Funny thing about blogging; you start to feel as though you actually know the people that you watch virtually. Am I the only person that feels this way??? After all, they let us have peeks into their personal sewing rooms; they allow us to see their stashes - both patterns and fabrics. And, if we listen/watch closely and are very attentive we might even learn a thing or two via a new bit of advise or new sewing technique.
Who hasn't heard of the Georgia based Sew Much Talent (SMT) Blog??? Well, just in case you haven't, you're in luck; because today I'll be interviewing its founder, Alethia Hudson, from Augusta, Georgia (A REAL GEORGIA PEACH). So grab your favorite cup of tea (peach would be nice) and get to know Alethia AND SMT just a little bit better...
- How in the world did you come up with the idea for your “Sew Much Talent”blog/forum?
Alethia: How in the world did I come up with the idea for Sew Much Talent? In 2008, I had the thought to connect with others in my same profession- custom sewing, dressmaking, tailoring, expert alterations, teachers of sewing, etc. It has always been my passion to teach others the skill of sewing. So, I thought if I could connect with others, then we could reach our community to share what we do. That was the whole motive behind SMT. However; it did not grow legs until a few years later. Oddly enough, those legs grew from others parts of the world; from other states, even other countries. Now, this networking platform is all about inspiring, sharing, and teaching within the genre of sewing and crafting.
-How many members are connected to Sew Much Talent?
Alethia: As we speak, it is right at about 560 members, whom I call "sewing buddies". It's not a large membership, but it's quaint and cozy.
-How many countries are represented in the membership?
Alethia: Right off the top of my head there are at least 6 countries represented on Sew Much Talent: USA (of course), Australia, Nigeria, Canada, Netherlands, and Vietnam.
-What types of events are trending on Sew Much Talent at this very moment?
Alethia: Since Sew Much Talent is all about sharing and exposing the Sew Much Talent around the world, the most popular thing going right now on the blog is spotlighting the members and the work they create. They blog about it and I share it, simple as that. Occasionally, I will do a sew-a-long focusing on a particular garment, like blouses/tops, or skirts/pants, etc. I have been known to do giveaways.
-What excites and inspires you in the designs you sew for yourself and others?
Alethia: What inspires me most in the designs I sew for myself or others is seeing the finished product come to full fruition, and having it come out as planned or better. With my customers, seeing the smiles on their faces when they have received just what they imagined.
-Have you had formal training; or are you self taught?
Alethia: I have not had formal training. I started sewing at a young age, probably as early as 8 years old. I would take the scraps from my mother's projects (she was a registered nurse sewing for herself, her kids, and sometimes others) and create clothes for my favorite doll-Tiffany. At 9 years old, my mother realized that I had a knack for sewing and was serious; she signed me up for a 2-week Singer sewing class. The only problem is I had to be 10 to be in the class. It was great for me that I was tall for my age and I was able to pass. I still have a picture of me in my very first garment created from that class. From then on, I went through the standard home-ec classes in middle school. After that, I am self taught. I fed off of information from wherever I could get it, books, Saturday morning TV programs (mainly on the public broadcasting system), library books and videos. At that time, Nancy Ziemann had a mail order program where you could rent videos of her segments for two weeks. I studied them and returned them when I was done. However, alterations, the thing I hated the most became my greatest teacher. Simply because I was able to take garments apart, peek inside and see how they were constructed and put them back together again. By doing this, I began to incorporate the techniques that I saw into future garments that I made, thereby increasing my knowledge and skills.
- What has been the most challenging garment you have made?
Alethia: Even though I specialize in bridal wear and formal wear, the most challenging piece to date is a pair of trouser pants that I was commissioned to make for a client. I could not perfect the fit because of her shape and build. I enlisted the help of a dear sewing buddy, Mrs. Mole to assist me via email and phone since she lived time zones away (smile). They were not my best work at all. Fitting pants is still a work in progress for me.
-What garment to date would you call your “Masterpiece”?
Alethia: What I would consider as my most recent masterpiece is the Christening gown ensemble that I created from a grandmother's wedding gown. It was the gown, the panties, the booties, a bib, and the headband. It was absolutely beautiful. It was the third one that I had done.
-Are you a pattern-a-holic like me?
Alethia: I am a pattern-a-holic! However, I have been doing pretty good by curbing the urge to just by patterns because they are on sale, and buying the latest trends. I'm looking at patterns and realizing that there really isn't anything new. Many patterns that I already have can be revised to get some of the looks now. So, I plan to just work with what I have for the most part. Periodically, I will still buy a pattern or two.
-If you could only keep a few of your patterns, which would those be?
Alethia: If I could only choose a few patterns I would choose these four: M5138, which is an OOP (Out of Print) shirt pattern. But, it is a TNT pattern that I have used several times. It is a basic button up shirt that I could dress up or down, with various lengths. I have used this pattern in many ways. The fit is perfect. Also, M6571 which is also an OOP top and pants pattern. I have used the pants pattern many times, as well as the top. It is m quick go to. I love a simple pant. This style works well for me and sews up quickly. Another favorite is M6172. It is a jacket pattern. Although I have only made this once for a friend, I love the style and the ease of how it comes together. A great blazer will work with anything and can be created out various fabrics for any look. Lastly, I would choose the dress pattern B4443. I made this dress for myself to wear on last Easter. It is a simple elegant style, very feminine. It sews up well and the fit is great without many fit alterations. I can use this silhouette to create various styles from it. This pattern has much potential.
-What are your favorite fabric sources?
-Do you shop online for fabrics?
Alethia: My favorite go-to fabric sources are Joann fabrics, Hancock fabrics, Fabric Mart (on-line), Fabric.com(on-line), and a specialty fabric shop here locally, B & B Cloth Shop. Periodically, I will need to venture out into other resources that I have when I need something different and very formal.
-How did your business originate?
Alethia: My business, AYH Designs, originated unofficially from high school. I started doing alterations for my class peers while I was in the 11th or 12th grade. At that time, "straight-leg" jeans were in. So, I was the go-to person to make all the full leg jeans straight. The word spread because of the neighborhood kids. They hung out at our house and they knew what I did, so, they spread the word to my peers.
But, I started taking things a little more serious when I married, became pregnant, and left my job at the bank to become a stay-at-home mom. I started sewing for others from home. I did everything from alterations, to prom gowns, wedding gowns, social gowns, church uniforms, cheerleader outfits, etc., even, a little of home decor. I have continued off and on since then. For years now, I have been affectionately called Ms. Alethia by my clients. Out of anything, I would have to say my best tried and true secret is simply to press and sew as you go. It makes the world of difference in your garments.
-What are your favorite social media platforms?
-Do you use these platforms to promote or enhance your business?Alethia: My most favorite social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and now Periscope. Mainly on Facebook you see the three aspects of me...my personal page, the business side of me (AYH Designs), and the social side of me (Sew Much Talent). Right now, I am most visible on all social media as Sew Much Talent. Through SMT I get to share all about the activities that I get involved in...my blog, community activities like The Lydia Project organization, our SMT Meet-up sewing group, and my sewing classes. I am working on re-branding the business side of me, then I will make myself even more visible as AYH Designs. Otherwise, I do share the work that I do for my clients on mostly FB and IG, even Twitter.
Be sure to connect with Alethia and SMT via the following media:
Sew Much Talent