The internet can be a wonderful place. How I else would I get to meet the ebullient, charming and hilarious ball of maker energy that is Jasika Nicole? As you know, we name all our patterns after people in our community we find inspiring, and it was only a matter of time before we named something after this lovely woman. When we started working on our blazer pattern, Jasika was the person I thought of the most. She is a brave, bold, courageous sewist. Nothing seems to scare her or slow her down. Whether it’s making her own shoes, tackling vintage patterns, churning out macaroons in her adorable kitchen or simply spending her off time exploring new ideas with fabric and silhouette, she has been a constant source of delight, and a ceaseless champion of our patterns (I think she’s made nearly all of them at this point!) Our blazer could not have a better muse.
This year we’ve started highlighting sewists we think you should know, and this month we are turning our eyes to Jasika. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a bit better, and highly suggest you add her blog and instagram to your must-follow list.
How long have you been sewing?
19 years, but only obsessively for about 4.
How often do you spend time do you spend on your sewing practice a week (including planning, researching, sewing etc).
This is embarrassing ….but probably about up to 30 hours a week if work is slow and I have nothing else on my plate!
What is your home sewing set-up like?
I turned the detached basement in our home into a craft room where I spend the bulk of my making time. The space is mine alone and is filled with sewing machines, fabric, patterns, shoe making supplies and yarn, and although it’s messy and definitely needs more storage, I’m crazy about it. I love being able to leave my projects out in the open and not have to put them away every time I’m done for the day.
Did you have a gateway person or experience that brought you to sewing?
I was introduced to sewing when I took a costume design class in college for my studio art minor. I wasn’t particularly gifted at designing for the stage, but I fell in love with the rules and regulations of construction and having such a tactile experience with the fabrics. I spent more weekends than I can remember hanging out in the costume shop playing with the dress forms and machines and that year my mom bought me my first sewing machine for Christmas.
What was the first thing you remember wanting to sew?
Dresses! DRESSES DRESSES DRESSES!
How would you define your style?
Grandma chic! I am relatively conservative and I love dressing up and looking put together but I’m also a fan of comfort- I gravitate towards colorful, unique garments that are relaxed and easy. I used to exclusively sew vintage and vintage inspired garments from the 50’s era, but as my skill set has expanded and I’ve learned how to adjust sewing patterns to my body, it has opened up a whole new world of options for me- so many styles and designs that I thought didn’t work for my body were actually just clothes that didn’t fit me well, and once I started making my own clothes I realized I could look good in anything when I could make it fit well.
What is your favourite thing you’ve made?
This is tough! Most of my favorites are first-time projects: my first pair of Ginger jeans, first time I made a lined coat, first time I made a pair of wearable heels.
What is your favourite Closet Case Pattern?
THIS IS ALSO TOUGH. Closet Case is one of the first indie companies I started sewing with, and I reserve a special place in my heart for the brand since so much of my sewing learning curve was drawn while working on their patterns. I’ll have to say the Ginger jeans is my favourite though, because it set the foundation for me for good pants fitting techniques, and has opened the door to success with so many other patterns. This was the first pattern I ever used a sewalong with, and it was a revelation. Ever since I made my first pair of Ginger jeans, I have not been afraid or daunted by a sewing pattern since. This pattern put me into Bad B*tch status, from which I will never return!
How does sewing affect your relationship to shopping and RTW?
Aside from a few necessary replacement items and random things like gym socks, I don’t buy RTW clothing anymore and haven’t in about three years. I’m not against RTW at all, but shopping in stores just doesn’t bring me the joy it once did. I occasionally window shop for design inspiration and I definitely still buy things like shoes, but for the most part, wearing all memade gives me a thrill that nothing else can quite match.
How does sewing relate to your body image?
It has taught me that when clothing doesn’t look good or fit me well, it has nothing to do with my body and everything to do with the garment. It has reminded me that by their very nature, bodies can’t be “wrong” or “bad”, and to frame them as such is to be complicit in body-shaming behavior, which hurts me and everyone in earshot of my words. Finally, it has shown me how much privilege I have as an able-bodied, straight size, cis gender woman in the world of fashion and home sewing, and made me more aware of the struggles other people face that I so often take for granted.
What are your go-to fabric stores?
The Fabric Store is a personal favorite, and I also love stopping by Michael Levine’s in the fabric district in downtown LA when I need some inspiration. For online stores I love blackbirdfabrics and FABSCRAP.
What are the tools you can’t live without?
Rotary cutter and tailors ham!
What was the best lesson or skill that took your sewing to the next level?
French seams- I rarely make a nice, professional looking high quality garment without them!
What pattern release would you not be able to resist? (aka what type of garment would automatically jump your queue).
A well drafted jumpsuit!
What are your sewing goals? What would you like to learn how to do to push your practice forward?
I’m super excited about the…ahem….JASIKA BLAZER! I’ve never made a proper blazer with all the bits, bobs, doo dads and shoulder pads so I am super super excited for the challenge!
What’s the next thing you want to make?
Aside from the Jasika Blazer, I want to work on creating a good pattern for some zippered booties and I want to make a dress with piping on it. I am also about to make my wife a Rigel bomber jacket!
Where else do you turn when you need inspiration?
Pinterest is my fav place to find inspiration, and I love the challenge of finding a comparable pattern to hack to recreate a look I feel very drawn to.
What was your biggest sewing fail?
Wow, so many bad patterns and ill advised fitting adjustments to consider! But a fail for me is when I do screw something up without any help at all from poor drafting or bad instructions, so mine is probably when I first got into pants fitting and decided to try a simple pair of high waisted trousers. I made them in a printed stretch denim adorned with paisley and I worked really hard on finishing the inside seams so they would look nice and professional. When it was time to try them on, I stuck my feet through each leg and tried to pull them up, but they wouldn’t budge past my thighs and hips. I was dumbfounded cause I knew I had made the right size! Turns out that I cut my pieces on the wrong grain line and the stretch of the denim ran vertically down my legs instead of across them so I couldn’t pull them over my body. I have an infamous pic somewhere on Instagram of me standing helplessly with a pair of extraordinarily tight pants strangling my hips, my buttcheeks literally stacked on top of itself and spilling out from the top of the trousers.
Was there ever something you tried (sewing/ craft) that you would never do again?
When we had our bathroom renovated in our home I couldn’t find the vanity I wanted in stores so I built it, which came out great and is something I’m really proud of. Our contractor assumed that since I built the vanity I would want to tile the countertop and splash guard as well, and I figured I would just go ahead and do it even though I had no experience in it- because hey, I’m trycurious! It was actually AWFUL, by the time I was done with the grout and tile I had three fever blisters on my face from all the stress!
What is something you haven’t tried yet that you would like to in the future?
Sewing wise, I’ve never sewn a garment with piping and I would really like to. I would also love to start drafting and designing my own garments.
Where does your courage to try new things come from? Is there anything that scares you??
I grew up poor and I am also an introvert, so when I was younger I spent a lot of time entertaining myself, both because I was more creative and fulfilled when left to my own devices and because we couldn’t afford any classes for me to take. I always yearned for classroom settings and environments where I could learn and experience new things, so teaching myself how to do stuff (whether I actually knew how to do it or not) has always been a big part of my life. I guess the courage came from not feeling like I had any alternatives- I had wishes and dreams and goals like everyone else but I knew no person and no circumstance would ever make them come true for me, the responsibility rested fully in my hands. I’m honestly not scared of anything in terms of making/crafting/creating. The worst case scenario in trying something new is that I won’t be very good at it, and I have been on this earth too long to think that perfection is an achievable goal for anyone, much less myself. I know how to enjoy the process of learning!
We love you Jasika! Thank you for bringing us constant joy with your sewing practice.