Oh I have to admit I am pleased I am not the only one who enjoys the company of their cat (or cats! LOL) while sewing! They are so wonderful to have around, most of the time! They are mostly quiet....I say mostly because my cat MEOWS rather LOUDLY when he wants food....which seems to be every hour of the day (and night! LOL)....for a small cat, he has a mighty ferocious appetite! Mind you....I am NOT happy about the fact that his appetite includes my PINS for which I have had to have him x-rayed already once for....Luckily he hadn't swallowed any as first was suspected though otherwise a LOT of my fabric money would have quickly disapeared, since vets charge like wounded bulls! LOLL
Anyway.....Today we have Anna of Charmed Liebling....
...............over to you Anna! :)
When did you start designing patterns and what led you to this path?
About nine months ago. I had just started my shop with handmade bags and wallets a few months earlier. I noticed that one of my wallets (The Trifold Wallet) was the best selling item in my shop and I thought if so many people like the design there might be a lot of sewers out there who might be interested in a pattern of the wallet. That’s how I got the idea. So I created my first pattern and got hooked immediately.
Plus I have always been a creative person, so for my family (who all claim they are not creative at all and that I was the only person in the family having that particular “gene”) it was just a question of time until I stop using sewing patterns but instead come up with my own ones.What training do you have or are you self taught?
When I got interested in sewing I took a five-day sewing class. Everything else was learning by doing. I started in 2007 and for a long time I was only interested in sewing clothing. I was in my local quilt shop one day back in early 2012 and saw a book about bag making on the shelf. I liked the look of the book (plus it smelled good… I know, it is weird but I really have thing for book smell!), so I just bought it. That book taught me everything about bag making. As for designing sewing patterns: completely self taught.
Describe your process of designing a pattern?
When I get an idea for a design I usually try to make a drawing or sketch of it. They usually look pretty bad because… well, I can’t really draw, I wish I could! But it is good enough for me to sketch down all the compartments and pockets the bag or wallet is supposed to have and things like hardware, what type of strap and so on. I use some old or cheap fabric from my stack to sew the item while making adjustment to the pattern. I also try to note down all measurements already. If I like the result I make paper pattern pieces, which I then sketch on my computer, using Illustrator. After this I sew a second item, with nice fabric this time and I take pictures of every step. Once this is done I write the instructions, using my pictures. Then the pattern goes out to my testers for about two to three weeks. Meanwhile I work on the layout of the instructions, edit pictures if necessary and wait anxiously for feedback! Then the pattern gets its finish and I post it in my shop.
What do you find the hardest part about designing a pattern and bringing it to the public?
I just started to focus on making sewing patterns and right now the ideas just come flying to me! Which is great but I can only work on one pattern at a time and for me the whole process from having the idea to get the finished pattern posted in my shop takes around four to five weeks. The minute I get the idea for a pattern I get so anxious to present it to the public, so four weeks is an awfully long time to wait.
Which one of your patterns is your favourite and why?
I love “The Trifold Wallet”, probably a little bit for sentimental reasons. It was the first pattern I ever made and I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t stop designing patterns ever since.
I also really like my latest pattern, “Liebling’s bag”! It is a gorgeous bag and I decided to use part of my label name in it. “Liebling” is the German word for “darling” but it also translates into “favorite” as an adjective. This literally makes this bag my favorite bag I guess :)
How would you describe your design style? Anything unique about your patterns?
My mom always used to call my overall style “sporty-elegant”. I think that applies to my designs as well. They don’t have many frills, as I want them to be practical in everyday life but still very fashionable.
You can take my purses to go shopping but you might as well spice up your outfit with them when you go out at night. My Rose Petal Bag is a nice example for that.
I still like to sew clothing for myself every now and then and I also do a lot of sewing for my family. When I went home to visit my folks in Germany in May my suitcase was filled with handmade bags and purses for all the female family members who still had a birthday present from me due!
Do you have a dedicated work area?
I have my own room in our house for only my sewing stuff! When I came to the US from Germany in 2011 my husband had already been living here for four months, so he picked the house on his own and reserved the nicest and biggest room in the house for my sewing studio, how cute and thoughtful is that?! The room is really spacious and facing south so I get as much light as possible.
Is there something you have learnt as a designer that you would like to share with other designers or newbie designers?
Get pattern testers! I started out having nobody but myself to check my instructions. But if you read your own texts over and over again it all just becomes a blur at some point. There are so many lovely people out there who enjoy testing patterns and provide you with a great feedback. This will help you enormously with the quality of your patterns.
Do you have a favourite fabric type you prefer to work with?
For my bags and wallets I like to use regular cotton fabric or quilting fabric. Those are easy to handle and nothing slips away or drives you crazy in any way when sewing (I remember once trying to sew a silk blouse for myself. Never again!!!). For clothing I like knits the most. I have a serger and I still find it fascinating how little time it takes to sew up a simple but beautiful knit dress!
What advice do you have for a beginner or someone interested in learning to sew bags?
Get a great book! If you check the bookshelves for sewing you will find so many great book only about bag making. Plus there are tons of good tutorials on the web, which teach you the basic steps you need to know. Once you got the basics your possibilities are endless.
Thanks so much Christine for hosting these interview series and for inviting me. It was a real pleasure! :)
Anna also has some great FREE tutorials on her blog such as these:
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