Meet the Maker - Vanisha Shell Griggs

Posted by Angie CHIA on


And just like that - we're coming to the end of the year. This will be our last featured maker for the year. Our featured maker is none other than the lovely Vanisha. She's a very special lady whom we all hold in awe of. Check out her various gorgeous makes for her grand children on the group. She's also so generous of spirit and always willing to share her tips and tricks within the group! You can find her on her IG @vanishagriggs.



Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I am from Indiana yet moved to Utah as a child when I was 9. I love to be outside and have to spend some part of the day outside even if just for a little bit. I have lived a full life. I had a great childhood with lots of freedom to explore and be myself. I loved school and read a lot. I graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Behavior Science and Health. I joined the Air Force when I was 20 and retired after 21 years. I was deployed a few times and had to leave my beloved children yet took my sewing machine to make them things when I was away, but found myself mending and sewing military patches for my fellow airman mostly! I had a career in Pharmaceutical Sales and was on the road about 25% of the time and again my trusty sewing machine went with me to occupy me in all those hotel rooms at night after work. I have been married coming up on 40 years to a great guy who supports me in anything I have wanted to do. I have 3 grown children Jake, Alexandria, and Madison along with 7 darling grandchildren. Sewing for me is an outward expression of my creativity and a physical expression of my love for those I sew for. I therefore mostly sew for my grandchildren at this time I am sure you have seen them in my creations from time to time. I am a better seamstress than photographer so many things I have made I don't have pictures of. I do a little bit of commission work since I have retired I find this stressful and yet a challenge that at times I enjoy but I am very careful to only take a limited amount of this type of work as sewing is my creative outlet and I can't have someone controlling it.




How did you learn to sew and when?
I learned to sew from my mom. In the early 70's, it was all the rage to embroider on your clothing and my mom taught me embroidery. Soon after, I was sewing on her sewing machine. I was always a busy child and my parents let me do things with real adult equipment. I was a good reader, so I read the patterns. If I had a question, my mom would help me out. I sewed a lot of clothing for myself and for the little toddlers next door I wonder to this day if these articles of clothing were as "good" as my 9 year old mind thought they were but my cute neighbor let her little ones wear them! In Junior High, they required a sewing class but I argued with the principal that was a waste of my time as I already knew all that they were teaching so I took another science class instead. I thought that I was so brillant. Yet I came to regret this because in high school, the tailoring class that I wanted to take in my senior year would not let me in. So I have not had any formal sewing instruction and would love to have some formal schooling.



What's your favourite type of fabric to work with? 

I love apparel fabric, linen, cotton velveteen, corduroy, pique, wool, broadcloth, Swiss dot, seersucker,.... I love fabric and I wish more apparel fabric was easier to find these days. Apparel fabrics launder better, they are wider usually, and have a lot of weight options that change the way a finished garment drapes. I try not to use quilting cottons on my outfits yet at times I just "have" to because the print is darling, but quilting cottons require a lot of ironing and care.



What's your favourite Peony make to date?
I find that my favourite make is often the one that I just finished or am working on. I find that I have probably used Poppy, Hyacinth, Freesia, and Jasmine the most.



What are your sewing goals for this year?
Sewing goals... funny that even after 50 years of sewing there is still so so much to learn that is the reason that sewing intrigues me. I quilt a lot also and that is an entire set of skills. I really want to learn more tailoring skills and that is on the top of my list this year as I have 4 grandsons that this skill is going to be in great demand. I love to help others with sewing and often think how I can teach others, with being retired I have got to figure out how to make this happen on more of a scheduled occurrence. If you ever need help, I am happy to assist.




What sewing tip have you learned along the way that you use all the time and why? 
Sewing tips there are so, so many!! I would say use good fabric, it does not have to be expensive it is surprising how many deals are out there if you look. I also use hemostats all of the time in sewing, they turn a tie, round out a collar, stuff a stuffy etc, etc. Learn to use your rolled hem foot, learn to make a placket with your eyes shut, learn to make your own piping and bias, it will not only save you $$ but you always have the color and width you need and gives you a lot of options for adding design details. Always always iron properly, use correct seam allowances, and always measure who you are sewing for.



What is your biggest sewing achievement or challenge to date? Tell us about it!
I have had many challenges that have been rewarding and frustrating. However, I would say that what I am proudest of is sewing my sister's and my daughter's wedding dresses. The reason is that both of them went and tried on many dresses and could have bought any dress they wanted yet both of them wanted me to make their dress so it no only was an honor but again it was me showing those who I love that sewing is a physical expression of my love for them.


Lots of love,


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