Interview; Jen Hogg
Way back in September I teamed up with Jen (@jenerates) of Sewing Bee fame who made a custom version of her gorgeous sewing rulers, downsizing them to make a sweet little badge just for SewHayleyJane subscribers.
Hi Jen, it’s so exciting to have a finalist of the GBSB making a product for our boxes! Thank you for creating this cute mini version of your sewing rulers for us, how did you find the process?
It was so much fun making the mini rulers! I have a few of the early iterations sitting beside my computer and I find myself nesting them together in different ways when I’m thinking.
What made you want to start your own product line?
To be totally honest, it was completely selfish. I had looked for a small, square ruler which starts at zero at both the inside and outside corner for years but I could never find one. So when the chance came up, I made it for myself. Then I thought if I find this useful, other people might too.
There are so many different ways you can use your rulers, what was the process involved in creating these?
It was really a series of lucky coincidences that gave me the chance to make the rulers. As I say, the idea was in my head for a long time. Having the zero at both the inside and outside corners means you can use the ruler whichever way lets you see your work best.
I used to have a small graphic design business so I’m happy to use the Adobe programs. Then I went to silversmithing night classes at my local college and the tutor gave me a chance to try out the laser cutter so I designed my ruler. I started working with a local woman I had taught at a knitting workshop who has a laser cutting business, and after a lot of iterations launched the Jenerates Sewing Ruler on Instagram in June 2020. I was so nervous about it!
We all love to be nosy, what does a typical day look like for you?
My day always starts with coffee, then a trip to the local delivery office to drop off any orders followed by a dog walk. Stan is very sociable so sometimes we go to a park for him to play with his wee pals, which is no exercise for me because I just stand around chatting, but more often I take him into a big, wild park closer to my house and walk through the woods. Then it’s usually back to the computer for a while, but I do try to make sure I do something off the screen at some point during the day, even if that’s just waxing and packing items.
Tell us a bit about your sewing space?
I’m so lucky, the old dining room in my house is now my sewing room and study. I’ve got a long desk with a return. My machines are on one side and the laptop faces the other way on the return which really helps me to keep work and sewing separate in my head. I made a big workbench on wheels, which lives in front of the window and also makes a great location for photography for my website. I’ve got a bit of a houseplant habit and you’ll usually see them in my photos too, along with a stained glass panel I made, oh, about 22 years ago.
How has life been since being a semi-finalist on the Great British Sewing Bee in 2019?
It was such an interesting experience. Stressful, but also a lot of fun and I made very good friends. In fact 6 or 7 of us are getting together for a weekend next month. It also changed my work life. I now work full time on sewing related things, from the business to teaching, writing for blogs and magazines and collaborating on projects with shops, charities and galleries. How lucky is that!
Finally, what’s next for Jenerates?
I’ve sent rulers all over the world and the seam circles are proving equally popular. And I’m about to release another product which I’m very excited about! Then I’m coming to The Knitting and Stitching Show at the Alexandra Palace in London in October with my friend Victoria of Little Rosy Cheeks. I’m hoping to be at the Creative Crafts show in Glasgow with the cashmere surplus, and at Harrogate with Victoria again. It’s all very busy!