How many people look at a fashionable bag and think, “That is beautiful, but I could never sew it?” In contrast, the next generation has no preconceived “can’t do”. In fact they “can do” anything. I would like to capitalize on that refreshing courage. With the right projects and instructions, all can learn at any age. An 11-year-old girl, Jena, called me a month ago wanting to know if I had the time to teach her to sew a quilt for her mother. Her attitude was not, “I could never make a quilt,” but, “Can you teach me?” This next generation has the time, energy, and desire to be creative. Young mothers have the motivation to be creative and keep everything within budget while remaining stylish and current. Women want to be the same, but also have a unique look. Sewing is a dying art. It can provide a creative outlet and facilitate confidence, self-esteem, problem solving skills, pattern following skills, and an ability to express oneself. I want to attract and motivate the young as well as the experienced woman, and teach skills that provide the creative look and the outlet they crave.
I have developed pattern designs for clothing and bags that are unique in that they take current styles that one finds in shops and put them in paper and instruction where the sewer can make them her own with a uniquely creative touch. The bags have metal hardware (with options of omitting hardware on some) that offers the projects a professional look. I even ventured into the world of printing a fitted evening or wedding gown with ruching. I hope sewers are not afraid to buy this one, thinking it might be too hard. I promise, it is a pattern the average sewer can accomplish beautifully. Some of my projects also try to solve storage or other practical needs. All designs are doable for most skill levels.
Some people must be born with creativity running through their veins. From the beginning , my Dad taught me, “You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to, Michelle.” For some reason I believed him. When 8 years old I asked Mom to teach me how to sew using patterns and the sewing machine. My little crocheting, knitting, and embroidery projects were not challenging me anymore. Mom was an expert, sewing everything from her beauty pageant formals to Dad’s dress shirts and even a suit. By 5th grade I was making most of my clothes and designing my own clothes in 6th grade. A favorite 6th grade project was a denim jacket with bandana collar and cuffs. The scratch paper for my ACT college entry test was filled with drawings of my prom dress I was creating for the next weekend.
International schooling and travel educated me in culture, history, music and art. From concert halls to parades down the cobbled stone streets of tiny villages I performed as a fiddler, violinist, and pianist throughout Asia, Canada, USA, and Europe. I studied humanities and history for 6 months in Vienna where I witnessed some of the most magnificent operas written and personally performed in parks and recital halls. I stood in front of Rembrandt portraits in the Louvre more than a dozen times. I marvel at the accomplishments of artists who extend their minds and create wonders. I am inspired by these experiences and artists. I try to be an artist in my own corner of the world and help others to be motivated to create extraordinary things.
After marrying I began sewing for others; curtains, pillows, prom dresses and wedding dresses. In the middle of the night I watched Princess Diana walk down the isle of St Paul’s Cathedral in a wedding gown with the biggest sleeves I had ever seen. With Diana inspired enthusiasm I designed equally big sleeves on my very next wedding dress. It was fantastic. More brides came to me wanting the same sleeves. Brides continue to challenge me with pictures of their dream gowns for recreation. I am inspired by fine fabrics, lace, beading, and color.
Transitioning into designing patterns was seamless. The decades of experience have taught me what is most effective in pattern layout and diagramming. These lessons are reflected in my patterns. My patterns are booklets, because who wants to fold and refold huge sheets of paper…and really, don’t you spend most of your time trying to figure out where you are on the page? Booklets can lay open next to your machine, while you turn pages easily keeping track of where you are. My diagrams are computer drawn to insure proportionate accuracy. In trying to anticipate questions, I include clear instructions and many diagrams. I am careful to identify the difference between lining layers, exterior layers, and all other layers with artistic images of fabric. Sizing charts are included, along with tips on unique skills required for the particular project. Our patterns are clutter free.
Mary Ashley Gavilanes
Mary, our illustrator, is a mother to 3 young children by day, and self-taught illustrator and pattern designer by night (and naptimes, lunchtime, in-between laundry, dishes, and diapers). As an editor, illustrator, and pattern designer for Golightly Sewing Studio since 2011, she has collaborated on many patterns for clothing, bags, and accessories.
Since childhood, sewing has always been a creative outlet for Mary; especially designing and piecing beautiful, complex quilts. While obtaining her B.S. in Biotechnology Business at Brigham Young University, creating intricately detailed diagrams became part of her learning method to piece together difficult concepts. The challenge of learning pattern illustration and design brought these two passions together.
She inherited the idea from her mother, Michelle Golightly, that she can do anything. Illustrating for this book (while raising children, giving birth, moving across the country, and buying a home) put that idea to the test. Native Utahan, Mary, her husband Jorge, and their 5, 3, and 1 year old children recently transplanted to Cumming, Georgia.