I bought my first sewing machine in 2012. It was a basic Brother machine designed for the entry level sewer. I had never sewn before. But I had this desire to find an outlet for my creativity and thought it’d be interesting and fun to make clothes. Without proper training, I truly believed this phase of my life would be just that – a phase. Once my machine arrived, I decided it was time to get down to the business of learning to sew. I watched countless YouTube videos and tutorials, read specialty books, and mixed that with a healthy dose of old-fashioned trial and error. When someone says, “I’m self-taught,” I always wonder. But, in this case, I am completely self-taught.
I began with basic pieces like a pillow case dress for my daughter. It wasn’t too shabby, so I upgraded to an adult tank top. Sadly, the tank turned into a complete failure, but I learned from the process, so in the end it wasn’t a total waste.
I’d have many more failures down the road, and probably some still waiting for me, but I try to see what can be learned from each circumstance. And the most important part… I try again.
I soon returned to making clothing for my daughter because it was less of an investment of my time and money. At the beginning, each piece was slow going because I didn’t grow up around a group of grandmothers and aunties sewing, gossiping, and drinking tea. Does anyone grow up that way these days? Words like “notions” and “lining” weren’t things we discussed around the dinner table. I kept my phone next to my sewing machine so I could look up industry terms. The sewing world is filled with jargon, so I had to become bilingual. Occasionally, even now, I use my phone to look up the difference between a box pleat and knife pleat.
I also didn’t know what a pattern was. I got a big Simplicity-style education just from reading about them. I would spend evenings perusing patterns and pattern instructions, and reading about what others had to say about patterns. It has grown into a small obsession.
Nowadays I see a cute shirt or dress at the park and think to myself, “can I make that?” Most of the time the answer is yes. I also wonder how I can make it better or cuter or make it into something I’d like better, then the magic of design starts working and I sit down at my machine and see what happens.
Hi, I’m Megan.
I’m passionate about how things are made.
Wife, mother, and general maker of things. I like fashionable expression and a good bottle of reasonably-priced wine. I believe less is definitely more. We live in a culture where we can demand our products be ethically and responsibly made. Welcome to Adam and the Bear, a durable children’s clothing store filled with ethically handmade items for stylish and playful children.
It was around Kindergarten when I started rejecting the clothing my mom picked for me in favor of something a little more experimental. I had my own style. I wore anything pink and purple. Not just pink or purple, but both. Together. I still fondly remember some of the pieces in my childhood wardrobe such as the ankle zipper jeans my grandma bought for me as a special treat. I was under strict orders concerning the rad, classic 80’s jeans – “You are only to wear these for school,” my mom said. This might have been the first seed of an idea to come years later.
Why can’t a kid’s wardrobe be both stylish and practical?
I was into popular fashion early. I read and collected fashion magazines and faithfully watched my favorite show, House of Style, an MTV classic at the time. Thinking back on it I chuckle a bit to myself, but one can’t ignore their fashion roots. My small high school dubbed me “best dressed” and the school paper predicted I would become a fashion designer.
I went off to Western Washington University to study Economics. I was drawn to Economics because I like learning and visualizing the correlation between things, plotting things on graphs. I need to see results. It was a good academic fit. I then started my career at Nordstrom where I worked with quality, designer clothing and helped customers pair different high-end pieces together. Another seed of sorts was planted during that time. I worked with many of the same customers over and over again. I got the sense their wardrobes, the items I had helped them pick over the years, were, well, disposable. This shopping trend - one honestly I, too, was a part of - seemed frivolous.
I challenged myself to start appreciating pieces in my own wardrobe that were better quality, lasted longer, and could be worn on many occasions.
I kept these ideas in the back of my head when my husband and I started our family. Our daughter came along and all of the sudden I was dressing my baby in countless cheap onesies and rarely worn dresses. We were swimming in buckets of cheap baby clothes, many of which were never used. There were so many!
The abundance was bothering me. My fashion magazines were long gone from my everyday life by this time, collecting dust in a closet, replaced by pregnancy and baby books. As I fought to get my head above water in both caring for my baby and managing a household overflowing with stuff, I began a journey to break free from pop culture’s trends. I bought higher quality clothing, but fewer pieces. Yes, I did more laundry, but I found better quality stands up better to multiple washes.
I couldn’t let go of the lack of correlation between the children’s fashion industry and profit to retailers charging $6-10 per pair of leggings How?
Think fabric cost, seamstress wages, and shipping. What gives here? I was appalled at what my research revealed. And yes, I was part of the problem.
This desire for better quality, and ethical methods soon merged with the fashion designer wannabe in me and I started thinking about ways to curate my own style. I had to do something. And for starters this “something” was isolated to my own home. I wanted to come up with a way to create cute, high-quality, playful clothes made ethically and from creative fabrics.
Tune in next week for more of the story.