My Dissertation title is Dressmaking:Communities, Motivations and the Historical Importance of the Paper Pattern 1920-2012
How kool is it that? I get to write about you lot for my degree!!! Once it is finished and marked I am going to publish it on the blog for those that want to read it! Anyway back to the interviews. Some of the questions seem very specific but I have tried very hard to not edit the people I interviewed.
*Please note, These interviews are copyrighted to me and the person I did the interview with.
If you want to use it for something please email me first!*
Et Voila! Here is the first with Lovely Sarai from Colette Patterns who very kindly spent some time answering my questions!
Who taught you to sew?
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was about 16 years old. At that time, I really wanted to make my own dress for prom, which turned out to be a bit too ambitious for a beginner. But she helped me make my first few dresses and taught me to use the sewing machine, which I still think is the most challenging aspect of learning to sew.
Before that, I’d been hand sewing as long as I can remember. I’ve always been obsessed by crafts and more generally with “making stuff.”
What type of clothing do you like to make?
I like making things I’ll get a lot of use out of. Dresses are wonderful, because they’re sort of an outfit in one piece. But I wear a lot of pants these days, so pants and shorts have become another staple in my sewing life.
Do you sew alone, if not how do you sew?
I usually sew in the evenings in my studio. I prefer sewing by myself, because it affords some quiet, alone time in an otherwise very busy day. The technical parts of sewing are very much solitary activities for me, but the completed projects give me a chance to connect to other people who sew. I love to share what I’ve made, what I’ve learned from the project, and other tidbits of information that could be helpful to another sewist.
Do you sew just for yourself or others?
I primarily sew for myself, and occasionally for my husband. Caitlin (my assistant) does most of the sample sewing, but we both work on various projects for blog tutorials and things like that.
Do you sew/design from modern patterns, Vintage,Reproduction or a mixture?
I mostly sew my own designs these days. Occasionally, I buy vintage patterns. I have a decent collection of them, but don’t work with them all that much.
Do you feel you are influenced by patterns/fashions from the past?
I’m definitely influenced by the past, and I think that’s true for just about every designer. Like any other form of design, fashion design arises from a specific context. Fashions from the past convey different moods and feelings very well because they have a familiarity, so they’re wonderful tools for any designer to play with. I do think it’s important to balance that with the realities of our modern lives and identities, though. That’s what makes it interesting for me.
Why do you sew from these fashions of the past?
I think patterns from the past have beautiful details that are difficult to find in modern clothing, unless you’re willing to pay hundreds of dollars. There is more attention to detail.
What do you think is important about sewing patterns as evidence of past fashions?
Home sewing patterns show the types of clothing that women actually made and wore through different eras.
Tell me about fabric shopping for you.
I buy most fabric locally, at a large independently owned fabric store herein Portland, OR. I really enjoy shopping for fabric in person, and I’m lucky that there are a lot of great options where I live. I find it important to see colors in person and feel the hand of the fabric.
When I buy fabrics online, I usually do so because it seems like a good deal. I view it as a bit of a calculated risk, since you never know exactly what you’ll get. If I have something in mind for a specific project, I have to be prepared to change things up if the fabric doesn’t work out when it arrives.
How do you feel about sewing?
For me, sewing is a way to combine my interest in fashion with the creative process. It gives me a chance to separate fashion from the world of consumerism and all the baggage that comes with that, and enjoy it as a purely creative joy.
Do you have a special attachment to a specific pattern or piece that you’ve made?
I sewed my wedding dress, and feel pretty sentimental about it. I bought an expensive Italian gold 4-ply silk for it, and a seed pearl and organza trim, and made the dress in exactly the way I wanted. It was a non- traditional dress that really felt like me.
How do you feel about blogging and the community within the internet?
Blogging has given me a chance to share with the world. The people I’ve connected with have been amazing, and I’m genuinely excited to share my projects and skills online.
What do you think is important about a sewing community?
Sewing is a complex and challenging practice, and garment sewing in particular had really gone out of favor in the last several decades. Long ago, women had opportunities to share their skills with each other, especially since so many women did sew. With fewer women sewing today, the internet gives us a chance to connect with one another, share our skills, and create a sort of sewing renaissance. By learning from one another and connecting, we’re able to bring this old-fashioned skill back from the brink.
What do you think is important about sewing as a whole?
Sewing connects us more strongly with our clothing and the labor that goes into them. It gives us a true sense of the costs of producing some of the goods we might otherwise take for granted.
It also gives us a chance to reflect on our own identities, to express our individualism and creativity in a really fundamental way. It brings creativity into our daily lives.
Do you feel that you use the clothes you sew to form part of your identity?
Of course. I think ornamentation and dress are a huge part of identity formation, whether we realize it or not. I believe all human beings mark their identity through dress. Making my own clothes is a great way to think a little more deeply about that and about who I am and where my tastes come from.
Gertie did a sewalong for your pattern “The Lady Grey” coat. How did you feel about the different interpretations that everyone participating made?
I think it’s amazing to see different interpretations of my designs. It’s one of the most gratifying parts of designing sewing patterns. Each person has her own style, and it’s great that I can help provide one of the tools she uses to express that style.
As a pattern designer how do you feel about the current resurgence for vintage and retro designs?
I think it’s fantastic that people see the beauty in older styles and designs! I think it’s happened many times before, and it’s always interesting to see the mix of old and new and how they play off each other. For example, I love the way Biba in the 70s reworked ideas from the 30s and 40s. Or the influence of the boyish shapes of the 20s on fashion design in the 60s. To me, those are some of the most compelling and interesting moments in fashion!
Thank you so much for taking your time for this interview and letting me use your images Sarai!