5 Sewing Questions with Joi Mahon
Joi Mahon, known to many as Designer Joi, answers five questions about her past and her sewing favorites. Joi creates custom clothing in her studio, The Sewing Factory, in Sioux City, Iowa. She is the host of Nancy’s Notions Wardrobe Builder, a Craftsy instructor, and a licensed McCall’s pattern designer. She also wrote Create the Perfect Fit (F+W, 2014), Fashion Sewing Workshop (Fons & Porter, 2016), and the upcoming Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Sewing Clothes (Landauer Publishing, late 2021). Joi also has an online Perfect Pattern and Fit Club for those wanting to study regularly with her in a virtual classroom setting. Her website is DesignerJoi.com.
Listen to Sewing with Threads Episode 46 to learn more about Joi’s evolution as a creative sewing entrepreneur and her advice for all sewists. In the meantime, get to know her quickly through five questions:
How did you learn to sew?
“I started hand sewing. I was probably around 5 or 6.”
Joi spent a lot of time in the attic of her grandparents’ home, playing with her grandmother’s fabrics and notions.
“By the time I was in 4-H in sixth grade, I took my first official lesson with one of the 4-H moms and we sewed a jacket.”
What are you currently sewing?
Joi says she spends a lot of time sewing for clients and making samples for her classes and books, which she enjoys immensely. But she also finds time to sew for herself and her family.
“One thing I am having fun with right now, and I am just at the beginning of it, is doing an actual authentic kilt for my husband.” She is in the researching phase of this project and is taking her time with it.
“I want to be sure everything is perfect before I cut the fabric.”
Which sewing term or word is your favorite?
She spelled it out: M-E-A-S-U-R-E. She explains why.
“I didn’t even know I didn’t say it right.” Then she relates a story about how her pronunciation generated a discussion with a student years ago that reverberates even today.
Which fabric do you enjoy sewing the most?
“I actually really love silk taffeta. It doesn’t work for every project, but I love how it has this texture. You can pleat it or you can use it on the bias, it doesn’t just hang limp. You can do a lot—you can do pouffy things and stuff it. There’s a lot of hand and drape to it that you can create different things.”
Please share what you love most about sewing.
Joi compared sewing to music. In the same way that you prefer listening to or singing one version of your favorite song, you can sew a garment your way.
“We all interpret patterns and fabrics differently. It really is very customizable. You have the freedom to learn a technique and make it your own.
Plus, she says she likes that there is more than one way to achieve the results you want in sewing a garment.