Hello fellow Sewcialists! Welcome to the last post of In-Seam Insights. I hope that this series has given us all a little more insight on how we each have been dealing with the pandemic and everything else that has been going on individually with our lives. I could write more, but I feel like these interviews convey more than I can ever say. A big thank you to Maggie, Emily, and Justin! Without further delay, let’s get this last interview started!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and how you got started sewing.
My name is Justin (or @justinmakesmyown on Instagram), and I live in New York City. Even though I have owned a sewing machine for over 15 years, I did not have an active sewing practice until April or May of this year. The reason why I started was actually because of COVID-19.
2. 2020 started off strong and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. How has this year affected your life?
In order to improve her family’s financial situation, my sister decided mid-life to make a career change to nursing. Little did she know she would graduate at the start of the pandemic! The first few months were trial by fire as she watched her hospital, floor by floor, become 100% COVID affected. When it became clear to me that she did not have some of the most basic supplies, including masks, I decided to dust off my sewing machine and make some. I could not wait for fabric to arrive by mail for the first batch (I made over 40 that week), so I tore up old office shirts and t-shirts. To my surprise, I continued sewing after that, completing a number of menswear pieces, including button down shirts, pants, shorts, and even a couple of hats. I also discovered the online sewing community, indie sewing patterns, and sewing podcasts. It’s been an adventure all within my quarantine home.
3. How does this translate into your crafting? Do you feel like you’ve crafted more or less? Does this help alleviate stress or does crafting become too stressful at times?
I have noticed that as I have gotten older, the influence of stress on my crafting has greatly diminished. When I knitted garments in my twenties, I would get hung up on small mistakes, sometimes to the point of leaving projects as UFO’s (unfinished objects). I don’t fuss over mistakes anymore! Maybe it’s because I have learned to fix errors, or at least fudge them. I also now cherish small “quirks” in my handmade wear, and I also understand that most people (including myself), do not see most mistakes when I wear them. This freedom from worry means that I complete ninety percent of the projects I start. I have even returned to UFO’s, some of which I have dragged with me from apartment to apartment for over 15 years, and have finished them.
4. How do you feel your country has handled the pandemic?
I have friends who passed away from this disease, and family who were affected. I continue to pray that we can get out of this in one fairly intact piece. I do feel that the impact could have been mitigated in our country, and that our leaders should have set a better example of how we can control the spread and exemplify Love Thy Neighbor. However, I have hope. I saw how the majority of my community shifted its mindset to adhering to safety precautions like wearing masks and physical distancing. I was thrilled to join public support for our essential workers. I witnessed neighbors addressing issues such as job loss and food insecurity.
5. Do you feel the sewing community has stepped up to support one another? Are there ways in which it can better improve itself?
I follow with great interest how the online sewing community has initiated conversations on a number of issues, including the support of black and minority sewists, size and gender inclusivity in patterns, and environmental sustainability in sewing. At a fundamental level, these conversations demonstrate a desire to create a more inclusive community and recognize the diversity of sewists. I hope that by bringing these issues to mind to a wider audience, change can happen.
6. If 2020 has any takeaway, what would that be for you?
That there is so much to learn about myself. Like many people, I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to the “new normal.” But even within this new normal, I found new outlets for creativity and social connection. In addition to sewing, I continued to educate myself on practices around sustainability, food preservation and social justice. And I incorporate these learnings into how I lead my life. 2019 Justin would not recognize 2021 Justin.
7. What are your hopes and aspirations for 2021?
I consider myself to still be a beginner, or at least at the beginning of my sewing journey. I still have a lot to learn! In 2021, I want to jump head first into knitted garments, mostly because I need some basics like sweatshirts, t-shirts, and undergarments. In terms of larger goals, I’d like to attempt a boiler suit and a jacket or two.
8. What socials do you have if people want to follow along with your journey?
My Instagram account (@justinmakesmyown) is a free-for-all covering all my “making” endeavors, not just sewing. I also knit, mend, cook, bake, garden, ferment and do other activities that are easily photographed. I do have to say that my sewing posts receive the most attention. I guess less people are interested in my sourdough or kimchi.
Hello! My name is Chris and I currently live in San Diego, CA. You can find me @Imthatbrujastitch on Instagram where I post all of my makes.
Great interview Chris, thanks for sharing, I am now following Justin on Instagram as a result, he clearly has such a talent for knitting and sewing.
Wow! Impressed how quickly you advanced with your sewing skills. And envious of your knitting ability. That fisherman sweater is to die for..!
My cousin also got into sewing via covid masks. He had never sewed before, but cranked up the sewing machine from the garage and got to work. He made TONS of masks, following great (but somewhat complex) instructions from a sewing blog. I’m very proud of how he translated his handyman skills into sewing.
Great series Chris. Justin looks like he really loves what he’s making as well. That’s a bonus.