Contributor post by: Shauna Alterio

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Ashley Anna Brown
Northampton, Massachusetts
Secret Holiday

SA: When did you begin sewing?
AAB: I'd say my first sewing tool was a basic needle and thread. My sister and I would marvel at the beautiful hand sewn quilts (often incomplete) that our great great great grandmother and her daughter made. My mother's great grandmother taught her to sew and she passed those teachings down to me, starting with slow hand piecing and little stitches. But I never had the patience to complete anything. I was about twelve years old when I made my first twin size quilt on a sewing machine. It felt amazing to complete something of that size. I'm still working up the nerve to start a full size quilt that I will sew completely by hand.

SA: What do you make with your sewing machine?

AAB: I make all sorts of things! I mostly make birds (usually for wedding cakes) and tiny little animals, but I love quilting too, when I can find the time. I sew something every single day. No lie.



SA: What machine are you currently using? What are the brands you love and the features you can't live without.
AAB: My sewing tools are far from fancy. Honestly. My number one can't-live-without, better-never-lose tool is actually an old screw driver I "borrowed" from my dad years and years ago. It's the best stuffing tool I have ever used (and I have tried it all!). It's small and light enough to easily grip in my hand, but the tip is big enough to stuff without piercing a hole in my work. If you've been looking for a dream stuffing tool, start scouring your local flea market or thrift store for one of these amazing little screwdrivers. You'll never need anything else.

AAB: My other favorite tool is my sewing machine. I've always used a basic home model (I like Brother or Singer). These work great, but if you use one every single day for hours at a time, it will get worn out pretty quick. Finally this little beauty, a commercial-grade Singer, came into my life. It isn't the fanciest sewing machine, but it is powerful and I don't feel guilty using it every day. You can hear its' power when you step on the pedal, but it won't break the bank.


SA: What's tools are on your wish list? 

AAB: I don't really day-dream about new tools. I like to keep things simple. But if I had to choose something, I would say that some day I would like to invest in a pair of Gingher scissors. Those may change my life. I should probably just do it already. 

SA: Tell us about someone else working with similar tools that inspires you.

AAB: I admire many fellow sewers. It's so hard to choose just one, so here are a few of my very favorites: 1. Sian Keegan, 2. Enhabiten, 3. Abigail Brown, 4/6. Tiny Happy, 5. Astulabee.

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Shauna Alterio is a designer and one half of Something's Hiding in Here. Together with her partner Stephen, she can be found dabbling with all sorts of tools and techniques from letterpress printing to sewing. The duo added haberdashers to their list of titles this year when they created FORAGE, a line of bow ties made from vintage fabrics in limited editions.

blog: somethingshidinginhere

shop: FORAGE.bigcartel

Jan Halvarson


Will @ Bright.Bazaar said...

Such a lovely interview and being new to sewing I found it very inspiring. Thanks for the tips!

Skatan said...

I just love this blog...I have visited you many, many times but never left any trace :)Today is a good day to say hi...


Lo said...

So inspiring! I love sewing when I don't get frustrated all of the time! I have a trusty singer as well! :) - Lo

Anonymous said...

such a beautiful interview, thank you Jan & Ashley Anna

shauna said...

thanks so much ashley. i'll never forget setting my alarm clock trying to buy your fern animals from your etsy shop. they always sell so quickly that i had to wait for months to get my very first one.

Jacaranda Designs Jewelry said...

Her creations are adorable! I recently pulled my sewing machine out after several years of not using it. I used to be an avid sewer but life just got so busy with children. After reconnecting with my machine and sewing myself a couple of summer dresses, I'm now hooked on sewing again!

Jan Halvarson said...

shauna, that's so funny - setting your alarm clock!

so inspiring!

Skatan - thanks for the kind words!

Margie Oomen said...

i set my iphone alarm so i totally understand what shauna is talking about.
The most awesome fern animal ever in my mind is the custom one ashley made , patchwork style with antlers out of tiny bits of liberty of london fabrics that I sent her. I gave it to my eldest daughter for her birthday and she treasures it.

Ashley Anna Brown said...

Thanks everyone!

Shauna & Margie - You're both the sweetest and have been a huge source of encouragement & inspiration for me. xo!

Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this new series Shauna... I am honored and so excited to see who's up next!

Melissa Crowe said...

Buy the Ginghers! I have four pair--regular embroidery, knife-edge embroidery, knife-edge craft, and sheers. I also have the pink sheers, and I don't recommend them, so they don't count. They're the only chink in the Ginger armor.

Letty S. said...

Loved this blog post. Im reposting it tomorrow on my blog