Welcome to giveaway week. This week is full of so many wonderful things! I’m excited to introduced you to new shops and visit old favorites as well. And of course there will be fantastic prizes to win everyday! We’re going to kick off the week with an interview with Lauren Dahl, a teacher, a sewer, a blogger, a designer, a self described computer nerd and so much more! Lauren’s story is fascinating and unexpected! I hope you enjoy it.
- When did you learn to sew and who taught you?
I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember. My grandmother was a seamstress for 45 years at Alabama Textiles (Ala-Tex) in Andalusia, Alabama. She flat-felled side seams on men’s shirts in an assembly line. She had a machine at home and first taught me to make nightgowns out of old pillowcases and leftover shirting she kept in a big suitcase. We also made a lot of doll clothes. My mother is the one who taught me how to sew from a pattern, and the first one I ever sewed was a rather unattractive apron dress! By the time I was in middle school home ec, I had my own machine at school and helped the teacher with the class.
- When did you first start designing your own patterns? Do you remember what the first pattern you made was?
I guess you could say I’ve always been designing my own patterns. I remember this absolutely HID-E-OUS shirt I made in about 8th grade out of this blue and white faux fur. It didn’t have set-in sleeves or anything – just cap sleeves. It was so tight, I could barely get it on, and it had no closures. I wore that thing proudly though (with a pair of bell bottoms, no less)! I also remember the first time I designed a shirt for my mom. It had no darts or space at all for the bust, and I learned quickly that women’s garments had a little more to them than two squares sewn together. 😉
- How did you make the jump from making your own patterns to teaching other how to make them? Was there anyone specific who influenced you?
To be completely honest with you, it kind of went the other direction. I don’t consider myself to be a pattern drafter. I much prefer using patterns that have been tested and fiddled with by someone else. I developed my course based on skills I’d picked up in college and in my career (in advertising/graphic design/marketing), but people doubted my ability to teach since I didn’t have my own line of patterns. That’s really why I released patterns in the first place; it wasn’t the end goal. Yes, I can make patterns, but what I really love is teaching others to create them digitally. My expertise is in Illustrator and InDesign, not figuring out how to move a dart or deal with a sway back. Those are things I’m interested in learning more about though. Will I release more patterns? Perhaps…at some point. But right now, I’m perfectly happy sewing all my students’/friends’ beautiful designs!
- So your class, Pattern Workshop, teaches people how to take patterns they’ve already made and manipulated them on the computer?
Yes and no. I teach students to develop their patterns in a variety of ways. Some students will already have perfected their patterns on paper, and they simply need to digitize them. Others will have slopers (basic pattern templates) they’ve created on paper, and they want to modify them digitally on the screen. And then there are some who will dive right into digital drafting without ever touching a French curve or piece of tracing paper. Pattern Workshop teaches all the necessary skills and processes to do any combination of these three methods of pattern design.
- Can you describe the people who take your class? What are their goals?
It’s SO varied. Some design for kids, some for adults…some are men, some are women. Some design doll clothes, and some do handbags and accessories. There are even those who simply want to be able to digitally design patterns for themselves – not necessarily for sale. We have a few well-known designers in the course, and then there are those who are just thinking about getting into the business of selling. And I’d guess the ages range from early 20s to about 70. One of the things I really stress about my course is that it’s all about giving students tools they can adapt and use for their own patterns and learning goals. I always stress that students figure out what works for them and the type of patterns they design.
- What do they go on to do with the skills you’ve given them?
I’ve been amazed at what my students have done in this first year! I have several students who have released multiple patterns in just a few short months. I can’t possibly name them all, but off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Jennifer from JennuineDesign, Kimberly from Straight Stitch Designs and Terri from Sew Straight Pattern Co. There are truly dozens more, but those are a few that pop into my head. Of course, there are also well-established designers who join my class simply to speed up and streamline their processes.
- What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting into pattern drafting?
This is going to be cliche, but all I can really say is, “Just do it!” You might think it will take too long, but five years from now, you can either have a line of patterns, or you can still be wishing you had one. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll get there. (Or, you’ll determine you don’t like it, and you’ll move on to something else!) I’d also say that it won’t’ happen overnight. It takes practice, marketing and making connections. The most successful designers I know are the ones who reach out to the community and have a “tribe” rallying behind them.
- Would you say selling your own patterns is a good business to go into?
A lot of people ask me – “Can I actually make a decent amount of money at selling patterns?” So here’s my answer: YES. But of course, there are caveats. You will not make a lot of money with only one pattern. And you will probably not make a lot of money with your first couple patterns. But once you’ve established a decent-sized collection, the income will keep growing. Every time you release a pattern, your sales will increase across the board (because of the exposure). It takes time, but it’s very possible. I do have friends and students who are supporting their families with their pattern income. And the best part? Once you have a store full of patterns, the income is semi-passive. Yes, there will be marketing and customer service to deal with, but you’ll have less stress and be able to focus on the fun stuff (family, more designs, etc.) once you’ve established that income stream.
- What has teaching a pattern drafting course taught you about sewing? drafting? business? life? pick one or all 😉
Wow, what a big question. It’s taught me that there’s a market for most anything; it’s just a matter of finding it and loving it! And that sometimes you have to go with your gut and do what you think is right regardless of what others might say. It’s also taught me that I truly love teaching and entrepreneurship, and those are my strengths.
- You are also teaching a Fabric Design course on Burda Style! Could you tell us a bit about it?
Yes! So, again, not a designer…computer nerd here! The course focuses on using Illustrator and Photoshop to create designs – not on design theory, color theory, etc. It’s more for the person who has a head full of ideas but no idea (or only sort of an idea) how to get them into repeat and prepare them for on-demand printing OR submitting to a fabric manufacturer. I go through everything from simple lessons in Illustrator and Photoshop to including a template for a proposal students can send to manufacturers for consideration. You can learn more and/or sign up at BurdaStyle Academy
After reading this, you can’t help but want to chase your dreams of being a pattern designer. Now is your chance! Lauren has generously offered to giveaway a spot in her Pattern Workshop course, Creating PDF Patterns: from Sketch to Sale
, (a $149 value!) to one lucky winner. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter by Monday Feb 2. This giveaway is open to international entries, void where prohibited by law. Winner will receive a spot in the ecourse Creating PDF Patterns: from Sketch to Sale
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Or if you’d rather sign up for the course right away, use the discount code KCWWINTER15 for $10 off the course. It expires Saturday, February 28 at 11:59pm PST. If you win the giveaway, but have already signed up for the course, your money will be refunded.
Good Luck and Happy KCW!
Don’t forget to enter all the giveaways this giveaway week: Pattern Workshop, Scientific Seamstress and Sis Boom Patterns, Whipstich, Crafterhours, Figgy’s