Kelley Thomas of Kelley’s Kreations and Sin City Pet Clothes is a local Las Vegas designer whose main focus is on pet and Barbie clothing. Here she answers my top questions for local Las Vegas sewists so you can stay inspired.
When did you start sewing?
I was about 5 years old when my mom taught me to sew my first Barbie Doll dress on her antique Singer sewing machine.
I loved it. Being able to take a piece of flat fabric and see it become a three dimensional item that my doll could wear.
I was instantly hooked! I went on to make my own skirts and sew many more doll dresses before I was even a teenager.
Did you receive any training and/or did you go to school for sewing?
All of my training has been hands on. I have sewn everything: doll clothes, pet clothes, teddy bears and characters, costumes for shows in Branson, MO, period dresses for special events, full wardrobe for plays, custom outfits, custom look-a-like celebrity dolls, magic props and illusion covers, clown outfits, seamstress repairs and more. If I can sew it, I will make it!
How often do you sew each week?
When I have project going on I can be at my sewing machine 4 to 8 hours a day so 28 to 40 hours per week or more.
In an average week though I sew about 12-hours.
Do you prefer hand or machine sewing?
I like machine sewing for putting the articles together. It makes a much stronger finished item.
But for detailed work I prefer to hand sew. The little details are delicate and need a gentler touch.
Do you sketch ideas before you create them?
Sometimes I do sketch ideas but I am better a looking at material and invisioning in my mind what the finshed project looks like and then just creating it. I am more creative in the three deminsional world than doing it flat on paper.
Do you prefer store bought patterns, making your own patterns or no patterns?
I like store bought patterns as a guidline. I use them as a base size then add my own touches. Sometimes I sew things there are no patterns for so I make my own by hand. It is a very time consuming process to design your own patterns, but well worth it.
What is your favorite local fabric/sewing supply store?
I shop them all. Joann’s Fabrics, Hancock’s Fabric, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s Crafts. As well as local stores here in Las Vegas for specialty fabrics like Heddy’s and William’s Costumes. LA sewing district is amazing and I go there when I am stocking up or buying bulk fabric for a big project. I go where the best price is and if I have coupon for a percentage off all the better.
What sewing tool would you recommend to others (include brand/where they could find it)?
The best sewing item that I have bought in the last 3-months has been my Janome #3128 sewing machine from Hancock Fabrics. It is a smaller sized machine with a great price of about $89.00 or less as it is on sale very often. It sews through heavy denim and multiple layers of fleece like a breeze. It also does really well on knits. It is a very user friendly machine so it is good for the first sewer as well as the seasoned professioal.
What is your sewing specialty/what is your favorite thing to create?
I really do not have a sewing specialty. I truly enjoy sewing a wide range of things. I love making Barbie Doll clothes because it makes me feel like a mini fashion designer. Sewing pet clothes is fun because I love seeing my customers Canine Americans in their new outfits. Costumes are extremly detailed and intricate to make and I feel like I have really accomplished something everytime I finish sewing one of them and get to see it worn on stage. All the stuffed toys and look-a-like dolls that I have sewn are really fun to sew and watch them come to life in my hands. I also enjoy sewing skirts and dresses for myself when I can find the time. I just really enjoy sewing in many different mediums.
Do you sell any of your creations? If so where can people shop your line?
I do sell my creations in a variety of stroes and on-line as well as I do about 60 craft shows in Las Vegas every year.
For my handmade Barbie Doll clothes, jewelry and other items visit: www.KelleysKreationsLV.etsy.com
For my handmade pet clothes visit: www.SinCityPetClothes.etsy.com
I also have my items for sale at Eclectica Boutique in Boulder City, NV., Dinosaurs & Roses and at The Dog House at Tivoli Village in Las Vegas, NV. with more stores to come soon. I love special orders to so if you need something made send me an email to: [email protected]
Do you showcase your creations at any local shows? If so where?
Like I said I do about 60 craft shows a year in Las Vegas and surrounding areas.
The actual shows and dates vary but include The Doodle Bug Show, Lose A Pound With Your Hound, Marketplace Expos, Crafters Gift Gallery Show, The Holiday Craft & Gift Show as well as many local school and charity events.
What designers/sewers inspire you? Why?
Mostly I was inspired by my mother. She was an amazing seamstress. She sewed dresses for me from stratch. No patterns at all. She just free hand cut the skirt, top and sleeves. She did alot of hand sewing as well as machine sewing. She also loved to cross stitch and make handmade pot holders that she often made as Christmas gifts for friends and family.
Do you read any sewing books/blogs/magazines? If so what are your favorites?
No really do not have the time to spend on the computer looking at blogs or online magazines. I do read the Etsy website articles and question and answer sections. As far as magazines I still enjoy picking up the holiday issue of Woman’s Day magazine and seeing all the things to make for Christmas.
What would be your top 3 tips to those who are new to sewing?
1. Get yourself a sewing machine. My first one cost me $25 at a sewing machine store that I boought with my own money when I was twelve years old.
2. Find a pattern that you like. Start with the pattern from the Easy Sew brand. It could be a stuffed toy, a holiday item or a piece of clothing.
3. Get some easy to use cotton blend fabric and follow the pattern step-by-step. It may take you what seems like forever to finish it but trust me you will such a sense of accomplishment when you are done that you will want to start your next project immediatly. If you have a relative or friend that knows how to sew ask them for some pointers to get you started. But be patient. Sewing is not something that can be mastered over night. You will always be learning new techniques, short cuts and tricks that make your creations get better and better.