Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m Sarah Kirsten. I live on a small farm in the Midwest and like to sew. I grew up in a family with parents who are a bit eccentric. I’m the youngest of 7 kids, they homeschooled all of us, built our house by hand out of salvage lumber from an old sawmill, and collected an extensive library of books. We grew up eating bread made with whole wheat that we ground with a wheat grinder, growing lots of vegetables in the garden, drinking milk from our goats, butchering and eating meat from our farm animals, heating our house with wood from the farm, and suffering through the heat in the summer. I have to hand it to my parents, because while they taught us the value of loving the land and appreciating our local surroundings, they also inspired us to explore the whole world and to follow our hearts’ desires. They set a good example of taking the back roads, traveling to every country they wish, and pursuing their ideas and passions. Growing up in a creative atmosphere like this was really wonderful for me. It was an environment where ideas all sorts of shapes and sizes were possible and worthy of being explored. Mom taught me to sew early on, and I’ve loved the idea of being able to create our own clothing since. The concept of turning an idea in our heads into a wearable reality is simply amazing. My biggest job is to inspire the joy and power of sewing in people who don’t sew, or who have become disillusioned by the complexities of creating their own clothing. Practically speaking, I design sewing patterns, talk about the romance of sewing, and give people educational guidance along their sewing journey. I feel beyond grateful to be making a living by serving people in my sewing community this way.
Why do you sew?
Sewing is about so much more than just having clothes to wear. Sewing is a power that can transform your life! I think we’re all subconsciously taught at an early age that our bodies may not be the way they are “supposed” to be. We get the idea that if pants don’t fit us perfectly, our body is imperfect. Somehow when we are disconnected from the process of creating clothes, we receive the message that the clothes we buy are the “right” version of how a body should be, and our bodies are the “wrong” version. It feels like it’s something we need to fix in order to be beautiful, to have worth even. When you start sewing, you recognize that clothes are mere shapes of fabric cut and sewn together. There is no “right” and “wrong” shape. It starts to dawn on you deep within. It wells up in an indomitable force of confidence, the realization that your body is perfect. Right and wrong simply doesn’t exist.
The mean lies of you not being beautiful, not being worthy, not being lovable, they sense they are losing strength and strain to keep you chained down, but it’s no use. Sewing is too powerful. With every snipping of the scissors, with every piercing of the needle through the fabric, the lies are dismantled and your confidence swells to fill the space. Not swelling like a balloon that can be popped, swelling like molten iron being poured into a mold. It settles and becomes solid, stable. The confidence can change your life. This is the importance and transformational power of sewing to me.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
My mind is pretty one track oriented, so I always have to pair what I’m working on with the level of auditory engagement that is encouraging for my work. If I’m doing something mundane like cutting or sewing, I like to listen to business podcasts, business educational material, or music with words. I like the Goal Digger podcast and motivational speakers like Ed Mylett. If I’m designing patterns or writing something, I find it best to listen to music without words. Lately I’ve been really into Chill Hop Lofi. It’s engaging enough that I don’t get bored listening for long periods, but simple enough that I don’t get too distracted by it. I’m always amazed at people who can multitask well. That’s never been a talent of mine.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
This is such an interesting question. An interesting and delightful question.
One time I looked out the window and saw my siblings digging small depressions in the soil. When I realized a fun project was in the works, I bounded out of the house to see what was happening. The depressions were about the size of large mixing bowls. They build a series of these little depressions and then connected them together by cutting short sections of garden hose and burying it in the soil between them. We had some leftover tiny floor tiles, and using these, my siblings cleverly lined the depressions to turn them into little pools that held water. It was an amazing network of miniature pools, water flowing from one to the next. It’s hard for me to describe how magical it was. It was an impactful moment where I recognized the awe-inspiring potential of creativity, and how much I wanted to cultivate explorations of creativity in my life.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
I live in Iowa on a small farm. Iowa has a beautiful landscape of gently rolling hills covered in a blanket of cropland and pastures, and dotted with woodlands and forests. I think not living around a lot of people and having an internet based business is really liberating and healthy for me. I’m not too good at being around people a lot. Having separation gives me freedom to explore ideas, to try things away from the eyes and opinions of others. I’m getting more resilient, but I feel very blessed to be in the situation I am for now.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
When I was maybe 10 my mom had a big roll of plaid fabric that she said I could use. It was deliciously thick, and had lovely muted colors – red, blue, green. I had an idea to make a dress with two long rectangles of fabric. I cut the fabric and sewed it up, and then I used some blue yarn as a tie to pull it tight around my waist. I found that dress a few years ago and it brought back fond memories of the joy of wide open creativity. My mom was always so good at helping me turn my ideas into realities. I think I had watched her enough at that point to feel inspired to do it on my own. I’m so thankful she would do things like give me whole rolls of fabric to play with!
How important is it to make something with your hands?
To me, it is very, very important to create things. It’s something I can’t help but do! The times I didn’t have a lot of opportunity for creative physical projects, like in college for example, I found that creation came out of me in other ways. I would spend lots of time writing songs with my ukulele, or go to the extra work of creating 3D paper objects to go along with homework assignments. I think creation of things and working with my hands is an outlet for all the emotions of life. It’s calming, satisfying, inspiring, and energizing all at the same time. I dare not think of how life would be without the ability to create.
What does success mean to you?
To me, ultimate success means being fulfilled, content, joyful. I think those things come as a natural result of walking in the calling you feel on your life. Walking in your skills and talents, pushing forward with your passions, shutting down the voices of negativity, and having faith that whatever your heart’s desires, they are good and important and worthy of being pursued. That can look different in different seasons of life, of course. In this season for me, it means growing my business, fueling my passion for sewing, and using the fuel to spread the joy of sewing to others.
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I used the heavyweight MARIGOLD Softened linen to make a dress hack of my Chamomile Crop pattern. This fabric is like a ray of sunshine! I feel like a ray of sunshine when I put it on, or like a daisy growing in the field, soaking up the sun’s provision. I always love heavyweight fabrics, and this is no exception. It feels weighty and durable, yet elegant and femine. It’s the perfect blend.