Megan Nielsen

We chat to Megan about how what’s not in her wardrobe inspires her pattern collections

Megan Nielsen

Tell us a little bit about your background and when your ready-to-wear collections turned into sewing patterns?
I launched my ready-to-wear clothing line early 2010 and quickly found myself in a very exciting time as a small indie brand with more demand than I could meet. As enjoyable as it was creating two collections a year, it was very difficult to manage the production aspects of a ready to wear line.
At the same time, I’d often share tutorials on sewing techniques on my blog, and began getting an increasing number of requests for tutorials on how to recreate my designs. That’s when I decided to launch a line of sewing patterns based on the pieces I had designed already, and I realised that I enjoyed sharing my designs with sewers. It’s been really satisfying to be able to design clothing that’s stylish, wearable and empower other sewers to create their own garments!

Who helps you run your sewing pattern business?
I feel really blessed that my team has grown over the years to include a group of amazing ladies. These days my team includes a pattern drafter, sample sewer, graphic designer and operations manager. Most of us are mothers of small children and split our time between working at my office and remotely at home. It makes me really happy to be able to offer such flexible work arrangements and to be able to work with such a talented group of women.

How often do you launch new sewing patterns?
We tend to launch new sewing patterns every 2-3 months. I like to apply careful focus to the development of each pattern and try hard not to rush this process. It takes anything from 6-12 months to take an idea and turn it into a sewing pattern, so we usually have a number of patterns in various stages of development at any one time. Right now we have 10 different patterns on the go! They won’t all be released at the same time, and some will be released next year.

Tell us about your latest sewing patterns and how you decide what to design?
Since my brand is all about wearable fashion forward pieces, I always like to come to design ideas organically. I want my pieces to be the kind of wardrobe staples that people turn to every day, so I usually begin with items that I feel are missing from my own handmade wardrobe. I tend to ask myself constantly, what’s missing? What do I want to wear right now? I like to start with what I’m passionate about, then figure out how that garment could be a sewing pattern. I feel like that maintains design integrity, and ensures I don’t lose my focus. My next two sewing patterns are a real embodiment of that philosophy. They’re both wardrobe staples that not only pair well together, but could be used to create a capsule wardrobe with.

Do you have a favourite pattern that you’ve designed?
I honestly love them all as they all represent different design details that I love and wear all the time. If I had to pick a favourite, the Flint pants and shorts are currently my most worn and loved garments. The pattern includes a hidden crossover closure at the left pocket, and was really fun for me to work on! I will also always have a soft spot for the Darling Ranges dress as it was the pattern I launched my brand with, so is very near and dear to me.

What do you like to do when you get time off?
When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with my family or doing other creative projects around our home and garden. I’m not really the kind of person to watch TV, and I always feel lazy lying down, so I usually fill up my free time with activities and projects. These often include other arts and crafts like knitting, embroidery and sketching. One of my favourite things to do is sketch and paint native Australian wildflowers. I recently finished doing a screenprinting course at a local art school for fun and am hoping to learn about ceramics next!

Who do you admire most in the industry?
There are honestly so many amazing people I admire in the sewing industry! But if I had to pick just one it would be Jen of Grainline Studio. We’ve been friends since the days when we both had small indie ready-to-wear clothing lines, and I’ve always loved that we are there to give each other a pep talk when it’s needed. Jen is down to earth, kind and I think she brings so much to the sewing industry.

You have extensive online support for your patterns with sew-alongs, tips and tutorials. Do you think it’s important to help dressmakers get good results?
It’s incredibly important to me to provide the best support to dressmakers that I can, and this absolutely includes sew-alongs, tips and tutorials, as well as always being available to help via email and social media. I never want my customers to feel like they’re all on their own struggling through a project. I’ve been there myself, and it steals the joy from your sewing journey. Sewing should be fun! It really excites me to teach other people new sewing techniques and projects, and I hope that writing a lot of really fantastic tutorials and sew-alongs encourages more people to make their own clothing.

To find out more about her sewing patterns, visit Megan Nielsen or for your nearest UK stockist, click here