepting it is. It is a space where we can be vulnerable with each other and not fear the internet ‘trolls’ that stalk other online spaces. We are always so impressed by the conversations that people are having and that we are inviting newcomers in with open arms. The sewing community is also an amazing resource for sewing advice! Anything from what buttons to choose for a shirt to the best way to finish a neckline. The community has got you covered!
Why did you start a podcast about sewing?
We both love listening to podcasts while we work and sew and, well, do pretty much anything! There is something so engaging about podcasts and you can find them on almost any topic you are in to. Trouble is, there aren’t enough sewing podcasts! We were chatting about the lack of garment sewing representation in podcasts and we realized that we could be the ones to fill that space. We can chat about sewing for hours and we love making connections with fellow business owners. It was a perfect fit!
What have been some of your favorite memories during recording?
We have really loved meeting some of our guests in person. Both Jenny from Cashmerette and Jasika Nicole were visiting Vancouver so we were able to interview them! We have also loved chatting with guests from all over the world and learning a bit about the sewing scene in different countries. We have so much fun recording and we often break down into fits of giggles while trying to be serious podcasters. We have had to cut a lot of laughter out of the final episodes!
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned while recording Love to Sew?
Recording the podcast has really forced us to get to know our own speaking habits. It seems that there is a new catch phrase for every episode! We will say words like ‘definitely’ way too much in one episode and then next week we can’t stop saying ‘incredible’. It never ends! We do feel that all the interviewing has helped us to improve our listening skills and we are more confident conversationalists from all the practice!
If your present self could give your past self advice, what would it be?
Helen: If you are unsure about something, just ask! Things are less scary than they appear from the outside looking in, and most people are willing to help you if you ask politely. We live in a culture where we display seemingly perfect lives online and hide the struggle, and it makes people feel like they should automatically have all the answers. I have learned that the key to moving forward in my life and business is asking questions.
Caroline: Everything is figure-outable. I learned this from one of my favourite business coaches, Marie Forleo. As a solo-preneur, sometimes issues or challenges come up that feel simply insurmountable. But when you break something down into smaller steps and make a plan, you can overcome anything. Also – something that seems HUGE today will just be a little blip one week, one month, or one year from now. I try to remind myself of this often.
What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in learning how to sew but they feel too intimidated?
Forget about getting it perfect. Think about something you already know how to do, for example, let’s say you can play the piano. Would you expect a total beginner to be able to sit down and play a piece of music flawlessly? Of course not! Sewing is no different. You aren’t going to sew perfectly on your first projects, and that is a good thing! It is proof that you are learning. There is so much beautiful potential in being an amateur at something and we encourage new sewists to embrace that!
If you were stuck on a fabric island (well that sounds great, doesn’t it!) and could only sew one pattern for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Caroline: I have to go with my TNT (tried-and-true) here, the Plantain Tee by Deer & Doe. Bonus: it’s a free pattern! I could live in this t-shirt… I already kind of do! Also, where is this fabric island and how do I get there?
Helen: If you have the rest of your life and unlimited fabric to work with, you can make anything you dream up! I would make a replica of my body shape out of driftwood and get really into draping, no pattern necessary. Is that cheating? Sorry, not sorry! 😉