MULTI-TALENTED ANDREA SCHEWE
CONTINUED / PART XIII
Goose Mother: This time we’re going to delve into your Home Décor patterns.
Andrea Schewe: Yes, I imagine most people who know my work don’t think of me as a Home Décor designer, but I have done a fair amount of it. As you know my very first commercial pattern was the baby’s room with the balloon motif.
Goose Mother: Yes, I recall that one but I have two bedroom patterns of yours in my own stash that I really like.
Andrea Schewe: Well, McCall’s must have liked what I did, because I won what I like to call “the since you’ve been so clever award,” which translates into if you’ve done something well, you get to do it again and again and again. So, during my short time at McCall’s I made a lot of Home Décor patterns. These were not designed by me, but I was the one who had to make up all those mathematical measurement charts, write the first draft of the instructions AND cut and sew those giant pieces all on my own.
Goose Mother: I admit that this is why I prefer to purchase those type of patterns rather than sort it out on my own; less work and cuts down on the guess work.
Andrea Schewe: And I have to add that it was a good thing that I was young when I was doing that, because we were living in a tiny apartment. The entire apartment was 900 square feet. My workroom was a 5 ft. x 8 ft. dining nook that I partitioned off with some floor to ceiling shelves, so I wouldn’t have to look at my mess 24/7. Anyway, when I was working on these huge projects, I would cut things out on the floor of the living room on my knees, which was about 11 ft. x 14 ft. Then bundle the giant pieces of fabric in my arms and squeeze into my “workroom” where my sewing machine was. Here are some of the patterns I did for them, so you can see the size of the pieces I was sewing!
Andrea Schewe: (she giggles as she points to a specific pattern lying among an assortment of Home Décor patterns) … See the floral print in this one? (McCall’s 5130) … I used the leftover fabric to make a dress that I wore to Betsy Burger’s wedding! She was working at Simplicity by this time, but not me,… not yet.
After I moved over to Simplicity I did very little Home Decor. Looking back through the old catalogs, I found a couple of patterns where I was responsible for the patterning and sample work. (Simplicity 9072 and Simplicity 9003) But these were merely chair pads and placemats. Not the giant stuff I was making for McCalls.
Simplicity had me designing costumes and small crafts such as doll clothes and tote bags. However, in 2004 Simplicity decided to have a big home decoration push and since I was the mother of two boys just out of high school and had experience in the toy industry, they assigned the Teen Home Décor line to me. The first set of these patterns ultimately ended up being called, Simply Teen. These were: Simplicity 5121 (curtains), Simplicity 5126 (canopies), Simplicity 5124 (organizers), and Simplicity 5105 (pillows). That first set of the Simply Teen pillows are still in the catalog and for a long time they were being purchased by schools for home economics classes.
It was fun trying out new ideas such as chalkboard cloth for the curtains and using all the bright colors. Anyway, the program was very successful and I was asked to design a second and then a third year of patterns for the Simply Teen line. (Simplicity 4529, 4532, 4527, 3953 and 4524) Actually, I think I may have missed one or two, but there were a lot.
At the same time, since those circular canopies were very popular then I deigned an adult bedroom which I think is the nicest Home Decor pattern I’ve made. (Simplicity 5315 – see above) It stayed in the catalog for a very long time.
Because this exotic looking bedroom did well, I designed a package of living room things that were inspired by a trip I took to visit my older son who was living in Cairo, Egypt at the time. (Simplicity 3693 see above)
Goose Mother: I have to say that the elephant in Simplicity 3693 is adorable. That elephant alone is worth the entire package. I’ve seen several of the elephants made up on the internet. It’s really, really cute.
Andrea Schewe: Most recently I designed a duvet cover and pillow shams that use LOTS of bias tape. So people who own the very cool bias tape maker could have a project to use it on. The bias tape maker really works and I am very suspicious of little machines like that. This pattern number is Simplicity 2204.
And, currently I am in the middle of a few Home Decor patterns, but I can’t reveal yet to you what they are. There are only a handful of pattern companies, so we have to have a bit of secrecy.
Some people have inquired if I’m sad when I’m asked to do projects other than costumes. In all honesty, I enjoy the variety and the challenge of figuring out how to do something.
Goose Mother: In working with you on this interview, that is a personal attribute of Andrea Schewe. If she’s not challenged and involved in some project, she’s not a happy camper! Challenges tend to keep it all interesting for you! You almost seem to invite them; to dare them almost. (Laughter)
Andrea Schewe: Well, this is a good place to pause. I will circle back to the costumes next time as there are still quite a few patterns I’d like to talk about.
To Be Continued …..