Field Notes

Mother's Day with Jan

12 May 2017

Posted in: Industry, H&F Presents

In the sewing community, mother's and grandmother's are known for making their children or grandchildren clothes to wear, whether you are a child, teenager or adult. We wanted to celebrate Mother's Day this year by acknowledging the hard work the women in our lives put in to making sure we are well dressed for every occasion. 

For this Mother's Day we talked to Jan who is the voice of Hawes & Freer, an amazing seamstress with many years of experience in the industry and also mother to two beautiful girls who are fortunate enough to have garments made for them whether it is casual clothing or for a special occasion. 

Here is what Jan had to say about the following. 


How long have you been sewing for and what part have you had in the fashion industry?

I have been loving sewing for 45 years. I left school and went straight into a workroom where I learnt to sew by sitting beside an experienced machinist/mentor. It was a strict learning curve. Unpicking mistakes and perfecting a straight seam, a sharp dart, a perfect collar or zip and so on! After a 3 year apprenticeship I emerged as a fully qualified and competent machinist in all aspects of garment construction. I went on to become a sample machinist then trained interns in the workroom of a fashion house in Auckland. We would employ 10 school leavers at the beginning of each year and I would start the training programme with them. Later I worked for 25 years for Marilyn Saint Design first as her Sample Machinist and then Production Manager. 

I started with Hawes & Freer in 2005 in customer service and sales support. However, I still enjoy sewing in my workroom at home creating in my spare time. Working at H&F is a huge temptation being surrounded by beautiful fabrics, linings and industry products.

Do you and your daughters sew together?

I don't sew with my daughters (I haven't taught them to sew yet). However, we are a creative team. My daughters sketch an image of a garment they would like. We then go and source the fabric and I get to work on a pattern and then do a calico mock-up. I will then tweek the design to fit and create an individual made to measure one-off garment for them. This includes dresses, coats, skirts and trousers.

Do you think sewing has a way of bringing people together and why do you think that?

I think sewing does bring people together as it is an artistic and creative environment. Most creative people enjoy sharing ideas of design and construction. I also believe that a designer and machinist must have a very close relationship as they need to work together closely to achieve a desired result.

What sewing goodies are a must need for you right now? 

My must need sewing tools are: 

- Merchant & Mills 10" Shears. Every dressmaker needs a quality pair of shears for cutting out. 

- Merchant & Mills Glasshead Pins. I love these pins as they are easy to see and pick up and they are also lovely and sharp.

- My Merchant & Mills Thread Clips which are great to have at hand on the machine and overlocker and when finishing the garment.

- Finally my great steam iron, an absolute must have to press as I create and then to add the final touch on my garments.


Jan Andrews

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