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Today’s guest Brienne never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Her style is unique and cool and she definitely is the queen of layers and the flashback skinny tee. On her blog you will not only find fun, comfy and stylish kids clothes but also some beautiful garments that she has sewn for herself and of course the coolest bags ever. And as if that wasn’t enough, she also knits everything from scarves to pullovers, stamps and paints her fabric and writes the most beautiful posts about her life with her husband, son and daughter. I’m so glad to get to know her even better today! Do you want to see some of my favorites from her blog?
Harlequin Skinnies, 3 layering pics, STYLO contribution

First things first: Please introduce yourself (who are you, tell us a little bit about your family, which country and maybe city do you live in, are you originally from this country, do you work or are you a stay at home mom, etc.)!
Hi! I’m Brienne of Handmade by Brienne, a mostly sewing and knitting blog. I like to post about the books that I’m reading too and occasionally about family life. I live in Minnesota in the US in a teeny town right by Lake Superior. 

Let’s talk about sewing:
When did you start and who taught you to sew?
Everyone in my family makes by hand. I learned to sew from my mom, aunties and Grandma. But my Grandpa does a bit of sewing himself and makes some beautiful antler buttons too. My husband and father are home designers and accomplished woodworkers. My brother is a sawyer who harvested and milled all of the lumber to build his house. Art is all around!
Because I live in a very isolated, rural area, I started sewing when I was a kid out of a desire to mimic the fashions that I didn’t have access to. I think that’s still a big part of why I love to sew. And I have learned so much from the sewers of the online community.

Do you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or professional sewer?
Frequently, my vision for a project exceeds my skill by a long shot but I usually try to go for it anyway. Felicia of The Craft Sessions calls this “The gap between taste and ability.” And I would say that I am almost always working in the gap:)
Which three tips would you give a beginner sewer?
1. I usually encourage beginner sewers to start by picking a pattern that they love, even if it seems too difficult. Then commit yourself to learning the techniques as you go. One of the first things that I sewed as a new mom was a pair of wide leg linen pants for myself. Pants can be really tricky, especially on a new mom’s body but I was so proud of them and wore them all the time in spite of their imperfections.
2. Make muslins.
3. Take your time. 

For whom do you sew?
Primarily for my kids. I also sew bags and some clothing for myself. I have made some men’s things and I’d really like to make more.

How often do you sew?
Daily. I like to cut things out or trace patterns at night and sew whenever I can during the day. My favorite time of day to sew is early in the morning before everyone else is awake.
What fabric type(s) do you like most to sew with?
Knits. Absolutely and without a doubt. My kids don’t like to wear wovens and knitwear is so quick to make.

How do you get inspired?
The online sewing community is just bursting with inspiration. I love a sewalong! It’s such a fun way to attack a project that may be more difficult than you’re likely to sew on your own. Some fabulous sewalongs that I’ve participated in recently include: A Cargo Duffle Sewalong by Sophie of C’est la vie, the Happy Homemade Sewalong a combined effort by Elsie Marley and You and Mie and right now I’m working on the Alder Dress along with Grainline Readers.
Often, my favorite projects come out of a desire to make something that we need. I like having the freedom to create in the face of necessity. I almost never make anything that I can’t see using immediately and projects won’t come to fruition for me if I don’t think that they’ll get used. I am an avid knitter and I get asked a lot if the hand knits get worn. I think that people assume that since wool has to be hand washed, that I might be hesitant to let the sweaters go out into the wild. But not at all! My kids wear their handmades everywhere: running through the sprinkler, playing on the beach or in the snow. I recently dragged a tote that I made using Nani Iro canvas and leather along on a camping trip. It sat with me by the fire and tagged along to the boat launch.

Do you have any real life sewing friends?
I do. I have some dear friends locally who sew. It’s always inspiring to see their kids at the grocery store in their handmades.

You blog at Handmade by Brienne. I’m curious to hear a little bit about your blog:
When and why did you start to blog?
I started to blog last fall just after Kids Clothes Week. I had thought about blogging for a long time but wasn’t sure how to go after it. I took the plunge out of a desire to connect with other sewers. Meg from Elsie Marley asked me to contribute to the Kids Clothes Week blog just weeks after I had begun to post and I was scared but it was a great experience that forced me to learn a lot fast.
Is there anything that you would make differently if you started your blog now?
Oh yeah. But I didn’t start writing one for years because I was afraid that it wouldn’t be perfect. Of course it is not but I’m ok with that. Mostly, I wish that I had the courage to speak up more. My educational background is in global social history and issues of social justice. I think that the world needs moms, sewists, carpenters, lawyers and everyone to join the conversation. I wish that I had the courage to work that into my content.
The blog itself could use a design overhaul, the content could be clarified and organized. But I loathe spending hours at the computer when I could be making something. So I have chosen to let my blog’s look and format remain humble. 
How often do you blog? How much time do you spend each day/week blogging?
I would like to post at least three times a week but this doesn’t always happen. Blogging takes me a long time. Editing photos and text takes a couple of hours unless I want to include a how-to, then it takes much longer.
Do you plan your sewing, picture taking and blog posts in advance or you just let things happen?
My favorite posts are the ones that I’ve planned and written in advance like this one. But more often than not, I am flying by the seat of my pants. One evening, for example, I threw a quick post up about a dress that I had made for myself and had almost decided not to share. I ended up winning a contest with the dress – what a bummer it would have been if I had never shared it!
What are the three sewn (and blogged) items that you are most proud about or that you yourself like most? Show us some pictures (with links)
The Senna Tote
Miss Dandelion Doe
Seersucker Skinnies

Do you make money wiht your blog or do you have any sewing related business (e. g. Etsy or dawanda shop; pattern shop)? Do you have tips for someone wanting to start a blog business?
I have an Etsy shop but I am still learning how all of it works.
Taking Pictures and editing these is an important part of blogging. Good pictures are often what makes us want to visit a blog again and again. I’m excited to read what camera you are using and if you have to bribe your kids, too…
What Camera and Objective do you use?
I have a Canon Rebel. I am a total novice when it comes to photography. And a tool when it comes to the editing technology. My only skill when it comes to photography is, maybe, the composition of a photo? Again, it’s the taste versus skill problem. I think that I can spot a good photo when I see one but I have a really hard time setting up a good shot.I have the best luck shooting outside on an overcast day. And I never, ever, use any other shooting mode than the sports mode – isn’t that terrible!?
What is your skill level in photography? Did you learn everything yourself or did you take a course or similar?
I am a total novice. I did take a short, one day crash course last spring. It is something that I’d really like to improve on.
How do you get your kids to cooperate when you want to take pictures?
I have had mixed luck taking pictures of my kids in their handmades. For the most part, they are willing to be photographed. It’s just part of what we do. But it can be a struggle too. I try to come up with intriguing props for them to use or to turn the photo taking into another kind of adventure. Last fall, we used a caramel apple for photo taking, I always love including our dog. Sometimes I buy special art materials that I reserve for photo taking. I really do try not to force them to pose while I’m taking pictures and I just snap a whole bunch, hoping to get something that I can use. I try to keep my expectations low and to photograph clothing on the hanger before I photograph it on the kids, just in case some kind of stain disaster should occur. Or in case they are having a meltdown. I don’t want it to be sad for them.  
What programme do you use for picture editing and which steps do you normally take to edit your pictures?
I just use the software that came pre-loaded with my computer. It’s pretty limited, which can be frustrating. I always crop my photos and that is about it. I frequently use the “enhance” function under the “quick fixes” tab and that is about it. I adore instagram, though, and I like to monkey around with the filters over there quite a bit.
What would blogging be without other blogs? I’m always on the hunt for new inspiring blogs. And I love to get in contact with people from different countries. Who knows maybe you have some blog favourites that I don’t know about?
What are your three favourite sewing blogs to read? Why?
The Craft Sessions is a newer blog written by Felicia Semple from Australia. She has a very clean, rustic style that appeals to me. She takes beautiful photos of her work and her written content is consistently high quality. Plus I met her last summer and she is a truly passionate artist and a good soul.
Phoebe Wahl creates meaningful, lively illustrations. She prints fabric using her illustrations through Spoonflower. And she does some fiber sculpture work, often using upcycled materials. She often illustrates and writes about issues of social justice, a subject that I am passionate about.
Miniature Rhino is a blog written by Jessica Marquez, a New Yorker and Etsy guru. She writes content related to hand-stitching, which is very inspiring to me. Check out her latest post on Shibori Dyeing – woah!!!
Do you follow any blogs that are written in another language? What are your three favourite ones?
I read some that are bilingual, I always read Sophie’s Ces’t la vie, I love Trine’s blog, Groovybaby and Mama, of course.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions!
And now let’s get sewing! I’m curious to see your signature tee!
My signature tee is a hybrid. It’s based on the Flashback Skinny Tee, although I re-drafted many lines on the pattern to make it a raglan style and to add a swingy shape. It has a knit base with a woven layer that has been gathered and added to the top. I wrote a bit about how to approach making one of these over here. Thank you so much for having me, Annika! 

Thanks again Brienne for visiting my blog. It’s amazing to get to know the people behind the blogs better.
If you haven’t read all of the old interviews, you can find these here. Plus, come back next week to meet the amazing pattern-maker An from Straight Grain.


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