Interview with designer Annie Meub Of Annie Made

 Photo by Abby Johnson-Ruscansky

Photo by Abby Johnson-Ruscansky

I think it's safe to say that Annie Meub is brilliant with a sewing machine.  I met Annie at a wedding last June and we landed on the topic of sewing immediately after introduction.  Little did I know that her designs would soon become my go to garments in my wardrobe and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I wear her pieces at least 4 days a week.  Annie's garments are somehow perfectly suited for bodies of all shapes and sizes and seem to have been modeled after the dresses in my dreams.

I recently asked her a few questions about her sewing process, starting a business and studio habits.  Annie also makes incredible pies and she has shared a recipe for a Blueberry, Nectarine & Lavender pie that sounds oh so divine.

 Photo by Abby Johnson-Ruscansky

Photo by Abby Johnson-Ruscansky

1: When did you start sewing and what inspired you to start making clothes? 

  I was taught some sewing from a neighbor when I was five and I didn’t touch a machine again until high school. There, I took a two week course intended to teach sewing basics and how to complete an easy level commercial pattern. 

     Clothing is super important to me. An outfit can absolutely change your mood. My mom proceeded to buy me my own sewing machine the Christmas before I turned nineteen. From there I just taught myself how to sew clothing from YouTube tutorials. I began to sew more advanced commercial patterns that fit me really well and I finally got to a point where If I’d see garment I’d like to own I would try to make it first. With YouTube I learned to sew with different fabrics, I learned to make slopers, and I learned how to install various closures. The beginning of designing for me was unconventional , maybe not even appreciated by graduates of design school but was me just smashing together what I learned from online tutorials, taking old clothing apart, and sewing A LOT of patterns. 

2: what do you find most challenging about running your own business? 

The most challenging part of running my own business is making every decision alone and hoping it works out. Also, not having a real business or retail background really takes some decisions out of perspective so I research a lot and call friends at all hours for their opinion. I’m very fortunate to have the mix of friends and acquaintances which I am able to call upon. 

3: You have such a cozy looking studio! how did you go about setting that up and how do you designate that as being a separate space for work only? 

Thank you! I love the space I’m currently in, lots of character and light. My studio is part of my living space in my apartment so designating spaces for specific activities is key. Before, I had my cutting table in the living space and the ironing board in my bedroom so eventually I couldn't completely relax anywhere.The space is one big room so I needed to split that between my studio and my living area. I use a rug as the marker for where relaxation can happen and where work must start .

4: what does a typical work day look like for you? 

Gosh, there really is no typical work day. I’m still pretty small and don't have huge following yet so dresses are typically made in one sitting. It all starts with coffee and something for my Instagram account. Then I go through the motions of cutting the fabric, doing the prep work, and then piecing it together. I am very hooked on instant gratification so sometimes I’d rather make a dress one-at-a-time so I can hold it up or throw it over my clothes and say in the mirror “look what you’ve done!”. Recently, I received my first wholesale order so that does require some organization over a few days and looks much like manufacturing anything ,  just on a smaller scale with one employee. 

5: how do you practice self care while running your own business? 

I make myself something. Sewing used to be very selfish hobby and I was in a routine of making things for myself only. Once a year I dole out hand-made somethings for Christmas gifts but that's it. Now that I’m sewing almost everyday for someone else, which I love, I get a little jealous and longing for something new of my own. Making myself something is a good break because I always pick a different fabric then what I sell and always use a pattern I had nothing to do with. 

6: What gets you through your day? What are you listening, watching or reading that is inspiring to you right now? 

If it is a day of cutting, much quieter, I listen to podcasts that I like or NPR. If it is a day of sewing I usually have Spotify on so when my machine stops humming or I'm ironing between steps there's a vibe in the room. A quick cut-of-the-rug to keep my focus. I wish I could watch my shows but I can't take my eyes away since most of my work is hands-on either something hot, pokey, or machinery. 

7: I've seen your pictures of some really beautiful homemade pies. Do you mind sharing a recipe? 

I love making pies! I even used to enter a blueberry pie into the Acton Fair every year to be judged when I lived in Arundel, Maine. With the recent political drama it has proved to be the best self care because you can’t reach for the internet with doughy hands.I use an all butter crust with cider vinegar for a rich and chewy pastry , usually I make the pies open faced since I insist on home-made crust but am usually always short on time. I also like the look of the pie with the filling exposed, that's what I tell myself anyways. . .

Here’s one I use often that is a combination of two recipes that are not my own. . . they live in the bible of pie recipes, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily and Melissa Elsen, gifted to me by a dear friend. 

 

Blueberry- Nectarine-Lavender pie

And one home made all- butter crust

 

Filling:

3 Nectarines washed and sliced 

2 Cups of blueberries (pref. Maine blueberries-) 

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground allspice 

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Dash of Angostura bitters (seriously put this stuff into all fruit pies)

2 Drops of food grade lavender oil ( or 1/2 tablespoon of dried lavender)

1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice 

1 Tablespoon corn starch ( I use ground arrow root as an alternative )

1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt

 

Some egg wash 

Roll out dough evenly so its larger than the pie shell, line the pie shell and refrigerate for 10 minutes. 

While the pie dough is chilling make the filling. Assemble all of the ingredients and mix well. I use my hands and give the blueberries a light squish to get some extra juice out before baking. 

Pour the filling into the shell and distribute evenly. Fold the edge of the dough over twice to create a hem, continue around the pie until all edges are folded evenly. I use a pentagon as my general shape which also covers a fair amount of filling. Refer to the picture since this is exactly how I do it at home, it was honestly hard to describe. If all else fails make it pretty. Let the pie chill in the fridge again to let the shape set. While the dough sets, preheat a lined baking sheet in the oven at 425 F. 

 

Make Egg wash

Egg wash

One egg

One tablespoon water

Pinch of salt

Beat ingredients together. Brush the pastry with the egg wash to coat avoiding dragging into the filling. Carefully place the pie in the oven on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 F and continue to bake until the pastry is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling throughout, roughly 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a trivet or wire rack completely before serving. 

Recipe for one all-butter crust

1 1/4 cup unbleached flour all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

1/2 cup cold water

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 cup ice *

 

Stir the flour,salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Combine water, vinegar, and ice in a separate bowl, set aside. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. If you don't have a pastry blender you can use two knives to slice crossways as a method of cutting the butter into the flour. Working quickly, cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are the size of peas and the mixture resembles a corn meal consistency. Do not overblend. 

To make the dough I remove my rings anduse my hands, its the quickest method and the most fun. Incorporate the water mixture by sprinkling it over the flour mixture in increments of two tablespoons at a time, avoiding ice chunks, and throughly mixing the water in with your hands. Work quickly as the heat of your hands will melt the butter leading to tough dough. Repeat this step until the dough does together and forms a ball, some dry pieces will be remaining. It is also ok if you did not use all the water. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The pie dough has a shelf life of three days in the refrigerator, one month in the freezer, and is best used the day after it is made. 

 

* Ratio’s are those provided in the book, The Four &Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

 Photo by Annie Meub

Photo by Annie Meub

Annie Meub lives in Maine and can be found at annie-made.com or on instagram @annie___made