One of our fabulous Indie Pattern Month sponsors is Gather – sponsoring both the Dresses and New To Me sewing contests. Caroline and Sandra are the beautiful brains behind Gather – sharing a love of fabric and books, and bringing us such cute patterns as the Mortmain dress.
Want to know a bit of the story behind Gather and what inspires Sandra and Caroline? Read on!
First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
Our designs are simple but chic – classic wardrobe staples that are easily customisable. Our personal style is actually wildly different to each other – Sandra loves feminine, flirty dresses with a firm nod to the past. Always beautifully put together, she’ll not be seen in jeans! Caroline wears a more modern style, pairing her faithful skinnies with an extensive shoe collection that mostly now consists of high top sneakers! Somehow we seem to always agree on what we want from our patterns and our brand – we both love simple, clean lines in design.
How did your come up with the name for your label?
We spent an evening brainstorming over a glass of wine! We wanted a name that referenced sewing without being too obvious but was also easy to remember (and spell!). Gather just seemed to fit the bill. One of the most fun parts of what we do is gathering together all of the materials for our sewing kits, and we really liked the way our name reflected that.
We both love a good book and the names of our patterns all reference characters from our favourite novels. We recently held a competition to see if people could guess the books that our patterns are named after. We were thrilled that so many people knew the answers and loved the same stories as us!
We’d love to know the story behind your label. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
It started over two years ago! We knew we wanted to start up a creative business which could utilise all our skills and love of fabric, fashion and design. At that time, there was not quite the explosion of talent and choice that there is now but there was a fast growing movement towards independant pattern companies and this inspired us to start designing our own.
We wanted to introduce beginner dressmakers to beautiful patterns that would inspire them and make every step clear and simple. We also knew that the packaging and design of everything from the envelopes to the website was really important to make the whole experience a pleasure, right from buying the pattern to finishing the garment.
Once we’ve perfected our designs, we then work alongside an amazing pattern cutter who transforms our drawings into pattern pieces. Then follows an extensive testing process and we look at the best ways of construction and how to make it all simple for beginners, which includes writing really full instructions and drawing detailed diagrams. It’s a long labour of love which we really enjoy and which ultimately means we hopefully end up with patterns that people love to sew!
And looking forwards, where would you like your label to be in five years time?
Well we’d love to be able to both work full time on Gather! At the moment we work around our day jobs – Sandra as a graphic designer and Caroline as full time mum to two small boys. We are bubbling over with ideas and plans for the business but it’s just a question of finding the time to do it all… Hopefully in five years time we’ll have an extensive range of patterns and dressmaking kits with something to suit everyone.
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
The best part is seeing our designs ‘out in the wild’. When they start to pop up on sewing blogs and we get to see how different people have made them up, that’s so gratifying and exciting!
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
We’ve only released two so far so is it cheating to say all of them?! Obviously we do love both but we think our Mortmain dress is a winner. It’s such a simple pattern which means you can go crazy with fabric prints and textures. It’s a great basic to have in your wardrobe and is very flattering for lots of different body shapes.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon? Any hints you can give us? (We’re so impatient, haha!)
Yes! We’re hard at work right now on the next pattern, putting the very last touches to the instructions and diagrams. We won’t say too much other than it’s another brilliant starter pattern for beginners and is a garment that you will get masses of wear out of…. (we’re both wearing our samples every day). Watch this space 😉
Where do you do all your work? Reckon you can share a photo or two with us, so we can have a sneak peek at your workspace?
Mostly kitchen tables! Sadly we don’t have a studio space to call our own yet but it’s on the list of things to acquire… We both work from home so share the space with our other halves/kids.
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business? (Or both!)
We’re inspired by so many different things – often just people watching in our home town of London! We both adore Liberty (the famous UK department store) as well as a rummage though the indie vintage shops of East London. We also share a love of classic old Hollywood style, wandering around a stately home or two and re-reading our favourite Mitford novels.
What tips or advice would you give to someone who was wanting to start their own indie pattern label?
Everything takes longer than you think it will! We created a very detailed and careful timeline with our first pattern and this completely went out of the window as we discovered new things we needed to work on and encountered delays that were often out of our control. It’s a lot more work than you might think! It’s been a HUGE learning curve so far and we’re still finding our feet – we’d say be prepared to make mistakes, learn from them and don’t get discouraged, it’s a labour of love!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us and our readers? Anything you like!
We’ve got a couple of guilty sewing secrets which we’ll share (although maybe we shouldn’t?)! Sandra likes to wing it when it comes to sewing her own clothes, and will happily just cut into fabric or use sewing shortcuts (like hem tape) when she feels like it. Caroline has a weakness for extremely cheap polyester from her local market which is usually really difficult to sew with and turns out to be a false economy!
Caroline and Sandra, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us more about your indie label! It was fascinating to read about, and I’m now going to be waiting rather impatiently for your new pattern to come out, haha!
Gather have also given us a pack of their two patterns – the Mortmain dress and the Tallis collar – to give away to one lucky reader. Want to be in to win? Leave a comment and tell us – what fabric would you make the Mortmain dress up in first?
The giveaway closes at the end of day 9 June. We’ll draw a winner and post their name on The Monthly Stitch (and email them) on 10 June.
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!