Our new Featured Maker is Jennifer Mathis: sewist of B-E-A-utiful “Ellison Lane Handmade” project bags, and founder of the “Sew South Retreat!” We know that a lot of you folks in our #fibresharetribe are obsessed with pretty bags for your WIPs. Well, look no further. Seriously, Jennifer’s bags are consistently fresh, stunning, and functional. We love ’em. Read on for a fun look into her creative work, and remember to say howdy via Instagram and her Website!
Tell us about who you are and what you make/sell!
Hey! I’m Jennifer Mathis, and I am a maker and the owner of Ellison Lane Handmade. I love taking pretty fabric and creating something both beautiful and useful. I create bags of all kinds which I sell in my shop, but my specialty are project bags for knitting and crocheting, and pretty pouches. I love helping others express their style through pretty and practical bags.
I’m also a mama, a wife and a Southern girl. Born and raised in North Carolina, I host sewing retreats called Sew South (#sewsouth )and strive to connect others through a shared love of creating.
I love art, flowers and books along with anything that’s robin’s egg blue. As a former teacher, I dork out over school supplies and sharpened pencils and cannot resist a rainy afternoon curled up on the couch with a quilt and a good book.
Where do you work? From home? Do you have a studio space?
I’m so blessed to have a dedicated workspace in our home. My sewing room is our guest room but it’s a lot more accurate to say that there is a bed in my sewing space! It’s a cheerful spot with a big sunny window, and I work surrounded by piles of pretty fabric and thoughtful handmade gifts from friends. I alternate between binge watching shows while I sew and listening to audio books or Pandora.
How/when did you fall in love with the sewing world? Did someone teach you, or are you self-taught?
I am a self-taught sewist although my grandmother was quite an accomplished seamstress and my mother as well. I never had any interest in sewing until I was pregnant with my second child 7 years ago. While gathering ideas for decorating his nursery I came across an online tutorial for a patchwork baby quilt. I decided to give it a try, borrowed my mom’s machine and I was immediately hooked!
Even though that first project was full of errors and imperfections, I was over the moon that I had made something cute that he would love and use. From learning through online tutorials and books to lots of trial and error, I have had a wonderful time growing as a sewist. I’ve made many, many quilts, bags, pillows and pouches as I’ve been sewing ever since.
From there I began blogging, attended a sewing conference and basically dove headfirst into the online world of makers. It’s been a wonderful creative outlet for me. Sewing inspired me to create my own sewing retreat (Sew South) and through that I’ve made some of my very best friends and have connected with so many kind, talented makers I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to meet otherwise. Instagram has helped me connect with other creative makers as well. I love all of the beauty and color at my fingertips.
I began as a quilter and gradually discovered that my passion is bag making. I think of sewing as my art expression and choosing fabrics is the best part! Mixing prints and colors from an ever-changing supply is completely inspiring and keeps it fresh. Regardless of what I make, I get the most joy from seeing something I’ve created being used and loved.
Where can we shop for your products?
What are your other hobbies?
When I’m not sewing or taking care of my family, like to go for walks, read, knit and binge watch tv shows!
What is one of your favorite bags you’ve ever made?
It seems like every new favorite fabric becomes my favorite new bag. I love, love, love one the most until the next favorite fabric arrives and I love that one more! It’s a great problem to have.
Do you have any sewing-crushes? People who inspire you?
There are so many people that inspire me and what they all have in common is that they go after what they want and are true to themselves. Makers that carve out their style and work hard to make it happen inspire me every day.
I’m also so inspired by the ladies that come to my Sew South Retreats. The kindness, creativity and their genuine affection for each other inspires me greatly. I leave each retreat feeling renewed, encouraged and fulfilled.
Do you have any favorite sewing books or podcasts?