Nepotism. No, I’m just kidding. Lol. I met Lisa a while ago and we’ve been in the same blogging accountability group. She’s been an awesome blogging buddy that has really inspired me to grow my companies. It wasn’t until after she pitched a pattern that I realized which pattern company was hers. How cool! So she totally got in this bundle on her own merits. We LOVED her pitch (the moto leggings). Lisa is amazing. I can’t wait for you to learn more about her! 🙂
Lisa Neri is the designer for Cucicucicoo.
Lisa, how do you structure your days?
I’m a mother who works both from and outside of the home, so it’s really hard to have a set schedule for my days. I generally try to get the most out of my mornings when my kids are at school. My working schedule really goes in phases, focusing on one thing at a time. So I will create and photograph a bunch of projects for my blog all at once, and then write them up. Then I focus for about a month on pattern development, sewing, writing and testing. Each day is different from the one before, so I just take one at a time!
Where and how do you work best?
I work best when home alone and without distractions, generally in the morning when my husband is at work and my kids at school. Door closed to my tiny sewing room, a big bottle of water next to me, a great playlist on YouTube, and I’m good to go!
What tools do you find indispensable when sewing?
Pins! It sounds pretty obvious, but I love using pins for holding together fabric (I’m way too lazy to baste!), marking places on patterns, and helping to feed tricky bits of fabric under the sewing machine foot.
Another very obvious tool is my seam ripper. I make so. Many. Mistakes. As we all do. So my seam ripper is never far from my side!
What would you have done differently when you first started sewing if you knew then what you know now?
I would have started sewing clothes sooner. It seems so much scarier to sew a skirt or a shirt or even a simple scarf than it does to sew a pillow or a bag, at least to a beginner. Plus I think that the idea of going around in public wearing something that you’ve sewn can be kind of terrifying at first. But once I started adjusting clothing, then doing simple refashions, I began to sew clothing and realized how amazing it really is and wished I hadn’t wasted so much time being scared of it!
What’s the best advice you ever received?
It’s better to do something imperfect than to never do something perfect. As in, it’s impossible to do anything perfectly, so just do the best you can. This goes for many things in life, but also applies to sewing. For example, for years I wanted to start sewing bathing suits. I bought patterns, fabric, elastic, clips. But all the materials just sat in my sewing room. It seemed like such a big scary thing to sew a swimsuit, so I just didn’t start.
When I finally bit the bullet and sewed my first bikini, I made so many mistakes and swore so much! But I was more proud of that very imperfect swimsuit than I had been of pretty much anything else I’d sewn up til then. From there I started sewing all sorts of bathing suits and I now have sworn off ever buying another!
What I create is never perfect, but that’s fine. If I waited to create something perfect before I ever used or published it on my website, I’d never actually do anything.
Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
So many people have influenced me. And I continue to be amazed and stimulated by so many talented creative ladies every day. I don’t aspire to be like any sewing or other creative superstar, but simply to learn and strive to be like the many strong people that I see living their day to day lives, all the while living their dream of earning a living with their creativity.
What is still your biggest challenge?
Going back to what I wrote before, my biggest challenge is to stop seeing the mistakes I make in my sewing work. Anyone who sews or does any other sort of handicraft knows that your final product can be 99.5% perfect, but that 0.5% of mistakes will be glaringly obvious to you, even if nobody else would ever even notice them. It drives me nuts to have spent many hours on a project and, rather than be able to bask in the amazing feeling of having completed something incredible, only notice the mistakes. I would like to be more accepting of the errors that I make.
What are your favorite books or magazines on sewing?
I don’t usually read sewing magazines, but I do enjoy sewing books. I don’t have any particular favorites, so I’ll just mention a couple of them. One is “Reconstructing Clothes for Dummies.” This was one of my first major inspirations in starting refashioning, which is one of my creative passions. This book really opened my eyes and creativity to so many possibilities in renovating clothing that you already have.
I recently purchased another book called “Sewing Happiness” by Sanae Ishida. I enjoy the projects in the book, but what really struck me is the author’s story and how sewing helped her heal and live a slower, happier and more fulfilled life. I feel that we all tend to rush around and push what really matters off to the side. And I agree that dedicating, if not your life, at least a portion of your time to slow, meditative creation truly helps a person connect with her inner self.
What’s your best advice for handling criticism?
Try to keep your head and not let your emotions take over. Nobody likes criticism and sometimes it is cruel and/or totally unwarranted. But most of the time criticism can be the best help you can get. It’s often hard to see things that could be improved in your own work because you are so close to them and know them so well. On the other hand, people on the outside can often see your things in a different light and help you better them.
How do you balance work and family demands?
That’s easy to answer: I don’t! Haha! It’s very hard, or rather, impossible, to do it all. So I don’t even try. My home is a disaster. We eat very quickly prepared meals, often just thrown together at the last minute. My kids spend more time in front of screens that I’d like. I’m not proud of these things, but I do what I can to respect my professional activity as a creative entrepreneur (as a blogger and pattern designer) as well as be present for my children and husband. It’s inevitable to short change one or the other at times, but I just do the best I can and try not to give myself a hard time about it.
But one way that I do try to balance work and family is by including my family in my creative business. Even though I do pretty much all the work, I still consider my husband and kids part of my team. My children in particular help me a lot by modelling my sewn projects and getting behind the camera for taking pictures of me. Also, I am US-born but I live in Italy, so everything I publish on my blog or in my shop is in two languages. My daughter, who is amazing in both languages, is my official proofreader to catch my mistakes in Italian!
What’s next for you?
I’m currently preparing for a video course teaching absolute beginners how to sew their own wardrobe using simple patterns and techniques. What I have in mind is a big project, but I’m really excited about it!
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about Lisa!
We’re excited to see all the courses and patterns that you come out with! Good luck on the swimsuit! Thanks again Lisa, we hope to see you in more bundles!
We have one more designer spotlight! Go back and read about the other ladies in this bundle too. 🙂
The Sew Fab Giveaway!
As always we have a great Sew Fab Giveaway for you to enter! One lucky winner is going to win a whole bunch of gift certificate goodness, plus an extra little gift from Rachel (the admin of the Sew Fab Sale)! Here’s what the winner will receive…
Three gift certificates totaling $100 from Girl Charlee, PeekabooFabricShop, and Fabric Worm!!! And the winner will also get a Strawberry measuring tape, strawberry buttons and two yards of twill tape for handmade fabric tags!
To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below, and be sure to leave the required information when asked. Facebook will not allow us to require you to “like” a page in exchange for an entry, but if you visit the page and feel led to “like” it I know the designers and sponsors would greatly appreciate it.
The giveaway is open to all!