Sep 182015
 

I’m honored to share with you this interview with Mari from Seamster Patterns, the brains behind the entire Sew Indie Month! Today we get into the nitty gritty and find out what makes Seamster Patterns tick.

(To see other SIM posts from this year, check out Kate & Rose’s tutorial on turning Olive into a folkswear inspired top with a front zip, or my tutorial on Fehr Trade’s site on turning her PB&Jam Leggings into a yoga style pant with wider legs and a wide waistband.)

Don’t forget that all PDF patterns are 40% off in celebration of SIM. Take advantage of this sale by using code SIM40OFF.

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1. Sewing Indie Month is an amazing event for the online sewing world. What inspired you to create the event?

The first Sewing Indie Month started around when my company turned 1yr old. I started it because I felt like such a tiny, unknown fish in a larger pond. I wanted to get to know and become friends with my fellow designers; sometimes it can get lonely working away at home without anyone to talk to who has done exactly what you’re trying to do. And I was bored with the traditional methods of marketing that were being used online. While there’s not necessarily anything inherently wrong with those methods (I use some of them myself), I wanted to see if there was another way that could feel genuine and not only help my company grow, but would be fun for my customers while thanking them for their support. As someone who has never been big into certain kinds of competition, the idea of working with the competition to celebrate each others patterns and the people who sew them seemed like an exciting experiment.

2. How do you balance your time between organizing SIM and creating new patterns?
Honestly, I don’t. The Sorrel Dress & Top that finally came out with the 1st SIM Bundle that launched in August was meant to be launched before last year’s SIM. There is such a huge amount of work that goes into organizing SIM that I have to put all my own patterns on hold as the month gets closer. And with all the extra work that has gone into hosting the bundle sales while dealing with some family medical issues this year, I still haven’t gotten the Sorrel into the Seamster store!

3. What helped you decide to start your own pattern company…what was your “aha” moment?
There were a lot of things that lead up to deciding to start my own pattern company, like graduating during the recession and seeing that my only “career” options included working for a decade at soul crushing office jobs until I could finally hope to get the smallest of promotions. But if we’re talking about a single moment, it would have to be when I decided to not live as if I was horribly depressed. Three people I cared about died in less than a year. Once the third one passed I realized that if I stayed mourning I would end up looking at my life in ten years and have only those horrible office jobs to show for it. That didn’t seem like a fulfilling or enjoyable way to live. Obviously you can’t turn depression on and off like a light switch, but giving my life purpose, working for something for myself instead of for some uncaring company, helped me become happier and more fulfilled in the long run.

4. How has your company changed since it began? What have you learned that you can share with newer designers?
I would say I’ve changed more than Seamster has. I’ve gotten better at using various software programs so that’s helped speed up certain parts of the pattern making process. And I’ve become more committed to taking a bit of time out for myself, mainly with getting back to reading. Right now I’m on a 19th c. binge, only reading books written during or about the 19th c, which means a lot of Jane Austen. So to newer designers I’d say make sure you take a bit of time each week to do something that makes you happy, but doesn’t in any way feel like work. Not surprisingly, you may find you’re more refreshed and ready for work when you get back to it. But when you’re in the thick of an exciting project, like your first pattern launch, or are racing against a deadline, it can be hard to remind or give yourself permission to do such things.

5. What types of designs are your primary focus? Are your designs influenced by your style and fashion sense?
I focus on creating interesting basics for which you can’t already find a ton of, or hopefully any other, patterns. For me a basic is a pattern with uncommon style lines or a pattern puzzle that I can wear in a number of ways. It’s basic because it’s versatile. That’s because dressing in clothing with unique details makes me happier than wearing what are more traditionally thought of as plain basics. I design with my lifestyle in mind, which means I design with young, urban, public transit commuters in mind. So my skirts tend to be longer (to avoid legs sticking to train seats) and more contemporary in style. Since I don’t just want 20-to-30-something women who live in big cities to sew my patterns, I add options to the patterns that look good on different body types and suit people with very different lifestyles. For instance, when making the Honeycrisp Mittens I couldn’t see myself ever sewing them without conductive finger tips, but not everyone needs that option, so I made one that does not use conductive fabric. And on the Sorrel there’s an option for a straight skirt on the dress, which looks horribly unflattering on me, but looked great on all the ladies who were fit models for me. So when making a pattern I start with a specific idea, then branch out to a design that can suit a range of people with the addition of a few options and with a simple change of fabric.
6. What are you finding is the hardest part of having your own business?
Finding the time to get everything done and learning to not beat myself up when I don’t make my self-imposed deadlines. I recently had to take about a year off from Seamster to take care of and then mourn my grandma. Truthfully, it’s been very hard to see all the patterns I had planned for that year not get made or worse, to see other designers come out with similar ideas. So resigning myself to the fact that I’m late to the game and may need to shelve some things and that that’s OK is the hardest part right now.

7. What is your favorite part of having your own business?
Having a larger budget for fabric 😉

8. How do you bring your sewing/pattern/designing day to an end…or do you?
If I have a deadline, then the day doesn’t really end until after midnight when I’m too tired to keep working effectively. If I don’t have a deadline then I’ll try to stop sometime in the evening, usually when my partner Quincy gets home from work.

9. Do you still have time to sew patterns from other designers?
Lately I’ve been trying to make more time for sewing other designers’ patterns. While I love my own patterns (you have to to spend months churning out muslins to develop a single one), it can be a lot of fun sewing someone else’s pattern. And since I tend to feel guilty when not doing something productive, I can tell myself I’m doing market research, it’s just market research that ends with me getting a pretty new garment :)

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve started listening to more podcasts and I think anyone interested in food or science ought to try at least one episode of the Gastropod podcast. It’s really great to sew while listening to it!

 Thank you for sharing Mari! There is still one more post from us to go up for SIM month so stay tuned…

Sep 042015
 

Today we have a special treat from Sew Indie Month. Kati from Kate & Rose is here to show a tutorial on how she made this amazing folkswear inspired Olive that goes perfectly with her new Kinga skirt pattern. Kate & Rose patterns are folkwear inspired and she has several garment patterns along with many embroidery patterns. The patterns go well together and create a very cohesive look. Her style is incredible! You can check out all the Kate & Rose patterns here.

The Kinga skirt pattern is brand new and you can only get this pattern in the second huge bundle sale we have going on right now! Check out her amazing Kinga and Olive and then run over and buy your bundle! Remember 20% of proceeds go to Women for Women charity. Check out www.sewindependent.com for all the information. Without anymore delay, here she is with this great tutorial:

olive top with kinga skirt

The inspiration for the new Kinga skirt came from one of my favorite styles of Hungarian folk wear: from the North-Eastern part of Hungary, like the Cabbage Rose Fancy and Faraway Garden embroidery pattern sets. The most common outfit has a skirt with tons and tons of ribbons and flowers, and a fitted top with a pouf sleeve and a wide, colorful ribbon around the waist:

hungarian folk costume

(Source: Folk Costumes and Embroidery)

For this tutorial, I want to show you how to hack Lolita Patterns’ Olive blouse pattern to create a contemporary version of this look along with the Kinga skirt.

Ribbons are an obsession of Central European folk wear, you can even see it in contemporary fashion design like Lena Hoschek’s ribbon skirt. The Olive pattern has a great shape through which to combine the most important elements of both: princess seams, a sweet peplum, and a distinctive straight waistband piece which is perfect for displaying a wide floral ribbon. A lovely pattern all around.


RibbonZipperOlive4

To do this, I replaced the side zip with a front zipper opening, for which I used a metal separating zipper. Then, I covered the waistband with folkwear ribbon. I used a vintage ribbon I found in a thrift shop a couple years ago, but you can find beautiful folk art ribbons at M & J Trimmings or Etsy. The width of the ribbon is the same as the width of the waistband of the Olive. The separating zipper I chose is also in a contrasting color with my blouse fabric (I used a simple black cotton broadcloth), it matches the ribbon. The zipper is one of those stunning, way-too-expensive Riri zippers one gets seduced into buying when going to Pacific Trimmings. I got it cut to the exact length I needed, which I will tell you how to figure out.

1_ribbon_zipper

1. Pattern work

To create the front zip opening, we have to adjust the pattern pieces a tiny bit, then change the front facing to accommodate the zipper.

The front facing of the Olive is made of one piece and extends to the sleeves and side seams. This kind of facing supports the finished blouse across the shoulders and around the sleeves, is easy to finish and stays put nicely. All we need to do is re-create it as a two-piece facing, and extend it to the bottom of the blouse.

We’ll work with the front of the blouse from View B. I created a handy series of diagrams to walk you through the workflow – nothing very complicated.

FolksyOliveLolitaPatternsTutorial

We’ll need pattern pieces 6 (front facing), 8 (front waistband), 10 (front peplum), and 18 (front center bodice) (diagram 1). Cut the front waistband piece (8) and the front peplum piece (10) in half, as if they needed to be cut on the fold line (diagram 2). To find where the bodice center will actually be, measure the width of your zipper teeth – they can vary a bit.

2_zippers

Add about 2 mm (1/8”) to this measurement to give the opening a bit of space, then mark and cut off the same amount at the center fold line on all front pattern pieces, including the facing (diagram 3).

Now subtract the seam allowance (3/8” or 1 cm), marking the seamlines around the waistband on the front center bodice, the waistband, and the front peplum (diagram 4). Next, lay the outer front pattern pieces together so that the seam allowance is removed, measure, and extend the center front seamline of the front facing (piece 6) by this amount (diagram 5). This is also the length of the zipper you’ll need, though make sure you remove the neckline seam allowance and the hem allowance from your final zipper length measurement.

Finally, tape a long piece of paper to the facing, and extend the inner edge of the front facing down to its new bottom, creating a strip of about 2.5” or 6 cm, and draw a nice smooth curve to join the strip to the original facing (diagram 6). Tape some more paper to the center edge of the front center piece, the waistband piece, and the peplum, and add a seam allowance of 3/8” or 1cm (diagram 7). Cut off the excess paper (diagram 8) and your new front pieces are now ready.

2. Sewing the top

To sew the new top, we’ll change up the order of sewing from the instructions just a tiny bit. First, sew the entire bodice, minus the facings – just the front and back bodice, waistbands, peplum. At this point (and here we deviate from the original instructions), also sew the side seams. We’re doing this so that the ribbon can be attached in a continuous piece in just a little bit.

3_blouse_outer

Then, add a thin strip of interfacing to the center front opening on both sides (you can see that I used leftover pretty fabric as a kind of interlining for pattern pieces that otherwise needed interfacing).

4_interfacing_strips

Next, attach the ribbon to the waistband. Sew a line of topstitching using a thread that matches the color of the zipper. To be on the safe side, make sure the ribbon has extra seam allowance at either edge, and finish its edges before attaching to the waistband.

5_ribbon_bodice

Sew carefully along both edges of the ribbon. Change the thread to a color that matches the ribbon.

6_sewing_ribbon

Now it’s time to attach the zipper. To make sure the zipper is in the right position, line up the bottom end of the zipper teeth is with the edge of the hemline allowance first.

7_zipper_position_bottom

This way, in case the zipper is slightly too long, you can shorten it at the top. The correct length of the zipper should put the top of the zipper teeth right at the edge of the neckline seam allowance.

8_zipper_position_top

Start sewing a bit below the top of the zipper opening, to avoid the zipper pull, and attach zipper to both sides.

9_zipper_attached1

Finish by opening the zipper pull and stitch the top of the zipper the rest of the way to the bodice.

10_zipper_attached2

Next, stitch the shoulder and side seams of the front and back facings, and finish the outer edge of the facing. To attach the bodice to the facing along the zipper, first open the zipper all the way. Then, with the zipper teeth facing inward, match up the shoulder seams, corners, and so on, and sandwich the zipper between the facing and the bodice.

11_zipper_sandwiched

Stitch facing to bodice. I like to begin stitching at the center neckline, and along one side, then go back to the center neckline and stitch down along the other side. Make sure to avoid the top zipper opening and the metallic bits, stopping your stitching right before you get to that area, and either leaving it open for later handstitching or handcranking the sewing machine carefully over it to avoid breaking your needle.

12_zipper_top_facing1

Carefully position the needle on the edge of the zipper and stitch along the edge.

13_zipper_top_facing2

When sewing the side with the zipper pull, position the zipper pull all the way to the bottom to make sure you don’t accidentally stitch over it.

14_zipper_bottom_facing1

Then pull the zipper pull past where you’re stitching, and stitch all the way down the edge. 15_zipper_bottom_facing2 Stitch the bottom edge of the facing to the hem, stopping your stitching before you get to the zipper teeth.

16_zipper_bottom_facing3

Repeat with the other side of the zipper, lining up the waistband carefully. When done, clip corners of facing.

17_facing_corners

Handstitch corners closed that we left open to avoid breaking the sewing machine needle.

18_facing_corners_stitching

Turn facing to the inside and blouse right side out, and press. The zipper is done!

19_zipper_finished

All you’ve got left to do is attach and finish the sleeves, hem the blouse, and you’ve got yourself a folksy-yet-zippy little top!

20_finished_blouse

I bet you’ll get tons of compliments on it. Just that fancy ribbon alone!

RibbonZipperOlive1

What do you think? I’m definitely putting a zipper down the front in my next Olive. I never even though of it but it looks awesome! I’m so glad Kati did this tutorial and put the idea in my head. More SIM posts are on their way this month so keep watching. Also, don’t forget, for the month of September, all PDF patterns are 40% off with the code SIM40OFF! This way you can grab a pattern and sew it up to enter the SIM contests and win prizes. I can’t wait to see what you all make!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns

Sep 012015
 

Remember Sew Indie Month from last year? That awesome month where many independent pattern companies got together and hosted a huge month of contests and sew-alongs? Well it is back! And this month it is better than ever. Before I get into all the details, everything related to Sew Indie Month is taking place over at www.sewindependent.com. Mari from Seamster Patterns (the genius engineer behind Sew Indie Month and the bundle sales) took over this domain for SIM. Go visit the website to get all the details about the exciting things we have in store for you this month!

Many of you already participated in the first bundle sale that included our Sugar Plum dress and the proceeds went to the International Folk Art Alliance. Now it is time for the second bundle sale! This bundle is mostly knit patterns to make up fast and easy for the contests. This bundle is also an amazing value! Not only that, you get to pick the price you pay AND 20% of proceeds go to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict. Grab it quick! This bundle is only around from September 1-September 10th.

You can buy the bundle and keep up to date with the latest SIM news at sewindependent.com.

Also, in order to make it easier for you to participate in the contests and sew up Lolita Patterns, I am having a massive sale for PDF (immediate) patterns. Take 40% off all PDF patterns for the month of September and sew those babies up, enter the contests, and win amazing prizes! We have never had a sale on PDF patterns and never had such a huge discount! Take advantage of it while you can! Use the code SIM40OFF to save 40% on all PDF patterns.

Stay tuned for more exciting SIM posts featuring tutorials and guests—-starting tomorrow!

amity bow | Lolita Patterns