Sprout Profile: Rachel E. Pollock, Costume Craft Artisan extraordinaire.

There are so many fascinating people using Sprout Patterns that we thought it would be cool to share their stories with you. Sooooo, we’d like to take this opportunity to introduce Rachel Pollock – Costume Craft Artisan extraordinaire and (lucky us!) our neighbor in Durham! Rachel caught our eye because of the very cool and outspoken Concord T-shirt she made using her Epithets Collection on Spoonflower—a collection of crass textiles inspired by DIY punk-rock clothing she used to own.

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In the fall of 2005, Rachel started working as a professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Costume Production MFA program and Costume Crafts Artisan for PlayMakers Repertory Company.  Before living in North Carolina, Rachel was in Los Angeles, where she’d been working in the costume shop of the LA Opera. Prior to that, she was the Costume Crafts Artisan at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, which is the professional theatre in residence on the campus of Harvard University, similar to how PlayMakers/UNC. And before that? LOTS of freelance all over the place!

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Dyeing fabric in the UNC studio

Where did you go to school? – I did my undergrad degree at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, in costume design and production. I hold an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Orleans with an emphasis in nonfiction/playwriting.

How long have you been sewing? Do you remember the Fisher-Price sewing machine? I had that as a kid and did some very simple stuff with it, but in high school my mom taught me to use her Singer, an antique machine that had belonged to my great-grandmother. That’s really the point at which I started making things from commercial patterns and not just “playing”-sewing.

Dream feature at Sproutpatterns.com – Honestly, my dream feature is to design a line of cut-and-sew hat patterns for Sprout! Is that selfish or what? 😀

For ten years, Rachel has been writing her blog, La Bricoleuse, on behind-the-scenes costume production processes. She writes it from the perspective of someone who makes costumes for theatre/TV/film for a living, but much of it is also of interest to hobby sewists, cosplayers, folks working in community theatre costuming, etc.

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 3.57.44 PM.pngWe’re especially and selfishly loving her series of review posts on Sprout Patterns projects. In a science-experiment-type way, Rachel is using Sprout as if she didn’t have the expert sewing experience she does. This includes cutting out the pattern at home (on the floor!), using scissors instead of a rotary blade, reading the instructions, and eschewing a serger for a zig zag or stretch stitch on a sewing machine.

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Her idea (and we agree with it) is that anyone could use Sprout for dancewear, sports jerseys, etc. in contemporary plays in which the Sprout/Spoonflower customization opens up huge possibilities for costume designers who might not have access to a traditional costume shop full of patternmakers and industrial machinery. No more painting on spandex or purchasing something that’s not quite right. (We swear, we didn’t pay her to say this!)

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Draping costumes for an upcoming show

Rachel understands the appeal for print on demand cut and sew, which is to create very specific, low-run garments that are easy to put together. What’s exciting about Sprout to Rachel (and many others) is that you don’t need an MFA in costume production and planning to make something that’s totally customizable and available to those groups with lower budgets than are typically found on Broadway.

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By this time, maybe you’re wondering about the story behind her synonym designs? I know we were! Rachel told me that the designs were originally created for a performance art piece. It was a highly conceptual dance project in which people would wear clothing with profanity on them and that sentiment would later be reclaimed in the action of the dance.

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The project and the nature of the costumes changed and they went in another direction visually. Fortunately in their agreement, Rachel still had ownership of the designs and so she went ahead and made them public and for sale on Spoonflower. People started ordering them and she realized she had a new fan base! When the Women’s March was announced, Rachel couldn’t go, but sponsored a friend’s trip and made scarves for them to wear. Visual statement? CHECK. Cozy and warm? CHECK.

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Want to make a statement with Rachel’s designs, but you don’t sew? Check out her Etsy shop, Troublesome Girl, offering scarves and headbands. Or her shop on Sprout to try your hand at sewing up a shirt. And thank you to Rachel for chatting and giving us a glimpse behind the scenes where she does her thing!

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Anna Dress Sprout Hack

Today’s guest blogger is Kelly, Director of Engineering over at Spoonflower. She also writes a blog where she focuses on sewing, weaving and reading. It’s called Dress Insouciantly – check it out!


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We’ve all had this moment before: It’s late at night and you got carried away working on a project when you realize you’re missing an essential element. But of course, the craft store is closed. Why oh why can’t craft stores be open at reasonable times? Say, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week? Sadly, I found myself in this position just last week.

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I’ve been eyeing By Hand London’s Anna dress ever since Sprout Patterns listed it. It looks elegant without being fussy, and can serve as both casual day dress or evening wear depending on what fabric you choose. With a birthday coming up, I decided now was the time, and designed the dress with a beautiful floral design called Winter Garden Antique from Ceciliamok. I chose the poly crepe de chine fabric because I love the light feeling it has and I really wanted that draped effect the slash-necked bodice has.

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As life so often goes, time caught up with me, and it was the night before my birthday party before I really got down to business and started sewing. I wasn’t worried though, this pattern is beautiful in its simplicity. The use of pleats in the bodice, instead of darts, makes it very easy to fit. And the long straight sides of the skirt are a breeze! And then, of course, I get to the very last step: the zipper. But wait, where is my zipper? I know I put it around here somewhere…

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Long story short, I had no 22inch zipper; what I did have was a 7-9 inch zipper. It was nearly midnight, there were no craft stores open anywhere. And yet, I was determined to wear this dress tomorrow, what could I do?

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Eventually, I realized that the zipper is really only needed for the narrowest part of the waist. Because the dress uses kimono sleeves instead of inset ones, and the bodice pleats encourage a relaxed fit and gathered look, the back of the dress isn’t actually supporting any structure. As long as the back of the neck is connected, the zipper really only needs to go as high as the bodice pleats. I decided that it would be completely possible to still finish the dress and create an open back feature.

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I set my 9inch zipper in the back seam so that the bottom of the zipper met the marks in the pattern and the top of it reached just past the bodice darts. Then I drew a gentle curve on the remaining section of each piece of the back bodice and cut away a little bit more than an inch of fabric. I hemmed these pieces with a double fold, making sure to catch the back facing in for a clean finish. I attached a button to the top of one back piece, and a loop of elastic thread to the other. Voila! I now have a key-hole back on my Anna dress!

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I am very pleased with how this dress turned out. I’m even happy I forgot to get a zipper of the right length; because of that mistake I ended up with a unique dress with an interesting feature. I feel like there are plenty of open back styles that would still work with the Anna dress pattern. You could add cross pieces, or cut the key-hole in a different shape, or don’t cut it out at all and let the pieces overlap each other for a more subtle look. With a little bit of extra scrap fabric you could create a draped cowl. Or you could add a large sculptural button for a statement piece… With so many ideas I’m going to have to save up to buy another Sprout dress again!

Sprout Everyday Tote transformed!

bag.jpgSpoonflower’s new Lightweight Cotton Twill is an absolute dream to work with.  The weight is the perfect go-to for a multitude of projects, especially totes!  The combination of this easy to work with material and its tough weave will ensure that you’ll end up with something that will not just look amazing, but wear well. In this tutorial, Gia from the blog Sew Gratitude will to take you through a simple “hack” using the Lightweight Cotton Twill and an Everyday Tote project.  Each Tote is printed to order on a full yard of twill.  Which means once you cut out and prep your tote you’ll have a HEALTHY chunk of fabric leftover to work with, almost 400 square inches worth!  It’s an amazing deal to have the leftovers to coordinate. Read all of the details and how-to on the Spoonflower Blog.

And if you liked this post, Gia will be doing more hacks using the Everyday Tote in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!

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Cat Power Projects on Sprout

At Sprout, we stand for women’s rights. The power of handmade can be a impactful statement, especially when using pink to signify not only caring, compassion, and love, but also STRENGTH. Maybe you want to send a certain message but want to err on the side of subtlety? Or perhaps you just adore cats and the color pink. Regardless, we’ve got some amazing designs that we’ve chosen from Spoonflower for just that purpose.

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How cute are these kittens in mittens on a Penelope Peplum by See Kate Sew? LOVE this design by Andrea Lauren.

 

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Power through peace and diginity on an Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. Demure kitties by Kimsa are perfect!

 

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How about a delightful Emery Dress from Christine Haynes? Cats and flowers by Petfriendly = YES PLEASE!

 

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We love the Moneta Dress from Colette Patterns. Caja_Design has the cutest cats in both big and small. SWOON!

 

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Want to scream your message from the rooftops? Check out this Inari Crop Tee by Named Clothing with a frightfully wonderful design by Susiprint.

These are just a few of the literally hundreds and maybe even thousands of awesome cat designs at Spoonflower to use when creating your Sprout project. Have fun creating and stay strong!

 

 

 

Wearable Art = A Memory Tribute

Today’s Guest Blogger is Duncan Carter, a contestant on this year’s “Great British Sewing Bee.” Duncan runs a fashion website of his own and is also a monthly blogger for Minerva Crafts in the UK.


You know what, I don’t actually have many dress shirts in my wardrobe. There are two reasons for that: First off, ready-to-wear shirts rarely catch my eye and secondly, constructing a shirt at home is not quick and can be a bit of a headache. So when I saw Sprout offering the Negroni shirt by Colette Patterns I knew it was a sign to face my fears and make a unique garment, without worrying about tripping over a million pieces of tissue pattern!

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Thus began many days of searching through Spoonflower’s massive selection of fabric designs. Anyone who has read my blog or seen my videos will know I like colour and a bold design. There’s plenty of that on Spoonflower but what intrigued me more were all the stories that designers like Whimzwhirled had attached to their creations. When I found this design (Burning Down the House), I knew it was for me.

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Is it colourful? Yes. Bold? No question! But it was the story that really caught my eye. After a fire burned down this designer’s studio and left her with nothing she made this design from a collage of newspaper cuttings that reported on the fire. She talks of a phoenix rising from the ashes, letting go and moving forward. I like a cool design, but a cool design with a story like this? Perfect!

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This was my first time using a Sprout pattern and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When the parcel arrived I tore in and was thrilled at the colours, design and feel of the fabric. I waited patiently as my machine pre-washed and used the time to read the downloadable instructions. I am big believer in keeping good notes so the printable instructions were brilliant to have.

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I did part-print some of the pattern pieces from the digital pattern to get my pleats and buttons lined up, but I must say it was a dream to get stuck in without having to wrestle with any pattern pieces.

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Another thing I love about this fabric design is that the intricate collage effect would help to cover any little flaws. (Although, of course, there aren’t any in this garment. Honest. Maybe.) Seriously though, if you’ve never made a shirt before then choose a design that is a little forgiving and you’ll sew it up no problem! The Negroni shirt is a great pattern – nothing is under-explained and there was a cool wee tip for perfectly shaped patch pockets.

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The Cotton Sateen fabric is medium weight so it has a sturdiness that means I will be able to use the shirt as a top layer in the springtime but it is also soft enough to wear against my skin as a casual shirt.

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I have to say my experience with Sprout and Spoonflower was amazing from start to finish, and who knew something could get across an ocean so quickly? A million thanks to Caroline at HQ for being so welcoming and patient with me. I already have ideas for a design of my own on the next garment, maybe something with a little Scottish flavour…

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Sprout and a Girl’s Best Friend

Today’s Guest Blogger is Heather Dutton, the creative genius behind Hang Tight Studio. Besides being one of the nicest people we know, Heather is also a longtime Spoonflower designer! We asked Heather to create a special Harley Dog Jacket for her fur baby, Gracie Mae. Mutual dog lover, Caroline, sewed it up for her in warm and snuggly fleece.


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I’m not only beautiful, I’m also warm and cozy!

Two of the big loves in my life are designing patterns and my sweet Sussex Spaniel Gracie Mae. Being able to combine those two things & create a custom dog jacket for her made me wiggle with happiness 🙂

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Shelter dog Prince models the Harley Jacket, also in fleece

The first time I saw the Sprout dog jacket pattern I immediately fell in love with it. Winters in Maine can be brutal and Gracie definitely needs a little extra help staying warm on our morning beach walks.

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Mom, it’s cold on this beach!

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what kind of design I wanted to create for her jacket. I wanted the pattern to be something that reflected her fun personality and I wanted it to make me smile as much as she does.

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Baby Gracie. Winning cuteness awards globally

We were at the beach for our morning walk one day & that’s when I had my Ah Ha design moment.

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Where did that bird go!

Gracie’s totally in her element when we’re there and it’s the one place where all of her favorite things come together… Chasing birdies, swimming, playing frisbee, catching balls, getting cookies and shamelessly asking for belly rubs from all of her beach friends. It’s doggie nirvana! How cool would it be to have a design that celebrates my sweet girl?!

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I WILL find that bird!

When we got back from our walk I quickly grabbed some paper & started sketching Gracie doing all of her favorite things. I had a perma smile on my face the whole time 🙂 She’s such a character and it was so much fun to try to capture all of her silly poses and tail wags.

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Gracie Mae’s favorite things

When I was done sketching I scanned all of my drawings into my computer & started working on re-illustrating everything in Adobe Illustrator.

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After a little bit of playing around with the repeat & picking colors that would look extra cute with her red hair, my new “Gracie Mae Dog Days” design was done! I knew that the Sprout dog jacket had designs on the inside & outside of the coat so I created a fun stylized dog bone pattern to coordinate with the main print and give the jacket an extra pop of color.

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Ok, time for cookies and belly rubs!

This was the first time that I’d used Sprout & I can’t say enough amazing things about them! The whole process was incredibly easy & I’ve already started a wish list for other patterns that I want to try out! Gracie’s new jacket fits her perfectly (thanks to Caroline’s canine tailoring!) & I have to admit I had a little bit of coat envy. The fleece is so soft & snuggly, she’s probably going to be warmer than I am when we’re on our walks. One things for sure… she’s going to be the talk of the beach this winter & all of her friends are going to flip over her new jacket! Thanks so much Caroline and Sprout!


Heather.jpgHeather Dutton is an imaginative designer with a passion for pattern and color. After receiving a BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Heather began her career as a fashion designer in San Francisco, combining her sense of style with her love for textiles. In 2000, she said goodbye to the world of fashion design and launched Hang Tight Studio, an innovative surface design studio.

Today, Heather runs a successful business, creating commissioned & licensed surface designs for companies across the U.S. and Europe. She’s been fortunate to work with a list of exceptional companies including Pottery Barn, Smith & Hawken, Tupperware, Real Simple, O.R.E, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and IMGS Custom Wallcoverings.

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You Had Me at Honey: Halloween at Sprout

Today’s blogger is Nicole, Sprout’s Product Development Manager. Halloween is one of her favorite holidays, as you can see in the photo below. 😉


As far as I am concerned, Halloween is the best holiday of the year. It’s the one day where there are no restrictions to what you can be, dreamers rule and the sky’s the limit. Plus, you get to watch scary movies while stuffing your face with candy. OBVIOUSLY, the BEST holiday. And here at Sprout, Halloween opens up a world of endless costume possibilities!

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Most people flock to their local party shop in search of the latest in sexy costumes during the month of October. Not me, I would much rather create something original and more importantly, that is work appropriate. For someone who has several DIY costumes under her belt, making a Halloween costume through Sprout this year was an obvious choice. Though nothing will ever compare to the rainbow glitter unicorn costume that I wore last year…..

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Since I already had clocked SERIOUS hours of mocking up projects, I couldn’t resist making a bee costume using our fun Vanessa wing pattern from Mainsail Studio and the Inari Tee Dress from Named Clothing. These wings are really perfect for playing year round and now I basically want a pair for every kid I know.

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I wasn’t really feeling the Madame Butterfly look at the moment, which is when I had a stroke of brilliance and thought…BEES. Bees have wings! Plus our amazing city of Durham, NC was officially certified as a Bee City USA this year. Basically we are obsessed with bees. Save the bees, y’all!

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The Inari Tee Dress’s cocoon shape is perfect for showcasing the honey bee’s stripes. I paired the dress with the Vanessa Wings in a size Medium – a great size for a kid and a great size for some little bumble bee wings. I found awesome repeat designs of dragonfly wings on the Spoonflower marketplace, which I used on shiny satin.

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The dress was very straight forward to put together (shout out to Named Clothing for having incredible patterns and instructions!). A tip for Silky Faille and stripe matching: if you are attempting to match stripes, I highly recommend basting or using wonder tape along those side seams before sewing the garment up. Silky Faille can be slippery and will slide your matching skills right into the garbage.

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Because the Vanessa wings are made to attach to your wrist for a massive incredible amazing wing flappin time, I had to rethink how I was going to create them for this costume, as there is no way that any adult arms were going to attach to those little babies. I ended up utilizing some aluminum, very bendable, jewelry wire and hand stitched it along side the outer edge of the wing pieces using the fleece interfacing as a backing.

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This is by no means the best method of adding more structure to the wings, but it was the best idea that I had at the time so I just winged it ;). This method proved to work decently well, although turning the wings right side out was the biggest pain. After sewing the center piece to the wings, I decided to add an additional piece of black elastic to connect the wings together and add stability. It worked perfectly.

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As news spread about the fantastic bee making going down in the Sprout room, the requests started pouring in from fellow employees dying to rock the bee look. Honey, please. No really, please bring honey – Julie did, so she won the modeling gig.

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We drove over to Perkins Orchard, the largest and oldest fruit stand in Durham, to stock up on sweet natural goodies, grab pumpkins for our desks, and to let the bee out in her natural environment. Side note: if you’re local and haven’t been to this place yet, go! It’s full of fresh, local produce and other affordable goodies.

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Julie really embraced the Queen Bee life and upped her supply of honey at the same time. I like to call that a costume success.

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Trying to recreate this look on your own? Don’t have time to sew? Order with our White Glove Service and we will sew it up for you. YAS QUEEN BEE! (Wire not included.) Which brings me to my next costume…add a crown to this look and channel the queen bee of lemonade. If you think Julie is as cute as we do and wanna see more pix of her, head over to our Flickr album. ;o)

Need more costume inspiration? Don’t worry, I GOT YOU.

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Use the Kielo Dress and this makeup tutorial to become the most beautiful giraffe in the Savannah. Or be a deer with this makeup and antlers tutorial and pair it with a deer hide Moneta.

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Start the babe’s fandom early with a baseball romper and a matching lil baseball cap to match. Take it up a notch and have your little one SIT IN A BASEBALL MIT! The cuteness…it’s just too much…can’t handle it.

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If you have a young honey lover in the family who isn’t into bees, you can make a furry hoodie and even create ears with your extra fabric to attach to the hood! Add a faux fur trim and a trick or treat bag made out of honey fabric and voila! Hello baby bear!

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The ideas don’t stop there y’all. I’m like a treasure trove of Halloween Sprout inspiration, don’t worry. How cute would my baby niece look as a lil watermelon?!

pop.jpgLike punny costumes? Why not pair this popcorn shirt with a cute movie theater bucket skirt? Popcornception. What time is the movie? When will these previews ever end??  HAHAHAHA!

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And finally, we can’t leave out your little furry friends. Don’t they deserve to dress up for Halloween too? I am dreaming about making the littlest Aaron wings for my cat so that I can be the MOTHER OF DRAGONS, but until then I did create the perfect pizza princess costume for the pup in our house. The happiest pup, decked out in her favorite food for everyone’s favorite time of year.

Now let all of this beauty and inspiration settle into your minds and…get SPROUTIN’! The only question is, WHAT WILL YOU BE??


nic.jpgNicole has a background in fashion development and design and a passion for businesses that do good, which has taken her to places like Uganda, Pakistan, and now Durham, NC. She is thrilled to be working to empower indie pattern makers through Sprout! In her spare time, you can either find Nicole in her home studio creating with her kitten by her side or exploring new places around town and abroad. She loves live music, Asian cuisine, and laughing.

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