04 Sep Fabulous Women of Sewing: RAE Winner – Michelle Morris
Announcing the 2015 Rippin’ Ain’t Easy Sewing Competition Winner:
Michelle started sewing way back in middle school. Her first interaction with a sewing machine was in her home economics class. From there Michelle studied Fashion Design for three years as part of her technical training during high school. During this time she was making garments for all her friends and she even managed to gain a few paying customers. After high school, art school and tailoring school, Michelle has coordinated fashion shows and sewn for the Philadelphia Fashion week, experienced making prom gowns, wedding gowns as well as custom tailored clothing. She took a break from sewing in the late 80’s and returned to the sewing world in 2014. Since her return she says she’s dusted off her machines and rolled up her sleeves with a new enthusiasm to push forward and learn new things.
Were you surprised when you won?
Honestly, I knew I had a pretty good chance. The gown I made was everything that I had envisioned in my head and a little more. I was bringing my best work to this challenge for sure. There was one person who gave me pause and I think that made me work a little harder for the win. [This person will remain nameless] But there was always cause for concern with voting.
Do you listen to music when you sew? If so, what is on your playlist?
So if I’m listening to music I just set Pandora to Old School R&B but I most of the time I listen to audio books, no particular authors.
Have you had formal training?
I did study Fashion Design at my Tech school and followed that up with Fashion Design at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. I completed one year but couldn’t afford to go the distant of the four years. A few years after that I did attend a graduate from The Craft Fashion Institute for tailoring.
What inspires you?
Right now I think everything is inspiring to me. Since I just returned to sewing after a 20+ year hiatus I have to get back in the swing of sewing and learn all the new things that I have missed on this hiatus. So I’m inspired by the rock in the middle of the road right now!
What drew you to join Pretty Girls Sew?
OK, so I think I first found you guys after hours of sitting in front of Youtube and it just so happened that I landed in Tabitha’s world of Cheap but Chic, then linked to Prettygirlssew. So that is how you were put on my radar. Thanks Tabitha!
What is your favorite garment/item made thus far?
Recent sewing experiences has to be that “Black Beauty” that won me the Rippin Ain’t Easy competition. Oh but my trash bag dress was a super close second and coming in third is an African print blazer that I made during my sew-a-long after the competition.
Do you sketch designs?
Yup, I have to. I am an artist by nature and I am always doodling so sketching is more natural than sewing for me. Now it might be on the back on an envelope but a sketch is a sketch.
What’s your passion?
Anything to do with ART! Sewing, interior designing, painting, photography, drawing, DIYing anything.
Can you describe the moment when you realized your talent?
In middle school is when I knew I had a talent for sewing and my first year in High school taking fashion design I honed in on my drawing skills and it was at that time I knew I was the Ish! Just kidding but I knew I had something and I was always steadfast getting myself involved with anything to do with fashion and art.
What was your favorite challenge during the competition?
The unconventional challenge was my favorite because that was the MOST challenging. I learned how to weave trash bags, who does that? I did and it was amazing.
What was the hardest part of the competition?
The hardest part of the competition for me was not the sewing but it was relying on the voting. That was nerve racking to me. The thought that people would vote for people that they knew or liked not for the work that was set in front of them. After the competition ended I learned that there were a lot of people who voted for the garment they really liked not just voting for someone because they knew them and that was a pleasant surprise.
Any advice for future participants?
I would advise them to be true to their own style to separate themselves from the other contestants. Coloring outside the lines is way more fun than staying inside the lines! Your photographs have to convey your message that you are in it to win it so be creative and submit quality photographs. Oh yeah and if you have some quality fabrics already in your stash that’s a plus as well.