Monday, December 16, 2013

"Don't Expect Things to Be Perfect": A Hobby Q&A with Amie Plumley and Andria Lisle

Amie Plumley and Andria Lisle are two friends who have expanded their love of sewing by teaching it to youngsters. Together, they brought us Sewing School, a fun volume of kid-tested hand-sewing projects that beginning sewers can master with minimal supervision, and the follow-up Sewing School 2, an introduction to machine sewing for little ones who’ve caught the sewing bug. 

When they’re not blogging about kid-friendly sewing projects at Sewing School (check out their recent posts about a Holiday Stich-n-Snack and important considerations when buying your child his or her first sewing machine), Amie and Andria keep their schedules filled. Amie, a mother of two, teaches second grade, where she inspires students to sew in the classroom and in an after school sewing club.

Andria is the Public Relations and Public Programs Manager at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. 

Together they run the wildly popular summer Sewing School camp and together, they paused for a few moments to talk hobbies with us. 
Amie Plumley
Photo © Kevin Barrรฉ
Andria Lisle
Photo © Kevin Barrรฉ

What comes to mind when you hear the word “hobby?”
Amie: Something that you do for you.

Andria: I think of hobbies–especially ones like sewing, cooking, or crafting–as being homey and having a connection with the past. 

Did you have hobbies when you were growing up? What was it about those hobbies that captured your attention?
Amie: Yes!  I’ve always been a crafty girl.  I was the kind of kid that wanted glue and paper over dolls and toys. I have always loved to make things with my hands.

Andria: I’ve always had hobbies, whether it was collecting things or crafting. When I was a kid, I was very influenced by a book I received in my Easter basket, Charlie Brown’s Super Book of Things to Do and Collect. My parents were very indulgent regarding hobbies. They had their own as well, from fishing and waterskiing to, for a few years in the 1970s, making a seemingly endless amount of intricate macramรฉ plant hangers!

Do any of those hobbies play a role in what you do now, either professionally or personally?
Amie: I currently teach second grade, and my students at school get to enjoy my hobbies as well.  We sew, cook, and garden together.  I enjoy sharing things that I love with kids.  This has inspired me to teach sewing camps and after school clubs with kids, as well as co-author Sewing School.

Andria: Absolutely. Today, I’m the co-author of two sewing books I’d have loved to have owned as a kid! And I get to include a lot of crafting in my role as Public Programs Manager at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, a nearly 100-year-old art museum in the heart of Memphis. One of our semi-annual programs is called Art & A Movie. Participants drink wine and make art projects in our rotunda, then watch a related film. It’s a ton of fun!

How did you get started pursuing your interests – did someone in your life teach you? Did you teach yourself?
Amie: My mom and Girl Scouts got me started.  It’s fun to see those same influences in my own daughter’s life.

Andria: My mama was a very patient sewing teacher, and both my folks were crafty–I have fantastic memories of our entire family sitting down and making Christmas cards one year. Did you know that you can make a “Go Tell It on the Mountain”-themed card using photo corners for mountain peaks?

What does having a hobby or hobbies mean to you?
Amie: Sewing is my creative outlet.  It’s what keeps me grounded and going.  If it’s been a few days since I’ve sewn, I might be a little grumpy!

Andria: Using my hands to create things provides such a calm respite from my normally busy life. I love to step away from the computer, my mobile phone, and especially from social media, and focus on simple, joyous work, like cooking, making stuffed animals, little handmade gifts, or things for my home.

What are your hobbies now – any new ones?
Amie: I got really into canning last spring.  I enjoy sewing, knitting, gardening, and cooking. 

Andria: Going to the gym! After years of sluggishness, I started lifting weights and doing Zumba in March 2013, and absolutely love it. I just joined an over-35 women’s soccer league–we’ll see how that goes!

What’s one piece of advice you’d offer someone who’s interested in pursuing their hobby but hasn’t found a way to get started?
Amie: Take a class!  Learning from others who enjoy the hobby and can offer you advice is a great way to get started.  Plus, you’ll meet others with likeminded interests.

Andria: Don’t expect things to be perfect. I’ve been sewing most of my life, but I still have some bad habits and like to take shortcuts, so my finished projects seldom resemble what I see in books. Don’t make a huge monetary investment initially, either–there’s no reason to buy the most expensive sewing machine, or invest in your own pottery kiln unless you’re sure this is your “thing.” And if you run into problems, or just want camaraderie, seek out mom-and-pop stores that offer drop-in times, usually billed as “happy hours,” to connect with other crafters who can provide wisdom gleaned from their own experiences.

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Storey is giving the gift of a hobby. What do you want to learn?
We’ll contribute $250 toward a learning experience of your choosing, including workshops and classes with our authors. Enter by December 31, 2013, for your chance to win!

While you’re there…
Amie and Andria’s Sewing School 2 ebook is just $2.99 for the month of December. Find this and other ebook discounts for the budding hobbyist all month long on our Fresh Picks page.