Inside Victory Patterns – An Interview with Kristiann

I’m super excited to announce that today on the blog, I’ve been lucky enough to have a chat with Kristiann – designer extraordinaire of indie sewing pattern company Victory Patterns. Kristiann first launched Victory Patterns in 2011 with the Eden Collection and the following year she released her second collection – Niagara. Kristiann is a entrepreneur, fashion designer and proud lover of her home, Toronto. Here is part one of our interview.

Photo Credit: The Workroom

You started out Victory Patterns by selling PDF downloads and this year you launched your paper patterns. Tell me how that felt for you?

AAAAMAZING!! Seeing the patterns in print was super exciting! It made them feel more real to me. I originally wanted to create them in a printed format but once I considered the cost of production, it wasn’t feasible to start out like that. The best moment was when I showed them to my granny and seeing the look on her face when she opened the tissue pattern. She used to be a fashion designer so she’s really excited about this. It felt a bit like I was carrying the little torch that she started when she was young. My heart was singing seeing her face!

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Right now in New Zealand we are in the depths of winter and some of your patterns like the Simone and Nicola are quite summer-y. How would you dress them up for winter?

I tend to wear dresses that are on the summery side throughout the crazy Canadian winter. There’s no way I could resist them for a 6-month stint! I dress it up with other weather appropriate layers and a good pair of warm tights and pretty boots. I’d say if you’re making one of these styles for the winter, fabric choice and color is important.

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Photo Credit: TorontoVerve

You can find really amazing lightweight wool, crepe, chambray denim, etc. Something on the warmer side that still has a soft, light drape would be great! Colors can play a big part in pulling a style into a different season. I’ve made Simone in a black and white geometric print with black leather detailing and metallic cord piping. This gives the style a harder, more durable feel that I think works for colder weather. But it’s a really personal thing too. Pick colors that you like to wear for that season and fabrics that you feel good in and stay warm ladies!

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You have designed some lovely feminine dresses – what’s your design process? Where do you look for inspiration?

I usually carry a sketchbook with me and for when ideas pop into my head. I go to the design, costume or art sections of the library and pour through books for visual inspiration. Sometimes I have a direction I’m leaning towards in terms of a theme or style aesthetic. I tend to know the general feel and style features I want the garment to have and I build the design from there. A lot of changes can take place once I start drafting and testing samples. The design can evolve after I’ve made a few muslin because sometimes things look great on paper and not so great in cloth. It can take few tries to get the right fit, balance, proportion, but it’s fun to play around.

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One of your dresses is called the Nicola. Could you tell us the story behind that dress?

Nicola was a dear friend to my sister and I. She was one of the most passionate, excitable, caring and life loving people I’ve ever known. Her voice was the sound of happiness and she had the best smile on the planet. It was impossible not to love her to bits. Tragically, we lost Nic at the age of 30. She left behind an incredible list of her life’s ambitions and dreams, and all of the people in her life that love her have carried on accomplishing these tasks in honor of her. One of the things she wanted to do was to learn how to sew, and I thought that dedicating a pattern to her was the closest I could come to helping her to reach that goal.

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Nic was passionate about making this world a better place, so I wanted to contribute a portion of her pattern to a charity. Her wonderful mom picked “Peace One Day”, as it’s a charity Nic really believed in. I sent a pattern to her Mom, Dad and brother, and they’re going to learn how to make it together for her, which warms my heart! We’re going to do some Skype sewing lessons! Recently I was also contacted by a customer who was inspired by Nic’s story and by the work that Peace One Day does. She’s now creating a charity event for Peace One Day. That feels amazing!

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Thanks so much for having me on the blog. I hope you love the patterns!

Next Wednesday Kristiann will be sharing some helpful tips for working with difficult materials.</em

Inside Cake Patterns – An Interview with Designer StephC

StephC is the designer and boss-lady at indie pattern company Cake Patterns. Cake Patterns has risen quickly to prominence in the sewing community since it’s unveiling in July of last year. Steph’s first printed pattern, the Tiramisu knit dress was a runaway success. Since then she has designed and printed four more patterns – The Hummingbird and Pavlova separates, as well as the Cabarita and Bonny Sailor Riff t-shirts. StephC lives in Brisbane and blogs at 3 Hours Past The Edge of the World.
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These days you can download PDF patterns off the internet for less than the cost of a paper pattern. Why was it important to you to provide your customers with printed patterns too?

Even though it’s relatively cheap and easy, most people don’t want to go to the trouble of printing and assembling their own patterns. It’s a personal preference. The market for PDF patterns is really small compared to the number of people who sew. In order for me to be able to make a job out of pattern design, I need to make paper patterns.

Hummingbird Peplum Top & Straight Skirt Cake Patterns I love your envelope art! You’ve chosen to have to have a diverse set of models which is unusual when you compare your range to pretty much everything else. What does this say about Cake Patterns?

Mikhaela (Cake’s cover artist) and I decided to work together in part because we have similar convictions about “beauty.”  In the world we live in “beauty” has come to mean “outward appearance.” It seems only those people who fit into a narrow definition of what’s attractive can be considered beautiful. Neither of us buy it – we believe that the beauty standards of “thin, white, and young” are toxic and should be actively deconstructed.

The “thin, white, young” ideal is in direct opposition to the world I see around me, beautiful women come in every size and shape and ethnicity. Anyone with eyes can see that. Our covergirls are our way of politely disagreeing with the status quo.

Besides, we want our little girls to grow up with a richer idea of what it means to be a beautiful woman.

Tiramisu dress

Most of your patterns call for knit fabrics which can be a bit scary for budding sewing enthusiasts. What is the most important tip you have for sewing with knits?

At the risk of sounding crisp, my #1 piece of advice for knit newbies is: Get over it. Forget about being afraid.  t’s just fabric, it doesn’t have teeth and won’t explode if you make a wrong stitch! It’s OK to make a few mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. 

Nothing about knits is terribly difficult or mysterious: get a ballpoint needle, stabilize the shoulders, and gently stretch the binding when you go around curves.  Use scraps of fabric to practice a new technique/ get your hand in the fabric.  You’ll find the time you spend doing that is paid back in ease of sewing (not to mention the confidence boost!).  Oh – and it’s not necessary to use a serger/ overlocker.  It definitely improves the durability of the garment but it’s not a required piece of equipment.

There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to handling knit fabrics but it’s worth making a few sub-par tees at first for the payoff later. I always found that my self-made knitwear clothes were the ones I wear most. For the price of a “nice” tee or knit dress, I can buy some “very very nice” knit fabric and make it into a finished item that I’ll actually wear, with complete creative control over the color, fiber, and cut. I’m not at the mercy of what’s available in the shops. It’s also satisfying to wear clothes I know weren’t made by slaves or people who are otherwise being exploited. [Steph also has some tips for complete beginners here]

Is Cake Patterns your full time job? Would you like it to be?

I don’t have another source of income, no. In fact, Cake has yet to be a source of income for me but it has paid for itself during the start-up phase. I have no debts but little else. I eat a lot of beans and learned to be very frugal! Cake work occupies most of my waking hours, I have to be careful to carve out family and personal time. Even then, I still spend between 8 and 12 hours a day working on Cake and sometimes more.

Pearl from Red VelvetRed Velvet is your next pattern. Can you give us any hints of what to expect? 

Well, I’m really looking forward to Red Velvet!  We’re hard at work on it right now and I don’t want to give too much away but it will be really great to release a little collection of patterns all at once. Elements of the dress play through a little handbag, we have some sweet layering pieces, and a project I’ve been working on with my little girl. I can’t say anything else, though! We should have the Red Velvet Collection available towards the end of July.