By Charles Mombo
Meet Monica Lowe. Monica is a multifaceted woman! First, she’s a mother to a wonderful 13-year-old boy. Professionally, she works full time as an attorney. When she in not working her full-time job, she enjoys sewing, triathlon (Olympic and half Ironman distance), traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
How long have you been a sewing-enthusiast and why did you start?
I have been sewing since 2014. I always loved fashion and as a young girl, dreamed of being a runway model. I begged my parents to send me to Barbizon Modeling School when I was in high school back in the 90s and I went! Modeling wasn’t for me though, but I always loved fashion and shopping with my mom at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor, just to name a few. I fell in love with the well-made garments, but the price tags were astronomical. I became curious about garment construction. Fast forward to my mid-30s, I got married, had my son, and got a divorce. In my down time, I found myself really bored and started to think about things I wanted to explore. That’s when I decided I would learn to sew. I found sewing classes taught by Cherice Taylor at Making It Sew Fun (@makingitsewfun) here in Chicago and that’s all she wrote! From the first class, I was obsessed and haven’t stopped sewing since. I coined myself “The Sewing Jurist” and started journaling my sewing projects on a Facebook (“FB”) page and Instagram (@thesewingjurist). That’s where you can follow me.
What type of Sewing Enthusiast Are You?
I started sewing as a hobby for myself and choose projects that are on trend. Believe it or not, sewing is very relaxing. The process of making a wearable garment out of yards of fabric is really fun to me. I’ve made jeans, coats, blouses, blazers, blankets, totes, clutches, you name it! I also have plans to launch my brand, Advokat Couture (@advokatcouture), where I plan to do small batch sewing and release the items on a website for sale. I am also looking to sell some of my pieces in boutiques across the city. I am still learning how to do all of these entrepreneurial steps. It’s trial and error.
Also, I recently became curious with vintage chainstitching. So, what did I do? I found and purchased a vintage Singer 114w103 chainstitch machine. The machine is nearly 100 years old and operates with a handle underneath the machine that moves clockwise and counterclockwise and allows the user to draw, write, and color with embroidery thread. It is truly an artisan’s machine that allows the user to be extremely creative and create unique pieces. I pride myself on being unique. Learning chainstitch is my new favorite thing. I am teaching myself and following a FB group of other chainstitch enthusiasts.
What sewing machines do you currently work with?
I have five machines in my sewing room: Janome DC5100 (sewing machine); Brother CE110PRW (sewing machine); Bernina 850 industrial (sewing machine); Juki MO-654DE (serger); and Singer 114w103 chainstitch machine.
In one of your appearances in the Sewn Magazine challenges, you mixed camouflage, Ankara print, and a bird print. You brilliantly and beautifully sewed and matched those three prints. What is the secret to mixing not two, but three different prints?
The print mix challenge was created by the magazine editor, Michelle Morris. If it was not for that challenge, I would have never thought to mix the prints like I did. I used the camouflage as the primary focal point and tried to find fabric that contrasted well with the camo. I collaborated with my sew friends, LaDonna Cokley and Cheyenne Whittaker, who were featured with me, and I finalized my fabric choices. The secret to print mixing is just taking the risk. Ankara fabric is one of my favorite fabrics to sew with because it is so vibrant with prints that can contrast with mostly anything. The camo blazer, pleated Ankara skirt, and tie- neck bird print blouse came together like magic! I made each piece! I was really proud of that feature.
What are you currently working on and where can we see it is when completed?
My recent projects are up on @thesewingjurist. Also, I just joined as an affiliate with Fayma Patterns. I will be sewing one of their patterns every month and those interested in purchasing any pattern can use my promo code.
I am also making items and getting my @advokatcouture website up and running. Website coming soon.
Who is/are the most influential person/s in your life?
The most influential people in my life are my parents. They were so hard working and instilled that in me and my siblings.
What do you like about Hyde Park?
Hyde Park is the pulse of the southside. It’s been that way since I was a little girl. My grandmother used to live in a huge apartment on Kenwood and then she moved to an apartment on Ingleside. The people, young and old, and the attractions make Hyde Park so inviting. I love its landscape, diversity, architecture, and intellect. The vibe is progressive and the lakefront is the prize.
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