May 22, 2008

Stitchy Woman

An interview with another fabulous Stitchy Woman....
Jean Flaherty: Jean Jean the Sewing Machine.

Jean, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago- have lived in many places since, most recently I moved from Plantation, FL where we were for four years to South Bend, IN- we will move from here in a few months. I am a stay at home Mom to three children, a four year old girl, a three year old boy and a 20 month old girl. My husband and I just celebrated our five year anniversary- he’s the light of my life.

How did you come up with the name Jean, Jean the Sewing Machine?
As a baby my parents called me Jean, Jean the bubble machine, because I blew a lot of bubbles. As a kid I thought it was a bit TMI for a nickname. However, a couple of years ago I heard about this guy, Gene, Gene the dancing machine from the Gong Show- he’s pretty amazing, you can check him out on You Tube, and he is my namesake.

all embroidery patterns throughout interview are from Sublime Stitching.

Stitching is very creative, yet also very detail oriented and precise. Does it reflect your personality?
Yes and no. I don’t think I am so much imaginative in my creativity as I am organizational; I like to put things together in ways that look nice, this applies especially to colors. I try to remain diligent and practice the few skills I know such as keeping the back looking nice and making even stitches- but this is probably where I need to work a bit harder.

Do you ever rip out stitches to re-do them in a different color or type of stitch?
Yes, I do. I am by no means a perfectionist- but I do try to make things look right.

Where do you find the patterns you use?
All of the embroidery I have done lately is from Sublime Stitching patterns.

Do you have an all-time favorite pattern you’ve used again and again?
Not yet, but Our Lady of Guadalupe and the seahorse from Sublime Stitching speak to my heart. I have yet to be happy with a seahorse I have stitched, so that’s on the agenda!

Are there any websites or blogs you visit regularly for creative inspiration?
Certainly Flickr, it is where I discovered Sublime Stitching embroidery- Early Bird Special (formerly Sew Wabi Sabi) helped me get started. I first was inspired to sew again after finding Heather Bailey’s blog, from hers I found and the rest of the many awesome websites and online stores dedicated to sewing and embroidery including Sew, Mama, Sew, Purlsoho, Sugar City Journal and Angry Chicken. I continue to be amazed by the incredible generosity in time, talent and encouragement through fellow crafters online.

If you could listen to anything while you worked on a project, what would it be?
I think about this often, because I have three little ones I limit what I listen to while they are awake, but I daydream about having hours of time to craft while listening to Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, and Belle and Sebastian

Grab your ipod and hit “shuffle” - what song comes up first (no cheating – no editing!)?
“It Is Not Easy”- Desmond Dekker from Rockin Steady- his greatest hits. Okay, and the next one is “Family Tree” by Belle and Sebastian- how could I leave that out? It’s one of my favorite songs.
Have you always been crafty?
Yes, at least since I was a young child. I would make papier-mâché animals as gifts when I was young. Throughout high school and college I worked a lot with paper on a tiny micro level. Lately, I have been using more needle and thread.

Do you remember your first “real” craft/sewing/art project?
I started making my own clothes in high school- they were very dramatic, literally- they were costumes. I made them from costume patterns and wore them as street clothes.

Do you do other crafty things as well?
Yes, I like to sew

Do you ever make anything for yourself?
I have made a few clothes for myself and have plans to make some more. I have fallen in love with the Japanese sewing pattern books! And I make clothes for my children, so those are for me as well, because I love watching them wear the things I make.

Where do you find inspiration?
I have a happy life at home with my children and husband- it’s conducive to making things, I think if it were not for my family I would not be crafting. Further, my parents, and especially my Mom, taught me a love of beauty. My mom has an ability to make everything around her beautiful and charming- she can do so on a macro and micro level. I hope to be like her. There is also a C.S. Lewis quote from the beginning of the Great Divorce: “Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.” I find this true and very encouraging.

Do you sell the items you make?
Not yet. But I plan to open an Etsy shop with children’s clothes and handbags; I just need to get my act together to write some patterns!

Where can our readers find more of you?
Just my flickr page!

Thank you so much, Jean!


  1. Another great interview! Thanks for profiling Jean, it's nice to get to know more about her. I'm looking forward to her Etsy shop!

  2. Jean's work always catches my eye on Flickr. She is so talented and makes such an interesting variety of things.

  3. I believe one of the dresses pictured was one she made for our daughter Elizabeth--Jean and her husband's goddaughter. I cannot wait until she's big enough to wear it. Pictures don't do justice to the wonderful, talented work of this magnificent person.