Inspired by all things whimsical and pretty, Lauren from Molly and Mama has a passion for encouraging makers of all abilities on their creative journey. Her teaching background helps her to share her love for traditional sewing techniques like quilting, appliqué, embroidery and felt sewing, in a fresh and fun way. You can see more in her book ‘Pretty Handmades’ and in her beginner-friendly patterns, tutorials and sewing classes.
Tell us about your background.
Since I was a small child, I’ve been making and creating in one form or another. I was blessed to grow up in a family where we could craft and sew, draw and paint, and get creative! It’s been a way of life for me, and something I just never grew out of. So it made sense that I’d pursue a creative job. But that didn’t really happen until my children came along. I first started sewing for family and friends. One thing led to another and Molly and Mama was born.
My grandmother Molly, and my mother (whom my kids call Mama) inspired my love of all things creative and encouraged me to follow my dreams. So I named my business after them. It just made sense to me.
Molly and Mama has certainly changed and developed over the last ten years. I began by selling ready-made accessories, embellished t-shirts, simple clothing and pretty décor. But then I started to notice how much I enjoyed the creative process, and also enjoyed sharing it with others.
I also noticed people around me often commenting that they wished they were creative or could sew. And I’m still surprised to hear these comments, because in my mind, we can all design and make. I realised there were many people out there that wanted to try their hand at a traditional craft, but mistakenly believed it was difficult.
So that inspired me to design simple-to-follow craft patterns, with lots of step-by-step instructions, clear photos, and with no sewing jargon. I wanted my patterns to inspire beginners to pick up a needle and thread and give a sewing project a go, just for the fun of being creative. I wanted others to feel that sense of satisfaction when their creative dreams became a reality. I hope my patterns encourage others and share with them a love of traditional sewing methods made modern.
How did you get started with sewing?
My first memory of sewing was hand stitching little soft toys and doll’s clothes from fabrics found in the scrap basket in my mum’s sewing room. I couldn’t have been more than eight at the time. I distinctly recall that feeling of joy and achievement when I made something that fit my doll well, where the buttons were in the right place or the press studs were sewn on correctly. There was a lot of trial and error but also a lot of satisfaction when my little creations worked. And mum was always on hand to steer me in the right direction, but she also gave me the space to work it out on my own.
From that time, I have always enjoyed sewing in one form or another. As a child, my mum gave me a tapestry kit with blue irises, and it was such a thrill to see that picture come to life with my stitches in coloured wool. As a teen I progressed to sewing scrunchies and clothing, and also embroidery and cross stitch. I always had some sort of project on the go. And that still seems to be the case today, especially as sewing and designing is now my full time job!
Tell us about your creations…
If you take a look at any Molly and Mama design, you’ll see my love for all things pastel and pretty. Florals are a favourite too. My original patterns bring a whimsical twist to traditional sewing techniques. My felt, embroidery, English paper piecing, patchwork and appliqué projects are characterised by attention to detail and special finishes. However, I also want my projects to be achievable for all skill levels so I design simple-to-follow patterns, with lots of step-by-step instructions, clear photos, and with little sewing jargon. It is my hope that the skills that are learned with each new pattern can then be transferred to other projects and creations.
I’m very grateful that what started as a hobby has now become my full time job. Not only do I create instant download sewing patterns, paper patterns are also distributed to stores via my wholesale distributor Creative Abundance. I also submit projects to magazines, sew commissioned projects and pieces for companies in the sewing and quilting industry, work with fabric, thread and notion companies and more. It’s always interesting and there’s lots of keep me busy.
Do you have a dedicated space / studio / room for your sewing?
Being that Molly and Mama is now a full time job for me, it was important to convert a spare room in the house into a well set up studio for sewing.
Being in a small room means that I’ve had to be creative about the way I use the space. I have a wall of cupboards that fit most of my fabrics, notions, patterns, projects and more. A sturdy desk holds all the home office supplies that make up much of my job including my Mac and printer. There’s another table for my wonderful Janome Memory Craft 9450 QCP and overlocker. And a third small table is used for cutting and storing works in progress. A small three tiered trolley keeps all of my most used items close at hand while I work and sew.
And the most important feature in the room is a large window to let the natural light pour in, and four newly installed LED ceiling lights that provide bright, white light for nighttime sewing!
What does a typical day for you involve?
I’m a stay-at-home mum by choice. So that job comes first. But that just means that I make sure I plan for my business diligently, schedule in my deadlines and the steps I need to take to get there.
My work day typically starts at 9am with a quick check in on social media and emails. Then it’s time to get straight down to the physical work – the actual making. I try and ensure that the sewing is scheduled for earlier in the day when the kids are at school. And the computer work, blogging, social media posts and networking tend to happen at night because it’s too late to start up the sewing machine!
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and at any time. Living in rural Australia, there’s always plenty to sketch and bring to life with the sewing machine, or needle and thread. From the nearby paddocks and farm animals to the beautiful native flora and fauna, inspiration for my designs is just a step outside the door. A lot of my work features flowers and bees, inspired by my garden and our bee hives.
I keep a notebook handy at all times. Some of my sketched ideas can take hold in my mind, and then they just ask to be brought to life! I grab some felt or fabric and get started. I think it’s really important to give your ideas the space to develop and grow though. I can spend weeks thinking about a design before I start sewing it. And not every project needs to be completed either. The sheer act of ‘making’ can often inspire another design or idea.
Being creative encourages creativity. I think if you always have something to work on, design, stitch or make, then you’ll be constantly keeping that creative process growing. And your creations will be new and fresh, original and distinctly yours.
What are you currently working on?
There just aren’t enough hours in the day to bring all of my creative dreams to life. Yet, how blessed am I to have that chance? I’m so grateful to be able to do what I love, share my knowledge with others, and learn a lot along the way. It really is the perfect job.
I’m excited to continue working with amazing companies like Janome, Riley Blake Designs for fabric, My Felt Lady for felt, and Aurifil for threads. I’ll continue to design projects and patterns for special events, magazines, and my lovely audience. And perhaps there will be a new book on the horizon. But more than anything, I just want to be able to continue sharing the joy of sewing and making. I think that taking time for creative pursuits can be so restorative. When our sewing is utilitarian, we don’t often make the connection between how working with our hands can help still our minds. But sewing in any form can be a simple way to slow down, reconnect with ourselves and make connections with other likeminded people also. I think that’s so important!
Any sewing advice to share?
The best piece of advice I’ve heard in recent years is that ‘done is better than perfect’.
Sometimes we can let fear or a lack of confidence stop us from trying a new project or from attempting a different sewing technique. The best antidote to that is to just get in there and give it a go! Each new piece we create, builds on the skills we learnt in making the last project. So even if the finished product isn’t quite as perfect as we’d like, we’ll use those skills as we move forward on our creative journey. And I like to remind myself that it is a journey! We sew for the joy that the process brings us, and not always for the project we have made at the end. I think that’s an important thing to remember.
Also, there’s lots of lovely, kind and helpful people out there who are only too happy to share their knowledge and expertise. Join local sewing groups or search online for Facebook groups that are centred around your area of interest. It won’t be long before you find a supportive place where tips and tricks are freely shared. And it’s wonderful to sew with likeminded creatives who understand and appreciate what you do.
Share something people don’t know about you…
Most people who follow my business Molly and Mama, don’t realise I have a background in psychology and primary school teaching. Both of these areas of training have really helped me in creating instructional texts like tutorials and sewing patterns that are clear, easy to read and follow, and that encourage others on their creative journey.
Follow Lauren on Instagram.