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Kate of The Confident Stitch on Sewing & Style

Kate and I first bonded over being tall. Since then we’ve discovered we have a lot in common so she’s definitely become more than just a tall sewing friend – she’s more of a tall big sister cheerleader sewing friend. I’m excited to share her thoughts as part of my Sewing & Style interviews, especially in relation to her own new “baby” – The Confident Stitch fabric store that she recently opened in Missoula, MT (which also has an awesome online shop).

Describe your style.
I’d call my style Sophisticated and Down-to-Earth. I love high-quality natural fibers and tend to wear neutral solids with an occasional pop of pattern and color.

Describe what you sew.
I mostly sew clothes, but I also sew some quilts.

What inspires or influences your style?
I grew up in a fancy town located next door to Berkeley, California. My style is a mash-up of the two locales.

Does your style require that you are able to sew?
My style and my body require that I am able to sew. I love high-quality natural fibers, but not their price tag in ready-to-wear. I am six-feet-tall, and I have a large bust, both of which make finding clothes that fit a challenge.

What about in the beginning: Did you learn to sew so that you could have a certain style?
I did. I started sewing in junior high school, and I made clothes for myself throughout high school and college. I wanted interesting, fun clothes that I couldn’t find in stores. I wanted to be sophisticated, but different.

I look at every day as a chance to play dress-up. How do you play dress-up?
I play dress up by wearing something made-by-me every day, especially now that I have my own fabric store!

How did your passion for sewing cause you to open a fabric store?
After working in public health for 25 years, I knew I wanted to do something associated with sewing and fitting. I’m a serious fan of Patti Palmer and Marta Alto, and I have taken many fitting classes with them in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to teach others how to alter patterns to make them fit. Missoula had an awesome fabric store, called Selvedge Studio, so I was thinking I would work with them on some venture. Then, the owners of Selvedge Studio decided to close their store! How fortuitous! I couldn’t sew up (get it?) my public health work as quickly as the Selvedge owners wanted to close their store, so we weren’t able to finesse a seamless (so funny!) transition, but I purchased their beautiful fixtures and started building my inventory.

Has owning a fabric store influenced your style? Has it influenced the style of your coworkers? customers?
Yes, everyone dresses just like me now! Ha! Owning a fabric store hasn’t really changed my style. Since I participate in every fabric, pattern and notion selection, my coworkers are a little bit influenced by my style, but they make completely different fabric/pattern choices than I would. For instance, Bonnie, our seamstress, made this Sewing Workshop Stella Top out of a wick away jersey meant for athletic wear. I would have made a simple long-underwear top out of the same fabric.

How does your style affect your fabric store?
My main “style” is to be mission-driven. While I worked in public health, my aim was to eliminate disparities in health between the haves and the have-nots. With The Confident Stitch, our mission is to empower and uplift women. We move toward that mission in many ways — by providing high-quality fabrics women can feel proud to wear and give to others; by helping women feel better about their bodies through pattern alteration; by making a small dent in the number of women in clothing-factory servitude; and, by creating a community of people who love to sew and hand-make both in Missoula and online.

The Confident Stitch has been open for a little over a year. I have selected every fabric, pattern and notion so far. The store is almost all moi at this point, and you can tell: We have a stellar group of solid quilting cottons; a ton of linen, cotton, knits and wools in solid colors; plus, a smattering of fun prints for clothes, crafts and quilts.

I really appreciate the mission of The Confident Stitch (it’s similar to my own mission). I’ve personally bought fabric from Kate’s store (including some gorgeous Robert Kaufman plaid flannel that will someday be matching shirts for our family (cheeseball, I know), a lovely Anna Maria Horner Traffic cotton that will someday be a blouse for myself, and some quilting cotton for my mom). I strongly encourage you to check out her store for both garment and quilting fabrics. Support a female owned small business and end up with more fabric – it’s all sorts of win!

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