Jan Potter & Bonne Swett – Inspired2Sew Duo

Jan Potter & Bonne Swett

Jan Potter & Bonne Swett



Jan and Bonne’s friendship only happened because they shared a love of sewing — and their story should be an inspiration to all of us.

Jan Potter says:  My dear mother was a great seamstress and taught my sister and me to sew, embroider, knit and crochet.  My degree is in Graphic Design.  Art-Create-Sew!  That’s my life and what I’ve always wanted to do!   We live on a remote mountain ranch in Oregon — my husband logs and develops property and I am a retired Graphic Designer.  

I’m driven to sew and garments are my passion!  Color is dominate in everything I sew – the bolder, wilder, more vivid, the better!  I love combining unusual colors and patterns and trying to make them work!!  You see that word “trying”?!!  Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I just cut it up and go a different direction!  Joy and fun in the journey is the most important part of creating and sewing for me!!



Bonne Swett says:  As a teenager, I was introduced to sewing when I was invited to join the local 4-H club, and I was hooked!!!   My husband and I own and operate an equipment rental business and my life is about keeping things in the proper order.  I have a business degree, and an accounting point of view.  I love to sew just about anything — it’s my “me time”.  I follow the rules, I believe in symmetry and pattern instructions. 

When my kids were still at home, finding space and time to sew was a challenge.  Nancy Zieman’s book 10-20-30 Minutes To Sew was what kept me from giving up. It was a true light bulb moment for me.  I often think of what I would have missed out on had I not read that book.

How did the unlikely partnership of the wild artist and the organized accountant become the Inspired2Sew duo?

They first met in the 1980’s when Jan designed a logo for Bonne’s family business.  Several years later, they both happened to attend the same sewing workshop.  Jan was already in her seat when Bonne appeared at the door.  The only chair in the room was next to Jan — and that’s the moment they discovered their mutual love of sewing.

They enjoyed each others’ company, and attended several sewing events in Oregon.  In 1994, they traveled to the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington.

blogaa2014-02-28-09.49bloga2014-02-28-09.49At that first Sew Expo, Jan proposed a “challenge” — but Bonne was reluctant.   Jan had participated in several national sewing challenges and competitions, including the Hoffman Challenge, and she won the Ghee’s Handbag Challenge.  Jan convinced Bonne it would be fun — so they purchased the same fabric.  They had a whole year to make their  “challenge garment.”    The only rule was they could not see the other person’s creation until they went to Expo the following year.  They did not have the “reveal” until the day they left for Sew Expo — so it was a total surprise for both of them.

Bonne brings accounting to her sewing.  She learns the rules and reads the pattern instructions.  Her favorite color was black and she’s always enjoyed technical precision sewing techniques and owns every machine foot, sewing gismo or new gadget — anything that might improve her precision results.

Jan is the complete opposite.  She jumps into every project with wild abandon, rarely glancing at the instruction sheet, looking for ways to add fringe or odd combinations of color or texture.

blogblurbThen the magic happened!  They started sewing together and fed off each other!   Bonne cut loose and Jan’s sewing skills improved!  Jan says, “Bonne taught me that to get that perfection finished look or beautiful crisp embroidery, you must have a good sharp needle.  We only use SCHMETZ and we change them all the time!  This is truly one of the most important things to remember.  My favorite all-around is the 80 or 90 topstitch needle.  I use so many — I buy them by the case!”

By 2008, they were creating 3 – 4 Wearable Art challenges for every Expo.  Each challenge would start with a pattern, or a notion, maybe fabric or a new technique.  Most of their challenges ended up as vests or jackets.  One of their favorite teachers, Linda McGehee (of Ghee’s) — proposed they do a trunk show for Sew Expo.  That’s when they decided to call themselves the “Inspired2Sew” girls.

Their little trunk show became a popular full-blown fashion show on the Sew Expo Runway.  Even though both Bonne and Jan started off with the same inspiration — their end results were

For example, one year they selected a bright hologram print.  Jan went crazy with it — adding even more colors and texture — Angelina fibers and beads….  Her jacket was wild by any measure.  Bonne, on the other hand, walked out on the stage in a simple tailored jacket… and when Jan asked her where the hologram fabric was, Bonne opened her jacket to reveal a butterfly applique (made out of the challenge fabric) on the inside.

blog269921_STANDARD___20130218By 2011, their Inspired2Sew fashion show was a hot ticket at Sew Expo.  They made 9 garments for challenges — which was a whole year of designing and sewing!  They didn’t know it at the time — but Judy Raymond from Simplicity Company Pattern was in attendance.  Then the most amazing thing happened. They were asked to create a totebag  pattern for Simplicity!

Bonne and Jan love sewing and creating together.  But it’s not the finished projects that matter — or even the Simplicity pattern contract.  Their story really is about friendship — and neither one of them can imagine what the last 20 years would have been like WITHOUT their Inspired2Sew excitement.  Their sewing challenges have provided hours of fun and creativity.

As different as they are — the one thing Bonne and Jan both agree on completely is that hysterical laughter has added years to their lives . . . .