Meet the Maker: Shawna from Troops to Tots
by Kollabora Follow

posted 3 months ago

My name is Shawna, I am one of the bloggers over at Troops to Tots, and my DIY weapons of choice are my credit card (just kidding, sorta) and sewing machine.

I first started sewing about 4 years ago, when my daughter was 18 months old. I needed something I could do at home that gave me tangible results. Sewing has been really motivating and life enhancing for me. A few months ago I created a group called Bloggers for Pediatric Cancer Warriors. We held an auction of our handmade items on Facebook. We raised over $900 in 48 hours for the American Childhood Cancer Organization. That experience was very empowering for me, we accomplished something huge that none of us would have been able to do on our own. The sewing community is such a wonderful, caring, and devoted group of people!

I keep myself inspired by leeching off others and their social media accounts, and life.

My creativity is driven by life. My family has many practical needs that I use my super power of sewing to solve. But I also have this urge to create beautiful things that make me smile every time I see them. The biggest thing that is pushing my creativity right now though, is my New Year’s resolution of not buying new fabric or notions unless I have a very specific job that requires something I don’t own. This goal of mine is really pushing my creativity to produce what I have envisioned in my head by using only what I already own.

I feel most creative when I am facing a problem. I really think facing problems or obstacles pushes me in a direction that I never would have taken. Maybe I nick a hole in the garment I’m making and I have to create something to repair and cover the hole. Other times it is when I don’t have enough fabric and need to figure out how to get what I want with what I have.

I get out of a creative rut by continuing to move forward. If a particular project is stumping me, I’ll set it aside and work on a quick and easy project to help clear my head – the objective is to keep moving but also continue to look back at what is stumping me until a solution is found.

My best creative advice would be to open your heart and mind and let the world in.

When I think about starting a new project I first think about the practicality of it. Sewing clothes takes a lot of time and resources – I always consider if it is something that is really needed or wanted. I’ve learned that even though I want to make something, sometimes it is best to pass on the idea. I’d rather spend my time on practical things that will get lots of wear, with a few exceptions thrown in there!

I have several “favorite” places where I like to buy supplies depending on what I need. Phat Quarters for knits and wovens; Gemia is great about getting things cut and shipped quickly. Simplfi Fabrics has amazing quality knits, and they have their own line made in Canada. Raspberry Creek Fabrics would be my favorite American made fabric store. Jumping June Textiles for European fabrics, plus she has a lovely selection of knit bias tape and she’s super speedy on getting things out the door. And Mood Fabrics when I need a specialty item that is hard to find anywhere else. My last two stores are when I want to shop in person, the first is Pennington Quilt Works (a local shop) and then JoAnn Fabrics with its immense selection and convenience.  

After a long day of making things my favorite thing to do is not cook dinner, and order pizza.

If I wasn’t a stay-at-home mom I would love to be a traveling photographer, albeit I am missing a few key skills needed for that profession!

My favorite part of the day is nap time. This is the part of the day where I don’t have to feed someone, clean up after someone, and just get to sit down and work on my current project.

My favorite word is: hope

My least favorite word is: cancer – I just hate that word.

To me, DIY means being self-reliant.

The most influential person in my life is my husband. He teaches himself things so that he doesn’t have to rely on others to do it for us, such as building our dining room/sewing table. He just doesn’t stop, I’m pretty lucky to be married to him!

Three words that describe me: strong-willed, independent, kind

Three words that describe my work: beautiful, awesome and loved

If I could live in any other city it would be Kailua, Hawaii – we used to live there and I miss it every day, especially during the winter months.

The best spot in my city is a local park called Grounds for Sculpture. It is just a wonderful place to take kids and enjoy the day.

The biggest DIY mistake I ever made is currently staring at me every time I go into the garage; it is a teepee I attempted to make for my kids last summer. I’m still problem solving....

My next project is taking some time to learn how to create more artistic photographs.

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