SIM: An Interview with Mari from Seamster Patterns

 General  Comments Off on SIM: An Interview with Mari from Seamster Patterns
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.

seamster-logo-500px

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 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

 

May 012014
 

This month has a huge surprise for all of you…it is Sewing Indie Month!  This month will compile tons of interviews, tutorials, and special goodies from tons of independent pattern designers all put together by Mari from Seamster Patterns. To get all the details, check out her blog post here. Also, grab a Sewing Indie Month badge from the sidebar!

Twenty one different independent designers are participating! It has been incredible! There are also over $1,000 worth of prizes available. See the information about the prizes here.

banner_sewingindie

There will also be sew-alongs and prizes hosted by various bloggers around the web. Lolita Patterns is offering patterns in the prize pack for the Dressed to the Nines category put on by Laura from Lilacs and Lace.

Sewing Indie Month designer prize pack: PDF pattern of your choice from Lolita, Pauline Alice; paper pattern of your choice from By Hand London, Christine Haynes

Sewing Indie Month designer prize pack: PDF pattern of your choice from Lolita Patterns, Pauline Alice; paper pattern of your choice from By Hand London, Christine Haynes

Hopefully this month will show you all the great independent pattern companies that are around and help you learn a little bit more about them. Today I am so excited to show you this fantastic tutorial put together by Stepalica. Stepalica makes wonderful more advanced patterns. Check out this Nougat Dress with the gorgeous spiral detailing. 

click for source

And the recently released Zlata skirt

click for source

Today Ana will show you how to convert a basic skirt pattern into this beautiful YSL inspired skirt. Her instructions are so detailed that anyone can follow along and end up with a high end designer skirt at a fraction of the cost!  Without further delay, here is her tutorial:

I am so thrilled to show you a lovely and unusual skirt I made. At first glance it looks like a basic pleated skirt, but take a closer look at it and you’ll notice it’s a skirt with a twist, or should I say – a twisted skirt. The knife pleats are slightly angled, thus making the twist effect.

I got an idea for this skirt from a commercial for a YSL bag. The bag itself didn’t impress me as much as the skirt from the photo did. Just look at lines of those pleats – such an ingenious design! My interpretation is slightly different, but I kept the basic design of it.

YSL-inspiration-photo

YSL advertisement that inspired this skirt tutorial

This kind of skirt is perfect for office and work environment, but it could look quite casual if made from denim, twill or cotton. It is suitable for plain fabrics or those with floral or abstract prints, but I’d advise you to avoid using plaid and striped fabrics, since those can be challenging for matching.

A pattern for this skirt is really easy to make, especially if you have a pattern for a basic pencil skirt – with just a few cuts you can transform it into this lovely and unusual skirt.

Jewelry made by Anya – Studio Artesania (http://studioartesania.blogspot.com/)

01_BasicSkirtPattern

1.

– Start with a basic skirt pattern that has waist darts.

– If you’re using a pencil skirt pattern that tapers towards the hemline, straighten the side seams so that they’re perpendicular to the hemline.

– Copy the panels to a new sheet of paper, transferring both left and right side of each of them.

– Join the front and back panels along the right side seam (the right side of the pattern will represent the right side of the fabric).

02_MarkPleatsDirection

2.

– Draw a set of parallel lines connecting the waistline with the hemline. The lines should be angled – you can use one of your waist darts to define the angle of the line (in the drawing, I used the back dart). There should be nine lines:

  • one for each dart,
  • one for the center front line,
  • one for the center back line,
  • one for the right side seam,
  • two for the left side seam, as shown on the picture.

– Each line (except for the ones that correspond to the center front and center back lines of the skirt) should be drawn so that it intersects with the apex of the corresponding waist dart, or with the point on the side seam where the front and back panels form a V shape.

– Measure the width of each waist dart. Optionally, you can copy the shape of each dart by making small triangles as guides for the next step.

03_RotateDarts 3. 

– Rotate each of the darts so that it’s width is equally spread to the left and right side of the angled line that corresponds to it. Make sure the apex of the dart remains in its original position.

– If you were using triangular templates as dart guides, fixe them in place. If not, redraw the darts on the pattern.

04_CutPanels

4. Cut the front and back skirt panels along the angled lines.

05_SpreadPanels

5. 

– Define how wide the pleat should be when folded. I’ll call this measurement the pleat width. In my case, the dart width was 1.5” (4.5 cm).

– Multiply the pleat width by 2, so in my case that’s  3” (9 cm) – this will be total pleat width.

– Spread the panels as shown on the picture. The distance between the two panels should be equal to the total dart width.

– Split the distance between the left and right panels in two, by drawing a line parallel to the panels.

– Also, draw two lines, one on each side of the pattern; each line should be distanced from the pattern by pleat width.

– Define the point on the skirt where the pleats should start and draw a line at that point, parallel to the hemline

06_RedrawShape

6. Transfer the shape of the skirt to a new sheet of paper as shown on the picture. Spread the front and back skirt panels.

07_SkirtPattern

7. This is how the final skirt pattern should look.

08_DraftLining

8.

– Take the panels gotten in the step 4 and lay them over a sheet of paper. Close the waist dart on both front and back skirt panel, by rotating the panels as shown on the picture. Fill the gap that’s been made by the dart rotation at the hemline.

– Smooth the hemline and the waistline so that they form nice curves. Redraw the shape to the paper.

09_LiningPattern

9. This is how the lining pattern should look.

Ready for some finished photos of the skirt?

stepalica-twisted-pleats-skirt-01 stepalica-twisted-pleats-skirt-04 stepalica-twisted-pleats-skirt-07 stepalica-twisted-pleats-skirt-10

I hope you all enjoyed this fantastic tutorial Ana from Stepalica put together. I adore this skirt and cannot wait to make one of my own. It is the perfect combination of stylish with interesting lines but still perfect for the office. I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Sewing Indie Month…don’t forget to check out Seamster Patterns for what else is in store coming up this month!