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Member in Focus - ConnieBJ By Deepika on 5/25/12 2:07 PM

Today we are featuring someone who not only has amazing style, she also has an extraordinary reserve of energy and enthusiasm which somehow never depletesConnie Bontje (ConnieBJ) is also a contest committee member and was instrumental in planning our most recent PR Weekend in New York. Yes, she is a talented sewist, but did you know that she is a full time farmer?

Connie Bontje

Member Since: 12/31/03

PR Name: ConnieBJ

Full Name: Connie Bontje

Birthday: May 21


How did you learn to sew: My mother went to boarding school in Holland as a girl and she is likely the most precise and beautiful sewist I know. Between her and 4H I learned most of the basics. I grew up thinking that fondling fabrics in Polka Dot every Saturday was something every child did! I still remember the first real garment I made. It was a blue nightgown. I still have the pattern in fact!

What aspect of sewing do you find most challenging: Actual sewing is not difficult for me. I like the challenge of looking at a design feature and deconstructing it to figure out how to sew it. The thing that I find most difficult to decide what style and colours will look good on me. For instance- I really like art type garments - Issey Miyake comes to mind- but am slowly coming to the realization that the style that most suits me is more tailored. (having said that, I realized that the photo that accompanies this profile is of me NOT in a tailored outfit, so perhaps I have no idea what I am talking about!) Deepika, do we need a class on "discovering your style?" I hate, hate, hate, trying things on in stores even though I know that that is really going to be the only way to really define my style!

Which sewing book do you refer to most often: I've been doing a lot of wedding type sewing in the past while, so I keep Susan Khalje's book Bridal Couture close at hand. For drafting ideas, or those moments when I think "how could I change that (neckline, armhole, or whatever), I refer to Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. I'm not a real sewing book collector.

What are your sewing goals for this year: I try not to make sewing goals because for me that is a sure sign that I will not accomplish anything! I still have a list on my fridge of household updates that I wanted to do in 2010! I am in the midst of redoing my sewing studio (who's kidding whom here- my sewing room is just a bedroom that we don't need anymore!) Getting that done is a priority. I would also like to fine tune my jeans pattern, as well as make a Chanel type jacket. Then there is a cycling jacket for my husband, some golf attire for me and the grandchildren to sew for. We all know though, that sewing for little ones is so fun!

What are you sewing right now: I just completed a wardrobe of sorts for myself- 3 pairs of pants, 2 jackets, 3 shells and 2 dresses. That was a marathon! I am not allowing myself to do anything else now until I finish a wedding dress for a client. At least that one has a deadline!! Seriously- what's with the strapless obsession in wedding dresses? Cinch, pinch, bone, waist stay and hand over the flash tape! Oh but do you know what I am going to make next? My very own step and repeat banner! You know the backgrounds with logos that actors pose in front of? I figured out a way ( I think) to make my own using my own logos. I promise you will all be the first to see it!

Pick your favorite pattern: My Bento pattern database has over 600 patterns in it! How to pick a favourite??! When I look back on everything I have made, a vintage McCall's pattern stands out. 4746. It is so cleverly drafted- I just know that Joan from Mad Men would love it! Talking about patterns- am I the only person here who reads interesting pattern instruction sheets in the bath? Surely I can't be!

What you love most about PatternReview?: Meeting members in person is so fun! We all come from different backgrounds, differing skill levels, and are of varying ages but when we get together you would think we have been best friends forever! I love helping out members, so the opportunity to be on the contest committee fills that need! Pattern Review is a great community to be involved with.

Any other hobbies? Aside from sewing I am active in our community. I am a Director on the local Agricultural Society and I am a founding member of our Dinner Theater Committee. I love to act, sing, stage manage, and costume design! I also act with a Murder Mystery troupe. I enjoy skiing, golf, reading, and playing guitar. My latest obsession though is Textile Art. I could seriously lock myself up for days making art with my sewing machine!

Your profession, where do you live etc. I live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. London-ish, halfway between Detroit and Toronto. I am a full time farmer. We have pigs (from breeding to bacon) and cash crops ( corn, kidney beans and wheat). Our family also owns a golf course, which really just means that I pay more to play golf than anyone I know! We live in a century farmhouse that we have totally renovated over time. In fact, my husband still sleeps in the same bedroom he did as a child- I tell him that he just has a better roommate now! We have five amazing daughters, three - almost four- wonderful son in laws, and four gorgeous grandchildren- all of whom live close enough that we see them every week.

Reviews by ConnieBJ

29 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
ConnieBJ said... (6/3/12 0:57 AM) Reply
Thanks for all the amazing comments! You really don't know how much you all mean to me!
Sewing Gal said... (6/1/12 5:28 PM) Reply
Connie, please send me some of your energy! Wow! You are a very industrious lady!
cboots said... (5/31/12 10:54 PM) Reply
Great article Connie! I feel lucky to have met you. Too bad I couldn't make it to NYC...
marec said... (5/31/12 2:59 PM) Reply
I love the comment "from breeding to bacon" :-) I thoroughly enjoyed reading more about you Connie. Thank you.
Silknmore said... (5/31/12 9:35 AM) Reply
Great interview, Connie. And what is it that you do in your spare time?
JEF said... (5/31/12 9:10 AM) Reply
"I hate, hate, hate, trying things on in stores even though I know that that is really going to be the only way to really define my style!" You took this sentence out of my head!!!! It was wonderful to meet you in person in NYC. You are just a lovely person.
ASiverson said... (5/30/12 7:22 PM) Reply
You are as beautiful inside as out, it would seem. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful life with us.
CBLSEWS said... (5/30/12 11:30 AM) Reply
Thanks for sharing your story with us. YOu are an amazing woman.
carolrv said... (5/30/12 6:15 AM) Reply
re: the strapless obsession in wedding dresses I attended a family wedding a few years ago and I had the STRANGEST view of the wedding party: they were on the altar with their backs toward the guests, and all I could see was the bare shoulders and necks and updos of the bride and her attendants. It looked like they had no clothes on! I have become bored with the strapless trend because there are so many beautiful and interesting (dare I say more flattering and classic?) design options for necklines and sleeves.
Christas said... (5/29/12 10:42 PM) Reply
How exciting to learn more about you! What an amazing woman and seamstress you are!
Jodi B. said... (5/29/12 5:21 PM) Reply
It was fabulous getting to see you again in New York, Connie. And thanks for your help with the hotel room!
Geralyn said... (5/29/12 1:39 PM) Reply
Ditto to what everyone else said. Connie is so warm, funny and incredibly talented.
zoe said... (5/28/12 9:29 PM) Reply
Reading pattern instructions in the bath! Sounds wonderful. Your interview was interesting; your energy and excitement for life is obvious. Love that vintage pattern too.
MarinaVK said... (5/28/12 4:59 AM) Reply
Connie, thanks for sharing your background with us! It was great meeting you in New York!
Claire in Montreal said... (5/27/12 10:22 AM) Reply
Busy, busy woman - wow! Great article, Connie. Can't wait for our day next weekend :-)
Elaray said... (5/26/12 7:56 PM) Reply
Connie, you are fantastic. I'm sorry I missed you in NYC, but I'll see you in San Francisco.
BlossomKyle said... (5/26/12 3:16 PM) Reply
How fun to learn more about you Connie! And I can't wait to see your step and repeat--that sounds like SO much fun!
MarianS said... (5/26/12 11:39 AM) Reply
Connie, you have been an inspiration to me since I your excellent guidance with my DDs wedding dress. I enjoyed reading all about you. Thanks for all your help and inspiration.
annakeeton said... (5/26/12 9:18 AM) Reply
Connie, you are Super!
Sue Anfang said... (5/25/12 8:44 PM) Reply
Great article, and can I say she's funny & warm along with interesting!! Way to go Connie!
LauraHarkawik said... (5/25/12 8:36 PM) Reply
Totally agree! It was great to meet you in N.yC, Connie - you are very inspiring!
kittykate said... (5/25/12 7:48 PM) Reply
I miss Polka Dot fabric!
Jacqui315 said... (5/25/12 5:35 PM) Reply
In addition to being an amazing seamstress you're also an amazing woman!
Sallys Sewing Journal said... (5/25/12 5:32 PM) Reply
Your sewing is so inspiring! I really miss your webpage though. Do you have a new one? Happy Belated Birthday!!
velosewer said... (5/25/12 5:07 PM) Reply
Connie, you are wonderful to work with on Contests. I really appreciate your help and guidance.
Rhonda in Montreal said... (5/25/12 4:54 PM) Reply
I <3 Connie ;D
Auntie Allyn said... (5/25/12 3:18 PM) Reply
Connie rocks!!
Bonnie O said... (5/25/12 2:58 PM) Reply
Not only the most interesting but definitely the person with the most energy! I'm so happy to have you as my friend!
Sherril Miller said... (5/25/12 2:26 PM) Reply
Connie, you have to be one of the most interesting people I know. It was fun seeing you again in NYC.

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