@spokes_sews | Sewing Influencer
Meet Lori, also known as @spokes_sews on Instagram. Lori’s approach to sustainable sewing includes a love of upcycling fabric, playing with natural dyes (like avocado pits and skins), and using low or zero-waste patterns. Her preference for natural textiles brings a genuine warmth and serenity to her garments.
How did you learn to sew?
I was taught to hand sew as a child by my grandmother Patricia. Both of my grandmothers were incredibly talented with needle and thread and were my initial inspiration to learn to sew.
I inherited my grandmother Peggy’s 1970s Kenmore machine after she passed away and took a lesson to learn to thread it, but it was a tricky machine. I gave up after a while out of frustration until my husband and parents surprised me with a new machine for my birthday a few years ago. I learned how to make curtains and pillowcases, first by using YouTube tutorials.
Then, when the pandemic began, I discovered the Instagram sewing community and was so inspired. I was determined to sew myself some clothes. I took the Closet Core Learn to Sew Clothing online course (which I highly recommend) and this really got me started. At this point, I’m really just learning everything through trial and error, thrift-store bedsheet toiles and the internet.
Which sewing word or term is your favorite?
My favorite sewing-related word is “textile.” It’s not exactly only sewing related, but sewing is all about the fabric for me. I really enjoy reading about textile history, how cloth is made and dyed using natural materials, and just generally like to collect and surround myself with a variety of textiles to use and display as a collection of art in my home. The realization that I could dress myself in beautiful fabric by learning to sew my own clothing, instead of just displaying it around the house, has brought me so much joy.
Which fabric do you enjoy sewing the most?
I really feel my best wearing and sewing with linen, cotton and, most recently, wool. They press so easily, aren’t shifty to sew, and they just feel so good in hand. Bonus points for sustainability and connection to our Earth, which I like to contemplate while using these fabrics. I’m looking forward to trying out silk noil and hemp—I haven’t worked with these yet.
What are you currently sewing?
I’m working on two projects right now. The first is a coat for myself using the most beautiful deadstock Italian boiled wool. I’m using a hacked Paper Theory Agnes PJ top for the pattern. I love hacking patterns to make new shapes, and testing them out with different fabrics and in different sizes. I did this often over the past year through my pregnancy and now postpartum. I’m a pattern minimalist—I prefer reworking what I already have instead of buying many new patterns.
I’m also working on a dry oilskin coat in an oxblood colorway for my husband using the not-yet-released newest pattern by Twig and Tale Patterns.
Please share what you love best about sewing.
Sewing gives me a sense of self during a very busy time of life: going into my sewing space after my three young children are asleep, ironing and cutting into beautiful fabric to make a garment that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world (just for me); sketching out ideas in my notebook with drawings and dreaming up ideal fabric pairings; connecting with other sewists from all over the world online. I could go on. It has really given me so much, and is ultimately an act of self-care.