I grew up in front of a sewing machine. The most valuable lesson I learned from my grandmother was, “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right”. Another important lesson was to keep my seam ripper within arm’s reach at all times.
After years of sewing, teaching sewing, and making custom clothing, I decided I wanted to create patterns. How hard could it be? I taught pattern making as part of my business, I made patterns to create formal gowns for my customers, I had several pattern drafting books in my library. I already owned a boat load of pdf patterns, I’d tested for a few designers, I thought it was going to be EASY. I had a lot to learn. Making a single pattern for an individual who is available for fittings is one thing. A multi-size pattern requires a lot more work, including a lot of testing and re-testing. I am so grateful to the women who test my patterns. Sometimes things don’t go right, and innocent fabric is sacrificed for the cause. Pattern testers are the backbone of my company. Without them, there would be no Coco, no Dottie, and no Carol.
I hand draw my patterns with old school tools like rulers, paper and erasers. A digitizer is the person who takes my patterns, traces the lines with a computer program and formats them so the end product is a professional-looking pdf pattern. Some designers do the digitizing themselves. I do not have that talent.
Carol is my newest pattern, and my second choice for the Designer’s Challenge. My first choice was Lucille, a ladies top in sizes 1x-5x. I knew that there might be a few bugs in the pattern, so I decided to have a plan B, which was Carol. I had one set of testers and a digitizer working on Lucille while another group worked on Carol. Lucille will one day be a lovely pattern, but not without major surgery. I knew when we found problems with Lucille that she would have to wait until after Christmas. To try to push her through in time for the Designer’s Challenge would put undue stress on my testers, the digitizer and my family.
I am hoping that I can teach good construction techniques in a painless way. I believe that clothing can be well made and modest without being frumpy or overly complicated. I also try to give several options with a single pattern. We all want a good value for our money. My favorite comments come when my testers tell me their models loved the clothing. That’s really the best part of the whole process.
The “Carol” pattern is near and dear to my heart. I name all of my patterns for great women in history. Carol was a woman of incredible faith, courage, and exemplified Christian love in action. She was also my mother. The Peter Pan collars remind me of the blouses she used to wear. The pleats in the skirt were borrowed from the wool Pendleton skirts she wore in winter. My mother did not like buttonholes, but could put a zipper in a dress blindfolded. That is why there is a zipper in the back of the dress. I think she would have been proud to have this simple, classic dress named after her.