We were delighted to chat with Lisa Falconer, the pattern maker behind the new independent
sewing pattern brand, The Avid Seamstress
Tell us about yourself and how you first got into making your own clothes?
I fell in love with sewing when I was very young – I spent all of my pocket money on fabric and most of my weekends sewing. My mom taught me to sew on her Singer machine and I loved nothing more than spending the whole day sewing.
Naturally, I went on to study fashion design straight after school but 'in those days' only big companies were making sewing patterns so doing my own range was not in my mind. I started my own clothing range in South Africa, where customers could choose one of my styles and the fabric, and I made each bespoke piece myself. I then moved to London in 2004 and brought my passion for creativity with me. I absolutely love living in this incredible, buzzing, gorgeous city.
How did your own brand of sewing patterns come about?
I started writing a sewing blog called The Avid Seamstress early 2013, and with the encouragement of my friends and family, I finally took the plunge and started teaching. The response was overwhelming! I was teaching sewing almost every evening and found I was teaching many people who had never touched a sewing machine before. The beginner’s workshops were my favourite, it filled me with so much happiness to see how many people were falling in love with sewing.
Through teaching, I was able to gain incredible insight and feedback on how new sewers viewed the world of sewing and patterns. I spent months working on a business plan to launch my own pattern range, taking their valuable feedback into account.
I applied for a government grant in March 2015 and was very lucky to be chosen to receive a grant to launch my business. From March to November 2015, I spent every evening and weekend working on my pattern range, whist still working at my full time job. I was over the moon to launch my first range at the Stitching, Knitting & Hobbycraft Show last November 2015, and was so pleased to receive such a positive response to my patterns
Tell us about the patterns in the collection so far and why you chose them?
I wanted to create a range of adult and children’s sewing patterns for my first range. I love simple, functional, organic fashion and often feel like clothing just has too much detail, especially children’s clothing.
Most importantly, I wanted to create a range of patterns that beginners could make, which would fill them with confidence. I created the two children’s patterns first – The Raglan Dress has such a gorgeous shape and is such a great pattern to put together. The Gathered Dress is a super beginner's dress as the entire front piece, sleeve and half back is all cut as one piece!
Moving on to the adult patterns, I essentially made patterns that I would love to wear. The Sheath Dress is the perfect beginner’s pattern. Like the Gathered Dress, the entire front piece of The Sheath Dress including the sleeves is one piece cut on the fold and the back only has two pieces. It’s extremely flattering, and can be made in so many fabrics.
The Day Dress is the prettiest dress in your wardrobe – there are three ways of making the bodice, and it has such a gorgeous shape. For me, this dress is just the epitome of femininity.
I love trousers and pockets and wanted to make a pair of trousers that didn’t have the overwhelming fly front. So I created flat front trousers with gorgeous side pockets that don’t stick out and widen your shape, and put the zip on the back seam. The City Trousers are cigarette shape with an optional side slit, and work both in non-stretch and a slight stretch fabric.
I really love pockets, and you might notice that all of my patterns incorporate pockets!!
What makes them different from other independent sewing patterns?
An A5 instruction bookletmakes these sewing patterns easy to make and easy to wear! When I was designing the patterns, I really wanted my customer to feel like I was there with them, taking them through the journey of sewing. So the focus was very much on teaching the skill of sewing, and I invested a lot of time in creating a step-by-step instruction booklet with beautiful hand drawn images.
As well as the pattern itself, printed on the best pattern paper that irons beautiful and doesn’t tear, my sewing patterns have two A5 cards that are full of useful sewing advice such as 'How to take measurements', 'Sewing and Fabric basics', 'Sewing Terms Demystified' and a 'Checklist' to ensure you’ve covered everything before starting your project.
I thought that these would be useful for my beginner seamstresses to have nearby to refer to. I also wanted to make something that could last, so made sure that all Avid Seamstress patterns come with a beautiful envelope to house all these wonderful pattern pieces and goodies in. I know that beginners can find the start of the journey overwhelming, so I wanted to create a simple, helpful pack, ensuring that beginners have everything they need and can just get on and enjoy making the garment.
What is your favourite pattern you’ve designed so far?
Oooh now this is a hard one! I love them all for very different reasons! If I had to choose it would be The Raglan Dress. I’ve had such an incredible response to this pattern that have made it in an adult version which I’m excited to launch very soon!
How can sewers get hold of your patterns?
The sewing patterns are available on our website www.theavidseamstress.co.uk, in Dragonfly Fabrics and soon in a gorgeous shop MetreMetre in Denmark.
You can buy our patterns on Kollabora (a great sewing community where you can share your projects), and also on our Etsy shop – just search for Avid Seamstress.
What sort of clothes do you like to wear and who do you most admire in the sewing industry?
I like simple, timeless fashion in muted colours such a greys, mustards, black and salmon pinks. I do love a patterned shirt or trousers. There are so many great sewing companies and new independent pattern companies, and I would honestly say I admire them all for following their dream. Everyone has such great fashion style and produce such beautiful patterns. I just love the sewing community and I’m proud to be a part of it!