Lisa Comfort, the beauty behind Sew Over It
The Sew Over It name is getting bigger and bigger as her brand sweeps the dressmaking community. We interviewed the amazing Lisa to get the ins and outs and gossip about her blooming company!
Tell us a little bit about you and the company...
Sew Over It was set up in 2011 officially but I had actually started it a couple of years before. Back then it was a very simple site and just me and my sewing machine, going round London teaching private lessons. Now it is two shops, a pattern range of 16 designs that we sell all over the world, two books and the YouTube Channel. So it has been a productive time! At the beginning I ran the shop, taught all the classes and did the admin. It was pretty exhausting. But now we have a team of 4 full time members of staff, 5 part time and 10 freelance teachers. So the team has grown somewhat!
What made you start dress and pattern making?
I have always sewn - since I was a child. I would say that one of my main passions in life is clothes. I love them and spend a lot of time thinking about outfit combinations and taking inspiration from people around me, what they are wearing and how they are wearing it. I was always designing when I was younger and initially thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. But the fashion world isn't really for me (tried and tested!) and I liked the idea of designing clothes that are classic and flattering for all women, not clothes that are necessarily on trend. I wear what suits me, not what suits fashion trends.
Tell us about the patterns in your collection so far, and what made you chose them?
We launched with Betty Dress, Ultimate Shift Dress and the 1940s Tea Dress. All have a nod to the 40s, 50s or 60s which are my favourite eras for style. The Betty Dress and the Ultimate Shift Dress are still our best sellers today. They are just great wardrobe staples and look great on a range of figures. I tend to design clothes I want in my wardrobe or something that I get inspired by that I see someone wearing in the street or in a film. I not only think about the design but I think about construction, fit, fabrics and suitability for a range of figures. I also like to think of ways to help our customers progress their skills, by introducing more skills. I often think it is easier to design clothes that are going to be bough because you only have to design a dress for one type of fabric and to be made in a factory by experts. Home dressmaking patterns have to be more considered - there are lots of factors!
What do you feel makes you stand out from the other independent sewing patterns?
I think we have a strong style - our patterns are all very feminine in design and have that little vintage twist. That said I will be launching something soon that moves away from the vintage. Watch this space! I hope that customers find our patterns have an excellent fit as we spend a lot of time on this. Plus because most of our patterns are released as classes first they have been tried and tested by lots of figures before they make it to the shop shelves.
What is your favourite pattern you have designed so far?
It probably has to be Betty - she was based on Betty Draper from Mad Men. I wish I could design more and more patterns like Betty - such a classic!
Who is your biggest inspiration to your sewing?
I think I would say our teacher Julie. I worked with her in bridal wear couture - that's where we met. She has such a wealth of knowledge and treats sewing as a real art. She is one of our main teachers and also our main pattern cutter. I love working with her because we are in tune, both in design and coming from the teaching angle. I have learnt a lot from her and I think I will continue to do so.
How would you best describe your personal style? and has this impacted your pattern collections?
I would say I am feminine and at times I like to have a bit of glamour and elegance in my style. I would say that I mainly dress in clothes that someone like Audrey Hepburn would wear but with a modern twist. Colour is important to me as is print- you rarely see me in just plain fabrics! And yes, I definitely think it has impacted our pattern collections as ultimately I imagine myself wearing the clothes. That's how I judge the designs - will I want this in my wardrobe??
What do you feel is your best achievement with your company so far?
I think the diversification of the brand has been our most successful achievement. We have many areas to the business so that if one isn't doing so well, the others support it. I also think that keeping two shops open and running has been an achievement - keeping a bricks and mortar shop open is hard! It has been a really struggle to get here, so I am grateful for how well we are doing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I am someone who lives in the future so I think about this a lot. I always have lots of plans floating around in my head, some of which are definitely happening and others - who knows! I would like to grow our online classes so we can reach those out of London. I also want to ramp up the amount of patterns we produce so we can get more out there. As for another shop - who knows - I am still undecided on that. I am also hoping to diversify even further and beyond Sewing, I am working on that now. There are some exciting plans in motion. Fingers crossed they work out!
Any spoilers on your next moves? New Patterns?...
We might be releasing an E-Book in September... and a subscription model is on the cards for next year as well. Right thats it. I have said too much!