My darling sewing friends, I’ve been enjoying more guests to the blog over the past few months, so I thought it would be nice to tell you a wee bit more about myself. You know, so you can feel more like I’m your sewing homegirl and not just some internet lady who lives in your phone (or other internet-compatible device).
That why I’m doing the Seamstress Tag! The Seamstress Tag, started on YouTube by Hollie Dolly, is a cool dozen questions to help you get to know your fave sewists. And if you’re interested in doing this for your own YT channel or blog, please do and then LET ME KNOW so I can get to know you better, too!
Here’s my contribution to the Seamstress Tag!
1.) Who are you?
I’m Erin Van Handel! I’m a proud selfish sewist and aspiring sewing pattern designer.
I live in the Milwaukee (Wisconsin, U.S.A.) suburb of Greendale with my husband, Mark; my sons, Paul (born in 2011) and John (born in 2015); and three cats, El Gato, Mrs. Mimi Whiskers, and Lilly.
2.) When and why did you start sewing?
I started sewing in late 2005! I bought a new, basic-model Kenmore sewing machine off eBay.
I’d always been fascinated by garment making. It seemed like a superpower to me! Being able to work with textiles to make one-of-a-kind clothes that fit perfectly?!? WHOA. Amazing.
The crazy thing is, when I was a teenager, I HATED sewing! I had a bad experience in home ec that turned me off for years. (Basically when I struggled to accurately sew seams, my teacher wrote me off as hopeless.)
BAH HA HA, look at me now!
3.) What is your favorite or proudest make?
My favorite make is my By Hand London Anna dress. I made it with Liberty of London cotton Tana lawn (affiliate link) that I bought at THE Liberty of London store (in London). It sat in my stash for four years until started sewing my Anna. It’s the perfect match of fabric and pattern if there ever was one!
4.) What is your most disastrous make?
It’s not really a disaster, but I’ve stalled on making jeans a couple of times. It’s the fly zipper. And the fitting. GAAAAH. I need to get over it, make some mistakes, LEARN from them, and do it better. I’m too in my head about jeans.
Another project that kicked my butt was the chemo quilt I made for my late mom. I didn’t leave the batting oversized, so I had to get creative with binding. It all worked out in the end, and the quilt meant a lot to my mom, and that’s what matters. But geez, quilting is harder than it looks. Mad respect for our quilting sisters and brothers.
5.) Where is your favorite place to go fabric shopping?
The coolest place I’ve been fabric shopping is Mood Fabrics in New York. I actually saw former “Project Runway” contestant Laura Bennett shopping there (Season 3 — Bennett was pregnant during the season)! I also enjoy shopping online from Mood. But Mood ain’t cheap, peeps.
Slightly closer to home is Vogue Fabrics in Evanston (a Chicago suburb). I get down there probably twice a year. There’s not great garment fabric shopping in Milwaukee. So sad.
Oh yes — I also love shopping online at Blackbird Fabrics, because I know the quality is insane balls!
Following are Amazon affiliate links chosen for you! If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Liberty of London fabric by the yard – Yup, you can snag some Liberty gloriousness on Amazon!
Handmade Chic: Fashionable Projects That Look High-End, Not Homespun by Laura Bennett – Speaking of Laura Bennett, she wrote a sewing book (that’s well-reviewed on Amazon)! Cool.
Seam-Fix Seam Ripper and Thread Remover – Ooh, it’s a seam ripper with a thread remover that “erases” all those yucky thread bits. Couldn’t hurt to have an extra seam ripper around, right?
30-day free trials for Amazon Prime Music, Audible, and Amazon Prime – NEVER run out of sewing entertainment again. (Well, at least for 30 days.)
US Art Supply Lightmaster 17″ x 24″ LED Lightbox Board – Maybe this mega-sized lightbox could make tracing patterns (one of my least-fave sewing tasks) more fun. This product has ALL five-star reviews on Amazon!
6.) What is your most-used pattern?
At this point, my most used pattern is the Briar T from Megan Nielsen. I’ve made it five (?) times now. I love how it fits me, I love the unusual high-low hem, and I love to sew it.
7.) Your most dreaded sewing task is…
Tracing and cutting out pattern pieces. I find some sewing mojo trickles away while tracing and cutting, and I need to preserve my precious fluids! Serious question, though — how do you guys power through this part?
Lately I’ve been treating myself to printed patterns, because at least then I don’t have to tape together a PDF (which also is a dreaded sewing task).
I also don’t like seam ripping. (Probably not alone there.)
8.) And your favorite sewing task?
Sewing, man. Let’s just sew!
9.) What is your favorite sewing entertainment?
Podcasts! I love all the sewing ones, natch, so I’ll share some of my fave non-sewing listening:
- We’re No Doctors — Hilarious health conversations with hypochondriac actors Busy Philipps and Steve Agee.
- The Tara and Johnny Podcast — Olympic figure skaters talk about every BUT skating.
- Explore Your Enthusiasm — Candid business talk for creatives. Basically an M.B.A. for creative business owners, but with heart, hugs, and fairy dust.
- The Accidental Creative — Helping creatives survive and thrive in the business world.
- How I Built This — Inspiring stories about how people started well-known businesses (ex: Spanx, Kate Spade, Rent the Runway, TRX).
- The Unmistakable Creative — Masterful interviews with creative minds. Seriously, the host is a PHENOMENAL interviewer.
- Young House Love Has a Podcast — Home improvement DIY shenanigans.
- While She Naps — Intimate conversations with creative professionals.
- Radiolab — All the NPR driveway moments.
- Dressed: The History of Fashion — The fashion history course you’ve been dreaming of! SO GOOD!
Hey — tell me what YOU listen to while you sew! I’m always on the lookout for more podcasts!
10.) Printed or PDF?
Tough one. I prefer printed because I want to get to the sewing faster! But the immediacy and price cut of PDF patterns is appealing, and it’s a good way to “sew” and spend (semi-) quality TV time with the hubs. I also prefer indie patterns to Big 4, and more indie patterns are PDFs.
11.) What sewing machine do you use?
I’m a Babylock gal. I have a Babylock Elizabeth sewing machine and a Babylock Imagine serger.
12.) Do you have any other hobbies?
I love to work out, especially running, practicing yoga, and puttering around local paths on my bike. I love spending outdoors with my boys. I’m a big reader and usually have a few things underway at once.
I like to cook. Between the two of them, my boys are allergic to peanuts, dairy, and eggs, so I’m always on the lookout for good cook books and recipes (any suggestions?).
Oh yes — does cat herding count as a hobby?
Over to you: What’s your least favorite part of sewing? Where do you like to buy fabric? What’s your most-used pattern? Please sound off on these or any other question in comments! I want to learn about YOU!
P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post: Timber! The Lumberjill Dress: Darling Ranges in Flannel. I know it’s getting into warmer temps in the Northern Hemisphere, but if you reside south of here (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc., etc.,) this flannel dress could be your jam. No, really. Flannel forever (affiliate link)!
P.P.S. And… just because you read this far… if you STILL need to know more about moi, check out this video about my sewing favorites that went out in my April newsletter.