This week meet Rachel of Rachel Rossi Design! Rachel is freelance textile designer, creator of sewing and quilting patterns, and online interior design. Rachel designs patterns that range from quilts to aprons to home decor. Her patterns are easy to understand and focus on form, function and impact with the end user in mind. Keep reading to know more!
Why do you sew?
I sew because there's just something about fabric that calls to me. It's so different than anything else—you can do almost anything you want! I truly feel like there's nothing I can't make with fabric. I also love the communal aspect of it: Sewing has always brought together the generations in my family, Grandmothers, Mothers, Aunts, and Daughters. I truly hope that sewing is something I pass onto my little girl as well.
When did you started to sew? And what was your first make?
Oh goodness—when I was 3, I asked my mom to let me use the sewing machine. She decided that I should start with hand sewing (and a very blunt needle)...a very wise decision, if you ask me! I vividly remember "making" a skirt from my mom's fabric scraps for myself. I can still remember setting up my "sewing station" on the living room floor and the dark floral print on fabric that I used. I remember thinking that I was going to look like a princess when I was finished and trying it on again and again until the seams ripped. It's amazing how a hand-sewn tube of scrap fabric can transform into a princess dress!
When did you start to draft patterns? How was the learning process?
I've been making patterns since I was in 6th grade! I had a little stand at my school's annual craft show and sold scarves, necklaces, earrings, purses, and sewing patterns. I'd like to think that I've come a long way since then and have officially been in business for 3 years now. The most memorable piece of my learning process came in when I decided to have my patterns tested by people that I didn't know. I wanted to be sure that my patterns were good from start to finish, and I knew my family and friends were too nice to tell me that they were anything but perfect! It was really frustrating at the time, but I'm so very thankful to that brave first group of testers. I changed everything from my original pattern: page layout, wording, charts, images, fonts—everything that we take for granted when we read a good pattern! I still feel like I learn so much with every pattern test and love that I will always be learning.
Timber! Quilt pattern by Rachel Rossi
How is your creative/design process?
My design process always starts out completely different from the last one. Usually by the middle of my process things start to look familiar: pop it into my computer, tweak, make a prototype, tweak, back to the computer, tweak, send it out for testing, tweak, make another prototype, revise pattern, and publish. Sometimes there's a second round of testing in there too! It can be an exhausting process, but I feel so great when I can finally hit *publish* on one of my patterns.
How/where do you see yourself and your business in the future?
I've got some big dreams & that makes me so glad that I've found what I love at such a young age! These past 3 years have been full-steam production and I feel like I'm finally getting to a point where I've got my patterns down. I'd like to slow down on pattern production soon (maybe releasing 2 or 3 patterns per year, rather than 10-12 per year!) and get into the world of fabric design. Someday I'd love to write a book, own a quilt retreat center, and open my own quilt shop...don't worry, I've got it all planned out!
What sewing machine do you own? Is it the machine of your dreams?
I currently own a Janome. It's super basic—no computer screen, really not too much more than a few basic stitches, and I LOVE IT! I won't get rid of this machine until it sews it's last stitch. And that's only because I know they don't make the parts for it anymore. It's been through thick and thin with me and never given me any reason to switch! I also have a Brother that I inherited from my mother that I'll be using more regularly.
What is your favorite make ever? Why?
That is a tough question! I get a serious rush from sewing wallets—I have no idea why, so it would be a tie between my most recent wallet and my Shiplap quilt. I enjoyed Shiplap so much because it's on that quilt that I first learned how to do invisible machine-stitch appliqué. I was working on the design and having a hard time getting the crisp lines that I wanted, took a break and went to my Modern Quilt Guild meeting and learned about this technique! I raced home, ripped out all of the appliqué and redid it—I was never so excited about ripping seams!
Squared Fashion Wrap pattern by Rachel Rossi
What is on in the background while you're sewing?
Usually my daughter is jibber-jabbering, but if she happens to be napping I love listening to Trace Bundy and other talented musicians like him.
Which is(are) your favorite pattern(s)?
There are actually quite a few patterns that I haven't completely finished designing (or even sketching) that I know are going to be my favorites, so this question kills me! The funny part is, from what is available in my shop, my favorites are actually not my best sellers!
Who's your sewing/blogging/style/fashion/designer/quilter hero(s)?
Easy! My mom! My mom taught me how to sew and I watched her open and run an incredibly successful quilt store as I was growing up. I always loved wandering into her sewing room to see what she was working on and the smell of the quilt shop—she's my inspiration. I hope that I can be half of the woman she was in business and in the rest of my life. She's a fantastic hero to me because she was so real, down-to-earth, and believed that I could do anything I set my mind to.
What are your favorite sewing techniques?
I'm pretty crazy about invisible machine stitch applique right now. I think I like that it's incredibly easy and the lines are so crisp and clean!
What is your least favorite sewing technique/step?
Two words: Seam Ripping.
Describe yourself in 3 words:
My sister often refers to me as "beautiful chaos," and I can't really think of anyone who knows me better or would disagree with her. I know that's two words, but it hits the nail right on the head: I always take on way too much, dream way too big, or get way too invested, and right when everything looks like it's about to explode, it all works out perfectly...just like I planned!
3 Favorites - color, texture and fabric:
- Color: If you asked me my favorite color, I'd probably say red, but in reality, it seems like everything I own is some shade of Tiffany Blue or Mint. Tiffany Blue was our wedding color, my business logo is Tiffany Blue, our nursery is a lovely shade of what I call "vintage mint" (if we're being honest, I wanted our wedding colors to be vintage mint, but it's impossible to find anywhere but an antique store!).
- Texture: Is texture an answer for my favorite texture? I have a reputation for touching EVERYTHING—my family and friends always laugh at me. I'm especially guilty of touching wall surfaces to see if they *really* feel like they look. And if you're wearing a new outfit, you'd better bet that I'm going to touch the fabric at least once. If I could have a whole closet full of one texture it'd be double gauze.
- Fabric: Oh boy— I know I just said double gauze for texture, but if we're talking favorite fabric, I'd have to say any kind of Batik. I love some of the new modern designs that I've been seeing! I am fascinated by the process of Batik dying and love the organic look and vibrant colors.
3 things that make you happy:
- 1. My daughter, Alina (guys—I know every mom thinks their baby is the cutest, but she is gerber-baby-quality-adorable!)
- 2. Being outside—stick me outside with a garden trowel or a watercolor paintbrush, on the beach or in the woods—I don't care which, as long as I'm outside, I'm happy.
- 3. Being with family and friends. A big part of why I wanted to own my own business was so that I could focus on what's really important. The people in my life are so much more important than a paycheck and they are only here for today.
3 random things about you:
- 1. If I got another round of life after this one, I'd be an event planner and decorator. 2. I got my worst grade ever (a C) in my Home Economics class in high school...I was too busy helping everyone else with their sewing projects to finish my own projects...I think that's pretty funny!
- 3. Tomatoes are my favorite food—I eat cherry tomatoes like candy!
Life or sewing motto:
My mom once wrote me a note (she was the best note writer!) when she knew I was going to have an especially hard day and I'll never forget what she said: "Be as brave and strong as you are tenderhearted and kind." I think about that all the time. There are so many days where I feel anything but brave...and then there's day's where I'm feeling a little too brave, but no matter what, this pops into my head and I'm reminded of who I am and who I want to be.
Bandit Bib pattern by Rachel Rossi
Thank you, Rachel!
Enjoy 20% off on all Rachel Rossi Design patterns during this week! (Until Friday January 26th 11:59 pm CST)