You’re never too young to make a fashion statement — at least, this is the style philosophy of Brooklyn-based fashion designer and author Lesley Ware. Lesley, who recently released her first book, Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas ($19), believes that “fashion is fun” and can be empowering as well. We’re huge proponents of brushing up on our sewing skills, so we chatted with Lesley to learn more about her style philosophy, her inspiration and more.
Lesley sees fashion as a great unifier and a source of confidence. “Fashion should not revolve around materialism or divide girls into the ‘haves and the have nots,’” she says. “If girls can speak up with their fashion, they can find the confidence to speak up in other ways too.” Lesley’s love affair with fashion began when she was four years old, helping her mother sew. Although she never formally studied design, her passion for fashion was always there. This drive eventually propelled Lesley to leave her full-time nonprofit job behind and start her own business, The Creative Cookie – a boutique sewing studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
“We specialize in classes that allow our students to design projects that are one of a kind, representing their true style. There’s no cookie-cutter approach,” she says. “Students work on a range of projects they choose, from dresses to sleeping bags.” In fact, Lesley’s young fashion students served as the inspiration for Sew Fab. “I searched the shelves at bookstores for a modern sewing and style guide to use as a teaching reference with no luck,” she says. “This inspired me to begin the process of writing it. Sometimes you just have to DIY!”
The book features advice on finding the right fashion for you, ways to have fun with sewing and eight easy-to-make sewing projects.
If you or the little fashionista in your life want to get serious about sewing, Lesley encourages you to give it a try. “Make a small investment in supplies, be positive and most importantly, be open-minded!” she says. “Fashion is a huge industry that goes beyond sewing patterns. Don’t be afraid to explore.” Lesley suggests starting small by setting attainable goals each week.
“This could simply involve visiting a fabric shop, hand-sewing a button or watching how-to videos on YouTube,” she says. “Do it now. If you have a creative impulse, act on it. There’s no better time than the present. Don’t wait until you leave your day job to start building your dream job.” And if you really want to become a professional seamstress, Lesley recommends moving out of your house or apartment and into a studio. “Having a dedicated creative space is important for making the big leap from hobby to profession,” she shares. “Even if it’s just a conference room for business meetings, it shows people you’re serious about your craft.”
As for her style philosophy, Lesley has some pretty simple advice: “Forget ‘perfect.’ Limit looking to TV and magazines for what to wear. Also, your smile is an accessory that never goes out of style — it matches everything. Wear it!” Lesley is planning to release her second book in February, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
Have you ever made your own clothes? Tell us about your experience in the comments!