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Meet Jess, Our Star of the Month

I am so excited to introduce our Star of the Month… Jess!

Jess is such a wonderful lady. Her makes are incredibly cool and her sense of style is on another level. When I think about her makes, I don’t picture Jess as someone who follows trends, she’s who sets them! I wish I half as talented and stylish as her!!

It’s a huge honour to have this fabulous lady as our Star of the Month and I’m very excited to present our interview with her.

Meet Jess

Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

As my IG handle suggests (@jess_sews_clothes), my name is Jess and my account focuses on my homemade clothes! It’s as simple as that! Sewing my own clothes once seemed like an unrealistic dream, but since I started learning, it’s become a great joy. I often use sewing to switch gears from my work as an academic. I’m a literary historian. My work has allowed me to bounce around quite a bit. I recently moved to the UK after nearly a decade of living in Montreal.

How long have you been sewing and how did you learn to sew?

I began to sew in 2015, just over four years ago. I was just then beginning to write my PhD, which can be a harsh process, and I yearned for a creative outlet. So I asked for a sewing machine one Christmas and then signed up for a course a local sewing studio in Montreal. I couldn’t even thread a machine at that point! I had zero knowledge about garment making, but I was lucky enough to meet an inspiring teacher and designer who nourished my amateur curiosity for fashion. He gave me a real appreciation for quality, fit, construction, and design—and this often happened through his insistence that I unpick messy stitching and try again (and sometimes again and again!).  


Who inspires you?

I am often much more inspired by people I meet, friends like strangers, than from impersonal images or trends. When I notice something I admire about someone, I usually associate what I like about them with some element of their style. I often find myself wanting to recreate what I see and that shows up in the subtle details of my sewing, but it is probably not as conscious as I’m now explaining it.

How would you describe your style?

I’m never sure, honestly. I like to experiment, but it is true that I come back to the same colors, shapes, and fabrics. Many probably see my style as bold, and that’s true. I also intend it to be lighthearted.

What’s your favorite pattern and why?

The Named Pilvi coat dress pattern is one of my all-time favorites. Even though I’ve made many, many great patterns, sewing the Pilvi dress is special to me because it was a moment when I got a better idea of what I like—the collar style, silhouette, and the fabric I used. Sewing was still very new to me at that point, yet the dress has stood the test of time. I still wear it regularly!

Tell us about your biggest sewing fail.

Oh! They all blur together! It is hard to remember one moment more than others because sewing fails, in my experience, are so common! I do recall, however, the first jumpsuit I made. I tried so hard to carefully adjust the pattern (It was a mash up between the BHL Holly jumpsuit and a bodice from the Victory Patterns book). The fabric was some precious Atelier Brunette, but I didn’t yet understand how to use lightweight fabrics and the jumpsuit ended up falling apart! The fabric wasn’t suited to the structured shape of the jumpsuit. Such a disappoint at the time, but I look back fondly now.  

What’s your proudest sewing achievement?

I learned some pattern drafting and drafted a blazer. It took so long and I learned so much. I’m probably most proud of that specific project. The overall improvement of the quality of my projects, though, is what feels like the real accomplishment of my sewing practice. I’m proud when I remember what sewing was like in the early stages and compare those thoughts with everything I’ve learned with experience.

What do you do when you’re not sewing?

I spend most of my time writing for work, but as for other non-professional activities, I love to run. 

Can we take a look at your sewing space?

Sure! I currently have a small sewing space with little decoration. It is cherished, of course! When I moved to England, putting together a sewing space was a top priority. I’m lucky to have two nice machines, a Janome and a Brother Overlocker.  

When did you start blogging?

I started blogging with Instagram about 3 years ago. Although I occasionally blog at jesssewsclothes.wordpress.com, Instagram blogging currently fits more with my schedule. I love putting together solid blog posts that consider the more in depth process of making. Unfortunately, there’s not always time for that. I do hope to develop my blog more in the future.

Do you have any tips for someone who’s thinking about starting a sewing blog?

I’d suggest using your sewing blog as a reflection on your personal goals and progress. The sewing community online is increasingly diverse, so blogging about your projects can help you find your individual style and voice.

What’s the best piece of sewing advice you can share?

Believe that you will sew as you dream you could someday. Believe that improvement comes with practice, and see your sewing as a long term practice, rather than just production of individual garments.

What are you working next?

I have the Orageuse London trench currently on my table. Then after that, I have an exciting gown project on the horizon!

Create the Look

Fabric: Ivory Pinstripe Tencel Twill – Shop Now
Pattern: Anni Jumpsuit by Named Clothing

Thank you to Jess, for taking the time to write this. It really has been wonderful getting to know you more. You’re so inspiring and amazing! I can’t believe how much you’ve achieved in those 4 years.
Thanks for all of those wonderful hints and tips too!

I can’t wait to see your next makes!

Sister Mintaka