On a rainy evening in 2007 I walked into a used bookstore in Waltham, Massachusetts and picked up a dusty craft book. The yellow cover was torn in the corner and nearly all the pictures were black and white. The book was published in 1971, four years before I was born, but to me it was brand new and completely eye opening. The book was Good Design in Soft Toys by Rudi de Sarigny. I brought it home and studied it completely.
I’ve read and reread it for years. I’ve made many of Rudi’s designs and I’ve even been in touch with her granddaughter (via this blog). Her book had an overwhelming influence on me. It made me realize that there were basic methods you could use to design stuffed animals and dolls and that with these methods anything was possible. This book was the seed that grew into my career.
In many ways, Good Design in Soft Toys changed my whole life.
I think nearly all of us who do creative work encounter something that changes us like this. There we are, marching through life, when one day we open a book or a pattern and suddenly we are propelled in a new direction. That experience is the genesis of a new blog series I’m putting together called, “The Pattern That Changed My Life” of which this is the first post.
Each Wednesday throughout the summer we’ll hear from a designer about a pattern or book that caused them to head in a new direction and helped form their career.
My first guest is Sara Lawson. Sara’s designs sewing patterns and fabric. Her blog and company is Sew Sweetness. She currently has 19 bag patterns for sale, all in PDF and some in print. Her first fabric collection with Art Gallery fabrics debuted at spring Quilt Market and her first book, Big City Bags, was published by Martingale last year. She also has a thread collection with Aurifil.
This is the story of the pattern book that changed Sara’s life: Style Stitches by Amy Butler.
“I started my blog in September 2010 when I was learning to sew as an adult and received Style Stitches for my birthday that November,” Sara recalls.
Once she got the book she quickly decided to seriously delve into the patterns in it. In a blog post from that time Sara wrote, “I’m really excited to say that I’m going to be attempting every last one of them. It may take me awhile, but I’m going to do it. I’m going to start at the beginning and work my way to the back, and post about my progress of course!”
Reflecting on that experience now, Sara says, “The book changed me because I began to think about how bag sewing patterns were written, and also about specific things needed in bag construction, like interfacing. This book was the inspiration for everything that I do today.”
“Before I got Style Stitches, I sewed a few things for my kids. They were simple things like bibs and easy outfits. I’d found a PDF pattern on Etsy called the Jenna Lou Mabel bag, and I made several of those, using different interfacing for each one. Then I got the book, and the bag bug was firmly implanted.”
“This book was the first time I had ever seen a bag pattern call out specific things in the supply list, mainly interfacing. Sometimes, bag patterns just say something generic like medium-weight interfacing. It is very scary going to the fabric store and not knowing the name of what exact item you are looking for. But Amy specified the particular Pellon items that she used. So that gave me a bit of confidence, and that’s why in my patterns I always call out the exact product and for interfacing I’ll usually list a couple alternatives for the main interfacing that I’m using.”
“My favorite bag from the book is the Blossom Bag, which was later made available for free on the Sew Mama Sew. The bag contains many features and details which make it unique. When I design bags, I try to incorporate a lot of details in my own bags as well. I was very flattered when I went to the free page for the Blossom Bag just now and saw a ‘Related Link’ to my free Brookfield Bag pattern.”
Seeing that link was a reminder, I think, of the success of Sara’s career. Her free pattern is now listed right next to the pattern that inspired her career as a designer.
“I think I’m mostly known for my bag patterns and for information that I blog about and lecture on in regards to interfacing, and this is definitely where I got started. Without this book, who knows what I’d be doing now.”
Style Stitches by Amy Butler is the book that changed Sara Lawson’s life.
What is the book or pattern that changed yours?