Pop Quiz is a new feature on Sewing School that gives us a chance to share ideas and talk about sewing with some of our favourite sewers. For this inaugural Pop Quiz, we put Toronto-based designer Avril Loreti to the test!
Tell us a little bit about you and your business!
My name is Avril Loreti and I run a homewares business in Toronto, Ontario. My approach to my line is contemporary and minimal, playful and pretty. Once I get hooked on a concept and want to develop it further, the design has to reflect these ideas.
I just reached my 3 year anniversary this November and I’m totally stoked! I started my business by opening up an Etsy shop and placing my work in some consignment shops around Toronto. From there I started building my little part-time business through baby steps. I received some good press and exposure over the first 2 years of business. Then was able to move into my business as a full time job.
What kind of sewing machine(s) do you use?
I sew on a domestic Kenmore and a Janome Serger. My serger is like my baby!
How long have you been sewing?
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t sewing. When I was a kid my mom was always sewing all my Halloween and dance recital costumes and she would give me her fabric scraps to play around with on her machine.
Before I turned 16 I also thought the more I sewed with my mom’s machine the more practice I got with using a foot pedal which was essential to getting my driver’s license faster.
Then at University I brought my mom’s machine to my dorm and sewed up some pages of a porn magazine into a quilt for a conceptual art class… so sewing has been pretty integral in my whole life!
What’s the last thing you sewed? (tell us about it)
Canvas Wine Totes! They’re a new product that I’m going to be launching at this year’s Christmas season at The One of a Kind Show. I serge the side edges and then the gusseted bottom, then I flip it right side out and print my image on the front. Once the image is on I go back to my sewing machine and hem the top and stitch on the handle. It’s quick and minimal and super sturdy.
Do you have a favourite fabric that you like to sew with?
100% cotton is my bag!
What is your sewing soundtrack?
Whenever I have to do a large run of production sewing I find that I think about business, strategies, new ideas, anything related to moving my biz forward. So for the last few months I’ve been big on listening to podcasts and audiobooks about business or professional development while I sew. Martha Stewart’s “The Martha Rules”, back-episodes or the crafty podcast CraftyPod, and Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to win friends and influence people” have given me a lot of insight to growing my business, working with people, and generate new creative ideas… all while mowing through plenty of hankies and napkins and tea towels!
However, when I’m ironing, it’s all about the tunes! My current rotation is pretty rockin’ retro these days with a little bit of The Clash, The Ramones, Wanda Jackson, and Skid Row…
At Sewing School, we’re all about learning new things. What’s one technique or pattern would you like to learn how to do or tryout?
Any technique that can show me how to sew something faster is gold! I’d also love to get some technique on pattern drafting clothing. I’ve taken stabs at cutting up t-shirts and sewing them on a whim, but I would love to be able to draft my own shirts and skirts.
Care to share a sewing tip with Sewing School?
My latest and greatest sewing tip just came to me recently while cutting many straight lines through rolls and rolls of solid fabric. I was just having too many problems tearing along the grain and warping the fabric. So I went into my boyfriend’s tool box and found my “golden ticket to fabric cutting!”….A Laser Level!
First I line up my roll of fabric with the edge of my table. I roll out my fabric across the table and use some tape to mark where I want the laser to line up. For example, if I want to cut an 18” strip, then I measure 18” from the edge of the table and mark it with tape on the table on either side of the fabric. I then place the laser at one piece of tape and then line it up with the other piece. The laser makes a straight line across the fabric that’s easy to follow with your scissors.
Best of all, if you have to make many strips that are the same length, then you just keep the laser on and keep rolling out your fabric as you go. The laser level was about $30 at your local hardware store and I promise you’ll get a return on your investment in time spent cutting sooner than you think!
Where can we see Avril Loreti next?
I’m excited to be showing at the Christmas One of a Kind Show in Toronto, from November 25 to Dec 5.