‘Pretty Birds’ Blog Tour Q&A with author and pattern designer Virginia Lindsay

virginia-800Hello folks! Today, I’m really excited to bring you a Q&A with Virginia Lindsay, creator of Gingercake Patterns and author of the Gingercake blog. From plushies and pillows to bags and birds, Virginia knows how to make good use of a pile of fabric scraps.

In her new book, “Pretty Birds!: 18 Simple Projects to Sew and Love,” Virginia, of Freeport, Pennsylvania, offers instructions to make feathered friends from downloadable patterns including cardinals, hummingbirds, parrots and flamingos. The patterns range from easy beginner projects to more complex that can be sewn by hand or machine. You can sample Virginia’s owl pattern here courtesy of the publisher. (I had some fun with this pattern and plan to reveal an extra little surprise this weekend starring a couple feathered friends inspired by this book.)

Read on to learn more about Virginia and her creative life…

How old where you when you learned to sew? Who taught you? How did that experience transform your life?
I made an ice cream cone pillow in Home Ec in 7th grade that I LOVED it. Then my mom and I tried to make a dress for me with I was 15. That was an epic fail but she bought me a nice sturdy White Sewing machine she saved for me and I started using 14 years later to make curtains and pillows for my home. Someone gave me a bunch of fabric scraps and I made the Wee Wonderfuls Archie and Olive dolls. I was in love! I guess you could say the internet taught me to sew- PDF patterns and free tutorials! My mom gave me support through the phone but she lives so far away that I had to learn it for myself!

What was your first sewing project? Was it successful?
After the curtain panels, my first sewing projects were those Wee Wonderfuls Dolls and then I made other softies- the Molly Monkey by Mmmcrafts, topsy turvy dolls, and simple skirts (I used the House on HIll Road Free Tutorial). YES! All of those were successful! Thankfully, I tend to forget all the fails although I know there were many :)

What kind of sewing machine(s) do you have?
Last summer, for my birthday, my husband bought me a Janome DC2013. It is delightful. Since I design patterns for beginners and I like to keep things simple, I wanted a simple and sturdy machine for myself. Before that, I used my old White my mom bought me in High School! I loved that sturdy simple machine and my kids still use it as they learn to sew. Here is a photo:

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What do you love about sewing? What do you dislike about it?
I love creating fun pretty and useful things. I love thinking 3-dimensionally! I love using beautiful modern fabrics and making handmade gifts for people. I don’t love getting bogged down in technical aspects of sewing. But technique is a big part of our craft and learning it is pretty important to making nice sewing projects!

When did you decide to turn your sewing into a business? Please describe your product line and what inspired it.
Well, I wanted to sew more than I had people to give things to and I wanted to earn extra money for our family since I was a stay at home mom and things were starting to get a little tight! I did a craft show and then opened an Etsy shop with some owl pillows. I had lots of lookers at my pillows and eventually sold them all. Thinking about all those lookers, I decided to create a sewing pattern for the Max Owl pillow and it was a steady seller in my shop. I created other sewing patterns from things that I liked and I found useful as a mom of young children- more pillows, crayon holders, art organizers, lunch boxes, etc. So, my love of decorating with cute handmade things inspired my line of sewing patterns and also wanting to make useful things for my family!

What do you wish you would have known about running a handmade business before you started?
I think knowing that you have to set boundaries and decide on work hours- just like a real job. I used to feel like I was constantly trying to squeeze in work time every moment I got some free time from my Mom duties. That was exhausting since I felt like I wasn’t really concentrating on my work and I was trying to get my kids occupied so I could answer emails. Now, I have help and designated work times and that makes me better at work and more present at family time.

How has your family life influenced your creative life and vice versa?
My kids are my inspiration for so many of my sewing patterns. I try to think of other people like me (since I think I lead a pretty typical life!) and what would be fun and useful to sew. I also think it’s important for my family to see me doing my own thing. I love hearing them tell other kids about my job and I can tell they are proud of me. That is the best!

Please finish this sentence: I’m happiest when….
When I finish a sewing project that I love!

What are you loving right now? Please tell us about a favorite book, album, recipe, craft tool, app, or whatever else is striking your fancy at the moment.
Right now I am loving tassels! I participated in the Ultimate DIY bundle and one of the ebooks by the Nester (aka Myquilyn) is all about tassels. Now I just want to add tassels to everything.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given about life? What piece of advice do you have to add to that?
I have received a lot of good advice but one story I always laugh about is when I was a teenager and my aunt Mary Ann told me that I needed to stop being an Eeyore (from “Winnie the Pooh!”) and start being positive. That meant- stop seeing all the bad things that could happen and that have happened and start looking at all the good things. Sometimes I still have to tell myself to stop acting like Eeyore. It’s funny to picture yourself acting like Eeeyore, right? It usually snaps me out of a rut and gets me thinking positive again. I think I would add that you need to let your interests be your guide and follow your gut in sewing. Your best projects are always the ones that come from your heart and not trying to imitate someone else.

Please share one thing from your bucket list – something you hope to accomplish during your lifetime.
This year I am turning 40 and I want to run a half marathon. I am freaked out just admitting that here now! yikes! But I think I am ready!

Go, Virginia! You can do it! 

Please name a talent you have and one you wish you had.
I have a talent to make something really cute. Like crazy cute. I wish I had talent to make something really chic- like crazy chic!

2581_Fabric-Stash-Cuties_PB_Running-PressWhat inspired you to decide to write a book about sewing birds? Do you have a favorite bird?
I do love birds! I think my favorite bird is a woodpecker that visits our feeder. But I also adore the Great Blue Heron even though I only see them rarely around here. This book was a collaborative effort with my original publisher, Rotovision. Rotovision contacted me with this idea and I was able to choose the birds I wanted to make and create all the looks I wanted. It was a really good experience working closely with them.

Ok, now for the bonus round of this Q&A:

Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?
dark
Coffee or tea?
coffee
Everything has a place or creative disasters?
I have to be in the middle here :)
Airstream or penthouse suite?
airstream!
Aprons as outerwear or only in the kitchen?
I have made like 20 aprons and never remember to put them on! haha.
Pins or no pins (when sewing?)
no pins!

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This was fun. Thanks so much or sharing some snippets from your life, Virginia!

**Now it’s time to go sample the owl pattern from “Pretty Birds” over here.

And be sure to check out the rest of Virginia’s blog tour!

2/25 You Go Girl!
2/26 Erica B. DIY Style
2/27 CraftSanity
2/28 Recycled Crafts
3/1 Sew Mama Sew
3/2 Lorelei’s Blog
3/3 FaveCrafts
3/4 S is for Sewing
3/5 Lori Greenberg
3/6 Killing It As A Grown Up
3/8 Pretty Things Blog
3/10 Sweet KM
3/11 Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts
3/12 Buzzmills
3/13 Girl Like the Sea
3/15 Cut Out + Keep

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