1. When did you start designing patterns and how did it come about?
i started designing around the fall of 2008, formally. i guess you can say i always sort of dwindled it, mostly because i am quite short and petite so i have always had to change things up a bit to fit. i started my children's clothing company in november of 2008 and quickly learned that to have an edge i needed to be different. so, i got to work putting patterns on paper and sewing many, many muslins until i had some great slopers to work with. from there, i realized how much fun i had making things exactly how i wanted them. this pleased my inner control freak like a child with candy.
2. What training do you have or how did you learn?
I am lucky to come from a family of amazing seamstresses. the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother suffered from the same short/petite issue i do. we also tend to be tinkerers, always like to have something in the works. my great-grandmother was extremely talented as a pattern designer. she watched me some when i was little and i can remember her drawing patterns on paper grocery sacks and being awed as they came to life with her sewing skills. growing up, there was always a sewing machine running and thankfully these wonderful ladies taught me what they knew, and better yet - taught me how to work my way around a design so that i wasn't dependent on a pattern. i have no formal training, but like to think i was taught by the best.
3. What is the process of designing a new pattern like?
pattern design to me is a whirl-wind. i tend to fall off my rocker a bit from the moment a new idea pops into my head until the moment i have it drafted. i get most of my inspirations through music, and sometimes i can be driving down the road listening to a song and bam, it hits me. i see a dress, or a neckline or a detail and i must go home and sketch. seriously, i let nothing get in my way until i sketch. this part is extremely hard as a mother of young children. confession - during design i could easily stay in my sewing room day in, day out until i have it all done. however, my kiddos require their mommy, so i try to adapt myself and not lose myself completely in slopes, measurements, curves, etc. it involves a lot of drawing, a lot of holding my mouth just right, many, many drafts on tracing paper, a tremendous amount of temper tantrums and bad words, holding my mouth just right, muslins galore, did i mention holding my mouth just right, and that final moment which is just about as euphoric as it gets...when the final product comes to life, and better yet...works.
4. What is the hardest part about designing a pattern in pdf form?
for me, the hardest part is the amount of time that goes into it. as i said, i stay home with my young kids and i don't often have uninterrupted time to devote to all the steps that go into a pattern. i wouldn't trade my sweet kiddos for the world though, but finding the balance is by far the hardest for me.
5. What is your favorite of your patterns and why?
phew, this is a tough one. i fall madly in love with patterns easily. especially when they finally come to life after i spend hours on hours dreaming and pouring every free moment into them. i actually just went into my folders to see if i could decide on a favorite. i love different aspects of each one. honestly i do. i have a thing for a vintage look, therefore i LOVE the short little dresses like hattie and betsy. but then, i also adore the sweetness of the katie top with the darby shorts. and just today my little boy is wearing a version of the henry pant and i cannot stop feeling the need to pinch his sweet little hiney in the cute pants. so see, i really do love them all. i am that mommy that simply cannot play favorites. haha.
6. Do you sew for your own family or for sale? What do you prefer more, sewing or pattern design, and why?
i no longer sew for the public, unless i am making a gift or something of the sort. however, that is how my business started, believe it or not. i have just switched over to the world of pattern sales over the last year and a half. it works better for me and my family for the moment, and in all honesty - it makes a more sane amy when i am not making the same item over and over and over again. i love to sew for my family. i love that my kids still want to wear things i make them. i love that i can sew for my family. i'd have to say that the design side is probably my favorite aspect of it. to me, there is an immense sense of pride when something goes from and idea to an actual product that people can use and create their own creations from it. when i see people sharing the clothing that they made from my pdfs, it honestly fills my heart with such happiness and pride that i cannot hardly stand it. i never tire of seeing what everyone does and how they put their own spins to it and such. i still feel absolutely honored when business owners chose my creations to use on their clothing lines. i don't think the coolness factor of that will ever dwindle for me. i loves it.
7. Have you learned anything from feedback from customers that you would like to share with other designers or wanna-be designers?
i think one of the best things you can do as a designer is to encourage your customers. i try to explain each and every step in the easiest way possible so that everyone (whether beginner or expert) feels a sense of confidence and pride in their sewing creations. i love to hear customers tell me that they never thought they could actually sew a garment that their children can actually wear, but they did. i sometimes wish i could be right there to see the joy in their faces. but maybe that is the sewing dork in me. i remember one of my first patterns that i published, sara of molly blossom tested for me. in her feedback, she told me of one of the parts of the pattern "these steps sound confusing, as i can almost sense your hesitation and anxiety." and she was exactly right. from that point on, i made sure i was confident in my steps and directions so that no one reading it felt they couldn't do it.
8. Best time and place to design?
whenever i get the opportunity. haha. no really, designs seem to come to me at the most inopportune times. you know, right before the crazy afternoon hours in which all kiddos under your roof scream bloody murder and you are busy trying to cook dinner and appear you've had it all under control for when your husband comes home. or, in the middle of the night. one time i was in the middle of a run, and a dress came to me (thanks to the talent of led zeppelin on my pandora) and i swanny i averaged the quickest miles ever trying to get back home to sketch. i do love night sewing, once everyone is asleep - but i have become quite the ninny lately and haven't made it past 9 pm. confessions...
9. Favorite fabric of all time?
i have a thing for joel. this is no secret. while i love all of his designs, his old stuff talks to me. i also love everything about the belle line from amy butler. if it is out of print and hard to find, you can almost guarantee i am going to like it.
10. Favorite thing to do for fun?
put me outside with the sun shining, temps in the upper 60's, doggies rolling in the grass, kids running all around being their usual hooligan selves with some music on. best day ever.
Aren't you enjoying this series! Love these ladies. More to come!!