14 Feb 2020 • • by Amy

Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia!

Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns

I can't remember exactly when we first noticed Sylvia (@theravelout) in our Instagram feed. All I know is a fun, colourful version of Cielo would show up and I would say, "she's done it again!" about some little tweak or hack that made it all her own. Her blog www.theravelout.com shares great tips and ideas for making similar adjustments to your makes and I've often learned something from her shares, which is impressive since she only started sewing six years ago! This fellow Canadian finds time to squeeze in sewing despite being a student awards coordinator at a University in Calgary, Alberta. You would never know she is suffering through our insane winters when you look through her bright and sunny feed, however. I have to imagine she is shivering in at least a few of these shots!! But let's delve in and meet this creative sewist.

Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
Cielo hacked into a tunic!

How much time do you spend on your sewing practice a week (including planning, researching, sewing etc)?
I spend about 6-8 hours sewing each week doing sewing related activities.

What is your home sewing set-up like? 
My sewing set-up has changed so much over the past couple of years, from sewing on a dining table to having a whole room dedicated to sewing. Currently, my sewing space is set up in the den in our condo. The only thing is I wish I had a window for some natural light but I’ll take it over a dining table any day!


Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
This is clearly too tidy to be a sewing room!

Did you have a gateway person or experience that brought you to sewing?
I have always spent too much time browsing through craft and DIY websites. However, when I graduated from college in 2014, job searching began to have a toll on my mental health. So I decided to finally buy a sewing machine and try some of all the gorgeous things I had seen while browsing all the DIY blogs and YouTube videos. So I would job search during the day and learn how to use my machine at night. It felt so good and I was in such a happy place that even after finding a job, I never gave up sewing.


What was the first thing you remember wanting to sew?
A dress! I have loved dresses as long as I can remember so the goal was to be able to make one. When I was comfortable enough to try making a dress for the first time, I went BOLD and made a fit and flare African print dress.

Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
A Cielo dress with a circle skirt in an African wax print.

How would you define your style?
I’d describe my style as “colourful classics with a twist!”


What is your favourite thing you’ve made?
The twist-front dress I made in 2018 is still my all-time favourite garment ever! The fabric I chose for this pattern could not have been any more perfect. It still makes me smile every time I see it in my closet.


Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
The twist front dress!

What is your favourite Closet Core Pattern?It’s no secret that the Cielo Top & Dress is my favourite Closet Core Pattern ever! The simplicity of it makes it such a great top and base for a pattern hack lover like me. Once I find a pattern that works for me, I love to make it in a variety of ways. I have currently made four totally different looks with my Cielo Top pattern and I cannot seem to stop!

Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
Cielo colour blocked!

How does sewing affect your relationship with shopping and RTW?
I noticed that about my 3rd year into sewing some of my own garments, my shopping habits significantly decreased. Not only because I could make some things and didn’t need to buy them but I also began to learn more about the impact of fast fashion. So slowing down and being more intentional about shopping is my little way of doing my part.

What are your go-to fabric stores?
About half of the fabrics in my stash are from Blackbird fabrics. I shop online more than I go into a physical store because I do not have a lot of options where I live. I also have a healthy stash of fabric and African prints I brought back with me during my last trip to Ghana. For physical stores, Fabricland and thrift are where I go.


Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
Cielo dress with a hacked sleeve and a ruffle added!

What was the best lesson or skill that took your sewing to the next level?
Press, press, press! I never used to press while sewing because I just wanted to get to the end result. But now that I take my time to make sure I am doing things right and to ensure my garments will last longer, I have definitely seen a difference.

What are your sewing goals? What would you like to learn how to do to push your practice forward?
I made a swimsuit for the first time last year using the Sophie Swimsuit and that really pushed me. This year, I hope to make a very beautiful wool coat with clean details before winter comes around again.

Sewist Spotlight: Meet Sylvia // Closet Core Patterns
Cielo with a hacked oyster sleeve and ruffle! Go check out her IGTV for a video on how to achieve this sleeve!


What’s the next thing you want to make?
A fun denim jacket for the spring/summer season. I haven’t decided on what pattern or what “fun” means for this project.

What makers or sewists in our community do you find inspiring?
Each sewist I follow inspires me in different ways. There is a lot of inspiration from the sewing community that it’ll be impossible to list them all. However, the top two sewists that have inspired me since Day 1 are @mimgstyle and @ericabunker

What experiences have come out of your interaction with the online sewing community?
I have had the opportunity to meet a few sewists and it has always been a blast! However the ultimate has been a great friendship that would not have happened if Claire @claireese77 had not reached out to me via DM. We have met in person multiple times since then. I’m very grateful for that.

Thank you Sylvia!

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