1. When did you start designing patterns and how did it come about?
Patterns have ALWAYS been my passion. Before having kids I worked as the head patternmaker for 2 different clothing manufacturers. I started my pdf pattern business in March of 2010. I was 8 months pregnant with my third child and my husband’s company cut him back to only 2 days a week. We needed extra income but obviously I couldn’t get a job in my condition. We sat down and came up with a plan on expanding my business to include pdf sewing patterns.
2. What training do you have or how did you learn?
I have my degree in Fashion Design. I have always been fascinated with patterns. When my mother taught me how to sew she was running out the door to go grocery shopping. She quickly taught me to sew a straight line and then left for an hour. When she returned I had drafted some patterns, cut out and sewn up an entire outfit for my American Girl doll (hat, shirt and leggings). She was stunned.
No one was surprised when I wanted to study Fashion Design in college. I have boxes of notebooks filled with designs and even more boxes filled with patterns that I have drafted over the years (most of which have never even been sewn up into a sample). I spent my days drafting pattern after pattern after pattern.
(this may be why she always includes a doll size with each pattern!)
3. What is the process of designing a new pattern like?
Each pattern starts with a sketch and an idea of what the completed item will look like. Then it moves from an idea into a reality with paper and pen and my pattern making tools (scissors, tape, eraser, ruler, hip curve -- just to name a few essentials). It sometimes takes MANY drafts to complete it (and LOTS of crumpled paper in my waste basket). After I’m absolutely satisfied with the pattern I move on to grading it into multiple sizes -- for my kids patterns this means 16 sizes (nb through 14 and doll) and for my ladies patterns this means 7 sizes (xs through xxxl). The pattern then gets scanned and digitized using an illustration program (no hand-drawn pattern pieces here!). Step-by-step sewing instructions, taking pictures, formatting, testing, editing, re-testing ... it’s still a LOT of work to get that drafted pattern into the computers of my customers.
4. What is the hardest part about designing a pattern in pdf form?
The hardest part of designing patterns is I have 4 VERY small children (6y, 4y, 3y and 22m). Things get REALLY chaotic around here sometimes. It’s hard sometimes to remember where I left off before I was interrupted (especially when I’m editing or changing something). BUT they know they can ask me for anything even if I’m working -- I will NEVER say no to “Mommy, will you read me this book?” The answer is always yes, they are my priority.
(In my opinion, this is the most useful pattern for a girl I have ever bought. You can easily make it longer for a tunic, dress, or maxidress. I use this pattern to make summer nightgowns, summer playdresses, and more.)
5. What is your favorite of your patterns and why?
Oooooh that is HARD!!! I think the Happy Herringbone Dress would have to be my favorite. I was working on it during a VERY hard time in my life and it helped me get through it. I can’t NOT smile when I see that pattern. Followed closely by the Circle Flounce Dress -- this was one of my first patterns and it holds such a special place in my heart.
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 items for sale, and I sew more for MYSELF than for any of my kids. I’m almost always wearing something that I’ve made. I definitely prefer drafting patterns. If I could completely outsource my sewing and never have to do it again I wouldn’t be sad at all.
7. Have you learned anything from feedback from customers that you would like to share with other designers or wanna-be designers?
My customers LOVE my size range and that I include lots of options with each pattern. To new designers I would recommend getting some GOOD pattern drafting and grading books. Knowledge is power and those books are key ... and then TEST ... TEST ... and TEST !!!
8. Best time and place to design?
Pattern ideas pop into my head all day and everyday ... actually being able to sit down and WORK on them happens after lunch (during naps) or while the kids are playing in the backyard ... or at night after they are all tucked in bed and sleeping. I only have one kid in school ... so my days are still really chaotic. I spend a lot of my days on my laptop surrounded by the craziness of my children.
9. Favorite fabric of all time?
Anything by Joel Dewberry or Pat Bravo.
10. Favorite thing to do for fun?
After a long crazy day I just want to sit down, be creative and work on something NEW -- which means I have a LOT of unfinished patterns because I get bored easily and move on to something else. I love to sketch and draw. I love to play outside with my crazy kids -- watching them ride scooters or kick a ball around -- we always have fun. If I want some “me” time I grab my kindle and go sit in a booth somewhere and eat a burger and drink a shake and enjoy some good Sci-Fi Fantasy reading. And I really really do love to draft patterns.
I hope you enjoyed reading about one new designer.
Next week, look for a NEW designer interview from a newish designer plus a tutorial from me on how to turn her lovely dress pattern into a 19" doll version.
(I made it with her permission)
(I made it with her permission)