Behind the Scenes with Michele Muska of Simplicity

Michelle Muska of Simplicity

Hang out with Michele Muska, and suddenly you’ll start to feel like you can make anything.

A quilt? Sure.

A doggie coat? Absolutely.

Animal hats for Halloween? Please. It’s at the top of our list.

We cornered Michele and chatted about how one becomes a master of all things fabric and let me tell you – this lady is all kinds of awesome.

Where do you live?

I live in Enfield, Connecticut.

Do you have any adorable pets/kids/life partners we need to know about?

I have a lovely husband and two amazing boys. Well, they’re actually men. And they’re fabulous beer brewers.

How (and when) did you get into sewing?

You, my mother just told me the most interesting story: Apparently, when I was a toddler she would come into my room at night to check on whether I was asleep…and I would be up making things for my dolls! I was always making something, ever since I was little. The first thing I made out of fabric was a dress for my troll (ed. note: Michele brought her troll with her to the shoot. So awesome.) when I was four years old.

I sat down at my first sewing machine when I was six, and luckily for me, my mother had a machine with a knee pedal, because I wouldn’t have been tall enough to reach a foot pedal. And then in the fourth grade, I joined a 4-H group called — get this — Pins and Needles. When I was in that group I won a blue ribbon for sewing a v-neck vest whose plaid pattern matched up perfectly. The matching was a total accident on my part. Then in high school I moved on to making and embroidering my own clothes, and making and embroidering clothes for my friends. And now I’m on the Executive Board of the Quilt Alliance, I write books, I garden, and I work with Simplicity.

Michelle Muska of Simplicity

What’s the toughest part of sewing?

Following the rules. I’m a rule breaker.

One thing I’d like to note is that it’s important to know the rules before you break them. A friend told me that once about quilting and I’ve found it to be very true.

What advice would you give people who are new to sewing?

Be patient with yourself. Step away from a project if it’s frustrating and go easy on yourself.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Everywhere I look! Nature — I’m a big gardener — and buildings, when I travel…all the time. I believe that if you open yourself up to it, anything can inspire you.

How do you make time to make things?

I travel a lot and I often bring handwork with me — I’m not often idle. I work in a creative field now, but before I felt like I had to make something every day or I’d failed. I’ve always got multiple projects going. Not every project is meant to be finished either; sometimes it’s about the process. About learning a new skill, or just trying something out. I used to work as an art therapist in Geriatrics, and I always had to explain to people that while there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing a project, the simple act of working on it is sometimes enough.

Michelle Muska of Simplicity

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I love different artists for different things, but some perennial favorites are Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and Giorgio Morandi.

What are your favorite materials or tools to work with?

Oh, I absolutely love working with Hanah silk, ribbon, and velvet. And I adore my 40 year-old Kenmore Sewing Machine, but I’m a huge fan of the Simplicity by Brother machine we’re using for the shoot this week.

What is your most favorite thing you’ve ever made?

I made a necklace that’s all silk and yoyos and peacock feathers. I gave it to my friend, the owner of Hana Silk. What’s funny is that she liked it so much she put it somewhere safe…and couldn’t find it for a year.

Be honest – how much fun is it to film these Creativebug classes…or at least getting to hang out in SF for a little while?

Oh, it’s been great. I haven’t sewn with patterns for a while, so before we started filming I sent myself to “Simplicity Sewing School.” Which I completely made up. Really, I went down to the pattern department and started practicing – can you tell I was a little nervous?

Luckily, the way you film is so easy.

Okay, last question. Where can we stalk you online?

My website, LolaRae.

I love Instagram and I’m also on Facebook. And I may have a slight Pinterest addiction.