Sew for the Body You Have, with Brooks Ann Camper | Episode 73
In this episode of Sewing with Threads, guest Brooks Ann Camper shares the story of how she went from not knowing how to take a stitch or use an iron, to becoming a costume production professional and, now, to teaching a new and empowering approach to sewing.
Brooks Ann first learned to sew as an adult working in professional costume workshops. After completing an internship at Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut, and earning a master’s degree in costume production from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, she moved to New York City. There, she worked as a Broadway milliner for productions such as Wicked and Mama Mia!, and sewing for celebrities from Boy George to Big Bird.
When she left New York and started her own business as a custom wedding dressmaker, she began blogging the process as each one-of-a-kind dress was designed and created. She realized that she was getting as much interest from “sewing people” as from “brides” and started teaching her unique methods of custom sewing. She loves sharing her passion with kindred spirits.
No Pattern, No Problem
Because her first experience in sewing was crafting unique garments—costumes—for individuals, Brooks Ann learned from the start how to make clothes for any shape or size. This background served her well in her early career and has strongly informed her approach to teaching. She advocates starting with the body, and creating patterns to fit, rather than starting with standardized patterns and adjusting them to your body size.
Because Brooks Ann doesn’t like working with lots of measurements, she teaches a way of making basic patterns that doesn’t rely on numbers. Once you’ve “mapped your body,” you can make whatever designs you like, she explains.
You’ll find out how Brooks Ann uses photographs to visualize fitting, and to create a custom padded dress form. Once again, these tools enable you to understand and perfect pattern fit without struggling to calculate lots of measurements.
A Holistic Approach
In her classes, Brooks Ann teaches flat patternmaking in a comprehensive way that is suitable for anyone from beginner to advanced skill levels. Although the first steps to developing your patterns takes some time, the resulting blocks enable you to create the garments you want.
A feature of her method is to focus on the step you’re working on and not worry about what is to come. She encourages students to trust the process, and to find joy in each part. Learning to start a project where you don’t know the ending is a life lesson as well as strategy for gaining confidence in sewing.
You’ll discover a new respect for your unique body shape, and learn to make a custom, couture garment that honors who you are.
Follow Brooks Ann on Instagram @brooksanncamper to learn more about her work.