with Jen Rich
Do you hate wasting fabric? Do you find yourself looking for projects that will use up your scraps and create something useful and beautiful? Projects that don't require a lot of preparation or headspace, but are still fun to make?
I really hate wasting fabric but it can be quite difficult to find sewing projects that I will actually make use of and don't require my scraps to be too co-ordinated. I'm not a quilter and so am often on the look out for practical ideas that will help me minimise the off cuts that I have to throw away.
As I get older I am also becoming more conscious of my impact on our beautiful planet. I am more aware of my use of 'single use' items and whenever I spot ideas on how I can minimise those I am always excited.
So I was delighted when I heard about Jen Rich's new book - Stitch, Sewing projects for the modern maker and was keen to chat with her to find out more.
About Jen Rich
Jen is a photographer and stylist working with editorial and advertising clients. She has a passion for all things crafty and has previously written two books: Clever Cookie Cutter and Pumpkin Crafting.
Like many of us, Jen started sewing because she wanted to make her own clothes as she was struggling to buy clothes to fit on the high street.
Inspired by her passion for sewing, she has recently released her latest book, Stitch: Sewing projects for the modern maker.
Making clothes to fit
Jen's initial motivation for learning to make her own clothes was driven by a desire to make her own jeans. "My waist is two sizes different to my hips which I have learnt through measuring myself for sewing" Jen told me, explaining that this makes it difficult to buy jeans that fit.
But making jeans is not an ideal first dressmaking project as they can be quite challenging so I was interested to find out how Jen got started.
"I was thinking about it and my main mistake when I first started sewing was sewing things that I wouldn't really wear. I got very into the Instagram sewing community. It's so positive and everyone's lovely, and I would see lovely dresses and things on other people. I'd make the dress and I'd love it and then, I just don't wear it."
Choosing what to make
So after making clothes that didn't really fit her lifestyle, Jen changed her approach. She started to 'work backwards', finding things in the shops that she liked and would buy and then finding a pattern that was similar.
That's how she came to make her Blanca Flight Suit by Closet Core patterns. Having been inspired by a Sezane denim jumpsuit, she wanted to create a similar garment but without the £180 price tag.
She also knew that based on her measurements, it would be unlikely that a shop bought jumpsuit be able to fit as well as one she made herself.
STITCH - who is it for and what projects are in it?
It's hard to believe that Jen has only been sewing for about 3 years.
"I feel somewhat of a fraud writing a book, but also. I think it's a semi good thing because it shows that you can pick it up fairly quickly."
Having been put off by the projects in other sewing books that didn't really match her style or aesthetic, Jen decided that she wanted to create a book with the type of projects that she would be inspired to make.
"I wanted to give people the skills and the basic projects that they could go into Oliver Bonas or, you know, somewhere like that and think, yeah, I could make that and it'd be half the price".
The projects are great for those just starting out learning how to sew. But they are also a great 'palette cleanser' for even the most experienced sewists. If you have just completed a challenging dressmaking project and you want a quick and easy creative break, these little gems are ideal.
The book's projects are grouped into themes including scrap busting, kitchen, home, celebration and travel.
The projects include:
Scrunchies & bows
Make-up remover pads & drawstring bags
Cushion covers, pot holders and fabric plant pots
Re-usable christmas crackers, advent calendars and wrapping
Fabric storage baskets, insulated picnic bags and overnight travel bags
Lay-flat make-up bag and jewellery roll
...and many more!
The introductory chapter of the book includes all of the basic stitches and techniques you'll need to complete all of the projects. All of the projects can be created on a basic sewing machine and each project contains the supplies required, step by step instructions and lots of photos to help you understand what you need to be doing.
Jen's tips on getting started
Here are Jen's tips on things to look out for when getting started with sewing:
Start with stable fabrics such as cotton and linens that aren't going to be slipping around everywhere
Avoid the temptation to spend lots on expensive fabrics particularly when you are just starting out Jen: "When I first bought my machine, I probably spent about £100 on these really flimsy viscose fabrics and tried to make my own pattern from a skirt that already existed and I just jumped in too far!"
Whilst challenging patterns will help you grow your skills, they probably aren't the best choice for your first ever project
When you are starting out use old bedsheets or look for fabrics on Vinted
Make use of fabric from clothing items that has become worn out or damaged
If your stash is getting out of control and you've bought fabrics that you no longer want to wear, consider selling them on Vinted
For more discussion about Jen's sewing journey and her beautiful book, Stitch, listen to the Sew Mindful podcast episode: 056 - Scrap busting projects for the modern maker with Jen Rich.
In this episode you'll hear:
[00:01:57] Who is Jen Rich?
[00:02:48] How Jen got started with sewing
[00:03:54] Inspiration for making a jumpsuit
[00:06:01] How long Jen has been sewing and tips on getting started
[00:07:43] Jen's new book - who it is for and why she wrote it
[00:10:23] Tips on repurposing old clothes
[00:11:49] What projects are included in the book
[00:19:44] Jen's top tips for those new to sewing
[00:22:34] How to sew sustainably
[00:27:04] Where to buy the book - Stitch, Sewing projects for the modern maker
[00:28:27] How long it took to create the book
[00:29:48] How to connect with Jen
To get your copy of the Stitch: Sewing projects for the modern maker click here:
Connect with Jen Rich
Additional Links and resources mentioned
STITCH: Sewing projects for the modern maker, by Jen Rich
Other episodes on related topics that you might like:
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Get in touch
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Thank you so much for listening and for all your support. x