Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday!

AGSWebSiteportrait 682x1024 Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday!

Andrea Schewe

Today’s Free Stuff Friday is especially fun.  You get to meet designer Andrea Schewe and get a first hand peek at two of her latest designs for Simplicity patterns! I found Andrea through Simplicity’s Facebook page and made the bold move of contacting her to see if she would like to be part of a Meet the Designer post for Sew News.  I love reading her bio and how she got from point A to point B in her  career.  If you would like to learn more about Andrea and see more goodies from her please visit her website and blog Andrea Schewe Designs. Once there you can see more of her design process, ideas for costuming on a budget, working for a pattern company and see her patterns she has designed for Simplicity. And, if you have any sewing, costuming or design questions please check out her blog and ask away!

So on to our interview. And be sure to read the question at the end to be entered into this week drawing. Two readers will win one of Andrea’s patterns from Simplicity!

1601simp 208x300 Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday!1633 208x300 Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday!








Where do you live/from?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, lived in New York for 20 years and now live one mile outside Washington DC.

How long and who taught you how to sew?

My mother taught me to embroider when I was 6 and I was given my Grandmother’s treadle sewing machine for my 10th birthday, which I still have.  In 5th grade I started trying to make clothes for my Barbie and I made a Medieval nurse costume out of an old sheet for a play that year using my treadle machine.
When I was 16 my mother took the 2 year apparel design program that was offered at the college near us and every night I would closely examine the work she was doing and started drafting patterns on my own with guidance from books we had at home. She became the costumer in the theater department there and I helped out a lot until I moved to New York to study music.
When I arrived in New York, I interviewed at several costume shops and was hired by Brooks Van-Horne, the largest one at the time.
I also spent time working in the fashion industry and toy industry.  Have needle will travel, is my motto.
So, I guess I’ve been sewing roughly 50 years!  EEK!

In all the years you’ve been sewing what is the greatest change that you’ve noticed? Or is there something that you’ve had to adapt to?

Shopping for fabric, the internet has changed everything.  In a way we have more fabric available now, but it’s just not the same looking on line.  So many stores have closed and the ones remaining don’t have as much fabric in them.  So, then it is downward spiral. I want to buy fabric in my local stores, but when I get there they don’t have what I want so I buy on line, so then the store makes less money and they reduce their stock even more … I don’t know how to fix it.  I just get better at shopping on line and make sure to order swatches whenever I can.

What has been your (to date) greatest achievement in the sewing world?

Becoming a contract designer for McCalls and then Simplicity.  I would have never gotten the chance to make all the wonderful costumes and other things without this job. I still occasionally pinch myself.  It is a cool job and has given me so many opportunities.

What was (or is) it like working in professional costume shops?  What was a particular fun show you did?

Working in professional costumes shops was a dream job for me.  I was in my 20s, working with so many fun and talented people, learning something new everyday AND getting to see, in person, famous actors from time to time.  I was too lowly to actually be in on a fitting or anything.  BUT, the hours were horrendous when a show was about to open.  I was a full time student at the time and there were 2 weeks in a row when I put 70 hours and then 80 hours in at the costume shop while I was trying to go to classes, do my homework and go to music rehearsals.  The pay was very low, but they let me come and go as my schedule permitted.  I can’t think of another job that would have been so flexible. And I wouldn’t be doing what I am today, if I hadn’t been so lucky to get that job.
As for a particularly fun show … there were many, but it’s hard to top the circus. The shop I worked for made the costumes for the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus each year, from the elephant blankets to the midget costumes.  A group of little people came around to great all of us when they came in for their fittings. It was the first thing I worked on in the professional shops and it was very exciting.

What inspires you and your design aesthetic?

I have saved this question for last. It is the hardest for me to answer. I’ve never had any one design hero. I appreciate good design in all places, whether in a high fashion magazine, in a painting at a museum, in the traditional clothing of some country or great designs in the theater.  I’m always looking and learning.  BUT, I do have one thing I do trust while designing.  This is the feeling in my stomach. At every stage of a design, I call it my gut test.  When I’m sketching, draping, choosing fabric or sewing, things turn out best if I listen to my gut. I get this uneasy feeling when things are wrong.  And, a very settled calm feeling when it’s right. When I rush and ignore this I am always sorry.

What do you do when you are not sewing?

Ha Ha … one of my son’s said to me recently “Mom … you have a lot of hobbies!”  Because I work at home, all by myself, I need to get out and commune with people, especially now that my 2 sons are all grown.  So, here is what I do when I’m not sewing.  I’m the piccolo player in a large concert band, we give several concerts a year.  I, also, belong to a 6 person recorder ensemble.  We meet once a week, mostly for fun, but we also give an occasional concert.  Five years ago I started taking ceramic classes.  I throw pots on a wheel.  It is a wonderful diversion and another great social outlet.  I’m a pretty good cook and a so-so gardener.

What are your future plans?

I am not looking too far into the future right now.  I am trying to establish a web presence, partially because it is a fun challenge, but also I hope to connect with new people.  I would like to be involved in inspiring people to sew, teaching perhaps, getting people back to sewing who have taken a break and introducing new people to sewing.

If you couldn’t sew what would you do?

I could teach flute again. I have always worked with my hands and have really fallen in love with ceramics. So, I would spend many more hours sitting in front of a pottery wheel. At some point, I hope to have time to do some volunteer work in my town.  I’ve been a reading tutor and would like to do more of that.

Any quick tips you’d like to share with the Sew News readers?

Hmmm …
While cooking,when in doubt, add less than you think you need, you can always add more.
While sewing, when in doubt, cut things larger than you think you need, you can always trim it away.
Make a muslin. It doesn’t need to be a full muslin.  Test sections, if you can and only stitch the main seams, don’t bother with any finishing.  Correct the pattern before cutting into your good fabric. It will save you time.

Thank you Andrea! It was a pleasure and we’ll be seeing more of Andrea in the months to come!

So for Sew News readers the question for Free Stuff Friday is: Would you ever think of sewing professionally, or be a designer, instructor, fabric shop owner?  What’s your dream career?  Do you have any questions you’d like to ask Andrea?

Two winners will be picked on Monday to win one signed copy of an Andrea Schewe pattern (seen above) from Simplicity!


 Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday!

About Jill

I write for the Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery blogs. I love sewing, vintage and would love to get a comment from you!
This entry was posted in Meet the Designer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday!

  1. Elaine Gates says:

    I would love to own a fabric shop and have visiting designers come and teach classes on fit and style of clothing, of all ages, to young people. I think this would feed their interest in design and give them a path to follow into the arts.

  2. Pingback: Free Stuff Friday Winners! | Sew News

  3. I loved reading everyone’s comments. Many of you would like to have a quilting shop or small fabric store. That would be so fun. Think of all the fabric you could shop for and buy for your store. I love mixing fabrics and prints and you could just keep doing it and doing it.
    Thank you Beth for the lovely compliment about my style. Now I will try to answer questions.

    Jane C. – That is very interesting about people dropping out of design school because of the math. It makes sense, because pattern making is all being done by computer now and is very complicated. I don’t know how to do that, but there is a fair about of math if you are flat drafting and even more if you are grading sizes, which I do badly. Good thing Simplicity takes care of that.

    Judy – Picking colors can be very hard, I have to please myself (using my gut check!) and the people on the design staff at Simplicity. It’s exhausting making color decisions so I often resort to black and neutral shades for myself. Although if you look at my blog I bought this great pair of aqua shoes and have made a couple garments to wear with them. But back to the question. If I’m doing a costume I look at lots of paintings from the period, if I’m doing something contemporary I look in store and magazines to see what colors are currently popular. And I can’t think of a favorite notion, except for my rotary cutter, but is that considered a notion?

    Kath – Writing instructions is mainly very time consuming and you have to have a clear head. It is so easy to skip a step, something that seems obvious to you, but not to everyone. When I send a design in, I will write parts of the instructions I think might be tricky so that the official instruction writers at Simplicity can understand what I’m trying to achieve, but really they write the instructions.

    Cherie – Everyone needs one or two or three good sewing books. I like to say that the instructions you get in a pattern are more of an assembly guide. There isn’t space to give detailed instructions about various sewing operations, plus the instruction writer doesn’t know what kind of fabric you will be using and that can effect what method you should use. I wrote a blog on June 25th about sewing books. Go to my website and search “sewing books” it should show up. But, my favorite book is the Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Sewing.

    Thanks all, Andrea

  4. Pingback: Meet the Designer Andrea Schewe & Free Stuff Friday! | ALL FOR FREE

  5. debe says:

    I instruct at my local sewing store many techniques including machine embroidery, crafts, home dec, accessories & some garments. This is my dream job as it gives me flexibility & some spending money while enjoying sewing. The downfall.. I spend more than I make!

  6. Ginger says:

    No, I don’t think I could make a living at sewing professionally. But it would be so much fun.

  7. Maureen V says:

    I found out that I loved to sew when I took Home Ec. in high school. I thought about becoming a Home Ec teacher but decided I’d rather marry & have a family. In later years when my children were home & now since they are gone, I’d like to spend more time sewing for the grand kids. I have thought of having my own fabric store, but decided that if I lived in a big city, I’d enjoy working at a fabric store instead. I did have my own alteration business with a bridal shop until it became too much for me & I started having health problems. I miss the local fabric shops that were around when I grew up. Now I have to either visit the big city for fabric stores or buy online. I agree with Andrea that shopping for fabric has been the biggest change. It is not the same when you buy online!!! I love challenges as I’ve sewed my own wedding dress, my sister’s wedding dress & my daughter’s prom dresses. Hopefully, I can switch to part time in Dec. so I can spend more time sewing again!!!!! (And teach my daughters!)

  8. Anna Hutchins says:

    Went to college to be a home ec teacher and ended up teaching quilting and crafts at a senior center and I get paid doing the things I love the most.

  9. Beth says:

    My policy is not to sew for pay. I can live with my mistakes but would feel compelled to raise my level of sewing and that would take the fun out of it for me. I do teach sewing as a 4-h leader which is quite fulfilling as I know many of the kids I’ve had wont be afraid of a sewing machine when they are grown. I have so many things I would like to sew for myself, my home, my kids, my grand kids, etc. I love Andreas style.

  10. Mary Mac says:

    I would love to have my own fabric shop, but I would have to hire designers and teachers. I would keep my Night job to pay for it just so I could have fun during the day.

  11. Cherie says:

    Sometimes I think it would be fun to have a little shop sewing little girl dresses. But I don’t think my sewing is up to par yet. Andrea, what is a good sewing book – or two – you recommend to amp up the sewing skills? Thank you!

  12. Kath says:

    oh to be a costume designer or a fabric designer. Andrea is it difficult to write instructions for pattern assembly?

  13. Renée O. says:

    I think I would like to design. I am slow at designing at the moment, and I always have trouble remembering how I put it all together… I definitely need more practice before I quit my day job!!!

  14. Jenni Jones says:

    I just love to sew, .. just started quilting, would love to have more money to get loads of fabric to make myself more clothes…

  15. Janice Stewart says:

    I would love to sew and design, there are times where I just make/sew things by winging it.

  16. Niki says:

    I would love to sew professionally, but as more of an indie/Etsy sort of producer!

  17. Alisha says:

    I would love to own a small local fabric/wool shop, where I can sell notions, fabric, etc. and also teach adults and children to sew & knit.

  18. Colette Wilson says:

    I learned to knit and sew from my Grandmother as a young girl. To that I added spinning, quilting, machine embroidery….. I love to create and I love to share that with other people. Teaching a new skill, or seeing the excitement build in someone else as they head off to embark on a new project gives me great pleasure. To do this on a full-time basis and earn a good salary doing so would be a dream. I’m almost there, I currently work part-time at a Viking Sewing Gallery.

  19. Brenda Melahn says:

    Being a retired accountant, I feel I am living my dream right now — sewing, sewing, and sewing for granddaughters, the house, friends, etc. No pressure, no stress, etc. After a few years of stress free sewing, I might consider doing a few things for $$$, but not for a while. This IS the life.

  20. Elizabeth King-Jones says:

    Yes, I have thought of doing nearly all those things, from advertising my skills for mending/altering to opening a quilt/fabric store. Last year I finished a double wedding ring quilt for my oldest daughter to celebrate her 25th anniversary. I have received the Sew News magazine for several years now.

    Liz King-Jones

  21. Mary Jo says:

    I live in a very rural area where people don’t like to spend a lot of money so sewing professionally seems out of the question . I did for a time but it wasn’t worth my time. Dream job would be to own a quilt shop

  22. Carolyn says:

    I would love to own my own shop, teach or sew professionally. I do have a small etsy shop and sell my items there and to friends. I also sew for my twin grand-daughters.

  23. Amy Bohner says:

    I taught first grade for 36 years, retiring 4 years ago. Since then I have had the luxury of starting a small sewing and craft business. I absolutely love it. I spend most days in my sewing room {ha ha, that room has expanded into 3 rooms} often sewing until 10:30 or later at night. I have this need to create. Sometimes I think it really is a mental illness. I now have a Bernina sewing machine, a Babylock serger and a cover stitch machine. I also purchased a 10 needle embroidery machine. My husband says that if we ever downsize we need to buy a bigger house. I love being creative and don’t look at this new adventure as work. I feel sorry for anyone who does not recognize and encourage the creative gene inside of them.

  24. sue says:

    My dream career would be to teach ANYTHING related to the textile industry. I just LOVE fabrics and fiber!

  25. Pamela Hansen says:

    I have done sewing and mending for others when I moved and didn’t have a full time job. I enjoyed the sewing, but hated the mending part. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make enough money to sew full time. I would love to have a small shop where I sold accessories and baby items.

  26. Joan says:

    I would love to own a fabric shop and make lots of quilts.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  27. Judy says:

    I do not think I would like to sew professionally. I love sewing for myself, but do not feel my work would be considered professional. I could see designing patterns, Ilove to try different variations for patterns. My dream job would be testing patterns or fabrics for new lines.
    Andrea, is it hard to pick color combinations that look good together?
    Do you have a favorite notion?

    Thanks so much for the giveaway.

  28. Manette Gutterman says:

    My dream career would be a designer. My friend and I drew binders and binders of designers when we were kids. She kept them & said she’d pass them along to me on my 18 th bday. Over the years we made new friends but the night of my 18th bday, I found them on my porch. Best gift ever.

  29. Jane C. says:

    Recently I have met several females who have dropped out of design school. Surprisingly they have all volunteered the same reason—it was because of the math! Haven you fond this to be true? ( we are talking arithmetic, not calculus, aren’t we?)

  30. Semra Keller says:

    I would love to own my own fabric shop while teaching lessons and selling machines