One 'meets' many different types of people on the internet.......But one of the things I enjoy most is meeting someone with a great sense of humour and when you take a little time to chat with Henrietta, you soon discover she has that quality .....along with being one of the most helpful and friendly people I have met! So without further delay, it is over to you Henrietta:
When did you start designing patterns?
I have been sewing purse patterns since my 20’s (I won’t tell you how long ago that was!) but I really loved going to the fabric store and looking through the pattern books even before then as child with my Mom.
After starting PursePatterns.com in 2009, I decided that I could design my own bag patterns and started drawing up different concepts, styles, etc. My online store kept me very busy but, in 2012, Henny Penny Patterns was born!
What led you to this path?
There is something about the idea of designing and making a handbag and customizing it with all the features that I want and need in a bag that greatly appeals to me! I like experimenting with fabric combinations, especially different print fabrics placed together.
What training do you have or are you self taught?
My Mom and I took sewing classes together when I was young and I have taken some classes locally but, other than that, I have learned sewing techniques on my own.
Describe your process of designing a pattern?
I like to go on long walks and contemplate different ideas that I have seen in magazines, in stores, etc. and think about unique ways to put these design concepts together into a purse pattern. I start sketching the bag, including the features I want, and then I disassemble the different parts to see the most logical way to put it back together. These different parts become the actual pattern pieces needed to make the bag.
What do you find the hardest part about designing a pattern and bringing it to the public?
The hardest part for me is actually writing the steps involved in sewing up the handbag and making sure everything is included! It is so much easier to just go with the flow of the bag design as I work with the fabric, changing dimensions here and there. To actually stop and write down each step interferes with the sequence of my thought processes! That is why I go over my patterns many times and also why I have pattern testers to check behind me before the pattern is released.
Which one of your patterns is your favourite and why?
I think my personal favourite is my Hip Hip Hurray Handbag pattern from the Henny Penny Pattern line! I like cross body bags because they are hands free and I like to multi-task! This pattern is different, is easy to make, and has a secure (and simple to add!) zipper to keep everything safe inside.
How would you describe your design style? Anything unique about your patterns?
I like to design for the beginner who is not quite sure how to start their purse project. I get lots of e-mails with questions and there are many people who haven’t sewn a bag before and need basic guidance. I like to feel that I am helping others to gain some experience and feel more confident in their abilities.
When you are not working on your own designs, do you like to sew other things? What and for whom?
I really only care about sewing bags – I have never had any interest in sewing anything else, even though I have made clothes in the past. My passion and involvement in sewing has been purses since I was young and nothing else inspires or moves me like a new and unique handbag!
Which do you prefer, the design process or the actual sewing and why?
That is a very hard question. I know that my family prefers the actual sewing process because I am available for them. When I am involved in the designing, however, I am concentrating and focusing intently and do not like interruptions. Both the designing process and the actual sewing are both rewarding for me but there is actually nothing like the feeling of finishing up a new design and releasing it to my pattern tester – what a wonderful rush of accomplishment!
Is there something you have learnt as a designer that you would like to share with other designers or newbie designers?
The greatest advice I can give is not to give up on yourself – if it matters to you, then stick with it until you accomplish your goal. Another bit of advice is that there is nothing wrong with failing. Being successful all the time really means you aren’t trying anything new – how can you figure out what you do best if you don’t try new things?
When do you work on your designs?
I work on pattern designs all the time! I will be reading a book, exercising, or watching a show and an idea will come to me. I keep pen and paper around all the time and sketch out my idea immediately.
Do you have a dedicated work area?
I have taken over the dining room – it has all my fabric, supplies, and sewing machine.
Do you have a favourite fabric type you prefer to work with?
I mostly enjoy using quilting cottons because they come in such a huge selection of colors and designs. I am currently working on my own fabric design and am very excited about it! I will occasionally use a home decor if it is interesting to me. I also will never walk away from fabric with chickens, pigs, or birds!
Favourite Fabric Designer?
I love the Belle Collection that Amy Butler designs for Rowan – she is so talented! I also really like Alexander Henry (especially Kitty Cat Habitat) and imported Japanese fabrics.
What advice do you have for a beginner or someone interested in learning to sew bags?
When I receive e-mails with questions, I always felt very guilty if I don’t go into detail with answers to customers who wanted to start their own purse pattern line. I finally wrote a book that covers everything from the design process to marketing a pattern to using social media. It is now available on Amazon and is entitled “How To Start Your Own Purse Pattern Business”. Now when someone e-mails me, I don’t feel so bad when I don’t go into detail because I can just refer them to my e-book!
You can find out more about Henrietta here:
Thanks for a great interview Henrietta! When Henrietta was sending accross the photos for the interview, with the last one she said, and I quote: This is the last of the photos (unless you want something humorous where I am trying to run down my sister on a scooter!)....
Of course, I thought she was joking LOLLLLL But Henrietta has such a wonderful sense of humour which I just have to share with you here.....YES....she DID try and run down her sister (In the nicest possible way, of course! LOLLL) Here is the proof!
Hahaha! I thought this was just so HILARIOUS I had to share it with YOU too! (Sorry Henrietta, you didn't really think I would let this go, did you? LOLLLL!)
Next week we have a Sewist Interview with someone who is another fellow Aussie....not only a talented sewist BUT also a wonderful bloggist too! Her blog is plum pack loaded with inspiration and links to all sorts of wonderful goodies.....So make sure you have that cuppa and snacks ready for next week.....