Interview with… Donna of Sew Independent!

Donna is the wonderful woman behind Sew Independent – a website dedicated to raising the profile of independent designers and helping people find out about new designers and new patterns. Sew Independent is also one of the sponsors of Indie Pattern Month, donating a fantastic prize from Stitch 56 for the Indie Fan-Girl, Level: Ultimate sewing contest.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Donna a bit through organising Indie Pattern Month, and got to ask her a few questions about her website and her passion. Want to know more about her and why she started Sew Independent? Read on!


How long have you been sewing?
My interest in sewing started after the birth of my daughter, 9 years ago.  I think it was because I had someone to make things for.  I started with simple baby blankets and toys.  A dear friend Sheridan introduced me to craft blogs and the world of quilting.  We took an interest in American designer fabrics and modern quilting.  As my level of experience grew I started making clothes for my daughter.  I have only just started making wearable clothes for myself in the last few years.

How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
My style is casual and simple.  I make clothes that are everyday wearable.  I did make a few simple dresses from print fabrics but realised pretty quickly that they weren’t getting worn.

Now I like to sew clothes that are simple yet elegant.  I tend to sew more with knit fabrics than woven and generally stick to solid colours.

Donna trying out the new wrap dress pattern from Teach Me Fashion

Who or what inspires you?
I am continuously inspired by my close friend Susie.  We meet monthly for dinner to chat and have show and tell with what we have made.  The restaurant that we go to must think we are mad showing each other clothes, patterns or books.  I always come home from these dinners wanting to make something new or have come up with some bright idea.

We’d love to know the story behind your website/blog.  What inspired you to create it, how did it all start?
The number of independent designers is increasing everyday. I wanted to create a comprehensive list of designers and make it a searchable database. I keep track of 80% of the designers through some form of social media.   As soon as I find out about a new pattern I will tweet the information @sew_independent  or put it on my facebook page. At the end of each month I collate the information and create a big blog post with a list of all of the new patterns.

I also like to try and test out new patterns that interest me and write reviews on them. Basically I want to help promote designers and  their patterns in my own little way.  At the moment I only Sew Independent but I do have a collection of commercial patterns that I can’t bear to get rid of.

There are bigger plans for Sew Independent and hopefully one day I will have the time and resources to get there.

Which are your favourite Indie patterns?
At the moment I have a bit of a crush on Sewaholic patterns. I love every one of the patterns that she has put out. They are perfect everyday items that all go together to create fantastic outfits.

You can have a cooler weather outfit consisting of the Renfrew Shirt, Thurlow Trousers and either Robson or Minoru Jackets. For something more trans-seasonal try the Holyburn Skirt, Alma Blouse and the Cordova Jacket. Then for summer you have the fabulous Saltspring maxi dress or the new Gabriola skirt and Belcara blouse combination.

She has put a lot of effort and thought into her pattern collection and it shows by just how successful these patterns are in the online sewing community.

The Gabriola skirt and Belcarra blouse from Donna’s current fave label, Sewaholic

What is your favourite Indie make so far?
My latest project is always my favourite! At the moment I am still in love with my Jaywalk dress. It was the first wearable nice looking garment that I have made that wasn’t as per the pattern. it is also my first frakenpattern which consists of a Nettie bodice and a By Hand London Circle skirt.

Donna’s Jaywalk dress

Where do you sew?  Reckon you can share a photo or two with us, so we can have a sneak peek at your workspace?  😉
I sew every other day. As a shift worker I have the luxury of time at home with hubby at work and the kids at school.

I am lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing space so I can work on things over lots of small chunks of time. I share half of my home office with my husband. My side consists of my own computer, sewing machine, sewing supplies, books and notions. And ok, I may also have taken up a fair chunk of the storage space with fabric and fibre. I don’t have a huge stash. I am a pattern first person and will shop for just the right fabric. I make it, throw away the remnants and move on to the next project. I currently only have one lingering project of each craft haunting me – a linen jacket, a crochet blanket, a pieced quilt and a knitted cowl.

Donna’s sewing and work space

Thank you so much for talking with us Donna! I found it really interesting hearing more about Sew Independent and what inspired you to start it. 🙂

Also, if you ever find out about a new indie pattern company, head on over to Sew Independent to let Donna know so she can add it to the list of indie designers. It’s easy and fast to do, and will help other people find out about the designer as well!

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