Lauren Taylor – Lladybird

(Originally posted September 20, 2015)


00headshot1Lauren Taylor of Nashville, Tennessee, is the beautiful young woman behind the popular sewing blog,  Mood Fabrics invited Lauren to become a Mood Sewing Network blogger because her garment sewing is impeccable and creative. Lauren has a passion for sewing, a gift for writing, and an irreverent, joyous attitude about life.

When asked about her current sewing, she said, “Right now, I’m focused on transitional pieces that will work for the wishy-washy Tennessee weather — leggings, long sleeve t-shirts for layering, light jackets, and knit dresses. The weather in Nashville can change from below freezing to pushing 70 degrees in the matter of an afternoon (and we’ve got the tornadoes to prove it!). I’ve also started planning my summer wardrobe — mostly in the form of happy day dreams 🙂 — I’m thinking lots of breezy lightweight cotton dresses and linen shorts. “

In her adult life, Lauren has mostly worked non-sewing jobs.  She spent six years answering phones at an ad agency and now works as a personal assistant for a female entrepreneur.  She also has a small part time job helping a local clothing designer with assembling piece work for her line (she LOVES that job). Lauren would like to teach sewing classes in her local area.

Lauren modeling her Fabulous Birds dress.

Lauren modeling her Fabulous Birds dress.

Birds often serve as Lauren’s inspiration. At one time, Lauren had a local clothing line, LLADYBIRD, so that’s what she named her blog. Ladybird is a nickname people gave her because of her bird tattoo.

Her lifetime favorite garment is her Fabulous Birds dress.  Inspired by a vintage pattern from the 1940s — she chose a silk georgette by Marc Jacobs from Mood Fabrics. Making the dress was a true labor of love — from the initial muslins (and the fact that her pattern was lacking its original instruction sheet!), to learning how to handle the 00quotefabric. “SCHMETZ is my sewing machine needle of choice — and the 70/10 Microtex needle makes perfect stitches in fine silk. The most important thing when working with silk is to always start with a FRESH, new needle.” After the whole dress came together beautifully, she pulled out the big guns and made a bias cut slip of 4 ply silk to wear underneath. The end result is perfection and she can wear it for pretty much any occasion that comes her way.

When sewing on knits, Lauren loves to make hems using the SCHMETZ Stretch Twin 4.0 needle. Her special tip is to use Wooly Nylon in the bobbin — which gives the finished hem some nice additional stretch.

When asked what sewing brings to her life, Lauren thoughtfully replied, “Sewing brings me PATIENCE. It forces me to slow down (sometimes I feel like a hummingbird, the way I race around all day!) and focus on the small parts that make up a whole. It gives me a wonderful creative outlet and a reason to be a perfectionist at something. It also challenges me and forces my brain to think outside the box when faced with an issue. Oh, and it gives me some pretty sweet clothes.”

Lauren with fellow Mood Sewing network bloggers in New York City.

Lauren with fellow Mood Sewing
network bloggers in New York City.

Lauren recently went to New York City to meet up with some Mood Sewing network bloggers. “Fabric often inspires me. I bought a gorgeous piece of silk in vibrant colors of blue and purple, and every day I think about that fabric. I don’t know what it will become. But I am obsessed . . . .”

Lauren is lucky because she has a big, bright, inspiring, dedicated sewing room. Her landlord even agreed to paint the room her favorite shade of turquoise. She has space for her sewing machine and her serger so each has their own table and work space. She has room for a cutting table and ironing board, and lots of storage for fabric, books, and patterns.

Like every busy woman, Lauren has the problem of TIME.  “Whether it’s getting up early to do a little bit of sewing before work (part of my ~power hour~ in the morning, yeah I know that’s dorky!), or sneaking in 10-20 minutes when I can find it . . . I always find a way. If you want to do something badly enough, you will find the time to make it happen.”

Lori Van Maanen – Girls in the Garden

Lori with Girls - and boys - in the Garden.

Lori with Girls – and boys – in the Garden.

(Originally posted September 6, 2015)


In the summer of 2006, Lori  Van Maanen stumbled upon a few sewing and decorating blogs, which led to many hours at the computer.   She was hooked on the format, and she thought blogging would be a great way to keep track of her sewing projects.  She could look back on her posts and use the information to improve her next garment.

Lori lives and works on her Missouri family farm, and is very involved in the family’s agricultural business.  She works full time at their livestock market — so time to sew can be an issue.  And she had to think long and hard about making the commitment to writing her own blog.

She knew her area of blogging would be mainly sewing, but didn’t want to limit herself by putting sewing in the title.  One day, while weeding her flower garden with her daughters, she looked at them and the name of her blog came to her:  Girls In the Garden.  As the mother to four girls, it was perfect — close to her heart.

Although Lori does all kinds of sewing  — her passion has always been fashion sewing.  With so many girls in the house, there is always an occasion or event requiring a new outfit.  Lori is inspired by fashion magazines, fashion blogs and Pinterest.  Once she gets an idea for a garment, she likes to search Pinterest for variations and details to make it her own.

aMood_Sewing_Network_LogoLori is fortunate to have a dedicated sewing space — but it’s in an unfinished basement, tucked under the plumbing pipes and behind the furnace.  She doesn’t really have a “stash” of fabric (maybe 10 yards on hand at any one time).  When she is inspired to make a garment,  she goes online to buy the fabric.  The Mood Fabrics website is her favorite place for fashion fabric — so it was a huge honor to be invited to become a part of the Mood Sewing Network in January, 2013.

When asked about her favorite sewing inspiration, Lori said,  “When the twins were babies, I took a smocking class.  My favorite magazine was Australian Smocking and Embroidery and each month I would find at least one dress to make.  One issue had these smocked black corduroy coats with leopard faux fur — and I was hooked on those coats.  It is a wonder I didn’t wear out my magazine just looking at them.  AS&E offered kits with everything but the pattern, so I checked the kit price and the exchange rate.  With four young girls, money was tight and it  took me a week of debating if I should buy not one but two kits.  In the end, I did order the coats and never regretted the purchase.  I made the coats a bit bigger and since the shape was flared, the girls were able to get three winters’ wear.

Leopard Trench Coat

Leopard Trench Coat

The most recent thing I was inspired to sew was my leopard trench coat.  I saw several leopard trench coats on Pinterest.  I found the perfect fabric at Mood and had the perfect Vogue pattern.  I have worn this coat many times, it just goes with everything and it is one of those ‘feel good’ garments.” 

Your best sewing advice?

Whenever I am having a problem, the first thing I do is rethread my sewing machine and change the needle.  That solves the problem 90% of the time.  And don’t forget to change the needles in your serger, too!  My go-to sewing book is Sandra Betzina’s  Fabric Savvy.  It is an excellent reference book and I often refer to it.  I only use SCHMETZ needles, and I ALWAYS have a good supply on hand.”

What does sewing bring to your life?   

I cannot draw or paint but I can take a piece of fabric and turn it into a garment.  Sewing is my creative outlet and it gives me such fulfillment and joy with each garment I make.  Sewing has also brought many friendships with women both near and far.”

Lori’s blog:

Mood Sewing Network:

Sarah Gunn – Life Force Behind Goodbye Valentino

(Originally posted July 26, 2015)

Sarah Gunn at Edisto Island wearing Style Arc "Elle" slim leg pants and holding SCHMETZ needle packs.

Sarah Gunn at Edisto Island wearing Style Arc “Elle” slim leg pants and holding SCHMETZ needle packs.

Goodbye Valentino

Before she became the life-force behind the popular sewing blog, Goodbye Valentino, Sarah Gunn was a busy wife and mother with a successful career as the Executive Director of the Spartanburg Music Foundation.  One of the things she was really good at was shopping.  She was a big fan of Diane Van Furstenberg, Milly, Nanette Lepore, Lilly P., Kate Spade — anything at Nieman Marcus or Nordstrom’s. Her two twenty-something daughters, Katie and Mimi, shared her love of high end ready-to-wear and shopping was a joyful mother-daughter bonding activity.

At some point, Sarah felt like she was spending a lot of money on clothes, but had a closet full of nothing to wear . . . too many special occasion dresses and a lot of black and white. By August 2011, after a series of graduations, weddings and other special events, she’d been on a six month spending spree.

Her “ah-ha” moment came at a home “skirt party” she attended with her daughter Mimi. After trying on several styles, and looking at the fabric samples, they ordered three custom skirts. The bill was nearly $700. When the skirts arrived, Sarah looked at the simple skirts — and she KNEW she could have made them herself.

She felt such tremendous buyer’s remorse — that’s when it happened.   She snapped.

On that day — August 31, 2011,  Sarah vowed to go on a Ready-To-Wear FAST. Her intention was to not buy a thing for one year. She would sew her own clothes for one whole year. And, to hold herself accountable, she would blog about it. She named her blog, “Goodbye Valentino”. Initially, she didn’t tell anybody what she was doing.  She wasn’t sure she could do it, and she didn’t want additional pressure from her family.

PATTERN: Vogue 8750 FABRIC: Wool Houndstooth, Mood Fabrics leather upcycled from thrift store skirt.

PATTERN: Vogue 8750
FABRIC: Wool Houndstooth, Mood Fabrics leather upcycled from thrift store skirt.

Sarah dusted off her seldom-used sewing machine, reorganized her abandoned playroom — and started SEWING. Using an Amy Butler pattern and a Laura Ashley dress (circa 1987) from her closet, she made a really cute skirt.

Sarah had no way of knowing that she was starting a revolution . . . .

She learned to sew in high school and after college she sewed for herself for six or seven years. But after the birth of her first daughter, her focus shifted. Between her family and her career — she had little time to sew. Other than clothes for her young daughters, a few quilts or simple home dec projects, she had taken a 25-year break from garment sewing.

BGoodbye_ValentinoWhen she started Goodbye Valentino, Sarah had no idea about the sewing world that existed on the Internet. As it happened, she enjoyed writing the blog as much as sewing her new clothes. After three months, she told her husband what she was doing. He was incredulous and quickly became her biggest fan.  After five or six months of blogging, Sarah began to receive comments from other women who had been inspired to sew by reading Goodbye Valentino.

In JUNE 2012, after only TEN months of blogging, Sarah was invited to join the Mood Sewing Network. She was honored to be one of their original bloggers because the mission of the Mood Sewing Network is to inspire fashion sewing. When asked about the benefits of sewing her own clothes, Sarah answers thoughtfully, “I started the RTW fast to save money, and I celebrated with a trip to the Mediterranean at the end of my fast!  An unexpected benefit is that while

PATTERN: Butterick 5683 FABRIC: Faux leather/ faux fur backing

Butterick 5683
FABRIC: Faux leather/ faux fur backing

sewing my own clothes, I learned how to fit myself. Because of that, I am much pickier about ready to wear. Also, I’ve discovered my own style which includes a love of color, a fondness for ruffles and classic feminine lines.”

“My sewing skills have also improved, and I’ve learned the little things can make a big difference in my end result. For example, I used to be one of those people who only changed my sewing machine needle if it broke! But now I actually enjoy sewing on knit fabrics because I know there is a specific needle for that purpose. Using a topstitch needle has made a huge difference in the quality of my garments. I’ve also developed a little finesse with the iron.”

Sarah Gunn has always been determined to live creatively, but the reaction to Goodbye Valentino has been more than she ever imagined.  During her first RTW fast, she made 64 garments, and it changed her life.  As it happened, it also changed the lives of thousands of other women who were tired of spending too much money on clothes.

BRTW-2014-LogoGoodbye Valentino convinced them that they could do it, too. In January 2014, Sarah decided she needed to go back on the wagon, so she started another RTW fast. This time, she invited her readers to join her — and 277 of them are along for the ride.  To follow their progress, there is a page on the blog, “2014 RTW Fasters”.

Sarah believes:  If you can read a recipe, you can read a pattern. If you can drive a car, you can operate a sewing machine. If you can shop, you can sew.