Meet the Maker: Valérie Élégantine!
by Kollabora Follow

posted 2 years ago

My name is Valérie, but you maybe know me as Élégantine! and my DIY weapons of choice are my two hands and my sewing machines.

I keep myself inspired by reading about fabric, colors and trends, browsing my favourite makers/designers/artists on Instagram or any possible subject on Pinterest. Kollabora is also one of my favourite place to gather inspiration!  

After a long day of making things I like to cook a nice family dinner and spent time with my husband talking about our day.

I first started making things when I was still a child. I can’t remember specifically because it always seems to be a part of my life. I was always busy with all kinds of craft projects. Then, after years of trying a lot of different things, it just seemed natural to pursue Fine Arts in college. I discovered sewing later when I had my first child, but it felt like I had finally found home. Sewing is my perfect creative medium.  

My creativity is driven by a never ending curiosity, my love of all things pretty and my need to think outside the box.

When I think about starting a new project sometimes I will let the fabric speak to me, and I can play with different fabric combinations for hours before even thinking about what to make. Other times, when I have a clear idea of what I want to do, I browse my pattern collection to see if I can find something to create the look I am going for.

I feel most creative when I learn something new. I feel that learning opens me so many new possibilities. So far I have felt creative all the time because I always manage to find a new technique to learn or a new fabric to try. In the past year, I tried silk charmeuse, menswear, bra making, free motion applique and winter outwear, among other things.

My favourite place to buy supplies is Club Tissus, a chain store from Quebec that has an amazing selection of basic and trendy apparel fabrics.

After I finish a project I feel accomplished, proud and ready to take on a new challenge. Every time I get that wonderful feeling of amazement contemplating a finished project. I really wish that this feeling would never go away because it adds to my joy of sewing a lot.

I get out of a creative rut by making a list of the things I want to try: new pattern, technique, fabric, etc. I also like to clean up my sewing space and organise my stash. Just thinking about something else usually brings back the creative juice. What makes me feel stuck, most of the time is too many projects and ideas and not knowing where to start, so an organised space make me feel generally more organized.

My favorite artists/designers/makers are, in no particular order, Filles à Maman, Mummykins and Me by Rebecca Page, Sew Over it, Closet Case Files, By Hand London, Sophie from Ada Spargg, and True Bias.

My favorite thing about making is really hard to pick because I love so many things about it! For example, I am fascinated by that moment when many pieces of fabric of all different shapes become a real functional garment.

To me, DIY means the endless possibility to create anything I want and to put all my heart into it.  

The first thing I made on my sewing machine besides boring curtains was a tiny Alice in Wonderland inspired dress in size newborn for my tiny daughter’s first Halloween. And it was so adorable. I made her a dress with an apron, baby shoes and a headband.

I can’t get enough learning! I want to learn all the things from hand embroidery to pattern design, from screen printing to photography.  

Three words that describe me: curious, creative, enthusiastic

Three words that describe my work: elegant, colourful, stylish

Best creative advice I ever received is don’t be scared to make mistakes and start over, a mistake will never kill you and will make you stronger. And that is so true! Like everyone, I make mistakes sometimes, but it’s all right because I always manage to find success and learn something from my fails.

I don’t think I would change anything, I am pretty happy where I am. I would, however, love to travel more often.

One fact about me that’s embarrassingly awesome is that I say that I started sewing 3 years ago, but in fact I only touched the sewing machine once or twice the first year. I was so busy with my newborn baby, all I did was reading about sewing, fabric and fitting. I learned so much reading blogs and books that when I sat in front of the machine, all my seams were perfect on the first try and I nailed all the techniques that I tried.  

My DIY secret weapon is a very sharp seam ripper! And I change it regularly to make sure it is always super sharp. If it doesn’t fly in my seams it’s not sharp enough. Ok, I swear I don’t always use it this way…

My next project is a huge list, but in 2017, I want to get better at fitting myself and start learning pattern drafting so I can have even more creative liberty. Also very high on my list is to initiate my 3 and a half years old to the world of sewing! She demonstrated a lot of interest into my sewing projects lately and I think she is ready to start her own creative journey.

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