As Andrea and I mused through her vast creations of patterns, we’ve stumbled upon others from an earlier time, but were distracted from largely due to my prodding and inquiries into the Renaissance and costume patterns. Therefore, we begin this installment with a bit of backtracking.

Goose Mother: Andrea, here’s a pattern from 1989. I like this one. Adorable! (I show her a pattern I’ve retrieved.)

Andrea Schewe: Oh my! That one is ancient. (She chuckles and stares at the pattern momentarily; first over her glasses then flips the pattern over and reads a bit.) Yes, this one is from when I was still working at McCall’s. (McCall’s 4208). Hmm, you know there are a lot of craft patterns that I was also designing between all the costumes and I really haven’t mentioned them at all.

Goose Mother: That’s my fault. I’ve prodded you for your stories on the costumes and became so wrapped up in them. Perhaps a bit of backtracking is in order.

Andrea Schewe: Recall that I spent 1983-85 at the toy company, AmToy, before I started freelancing. When I started working as a freelancer the majority of my work was for toy companies. At McCall’s, I made patterns for plush animals, doll clothes and home decoration. That pattern you showed me, McCall’s 4208, was one that I designed to give small children something they could really play with and use their imagination.

The very first professional pattern (for commercial sale) I ever made was a craft pattern; a baby’s room package. I mentioned this one earlier. This was a design McCall’s presented to me, but I completely worked it out, turning the small sketch into three dimensional pieces and then sewed all the photo samples with patterns.     

And I also mentioned that the first pattern I made for Simplicity was a package of No-Sew costumes, but the sketch that caught the eye of Abbie Small during my interview with Simplicity was a design I had made for baby doll play accessories. I had presented this idea to McCall’s and they passed on it, but Simplicity liked it and I made it up shortly after I started working for them. (Simplicity 8105) This pattern has diapers that can Velcro on and off, a bib, a tote with fold out changing pad, soft bassinet, a one piece jammie and a back pack for the child to carry her doll around with her. This sold well, so I designed a similar pattern for the 18” girl doll that had, among other things, a sleeping bag and garment bag with hangers so girls could take their dolls over to play at a friend’s house. (Simplicity 9833) Simplicity then asked me to make a pattern with accessories for actual babies. (Simplicity 8400) But the pattern in this category I’m most proud of is a soft book for babies. There are 8 pages with an activity on each page including zipping and peek-a-boo. (Simplicity 3709) This is still in the catalog and I plan on making it for any grandchildren of mine that may come along!

Actually, I’ll just try and give you an overview of my craft patterns I think are the most interesting.

Another successful early craft pattern had a couple of stuffed ducks and cows wearing prairie dresses that were designed to cover up a vacuum cleaner or sewing machine. (Simplicity 8462) When you don’t have much closet space these could make a decorative item out of a vacuum stowed in a room corner or make an open sewing space appear cheerful and tidy. There were several patterns for the same kind of thing during this time period. It was popular in the early 90’s to have stuffed animals around the house wearing very full, old fashioned dresses with pinafores. Fashions in crafts come in and out of style just like anything else.

In the spirit of the old fashion look, I designed a set of sewing room accessories meant to be made as gifts. Abbie Small took a trip to London and brought back a couple of cute items she saw there; a retractable tape measure that was in a cloth animal and some tiny scissors that were attached to something. Gosh, I can’t quite remember, but that was how this pattern was born. Abbie asked me to come up with a group of things in the spirit of the items she brought back. (Simplicity 7105) Then, about 4 or 5 years ago, I designed a set of themed pin cushions because Betsy Burger noticed that pincushions were very popular items on the internet. The owl in this pattern is my favorite. (Simplicity 2990)

One of the things I want to do when I retire … (she’s laughing) …

Goose Mother: Yeah, I’m glad to hear you laugh when you say that! I don’t know you personally, but from what I’ve observed, I find that a bit difficult to envision. You’re laughing because even you know better!!

Andrea Schewe: Well, somehow I don’t think I will ever retire in the conventional manner, but I really want to make a quilt or two or three. I love mixing fabrics and making interesting patterns. Back in the 90’s, I had a wonder-person sewing for me named Birdie Zoltan. She was basically a quilter and craft maker. And let me tell you, she really knew her stuff!! She learned dress making techniques from me, but I learned about paper piecing (a technique for making tiny pieced designs) from her and I designed a pattern that had a bunch of items made using this method. There is a tote bag, hand bag, eye glass case, needle case and even a hair barrette. (Simplicity 7045) I’ve never done anything quite like this since, but would very much like to. Maybe I should say something?? But, is this something people want to do now? I’m actually curious about this because I don’t see much like this lately. Hmmmmm, but it’s really fun to do.

Another project I did for Simplicity was a pattern of accessory props used when doing yoga. (Simplicity 3583) I have been taking yoga classes for about ten years now and there are things made of fabric that many people use to help in their yoga practice. The one tricky thing was figuring out how to make the round and oval bolster pillows that are used to help support people in certain poses. They can’t be floppy. After much effort and experimentation, I found that the way to get the bolster to be just like the store bought ones was to have a core of foam rubber and then wrap the foam with the thick cotton batting that upholsterers use. It was a fun puzzle to figure out. Here is one of the photos I sent to Simplicity so they could see how I made the inside of the bolster.

Goose Mother: That’s interesting, especially learning about how you come by your ideas.

Andrea Schewe: Another time I will talk about the doll clothes I have made for Simplicity as well as some fashion accessories and Home Decoration. Actually, the project I am working on right now is a curtain pattern, but that’s all I can say about that just now.

To Be Continued…………………..

Honk Honk


  • How fun! I love the owl pincushion! 🙂

    • The Goose Mother says:

      Hey Jamie. Thanks for stopping by. I liked the owl pincushion too. I have a niece partial to owls. I was thinking it would make a nice gift; it’s just so cute.

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