Interview: Erika Yuille
Meet Your Maker: Erika Yuille
C: How old were you when you first began to sew?
E: Probably about 5. During the school year, I stayed with my grandmother in Washington D.C. and the moment school was over, I was shipped to north Philly. My grandmother in D.C. had a Singer Feather light and my grandmother in Philly had a treadle. As kids, we loved getting on the treadle and make it go as fast as we could.
C: That actually an awesome way to learn…when the learning takes place in the home.
E: My grandmother in Philly had me sewing on line paper so that I could get a straight stitch.
C: What age were you when you became a bit more serious about sewing as a craft?
E: I don’t know if I would say I got serious about it. Probably about 12 or 13, and in junior high school we made skirts and aprons.
C: What keeps you engaged with sewing as a craft?
E: Well my main purpose for sewing is the fact that I’m 6’2”, and my back and sleeve measurement is two inches longer than retail. Consequently my mother would by me mens tweed overcoats because they were they only thing that fit and kept me warm during the winter. I sew out of necessity. My mother was sewing and going to G Street Fabrics and other fabric shops in Rockville and Langley Park. I had a good girl friend and we see who could wear a new outfit everyday and we would stay up all night sewing. It was just a little challenge between the two of us and I got more into it. As time went on i would still sew, but I didn’t know the science of say putting a sleeve in. The fact that there are different ratios between the underarm and the sleeve. I didn’t really didn’t learn the science until I took a class at Baltimore City Community College. I learned the in’s and outs on why you do certain things. I used to tell students that sewing has the same principles as architecture. You are a fabric architect. There’s a lot that goes into sewing that people take for granted.
C: When you were teaching sewing, what would you say were the top two questions students would ask? Or what stuck out to you about aspiring designers?
E: Well I think all entry level design students aspire to be in New York City and run beside the established designers. The truth is, jobs in fashion design are far and few. If you look at Project Runway, and this part really angers me, many of the major designers hire younger designers that come in with their own ideas. Granted young designers are getting their ideas out under the big name, but what does that do for them and their aspirations becoming an established designer?