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Pattern Designer Interview - Sidney Brand of Sid’s In Stitches

This week we have another fabulous Pattern Designer Interview for you! As I have had such a busy week, I am not even going to bore you at all with my chit chat .....(OK....sooo NO need to get out of your chair and jump with joy! LOL) it is straight over to you Sid! :)

Sidney Brand

When did you start designing patterns?

I’ve been designing my own patterns most of my life!  I began by charting my own needlepoint patterns when I was 12.  I’ve been SELLING my patterns since 1982, but that was when I did counted cross-stitch designs.  I live in a historic area and still sell my Historic Savannah Houses cross-stitch charts.  I have been designing and selling quilt and purse patterns since 1990. My purse patterns were first available as printed patterns, sold wholesale all over the United States.  In 2007 I published my first PDF pattern, which was emailed to the customer.  Now they can download them instantly on Etsy, which is very popular!

Historic Savannah House CrossStitch

What led you to this path?

The local quilt store, which sold my cross-stitch designs, wanted the Historic Savannah Houses for quilts, so I came up with Historic Savannah Quilt Squares in paper foundation piecing. 

Historic Savannah Quilt Squares

After that, I caught the bug and came up with several quilt designs, in paper foundation piecing and easy construction techniques.  At the time, I had young children, and didn’t have the concentrated time to sit down and sew complicated designs.  One of my first patterns was My Daughter’s Dresses, a scrap quilt in paper foundation piecing (made from scraps from all the clothes I had made my oldest daughter).   I have always enjoyed making purses (along with clothes), so purse designs were a natural evolution. They are quicker than quilts!  There is only so much space for a quilt and you can always find space for another purse!!

My Daughters Dresses

What training do you have or are you self taught?

I have been sewing since I was seven, taught by my grandmother.  Over the years I have taken many classes in sewing, adjusting patterns for clothing, and quilts.  Eventually, I began to teach classes in quilts, accessories, and purses at the local quilt store.  I also have a degree in Print Communication, so that helps in writing the patterns.  I have a background in arts and crafts, and have taught a Color Wheel class many times to quilt guilds, at a city art program, and at quilt stores.

Describe your process of designing a pattern?

Usually, the idea is the hardest part. I love to get input from my sewing friends on my Facebook page and from previous customers.  I draw the purse, sketching with measurements, and then sew from my original idea.  Occasionally I make changes or adjustments when making the prototype, but they are very rarely major changes.  I try to develop easy construction techniques as I go along, and tend to reuse the easy techniques I have developed through my other patterns.

Adventure Bag By Sid's in Stitches

Travel Purse by Sid's in Stitches
Jamie Bag by Sid's In Stitches

What do you find the hardest part about designing a pattern and bringing it to the public?

Making a second, and sometimes third, prototype.  Also, making the pattern prototype, which I photograph as I sew to make the step-by-step directions.  The pressure to remember to take a photo at each step is awful!  I want to make the pattern as easy to follow as I can.

Step by step photo

How would you describe your design style? Anything unique about your patterns?

My stuff is always easy to sew and FUN!  I work very hard to develop construction techniques which may seem unusual, but are always a “simpler” way to sew.  Many times, when my patterns are tested (sometimes by students in a class), an experienced sewer will say “That won’t work!”.  I just say “Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!”  I also like my purses to be crisp, practical, and functional.  I have versions of almost all my patterns in my personal purse collection – different types for different purposes! 

The Hold It All Shopper by Sidney Brand

When you are not working on your own designs, do you like to sew other things? What and for whom?

I have always sewn clothing.  I like to make little crafty items for gifts (stuffed animals and gift items).  I loved making little outfits (and hats) for my daughters when they were young.  Most recently I have sewn for my daughters – a prom dress and an elaborate costume (Lady Macbeth) for a play.

Which do you prefer, the design process or the actual sewing and why?

I love to design, to make it work!  But I really love to make purses, because I’m in love with fabrics – bright colors, novelty prints – and the combination of colors.

Zippy Crop Tote by Sid's In Stitches

When do you work on your designs?

Any time of the day or night!  That’s the benefit of working from home.

Do you have a dedicated work area?

I have a beautiful, roomy studio that is full of my cutting table, sewing table, ironing table, computer desks and (MOSTLY) all of my fabric stash!  It’s also full of my collections from popular culture (Beatles, Barbies, Jack Skellington, Hot Wheels, etc).

Sid's sewing studio

Do you have a favourite fabric type you prefer to work with?

I like 100% quilter’s weight, quality cotton.

Some of Sid's Fabric Stash
Some of Sid's Fabric Stash

What advice do you have for a beginner or someone interested in learning to sew bags?

Take a deep breath and follow the directions, step by step.  If you’re not sure where to start, ask the designer which bag they would suggest for a beginner (my Reversible Bookbag Tote is the easiest pattern I have). 

Reversible Bookbag Tote - a beginners Pattern!

There are a lot of free patterns out there (some are very good), but sometimes it’s best to start with a pattern that’s been tested and is for sale.  If you have a question, email the designer – I love to get questions as it allows me to clarify the pattern if need be!

Tips on Sid's Blog
Sid has lots of free tips on her blog!

What is your favourite part of your business?

I like “meeting” so many sewists from all over the world, seeing the fabric combinations they come up with, and hearing their ideas for more bags!  I feel like I have so many friends who sew now (actually over 5,000 on my Facebook page)!  My Facebook page is a wonderful place to connect with them, but I’ve also enjoyed many email “pen-pals” who I consider friends.

How do you connect your blog with your business?

My blog works as an addendum to my patterns – giving further hints, techniques, and new ideas (like using strips for a purse or upcycling) that can be used with my patterns or other patterns. 

Upcycle Jeans Tutorial by Sidney Brand

I also like to provide free tutorial (patterns) for items other than purses like placemats or gift items.

Luggage Tags Tutorial by Sidney Brand of Sid's In Stitches


Thanks for a fun and interestig interview Sid! You can find out more about Sid via the following links:

Sid's Blog: - Free Tutorials and MORE!

Sid's Store:  - Unique and Useful Purses and Totes PDF Patterns!

Sid's Website:  - Great Patterns that are Easy and Fun!

Sid's Facebook Page:  -Join and share your photos!

PLUS Use the code MeetSid at checkout in Sid's Etsy store and get $4.00 off an $8.00 pattern.  (Expires January 15, 2014.) How awesome is that! 

Next weeks Sewist Interview is with someone whom I came accross when they were making the most AWESOME polymer Clay creatons.....Lately she has moved on to make even awesomer until next week, happy Christmas sewing!