Earlier this year, I jumped for joy when I learned we would be offering up some new sewing and fabric craft projects on DIYNetwork.com. Then it got even better — there would be a video series to accompany all the great photos and how-to info! After a round of spirited brainstorming, we narrowed down our topics and set off to find the perfect host. So where else does one go to find a cool, forward-thinking expert seamstress? Well, the internet, of course. I stumbled across a video of Ariel on YouTube and immediately wanted to hang out with her. And about six weeks later, I got to do just that on the set of “Sewing With Flames.” The title elicits a more modern approach to sewing — as in we’re not going to just sew, we’re doing it with flames.
Ariel has the perfect mix of experience. She’s an accomplished seamstress as well as a total fashionista. And she’s definitely bringing the “flames.” As the lead singer for the band “Icon for Hire,” Ariel’s day job is literally to be a rock star. Here, Ariel tells us about how a rock star got into sewing, and she offers advice that will make you a rock star (at sewing, at least), too.
When did you start sewing?
Ariel: I began hand sewing little things growing up, but around age twelve I started sewing clothes and editing all the boring items in my closet. Growing up in Sweden, I used to sit in my Grandmother’s attic sewing room and just absorb the sound of her machine and play with leftover scraps of fabric. It all clicked for me when I finally got access to my own sewing machine and was able to sew anytime I wanted. In junior high and high school, my attention shifted away from doll skirts and pillowcases to clothing, which is where my heart still is today.
What was your first project?
Ariel: One of the first clothing projects I made was a killer skirt from curtains (thanks, “Sound of Music”) that kept falling apart. A lot of my sewing was transforming thrift-store castaways into something form-fitting and awesome. I also destroyed my fair share of band t-shirts, thanks to sites like craftster.org.
Being a musician adds a fun twist to this. Tell me about making your own outfits.
Ariel: It’s always been important to me to approach rock music, and the whole counter culture lifestyle in general, in an authentic, individual way. This means creating clothing that inspires me, and not just wearing what some store at the mall tells me is cool at the moment. The impact of this has been amazing. So many of my band’s listeners tell us they have been inspired to design and create their own clothing as a result.
Do you have a signature item you wear when performing?
Ariel: I like to make chaotic, over-the-top looks for stage, sort of like playing dress up:). I love wearing arm warmers and handmade wrist cuffs, as well as my custom corsets, which each have their own story.
Who are some of your idols/mentors/people who inspire you?
Ariel: Music and fashion are undeniably related, and I love artists like Gwen Stefani who have taken advantage of that. Lady Gaga has also made some really smart choices in this area, by allowing her fashion sense to define her as an artist just as much as her music. I will say that I am much more inspired by the underground DIY designers than current big names in American fashion.
What are your favorite projects in the sewing series?
Ariel: The t-shirt dress! I had so much fun designing that, and the concept of converting shapeless t-shirts into something unique and brilliant has been extremely useful in my own life. I also used the corset lace-up embellishment on that, which is one of my favorite techniques.
What advice do you have for beginning sewers, especially in reference to the projects in the sewing series?
Ariel: Don’t get frustrated and give up! I’ve found myself in tears in my sewing room, feeling incapable and untalented, just because I’ve gotten stuck at some little thing, or my needle keeps breaking. It’s a good idea to take a break before you get to that point, and not have your self-worth wrapped up in whether or not your project is turning out! Also, start on the easier projects like the fabric flower first, and work your way up to something a little more involved, like the necktie purse.
It’s been such a privilege sharing this side of myself! If you would like to know more about me as an artist and check out my blog/clothing designs, please stop by customcatastrophes.com and say hello!
See Ariel make her signature corset t-shirt dress in the video below, then watch all of Ariel’s “Sewing With Flames” how-to videos at DIYNetwork.com. You can also find links to her DIY projects and how-to instructions in the gallery below.