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Today I have another very special guest for you. Tara from Girl like the Sea definitely is one of the most inspiring bloggers out there. Her sewing (mainly for her kids, but sometimes also for herself) is so incredibly unique and creative. She loves to play with fabric (bleaching, painting, freezer stenciling etc.), to add appliques or to modify some patterns. It seems as if whatever she touches turns into something special, cool and sometimes crazy ;) It also doesn’t hurt that she has three adorable kids and shoots the perfect pics. I also love that she does not only share her sewing, but also daily life, struggle, homeschooling, her son’s incredible eyes etc.
Here are some of my favorites (but there sure are much more gorgeous things to encounter!)
Stylo outfits, Vintage May, Union St. Tee

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.)!
I’m Tara, native to the west coast of the USA. Until age 19, I lived in the forest outside a small beach town in central Oregon. Love took me to the east coast – near Washington DC – where I’m a stay at home/homeschooling mom of three kids. Clover – age 5, Violet – age 4, and Hawthorne – age 1. My
heart is still in the pacific northwest!

Let’s talk about sewing:
When did you start and who taught you to sew?
Aside from some early sewing lessons from my grandma when I was very young, and didn’t appreciate her patience with me, I didn’t learn to sew until I caught that making itch that a lot of new moms get. Between sewing blogs, oliver and S patterns, and youtube, I gradually learned to put things together. After a while, I felt my personal sense of sewing style starting to come out, which felt really good!

Do you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or professional sewer?
Intermediate. I’ve been sewing in earnest for about 3 years I think, and I’ve learned a lot in that time. But I’m still pretty much seam ripping my way through projects a lot of the time. Somehow, I keep producing things though!

Which three tips would you give a beginner sewer?
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’re going to make them. I rarely make it through a project without a seam ripping moment. And sometimes your hard work will result in a bad fit, even though you followed the sizing chart on the pattern. You’ll think you had a genius idea for a new way of doing something, and it backfires. Experimenting will sometimes fail, and you’ll learn something, and others you’ll succeed and feel that rewarding sense of accomplishment.
2. Finish your seam allowances! I didn’t know about this when I got started and had lots of fraying happening in the wash.
3.Remember why you sew, and keep remembering it when you feel discouraged by your progress or the cheap, cute things in stores. Trips to Target often result in a sewing identity crisis for me. It happens.

For whom do you sew?
Mostly my kids. On many days, all three of my kids can be found in handmade clothes. I’ve been trying to get into making things for me too, because it’s kind of annoying when I use the good fabrics on the kids and then they don’t wear what I made very often. I’ve also made them some improv baby quilts. And I’ve made my husband a series of silly lunch bags to take to work. One had an embroidered portrait of his face on it. Good times……

How often do you sew?
Every week. Most days I have something in progress, but there’s not always time for me to get some sewing done. Especially with a baby who likes to yank on my iron cord, steal my supplies, scoot chairs over to tables so he can climb on them, and stand on the chair behind me while I sew so he can pull on my thread and push the buttons on the machine. Those of you with sewing rooms: this mama who sews in the multipurpose kitchen/dining room/craft room says you’re lucky!

What fabric type(s) do you like most to sew with? 

Jersey knit, french terry, chambray, and double gauze. Is that too many choices? I’ve grown more picky about my knits as I sew with them more, and I adore the organic ones. Chambray and double gauze just make everything look beautiful…..even if my sewing isn’t the greatest.

How do you get inspired?

Sometimes I want to make my own version of something nerdy or from pop culture, and I dream it up in my head. Other times I do as others do and get inspired on pinterest. Other times, I take the challenge of a blog tour or series that I’ve been invited to, and use that as the springboard. And sometimes my kids ask for some really weird stuff.

Do you have any real life sewing friends?
I do! Recently, a sewing enthusiast moved here near me and started up a beautiful business called Finch Sewing Studio. Nicole was a true godsend! I’ve also made friends through blogging, some of whom i’ve even met in person.

You blog at Girl like the Sea I’m curious to hear a little bit about your blog:
When and why did you start to blog?

My blog started as a way to share pictures and news about my kids with my parents, who live across the country from us. I started sewing and sharing a few projects here and there, and at some point it just ended up being mostly a sewing blog. Also, I realized that my parents weren’t actually reading my blog……so there was that. Now I keep my blog going because I love the sense of community and friends I’ve found through it. Being a stay at home mom can feel pretty isolating at times. Especially when your parents live so far away from you. Feeling connected to a group of really nice and kind of weird people like the sewing community has been pretty cool. It also pushes me to keep being creative, even when it’s really hard because I feel like I have no time or space, or enough sleep to continue trying.

Is there anything that you would make differently if you started your blog now?
I would have done a better job from day one of organizing my projects and pages on the blog. As it is now, I have a mess that I haven’t time to sort out. I also would have started out on wordpress instead of blogger.

How often do you blog? How much time do you spend each day/week blogging?
If I’m lucky, I get a post done per week. Sometimes two. My kids hate it when I’m on the computer, and their revolts are often loud and messy. There’s nothing like a deadline to get me moving! Sometimes I think that nothing would get blogged if I didn’t do scheduled blog series or write contributor posts. I’m on the Sewing Rabbit blog team, and put together a monthly tutorial of some sort to share on there. If any of you blogging moms out there who get consistent content out multiple times per week want to share your secret, I would LOVE to hear it! haha. But that moment where I hit “publish” is pretty exciting, and keeps me coming back. 

Do you plan your sewing, picture taking and blog posts in advance or do you just let things happen?
Life is an adventure here. Most of the time I let things unfold as they will. Planning……not one of my strong points. Though I do have to do some planning when I’m following someone else’s schedule. But I definitely don’t have a schedule written out for my monthly blogging. That will never happen. I can barely plan weekly meals around here.

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)!

Your latest project is always your favorite, right? It’s REALLY hard to choose. But I’ll try to pick a few of my more recent favorites…..
Abe Lincoln stamped fourth of july dress, vintage May outfits, Cowardly Lion Costume:

Do you make money with 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 make a little bit for my contributor posts, but as far as my own blog – nope. I don’t make any money off of that. The idea of trying to present myself to sponsors terrifies me. Sorry guys, I have no advice.

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?

My camera is a lower end DSLR – Pentax KX and I usually use a 50mm 1.8f lens.

What is your skill level in photography? Did you learn everything yourself or did you take a course or similar?
I’m self taught (more accurately, youtube and blog taught). I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer, I suppose. These days I’m working on getting comfortable with full manual mode

How do you get your kids to cooperate when you want to take pictures?
First, I think they’re just used to doing it since I’ve been taking pictures of the clothes I make them since they were really little. So they just expect it. They know the rules too, and are horrified if I let them eat in something before it gets photographed. Hahaha.
Next, I try to take them to interesting places or give them a fun prop to take pictures with. That way it’s more of a fun game or experience than just standing and posing for mom. And I also try to let them incorporate their personalities in by giving them a “do whatever you want now” time at the end. I get set up with any props or backdrops before even calling them to do photos, and I try to get my camera exposure and white balance figured out ahead of time. And I try to keep it quick!
Buuuuuuut sometimes I have to use bribery anyway. Lol! We have something called “choc-o-clock” where I give everyone a nibble of chocolate for fun.

What programme do you use for picture editing and which steps do you normally take to edit your pictures?
I use photoshop – I shoot in RAW format and do a lot of my editing in the camera raw program. I’m pretty clueless with photoshop though, so it’s always a bit of a struggle for me!

The before and after is a shot from Violet’s birthday. The lighting was tricky because I had sunlight streaming in, but she was in the shadows of a box. All of my edits, aside from adding the text, were done manually in adobe photoshop camera raw. I used curves adjustments, tinkered with exposure, sharpened it, and touched up the lighting balance on her face. Then I bumped up the vibrance of the colors, while desaturating the yellows a bit because there was a color cast going on with her face. 
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?

I’m not sure I can narrow down my three favorites, so I’ll go with some of my newer finds….
One of my newer favorites is Ginger Makes. She sews up some great women’s wear, posts the awkward outtakes, and her quirky personality is charming
I’m also delighted to have discovered Stitched Together. Rachel is an amazing and inspiring person. Her kids, including their adopted Ethiopian daughter, are gorgeous. And her projects and photography are also beautiful.
Grainline studio is also a relatively new one for me. Jen is a professional pattern maker, sports a very cool effortlessly disheveled sense of style, does really great tutorials on technical sewing skills, and I like her instagram feed.

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 so very me. It’s got some textile manipulation going on with the bleach swirls I added. My fabric is a nice organic knit with 4 way stretch. Geeky pop culture references and abundant use of freezer paper stencils with fabric paint are things I probably do way too much of. And I added a personal twist with the fabric space helmet applique with hand painted details. My most used pattern by far is the flashback skinny tee from made by rae, and that’s what I used to create this tee. Violet has gotten a lot of wear out of this, which I made on request for her birthday. You really can’t get more “girl like the sea” than this one! Haha!

Thank you so much, Tara, for joining the series. I really am a big fan of yours, your sewing and photography and I enjoyed learning more about you.
If you haven’t read all of the old interviews, you can find these here. Plus, come back next week to meet the amazing UK-based pattern-maker, fabric-shop-owner and blogger Amanda from Kitschy Coo.


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