Cennetta, what things excite and inspire you in your sewing and the designs that you create?
CENNETTA: There are so many things that inspire me to create my designs. It is a combination of so many things. To make it simple, I am inspired by people, photos in a magazine and books, movies, a color, many designers, Pinterest, online fashion websites, other sewists/designers and (bloggers).
Have you had formal training or are you self taught?
CENNETTA: I’m self-taught. I started sewing when I was ten years ago. In middle school I took sewing for one semester. Within the past ten years, I participated in several workshops and seminars, which include: Palmer/Pletsch Fit and Teacher workshops, Sandra Betzina’s Retreat, several workshops taught by John Koch (Designer and Milliner), Rhonda Buss and Susan Khalji (Designers).
I come from a family of creative people; both of my grandmothers where sewers and mom also sews. So it was only natural for me to pick up on some sort of craft.
What are your favorite items to sew?
CENNETTA: I like sewing fashion in general. But I must say my favorite garment to sew is a dress. In the beginning, my favorite was sewing pants. This desire was out of necessity. My legs are very long. Back then I was thin as a rail. So it was very difficult to find pants that fit and were long enough.
CENNETTA: The most challenging aspect of my sewing experience has been fitting the bodice. All types of bodices. This is an area I have aggressively pursued over the past 15 years. Sometimes the jacket and coat linings aren’t as polished as I’d like at the hem. As far as challenging project, I guess I would say some of the formals that I have made for clients.
What garment(s) to date would you call your masterpiece(s)?
CENNETTA: Ms. Faye that is a hard one. I don’t think I’ve created a “masterpiece” yet. But if I must name something that I’m very proud of it would be my sister’s prom dress, my striped jacket, and the green military style coat I made for my daughter.
What are your favorite fabric sources?
CENNETTA: My favorite brick and mortar stores are in Chicago: Fishman’s Fabrics and Vogue Fabrics. My favorite online stores are Mood and Fabric Mart.
Do you ever shop for fabric online?
Are there any sewing techniques that you have not mastered yet, but plan to work on?
CENNETTA: There are too many to name. I want to master the technique of making a French jacket. I started one in 2012 and have yet to complete it. I really need to finish it. Lol! I think the hardest thing about it is that it takes so many hours to complete. Tailored shirts would be the next thing. I’d like to make flawless button down shirts with French cuffs, collar stands, plackets, etc. All perfect and polished. Finally, flawless in-set sleeves and welt pockets of all shapes and sizes.
If you could only have five (5) patterns, which five would that be and why?
CENNETTA: My five slopers would be: McCall 5818, Simplicity 4076, New Look 6824, Simplicity 2508, and Vogue 9029. These five patterns provide basic designs for essential wardrobe pieces. Using these patterns I could create several different designs.
Other than garment sewing are there other crafts that you enjoy?
CENNETTA: I like making accessories too: hats, purses, and some home dec. I also draw, crochet and do a little knitting.
Can you tell us a little about your sewing machine arsenal?
CENNETTA: My sewing machines are all Singer products. I have Singer sewing machines and one serger. My oldest machine is about 25 years old. Back then it retailed for about $2,500. I got it for $1,200. The second machine was supposed to be my backup machine, but lately I use it more than the older machine. Finally, I purchased my serger about 10 years ago. I owned another prior to then, but it not in my possession now. I’m the market to purchase some new machines. But I haven’t decided what yet. I’d like an industrial sewing machine.
Do you have a favorite sewing or crafting tip to share with us?
CENNETTA: I like to make the finishings of some garment stand out. Sometimes I finish seams using the Hong Kong method. While attending the Sandra Betzina retreat, I was taught an easy way to make my own binding. Here is the link to the tutorial: http://themahoganystylist.blogspot.com/2012/11/making-your-own-bias-tape-tutorial.html
Also, I like to hand picked zippers occasionally adding beans. Here is a link to Threads tutorial on how to do it: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/5135/a-hand-picked-zipper-is-worth-the-effort.
How did you become involved in the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, and what are some of the things the organization does?
CENNETTA: Margaret Moser, then the President, contacted me asking if I'd like to be a member. I went to my first meeting October 2009. You can imagine how excited I was being in a room full of sewists/designers. Just awesome. This is a great organization located in Chicago. I don't know how anyone who sews could not be a part of it. Here is the link to the official website: Haute Couture Club of Chicago, NFP
On the website, you will find all the details regarding events and fashion shows. In summary, we meet the first Saturday of most months during the year. The meetings consist of up-dates of activities and announcements, program (guest speakers), and show and share. There are also workshops and outings supported and sponsored by the club.