Finding her stitch mojo early on, garment sewist and entrepreneur Megan Brown had family role models to inspire her. Now she makes a business out of her sewing and embroidery creativity, creating unique garments and accessories that bring fine craftsmanship to textiles that people can use every day.
How did you find yourself on a creative path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I would say I kind of fell onto the creative path and never really strayed. But, like most hobbies, my craft has certainly evolved—and continues to do so!
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From a very early age I can remember hand-stitching rather, erm, avant garde clothes for my Barbies. I used old socks (we call that upcycling now, wink wink). I watched my aunt, a professional upholsterer, at work. Once or twice I joined her on the pilgrimage to purchase fabric from what I recall as being cavernous and overwhelming warehouses full of textiles. I was in awe of the way she could choose one of those enormous bolts for a project. She transformed a neighbor’s raggedy old piece of furniture into a fresh statement piece they could be proud to display.
That translated into garment sewing as I watched her teach my mom the basics of sewing. Mom could then make me Halloween costumes and sundresses from quilting cotton with fun patterns. Those dresses were my favorite things to wear; I constantly received compliments from teachers and even strangers when we’d go out shopping.
Why textiles? What appeals to you about handmade garments and accessories?
There is something so exciting about being able to sort of conjure the “mundane” things people take for granted. I’m always tickled by the puzzled response from people when they find out I make my own garments. ”Why not just buy them?” I then slowly explain the obvious (“You know, someone made your clothes, too…”) and then just bask in their expression as the lightbulb turns on. I figure, we’ve gotta wear ’em, so why not have fun with our clothes??
What motivates you creatively?
At the risk of sounding like a control freak, well, control! I love choosing everything from the fabric to the fit, all those little details down to the buttons and thread.
How do you decide what to make?
Oftentimes, I’ll just let the fabric speak. I’d love to say I follow a very disciplined process of identifying key pieces I’m missing in my wardrobe and then making them (and sometimes that is the case!), but sometimes I’ll just get hold of a fabric that I simply must have, and I decide – based on the hand of the fabric, the texture and even color – what I feel like it “wants” to be.
How do you keep your skills fresh? How do you get better at what you do?
Research, research, research. I constantly watch YouTube to sharpen up those techniques, even if it’s something I sort of know how to accomplish. There’s almost always someone out there who’s been doing it longer and/or who has found a more efficient way to tackle some tricky technique.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I love the little details. Most of my table linens are hemstitched meticulously to give them an heirloom-worthy finish. Then, in a lot of my handmade garments, I like to employ hand-stitching in things like hems and embellishments to give them a truly unique touch.
When beginning a project, do you pre-plan your entire endeavor or do you simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
I always go in with a plan… and then 75% of the time I’ll stray from it once I get going. I always keep an open mind going. You never know when new inspiration might strike as the project evolves!
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I do! I was very fortunate to find myself with a spare bedroom to serve as a studio when my husband and I bought our first home three years ago. I’ve loved turning the room itself into a work of art by reupholstering some older furniture pieces in a favorite Rifle Paper print fabric and tying fun patterns and colors into my decor. Aside from my sewing workstation and machines, my favorite feature of the room is a mid century desk from my grandmother’s house that I refinished in the dreamiest soft gray milk paint.
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
With an embroidery-centric business, I find myself reaching for my roll of tear-away stabilizer a lot. I had no idea how much of that stuff I’d go through! But it’s the everyday tools, like my Gingher scissors and Chaco Liner pen, that I’m most grateful for when I’m trying to get through a project. Those little basics make quick work of the more tedious tasks. Almost as important as the tools themselves are good storage options! I have a set of metal pegboard panels hanging over my workstation where I keep all those things as well as my measuring tools, pattern weights and tailor’s hams hanging at the ready.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I’m hopelessly addicted to true crime podcasts—like, all of them. But when I really need to focus, I keep classical playlists streaming constantly or even put on some jazz records from my collection.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people, or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
I think creativity comes in many different forms. While it may manifest more apparently in some people, everyone has that spark. It’s all about finding your own niche and letting your imagination run wild.
How can people overcome the challenges they feel to their creative ability?
For me, one major obstacle was to stop puzzling over what other people would like or what’s “trendy” and staying true to my own style. There are tons of on-trend makers out there at any given time. Following a cookie-cutter path and pursuing those fads may garner some attention in the short term, but it’s just not sustainable for a creative who wants to really nurture their craft.
When you started to sew, were you making just for fun or did you always envision it becoming a business?
Totally for fun! I couldn’t even fathom all the possibilities that would open up to me when I first picked up a needle and thread.
Tell us about your blog and/or website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting? Can they purchase your work there?
One of my goals this year is to transform my site, previously a kind of sewing journal, into an ecommerce platform. For now though, my work is available for purchase at my Etsy store, and the website still features a blog detailing my favorite “makes” in my handmade wardrobe.
Interview posted January 2022
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