I began sewing as a child with my mom and sisters, making lots of clothes for myself from childhood to young adulthood. While earning a degree in theater for costume design, I needed a summer job and, given those childhood skills, I naturally fell into bridal work., where I enjoyed collaborating with the brides and of course working with their beautiful gowns. After graduating, I worked in theaters and took a class in tailoring with a man named Jim Frank. I realized that theater work was not for me and that I was more interested in fashion, so I continued in bridal. In those earlier days, I started learning to fit and to do all the complicated sewing required for gowns from other wonderful mentors.
I have worn several hats in bridal, having worked in alterations in a large high volume bridal shop, then working from home doing custom sewing and alterations. Eventually, my husband, Jeff, and I opened our own bridal boutique in Saint Paul in 1997. At this point, we had two daughters, Isabel age two and a two month old Lucy. As our shop grew, so did our family. The shop was a premiere bridal destination in the Twin Cities when we sold in 2007. Right as we had our fifth daughter, Frances, I returned to work from home. Since then, our alterations business has become a family affair, operating with help from all our six daughters: Isabel, Lucy, Cecelia, Eleanor, Frances, and Monica.
THE ART OF SLOW SEWING
Before meeting Jim Frank, I always thought that sewing was a quick endeavor. Unlike weaving, knitting, or embroidery, sewing delivered instant gratification. On my first day in class, Jim Frank told us "if you learn nothing else, you will learn to use a thimble." He would impart to us the art of slow sewing: to be precise and exact with measuring, cutting, and sewing, but more specifically to focus and give each moment of the process our entire and devoted attention. I found this not only satisfying, but also enjoyable. The result was a beautifully finished garment, something to be very proud of.
His philosophy, the art of slow sewing, has gradually crept into many areas of my life as well. When I started working from home the second time, I took up my friend Gita's offer of sourdough starter. The slow process of making sourdough bread has become part of the rhythm of our lives here, and since then, we've added kombucha and yogurt.
I have always been a reader. I've realized that the satisfaction of getting to the end of a long novel is one and the same with slow sewing. Some of my favorite authors are Sigrid Undset, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tolkien, and Michael O'Brien, along with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Beatrix Potter whom I still get to read aloud to our sixth and youngest daughter, Monica.