Sewing has traditionally been the domain of women, but its commercial aspects—like fashion design and pattern creation—have, until relatively recently, been a boys' club. Now, more women than ever are making names for themselves, not only in couture design houses and high fashion runways, but also through how-to blogs, unique pattern lines, and more. Check out these ten women who are making waves in the world of sewing!
1. Sarai Mitnick
Sarai Mitnick was working in tech in Silicon Valley when she realized her calling was elsewhere. Together, she and her husband started Collette Patterns, a web-based company that designs and sells beautiful modern clothing patterns for the home sewist. The site is a staple for home sewists thanks to the wealth of resources on offer, including sew-alongs of various Collette Patterns that can help beginners master the tricky bits, and plenty of tips and tricks for getting the perfect finish.
2. Tilly Walnes
UK sewist Tilly Walnes proves that with practice and patience, anyone can learn to sew. She was working an office job in the film industry when a dressmaking class she was taking for fun turned into something more. She started working full time as a sewist, designing patterns and blogging about the experience. She gained national attention in Britain when she was featured on The Great British Sewing Bee, and now her blog and books have become handy how-to guides for fellow sewists.
3. Gretchen Hirsch
Gretchen "Gertie" Hirsch is known as much for her signature vintage style as for her fantastic guides to sewing. Before her sewing work took over, she was a children's book editor, but she left that job to pursue the opportunities that her "hobby" afforded her, including teaching classes, blogging and writing articles, and, of course, creating beautiful sewing projects herself. Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing itself is a great resource for sewists, and you can also find lots of Gertie's video tutorials and even register for online classes.
4. Vera Wang
Vera Wang may be best known for her bridal wear—in fact, she's probably one of the best known designers of bridal wear—but in recent years she's branched out into other areas of commercial fashion, including a line for Kohl's. Most designers tend to stick to one area, especially if it's as distinctive as bridal, but her bold modern style translates well into other arenas. She's even developed patterns for home sewists, both of bridal wear and everyday looks.
5. Anna Maria Horner
Unlike some of the other women leading the sewing revolution, Anna Maria Horner always knew she wanted to be a maker. She started with designing her own clothing line, which she sold in her own retail store, and then branched out to creating other handmade resources, including a line of fabrics, sewing books, and more. In addition to her own creative projects, she's also the spokesperson for Janome Sewing Machines.
6. Sarah Burton
Now the head designer at Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton joined the fashion house in its early days. Newly out of design school, she was surprised by the hands-on approach McQueen took to his designs, but she found it improved her own skills and gave her insights into how she could manipulate materials. Following McQueen's suicide in 2010, Burton was tasked with bringing the fashion house forward as its head designer, and her focus on craft shows in every design.
7. Amy Butler
"Designer" might be too small a word for Amy Butler. She's worked on books, fabrics, patterns, and more. She and her husband started the studio Art of the Midwest to focus on helping other creative types get the material they need to finish their projects, whether it's a custom designed fabric or the perfect illustrations for a book. Despite the fact that her work takes her in many directions at once, for Butler, the focus in her designs is on simplicity— creating a welcome break in a hectic day.
8. Stella McCartney
Fashion designer Stella McCartney creates looks that prove that sharply tailored lines and crisp angles don't have to look masculine. Her fashion is modern in more than just looks, however. As a vegetarian herself, McCartney designs without using leather or fur, opting instead for vegan alternatives. She chooses sustainable materials for her fashions as well, including ethical sourcing and natural fibers.
9. Rebecca Arnold
Dr. Rebecca Arnold isn't your typical mover and shaker of the sewing world. She's not a fashion designer or a blogger, but her influence is still all over the internet thanks to her Instagram profile, @documenting_fashion. By trade, she's the Senior Lecturer in History of Dress & Textiles at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, but on Instagram, she helps break down the nuances of fashion, both everyday and haute couture, for home sewists and consumers. Scrolling through her feed is like a masterclass in the essence of design, and how it's changed over time, and definitely a must for any aspiring designers.
10. Jennifer Moore
Jennifer Moore left her job at CNN to found Sewing Report, a website that provides resources for sewists on all kinds of topics, from quilting tips and tricks to how to find fabrics. Moore draws on her background in content creation to craft videos and articles rather than focusing on pattern design or creating her own fashion line. For her, the goal is to help other sewists discover their passion by helping them with the sewing itself.