Apart from the absolutely gorgeous bag designs my next interviewee has in her range; I have to say I really admire the energy of this fabulous Lady and I feel really privileged that she has taken time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me!
It never ceases to amaze me just what she is able to accomplish and just HOW she manages to put out so many great patterns in such a short amount of time, is a secret I WISH I could learn! Maybe the answer is hidden somewhere within the follow text if I stare really hard and read between the lines? LOLL So it is with great pleasure I hand this post over to Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness:
I started designing bag sewing patterns in late 2011. They started off as free pattern tutorials on my blog, and in December 2011 I signed on as a Pellon Projects artist, designing free patterns for their site. I wrote a bag sewing pattern book in 2012, and it will be available on November 5, 2013 through Martingale; the title of the book is ‘Big-City Bags’.
What led you to this path?
Once I started writing bag sewing patterns, I just wanted to write more and more! I am so interested in how a bag can be put together. I felt like I could convey my instructions to the average sewist in a way that most people could understand. Nothing makes me happier than getting back to writing a bag pattern after stepping away to work on some other sewing projects!
What training do you have or are you self taught?
I’m self-taught. I started my sewing blog in September 2010. As an adult, I really didn’t know how to sew. Store-bought patterns were very unclear and confusing. The on-line sewing community is so wonderful in that if you don’t know how to do something, it’s so easy to find out...videos on YouTube, blog posts, etc!
Describe your process of designing a pattern?
When I’m ready to start a new sewing pattern, my first step is formulating an idea in my head of what I want the bag to look like. I’ll draw out a basic sketch of the bag, nothing fancy. I use the sketch and dimensions of how big I would like the bag to be, to write out fabric requirements and what pattern pieces I will need from the exterior and lining fabrics. After that’s done, I write out the instructions to make the bag. I’ll also draft out the pattern pieces on my CAD computer software.
Up until this point, I have not yet touched any fabric. Usually I know which fabric I intend to use for a certain bag pattern. I cut and fuse the fabrics according to the pattern instructions. I usually spend one evening just cutting and fusing, since that usually takes some time. I also compare my fabric pieces and see if I need to make any changes to my pattern pieces.
Then I am ready to sew! I go through the pattern one step at a time, and as I am sewing, I take a photograph of each sewing step using my homemade lighting set-up. This is basically 3 lamps pointing down to a white table. Most of the step pieces will be 2-dimensional and flat, so the white table works perfectly. As I sew, I make a lot of notes on my printed pattern, such as if I need to change any of the instructions or add anything to make my written words easier to understand. I also add in helpful hints, which are suggestions that I make in my pattern instructions to the user.
When I’ve gotten through the pattern, I go and make any corrections to my text based on my notes, and add in my photos next to each step. Then the pattern is ready to go out to my pattern testers, and they have 3 weeks to sew up a bag and get me their notes and corrections. After that, the pattern is released out into the world!
What do you find the hardest part about designing a pattern and bringing it to the public?
The hardest part for me is probably going through the tester notes. I usually have about 20 pattern testers, and they all have different comments throughout the pattern. I have to decide what to change in the pattern. All their comments are valid, certainly!
Which one of your patterns is your favourite and why?
My favorite bag to use is the Paparazzi Bag. I especially like the invisible magnetic snaps and the 2-dimensional pockets. Although I gave the original Soda Pop bag to a friend, I have been thinking lately that I would like to sew up another one to use as my personal bag. I don’t use very many of the bags I make, for some reason; I tend to pick one and use it for 6 months to a year.
How would you describe your design style? Anything unique about your patterns?
I like to put as many details and features on a bag as possible. And I like to change things up. For example, one bag will have a zippered pocket on the lining, and the next will just have a topstitched square pocket. And above all, the pattern I’m working on needs to challenge and keep me interested.
When you are not working on your own designs, do you like to sew other things? What and for whom?
Sure! I love sewing quilts and clothing for myself, too!
Which do you prefer, the design process or the actual sewing and why?
I prefer the actual design process and writing of instructions.
Is there something you have learnt as a designer that you would like to share with other designers or newbie designers?
Whatever you do, just keep sewing! I learn so many things about sewing every day! And if something doesn’t work out, don’t give up. It’s okay to have a failure once in awhile.
When do you work on your designs?
I have two young children, so I do my sewing in the evenings. I usually work from 8pm - midnight.
Do you have a dedicated work area?
I have a work area that I share with my husband and his computer. My computer, sewing table, and photographing table are all in this room.
I use either quilting cotton or decorator weight fabric.
Favourite Fabric Designer?
Amy Butler, Tula Pink, Melody Miller, Echino. Anything with large graphic prints or bold colors. I also love Thomas Knauer, Alison Glass, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Jeni Baker, Bari J. (any Art Gallery, really), Emily Herrick, Anna Maria Horner, Laurie Wisbrun...I’m sure I’m forgetting some!
What advice do you have for a beginner or someone interested in learning to sew bags?
These days, there are so many great free tutorials for bags available online. Most of them have color photographs for most of the steps. I think this makes learning to sew very user-friendly. Start small, and each time choose different bags with different design elements or purse hardware...soon you will be an expert!
Thank you for a very interesting interview Sara, even if I am still no wiser as to HOW you manage to do so MUCH! LOLL
I have some GREAT news! Sara is giving away not one, not two.... but the winners choice of THREE of her patterns! How cool is that!! Simple enter via Rafflecopter: (If you cannot see the widget, simply click on the link and it will open up in a new wndow for you!)a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can find out more about Sara here:
Next week I have a very interesting sewist interview with a Finnish lady living in Crete with her Greek husband, their 3 dogs and a cat. They live in a stonehouse which is mostly planned and built by them......BUT...you will have to wait until next week to find out more! ;)