Handmade for Kids Month: Interview with Meg of Elsie Marley

on my desk
Meg Spaeth of Elsie Marley has been an inspiration to me via her Flickr stream for a few years now. We share the same favorite colors and patterns in our homes and her kids' clothes have such a great aesthetic to them. Her toys are fun and her ideas, it seems, endless. She's one to follow if you aren't already. Below she shares a little bit about how it works at her house.
* Why do you sew?
I don't really know why I sew. I think maybe because it's permanent. All my life I've been a baker and a cook and watched my creations get eaten (and sometimes politely not eaten). When the art you make has an expiration date it's a wonderful safety net, but it can also be quite frustrating--you have nothing to show for all that work. As a mother that feeling was magnified. At the end of the day I would collapse on the couch with the house a mess, the kitchen a disaster, laundry everywhere, and think why am I exhausted? what did I actually do today?
So sewing helps me focus, see my work slowly progress, and sort of keep it together. Also, I just like to make cool stuff.

patchwork digger
sock friends

* How did you get started?
My mom taught me to sew in high school, but I didn't really listen: I fought with the machine, wanted things to be done instantly, chose crappy fabric, and basically was a whiny teenager about the whole thing. After I had my first baby I sat down at the sewing machine my mom gave me, went through the manual and taught myself. When I sew these days, I really only use two kinds of stitches and the buttonholer once and a while, but going through and actually using every attachment and trying out every stitch--all the things my machine could do--was really important. It made me feel like the sewing machine was on my side. I still swear at it now and again, but I know it will forgive me.

easter dress detail
summer girl
* Where do you get your inspiration?
I haven't the fainest idea. Inspiration is an enigma to me. It has it's own life and seems to come and go as it pleases. All I know is that it definitely will not come if you want it to.

all together now
I don't see myself as a particularly creative person--it was a long time before I could call my craft room, my studio and I think it will be longer yet until I can call myself and artist, but I think that is a good thing. It means I have to work to be creative and really, that's what everyone has to do, whether you're making something for a gallery or a sewing pillow for your couch. I think all that is really needed for inspiration is living your life: not dramatically or in a way we want to but know we won't, just normally, but by paying attention to the normal things a little bit more. Taking walks always seems to works too, even if it's down the block and back.

stripey shirt on
muscle shirt
* What does your sewing space look like and do you keep it organized or like it all out where you can see it?
It is a giant mess. I would love it to be organized and I feel creatively super-charged after it is, but I've accepted that it can't be clean all the time. I remember reading that Amy from angrychicken keeps her fabric in giant black garbage bags, which I think is hilarious and awesome. I spend my days picking up after little children and teaching them to pick up after themselves, so I had to give myself permission in my (kid-free) studio to be a slob.

powerline quilt
* Do you finish most projects in one sitting or do you work over time?
I always want to finish them right away. I have to tell myself to slow down and focus one this step. Usually I keep it together until I get to the last step, then I get so impatient I rush through it. My hems are horrible. Horrible!

bear and kimono
* What do you do with projects that didn't turn out like you wanted?
Hide them away in the corner.

* What are some favorite online resources for purchasing fabric and/or finding free tutorials?
I don't really buy a lot of fabric online. I like to be able to feel the fabric before I buy it, but there are some Japanese fabrics I can't resist. Etsy is an amazing resource for new fabric and vintage fabric too--but you probably knew that.

pocket pal
Craft Gossip is a very well organized site full of tutorials--it's a fantastic resource. Whip up and Crafty Crow are of course awesome places to go to find tutorials. Some of my favorite blogs also have some seriously good tutorials: giddy giddy, between the lines, chez beeper bebe and very purple person (all links to their tutorial pages)

Thank you, Rachel, for letting me blab on and on about myself! Happy Sewing!

Thanks for sharing how you do it, Meg! You can find out more about Meg's work and life at Elsie Marley and browse her shop here.


*All photos courtesy of Meg Spaeth


Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

Oh my gosh! I love Meg's creativity with fabrics. wow.

melissa said...

her stuff is super cute!!

Lesley said...

i love all those fabrics... i've decided i really need to learn how to use my sewing machine.

Sarah M said...

wow. I am positively stunned by that 'mini quilt'. SO amazing. Thanks for the interview, it was super fun to read.

Sarah M

Unknown said...

What a great interview!!! Thanks for so many great links, too - I've been looking for some good new DIY inspirations!!

I also like that Meg said her inspiration is coming and going - makes my own finicky inspiration seem more normal! :)

Sara said...

Meg's comment about creativity coming and going really reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk. So true.

Beatrice said...

Podziwiam Twoje zdolności i organizację - jak Ty na te wszystkie cudne rzeczy znajdujesz czas przy tych uroczysz bliźniakach.Jesteś bardzo inspirująca. Pozdrawiam zimowym Ahoj z Polski.
I zapraszam na mój blog:


Beth said...

what a lovely interview! I love the elsie marley blog, and its great to hear about her inspiration!

mon ami said...

I've been a big fan of Meg and her blog for awhile now and love getting more insight into her process an inspiration. But Meg I think you definitely need to re-think whether or not you are a creative person. The answer is definitely - YES!!

erika said...

Such a great interview, I love her blog and work and it's so great to read more about her, thanks!!

Anonymous said...

elsie marley is one of my most super duper favs. So much cool stuff all the time.