November 28, 2010

Interview with a real life Sewaholic

I simply could not resist doing an interview with Tasia Pona from Sewaholic Patterns. Her debut pattern, the Pendrell Blouse, is on the brink of being shipped to those of us lucky enough to snag one. She's got serious sewing on the brain and her unrelenting enthusiam for the craft is unbelievably contagious. I simply had to pick her brain about pattern drafting. Had. To. Readers, meet the newest patternmaker on the block:

A Fashionable Stitch ~Just to get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in clothing/pattern design?

Sewaholic ~ I've always loved sewing, for as long as I can remember. When I graduated from high school, fashion school seemed like the natural next step! I completed a four-year degree in Fashion Design, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Pattern drafting, sewing, costing, sketching, studying the history of clothing - the whole process was fascinating! It was wonderful and inspiring to spend my days surrounded by people who also loved sewing and creating.
A month before I graduated from college, I applied to a real fashion industry position advertised on the school bulletin board, a local company looking for a 'Design Coordinator' - and I got the job! So I finished my last month of school while working in the industry a couple of days a week, spending weekends at my part-time job, and evenings sewing up my graduation fashion show pieces. It was hectic but fun!
I worked at that very same job in the fashion industry for eight years, starting at the very bottom and working my way up. It was great hands-on experience learning about the apparel business, working in almost every department, and watching a company grow. When I left, I was managing purchasing and production - dealing with factories, writing orders, negotiating, costing. Exciting and fast-paced work, although not very creative. Yes, I had to be 'creative' in solving problems, but not in the way where I was able to create things. That's when I started my blog Sewaholic, as a creative outlet and a way to stay inspired.
So my background comes from my fashion degree as well as eight years working in the apparel industry. Also, my mother is a talented seamstress, so you could say it's in my genes!
A Fashionable Stitch~ Are you a drafter, draper or both?

Sewaholic ~ Drafter - that's the way I learned to make patterns, so that's where I always start. Though, once the pattern is translated in fabric, there's often little tweaks to make that involve a little draping.

A Fashionable Stitch ~ I for one am very interested in the process from concept to published pattern. Can you walk us through the design process?

Sewaholic ~ Absolutely!
First, the design is finalized. I draw a sketch and work out the measurements of each part. For example, if there is a ruffle, I figure out how long it should be, and where it should start and stop. This might change, but at least I have a starting point. The first pattern is made, based on the sketch and the measurements.
Then, the fun part! I sew up a muslin version of the first pattern. It's almost never perfect, so there's a lot of tweaking, adjusting, and revising that happens at this stage. The pattern is adjusted, and another muslin is made. This goes back and forth until the design is perfect, which can take a while! While I'm making the muslins, I make very rough notes on how it's constructed, so I have a starting point for the instructions.
Once the design is perfected, a couple of things start happening. One, I start making a real version of the design. I'll take photos wearing the item, and I'll also wear-test it for comfort and fit. (If I don't like wearing it all day, you probably won't either!) Two, I start writing up the instructions. This takes a long time! I draw up the little pictures for each sewing step, and work out the wording to use.
Then, the pattern is graded into different sizes. I figure out the fabric requirements for each size, view, and fabric width, and work out the fabric cutting layouts.
After all of the information is finalized, the envelope and instruction sheet artwork is created. I have the help of my lovely and talented sister, who is a graphic designer! She's the talent behind the envelope design, and I couldn't be happier with how it looks.
Once the art files are ready, they are sent off to print! The printer receives the files, and prints me a test sheet (called a proof) to approve before they proceed. I receive the proof, give them the go-ahead, and printing begins!
I think that's it - it's a long process! I've learned that everything takes twice as long as you think, but it's been an eye-opening experience and the next run will go much smoother, I'm sure!
A Fashionable Stitch ~ We are all loving the Pendrell Blouse! What was the inspiration for the Pendrell and was there any reason you chose to debut a blouse pattern instead of say, a dress or skirt?

Sewaholic ~ I'm glad you love the blouse! The inspiration was simple - I was looking for a blouse pattern that I wanted to make over and over with subtle variations, and couldn't find one that I absolutely loved. I wanted to eliminate the details that make it harder to sew - hemming slippery blouse fabrics, hard-to-sew necklines, and zippers or buttonholes. I figured if I didn't like hemming sheer or lightweight fabrics, then maybe there were others that felt the same way!
Back when I dreamed up the idea of my own pattern line, my plan was to start with something different. In fact, the first design was originally going to be a dress pattern! However, I was playing with a couple of ideas at once, and the one that immediately came together and fell into place was the blouse. It just felt like the right place to start - a simple pattern with unique design details, that would be easy to sew and fit - so I went for it!
A Fashionable Stitch ~ Where do you see your pattern company in say 5 years? What are your hopes and dreams for Sewaholic Patterns?

Sewaholic ~ My hopes are to run a profitable company, and support myself doing something I love. I hope to never compromise my beliefs and values, and continue to stay approachable even if the business grows. Most importantly, I hope to inspire more people around the world to sew!
I'd like sewing to be cool again. I'd like women to realize that they can feel beautiful in clothing they create, that so-called "figure problems" can be easily tamed when you learn to sew for yourself and fit your body, and that there is no right way to dress. If fashion magazines are saying pastels are in, and all you want is a bright red dress, then make yourself one! I'd love for people to think of sewing not as a cheaper alternative to shopping, or an artsy-craftsy thing, but a way for real, modern women to dress themselves.
Five years from now? Everything is so new that it's hard to imagine where I will be in five years, I'll have to re-read this post in a year and see if I'm on track or not! In five years I'd like to have a full line of patterns in the collection - maybe fifteen or twenty styles that make up a complete wardrobe. I'd like to have retailers carry my pattern line in stores. I'd like people who sew to know about Sewaholic Patterns. I'd like to find new and fun ways to share my love of sewing, maybe look into teaching, or designing fabric, or creating new pattern collections. Who knows where the future will take me? I'm just excited to see what happens next.
A Fashionable Stitch ~ Any hints for your next pattern release?

Sewaholic ~ Here's a hint - you can wear it with your Pendrell Blouse!

Cheers Tasia! Here's to you and your pattern company! A big thank you for a peek into your design process.
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