SIM 2015: Interview with Sew Liberated

Sewing Indie Month continues here at Kate & Rose with an interview from Danica from Sew Liberated. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the casual, comfortable, yet sleek style of the Sew Liberated brand. I love the brand’s approach that crafting can be at once traditional and thoroughly modern; a way to slow down and connect with tradition as well as a contemporary, non-conformist statement in today’s mass-produced world. Without further ado, I give you Danica!

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Thank you so much for visiting Kate & Rose for this interview! Sew Liberated is a well-established business. How has your design philosophy changed over the years?

Sew Liberated was created by Meg and Patrick McElwee. Meg was in charge of all the designs for the early patterns. She desired to create patterns that merged traditional craft and modern style. I started as intern in 2012 with Sew Liberated and my role has steadily grown since then. I have fallen in love with the company and the process of creating and selling sewing patterns. Over the last year or so, Meg and Patrick have taken a step back to pursue other passions and spend even more time with their three children. I have taken over the entirety the design process and along with my twin sister, and our technical writer/pattern tester Kim run the day to day operations of the company. Meg and I both have had the desire to design patterns that are functional in everyday life yet provide a sense of modern style. Both of us have really gotten satisfaction in process of designing and creating something new. When we make a pattern we get to pass the experience of physically creating something handmade to our customers. The overall design philosophy of Sew Liberated has stayed the same, but has been nuanced with the transitions in our roles. I desire to design patterns that are unique, practical, and give a nod to the past and present. I also look to use our new patterns designs to reach beyond our current demographic to the younger crowds who are rediscovering making things by hand in this very digital age.

You mentioned you are going to quilt market, which must involve immense preparation. Could you share with us a little about this process?

Let me start with telling you a little bit about quilt market and how we as an indy sewing pattern company fit in. Fall Quilt Market in Houston texas is a trade show that is a buyer’s market. So who attends Fall Quilt Market? Anyone who owns quilting sewing, or fabric stores nationally and some internationally. Who are sellers who have booths at the trade show? Mostly it is large companies that function as distributors for a range of sewing and quilting products including sewing notions, fabrics, and sewing machines. A small number of attendees are indy fabric and sewing pattern designers. In order to be a vendor at Quilt Market you have to provide an array of credentials showing that your company sells a significant number of patterns to wholesalers and/or distributors. Attending quilt market is very exciting. it is a sewer’s paradise. Preparation for Quilt Market begins with an application many months in advance. After the initial paperwork is out of the way we decide what new patterns we will feature or create especially for release at Quilt Market. This is decided based on what new patterns need the additional bump for sales along with what new patterns we feel like are needed to round out our collection of designs. For instance, we have discontinued one of our old apron patterns this year and plan to release a new apron pattern at market this year. Besides the work that goes into creating the physical patterns, one of the biggest and most exciting tasks is designing the trade show booth. This involves creating a 10ft by 10ft spaces that embodies the essence of your company. This year it has involved such tasks as building walls, chalk painting spice racks to create shelving, spray painting chairs, reupholstering a love seat and sewing eight pattern samples.

We love to be nosy and peek into others’ studios… Can you tell us a little bit about your workspace, perhaps even share a few photos?

Four months ago I moved from North Carolina to Houston, Texas. My Husband and I have had the privilege of purchasing our first home as part of the move which means for the very first time I have the ample space to have a proper sewing studio. I have a small bedrooms along with two extra closets in other parts of the house to store my sewing and design supplies. My husband worries that my fabric/sewing supplies has become a fungus that is rapidly growing and may soon take over our house. Here is my command center with my sewing machine, serger, and my office computer. I like to be able to continuously switch back and forth between one activity to the other while working. The only thing still missing from my studio is a good cutting space. I still find myself using the floor to do all my fabric cutting. If anyone has found a good solution I would love to hear it. Baby toys are constantly migrating in and out of my studio in attempts to keep my seven month old son entertained while I work. He is already crawling everywhere and trying to climb up on everything.

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How do the comings and goings of family life integrate with the business?

With these more recent transitions with the company, Sew Liberated has transitioned from one family company to the next family. As I mentioned before my twin sister Brigitta works with me to run to day to day of the company. She also works from home at her apartment in Raleigh, NC. Brigitta does all the shipping and helps me keep on top of the company emails and really anything else that needs to be done that I can do while chasing my adventurous baby. Brigitta and I call each other everyday, usually on Skype, to check in and talk about company business and other topics such as teething babies, awesome shoes we got on a crazy good sale, and really anything else going on in our day to day lives.

I love your apron designs, so let’s put them to work! What is a favorite recipe in the Sew Liberated studio?

Our favorite recipe in the Sew liberated kitchen is a family recipe that my twin sister and I grew up enjoying on special occasions and at family reunions. In my opinion it is the best pound cake I have ever had and probably ever will have due to the nostalgia it evokes every time I make it for my family. It is so good that even my husband who is a chocolate-only kind of dessert person loves this recipe and requests it often.

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Thank you so much, Danica! I can’t wait to try the poundcake. Possibly with your new apron design!

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