Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pattern Designer Interview - Sara from Molly Blossom Design

1. When did you start designing patterns and how did it come about?

I began to design patterns without really ever intending to. I was going through the Style Stitches book by Amy Butler and a local shop admired the Cosmo bag I had made and asked if I would like to sell them. I researched Amy Butler's policies and found that she prefers that you not sell things made from her patterns. Between that discovery and the fact that there are something like 30 pieces to cut out every time you make a Cosmo bag, I decided to see if I could make a similar bag with fewer pieces to cut out. I designed the Molly Bag and have made several, both for that boutique and for custom orders. After the Molly Bag design was a success, I went on to design several other bags to sell in my Etsy shop.

2. What training do you have or how did you learn?
Because I never really intended to design patterns, much less clothing patterns, I didn't start with any training at all. My training was merely having sewn quite a few bags of various styles and being familiar with how they are generally put together. When I more recently ventured into children's pattern design, I read many blogs and articles online about sizing and grading and also bought the book Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear.

3. What is the process of designing a new pattern like?

I'm so new at this pattern design thing that I don't feel like I have a process. My most recent pattern, the Sunberry Swirl, was never intended to be a pattern. I wanted to make my daughter something fun for Valentine's day and then, when it was done, I decided that it was a perfect opportunity to use the techniques I learned from my book and make the dress into a multi-sized pattern. Then, after I started working on it, I realized that it would be nice to have different options for length and ended up making two fairly different garments, one, a top length with a pocket and the other, a two-tiered twirl dress. All that to say, there is no methodical process. I just kind-of pay attention to whatever idea slaps me in the face. I have pages and pages of drawings and a folder on my computer dedicated to new pattern ideas. What I will work on next is just a matter of what excites me the most.

4. What is the hardest part about designing a pattern in pdf form?

I have, thus far, dodged the difficulties that come with designing for pdf. My first clothing pattern, the Mermaid Fizz, is all rectangles and needs no pattern pieces, only measurements and instructions. My most recent pattern, the Sunberry Swirl, has only two pattern pieces and they fit within the limits of one 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper. What I'm most scared of right now is that I will soon have to figure out how to make a pattern piece that spans several sheets of paper. That is the scary part of pdf's to me, mainly because it is the unknown for me right now. I'm still dodging it though! I have at least three more pattern designs I can work on that will not require paper being pieced together!

5. What is your favorite of your patterns and why?

My favorite may always be the one I'm working on at that moment because that means it's the idea I'm most inspired by. New creative bursts mean a new rush of energy and that great adrenaline rush of excitement as you birth another pattern baby.

6. Do you sew for your own family or for sale? What do you prefer more, sewing or pattern design, and why?
I have sewn for 4 years. It started as a way to make my baby girl some cute clothes without breaking the bank and has turned into an obsession and creative outlet for me. I can't get enough! I much prefer sewing for me and my girls than for anyone else and I typically just take custom orders from friends to keep some extra cash handy so I can keep up with my fabric addiction. I am really enjoying this new creative outlet of pattern design because I get to create a garment and then I get to show anyone that would like to make one how to sew their own, which is so fun to see! There's an extra bit of satisfaction that comes with pattern design for me, because, not only did I sew a garment that people admire (hopefully), I also created a product that will bring me cash flow without me having to sew the garment again and again.

7. Have you learned anything from feedback from customers that you would like to share with other designers or wanna-be designers?

I don't think I'm far enough into this business to share any feedback/tips/advice. I'm still trying to soak up any advice I can get from the more seasoned pattern designers that I admire.


8. Best time and place to design?

When I'm trying to go to sleep at night, or when I should be listening to the sermon in church are the two most common times for my brain to slap me with new ideas. And I'll tell you what... I think it's honestly because those are two times in particular when my brain is free of kid stuff. Either they are having a blast in Sunday School or they are asleep, so all the ideas that have been gathering in my subconscious all flood into the forefront and I'm bombarded with things to sketch.

 9. Favorite fabric of all time?

It's really difficult for me to pick favorites of anything really. I have a favorite color, but not a favorite in many other categories. With new and amazing fabrics coming out every time you turn around, I am, some what sadly, almost always starting to get tired of my last "favorite" fabric that I was going to use for something oh-so-special and beginning to crush on some fabric that is "coming soon." I am sitting here trying to narrow it down for you to give some sort of answer, but I really can't single anything out at this moment. I like variety.

10. Favorite thing to do for fun?

Now THAT I can tell you for sure. My favorite thing to do for fun and pretty much the most fun I can ever have is DANCING! I love to dance. I have a degree in dance and I taught ballroom professionally after college. One of the things I look forward to most in my future is getting to a life stage where my husband and I have the time and funds to take lessons and dance regularly.


I hope you enjoyed reading about one new designer.  
Next week, look for an interview with Jodi of Jocole!


  1. This is a great idea for a series, as I haven't come across some of these designers before. Lovely to read about how they design.

  2. Hey, here is a dress I am selling, please take a minute to see if you are interested in publishing it on your wall. Thanks!