Ellen March and Erin Weisbart on set at Sew It All TV.
In 2014 I read an announcement on Thread Theory (an independent pattern designer that I admire and respect) that they were going to be going on a big road trip to Colorado so they could film an episode of Sew It All TV. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and started daydreaming about someday in the future when I had launched my own pattern company and made it big enough as a pattern designer to be in the same situation. And then a few months later I got an email from Ellen March (the host of Sew It All TV and editor of Sew News Magazine) asking me if I would be a guest on the next season. O.M.G.
I couldn’t really believe it was real at first because I assumed that such opportunities came only to famous people. Or people who had some inside connection. But I didn’t see how I could possibly have been chosen. I hadn’t yet actually launched my sewing pattern business. So I definitely wasn’t famous and I definitely didn’t have an inside connection. So why me?
Behind-the-scenes at Sew It All TV.
As I was developing the idea that I wanted to run my own pattern company (while I was still finishing graduate school in an unrelated field), I started submitting to sewing magazines. I figured it was good practice, a good way to get my name out there, and a good way to make a bit of spending money since I was living on a graduate student budget after all.
There are a lot of different sewing magazines out there, so how did I decide where to submit? I’d like to tell you that it involved lots of research about which magazines have the most flexible contracts, the most compensation, and the best aesthetic fit for me. But that wouldn’t be true. I submitted to magazines that presented themselves to me. My first pattern was a quilt pattern published in Sewing World Magazine. They had undergone a revamp and had tweeted that they were looking for bloggers to review their magazine. I responded. That interaction gave me the editor’s email address so after publishing my review I sent her a few article ideas, she liked one, and it became my first published pattern.
The first project Erin got published in a magazine.
I received the acceptance letter from Sewing World the day I returned home from Sewing Summit (a now-defunct sewing conference) in 2013. While there, I had met Ellen March when she gave a talk on how to pitch articles to magazines. Since I was confident I knew how to pitch to her magazine after watching her talk, I started submitting to Sew News. They liked one of my pitches. I found that I enjoyed working with them so every time they sent out a call for editorial I sent back a query. Some turned into articles, some didn’t. But I was persistent and consistent so they grew to know me and my work. And then one day I got an email asking if they could use one of my queries for Sew It All TV in conjunction with a magazine article.
So really, I don’t have an amazing, helpful roadmap to share with you on how I got on TV and how you can do the same. But what I can tell you is that opportunities present themselves in places you might never guess. If you’re doing something your passionate about and you’re doing good work then you’re doing the right thing. Because you’ll never know when the thing you’re dreaming of will show up, and, if you’re anything like me, it will be when you least expect it.
Erin is an obsessed sewist, tattooed knitter, cat herder, mad scientist, and the owner of SeamstressErin Designs where she publishes sewing patterns for Every Day Dress Up. She wants to help all women feel gorgeous and confident in a handmade wardrobe and play Dress Up Every Day.