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.

  • Sarah - What a great interview – so interesting! I can’t wait to get my Pendrell – I got a ‘shipped’ email this morning! Wooo!!
    Thanks Sunni & Tasia!!

  • Jill/laughbutnotloudly - That’s for the interview! I love the sewaholic blog; it’s one of my favorite go-to sites when I have a sewing question — which happens frequently. I can’t wait to try the Pendrell blouse and I’m always interested to read about people’s entrepreneurial business ventures.

  • Liz - Thanks for the interview. I just bought the pattern last week and hope participate in the sewalong, too.

  • funnygrrl - Tasia is so helpful. I’ve sent her messages asking for help twice and she’s responded right away. She really supports the online sewing community and it’s nice to see the community supporting her.
    Great interview! Thanks!

  • Tasia - Thanks so much, Sunni, for interviewing me! It was a lot of fun answering your questions, especially sharing my hopes and dreams.
    The sewing community has been wonderfully supportive so far! I’m constantly amazed and impressed how we help, encourage and inspire each other. You guys are awesome!!

  • Darci - Yay! Tasia! What a great interview! So many things I always wanted to ask her and you beat me to it, Sunni!

  • Sarah Says - She is so talented! I would love to be able to create my own patterns for clothes like she does. Great interview.

  • Jessica - Oh, Tasia is such a sweetheart and that really comes across here. Thanks so much for the interview!

  • iphone screen replacement - sewing community have been wonderfully positive so far! I am constantly surprised and impressed by how we help, encourage and inspire each other. You guys are very awesome!

I really can’t believe its that time of year again! Can you? I wanted to wish all of you who celebrate a very Happy Thanksgiving. I’ve got a lot going on this week, so I’ll be back next week with the following in tow:

  • a very interesting interview with a new patternmaker on the block; I think you’ll really love what she’s got to say.
  • the date has finally been set for the Trouser Sew-A-Long. I’ll clue you in next week. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun too.
  • the velvet boyfriend’s jacket is finally finished! It’s a real beauty too.

And just in case you weren’t here last year when I posted this recipe, definitely have a crack at it this year while you’re trimming that tree. Believe me, there is nothing like Hot Buttered Rum. Nothing.

Hot Buttered Rum Recipe

All my best!

The Boyfriend’s Jacket is coming along. Slowly but surely. This past weekend I did a bunch of work to it and surprisingly really really really enjoyed each process. I mean, I love sewing but you know, sometimes…But this was different. It’s a very long and tedious process with ample amounts of hand sewing but I really enjoyed it. It’s very magical how the whole thing comes about. Simply magical. And I thought it would be fun to show you shots of my progress as the thing comes together. Disclaimer ~ this is not finished (obviously) and yes, there are white fuzzies everywhere and the side seams have not yet been stitched together. Just have a look past these things, if you would.

I wanted to show you some of the details that I decided to use as I will probably forget when I show you the final creation. There are several. First off, I’m following along in my Tailoring Book for the machine method. For those of you who have this book, you know what I’m talking about. I decided on this method because of the velveteen. It’s a beast to work with and I felt that the less I actually had to work with it the better it would be. In this method the lapels are not shaped with padstitching and the hair canvas is applied a little bit differently. This method also does not steam the lapel with a towel either which was my biggest concern since you are supposed to leave it overnight. This would have crushed the silly nap of the fabric and then I would have had to steam it out again which probably would have steamed out the lapel fold. Silly. So, yeah I went with the machine method. A good fit for a pile fabric I think.

Next, after looking through some of my old JCrew inspirations I found that some of the jackets had silk twill in the under collar. I’m using a silk twill for the lining and thought this would be a fun detail even though you’ll probably never see it. Suprisingly it’s worked out even better than planned as having the undercollar in velvet would have produced serious bulk.

Those blasted bound buttonholes. Those were a trip. In velveteen these things are a billion times harder. And I corded the buggars. This is a very cool trick which makes the buttonhole feel so much more stable. Just threaded a piece of yarn in there and Voila! bound buttonholes built to last!

The pockets. I drafted these from my mother’s boyfriend jacket. Then I handstitched them to the jacket. Handstitched. These babies took nearly three hours from cut to finishing on the jacket. But I do love the way they look, and if you don’t notice that there are no stitching lines attaching the pocket to the jacket, I will cry.

So far this jacket is very….heavy. It’s definitely a Fall/Winter item. It’s a very interesting comparison when you pick up a RTW jacket and this hand-tailored jacket and this thing isn’t even finished. It reminds of when you pick up a piece of good jewelry and a cheap piece and how the weight is different. The good piece is typically much heavier. So it goes with this.

Hmmmm….what do you think? Do you have the urge to sorta wanna pet it? I do. It’s soft, if I do say so myself. I think I’m going to be one very happy girl when this thing is finished. In fact, I think I’ll be as happy as a…..PRINCESS.

  • Peter - Really coming along nicely. I love the rich look of the velvet!

  • TanitIsis - Ooo, I spent the weekend working on a coat, too… for my daughter, though. I must confess, I’ve done a ridiculous amount of hand-stitching on it, especially for a kid’s coat. It is relaxing!

  • patty - This is simply lovely. The pockets are to die for and I’m surprised they ONLY took 3 hours!! How did you fasten them on to sew and keep everything straight? It seems like they’d get wonky with just pins.
    I am a huge fan of funky details that won’te be seen. pocket lining, undercollars, faced hems, zipper underlaps. This is what our scraps are MEANT for!!

  • Isabel - Amazing! I aspire to your skills. Love the under collar.

  • Liz - This jacket looks so lush. Can’t wait to see the finished product! And yes, it looks extremley pet-able. :)

  • K-Line - This is truly amazing. The pockets are a work of art.

  • Ana - Wow, that’s not sewing, that’s construction! Looks fantastic though – you must have the patience of a saint for all that hand sewing, it would drive me nuts.

  • Angela - It’s beautiful!! I’ve beeen following Gertie’s Lady Grey sewalong and the hand sewing is intensive, but you definitely have the right word… it’s magical! I’ve loved and loving every minute of it… it’s just that sometimes I need a little break. :)

  • Gail - Its coming along nicely.

  • roarah - That velvet is so luscious! I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  • Tasia - Oh wow. You are putting some serious love into this jacket! The fabric looks both incredibly luxurious and soft.. and the devil to sew!! Love the undercollar, that’s the kind of fun detail that will make you smile when you see it! It’s looking really great so far, beautifully constructed. Can’t wait to see it all done!

  • Abby - I was just looking at the Talbots pictures with Mckinley and she wants to know what the girl at the bottoms name is. She got a bit annoyed when I said I didn’t know and she said “it’s Kira.” So, I don’t know if you even knew that but now you do. Haha! I love how the jacket is looking.

I used to work at Harold’s when I was in college (it’s since gone out of business, I think). Just a little part-time gig to make a few extra bucks during school. Oh yes, and purchase some quality clothing too. Talbot’s was next door to us and I would wander in there from time to time just to see what they had and purchase a few things here and there. We were considered the more mature focused clothing stores. I don’t know that that really means anything except to say that these stores had more classic looks and shapes which I always loved and bought several pieces of in my early 20s. I haven’t been into a Talbot’s or bought from them since I quit my job at Harold’s. Then, my coworker brought me a Talbot’s mag for this year and said that she thought I might like to have it.

Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. The sleek sophisticated looks that Talbot’s has come out with this Fall is just….breathtaking. I love the red lipstick too. And the long hair. So, if you haven’t yet, make sure you head on over to the Talbot’s website to catch a glimpse and be inspired by their Fall line-up. And yes, it’s time to give them a bookmark too. And sign up for their monthly catalog.

Sigh…..Drool….Want….Need….Have to have….

Wishing you many inspiring thoughts about your Fall wardrobe this year.

  • lap - Must have that mock turtleneck kimono elbow sleeve-length top..must have now..oh yes..

  • Angela - Those are beautiful! Hehe.. I’ve been putting together a fall swap… these are definitely inspirational!

  • Corinne - Been a Talbot girl for much longer than I should admit. My first purchase was a wrap skirt in the 60’s. Classic styles, stunning seasonal colors, variety from casual/sleepwear to party dress. No affiliation just a satisfied customer!

  • Liz - Talbots hasn’t even been on my radar in years. But I was shipped a catalogue for some reason, and I couldn’t get over how many great items they now have. It’s full of wonderful pieces and inspiration.

  • Elle - I really LOVE the direction that Talbot’s has taken! It inspires my sewing, but also makes me want to head right to the store! We have a Talbot’s clearance center here in the Atlanta area, and believe me, when the sales start, I’ll be there!
    BTW, Harold’s has sadly gone out of business. I still have many items in my closet in rotation from both Harold’s and Talbot’s. In fact, I’m wearing some great Harold’s jeans today.

  • lizajane - Yes, very inspiring indeed. I’ve always liked more classic looks as well. Thanks for the nice comment on my shirtdress (on Burda)! I’m a fan of your blog.

I suppose this is more of a reflection on yesterday’s post, but I was overwhelmed by the response to what you had to say about aging. You had much more to say than I had even anticipated and it made me think long and hard about aging again. That lunch happened a few weeks ago and the subject has been racing through my mind ever since.

I do work with a lot of older women. In fact, I think there is only one girl, in an entire office building, that could be considered in my age bracket and she’s just a few years younger than me. They are all lovely and each have their own uniqueness and beauty. SueMarie hinted that I could have been more tactful in my response to what my friend’s son said about her getting older and needing a makeover. I do agree and after that conversation at lunch I went and talked to the woman in question about it and let her know that if indeed she wanted to go on a shopping date I would be glad to go with her (though I did emphasize that she did not need it, because she’s beautiful already). She’s still deciding where.

Image courtesy Ageless Body/Timeless Mom

Last night I came home to Mr. S. He had read my blog yesterday and had a host of things to say. A host. One of the things that really stuck with me though is that he talked about how cruel our culture is towards the older generation these days. He’s read a few books by Joseph Campbell who talked about how in the eastern cultures the elders are revered and admired. The younger generation does not so easily forget what the older generation has given them and so the elderly are treated with respect and dignity. Many of you talked about this in your comments and it really struck a chord. There really is a lot out there that is geared so much to being youthful and how to retain that. Botox injections, breast implants, plastic surgery, face lifts, miracle creams, you name it, when perhaps what we really need are some lessons on how to embrace wrinkles, sags and the way our bodies will be as we age. And knowing that there is nothing wrong with that, because there isn’t.

The very first comment from Karen really did help me understand more about this dilemma of aging. I had not thought about menopause, job change when perhaps its just a little too late, being/not being a mother and men who look right through you – although I do know what that one feels like. I also found the comments about feeling younger though stuck in an older woman’s body interesting. And that profound feeling of loneliness made my heart sink a little. There is one woman at work with whom I’m a little more intimate than others. She lost her husband last year and has told me that that is the hardest part. The loneliness. This also made me think back to the conversation with my husband and how the elderly have no where to go once they reach a certain age. He said that Joseph Campbell also talks about this saying that he finds it interesting that our culture glorifies your youth for the first 40 years. They teach you how to live for the first 40 years and then, even though you’ll probably live to see your 60’s even your 80’s or 90’s, after 40 is when they teach you how to die. It’s like our culture doesn’t know what to do with us after we reach a certain point.

I certainly don’t have the answer to many of these problems except that I find it more important than ever the past few days not to keep compliments of others to myself. My partner (an older woman) wears the cutest shoes and yesterday I made it a point to let her know that not only does she wear cute shoes but that she looks cute in them. Another lady I work with has the most gorgeous head of silver hair. You know those women who have that unbelievable natural silver hair? Yeah, totally jealous. It’s gorgeous and she always has it done so chicly. So I told her.

And I can’t say that it’s all about the compliments because its not. It’s about being more aware of the women I work with and respecting them. Making them feel good, injecting a little more confidence and helping them help themselves if only just a little bit. And that I couldn’t have realized without you. I’m hoping as I get older a few of the younger girls do it for me here and there.

You do realize that I was supposed to have a few posts about my jacket this week. Somehow, this seems a little more important. Ladies, thank you for your patience on both fronts…..

  • Evie - I read your post yesterday and while I agree with you on many counts, I think today’s post is very insightful and we could all take a lesson or two from it. This is something we all need to think about, and an issue I think many (if not all) of us need to be more aware of (especially while we’re still young). Thanks!

  • Mary - Dear Sunni,
    I read your post yesterday and had been musing about a response since. I even brought it up in our office for discussion as we all are ahem, “women of a certain age”. It is hard to understand until you get there. I certainly didn’t understand it in my 20’s, or 30’s or even quite in my 40’s. I got it when I turned 50 and turning 50 was not a bad thing. It was probably one of my best birthdays ever! We went to the beach for the weekend and dug razor clams and then turned around on Monday and went to our mountain property to work on the land for the week. It’s about the changes that insidiously sneak up on you while you’re out there living your life…passing the mirror and noticing something that wasn’t there a week ago, or the loss of hair in one area to discover hair in another area you don’t want! It’s swollen painful knuckles on hands that used to be so delicate or the silver hairs that start weaving through your tresses (natural highlights, eh?) There are good things too. Along with the losses, you do find serenity and acceptance (at least I have) and learn to decorate the body I currently have. I still am interested in looking good, but looking good had to be redefined. Thank you for bringing up an intriguing topic that has alot of us thinking.

  • karen - Thanks for the mention! You did a good job of raising a juicy topic, very thought-provoking. I’ve found it really interesting and helpful to see everyone’s replies. Blogging at its best.

  • Cyd - I loved your thoughts and comments about ageing. I found this blog by chance the other day http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/ and was inspired by all of these beautiful elegant ladies over 50. If only we could all look so stylish.

  • beth - Anyone can make a mistake, but only a rare few can so readily learn such a profound lesson from one. Good for you on examining your own perceptions and raising such an interesting topic. And I am still coveting the plaid circle skirt! :)

  • Zoe - I thought of you today as I sat in the waiting room with my two girls at the ENT doctor’s surgery (ear, nose and throat doctor). One of the doctors that works with the doctor we were waiting to see does cosmetic surgery including face lifts and botox. Consequently on the walls of the waiting room are posters advertising his services. Daughter no 1 (aged 6) – “what is a face lift?” So I explained that some women (do men have them too? – probably!) as they get older don’t like the fact that their face shows that they are getting older and like to have their skin lifted so the lines/wrinkles don’t show. Daughter no 2 (aged 5) – “what so they get cut just to have no lines – yuck?” Me – “yes.”. Daughter no1 – “well, that is silly. Why wouldn’t they want their lines. It is their face. What is wrong with getting older?”. Daughter no2 agreed with her and they went back to looking at the magazines full of adverts for anti-wrinkle cream.
    The girls are, of course, at the age where getting older, getting bigger is full of mystery and excitement and something you want to do but I do think that a lot of people’s fear in getting older (and, in particular, women’s fear in looking older – I am in no way immune to this) is due to the pressure in the society that we currently live in to look eternally youthful.

  • Tamsin - I have very much enjoyed reading these two posts and and all the comments. Very thought provoking indeed. I’m not sure that I have anything new to add really. I turned 40 early this year, and experienced a bit of a ‘wobble’, but as my husband and many of my friends are older than me, I didn’t get much sympathy! I feel that I like the way I look now, more than when I was in my early 20’s. That said I do sometimes wonder where the younger me has gone, as I still feel ‘young’ inside.

  • Robin - Another lovely, warm, insightful and sensitive post.
    One thing I have learned is this- the wrinkle that bothers you today might not bother you next year.
    So relax! There will be a wobble now and then, but it doesn’t have to be miserable all the time.
    You know, sewing for myself has been a huge confidence builder. I never have to leave a department store upset because nothing fit me or flattered me. I do want to look my best and sewing allows me to do that. It’s like I have it in my power to present myself to the world exactly according to my own taste. That means a lot.

  • angelique - sunni – ive read with great interest your blogs on aging. im 32-and-a-half, married, happy & so content with what aging has offered me so far. i have friends both younger, same age & much older than me & ive learnt a thing or 3 from them all. im happy to be at the stage of generativity & look forward to the final stage of integrity which brings with it both wisdom & pride….wrinkles & all. thanks for opening up this topic..lets do more of them!!

  • ~Heather - What a gorgeous, thought-provoking couple of posts (and corresponding comments) on aging.
    I’ve always been self conscious of my looks, but that’s just shifted to different parts of myself as I’ve gotten older, which I feel, nullifies the things that used to bug me about myself! Not sure why I am this way… Sure the media doesn’t portray older women very well (or very much) especially the lifestyle (have you noticed the Age Issue of Vogue now has 70+ as a category, they didn’t used to), but younger women are also boxed into categories that fit very few in the population and making them feel objectified and less than ‘perfect’ as well.
    With the hectic pace of life in America, it can be very difficult to make time to reflect on what’s important about ourselves; if and why we care what others think about us; and why we feel certain ways about ourselves – no matter our age.
    For me, my biggest concerns as I get older are likely the death of my spouse before me and my children going off to their own lives. I think the arrival of the grey hairs and that slightest bit of waddle are reminders of that time to come. It’s easy to say ‘You should live in the day and be happy with what is right in front of you’, and while I strive for that, it’s not always the easiest thing to accomplish.