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Sew Ribbon Ready with Elaine Schmidt
Sewing Savvy: Elaine, while you describe yourself primarily as a ribbon crafter, what else do you do?
Elaine Schmidt: I'm a fabric addict, ribbon hoarder, button and bead collector, yarn and thread junkie, and sewing geek who grew up "always making something." Brought up learning proper traditional techniques by my mom, I now enjoy bending the old-school rules a bit and "coloring outside the lines." Never happy to do one thing at a time, I always have several projects going on. I'm a hands-on designer creating fun projects with fabric, ribbon, needle and thread. I develop new product lines for creative-industry manufacturers and work with them to inspire their consumers and promote innovative uses for their products.
SS: What ignited your enthusiasm for sewing?
ES: I learned to sew and do all types of needlework from my mother -- starting as a child sitting by her side on the front porch to taking over her sewing machine as a teen for a "designer" ensemble. And as long as I can remember, I have loved collecting ribbons, trims, buttons and all types of embellishment treasures.
SS: How did you turn your childhood hobby into a career?
ES: My love of sewing inspired me to study textiles and design in college. One of my first jobs after school was working for Vogue and Butterick pattern companies, and that led to several other positions, including being the design coordinator for a chain of ribbon boutiques called The Ribbon Outlet Stores. There I worked with the buyers to select products and to create as many different types of projects as I could to show our customers how to use ribbons -- from floral work to kids crafts to home decor and sewing designs.
SS: You used your experience to build your own business. What does that entail?
ES: I have designed and written instructions for thousands of ribbon and sewing projects, and recently, I authored a complete guide to ribbon crafts. I continue to design and develop products for several manufacturers in the sewing and quilting industry through my company, Elaine Schmidt Designs.
SS: Why do you still like working with ribbons after all this time?
ES: Sewing with ribbons continues to be my favorite area of design and exploration. The array of ribbons now available to sewers and quilters is truly amazing. I am a big fan of Renaissance Ribbons. They work with the top fabric designers to develop collections of woven ribbons that are beautiful, elegant and always on-trend for design and color.
A touch of ribbon adds just a touch of interest and texture to any project, and sewing with ribbons isn't difficult. I have written up a tutorial of my favorite tips for sewing with ribbons for the Renaissance Ribbon blog.