Meet Wendy Liu
, a Youtuber hailing from Toronto who makes her own clothes and shows us how to do it too. She's posted over a hundred sewing projects on her YouTube channel – from red carpet dresses to mini bags to a puffer jacket assembled from thrifted sleeping bags. And as people who have little to no skill with a sewing machine, we personally love how relatable and easy-to-follow Wendy's tutorials are. So when we had the chance to chat with Wendy, we were so excited to find out what her favourite DIY pieces are, how she keeps herself grounded amidst all her projects, what beauty and skincare products she swears by, and what are her go-top places to shop and eat at in Toronto.
Who is Wendy Liu?
Wendy just really wanted to make Youtube videos, so she picked the topic of "sewing" and ran with it. Now it's her full-time job to make Youtube videos that show how sewing her own clothes is worth the struggle.
First things first, when did you learn to sew and what made you decide to start a YouTube channel teaching others how start their own sewing journey?
I learnt to sew from my mama! We made little outfits for my dolls and she showed me how a sewing machine works, but for a long time I just had that knowledge tucked away in some far corner of my mind. When I started watching Youtube some of the most popular content seemed to be tutorials, so I honestly just chose the first relatively unique skill I could think of and dove headfirst into sharing tutorials. It was daunting to pretend to be an expert in sewing (since I certainly was not) but over time I realized my audience actually liked that I was being honest in my journey since it made sewing more approachable.
We have to know, what are some of your favourite pieces that you’ve made?
This changes often as I am guilty of loving my newer creations. I have to say my wedding dress even though it was nearly the death of me, and I recently sewed a Cecilie Bahnsen-inspired quilted wrap coat that proved to myself how many techniques I have learned over my years of sewing on Youtube. I find I am often challenging myself, so having my skills come together once in a while to pull off a project is extremely gratifying.
In this day and age of (over) sharing, there’s this need to keep producing more and more content. How do you keep yourself grounded and prevent yourself from burning out?
I have been embracing the importance of breaks and not being too hard on myself if I need them. It takes an active effort, however, to remind myself that life and career are more of a marathon than a sprint. Unfortunately, I had to come to this decision the hard way and have spent plenty of seasons just miserable at myself for being too tired. One time I was miserable for months and that's when I realized I needed to change. If breaks are what it takes to avoid feeling that way then they were worth it for me. I'm still struggling through this but it's gotten way better.
How would you describe your own relationship with clothing and how has it evolved over the years?
It's gone through some big changes. As a child I just wanted to look nice enough that no one would comment on my outfit, so most of my clothing memories revolve around a fear of being teased. I remember I got a green puffy coat for winter once and dreaded wearing it because an Arthur episode aired where he had an ugly green puffy coat and people at school made fun of him. In my teenage years, there was a lot of deal hunting and wanting to have what other girls at school were wearing. I remember Garage, Old Navy, and Bluenotes as stores I loved to visit and find something new. Even throughout my university years, my criteria always was to buy new, buy cute and comfy, buy on sale. With the way I dressed, I imagine that I communicated "I am someone who likes practicality, saving money, and is willing to look put together once in a while". Once my Youtube channel started to grow, however, I entered this feedback loop where the attention I gave to the fashion industry fed me diverse styles and the truth about its working conditions, cost of goods, and global impact. I'm still wrestling with how it feels to be moulded so much by my job, and sometimes I call it my "second puberty", but I'm so grateful that I had room to change over time.
What do you love most about creating your own clothes? Is there anything you dislike about this process?
I love when it turns out as I dreamed! And since that is a pretty high standard... I end up disliking anything that is getting in the way including my own inexperience. I am TRYING to love "the learning process" but I am guilty of just wanting it to look good in the end ;)
Where are your favourite places to shop and eat in Toronto?
I love Toronto!! Fact is I just didn't go out much growing up in Calgary because I was studious/keener/nerd. If you like to shop second-hand and/or textiles, Queen St West is a must. Start at Black Market and keep going west until Tecumseth St. There are plenty of fabric stores, thrift/vintage/consignment, and cute boutiques. When I need a little more artistic stimulation, there's a smaller collection of vintage and boutique fashion stores near Dundas St West and Dufferin St. In both of these areas, there's also plenty of delicious eats. Niuda (Chinese pulled noodles), Pai (Thai), Rudy (my FAVE burgers), Bahn Mi Boys (Viet sub), Ramen Isshin (ramen), Bang Bang (ice cream), La Cubana (Cuban sandwiches), Golden Turtle (pho), Han Moto (Korean tapas)... to name just a few ;)
What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
These days it's a little less independent than in the past, but still pretty solo. Twice a week I work with my assistant on planning, sewing, or shooting something new. On my own, I just fixate on the next upcoming video and what it needs, while trying to do emails and look for new collabs as frequently as I can. I am a lover of rhythm, so having different activities every day has taken some time for me to embrace.
What are your favourite instagram accounts to follow? What about YouTubers? @donte.colley and @subliming.jpg make me smile, @the.pudding and @celebface make me think, @diet_prada and @sainthoax make me laugh Tell us about your most recent adventure! We went to the UK in September last year and squeezed in a few days to drive around the Scottish Highlands and hike to the best views. The hills, the lakes, the roaming sheep, everything was beautiful and perfect. What does your creative process usually look like? I find I can be very in my head, silently stewing or gathering small observations on some imaginary corkboard with red string. Then one day it comes out and I start buying supplies to tackle it. Perhaps cliche, but who are some of your “style icons” and could you tell us why? I can't help but keep an eye out for what Rihanna is wearing. She's a total style chameleon and I like that because I've never settled on whether I'm preppy, glam, sporty, casual etc.
What is something that recently challenged you?
Every new year is a challenge to me, even though I've been doing Youtube for 10 years and have done it full-time for 4 years I wonder every January if this is the year it all fizzles out.
Beauty and skincare products you swear by?
Whenever I feel tired, I keep eye masks in my fridge and pop those on for a nice cooling treatment. Once a month I'll get some cheek redness that looks like lots of pimples getting ready and for that, I use the alpha beta peel from Dr. Dennis Gross (they are not cheap though) and my skin completely calms down by the next day. Finally, Cosrx acne stickers are the reason I have not had a serious pimple issue for the last 3 years.
What is the legacy you hope to leave on this world?
I love to introspect so there have been times where I wonder what my obituary will say. Oddly, I actually don't think I want my work to be one of its prominent features. I think I just hope to leave a legacy of kindness, truth-loving, and being a warm person to visit for dinner.
Your idea of happiness? Not worrying
If not yourself, who would you be? Alexa Chung
What is your present state of mind? I feel pressed, I'm behind on a video right now
What is the strangest thing you believed in as a child? That whole a monster is chasing you as you run up the stairs thing
Worst advice you’ve received? I can't remember, I have a hard enough time absorbing great advice
What’s one clothing item that never lets you down? Now that my hair is long, scrunchies
Three things you never leave the house without? Keys, a desire to see the sun, and phone although a few weeks ago I really did accidentally leave it at home for a whole day
Favourite show to binge on Netflix at the moment? My husband and I just started watching Friends from the beginning because we're not sure if it's getting taken off Netflix and I've never really watched it