01 Jun #MMMay16 Maker Profile: Jeanne Po
How did you start making your own clothes?
My older sister taught me to sew when I was in middle school. Our mom signed her up for a sewing class. Being the younger sibling who wanted to do everything she did, I insisted that my sister teach me to sew. The first garment I sewed as a long, flowing skirt made from green chambray. Throughout high school, I would occasionally make clothes for myself, but I mostly refashioned garments I would find in thrift store.
I stopped sewing for a number of years. During my many years in grad school, I started dabbling in book arts. I started sewing again, but used paper instead of fabric.
It wasn’t until I had my daughter and I was pregnant with my son that I resumed sewing garments. I would see the most beautiful baby dresses with hefty prices tags and think, “I could make that.” I credit Crista Jaeckel, JP Knit and Stitch’s children’s sewing teacher, for inspiring me to start sewing again. 9 years ago, I met Crista and her family. Her son had the most adorable pants Crista had sewn. Those pants prompted me to purchase a sewing machine, and I haven’t stopped sewing since.
What is your personal challenge for Me Made May 2016?
I try to wear something I made every day, but I tend to have 4-5 pieces that I wear in heavy rotation. The two most challenging things for me during MMM16 is to not to wear the same garment twice in a month and to be able to sew a garment I can wear in a professional setting.
Why is it important to you to make/alter/upcycle your wardrobe?
I love learning new things. Sewing and knitting provide me with the perfect a creative outlet where I can constantly learn something new. With every garment I make, I build and refine my techniques.
I think we take for granted where our clothes come from and the time it takes to make a garment. Sewing has allowed me to be much more thoughtful and deliberate when I purchase fabric, yarn, and store-bought clothing.
How do you create time and space to make/alter/upcycle your wardrobe?
Being a full-time working mom doesn’t lend itself to a tremendous amount of free time. After my children are in bed for the evening, I try to carve out a few hours to sew or knit. For me, it is a way to unwind after a day filled with meetings and evenings shuttling kids around to various activities.
I used to sew in our dining room, so I would set up and take down my sewing machine every night. A number of years ago, I finally set up a sewing space in the corner of our guestroom which has allowed me to keep everything set up for quick trips to the sewing machine. I do take down the ironing board when we have friends and family staying with us.
What indie patterns or fabrics inspire you the most and why? Do you have a favorite pattern you like to make over and over?
My favorite indie pattern company is Oliver & S. Full disclosure I test patterns, sew samples for all of Liesl & Co’s lines, and my daughter is one of the paper dolls for Oliver & S. Even before I started sewing for Liesl Gibson, Oliver & S was my favorite indie pattern line. Liesl’s designs and directions have taught me so much about garment construction. Whenever I sew one of Liesl’s patterns, I feel like I have my own personal sewing teacher sitting right next to me. The best part, is that her patterns give me the confidence to tackle techniques I once thought were impossible, like sewing French seams.
What is the next technique, pattern, or challenge you hope to learn?
I would love to improve my techniques around fit and learn more about pattern making.
What sewing classes can we find you teaching at the shop?
I teach a number of advanced sewing workshops. Right now, I am teaching an April Rhodes dress workshop. I’ve loved seeing the most beautiful Date Night and Staple Dresses take shape every week! I have another dress workshop scheduled for later in the summer.