1. When did you start designing patterns and how did it come about?
--> I released my first PDF pattern in 2007. It was a natural progression of my obsession with cute kids' clothes and my passion for sewing.
2. What training do you have or how did you learn?
--> I've been sewing since I was a teenager, and have immersed myself in the study of pattern making and grading for several years now. I am always learning.
3. What is the process of designing a new pattern like?
--> I keep a pile of printed croquis on hand - proportional body templates of babies and children that I can sketch on when the mood hits. Usually I'm inspired by a smaller detail like a sleeve, or a combination of one or two elements rather than coming up with a fully-formed garment idea, but occasionally a whole pattern just springs to life. I tear from magazines, catalogs, etc, and keep it all in folders. Then I get to work replicating my ideas with fabric, refining the pattern, grading, writing and photographing the instructions, digitizing and editing photos, assembling the testing team, and so forth.
PS. That's my cutie pie in the dress I made her from this pattern.
4. What is the hardest part about designing a pattern in pdf form?
--> All the time at the computer. Sewing and sketching is a very small part of the creation process (you know that internet meme about "what I really do"? Don't imagine me glamorously draping a mannequin, but sitting behind a computer with piles of paper and fabric scraps all around and serger tails stuck to my shirt.) Drafting, digitizing, grading, photo editing, drawing diagrams, writing instructions, administering multiple websites/online shops, marketing and promoting online, and providing customer support and service - and I am sure there are things I am leaving out - it all requires long stretches of time on the computer. With 3 kids I love to pieces, it's hard to find the time and also the discipline! I'd rather be playing with fabric, or playing Candy Land for that matter, but long hours at the computer really forms the biggest part of pattern design.
5. What is your favorite of your patterns and why?
--> Tough question! I love them all, but if I have to choose, for this season, I'm in love with the Daydreamer Dress. The cover photo captures exactly what I wanted it to look like and feel like for your the little girl wearing it. Plus a friend of mine encouraged me to give the design a go.
6. Do you sew for your own family or for sale? What do you prefer more, sewing or pattern design, and why?
--> --> I don't sew for sale at all, and not even much for my family - this cobbler's children have no shoes! Sewing is a real treat for me. After all this time it's still my favorite hobby as well as my business.
Did you know she makes patterns for more than just kid's clothing? There are hats, diaper covers, doll dresses, and more!!
7. Have you learned anything from feedback from customers that you would like to share with other designers or wanna-be designers?
--> I've gotten many compliments on the way my instructions anticipate common errors and prevent them before they happen.
8. Best time and place to design?
--> On my window seat in the sun when I can, but (see above) much of the intensive drafting and grading can only take place at my desk, in silence, when there are no kids around. -->
9. Favorite fabric of all time?
--> Ooh. First you want a favorite pattern, now a favorite fabric!
I'd have to say Joel Dewberry Aviary (original) Sparrows in pink. You can see it on the cover/listing photos for Baby Butterfly Top.
10. Favorite thing to do for fun?
--> Beach comb. Being in the sun + thrill of finding sea glass and other beautiful treasures = heaven.
Jen's patterns are the first pdf patterns I ever bought and they had me hooked. I need more visuals to help me sew than a paper pattern can give. I love how pdf patterns show step-by-step directions and Jen's are among the best. I have gotten to the point where I now test for, which is a lot of fun.
Stay tuned for a few more pattern designer interviews to come.......