Welcome to Black History Month on Making the Flame! It’s taken way too long to for me contribute to the learning, growth, and celebration opportunity that is BHM – if you want to read about why, click here. But better late than never! And I’m thrilled to present the first Black History Month post this year and ever on Making the Flame – a conversation with Eryn Shields!
Eryn created Style Sew Me, a line of sewing patterns for the stylish woman. Style Sew Me stands out to me as being more fashion-conscious and fashion-forward than some other indie brands, but also has the distinction of being one of the few indie brands (that I know of, anyway) created or in any way directed by a black designer. Also, Style Sew Me is participating in the (only?) Black History Month sewalong – #BHMPatternDesigners. So without further ado, read on to hear Eryn in her own powerful words and learn how to participate in #BHMPatternDesigners in three easy steps.
Where are you from? How did you get sewing?
ERYN: I’m originally from Louisiana and currently live in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area. I began sewing during my pregnancy. I gained weight very quickly and in my first trimester, I was already in maternity clothes. I thought maternity clothes were frumpy and unflattering and decided to learn how to sew a few simple dresses to get me through the pregnancy. I had no intention of continuing to sew. Yet, 6 years later…here we are!
What is your brand mission statement or motto?
ERYN: Take Control Of Your Style – It’s about not settling for what doesn’t fit you, suit your body type, or align with your lifestyle. I wanted sewing to feel “possible” and empowering.
What inspired you to start Style Sew Me? Did you have any other sewing/sewing-related ventures before that?
ERYN: I love to read and write. My original blog was called Mind of Mom where I intended to share my journey of new motherhood, lifestyle, and personal style. But, as I began growing more interested in sewing, it kind of took over. I chose the name Style Sew Me, rebranded, and that was that.
How do you get ideas for new patterns? What is the process to go from idea to finished pattern, and how long does that take?
ERYN: I take inspiration from what’s popular and add bits and pieces from my own imagination. I want women to reach for their makes with my patterns from years to come. It has to be flattering to a curvier body, and it has to be comfortable.
My pattern development process can take anywhere from 2-5 months per pattern, to get this pattern out of my head and for sale on my website. That depends on the number of views and the complexity of the designs. I still have a thriving corporate career and a family, so I work on pattern development in small bits at a time on a daily basis. I have a wonderful pattern maker, administrator, illustrator, and seamstress on my team that help bring this vision to life.
Do you still sew for fun? What do you like to make, or what was the last thing you made?
ERYN: Between the business needs, my corporate career, and personal life, it leaves me very little time for fun sewing. I spend 90% of time at the computer when I’m not in production mode for a pattern.
The last fun project I made was a Burda sweater that I loved so much, that I made two. It was an easy sew and I wear both of those sweaters all of the time!
You’re one of the featured designers for #bhmpatterndesigners this year, which is awesome! Which Style Sew Me patterns do you recommend for busy sewers who want to participate?
ERYN: Yes, Nateida, Myra, and I have been connected on Instagram for several years. I’m thrilled that they thought to do this challenge to create a space for black fabric and pattern businesses to be showcased. Last year was an amazing show. What was most beautiful to me was to see the diversity in the makers who showed up for the challenge! I look forward to seeing that again this year!
Do you try to honor or represent your family’s story and Black history in your work? How?
ERYN: I admit that I am a selfish sewer. My sewing is purely for me. In my fun projects, I only take my needs into consideration. After I gave birth, sewing was my time to re-center after an exhausting day caring for my newborn on maternity leave. I took that time to focus on no one but myself.
How do you feel DIYers and fashionistas can respectfully celebrate Black history?
ERYN: I would love to see people, regardless of interest, take this month to learn about new perspectives around the black experience and go deeper in the standard history we’re all told. Then, take that curiosity outside of February.
How would you like to contribute to Black history in 2020?
ERYN: I believe in starting at home by showing my daughter books and programs with amazing black girls and women that look like her doing great things. When she feels empowered in herself and sees positive images and stories about black people before her, she’ll want to know more about those that paved her way.
I think a big problem with people who sweep black history under the rug, or just flat out refuse to believe it is that they don’t think highly of black people as equals, period. So, by empowering ourselves and our children with that confidence, they will WANT to reach back and know more about where they came from.
What do you have planned for Style Sew Me in 2020?
ERYN: I’m loving experimenting with coordinating outfits, rebuilding my wardrobe, and changing the way I choose projects and fabrics. I’m excited to share more content about maximizing my makes and clothing purchases with different outfits!
Major thanks to Eryn for that incredible interview!! Check out her store, blog, and social media links at the end of this post. For now, it’s time to talk #BHMPatternDesigners!
Want to participate in this Black History Month sewalong? It’s easy! Everyone is welcome – just follow these three simple rules:
2. You must use a Black sewing or knitting pattern designer. Need ideas? Check out SewNaturalDane’s Instgram story highlights – there’s a lot to choose from. And as a knitting fan, I’ll add Shirley Paden to the list of knitwear designer options.
3. You can only sew and post your item (garments, handbag, knitting, etc) February 1 and February 29th. Your entry is due February 29th.
There are nice prizes, too! Check out these wonderful sponsors:
Pattern Store: www.StyleSewMePatterns.com
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/stylesewme
BHMPatternDesigners announcement (YouTube)
Myra Lorraine on YouTube (OneSewSweet)