Tuesday, 3 March 2015

I Support Local: An Interview with One Thimble

An Interview with One Thimble
I am ridiculously excited about this post today. My lovely guest is doing wonderful things in the Australian sewing arena. She was high on my list of people to approach and I was delighted when she agreed to this interview. I think you’ll find it a great read. I also think you’ll be particularly fond of the tasty little treat she’s left at the end.

Without further ado, I introduce to you...Jen from One Thimble.

Please tell us more about yourself.
Image: Property of One Thimble
I had never been very successful with sewing and was sure it wasn’t for me, but then after my daughter was born in 2007 I wanted to sew her a dress and something just clicked. Sewing felt like I’d found what I was meant to be doing with my life!

From the very start I felt that I was supported by the handmade community so in 2011 I launched Collaborate for a Cause as a way to help others network and have the same positive experience I had. Sewing changed my life and I want to help everyone experience that same joy. In 2013 I started working in my handmade business full-time. I started selling my first PDF pattern in 2010 but with the extra time to work on my business (in 2013) I set about releasing more of my patterns. Over time the pattern making side of my business has overtaken the handmade side of things. But I’ve still maintained my desire to help everyone succeed and love sewing!

What is One Thimble?
One Thimble is a digital sewing magazine. It was launched in 2013. It’s released quarterly and each issue has around about 10 PDF patterns for items ranging from childrens ware, to ladies ware, homewares, quilts etc (the mix of pattern styles covered varies issue to issue) as well as 20-25 articles grouped around general interest topics, tips/techniques and handmade business topics. Issue 6 for example, had tutes for making kindy sheets, an introduction to heirloom sewing techniques, an article on writing compelling product descriptions and so much more! With the patterns I want to include a mix of everything sewn so that One Thimble can become in effect a resource library for sewists. If you’re looking for a pattern for a t-shirt or a simple softie to teach your child to sew I dream that you’d check your One Thimble library first!

Image: Property of One Thimble
It came about because ever since I started sewing I was on the lookout for a magazine that had articles about sewing and handmade business as well as full size patterns for clothes I could sew. I could find sewing magazines but they were either all about the patterns or all about the articles. The purpose of One Thimble is to inspire confidence in its readers. I want people to read One Thimble and think “I could do that!” or “Oh that’s how they do that – let’s give it a go” or “I’ve never thought of doing it like that how about I try it with this other dress”. I want One Thimble to introduce its readers to new designers, businesses and ideas and for it to help give a platform for those who’re in the business of helping sewists with their hobby or handmade business to show people what they’ve “got”. I dream that One Thimble will become a one stop spot for enthusiastic sewists – that they’ll buy One Thimble for the patterns and discover so much more!

Eventually I’d love to see One Thimble as a print magazine but the digital format has allowed us to include so much more than a print magazine would and to adapt quickly to the feedback we’ve received from readers.

What is your favourite part of producing an online magazine?
I LOVE “meeting” new people. One Thimble has allowed me to meet and share knowledge with many different designers and business owners.

I adore seeing what people have sewn too. For me there’s nothing better than seeing what someone has sewn with one of my patterns and hearing their stories. It’s the most amazing feeling to have people show things they’ve sewn for gifts or special occasions and to hear their pride in achieving something they didn’t think they could!

Image: Property of One Thimble
What do you love about being an Australian business?
Many of the sewing magazines I used to buy were European based so the current issue of them was always out seasonally or the styles were different to what I was seeing and wanting to sew. It is such a blast to be able to do things in “reverse”. Perhaps it’s not the greatest business decision in the world to try to make patterns seasonally match Australia when also selling to an international audience but I think we deserve to have resources that are current!

I LOVE being able to include the quirky Australian sense of humour and “give it a go” attitude in all that I do. At first I used to worry whether international readers would “get” that but then I stopped worrying and just decided to roll with the Aussieness!

It’s fabulous to be able to showcase local designers and businesses and hopefully show local readers how great our local designers and businesses are and show international readers that there’s more to Australia than “throw another shrimp on the barbie!”

Why do you think supporting local business is important?
Supporting Australian made is about maintaining our ability to have a choice. We lose skills when we don’t support local businesses so before too long it’s not a matter of choosing to buy Australian made or not there’s simply no Australian option.

My interest around this topic is in relation to the clothing industry but I suspect that the same issues are facing other industries. If you’re an Australian handmade business person who’s been making all your items yourself and you hit that wonderful point where demand is outstripping your ability to supply and you decide you don’t want to get your items produced off shore, you’re going to hit some huge hurdles. Changes in legislation make it difficult to hire help on a casual basis. The price squeeze has seen many of our clothing manufacturing businesses go out of business so it’s difficult to find a clothing manufacturing business who is able to take on the small runs you might be needing. We’re losing the skilled workers who used to work in this field and we’re not training any more. In Cairns, as well as many other regional centres, our TAFE’s no longer offer fashion or clothing manufacturing courses and there’s nowhere to learn how to use an industrial sewing machine (without buying one and teaching yourself), you’re stuck with domestic sewing machines and they’re not made (or covered under warranty) for the kinds of hours those with a handmade business put in on them.

Do you have any suggestions on how we can support local business more?
I think the big thing is thinking to think about it. If something is very cheap there’s probably a reason for that. I understand that things get very tight when juggling a family budget but choosing Australian made is about maintaining choice for your kids – not everybody’s kid is going to be cut out for, or even want a job in an office or a retail environment. I want my daughter to have the opportunity to find a job in any variety of fields – I want her to be able to be a jillaroo or a sewing machinist or work in any field she wants. Find the story behind what you buy and celebrate it. I want to be able to tell the people about the kick-arse chilli sauce on the table at our BBQ. How I found it from this guy at the local markets and how he always keeps a sample of his chillis behind the counter and how he’s happy to show you the difference between the varieties and give you tips for growing your own chillis. I want to be able to tell people at my daughter’s party that they can get awesome rainbow ribbon wand party favours like these from a lady from the outer suburbs of Melbourne who takes the most brilliant pictures of her kids playing with them at the park. Buying local is about connecting with people and rather than just having more “stuff”, surrounding yourself with things that have meaning.

Where can we find you?
Image: Property of One Thimble

I told you it was a great read. Now for your tasty little after-reading mint…

Image: Property of One Thimble
Jen is kindly offering a discount code for Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow readers!!!

The code is Aussie and will be valid until mid-April. It will give you 20% off e-zine purchases (excludes stand-alone patterns, gift vouchers or subscriptions). 

How awesome is that?!?!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and have a better insight into why supporting local is so important. 

I'd like to give an enormous Thank You to Jen for taking the time to speak to little old me and of course to you for taking the time to visit.

Happy Sewing.

Rachael xx


  1. Awesome interview - Jen is so lovely.

    1. Absolutely delightful to chat with. I love reading what she has to say about supporting local businesses. Especially in regards to providing our children with choices. It's not something I'd really thought about.

  2. Beautifully said Jen! This is such a wonderful initiative Rachael. I'm really looking forward to seeing more.

    1. Thanks so much. I'm really excited about this and can't wait to see what other businesses have to say.

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