Friends of TFS

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Ellen Chandler

21—February 2024

Read our chat with former TFS team member and cofounder of Clothes Minded, Ellen Chandler!

Ellen Chandler — Friends of TFS
Feb 21 2024

Meet Ellen, creative entrepreneur and passionate sewist! As a former team member of our TFS Brisbane store, we couldn't be more proud to see Ellen taking her skills into the world of slow fashion, launching boutique sustainable consultancy business Clothes Minded in 2021. We love Ellen's positive and thorough approach to the educational content she shares, as well as her unique sense of personal style. We caught up with her recently to chat about all things sewing, and what she's up to at the moment. Read on for more!

Hey Ellen, please give a brief introduction of yourself to our readers!

Hi, I’m Ellen - I would say I am a creative, funny and curious serial entrepreneur, sewist and world’s best aunty. My main gig is running Clothes Minded, a sustainable fashion business consultancy. I am very passionate about creating positive change in the fashion industry. I also run Call Me Back, a modern/funky speed dating business, with two good friends of mine.

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What led you to sewing, and how long have you been sewing for?

I learnt how to sew from my beautiful granny, Yvonne and Home Ec classes at school. I then went on to study Fine Arts Fashion at QUT. I have been sewing for almost 15 years - which is wild!

Before Clothes Minded I founded Aunty Ellen, a matching babies and womenswear brand. Each piece was made to order by myself. I really enjoyed this time in my life, sewing and running my first business.

Describe the space you use for sewing in 5 words

Cute, scenic, comfy, creative, really hot or really cold!. It's a cute sunroom in New Farm, Brisbane which doubles as my sewing room and work space. Great to be on neighbourhood watch whilst sewing and working.

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Tell us the story of your favourite wardrobe item

Probably a dress I made many years ago when I was working at The Fabric Store in Brisbane. It is from a Burda pattern. A high neck long dress made from a funky diagonal stripe linen. It is my go to dress!

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What are you sewing or working on at the moment?

Not going to lie, I am in a bit of a sewing funk at the moment. This can be challenging when there are so many things you want to make but just lack the time and motivation. But to try and get me back into it I am making some button up shirts for my nephews. Lane, who is three, calls them his ‘handsome’ shirts. He is not wrong.

I am also sampling some client/start-up work at the moment. It is always exciting to help see someone’s vision come to life.

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Share with us what you learnt from your biggest sewing success

To trust your gut and sometimes simple is best. Every sewing win gives you more confidence to keep going and experimenting.

Share with us what you learnt from your biggest sewing flop

S**t happens! I am a very emotional sewer so I will chuck a minor tantrum then get over it. You always learn something from a flop, whether it is patience, design issues or construction techniques. I think my last flop I didn’t cut something completely on the bias as I was in a rush. Ended up with a skewed half finished dress.

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Do you have any secret sewing tips you’d like to share?

Don’t know if they are secret but my Granny always says to get your machine serviced once a year. Make sure you have the right needle for the project. I also make a mean rouleau strap. The secret is to cut a 2.5cm wide strap on the bias then stitch down the width of your foot and don’t trim the excess. Use a rouleau turner and voila.

What are your top 5 sewing must-have tools?

Glass head pins, sharp snips, grading ruler, water removable pen and great sharp scissors.

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Are there any favourite books, podcasts or blogs that you love?

Where do I start?! Big fan of Clare Press and her podcast Wardrobe Crisis, Sundressed by Lucianne Tonti and Peppermint Mag.

Also not fashion or sewing related but I am a girl and of course a big true crime fan and love My Favourite Murder podcast.

Also might be a good opportunity for some shameless self promotion! Maddy from the Essentials Club and I created an ebook all about fabrics and fibres called the Essentials of Fabric. We have plans to potentially print this year.

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What and/or who motivates and inspires you?

In terms of sewing and creativity, friends that are killing it - Maddy from the Essentials Club, Melody from Soften Studio, Kate from Katalyst, Rosie from Rosaleen. Brands - I am a huge Ganni and Maggie Marilyn fan. Also inspired by vintage/op shopping finds!

In terms of life, my mum.

Any future projects that you are excited about?

When I get out of my sewing rut - the Ora Pinafore dress by Soften Studio out of a TFS denim and a tunic and pant set with some silk.

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Tell us what your top 5 favourite fabrics are from our Online Store and why?

Grandpa Plaid Cotton Twill in Carob / Navy - Because it is cute.

10oz Upcycled Denim in the colour Wave - All about this range of upcycled denim. Would love to make an asymmetrical skirt.

Leopard Stretch Silk Crepe in Brown - I thought i’d kicked it a while ago but I have a leopard obsession.

Butchers Stripe Cotton Shirting in Black - Used this for a button up set for my mum then loved it so much I made my own ahha Is it ever too old for mummy and me matching?

Zebra Print Cotton Poplin in Willow - I have this and love it but unsure of what to make yet!

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A very warm thank you to Ellen for chatting with us this week, we can't wait to see that Ora Pinafore Dress come to life!

We hope you've enjoyed this Friends of TFS interview, head over and follow Ellen via Instagram and don't forget to check out Clothes Minded for sustainable fashion guidance!

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Location — New Zealand