Contributor Spotlight / DAWN / Sanae Ishida
Whether sewing, writing or watercolor painting, Sanae Ishida imbues a lively energy into the world around her. From learning to sew to learning design skills along her path – reading passionately to becoming a writer and illustrator of children's books – her natural progression as an artist, writer, and maker is an inspiration to us all.
Following a number of patterns and artwork featured on the front cover and pages of Making, we're excited to check in with Sanae Ishida about her latest projects and House Slippers featured in No. 11 / DAWN. Catch up on our interview with Sanae Ishida on the Making podcast and read our previous interview from No. 6 / BLACK & WHITE for more conversations with Sanae about her influences, background and approach to design.
credit: Manuela Insixiengmay
What is your craft, and how did you get started?
I’ve always loved to experiment with all sorts of crafts, but I’m especially drawn to garment sewing.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! Nature is at the top of the list, obviously, and I’m obsessed with the muted hues found in the wild. I peruse Pinterest and Instagram for outfit inspirations all the time, but I also observe people in real life on the regular. I love seeing how folks of various cultures combine colors and texture and I pay attention to what appeals to me.
What made you want to design patterns?
Designing patterns happened accidentally. In the beginning, I just wanted to learn how to sew and started a blog to show my mom (who didn’t live in the same city) what I was making for my daughter. This was before social media was a big thing. I started out by blindly making up patterns of itty bitty dresses for my little girl, but I didn’t have the technical know-how so I quickly turned to Japanese craft books and commercial patterns. I’m actually spatially challenged and understanding 3-D construction is pretty difficult for me. But repetition creates muscle memory, and as I kept sewing and posting on the blog, I gained rudimentary pattern-making skills, Then the blog led to a book deal and my would-be editor asked me if I would be able to design patterns. I said “yes” though I was super nervous that I might not be able to pull it off.
What are your favorite materials to work with, and why?
Linen and cotton. I think linen is the most beautiful fabric in the world and cotton is so easy to sew. I really love linen/cotton blends too, which is the best of both worlds.
What are your best tools and resources?
My sewing machine, naturally, and all the basic sewing tools like fabric shears, rulers, seam ripper, iron…one of the best purchases I made is a slim, collapsible cutting table on wheels. I sew in my master bedroom and the versatility of this little table has been wonderful. It’s great that I can collapse it and move it anywhere in or out of the room. I do wish it was a few inches wider (I think it’s designed with quilters in mind who don’t often cut out large pieces of fabric), but I appreciate the table so much! In terms of resources, the internet and YouTube are my go-to.
Do you have other passions and hobbies?
Yes! I would say that my foremost love is for books. I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I could identify letters. Japanese is actually my first language and I gobbled up Japanese comic books from a very early age. I discovered a love for novels (written in English) in the 3rd grade and never looked back once that literary world opened up. Nowadays I read everything in all genres that I can get my hands on. I read 100 books last year and hope to read more this year. Right now I’m into science fiction. I still can’t believe that I’m allowed to create my own books! I’m extra delighted that I write and illustrate children’s books, which has been a dream of mine since I was a kindergartner. I use watercolors, gouache and colored pencils to illustrate my books — I have an addiction to art supplies, and I’ve become a hoarder of handmade watercolors. I may even try to make my own paints in the future! Lately, I’ve been working on four baby books about cute sumo wrestlers, two of which will be published this fall (SUMO COUNTING and SUMO OPPOSITES), and two more will be published in 2022. I’ve also been finishing up a sewing book that’s coming out in the fall of 2022. It’s all about garment sewing for women!
Why do you create & what do you hope to express with the things you make?
I feel most like myself when I’m writing or painting or sewing or making anything that strikes my fancy, really. I believe that creation is a human imperative, an instinctive drive. What and how we create may be unique to each individual, but I’m convinced that we’re all here to add our own flavor of beauty and meaning and joy to the universe. When I suppress my natural inclination to make something — something that feels true to me, not what others want me to generate — I’ve noticed that my well-being suffers. So I make sure to pay attention to that quiet voice inside of me that gently nudges and encourages and offers up tendrils of ideas to make into tangible reality.
What is one of your favorite things about the House Shoes you designed in DAWN?
I like how simple the silhouette is and that it’s something practical and cozy. That’s what I adore about sewing: form and function often go hand-in-hand. I love stylish and utilitarian things!
credit: Manuela Insixiengmay
We're endlessly inspired by Sanae's creations as a maker, designer, artist, and author. It's always such a delight to see her work flow so seamlessly into the pages of Making, and we're grateful for her contributions to our growing history. You can find Sanae's books, painting, sewing and more at sanaeishida.com and on Instagram at sanaeishida.
To sew your own version of Sanae's House Slippers, you can find the pattern on pages 43-50 of No. 11 / DAWN. As an extra special treat, you can find a free sewing pattern of the lovable Making app mascot Lentil designed by Sanae Ishida when you sign up or log in at themakingapp.com. We can't wait to see all of the lovely little Lentils out there!