1. Who taught you needlework skills and when did you first start learning?
As a child I stood by my mother at her sewing machine and watched her sew and I remember thinking, I want to sew like my Mama does. At age 9 I started sewing Barbie doll clothes by hand. When I was 12 I made my first garment on the machine, which was a skirt with a waistband and a zipper. (I didn’t know to be afraid of both) I was hooked and sewed almost every day after that. I made all of my clothes and most of my mothers. I sewed home dec, made purses, and loved quilting. When our first son was 13 months old I took children’s sewing at Watkins Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1982 I met a very special lady that many of you knew and loved – Elizabeth Travis Johnson! What a treasure she became in my life. In 1988 I started traveling with her so she could continue to teach and so she did for the next 11 years until she stopped at age 80 due to health issues. She molded me into the person I am today as a teacher. During those years of traveling with her, the knowledge I acquired from her teaching has continued to influence ever garment I make. She was an inspiration to everyone she taught and on one of those trips I thought, this is what I want to do some day. I want to share my love of sewing with others so I can maybe make them a fraction as happy as Elizabeth did when she taught.
During my time with Elizabeth she introduced me to Martha Pullen. Again, my life will never be the same because of the love and faith that Martha had in me. After taking classes at Martha’s school eight times and assisting Elizabeth for many years there I was ask to teach at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion! I could hardly believe it. Was this really happening to me? Me, teaching at Martha’s school? Yes, it was for real and so it went from 1997 until 2014. Those are some of the most rewarding and cherished years of my life. Thank you Martha Pullen for believing in me, and thank you to all the students that took my classes. I am blessed.
2. What is your favorite form of embroidery?
Even though I love doing handwork and I absolutely love embroidery on garments, I don’t get to spend that much time doing it. I can do basic stitches but am by no means accomplished in this skill.
3. When do you find time to embroider/sew?
Everyday of my life, except for Tuesday (which is the day I spend with my babies). It may be drafting a pattern, sewing a garment, or writing a class handout, but you can be sure that each day has something to do with sewing.
4. What inspires your designs?
Oh my, it is funny where ideas come from, a pleated lamp shade, a pillow in a department store, a garment that I see on an adult in a TV show has inspired a technique to place on a child’s garment. I love vintage clothing and get ideas from looking at them. And of course a child never goes by that I am not checking out what they have on and thinking, Oh that would be even cuter if it had … on it.
5. Do you attend classes and workshops as well as teach at them?
Yes, I think ever teacher should be required to take at least one or two classes a year. Whether it be in your local SAGA chapter or a workshop. I have found that it is hard being a student. Learning a new skill while trying to listen to the teacher and keep up with the class all at the same time is hard. I think taking a class gives you a better understanding of what a student is thinking and feeling when they are in your class. Hopefully it makes me a better teacher.
6. On average, how long would you say it takes for you to complete a piece from design concept to end?
Let’s just say, longer than I would like. I enjoy every step of the process but I am not a fast seamstress. But having said that, it seems that almost everything I make is a new garment and I am figuring out the design and steps as I go so therefore it slows down the process. Sometimes I think I want to do it a certain way and then once I am into it, I change my mind because I decide another way will be better. It’s all just a part of designing. Also, all of my patterns are drafted and drawn by hand, by me, in all sizes, one size at a time. This takes a lot of time but the final result is worth it.
7. Do you belong to a sewing guild of any kind?
Yes, I am a member of two SAGA chapters where I live. Even though I don’t get to be at many of the meetings because of my teaching and travel schedule, I do go to the meetings when I can.
8. Do you smock?
Yes, I love to smock. Before I started my pattern line and started traveling so much I smocked a lot. Not having a daughter, I smocked some for my second son and then I smocked to be smocking. Every time we went on a trip I smocked all the way there and back. I smocked while I watched my boys play at the playground, I smocked by the pool, I smocked for friends. I also smocked for a local store on their custom made garments. Now I have two granddaughters (be still my beating heart), and even though traveling and teaching prevents me from doing as much as I would like to, I smocked for them when I can fit it in.
9. Where is your favorite place to stitch?
On my deck or in the bonus room so I am close to my husband.
10. Are you married? Children? Pets?
Yes, as previously mentioned I have been married to Rob for 38 years and would do it all over again. We have two wonderful sons and those two boys choose precious girls to become “Our Daughters in Love”. And then to top it all off, we have three grandchildren that are 3 and under. Lily, Christian, and Violet. My cup runneth over.
11. What is your most favorite sewing tool?
Oh my, how do I decide: I guess I can narrow it down to three – The first two are Roxanne’s Glue Baste It and the Groovin Piping Trimming Tool. I almost can’t make a garment without putting corded piping on it - sometimes 5 or 6 yards on one garment.
Another product that I love to use in my garments is Baby Interfacing from Farmhouse Fabrics. One of the main reasons I prefer it is because it does not need to be pre shrunk and it adds so much body to the garment without weight.
12. What sewing tool do you carry everywhere and why?
Glue Baste It (three small bottles, in my purse, to every class, just in case students don’t have it with them) and the Grooving Piping Trimming Tool.
13. What other hobbies/interests do you have?
Our grandchildren. After waiting so long to be a grandmother, I just can’t get enough of those little ones. I spend ever minute I possible can with them.
I also thoroughly enjoy listening to audio books when I am on the go. If I sit still, my body thinks it is time to sleep, which prevents me from actually reading a book.
14. How often do you travel to teach?
I try to keep my teaching trips to one per month so I am not away from home too much. I love teaching so much that from time to time I book two in a month but I want to be sure to keep my family first as much as possible.
15. Have you a favorite location where you most enjoy teaching?
My favorite location is where I am at the moment. Every location is special and every student is important because without them (the store or chapter, and the students) I would not be there. Another location that I love is Children’s Corner in Nashville, Tennessee. I have taught since 2007 at the sewing schools they host three times a year and love all the students that come back again and again to take the classes that are offered. Every Monday I teach a sit-n-sew there and look forward to spending the day with a group of ladies that come week after week. We have built strong relationships and it is a lot of fun.
16. Where can we get to see your projects (magazines, stores etc.)?
Past issues of Sew Beautiful magazine. Upcoming issues of Classic Sewing Magazine. I have two Facebook pages: Personal – Trisha Owen Smith, Business – Patterns by Trisha’s Treasures. Various stores as they post about my future classes. I hope to have a website in the near future.
17. What do you do with your completed projects-frame and keep, give away, etc.?
Most garments that I sew are for an upcoming class, which means I keep them for my sample rack. When I go to a location to teach, I will take between 50 – 70 garments depending on whether I am driving or flying. I also love to sew for my granddaughters and give garments to them.
18. Do you have a favorite color(s) that you tend to use more than others?
I love so many colors but I must admit that pink is my absolute favorite which is evident by my pink sewing chair and my pink laptop computer.
19. Have you had another type of career other than in the sewing area?
Yes, I started out in Banking. I was head teller at a bank for 4 years and then worked in accounts receivable at a department store for a few years before we started our family.
20. How do you see the future of your sewing career?
I hope to continue to teach others to do what I love and to help them learn new skills and techniques that will enhance their sewing experience. I also want to continue to publish patterns with easy to follow directions so even a person that is new to sewing will be able to understand and make special garments for the children in their lives.
21. What do you do to recharge your creative spark?
Sometimes just sit still and think, other times look at vintage garments or browse through a rack of clothes in a department store. And don’t forget, I always look at lampshades and pillows for ideas.
22. What technique still can’t you get the hang of……..?
Cutwork! I cannot do it! I don’t like to say I can’t do something but it is the truth.
23. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
In my personal life - I don’t know that I would say proud but I am so very thankful for our two sons. I did not do everything perfect for sure but I did devote years of my life and put everything else on hold to raise those boys to love the Lord, respect others, and always be kind and friendly. God blessed those efforts and I am thankful to Him beyond words for the way they turned out.
In the sewing world – I am thankful and honored that students will spend their time and money to come take classes with me. I am humbled by their support. I still can’t believe that I can draft a pattern.
24. What is the biggest enemy to your creativity?
Oh my goodness….TIME. There just simply doesn’t seem to be enough of it to accomplish all I would like to do.