Looking for sewing inspiration? Thinking of starting a sewing business or sewing side hustle? We’ve got you covered with expert insights from sewing entrepreneurs and business owners!
In our Sewing Inspiration series, we chat with different makers about their sewing business and how they’ve found a way to blend sewing into work that they love. Learn about their inspirations, insights and more.
Today, it’s all about June McCrary Jacobs, author, pattern maker and sewing designer extraordinaire.
June is an award-winning fiction author and a sewing designer with over one hundred fifty-five original designs published in magazines, books, and on sewing industry blogs in the United States and the United Kingdom over the past decade-plus. She has self-published several of her books which makes it clear she’s a multi-talented creative.
How did you first get started sewing?
I have always loved crafty activities, since I was little. And sewing was the one I wanted to do the most but sewing machines were not easy to take on for a young girl at that time. So I mostly s
When I was eight years old my Grandma Emily taught me how to hand-embroider. Then I moved on to learning how to sew buttons to scraps of fabric which led to my sewing small pieces of fabric together to make doll clothes, simple quilts for my dolls and stuffed animals, and simple gifts for family and friends (embroidered handkerchiefs, embroidered pillowcases, etc.).
My breakthrough in sewing came the summer I was eleven years old when my grandma taught me how to make my first dress—start to finish—on her 1967 Brother sewing machine. I haven’t stopped sewing since that time!
In those days, the school district offered home economics classes such as sewing, tailoring, weaving and stitchery, and cooking. I took every sewing and tailoring class I could from grade 7 through grade 12. I had some awesome teachers to help me along my path of sewing beginning with my grandmother and moving up through the skilled teachers I learned from in high school.
What was the path to creating your sewing business?
I began designing my own patterns for home décor, gifts, accessories, dolls, baby blankets, etc., to use in our home and also to give as gifts back in the early 1990s. In 2007, I decided to try my hand at getting some of my original creations published in magazines and books. I wanted to share my love of sewing with other people and thought this would be a good way to accomplish my goal.
I began sending out submissions to as many magazine publishers as I could find on the internet. I worked diligently on learning the business, and pretty quickly I began receiving acceptances for my designs and even some commissions for projects they wanted to see in their publications.
I was fortunate to have over one hundred of my original designs published in magazines and books in the United States and the United Kingdom and on sewing industry blogs from 2008 through 2014.
I worked as a technical editor for one of the top manufacturers in the sewing industry for about a year. I edited the project instructions that were submitted by the fabric designers who had their fabrics manufactured by this company. I learned so much about writing concise instructions for consumer use which has helped me tremendously in writing my own sewing pattern e-books (see below).
When things began to slow down in the magazine business in around 2011 or so, I began writing fiction. I write Christian and clean, wholesome romance and also middle-grade fiction for children. Except for my first book, I have self-published all of my fiction books.
In 2019, I decided to go ‘indie’ on publishing my sewing creations. Now I publish my original creations in e-books which are for sale in the Kindle Store on Amazon. I produce these sewing pattern books all on my own—start to finish. I continue to write fiction, so now I have two creative outlets for my overactive imagination!
Where do you look for sewing inspiration?
I love flowers, birds, the ocean, mountains, and animals, so I am inspired by nature first and foremost. I also enjoy art, architecture, and history. I like to read books about artists, historic homes, and history. That usually gets my creative juices flowing.
Whenever possible, I visit art and history museums, botanical gardens, parks, and historic homes. Color combinations and designs on wallpaper, drapes, old dishes, etc., are very inspiring to my sense of design.
I also use my memories of the things I loved in my childhood years as a launching point for my children’s designs. I loved dolls, stuffed animals, accessories (purses, coin purses, etc.) and party favors, so now I design projects which fall into those categories and publish them in my sewing pattern books in the Kindle Store.
What is your advice to a beginner sewist?
When I was learning to sew the internet was not available to the public, so I learned how to sew from adults who were skilled and who were willing to spend time with me to instruct and inspire my journey as a sewist.
Now the internet is filled with videos, tutorials, social media groups, etc., which can help you to learn to sew and to assist you in advancing your skills. I also recommend visiting your public library to borrow sewing books which almost always include several projects you can make for yourself.
I believe when a person has a strong foundation of skills in whatever area they are pursuing, their confidence grows leading to a stronger foundation . . .
Learning to sew takes a lot of patience, so embrace the fact that you are a learner and move forward at a speed that is comfortable for you. In my sewing pattern books I stress that everything doesn’t have to perfect because I believe it’s more important to enjoy the process and by practicing you will increase your abilities.
Another thought, save your ‘mistake’ projects. The ones you would never want anyone else to see—you all know what I’m talking about! You’d be surprised how much you can learn from reexamining those disasters down the road to figure out what you did wrong. Take it a step further and figure out how to make it right/how to make it work. Believe me, even after sewing for decades and decades, I still have disasters I don’t want anyone to see.
The best advice I think I can give you is this — enjoy your sewing journey!
What is your favorite thing to sew/make?
A lot of people are surprised to learn that as much as I enjoy using my sewing machines to make clothes and quilts, my first love is hand sewing!
I love the relaxing rhythm of hand-embroidery and the simple joy of creating a beautiful Christmas ornament or a whimsical hand puppet or a sweet stuffed toy. I enjoy the challenge of creating a design with embellishments which make the project unique. Fabric yo-yos (Suffolk puffs), beads, buttons, ribbon, trims, and hand-embroidery are all elements I enjoy using when I create my projects.
My favorite items to make with my sewing machine are quilts. I particularly enjoy making quilts for babies and children for various charitable organizations. If you visit my Pinterest page you will see a board titled, ‘Quilts I Have Made’, that shows photos of some of my favorite charity quilts I’ve made in the past few years.
In closing, I would like to thank Jessica for hosting me as a guest on her fabulous website! I appreciate the opportunity to share with you all about my lifetime passion for sewing, and I wish you all the best in your journey as a sewist.
More about June
June’s published fiction works include three Christian romances; one clean, wholesome romance; one middle-grade historical adventure novel; and two middle-grade story collections.
She has published eighteen sewing pattern books in her ‘Sewing Patterns for Teens & Adults’ series plus two sewing pattern books for children in her ‘Kids Love to Stitch’ series. Learn more about her books on her author page or get the latest updates on her Facebook page.
Thank you for stopping by and reading about the fabulous June McCrary Jacobs and her sewing journey. There is nothing like some creative inspiration to get your “sew-jo” going! Be sure to check out more sewing inspiration about starting a sewing business.