As part of Sewing Indie Month, I had the pleasure of getting to know Peggy of Sew House Seven. She and I talked about Sewing & Style (like I’ve done with fellow sewing bloggers in the past) and it was great to get to know her and her pattern company a bit better.
I am Peggy Mead of Sew House Seven – an independent pattern company that I launched in 2014. I am currently based out of my home in Portland, Oregon. I have a long history in the apparel industry as a pattern maker, designer and surface designer. I had dreamed of designing my own line of patterns for years I just never thought it could be a reality until recently. Sew House Seven was created from my need to return to my original passion of sewing and creating and a desire to leave the world of fast fashion behind me. I love that designing patterns fulfills my creative desire as well as contributes to the creativity of others as they can take the patterns and make them their own. I also have a mission to encourage more people to sew their own clothes. The focus of Sew House Seven is mainly on creating simple, easy to follow patterns that encourage the beginning sewist yet appeal to sewists of all levels.
The name Sew House Seven came about as my husband kept calling our house a sew house – it was always a mess with sewing projects while I was in the beginning stages of creating. Sew House eventually stuck but it seemed like it was incomplete. Meanwhile, my son was about to turn 7 and he was really excited about it. The number seven just rolled off the end of Sew House and made it sound complete.
Describe your personal style.
Well…. my personal style and the style that I’m drawn to are probably a bit different. I would like to consider my style bohemian – with lots of pattern mixing and artisan jewelry however, my realistic personal style is very simple and dictated by my setting of the day. I dress up mostly for my other day job – I still have one of those. That job has a somewhat old fashioned dress code and only a few months ago we were allowed to wear jeans – dressed up jeans. I like to dress up for work however, I feel I dress a little more conservatively than I would if there wasn’t a dress code. I’ve kind of let loose a little as of late however. When I’m at home, I dress for comfort – minimal accessories. My husband and I live to have fun outdoors. We are usually out in the Columbia Gorge on the weekends kayaking, hiking, mountain biking or kite surfing. I often make or buy clothes that look cute and feminine yet are easy so I can throw a simple dress on when we go to dinner or to a BBQ after our sports. If I was in the public eye or had more opportunities to dress up in my own style, my mode of dress would be bohemian I guess.
Describe Sew House Seven style.
I would say that Sew House Seven designs are feminine and timeless and some are a hint vintage however, I didn’t plan on them being so it just happened organically. The current patterns are simple and easy designs to encourage the beginning sewists as well as those who don’t have a lot of time to spend on big projects. I expect to infuse some more difficult and intricate patterns in the future but the main focus will be on simplicity.
How your style and Sew House Seven style similar or different?
I tend to design things that I would personally wear however, I wouldn’t say that the line looks dead on like my personal style. When I design, I usually start off with an idea and then I get side tracked or a design evolves and so they are not always what I plan them to be. I also take into consideration how something might look on other bodies and what customers other than me might like. I do however, think personal style can be infused in almost any pattern silhouette depending on what fabrics are used and how you style and accessorize it. Sew House Seven style has probably become my personal style as I have so many Mississippi Avenue dresses and tops since I haven’t had much time for personal sewing lately so that’s pretty much what I wear.
What inspires or influences your personal style?
Again – in reality work, activities and comfort drive my personal style.
What inspires or influences your designs for Sew House Seven?
Many things inspire me when I’m designing. Music is one big inspiration. I don’t know how to explain it but when I’m listening to music, I get a feeling that influences how I see the garment worn and how I want to evolve it. Music paints a setting for me and settings or imaginary scenes are what inspire certain garments. I picture myself or someone else in a certain setting such as at their country home collecting eggs or at the beach socializing, at the office or at an art gallery opening. Other times I’m inspired by a garment I see out there and I think about how I would change it or start from it and make something new.
I look at every day as a chance to play dress-up. How do you play dress-up?
I’m a bit of a dreamer. I still dress up in front of my mirror in the privacy of my room and imagine myself in different settings. At the end of my dress up fun, I usually throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.
How does your passion for sewing influence your style?
I think I wear more dresses than I might otherwise. Dresses are so fun to design, wear and sew. They don’t usually need as much fitting as pants so I have better outcomes with dresses. Also, in high school I had a job at a fabric store. When it was slow I used to challenge myself to find the ugly fabrics and think up a design that would make those ugly or uninteresting fabrics look great. I think I do that in reality sometimes now – maybe not with ugly fabrics but with fabrics that one might normally pass over.
Does your passion for sewing influence the style of those around you?
I don’t know. Most of my friends don’t sew – even my day job co-workers who are in the industry. Only recently at work we hired a young gal just out of design school who is so excited about fashion and has so much spunk and energy – I love her! She has been asking me questions about pattern making and has been trying to recreate some of her favorite designs she says because she’s encouraged by my Sew House Seven endeavor. I’m not sure that I’m influencing her style but I’m influencing her to create her own garments. I have a group of friends who say they want to learn to sew so they can wear the Bridgetown Backless dress so I might have to set up a little sewing/teaching party.
What about over time: Has your style changed with time? Have your sewing abilities changed with time?
I don’t know about my actual style but I’m still drawn to the same kind of clothes that I was way back in Jr high and high school. I think I was more sophisticated back then than now. I wish I still had some of those clothes!
It’s funny but I don’t think my sewing abilities have gotten much better since high school. I sewed so much
back then and I usually made difficult, intricate garments. As soon as I started working full time after college, I didn’t have much time to sew and it’s been only recently that I’ve gotten back to it full boar however, I now only have time to sew up my own patterns and very little time for personal sewing. I’d say what has improved is the quality and fit. Because I have to be extra careful to really sew my proto-types correctly and precisely, I really take more time to do a nice job whereas in the past I might really want to power through and get more done.
Has starting Sew House Seven changed your style?
Yes. I have gotten rid of many of my ready to wear garments in an effort to switch over to an all home sewn wardrobe. The only problem is that I think I got rid of those clothes too soon and my closet is now filled with
mostly Mississippi Avenue Dresses and tops. I need some diversity but I don’t have the time to sew too much other than my own proto-types. The other day I had to break down and go shopping for a few ready to wear clothes again. This business has inspired me to go mostly home sewn and eventually I’ll get there.
What about in the beginning: Did you learn to sew so that you could have a certain style?
Absolutely, well kind of! Maybe not at age 7 but rather in junior high and high school when I really started becoming obsessed with sewing. I was given a clothing allowance of about $100. That money had to last me the entire school year and that’s where sewing really came in handy helping stretch my budget. My hometown was very small and there wasn’t much to choose from in the way of clothes and everyone wore pretty much the same items. I loved that sewing allowed me to have a unique wardrobe. My friends would ask me to sew for them so they could be unique as well. I remember one prom where I made dresses for eight girlfriends. I think I loved an excuse to make a fancy dress more than I actually liked going to the prom. One prom I made some crazy dress that looked like there was silvery sea weed hanging from it. You definitely wouldn’t have found that in any store! It was pretty goofy but I loved it.
Does your style require that you are able to sew?
My ultimate personal style does but maybe not my reality every day personal style. When I need a dress for a special occasion, I definitely need to sew it myself. I never can find what I’m looking for in the stores and if I’m trying to look special, I want the fit to right.
Anything else you would like to say about sewing and style? About how sewing & style connect to Sew House
I think sewing is so liberating! I love that Sew House Seven is becoming my career and window into a community with my same interests. I love that this career allows me to explore my own style and creativity again and it’s fun to watch others out there doing the same.