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Meet Trailblazer Alina Strain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alina Strain.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Alina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m a sewing pattern designer currently based out of San Diego, though I sell my products online. I haven’t always sewn; rather, I taught myself as an adult. To now have a thriving sewing business a decade later is ironic and amazing to me!

My history with sewing includes a cheap sewing machine with terrible tension problems, a subsequent hatred for sewing, a second try, a newfound love, an Etsy shop, an offer for my goods from Anthropologie (I didn’t take it), a custom upholstery shop, and finally, discovering the world of indie sewing patterns.

Sewing has become so many things for me; a craft, a hobby, a versatile and useful education. But, something funny happened, the deeper I got into the rabbit hole–I gained confidence, I figured out who I wanted to be, I gained a new perspective and a new pair of eyes.

When clothes fit you, when you have the creative control over every detail, and when you have the ability to take a pile of fabric and notions and turn them into something both beautiful and useful–well, that’s where the magic happens.

My formal education is in marketing and advertising. I am self-taught in both sewing and pattern drafting. Once I discovered sewing (the second time around), I found it came to me naturally and I quickly advanced to sewing professionally. Once I discovered Indie-designed sewing patterns–it sounds dramatic but, my life changed.

For the next year, I delved deep into pattern drafting textbooks. I was already drafting for myself, and the magic of not only sewing but designing what I was about to sew was the stuff my dreams were made of. Hundreds of hours of learning and training later, I’ve been able to expand this to a line of women’s sewing patterns, which is something I have the utmost appreciation for.

In “real” life, I’m married to a Navy man and I’m a mom to three kids 5-and-under. We move a lot and we adventure a lot. We are currently living in sunny San Diego. I spend my days teaching, learning, and sewing in 60-second increments.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve been a creative business owner for the better part of a decade. I’ve owned businesses that thrived–like a furniture upholstery business I ran out of my home, but then had to close due to my husband’s job with the US Navy relocating us.

I’ve also run businesses that struggled, like my Etsy shop selling bags (my low price point was my downfall… though I did get an offer from Anthropologie for one of my bags!).

All in all, even though each business had its own story, I learned something from each of them, and that’s a really valuable thing. (I want to point out that I was also very privileged with the ability to take risks with my income as it is supplementary to my husband’s. I am keenly aware that that is not everyone’s situation.)

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I design women’s clothing sewing patterns intended for the home sewing industry. Any pattern I design is something that I really want to wear or feel that my own wardrobe is missing.

My most recent sewing pattern, the Fulton Sweater Blazer (https://alinadesignco.com/product/fulton-sweater-blazer/) has been a runaway success and has been a really exciting addition to my line.

I write all of my pattern instructions with adventurous beginners in mind–those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and learn a new skill without losing themselves in the fear of doing it wrong.

We learn so much just by doing something new: not just knowledge, but skills and abilities!

I feel passionate that sewing is for everyone; sewing is magic to me, and I want to share that with anyone interested.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My mom is a constant source of inspiration for me. She is both creative and organized and I’ve learned so much from her. She homeschooled me, which, in turn, means that she gave me the ability to teach myself anything. Not only that, but she is the biggest supporter and encourager a girl could ask for. She’s not into sewing, but that doesn’t prevent her from reading and commenting on every blog post or Instagram post I write.

I have no biological sisters but have five sisters by marriage, and each of them inspires me! They are all good at different things and have unique skill sets. It’s great to people in my life who are good at things I’m not–they both challenge me and inspire me!

My step-mom is not into sewing, but she has played a big role in shaping me as a person and helping me to see and understand other perspectives. This is so important in life, but also in business!

Finally, there are hundreds of women in the sewing community who daily inspire me. They are constantly making me think about new approaches to color combinations, using different types of fabric, taking on new challenges, and fine-tuning skill sets. There is a vast amount of inspiration out there!

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Image Credit:
Alina Strain

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