Continuing with the Sewing Indie Month activities, today I’m interviewing Dixie of Dixie DIY who is based in Austin Texas! Rather than give Dixie and intro, let’s get on and read the interview which tells you all you need to know!
What first motivated you to start sewing and when was it? Was there a person who was influential?
I was always a creative kid, making doll houses and building my own toys. Like many people, my grandmother taught me the basics of hand sewing. She used to love cross stitch and embroidery and I transferred those skills into my own projects.
What was the first garment you ever made?
At first, before I had a sewing machine, I would hand sew elastic waist skirts out of some pretty ugly old scrap fabric.
Eventually I bought my own machine in high school, went to the fabric store, and bought a pattern and some fabric. Of course, I knew that I was a total sewing expert so I didn’t have to worry about picking the correct size or an appropriate fabric. Seam allowances? Who cares!? Yeah, I ended up with a stiff, too big shift dress that I could never wear. That experience actually turned me off from sewing clothes for a few years.
Are you totally self-taught or did you go to college?
Self-taught, although I have taken a few informal sewing classes.
Is sewing and making patterns your main job or do you do something else too? What did you do before Dixie DIY?
Yes, but I also teach classes at a local fabric and yarn shop. My pattern making business began after I was laid off from my last “real” job – I shot and edited informational internet videos for a parenting website.
How did you start designing sewing patterns?
It seemed like a natural progression – in college I started sewing more and more of my own clothes. I began manipulating patterns to fit my style and I bought some pattern drafting books to make that easier. I created basic blocks to fit me and started drafting from scratch. Later I learned to grade my designs.
Where does your inspiration come from for new patterns?
Usually it starts with one or two design elements that I want to incorporate into a garment. It could be something I think looks cool, like the cut outs on my Bonnell Dress, or it could be a fix for a common problem I have, like size fluctuation which led to the side button design on my Movies in the Park Shorts. You can adjust the position of the buttons to get a more personalized fit.
Who are your design heroes?
Back in 2007 when I started sewing clothes more regularly I was a little disappointed with the Big 4 styles – until I found the Built By You collection from Wendy Mullin for Simplicity. I loved her young, modern, casual style and I quickly gathered up every pattern of hers I could find. That collection is what truly hooked me on clothes sewing. Wendy will always be a design hero to me for that reason.
What’s your number 1 most used sewing tip?
Be organized – label your pattern pieces. Keep everything for a project together in one place. Mark notches and front and backs of pieces. I don’t often follow my own advice – I often get pieces mixed up and don’t realize I’ve done so until I’ve already sewn pieces together along the wrong sides.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t running Dixie DIY?
Ooooh, well, I studied film in college and did a stint at script reading for a Hollywood production company. I actually liked that job and if I could make decent money at it I might try that again.
How do you spend your time when you’re not sewing?
Well, when I last had a regular job, sewing was my main hobby. When sewing became my job I realized I needed a new hobby. I couldn’t sew 12+ hours a day so I began taking breaks to do something I never thought I’d be interested in – playing video games. But now I’m a huge gamer – mostly console – and I’ve even cosplayed video game characters at conventions.
What do you think is the best part of making your own clothes?
Better fit, quality, and style in your clothes. I’ve become a real clothes snob after sewing for so long. I have a difficult time buying clothes in a store now. I’m picky about fiber content and construction quality (why, why, why do they put polyester in jeans now!?). With sewing I love that I can pick exactly the fabric I want and pair it up with a design I know fits and make something completely unique.
What a great interview! Thanks so much Dixie, it’s been great to “meet” you.
Catch up on all the other Sewing Indie Month happenings here or search #SIM2015 on social media.