Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Sewing Circle interview with Anna from Noodlehead!

I'm a journalist at heart and by trade, and so I very much want there to be an aspect of that here on my blog. And so I've asked a few of my favorite bloggers who write about sewing to let me interview them. I'm calling it The Sewing Circle -- a chance to get to know the people behind the sewing projects we love to ogle and tutorials we adore. My first guest is Anna, the brains behind the immensly popular blog, Noodlehead!

Anna's was one of the very first blogs I found when my sewing obsession began. I just love her style. Her projects are approachable, perfect for a beginner like me, but still deliver a wow-factor. Her sewing tutorials directly inspired me to go to Target and throw a sewing machine into my cart, despite not knowing a basting stitch from a zig-zag stitch. They were just that pretty. I had to give it a try.

And I had to ask the girl with more than 9,000 followers if she'd come chat with little old me. Isn't it awesome when you discover the people you really admire are as nice as you expect them to be? I love that.

So here we go!

Q: I read that you first learned to sew as a little girl beside your mother. When in your adult life did sewing become a serious pastime?
A: I’m pretty sure it started more seriously when I escaped from the house one day to go to a bookstore on my own.  I was digging through the crafts and sewing section and found Jenny Ryan’s Sew Darn Cute book.  I went home, ordered the book, and the rest is history.  I remember scouring the resources in the back of the book and that’s where I found some awesome online shopping and lots completely amazing blogs!  

Q: When did your blog begin? What inspired you to start it? I read somewhere that the craft blogs did it for you... Any one or two in particular?
A: I started it a few times two summers ago (2009), and I guess I mean that I tried a few posts at first, nothing really serious and then I just decided to go for it.  I remember thinking that I surely wasn’t going to write and blog about things if nobody was ever going to read it!  I know for sure Made by Rae and MADE were some of the very first blogs I started reading.

Q: You have more than 9,000 subscribers/followers now. How deliberately did you grow that following? 
A: Yeah, it’s really kind of nuts.  I really never imagined this many people would want to read about what I make. But I did want people to share the fun with, so I made my first tutorial, the zippy wallet and then did a giveaway -- two really fun ways to draw some readers in.  The other way to attract readers is to leave lots and lots of comments on other people’s blogs.  You meet so many great people and it’s fun to build relationships.

Q: Your projects always look so well made to me. Meticulous really! Do you consider yourself a perfectionist when it comes to sewing? 
A: Hmm, I guess that depends on who you ask, but no, I really don’t consider myself a perfectionist.  I do try my best, but when it comes down to a project I’m not one to whip out the seam ripper if things get a little crooked.  I think lots of pressing, steam, and starch always make a project look better.

Q: How have you honed your skills? Taking a class? Just hours at the machine?
A: Yep, lots of hours at the machine.  And I really have only taken one class at my local quilt shop – for free motion quilting, but I ended up learning on my own before the class started.  I think most of the techniques and skills I’ve learned are from other bloggers.  I love trying out new things and new tutorials, so it’s definitely a great way to build knowledge.

Q: What do you find yourself thinking about while you sew? (I ask because for me, it is a unique experience… Sometimes I am focused so completely on the project that I lose all track of time and everything going on around me. But at others times, I find I do my best “deep” thinking about concepts and issues in my life. I really love both of those feelings and wonder whether other people who sew experience them!)  
A: That’s super interesting because I’m a thinker when I sew.  I don’t focus too much on the sewing and what I’m doing itself.   It’s usually a quiet time for me to relax and just enjoy the long stretch of uninterrupted focus.

Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice for a novice sewer?
A: Keep trying new things, don’t be scared of trying something you’ve never done before, even if you make a mistake (or lots), you learn so much from them.

Q: When do you find the time to sew? Do you sew every day?
A: I usually only sew at night when the girls are in bed.  I don’t usually watch much tv, but I also stay up pretty late sometimes.  And lately I’ve only been sewing 3-4 times a week, but it really depends on how motivatedI feel.

Q: When did you make your first quilt and how was that experience?
A: Ha, that’s good.  I made my first quilt from Sew Darn Cute, the spumoni quilt.  I followed everything to a ‘T’.  I love how it turned out, but wish I would have been a little more handy with a walking foot back then (and wish I would have bought a quality one)!  You can read about it here. ps, it also helps that the pictures are pretty small, otherwise you’d see how the fabrics pulled without a descent walking foot.

Q: Do you have a favorite quilt you’ve done? If so, why is it your fave?
A: My favorite quilt is this one:  for two reasons, one being that the fabrics are just beautiful and soft, the other being that it was made as a gift and I love making personal and usable gifts like quilts.

Q: You've written that you love attaching a binding by hand. What is it about that activity that you love?
A: Nothing really secretive, but just being able to sit on the couch and watch a movie with my husband and still be productive.  I also love being cuddled up under something that is almost finished!

Q: Many of your tutorials and patterns are for adorable handbags, totes, pouches.  How did that become your niche?
A: I’m not really sure I guess.  I have some sort of weird fascination with zippers.  I love that you can make really useful and pretty things.  And most of the time I can’t stand store bought versions because they just look so cheap!

Q: I love the way you mix neutrals, often in linen form, with bright cotton prints. How did that style develop? A: I just love linen.  It’s just a nice resting spot for the eye.  Mostly influenced by blogs like Pink Penguin and I heart linen.

Q: What's your go-to place to shop for cute fabric? 
A: I have lots!  I really do love my local quilt shop though, seeing fabrics in person is always so much better (but at the same time not as friendly on the budget, hehe).  Plus, they carry a lot of the modern designers and even cool Japanese prints! I also love it when I get to visit Crafty Planet in Minneapolis.  Online shopping I love: Pink Chalk Fabrics, Hawthorne Threads, Sew Mama Sew, and Fabricworm, but there are tons of others I frequent!

Q: What’s on your sewing bucket list? A project or technique you want to attempt, but haven’t?
A: I have a very long to-do list that I keep tucked away most of the time, but I’m really wanting to make a quilt for my own bed and a t-shirt quilt made up of my old swim shirts!

Q: Following up on that, what are you waiting for?
A: I always ask myself that (mostly because I think the hardest part is getting started on a project, I usually like to let things roll around in my head for a good long while).

Q: OK, one non-sewing question! I read that you swam competitively for 12 years. I did so for 10! Yay swimming! What was your best event, and do you still swim now?
A: Yay, yay yay!!! I’m so excited that you were a swimmer too!  It’s so awesome to hear that as it seems like forever since my swimming career ended (after college).  I really haven’t swam much at all, but I think this summer would be a great time to start swimming laps at our local pool!  How about you? Where did you swim?  I swam from the La Crosse (WI) YMCA and then swam from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, I got to travel to so many cool places and it’s also where I met my husband (in a round about sort of way). 

That's it! To answer Anna's question, my 10 years of swimming only took me through high school. I swam for our high school team and for a summer team at a country club. At times, I wanted to be on the Y team, but my parents didn't want us to take it so seriously, I don't think. Although I usually begged and got my way if it was something I really wanted, so I must not have wanted it that badly. It's funny though because sewing and swimming have some things in common... I used to spend my time swimming laps thinking about all sorts of things. Now sewing is that time for me, when my brain gets a chance to work through things. Love that!

Thanks so much to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions. As a blogging newbie, this was exciting for me. I have two other fantastic bloggers lined up and hopefully will continue this Sewing Circle at least through the summer. So if there is someone you'd like to see interviewed, please suggest them!

Linking up at....

Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. Fun! I always like learning more about my favorite bloggers! ;0)

  2. What a great interview. I love it when you can tell a lot of thought and effort went into those questions. Great job! :)

    Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :) Hope you'll visit Serenity Now again soon!

  3. thanks krista for having me. :)

  4. Enjoyed reading this! Such a fan of Noodlehead- it's nice to learn a little more about the gal behind it! Anna's work is perfection. And I ALSO was a competetive swimmer from the age of 8 through highschool. :) -Erin

  5. Fantastic interview, Krista. I am a huge fan of Anna's blog and her amazing work.