An interview with Raylene Harvey

Here at SoSoIntoIt Academy, we are always trying to find people with a fresh approach to sewing. Raylene caught our attention because she feels like the perfect balance between the industrial revolution and the modern era. Merging the timeless art of sewing with blogging, the contemporary thought leader’s podium. 

After watching Raylene’s fantastic how-to videos on Youtube, I came to the stark conclusion that this was not enough, I had to get to know her. I just had to introduce her to our SoSo readers! So I took the next logical step and reached out to her. From her very first response (which included a sewing pun), her energetic personality and passion shone through and that was it, fate collided! 

So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Raylene Harvey, a born and bred South African sewing blogger that turned her passion into a fantastic online channel for other avid ‘sewist’ to learn from. 

When did you know you wanted to start an online blog about your passion for sewing and was there a specific pivotal point that pushed you to make the decision?
It happened organically. When I first started my blog, I had no idea what topic I was going to blog about, so I shared random things about my life and what I was doing. Then I shared my first make and everyone loved those posts and wanted more, so it grew from there.

How and where did you learn to sew?
The majority of my sewing skills are self-taught and I learned everything by doing searches on Google and trying out different techniques. There are many garments that haven’t seen the light of day (and by the light of day, I mean posted on my blog) that ended up just becoming unwearable experiments, but I love figuring things out and exploring with various sewing techniques – I learned a lot that way. I practiced these skills in my kitchen and on the floor of my bedroom. I didn’t have a dedicated sewing space so I always had to set things up and then pack them away when I was done. 

Do you prefer to sew your own clothing rather than buying fast fashions, if so why?
I definitely prefer to sew my own clothing. The impact of fast fashion on our environment as well as the conditions the people who made these clothes are working in, really hit home for me when I saw the documentary “The True Cost”. Since then I have made a conscious effort to stop shopping for fast fashion and instead make my own well-made garments that I know I will treasure for many years to come. Unlike fast fashion garments which are typically poorly made so that they can be affordable for the consumer, all this means is you end up wearing it for a few months and then you have to get rid of it, which is not sustainable. 

I am a minimalist. If I do buy clothing, I invest in good quality staple pieces that I can mix and match with items in my existing wardrobe.

Who is the person/persons who inspire you the most in your passion for sewing, is there anyone you aspire to be like?
I adore Mimi G Style. She is the OG (Original Gangster!) of sewing. When I first started out, I watched all her videos and learned so much from her. I watched her grow and develop her business as I followed her through her online journey. I relate to her in so many ways. Her journey from being homeless to building a million-dollar sewing empire is something that I strive towards.

Are there any fashion designers that you look up to?
Christian Siriano. He was the youngest person to win Project Runway and I was blown away by his design aesthetic. He is definitely one of the most successful designers from the show and I admire his fashion journey.

If someone walked up to you and asked for some advice on sewing or blogging and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?
Making mistakes is part of the process. It means you’re learning.

Comparing your sewing skills from when you started to now, what has been the main thing that allowed you to get better?
I believe it is my consistent persistence to learn and figure things out.

Do you think sewing skills are still relevant today and why?
Definitely! I believe every household should have a sewing machine. Mending your clothing, hemming jeans, adjusting your clothing to fit you better – these little things can save you so much money in the long run and your clothes will last longer. It’s sustainable. And in this day and age, we constantly need to be thinking about the impact we have on the environment as consumers.

What advice would you give other bloggers/entrepreneurs starting out?
Start before you are ready! Many of us may want to start a blog or Youtube channel, but we think we need all the equipment and things in place before we can do so. When I started my videos were awful and my blog photos were not the greatest! But as time went by I figured out how to make things better and my content started improving. So start before you are ready. You can always upgrade your equipment on time. You can always learn things. You don’t need to know everything upfront. 

I see you have just set up a new blog, any changes that your readers can get excited about?
Yes! I have recently undergone a re-brand and my blog is now called “Scarlet Stitch”. They can expect lots of sewing-related goodness from me as well as how to live a more creative life. There are some other things in the pipeline I am working on that I cannot share yet, but all will be revealed in due time.

You have recently launched a new vlogging series on your Youtube channel focusing more on your sewing journey than on your previous DIY videos. Why the change in focus?
I’ve always enjoyed watching other sewists’ vlogs and I figured it is my way to share my behind the seams sewing journey and hopefully inspire others to sew! I will still throw in a DIY video here and there, so those aren’t completely off my radar. I know my audience loves my DIY videos and have gotten so much amazing feedback. There’s also nothing more rewarding when I get messages of people wearing clothes that they learned how to make from my videos. It brings me so much joy!

Can you give us a sneak peek of some of the patterns you will be reviewing on your new vlogging series?
Gosh, there’s so many! Right now, I’m keen to do a review of the Friday Pattern CompanyAdrianna” dress. I’m obsessed with those sleeves.

You mentioned that you moved into the fashion industry but preferred blogging, why is that?
Let’s just say the fashion blogging world was not for me. The energy of that world compared to the sewing world are completely different. I feel like I finally found my tribe now that I’m part of the sewing world.

To my understanding, you are not blogging full time, where do you get time to vlog, blog, sew and still have a daytime job?
This is a tricky one, actually. My day job is quite demanding, and at the end of the day, I am so drained that all I want to do is veg on the couch, eat dinner and binge on my favourite series. I find myself sewing in pockets of time during the week. I break down my projects into small manageable chunks and tackle them piece by piece until I have a complete garment. I mostly do blog-related things on a weekend, especially a Saturday. I treat my Saturdays as if it’s a “workday” which helps a lot. It also helps to batch tasks – prepping multiple patterns at a time and cutting out all my pieces for more than one garment and having it ready to go when I’m ready to sew.

I’ve been a little AWOL for the past year or so due to my Dad’s passing, so I have been struggling to get back into the swing of things when it comes to social media, my blog and my Youtube channel. I am also on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. However, I’m finally starting to feel better, so you can expect some exciting things from me again soon.

Where can I sign up for sewing courses?

 SoSo IntoIt Academy of Clothing Design is a training provider of non-formal, practical, short, hobbyist, skills and own business courses.

 To do one of their courses you need a real interest in sewing, pattern making and clothing design. You don’t need any prior learning or experience or training.

What courses can I sign up for?

 Absolute Beginners Sewing Level 1

Beginners Sewing Level 2

Sewing Certificate

Pattern Making Course Level 1

Pattern Making Course Level 2

Pattern Making Certificate Course

Comprehensive Clothing Design Certificate

Online Courses

Written By Carli Wilken

Last Update: 13 March 2020