We are so delighted to be working with Angela Lan! This young fashion designer will be blogging monthly for our Sewing Secrets blog using our FreeSpirit fabric and Coats threads in her educational series for young readers! She brings a youthful approach to sewing education with her trendy fashion sense and her easy to follow sewing style! Read more from Angela below!
Hello! I’m Angela, a 14 year-old fashion designer and blogger from lovespunk.com. I’m also the author of the newly released teen fashion design/sewing book #OOTD Sew & Style: Make Your Dream Wardrobe with Angela. Wow, that was a mouthful. Well when I’m not busy playing the aforementioned roles above, I’m a 9th grader in the Bay Area of California attending online school. I love to travel, read, shop, jam out to pop-rock and 80’s-early 00s music (Bon Jovi anyone?), and go on Instagram too often like any other teenager.
I would describe my style as a clean-cut version of street style with a touch of sophistication. Leather jackets, ripped jeans, and white tees are musts, but keeping it minimal and fresh.
How did you get started with sewing?
While my mom doesn't sew, I was a really crafty kid and wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I was introduced to knitting at the age of 4 by a friend and also crocheted, painted, and made jewelry. I made scarves, blankets, hats, earrings, sweaters, and more. Books were my go-to source and one day, while I was around browsing the knitting books at the library at age 9, I found the sewing books right next to the craft books and picked one up, thinking hey, this is something I should try.
Favorite sewing project?
My favorite and most proud project I've ever completed was a sleeping bag I made when I was 10 years old. It was for science camp and I was determined to make my own so I didn't have to bring my dad's. I probably did the most research I've ever did on a project and what do you know, there's not much information on the internet about how to make a sleeping bag. So I decided to design a layout for myself on graph paper, wrote myself some instructions using logic, and guess what materials I should use. It was just me, 5 layers and 15 yards of fabric including batting, waterproof rip-stop nylon, heat-reflective material, fleece, and Amy Butler’s cotton sateen. Sewing that thing was tough, just pushing the gigantic thing through the sewing machine was insane.
But in the end, at camp I had the prettiest sleeping bag that included a removable blanket and pillow that kept me warm in the mountains in mid-January. I still love that thing today.
How do you find trends? Where do you seek your inspirations?
Trends are all around us and existing in our daily lives; I usually like to seek out what’s popular right now, what others are wearing, what stores are coming out with, what popular bloggers are wearing, what I’m currently drawn to, etc. For me, I like to keep it realistic and in reality if that makes any sense. Sometimes there are trends that walk the runways that just won’t work for ready-to-wear (which is what I mostly design for) and I have this gut feeling when I see a piece/trend/design come out prior to its season. There’s a natural instinct to immediately know that that’s going to be the trend for the upcoming season. It all flows together in my mind.
For inspiration on my designs, I just design what I would like to wear, sometimes following the trends I find. It’s practical that way and since I’m a teen, it’s not hard to create garments that other teens would want to wear if it’s something I personally like in the first place. There’s gotta be someone else out there with a similar style, you know?
How was it writing your first book?
It was definitely a learning experience and a lot more work than I had imagined. The process was enjoyable though; I had a lot of fun doing what I loved and got to work with some amazing people along the way. I’m so grateful for the opportunity given by C&T Publishing.
Why did you write this book? Is there any “back story” that inspired you to write this book?
When I first started making my own clothes, I was still a relatively beginning and young sewer. I was mostly teaching myself, reading books and watching Youtube videos. However, while I wanted to dive into the world of self-made fashion, there was no "go-to" book or resource that could teach me the basics of sewing while creating clothes at the same time. There were the kid sewing books that taught me how to make potholders and pillows, but I wanted to make, well, clothes. Something that I could wear on a daily basis and show off. Then there were the beginner garment sewing books that were geared towards adults, so none of the included patterns were in my size and the wording was too complicated for my 10 year old brain. A couple years after my experience, I realized that the huge market of sewing books still lacks a complete, from start to finish, "design and sew your own clothes while learning how to sew" kind of book targeted towards teens.
What do you want readers of your book to learn? Any specific goals?
#OOTD Sew & Style is a fashion design and sewing book for tween and teen teaching them the basics of sewing while creating garments at the same time. My goal with this book is to teach
teens how to make store-bought looking clothes in the easiest way possible, step-by-step. The book starts off with the foundations of sewing, such as fabric types, types of stitches, basic sewing techniques, and then moves on into more garment-based techniques such as zippers and darts. From cutting fabric to zippers to french seams, it's a skill-building book that teaches the reader new techniques and helps her to practices these skills by making a new clothing item at the end of each chapter. After a making a couple of projects, teens can learn how to modify basic patterns to create totally different looks, such as turning a shorts pattern into a pair of pants.
Outside of sewing and looking at the bigger picture, I really want to inspire others to pursue their passion whatever it may be. Just go for it! You'll never know if you don't try, and if you do, you may end up with some amazing opportunities or accomplishments you can truly be proud of.
Where can people purchase your book?
My book is available in most bookstores and book retailers worldwide, both online and in-stores and available in paperback and e-book formats, including C&T Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo/Chapters, Target, Walmart, and iBooks (Apple Store).
Where do you see yourself going with sewing in the future? Is this something you are going to continue as hobby or would you like to be a fabric designer one day?
I definitely would want to continue with fashion and textile related works in the future, although I’m not exactly sure what I want to do yet. About being a fabric designer, that’s actually a funny question, haha since I was about to pursue textile design before deciding to write a book instead. I guess I found out you have to be able to get the idea from your head onto paper of some sort and I wasn’t the best at drawing. Writing, however, came naturally to me.
What types of fabrics do you like working with best?
I love working with out-of-the box textiles including home decor air mesh and nylon. Finding ways to make these fabrics wearable and practical while looking chic is a fun challenge for me. I also love any fabrics that press well (who doesn’t?) and air-y fabrics like voile and challis.
Anything that you haven’t learned in sewing or quilting that you are eager to do?
I think that technique and precision specifically in garment construction is something that I could always work on.
Any advice to other young people like you who are looking to start sewing?
Always finish your projects before starting another one! Kidding, haha. I have way too many unfinished projects sitting in my closet not to joke about it, but just take things at your own pace. Sewing is really creative outlet and meant to be a fun process.