Leila is an Aussie living in chilly Canada. She studied fashion production at college and has worked in film, theater, as a seamstress for a couture studio, and as a freelancer. After working in the industry, she decided to pursue a different career and now has a Ph.D. in Biomechanics.
Jess is a relatively new sewist (she started in 2017), but she became a research fiend when she realized that there were barely any sewing patterns available in her size range. Since she was such a rookie sewist who hadn’t entered the world of pattern adjustment, Jess was looking for patterns that were simply going to fit straight out of the packet.
Leila and Jess teamed up in late 2019 to form Muna and Broad, which releases plus-size sewing patterns with the sizing starting where other pattern companies often end their sizing. While both Leila and Jess work together to design the patterns for release, Leila drafts the patterns and writes the instructions, while Jess takes care of the things in the background like the website, social media, and emails.
We recently caught up with Leila and Jess to talk about Muna and Broad and lots of other things!
SN: Describe your perfect day.
Jess: Pastries delivered for breakfast eaten with a French press full of coffee (lunch and dinner to also miraculously require no preparation or cleanup), a full day of sewing (and a sewing room that magically tidies itself as I work) and, in the evening , a catchup with friends (because it’s too dark to sew then anyway).
Leila: A sleep-in, followed by a visit to the farmer’s market to select yummy produce, an afternoon with some sewing, and then friends coming over to prepare a delicious and elaborate meal together!
SN: What’s your best way to decompress?
Jess: To be honest, I definitely don’t do a great job of decompressing but some of the things I wish I’d do more of include swimming and getting out in nature.
SN: What’s your greatest extravagance?
Jess: Probably fabric if I’m to be honest about my spending, but I also enjoy craft beer, whisky, fancy chocolate and so many other things that are probably a bit extravagant.
Leila: I definitely indulge in fabric! But also spend money on high-quality produce and ingredients for cooking.
SN: Do you have any other favorite hobbies?
Jess: I do like to cook and bake and used to be quite interested in gardening my little vegetable plot until I learned that I might be deathly allergic to bees now.
Leila: I love to cook. Generally, I get quite into one kind of cuisine for a while and try to really perfect different dishes.
SN: What’s your most treasured possession?
Leila: I don’t really have one! I have moved to two different countries in my adult life, and with that comes a certain amount of getting rid of things. I’m really not very attached to many possessions.
Jess: I’ve also moved around quite a lot as an adult so don’t have all that many possessions, but I do have a growing collection of cookbooks and houseplants which I’m quite attached to.
SN: What’s your must-have tool in your studio?
Jess: A seam-ripper! But I also always have pins, quilting clips, and small scissors next to my machine.
Leila: My clippers/thread nippers! I wear them on a piece of elastic around my neck when I sew and because I’ve been doing it for so long my hand just reaches for them to trim threads, clip or grade seams, and cut open buttonholes (yes, I know I ‘m naughty!).
SN: What’s your favorite fabric to work with?
Jess: A nice weighty linen fabric is so easy to cut, sew and wear, but I also love silk noil.
Leila: Wool! I love sewing with woven wools so much. I love how moldable it is ¾ you can shape it with steam ¾ and most woven wools are not at all shifty to sew. There isn’t anything more satisfying than a beautifully set-in jacket shoulder with a slight roll.
SN: Where do you find inspiration?
Jess: Lots of my inspiration comes from other makers, but also from slow-fashion, high-fashion, and vintage-styles clothes (think oversized wool coats from the Met archives).
Leila: Most of my inspiration comes from Instagram and other makers, but also stores and designers. Sometimes the influence is really oblique. I might see a beautiful fitted bodice detail and that will inspire a cuff on an oversized sleeve for me!
SN: What’s your motto?
Jess: I say “no worries” a lot, which is ironic since I’m generally full of worries.
Leila: It’s definitely “just get it done.” I generally consider myself a fairly lazy person, however, these manifests in working very hard and intensely in most faces of my life…basically so I don’t have to work hard for very long! So I am quite productive in short bursts.
SN: What’s your favorite sewing snack?
Jess: I don’t snack and sew. I do keep a bottle of water in the room which is ostensibly for my iron, but which I occasionally take sips from because I also don’t beverage and sew (I see photos of people with multiple teacups next to their machine and that is not me).
Leila: I never have any food in my sewing room and generally no drinks other than water. I’m worried I would dirty my project. I usually have to force myself to take breaks while I’m sewing because I prefer to finish a garment in a single sitting.
SN: What are your three favorite sewing hashtags?
Jess: Right at this moment it’s #fatsewing, #bipocsewcialists, #sewincolour and #sewover50.
Leila: #plussizeminimalist, #fatsewing, #meetmakersofcolor and #blkmakersmatter.
Check Out the Rest of Our Meet the Maker Series
We’ve talked about living the maker’s life with many designers over the years. After learning about Muna and Broad, read more of our Meet the Maker Q & As with Julian Collins, Adrianna Apple, Katrina Walker, Rae Crumbie, Meridy Dunn, Sarah Gunn, Sadie Fox Meter, Friday Pattern Company, Tabitha Sewer, Rosy Pena, Dana Willard, Sarah Johansenand Bianca Springer.