Are you ready to meet our 2020 September Spotlight Member? I’m very excited to introduce you to her because she reminds me a lot of myself when I first learned to sew. If you don’t already have your drink of choice and yummy snacks, stop reading and go get them. Make yourself cozy and enjoy meeting this amazing sew sister. I have to tell you that writing these Spotlight posts, where I get to share other sewists in our community, brings me great satisfaction. These are my favorite posts so far.
When I first learned to sew, I picked up on the craft very quickly and wanted to sew everything. There was no fear about what I didn’t know. I placed no limits on my ability to learn. In no time, I became an Advanced Beginner. Our 2020 September Spotlight Member is also an Advanced Beginner who has taken off like a skyrocket, finding great joy in garment sewing.
Meet Shannon Laster
Shannon and her husband have been married for 5 years and live just outside Dallas, TX. Between the two of them, they have four amazing, adult sons. Her husband is a retired Army veteran and Shannon is a substitute teacher for middle and high school. She also teaches Children at her church.
She began her sewing journey in January of this year. In 2013, her husband purchased her a Singer Athena sewing machine for Christmas. He’d heard her talk about altering her clothes to give them more pizzaz because she wanted to make them her own. She even expressed a desire to redesign the women’s uniforms when she served as a Specialist (E4) in the Army from 1989 – 1995. She thought the uniforms needed a little nip and tuck for better fit. Shannon says she’s quite the designer in her mind. Yes! I love a confident sewist.
Shannon sews in her game room, and the ping pong table serves as a perfect place for cutting out her patterns. Don’t you just love how resourceful we can be when it comes to sewing? The first item Shannon made in 2013 was a set of pillows and she says they were perfect. I agree. Then something horrible happened that brought her sewing journey to a screeching halt.
After using her new machine only a few times, the threads started bunching underneath the fabric whenever she attempted to sew anything. She searched desperately on YouTube and Google for a solution and learned that it was probably a bobbin or tension issue. The problem was she knew very little about the bobbin or tension. She became so frustrated that she developed a tension headache and stored the machine away in a closet, never to be seen again until seven years later.
In January of 2020, Shannon came across the photo of a lady on Instagram who seemed to share the same taste in fashion as she did, so she saved the picture. Shortly thereafter, another photo of the same lady appeared. This time Shannon read the post and learned that the woman had actually made the clothes she was wearing. She also discovered that the lady had a YouTube channel. Shannon’s response was, “WHOA!, I’m all in!”
Shannon found the Anita by Design YouTube channel, and she says her entire life changed after that. She started watching the videos and sharing the excitement with her sister. While the videos brought great enthusiasm, Shannon felt like she was losing her mind because she couldn’t sew. Shortly afterwards, her sister allowed her to use her machine and that’s when her garment sewing journey took off.
Shannon read the instruction booklet that came with her sister’s machine, and that’s what ultimately helped her to troubleshoot and fix her own sewing machine. She says it’s been smooth sailing with Anita by Design ever since that moment.
Shannon says Anita by Design provides sewing instructions in a manner that accommodates her learning style. She’s a visual learner and appreciates the close-up views in the videos which help her to see exactly what’s being demonstrated.
She had always dreamt of making her own clothing and home decor items. According to Shannon, her sewing journey had been long overdue. “Clothing stores today”, she says, “just don’t seem to have exactly what my life requires.” She feels that there are often missing elements. Something always needs to be added or taken away from most of the clothing she purchases. She says that, back in the day, Casual Corner had perfect dresses that were designed for her body type. And she finds it very difficult to find sexy, yet sophisticated, dresses since they closed. Oh my goodness! I used to love Casual Corner. Who remembers that store?
Her greatest challenge with sewing, so far, is fabric choice. She hasn’t learned how to pair appropriate fabrics with garment type. There have been many occasions when Shannon has gone into a store looking for fabric and left with more patterns, but no fabric. I’m pretty sure she’s not the only one who struggles with fabric choice.
When asked to describe her wardrobe style, Shannon says her style is very laid back. She enjoys loose-fitting, elegant garments constructed of linen or rayon fabrics. Pencil skirts and pant suits styled with a pair of Weitzman heels are among her favorite looks. Super fun and cute athletic attire are also on her list of stylish wears.
I asked Shannon to share her favorite thing to do when she’s not sewing and here’s what she had to say. “Lately, I’ve been really focused on fitness because the amount of weight I’ve put on is disturbing to me.” Shannon’s not only working on her weight and fitness, but she’s also working on herself as a person overall. For Shannon, that means trying to make sure that her entire life is centered on God because He’s the reason why she has life and she’s grateful for that.
Shannon says that she’s a huge supporter Anita by Design because my life is also centered on God. She’s grateful that she received help to find her way back to sewing. Even though we’ve never met in person, she feels like she has a beautiful friend with a God-like spirit. If you asked her husband, he would tell you that Shannon talks like she and I hang out together. Hahaha! I love it! Shannon, the feeling is absolutely mutual. You are my new online sew buddy and I’m grateful that God allowed our paths to cross.
Shannon says that if she could give every woman in her life one gift, it would be HOPE. She wants to encourage every woman not to give up on their dreams. He says hope is believing! Oh my heart! Thank you for that, Shannon.
When I asked Shannon to name one thing she absolutely could not live without, she said, at this time in her life, it would be her little sewing machine.
If you are new to sewing, Shannon would like to close this blog post with a bit of advice. Here’s what she says: “For someone who wants to learn how to sew, I would ask them to be patient. As I have told so many others, watch Anita by Design videos on YouTube because her teaching style is calm, patient, and hands-on. I don’t know Anita personally, but I think that she believes in treating others the way she likes to be treated (that’s the vibe she gives). Don’t give up!”
If you are on Instagram and want to follow Shannon’s sewing journey, you will find her @millionbucksmile. Throughout the month of September, I will be highlighting her in my IG stories.
Shannon, it has been my pleasure getting to know you through our conversations. Thank you for accepting the invitation to be our 2020 September Spotlight Member. I am so happy to have you in my Private Email Community and really look forward to following your sewing journey. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Please give Shannon a SHOUT OUT in the comments section below. She is doing a great job and I would love for us to celebrate her.