Interview with Anna Maria Horner

We are thrilled to share YOUR interview with Anna Maria Horner today. Anna hand-picked questions that she felt were the most popular. Not surprisingly, they mostly have to do with our wonder and amazement over how she manages to get it all done with 6 children including a toddler at home during the day! I thought I was doing pretty well getting a blog post up here and there (and sometimes getting dressed)… she’s running an empire people! Hmmmn, maybe I just need more kids to make it all happen. Read and learn, and then go pick up a copy of her new book Handmade Beginnings so you can make a pair of these most-adorable booties. They are so cute that I want to bite them, I’m not kidding.

Take it away Anna!

Desiree Fawn said…
When do you get the bulk of your work done? Do you stay up late/get up early? Share your secrets for productivity ^_^

My work is really divided up into various sections.  Sewing, unfortunately, isn’t even 1/2 of what I do every day.  There is a lot of correspondence to keep up with on the computer in order to run my business which involves everything from working with my manufacturing partners to tweak my fabric collections digitally (or home goods, or stationery, or books, or patterns) to corresponding with retailers and customers and steering them towards what they need. 

That said, I also spend time drawing out new fabric designs at my drawing table, drafting new sewing patterns at the cutting counter, sewing samples at the machine and working with my employees on new projects.  Photographing products for the website, large scale photo shoots for books or patterns, etc.  also takes up lots of my work time.  Lots of variety!  So what I’ve had to become good at is pairing whats going on at home with whats going on at work. 

My husband works from home one day a week and can help with Roman (1yr old) so those are days that I save all the out of the house projects for.  I tend to do sewing and pattern writing, and other tedious tasks when Roman is napping.  I answer simple emails on the couch with Roman playing around on the floor using my lap top, or in the kitchen while he’s in the high chair eating. If I need to catch up on some reviewing, or reading various things on the computer, then nursing in front of the computer is a good time to do that.  I try to get all the real focus-related work done in the early part of my day before the older kids (18, 12, 10, 8, 6) come home from school.  I often save all the work that I can still have conversations through, like hand sewing, drawing, simple machine piecing, for after their arrival.  Typically they can occupy Roman enough to keep him off the foot pedal of the machine, and they can also find something to do in the studio with me, like draw, play on the computer or read.  I try not to work in the evenings, or on the weekends at all, except on personal sewing projects….which very often end up getting developed into a published pattern or part of a book.

Danielle said…
Do you have any tips on how to allow a toddler to “help” while sewing? It might buy me a little more time to finish a project or two!

Roman has a corner in the studio that is pretty much his where he has a small bin of toys and a soft rug to play on.  I am a firm believer in the success of parallel play.  Let your workroom also be their workroom with each of you having your own things to work on.  Roman loves to play with empty thread spools, fabric scraps in a bin etc.  So when he ventures over to my space, I have some of “my” things that he is allowed to play with.  I think patience is key, and some days work better than others.  I have been known to have an email window open on my computer as well as a baby video open in another window right beside my email so that we are both occupied.  Everyday is different, and toddlerhood does not last forever!

Ashley said…
How can you save money by doing projects like these? I always find that sewing something costs more than if I had just bought it. Any tips?

CollegeSAHM said…
Do you have any money saving tips? I love designer fabrics but I can’t afford the 4 to 8 dollor a yard price tag. any ideas on how to get some for cheaper?

Well looking for sales is obvious, for sure!  But beyond that, I can honestly say that sewing is less of a cost saving endeavor than it was when I was a kid.  But the quality of materials and of sewing patterns also far exceeds anything that mom and I ever sewed with!  So what we really have available to us now isn’t a cheaper substitute for store bought goods but the very quality of goods that we see in the stores, and often even better.  That being said there are some ways that you can incorporate designer fabrics and patterns into your sewing without going broke!  Buying solids or almost solids off the remnant table is a fantastic way to build up your fabric library and then combine them with designer fabrics in smaller doses. 

Loads of designers offer free sewing patterns at their websites that are an obvious savings.  (Be sure to try out the Nesting Cubes from my book available at Amazon!) Be very choosy when looking for sewing patterns and seek out those that are classic and those that you know you will make over and over again.  Often times adorable patterns are a variation on something else, so educate yourself on how to adapt basic sewing patterns into something different every time you make it.  Often times just adding trims, changing lengths, or switching up fabrics can make one pattern look so different!  The more you sew with patterns, the less you will need them in the future and some designs will be easy to draft yourself.

Katie said…
I would love to have this book! I’m interested in making more of my own patterns. What would advice would you give to a novice pattern-maker?

I have a simple answer for that!  Take apart your clothes!  That’s what I did as a teenager, and thats pretty much why I have never bought a pattern to sew with!  (with the exception of a few Laura Ashley patterns in the late 80’s!)  I used to (and still do) analyze the seams to figure out the order in which a garment was put together, and practice the techniques I studied on my own clothing.  There are lots of pattern drafting books out, but I don’t have personal experience with any of them so sorry I can’t specifically recommend anything.  But also, get yourself a good dress form that fits your size as closely as possible and several bolts of cheap muslin to get you started.  Practice all your designs in muslin first, then once you have what you want take it apart again and make the paper pattern from that the cut fabric pieces.  Hope that helps!

Lily Nichols said…
Did you ever work normal/min. wage jobs and dream of doing what you’re doing now? How did you make it happen?

I waited tables all the way through college which was less than minimum wage!!!  But I did get tips of course.  How did I make it happen?  That’s a long story and hard to answer fully in the context of this interview, but I do have lots of interviews posted in the sidebar of my blog that can shed some light on my career path.  In short though, I always knew doing what  wanted to do was possible.  I was convinced of it, so I was able to convince those around me (family, husband) of it too and therefore have always had their support.  I have never taken the easy way out of anything in my whole entire life and I have to feel like that alone has had everything to do with getting where I want to be.  I’m not trying to be vague.  If I could say something else about being a successful creative it would be this:  It is important to recognize the successful things going on around you and learn why they are each attractive or desirable, but even more important is to be like nothing else around you.  Imitating others could get you some attention and success for about 5 whole seconds.  Being you will never be realized by being someone else!

I really, really wish I could answer more, but life calls!  Thank you so much for all the wonderful questions!  This was loads of fun!  xoxoxo, Anna


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