As part of Indie Sewing Month I got to interview fellow pattern designer Fleur of Maison Fleur Patterns. She started her business in April of this year, but she already has four gorgeous patterns available including two skirts, a top, and a bathing suit. All of which I have heard wonderful things about. Definitely check her out if you havn’t already.
Here is the interview:
I am always curious about what pattern designers did before they started their business. Can you tell us a little about your background and what you did before launching Maison Fleur Sewing Patterns?
Well, I’ve certainly dabbled in a fair few professions before I launched these patterns! I spent a few years after university as a hairdresser – that was great fun (and yes I trained and qualified, I didn’t just start randomly dying peoples hair!). But working 12 hour days and never having weekends free took its toll on me, so I moved into office work in the training and technology field, but I could never truly let go of my love for patternmaking.
So I decided to balance project based work in a traditional office with patternmaking contracts. I found that for me personally, shifting between these two worlds, using different skill sets for both but also being able to transfer knowledge I gain from working with so many different people has worked really well.
Since I moved to NYC I’ve had the opportunity to expand my work in the craft industry, which I really feel most at home with, and I’ve used the skills I gained from working in adult learning along with my sewing and patternmaking to work behind the scenes with other pattern designers and educators. I am also teaching sewing classes – which I do through different sewing studios, but mostly at Workroom Social in Brooklyn, NY.
I love the feel of your website and vintage illustrations. Can you tell us a little more about your inspiration and style for your shop?
Thanks! To be honest I just went with what I like. I think it’s always important to go with your gut and be true to yourself. As for the illustrations and front cover artwork, that was a stroke of genius from a very talented friend of mine, Rob Taylor. He’s known me for years, he has a good idea of my tastes and style, so all I gave him was the colour scheme and the line drawings and I trusted him with the rest. I was truly blown away with the results and was so pleased I commissioned a real illustrator to do the artwork, as it’s so much better than the crappy front cover design I’d originally created.
I know that you went to FIT here in NYC, like I currently am. Can you tell us a little about your background / training in patternmaking.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I took up sewing as I was getting frustrated by the fit of clothes I bought. At the time, sewing wasn’t popular so it was really hard to get hold of patterns, and sewing classes just weren’t around, so I started with texts books and drafting my own patterns. It was truly love at first line! It combined so many of my favourite things, basic maths, geometry, problem solving and a little artistic flair. So I signed up to take training as a pattern cutter (as it’s traditionally called in the UK) at Central Saint Martins’ and it all developed from there; taking contracts with small designers and so on. It’s been hard work freelancing but I get so passionate and nerdy about drafting that it makes it feel completely worth it!
When I moved to NYC I couldn’t resist taking classes as FIT (Parsons is totally next on my hit list), I wanted to see what I could learn from another country’s methods and techniques for drafting. It’s so much fun taking the classes, but very work intensive – the instructors set their expectations super high.
Besides sewing, what are your other main interests or hobbies?
Does eating at new restaurants and trying new cocktails count as a hobby? Because I looked up the dictionary definition of ‘hobby’ and it states “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” and I definitely enjoy happy hour oyster and cocktails on a regular basis.
On a less boozy note, i’m always up for trying new-to-me crafts, but in the winter months when it’s freezing cold and icy I usually like to snuggle up on the couch and crack out my crochet hook and yarn.
I’ve also recently started taking road cycling a little bit more seriously and I’ve just got myself a new road bike; I call her Princess Super-Bike, she has a pair of unicorns engraved on her to help me cycle faster (because that’s totally how it works, right?). I get excited at having any excuse to sew up something in stretch fabrics and have my eyes on creating some great lady-friendly cycling garb for next season.
Of your four patterns, do you have a favorite? And why?
I think I go through obsessive cycles with each pattern as I’m creating them, it’s going to be cheesy but I love them all pretty equally. Though, over the summer I kind of went bonkers and sewed up so many samples of the 8101 swimsuit that i’ve kinda burnt out of it for now. Thankfully it’s beginning to cool down from the NYC heat and I’m getting very excited about making up a few versions of the two skirts I have in the shop. I’m thinking of sewing the 6104 box pleat skirt up in a rich aubergine coloured wool and adding some shiny jet beading on the welt pockets to give it some low-key evening sparkle. I’m so used to providing work for clients that what I really love about finally setting up my own shop is that I get the nicest feeling from being able to put my own designs out there for the world to see.
Is there anything you can tell us about what is next for Maison Fleur Sewing Patterns?
Well short-term exciting stuff for me is moving into a dedicated space instead of working from my home studio. In October I’ll be joining a small group of creative entrepreneurs in sharing a studio space that’s right next to the Brooklyn Flea. It’ll be so nice to have space to work and not have the distractions of my kitty cats demanding cuddles and netflix drawing me in at lunch breaks. I get so excited just thinking about it right now (cue high pitched noise of joy), and it’s going to be so nice having other’s around to bounce ideas off of, I think it’ll really help me grow. I’m also gearing up for Camp Workroom Social in October, I get to be a camp counsellor for the weekend and it’s going to be such a blast! Of course there will be more patterns in the works, so if you want to stay tuned you can sign up to my mailing list as I use that to send pre-release information and discounts exclusively to people who’ve signed up.
Thanks so much Fleur for letting us get to know you a little better and sharing more about your process. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.