Book Tour Stop: Stitch By Stitch by Deborah Moebes

I’m so excited to be a part of the Stitch by Stitch Blog Tour today, woohoo!  Author Deborah Moebes is here to answer a few of my questions, take us through a normal day in her life, and give us a peek at the book.  When I first “met” Deborah online a couple years ago she was working mainly on children’s clothing, but soon after that she switched gears and focused on her online Whipstitch fabric shop and the Whipstitch website.  This past year she opened her brick and mortar shop/studio, Whipstitch Lounge in Atlanta, published her book, and had a baby (her fourth). Wow. Isn’t that amazing? I can’t even comprehend that kind of craziness.

Stitch by Stitch is a how-to-sew book containing a number of lovely projects and patterns (the patterns are included on your very own CD). The projects range from home decor (piped cushions, zig-zag cafe curtains) to garments (belt, skirts, button-up shirt). I love that the projects are incorporated into the sewing instruction as exercises to build up solid sewing skills, so it’s great for beginners, but experienced sewists who already have a practiced skill-set will find plenty of challenging projects too. This book is definitely a must-have for both the sewing reference and the projects!

One of the BEST things about this book is that Deborah really puts her personality into her writing. And let me tell you if you don’t already know, this woman is stinkin’ hilarious. I just about died when I discovered the Power Phrases like “You’re the boss (not Tony Danza – YOU)” interspersed throughout the book to empower you as you sew. Who else can say “don’t let that machine sass you” in a sewing book? And you’ll have to read the book to find out which sewing mishap can “snap a needle and scare the crap out of you.” It’s great fun.

Here’s my interview with Deborah so you can get to know her a little better!

RAE: If I told you that everything had been taken care of in your life for a whole day and you could sew anything you wanted to without interruptions, what would it be?

DEBORAH: You’ll think I’m crazy, but I have this idea for a full-size vintage Chevy front end made entirely out of fabric–my parents used to have a salvaged one that hung on the wall above our patio and it was super cool.  I would love to do one and hang it in the shop. That makes me nuts. I know.

RAE: Do you have an absolute favorite piece of fabric of all time?

DEBORAH: As far as a single favorite print, I might as well choose my favorite of my children.  It depends on which one is making me the least crazy right now.  I do love Heather Ross’ Lightning Bugs collection, especially the goldfish and the VW buses.  And the Anna Maria print on the cover of the book is basically in my perfect colorway–the instant it came in on the bolt, I cut two yards for my mother and three for myself.  Yum. 

RAE: I have to admit the number one thing I wonder when I look at everything you’ve got going on in your life (family, store, blog, events, book, online classes) is how tha heck do you do it?  Can you walk us through a typical day?

6 am:  Wake up when child #2 comes downstairs. Lollygag as much as we can.
6:45 am:
Get up to give Child #2 breakfast and let the dog out, go upstairs and get Child #3 out of bed and change his diaper, give him breakfast, make lunches for everyone.
7:30 am: Bring kids #1 and #2 to school
8:45 am: Back home with two little ones, shower, dress, get #3 ready for preschool (two days a week)
9:30 am: Drop off #3 and go into the shop with #4 or head home and get some sewing done /
do housework, paperwork and bookkeeping if #3 doesn’t have preschool (because the laundry never, ever, ever stops, but it just HAS to get done)
1:30 pm: Pick up #3 (luckily his school is just a couple of blocks away), and then he and #4 both take an afternoon nap. Take a 30-60 minute break, just for my own sanity.  I have a snack, maybe watch some DVR from the night before.  If I’m paying attention, I get out some meat to thaw for dinner.
But then I kick it into gear, because I only get those two hours with no kids at all, and I feel foolish if I don’t use them well.  Nap time is when I write my blog post for the day and shoot photos–the light in my studio is best that time of day.  It’s also when I usually respond to email or make phone calls for the shop, follow up on orders, put out fires, that kind of thing.  I would love to say I sew during nap time, but most of the time I have so many other bureaucratic duties that have to get done during business hours. 
3:30 pm: Little ones wake up. Wrap up what I’m doing and plan for the evening and the next day.  PBS Kids is enormously helpful at this point. 
4:45 pm: My husband runs afternoon carpool, he and the older girls arrive home and we all drop everything to make dinner happen
5:30 pm: Dinner on the table, we all sit down together to eat, and bathtime for the three youngest is right after.  We do the bath routine, then read books.
6:15 pm: We get #2 and #3 in their beds (yes, really–it’s the only way to stay sane) and then I nurse the youngest and get her to bed.  Two or three nights a week I leave right after the kids go to bed to head to the shop and teach a class; on the nights when I don’t teach, my husband and I usually sit together and talk over our days for an hour or so, and then both work on projects until bedtime (he’s also self-employed, so there is always plenty of work to do!) This is when I am most likely to work on writing content for the e-courses, pattern testing, sewing various projects for the blog or the store, and planning events for the shop–no one needs me and I can be selfish in how I allocate my energy.  My husband and I do try to work in the same room, just so we can see each other, but also so we can cover all the operational tasks of home and family–my studio and our family room are connected, so we’ll put on some music or a Netflix and work side-by-side until it’s time to sleep.
10 pm: We like to be in bed by 10, but it’s usually 11 (and if either of us has a big deadline, it’s later).  

And then we get up the next day and do it all over!  They are very, very busy days, but we look at our lives now as a season, not as permanent: we both recognize that we’re in a place where we’re really seeing a ton of growth, and that it will level out as we go along, and that in the future we’ll go through another season of quiet. So we’re riding the wave, and working to keep our family at the forefront as we go so that when we come out the other end of this crazy period, we’ll have the most important things intact.  It has taken a lot of scheduling and trial-and-error to get my work outside of our home to be largely invisible to my kids–like getting them to bed before I leave the house–while also encouraging our family to recognize that both Mommy and Daddy have dreams and goals, and that we are a family ahead of, but not instead of, that. And I will say although we’re very busy, I am the happiest I have ever been in my whole life, and so grateful each morning when I wake up to learn that I am allowed to do what I love one more day.  It’s an amazing time, and I’m having so, so much fun!

RAE:  You just opened a hip new brick and mortar sewing shop in Atlanta AND you have an online presence.  One of the things I worry about is the disconnect between the younger online sewing community and the more traditional sewing/quilting industry (I’m thinking quilted vests here). I worry about the older fabric shops going out of business but at the same time feel frustrated that they don’t seem to understand that there’s a Sewing Revolution going on with the younger generation. What are your thoughts on this?
DEBORAH: I have oodles of women come in the shop who have been seriously dissed at more traditional stores and they’re a little broken inside.  It makes me feel ill when I hear stories like that, both as a stitcher and as a business owner.  The average age of the American quilter is 62.2, up from 60 last year.  And I think many shops see that and cater to that demographic.  But the core of my customers is 25-45, educated, intelligent, and very creative. My mission statement is to lead people to passionately love sewing, and I want everything I do to revolve around that, from the shop to the book to the blog to the e-courses, all of it.  I think that shops who miss that have forgotten that love of fabric and sewing is what got them into this business to begin with, and now they’re focused on doing what they’ve always done rather than sharing their excitement and enthusiasm about something they really love–with anyone who wants to learn, regardless of their background or age. I’m working hard to make sure there’s a place for all the younger folks to go to find modern sewing, both in Atlanta and online.
I think the older sewing community has a lot to teach us and offer in the way of techniques and skills and traditional patterns that some of the younger stitchers aren’t seeing or aren’t valuing.  I love the curtain project in the book because it touches on traditional Seminole Indian patchwork.  I’m teaching an English Paper Piecing class at the shop this month because I find the handwork soothing, love the look of the shapes, and I really value the connection to the past.  I wonder sometimes if the older brick and mortar shops don’t feel a little disenfranchised by this new movement, as though it’s made up of Those Crazy Kids and has nothing to do with them–and that to an equal degree the new young folks dismiss the older set as painfully outdated.  And the one doesn’t see that younger stitchers are essential to bring sewing into the new millenium, and the other neglects to appreciate that the older stitchers hold the history and culture of sewing in their hands.  I’d love to see more of a relationship between the two, and I’m hoping that the Sewing Buddy project will be a way to begin to see it happen, at least on a small scale.

RAE: I totally agree. Here’s to more connection in the sewing community, from all sides. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and life with us, Deborah! Your book is awesome and so are you!!!

You can watch Deborah give a little preview of her book with this movie from the Whipstitch blog or buy the book here.  You can see the full tour list here.

7 thoughts on “Book Tour Stop: Stitch By Stitch by Deborah Moebes

  1. I'm wondering if the "Snap a needle and scare the crap out of yourself" moment is when your machine is set to zigzag and you forgot to take off the zipper foot…Because that was my personal moment. And my first broken needle.
    Very nice interview! I'm tired just reading about her schedule.

  2. Oh wow this interview is incredible. I am so happy with all your questions and it's fascinating to hear the answers!

  3. Oh my, I'm tired now. I thought I had a busy schedule! You are right, Deborah is HILARIOUS… and she and her husband together? It doesn't get any funnier. I would love to get my hands on this book!

  4. I just purchased this book last week; after flipping through a friend's for 5 minutes I had to have it. I've never really sewn but I want to – and I can't wait to get my machine. Until then, I'll keep flipping the pages (I love that it's spiral bound).

  5. I honestly couldn't place my finger on the feeling I got when I went into a quilt shop a few months ago. You nailed it, Deborah and Rae. It was because I was young!

    I've been back once, but got 'the eyes' again. Lost my business.

    They do a bit online, but I love the community that I have found here and on other blogs.

    Thank you for the insight!

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