Every Tuesday and Thursday this month, we’ve asked some friends to share with us about how they started sewing or how they’ve used their gift to teach someone else to sew. Our first guest is Joi Mahon, known for her fabulous fitting and as Designer Joi…..thanks for sharing with us today!
Like most sewers I started when I was very young around 5. Of course I did not use a machine then. I remember going to my grandmother’s farm and she let me dig through her stash and I would hand sew little doll clothes and my own creations. I never used patterns I Just looked at magazines and created things off of pictures. My grandmother always encouraged me and I have fond memories of playing in the attic at the farm house with vintage clothing and fabric and craft things of hers. This plays an important part later because when she passed away I inherited her “stash” which was pretty cool! When I was in 6th grade I joined 4-H and our county always supported sewing. I took the one and only sewing class from a mom of a club member. She was one of those who made you sew and rip to perfection. It took me over two weeks to make the most perfectly sewn jacket from a McCall’s Pattern. I think my mom still has this jacket but it was a blue printed cotton with a tiny flag print and a bright red zipper along with a hood, pockets and buttons. She pretty much taught me all the foundational skills and made me do it right! I have to admit when I teach beginners I do the opposite. I want to teach the love of sewing first and with that the perfection will come. People learn differently these days so even teaching methods need to be modern.
Sewing has always clicked for me and I mean it comes so easy that it is scary. I mean it when I say I never took at class ever again. Not that I did not have things to learn or perfect we all do and still do, but no one had to show me it just made sense to me. I truly believe the good Lord put my gift and talent into my hands and creativity which is really special and I value it so much. Some people just like to sew, but it is bigger than that to me. Everyone has something you just have to find it and use it for good it’s our responsibility.
So we had required sewing classes in 7-th and 8th grade but I was way advance so I sat in the corner doing my own thing while others struggled with a square pillow. In high school I did the same thing creating beautiful garments and if our teacher was ever gone I would teach the class under supervision of a substitute teacher. Around this time when I was 14 and ready for my first real job I was hired to work under a tailor and I did that all through high school and during breaks in college. I learned men’s tailoring, sewing bridal and special occasion, how to fit any and every body type you can imaging, alterations and pretty much anything I have ever needed sense. I also learned how to run a business, how to count money and do bookwork, how to talk on the phone to customers, how to work with any type of personality and many other things I value to this date. Of course I studied fashion design in college and went on to start my own business. I have always thought that sewing is like a circle of life in that you always have something to learn and you always have something to share. I taught my first sewing class when I was 14 to other 4-H’ers and I designed my projects and coordinated the classes all on my own. Kids would come after school to my house and I would help them sew it was lots of fun. Of course I get to teach all around the country now and have an extensive sewing family of students. I think when you do have a gift or experience and skills it is imperative that you share with others now more than ever. Sewing connects us on a much deeper level then just a hobby. It’s so exciting to me.