Looking for inspiration about starting a sewing business? We’ve got some good stuff today!
In our Sewing Inspiration series, we chat with different sewists 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, all eyes are on Laura Jacquemond, an American artist living in France. Laura is the creative mind behind Blue Terracotta, where she designs, makes and sells uniquely beautiful fabric art. Her luxury textile accessories range from hair pieces, to fabric brooches to tiny embroideries. Laura specializes in mesmerizingly detailed fabric insects including bees, dragonflies and butterflies. Skim through her site and you’re instantly transported to a childhood memory filled with wonder and whimsy.
As an environmental sustainability advocate, I really l love that Blue Terracota uses “sumptuous upholstery leftovers” that may have otherwise been tossed in the landfill. This is my favorite kind of design – a fabulous use of “scraps” made into artwork with a purpose. In this case, the purpose is to elevate your look whether its an every day event or a special occasion. In short, Laura’s artwork is really cool.
Laura recently made pdf patterns available so you can try your hand at making a lovely art creation too.
How did you first get started sewing?
Beginning at around eight, I started making clothes for my dolls, and when a neighbor told me I’d be making clothes for myself soon, I couldn’t imagine it, that seemed too hard.
When I was thirteen in Home Ec class, and had made fast work of the drawstring gym bag project, (I found it an unambitious assignment) the teacher taught me to read patterns, lay out, cut and sew my first garment, a pair of pants. She taught me skills and self-confidence, opening a door to magical possibilities. A few months later dad bought me my first Singer machine. After that, I was unstoppable. I’ve been sewing for myself and my family ever since.
What was the path to creating your sewing business?
I studied sculpture at UMass, creating mostly pieces in ceramic imprinted with textured fabrics, burlap, linen, lace. After moving to France (to marry my sweetheart), studying French literature, doing a stint in teaching English as a foreign language, and home-schooling my children in English as they attended school in France as well, I longed to get my hands on clay once again and made a collection of ceramic mosaics, the clay imprinted with beautiful French vintage laces.
My etsy shop opened in 2008 with the mosaics for sale, and as my customers were in the US, shipping wasn’t cheap, in fact shipping costs seemed to creep up and up. So I made the switch to 100% textile products and I used scraps, remnants, end-of-series rolls, vintage fabrics, whatever I could find and rescue from the landfill.
In 2012 I left my part-time teaching job and this year, my daughter and I are opening an online school to teach embroidery and textile sculpture.
Where do you look for sewing inspiration?
For my themes, I look to art for inspiration, particularly my favorite artists including Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Maria Sibylla Meriam. My favorite sculptor is Claes Oldenburg, of the humorous soft sculptures!
I also find inspiration in visiting Natural History Museums, and independent clothing designers such as Nuit Clothing Atelier, Sisters of the Black Moon, and Noctex, all of whom are concerned about reducing textile waste.
Another source of inspiration is fabric itself: vintage fabrics, upholstery catalogues when I can get my hands on them, lace…often, the fabric comes first and inspires the sculpture or piece of clothing.
What is your advice to a beginner sewist?
My advice would be as follows:
- Practice, practice, practice, on scraps first to reduce anxiety.
- Learn about fibers and fabrics, and use high-quality materials.
- Create sturdy pieces that will last for a long time.
- Don’t throw fabric away. Instead, give it away or at least drop it off at a textile recycling bin if you have to get rid of it.
- Build your fabric collection little by little by:
- asking family and friends who may have unused fabrics or scraps
- asking for free scraps, remnants and catalogues at your local upholstery shop
- putting the word out that you’re looking for fabrics; you will begin to get bags of fabrics from unexpected donors
- searching your local thrift shop for drapery, table linens, lace, quilts, sheer curtains and more
What is your favorite thing to sew/make?
My preferred garment to sew is a skirt for myself. It’s a quick-win, near-instant gratification piece, and it’s so satisfying to wear something that I have made. We can all use a boost of self-confidence!
My favorite soft sculpture to make are moths, because I can use the scraps and small pieces of the most luxurious textured upholstery fabrics in my collection. Fabrics I’d never be able to afford by the yard. Textile moths can be created using all kinds of textures: furry, flocked, feathery, plushy, thick, spiky, wiry, shiny, decorated and layered with beads, embroidery, and anything else you can think of. You can download your pdf pattern here and make your own moth(s)!
More from Laura Jacquemond:
Barbie fashion shows featuring my original creations were regular events in my childhood living room. Real-people clothes were next and soon after that, a degree in sculpture from the University of Massachusetts.
France, just a plane ride away, became home in 1991, and that’s where I earned a Maîtrise in French literature and then began turning luxury fabric scraps into textile sculptures and accessories.
Thanks so much for stopping by and learning more about Laura and Blue Terracotta. For more sewing inspiration, feel free to swing by Laura’s site and peruse all the beautiful soft sculptures or read more from our Sewing Inspiration here with Arlington Sew.