Sewing and creating have always been a part of my life. It ran in the family. Mom and her sisters would sit around a big table sewing sequins and trim onto Christmas tree skirts, matchbook covers and anything else the three could conjure up for us to decorate. Aunt Toinette would make us our own personal set of paper dolls hand drawn and colored and dressed to the nines in fabulous outfits. When my sister and I learned to sew as teenagers, my Aunt Mary, who was the best sewer in the family, laughed, "You will never be able to pass a fabric store again!" And she was right.
I learned to love sewing in high school when to my surprise (and the astonishment of my family), I received the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award. The nuns who taught me decided I might have some potential in this area and pulled me out of my one weekly study hall and sent me off to the sewing room with Sister Margaret Mary, and I have been fascinated with making things ever since. I am eternally grateful to those wise women who saw something in me and pointed me in the right direction. After college, in addition to teaching high school clothing and textiles, I held weekly classes at my house for my friends, cutting on the floor, squeezing sewing machines around the dining room table and enhancing our wardrobes with lots of brightly colored polyester jumpsuits!
My passion for fabrics of all kinds and making things has been a part of all my life's adventures. In the mid 70's, with a group of friends, I drove overland from Denmark to Kenya, and when my clothes began to wear out (and the vehicles were breaking down), I'd bring back wonderful cotton fabrics from the markets. Using newspaper for patterns, I made clothes sewn entirely by hand.
Back home in California, I looked to my sewing machine for inspiration and took an inspiring class with Sandra Betzina who hired me to teach tailoring classes in her school. I loved it. A few years later, in 1981, I opened The Sewing Workshop in San Francisco, which was the fulfillment of a dream, to create a business based on my passion for combining teaching and learning with creativity. It was the beginning of an exciting era. The Sewing Workshop took on a life of its own, becoming a gathering center for talented teachers and people who loved learning about fiber arts ranging from beginning sewing to a myriad of classes in textiles, home decor and wearable art. TSW continues as a gathering place for sewing and fiber arts, bringing together teachers who are artists, authors, designers and enthusiastic students hungry to learn.
In 1993, I sold The Sewing Workshop and moved to a small community in Southwest Oregon, and the focus of my work changed again, but still revolved around a needle and thread. Instead of an urban office, I created a studio in the woods and began to shift my focus from technical expertise to investigating my own creative process.
Today I design my own line of clothing and home decorating patterns for Vogue Patterns featuring embellishment & surface design. With Diane Ericson, I conduct DESIGN OUTSIDE THE LINES creativity/sewing/fiber retreats nationally. I am a textile adventuress, teaching and travelling internationally uncovering and sharing extraordinary secrets of place, sources and inspiration.
"I create nearly every day, for fun, for class preparation, for the pleasure of touching the cloth, figuring out a design, for the challenge of solving a problem. I have learned to appreciate 'mistakes' because so many new techniques, ideas and improvements take place because of them. I love teaching and communicating about sewing and clothes, fashion and fiber arts, because through this I continue to learn and grow." M.T.