Meet the Maker: Sadie Fox
I can say with 100% certainty that the last year of my life has been enriched beyond belief by the sewing enthusiasts I’ve met. There’s a automatic connection that’s established between two people who share a passion. A fair amount of groundwork has been laid, and you can jump right into meaty conversations.
My life is filled with hundreds of interesting people, men, women and children that I can listen to for hours. And these types of people abound in the sewing world, I've found, more than anywhere else. So we’re starting a new series to feature these passionate sewists. We want to share their stories and figure out why they sit down in front of the sewing machine every day.
I’ve never had so much fun as I did interviewing our first maker, Sadie Fox. Chatting with her in her very own sewing studio was the highlight of my January, no joke. So let me formally introduce you.
Who is Sadie Fox?Sadie Fox is a fellow Coloradoan, and one I first met when I volunteered for the Makerie in 2012. She was attending with the Jaime and Amber, the owners of Fancy Tiger. Her stunning red hair, throwback cateye glasses and handmade vintage dress caught my eye. Not long after her hilarious, warm personality won me over. Over the next few years, we both taught sewing classes at Fancy Tiger and would run into each occasionally. Every time finding myself sucked into a conversation I just didn’t want to end. She is magnetic.
Just this year, as Sadie’s daughters entered school, she decided to start her own business, Sadie Fox Studio. Nestled in the Highlands neighborhood in Denver, in a midcentury building, Sadie Fox Studio serves hip urbanites. Sadie provides sewing services like alterations and custom clothing. She teaches private sewing classes for adults and makes time every day to pursue her own clothing designs.
I met back up with Sadie this fall when several sewing bloggers and I had a sewing afternoon at Sew You Studio. I got to peek at Sadie's studio right next door and see what she was working on. Her racks of custom clothing and vintage decor left me open-mouth stunned. The place was beautiful.
One step inside her studio and you’re surrounded by modern vintage. Two pristine, vintage sewing machines sit atop white bookcases, both of which she uses when a heavy duty machine is needed. A vintage dress form, ironing board and piles of vintage sewing patterns beg to ooh'ed and ahh'ed over. The place is any sewist's dream workspace.
She’s a born maker.When talking to Sadie I was eager to know more about her sewing obsession. How did she get started? Does she sew for the same reasons I do? What types of sewing projects are her favorites? And frankly, does she ever get sick of hemming pants?
Sadie is a lifelong sewist. "My grandma is an incredible seamstress,” she says, "She began teaching me when I was pretty small to hand sew.” Later, Sadie and her mother would sew her prom and homecoming dresses together. “I grew up with makers. And my mom was always really crafty. She’d be into soft sculpture and then she’d be into macrame. So I think I just kind of grew up with it."
But like many people, she took a long hiatus from sewing. "I rebelled against it in my late teens and early twenties. I lived in New York for ten years and was obsessed with fashion, but it never dawned on me that I knew how to sew."
It wasn’t until Sadie moved back to Denver in 2000 that she dusted her sewing machine back off. Ever since, she’s been sewing almost daily. From men's clothing to kids’ projects to clothing for herself, Sadie is a versatile seamstress. She's been teaching classes for over five years. But sewing for herself is what gets her creative gears turning, "Making things for myself keeps me inspired. I think in a way I’m my own muse.”
Balancing her timeSadie currently spends much of her time completing both basic and custom alterations for her clients. “It’s paying the bills,” she explains. “And I love it because people are thrilled when I can offer an affordable option to hem their jeans or take in their shirts.”
But her services extend beyond alterations. She also teaches sewing classes to adults that are usually fashion oriented. One client in particular started drafting her own custom-fit clothing patterns with Sadie's instruction. “She’s so thrilled to be learning. I think this is really helping her understand how a garment is put together.”
Occasionally, Sadie will receive a crazy alteration request. Recently a client asked her to disassemble her grandmother's prized fur coat. "Sometimes I’m baffled by the trust people have in me. She wants me to take the sleeves off and turn it into a fur vest.” She admits she still has a bit of research to do before taking her seam ripper to the coat.
Sadie’s preparing to design what she calls a “hippie wedding dress”. It features a beautiful lace overlay in a fun shift dress silhouette. But she never wants to sew traditional wedding dresses. "I’ve refused some brides that wanted Scarlet O’hara-type dresses. That’s not my thing. I can do hippie bride. I don’t want to do poofy bride."
And she once tackled a vintage-inspired prom dress for her beloved babysitter (pictured below). "I was scared to death. It was a peach satin and black lace overlay. The skirt was something like 15 yards of hem on the circle skirt, with two layers,” she explains. "She looked so beautiful in it. She got to wear it twice and I was so thrilled."
No one can deny that Sadie’s values weave into every project she completes. She likes alterations because she enjoys finding a new purpose in tired clothing. She enjoys teaching because she loves the idea of learning new life skills. Through it all, a sense of a back-to-basics, simple lifestyle is perceptible.
A Budding Fashion DesignerWhile Sadie’s sewing services pay the rent for her adorable studio, she’s mindful to spend one to two hours each day pursuing her real passion, fashion design. Her many preliminary sketches form, to my eyes, a complete collection that would fly right off the shelves of any fashion retailer.
Inspiration for her designs comes both from her world travels and from her maker upbringing. "I went to Mexico City last year and I was really inspired by Mexico City Street life…it was this mix of punk rock modern with embroidered fabric. It just blew my mind."
She’s not sure where her fashion design passion will take her, but knows it runs deep through her veins. She’s considering venturing into sewing patterns or producing a small clothing line to initially sell in Denver. “It’s been slowly coming for years, but now I have the time.”
Sadie designs clothing from a place of pure passion and she’s knows it will be hard work to achieve her dreams. But she has a plan. “I’m going to get done all of the paying gigs. And then I'm going to focus on this creative endeavor that’s going to suck up a lot of my time. And I’m initially not going to make any money on it. But that’s okay."
Why Sadie SewsI had one burning question for Sadie that I could barely save for the end of the interview. It's the same question I want to ask every Indiesew creator. We all love to sew, but we have so many different reasons. So I asked Sadie, "Why do you sew?"
"I have to sew," she says, "Everyday. If I don’t sew I feel like something’s missing. I think it’s meditative for me and it’s a creative outlet for me."
It's so blatantly obvious that Sadie lives and breathes fabric, thread, and the methodic rhythm of her sewing machine. One peek inside Sadie Fox Studio and there’s no question. This woman lives to create, making things is part of her DNA. She says it again, as if it's fact, "I just have to sew."
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