Talkin' to Betz White, Author of the New Book "Sewing Green"
March 24th, 2009
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On Friday CraftStylish will feature this reusable sandwich wrap project by Betz White from her book Sewing Green.
I had the chance to chat with Betz White, author of the new craft book Sewing Green. In addition to finding out what was in the book, I was curious about what motivated Betz to write a go-green book...I loved her story. And, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Sewing Green, which reminds me, CraftStylish is giving away a free copy of the book. All you have to do to enter is to submit a comment about Sewing Green. One lucky member will be randomly selected.
CraftStylish: Let's start at the beginning, when did you start crafting and sewing?
Betz White: I grew up in a super-crafty family. When I was growing up, my mom made a lot of our clothes...it was the frugal thing to do. I was the only girl with two older brothers, so my mom tried to "girl-i-fy" hand-me-downs that they had grown out of. You know, she added a piece of trim here or there. I thought that was kinda funny because I would have been happy sporting them as they were...I was a little bit of a tomboy. Even my dad got into the act. Do you remember those Frostline down coat kits? They were popular in the late '70s. My dad made them for the whole family...and my mom used the left-over nylon to patch holes or "pretty-up" a boy color for me. In high school I started going to thrift stores to find treasures that I could revamp. It was easy sewing...snip, snip and a little seam here or there and I had a new wardrobe on a babysitter's budget. I specifically remember trying to "make stuff with big shoulders for the '80s"! I went off to college for fashion design at the University of Cincinnati. They have a cool co-op program—three months of school alternating with three months working at an internship...it was great; I got a lot of experience before I graduated.
CS: What did you do after graduating from Fashion Design School?
I spent 20 years designing children's wear, and along the way I really enjoyed working with knitting machines. I realized that I could wash and shrink wool knits that I made on the machine.
At some point I discovered that I could get the same results using sweaters from thrift stores.
It was more economical, plus I couldn't see creating new knits when there was much "raw material" readily available.
Felted wool is really easy to work with.
I discovered that I could cut it up and not worry about the raw edges raveling.
My love for felting led to my first book, Warm Fuzzies
CS: I love the cover of Warm Fuzzies...those cupcakes are really sweet. Tell me a little bit about the book.
BW: I like the format of this book. There are 30 projects that have lots of pictures and step-by-step instructions. You don't need to know how to knit. I used sweater finds from various thrift stores to make each project. There is something for everyone from pillows to hats and scarves. I spent so much time in thrift stores looking for materials to make projects for this book, an idea was brewing in the back of my mind for a second book...
CS: By second book, you mean Sewing Green...
BW: Yes, the premise for Sewing Green is 25 projects using sustainable and repurposed materials. It was mind-boggling to think about how much stuff there is in the world. Every thrift store that I walk into is full of "landfill"...and more stuff is coming every day! I decided I wanted to write a book using these materials. I think it's important to spread the word about all the excess there is and how it's getting bigger and bigger every day. Sewing Green is not about making people feel guilty though; I just want crafters to know that they can take advantage of the abundance of raw materials out there while making stylish new accessories and home decor items.
CS: You mentioned that you worked with a new publisher for Sewing Green. What makes it different from Warm Fuzzies?
BW: Sewing Green is more of a lifestyle book. In addition to the 25 projects, there is a section that goes over different types of organic fibers. There are some unique fibers that are being extracted from raw materials like the soybean. Organic materials are going well beyone the run of the mill cotton variety. In addition to that, there are plenty of sidebars bringing in the history of repurposing and interviews with eco-innovators. One of my favorites is Natalie Chanin, author of The Alabama Stitch Book. She has a unique view of the world, kind of old-fashioned and stylish. She really invigorates the community she lives in, providing jobs for local sewers. Her beautiful projects and garments are primarily made from repurposed knits.
CS: Which project from Sewing Green did you have the most fun with?
BW: All the projects in this book were fun to do, and I really hate to pick one... I'd have to say that the woodland draftbuster was lots of fun. It's whimsical and practical at the same time.
If you're like me, and you can't wait to see what the projects in Sewing Green
look like, look at some sneak-peak photos at Melanie Falick Books
and STC Craft!
And, remember to leave a comment today in the CraftStylish book giveaway post
to win a free copy of Sewing Green!
You can keep up with Betz by visiting her blog
there's lots of cool stuff on there. In particular, I love the Zippered Birdie Pouch project (a PDF pattern is available for purchase).
interview, Betz White, Sewing Green