Meet the Maker: Camille (aka: Mamie)
by Kollabora Follow

posted 6 years ago

My name is Camille, but you maybe know me as Mamie on Instagram or from my blog, Attack of the Seam Ripper. My DIY weapons of choice are my sewing machine, serger… and seam ripper of course!

When I am looking for inspiration I browse Pinterest, watch old movies or look at my collection of magazines and clothing catalogues from the 50's. I also love to go visit fashion museums whenever I get the chance: the Palais Galliera and the Fashion and Textiles museum of the Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Costume Institute at the MET... I'm very drawn to mid-century silhouettes and design details.

After a long day of making things I like to relax watching Netflix and drinking herbal tea, or play board games or video games with my husband.

I got started making when my grandmother told me how to knit as a little kid. I started for real in high school and knitted and crocheted for a while. In college I decided to learn how to sew, inspired by a friend who was hand-sewing his own Victorian shirts. My mom happened to be taking sewing classes at the time, and she taught me what she was learning.

The one thing that drives my creativity is the thrill of making. Whether is sewing, knitting, or even dabbling in Arduino electronics project, I like the feeling of creating something. When I have to go weeks without making anything it drives me crazy!

When I think about starting a new project I write down my notes in Trello, which I use to keep track of all my ideas. I wrote a series of blog posts on how I use it to catalog my fabric and pattern stash. It lets me access my stash wherever I am so I can avoid buying a pattern I already own or extra fabric when I already have what I need. It's super useful!

Read them all here:
part 1
part 2
part 3

I joined Deer&Doe patterns last year, which has been incredible. If I wasn’t working at a sewing patterns company, I would love to be a Disney Imagineer. The idea of using cutting-edge technologies in unexpected ways to transport people to different universes is something that really speaks to me.

When I was a kid I wanted to be a video game programmer. I did a little bit of that and ended up in academia doing artificial intelligence research, then moved on to the world of entrepreneurship and sewing patterns!

The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone for emails and social media messages. I live in a different time zone than most of my family and friends (I'm 6 hours behind) so a lot happens during the night!

The music that can cheer me out of any bad mood is the soundtrack of the 1986 musical Little Shop of Horrors. I love listening to musicals and singing out loud, especially when I sew!

My favorite word is the French word "néanmoins". It means "however", but really I just like how it sounds.

My least favorite word is “hierarchical”. I can't pronounce it. It's the worst.

Making makes me feel both very calm and powerful. The process itself is very involved and focused, but the end result is that I can make any idea in my head come to life and that is pretty insane.

I get out of a creative rut by forcing myself to sit down and start a new project. Sometimes I feel like I want to sew, but it's been so long since I've cut into fabric that I'm terrified I'm going to forget everything I learned and mess it up somehow. In these cases I just make myself start a straightforward project, using a pattern from a brand I already know so there's no surprise.

I most relate to Professor Farnsworth from Futurama. "Oh no! I should do something....but I am already in my pajamas." is kind of my catchphrase.

My favorite sewing pattern designer is of course my friend Eléonore, who started Deer&Doe and creates all the patterns! I also really like the work of Pauline Alice and Kristiann Boos from Victory Patterns. As for couture designers, there are a lot of artists I adore (Jacques Fath, Yves Saint-Laurent...), but my all time favorite is none other than the great Christian Dior. I love the feminine silhouettes and clean lines of his 50's dresses and coats.

My favorite thing about making is that every project helps me improve my skills, and learn new construction techniques. More than the endless possibilities for customization, that's what DIY means to me: investing in yourself and taking the hard road of spending time and effort to, in time, achieve a higher-quality result than you could buy from the rack.

The first thing I ever made was a moss stitch scarf when I was maybe 7 years old. I never finished it, and it ended up folded in two and sewn into a tiny tiny pillowcase! If I recall correctly, my first sewing project was a cotton skirt made using Burda 8176.

The most influential person in my life is my amazing husband. We come from different cultures (he's American, I'm French) and he is a very earnest, no B.S. person. He inspired me to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and is a continuous reminder to not let cultural norms or social expectations stop me from thinking outside the box and do what I want with my life. He also showed me that you can do almost anything when you just commit yourself to it: he once learned how to sew and made me a fully lined dress in secret, just to surprise me! He's the one behind the camera on my blog, and I think he takes awesome pictures.

My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to sew all day, with a cup of tea by my side and a podcast in the background :)

I can’t get enough shirtdress patterns. I already own many different ones, but I can't stop myself from buying new releases. There is always a tiny design detail that gets me.

Three words that describe me: enthusiastic, punctilious, competitive

Three words that describe my work: retro-inspired, feminine, effortless

Best creative advice I ever received is to not settle on something I'm not satisfied with. In doubt: unpick or unravel, and start again.

I never leave the house without one of my many notebooks. I like to make lists and write down notes and ideas all the time!

I'm in this weird situation right now where I work in France and my husband works in the US, so I'm somehow living in both countries, spending half of my time in Toulouse and the other half in Boston. If I could live in any other city, it would probably be Portland, OR. I visited the city last year and completely fell in love with the quirky, creative atmosphere.

My DIY secret weapon is to use starch or gelatin to rigidify shifty fabrics like rayon and silk. I've only starting doing this these past two years and it's been a total game-changer for me. It makes cutting and sewing much more precise.

The biggest DIY mistake I ever made was cutting along the dart line when trying to remove the extra seam allowance from a bodice pattern piece on which I'd added seam allowances twice by accident. I didn't have enough fabric to recut the piece, so I had to buy more of what ended up being not exactly the same fabric but a slightly different shade of blue after the first wash. Now I call it a colorblock feature!

My next project is a plaid flannel shirt for fall! I've been daydreaming about it all summer and I'm excited that the weather is finally getting cold enough to wear it :)

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