Now that we’re all DIYing fabric face masks, this sewing maven has you covered
Social-media sensation and sewing maven Mimi G may be able to whip up a dress in less than two hours, but there’s only one person she’s making it for.
“People assume that if you sew, you want to sew for other people,” said the onetime hobbyist turned DIY instructor. “But unless I’m wearing it, I’m not making it.”
That’s why she’s showing her millions of followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube (where the latest tutorial is a DIY face mask), as well as her MimiGstyle.com website and her virtual fashion school, Sew It Academy, how easily they can do it themselves even if they’ve never picked up a needle.
“They can follow me literally opening a box and taking out a sewing machine and saying, ‘Here is a sewing machine,’” she said. “A lot of tutorials out there are too complex, and leave people frustrated.”
Woven throughout all the lessons, videos and blog entries is a message of inspiration, as she’s open about earlier struggles — including her time as a homeless teenage mom — and ebullient about the current state of her career and family life.
All of it originates from the spacious sewing studio/workshop of her hillside Glendale home. The bright downstairs room was a major draw when she and her husband, Norris Dánta Ford, a fashion stylist in his own right, bought the 3,400-square-foot home last year.
“We were specifically looking for a place that had some sort of a bonus room,” said G, short for Goodwin, her previous husband’s surname. “I used to work out of a place downtown, but I felt less productive when I had to leave my house to go to an office.”
It’s where G films her videos and runs the Sew It Academy with Ford, who is also its menswear instructor. The younger two of her four kids, ages 12 and 16, like to hang out in the room with their mother. And her Pekingese, Buttons, curls up on her lap while G is working.
Sewing machines and other equipment line the space, alongside shelves holding a vast library of clothing patterns. Some walls feature framed pictures of G, modeling clothes she’s designed for pattern maker Simplicity.
G has been sewing since age 12, making doll clothes while visiting her aunt, a seamstress in Puerto Rico. She started blogging about the craft in 2012, teaching people to make their own clothes, and preaches that everyone should have access to beautiful, lasting, well-fitting wear, regardless of income or size. (She’s taught how to replicate a $1,000 dress for less than $100.)
“It’s also about sustainability and leaving fast fashion behind,” G said. “If you’re going to take the time to make something, make it so that it will last for many years.”
Why is this your favorite room?
Everything connected to my business happens here — social media, licensing deals, pattern-making. But sewing is still my hobby. It’s still the one thing I love to do, even though it’s my business.
How did you lay out the space?
When I work, it’s a total 360-degree experience. I need to be able to move around my cutting table. We got these tables from Ikea — they’re actually butcher-block countertops, which we put on adjustable legs. I needed a table that sits high so I don’t have to bend while I cut.
What else is in here?
I have a stash of fabrics here that I keep on hand. I know I can make just about anything with a minimum of 3 yards of fabric, so if I see something I like I’ll buy it and keep it. And I have wicker baskets that hold all my supplies. Everything is all over the place when I’m working, but when I’m done I need to put everything back.
How has your background shaped your love of this home?
I came to L.A. from Chicago as a teen runaway. I was 15 and a single mom and squatted in a building across from the L.A. City College. I was panhandling to feed my daughter. Even when I had an apartment, there were times we couldn’t afford to have the lights on. We’d play games by candlelight and eat ramen for a month. So now, no matter how good things are, in the back of my mind I have that feeling: “You will never go back there, so what’s the next thing you can do?”