We first met Kati during Frocktober, when her gorgeous Giselle dress was one of our featured dresses for the month. We’re super happy to welcome Kati and her label, Kate & Rose, back to The Monthly Stitch for Indie Pattern Month this year.
Kat caught up with Kati to find out more about her designs and where it all began….
First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
I have two young children so the way I dress in real life and the way I design are not always the same, even though the things I design is what I imagine I ought to wear in real life. My aesthetic is something like urban folklore, folksy modern, practical hippie… I love handmade touches on clothing, like hand-embroidery, because it’s a beautiful reminder that real people’s real hands make everything we wear.
How did your come up with the name for your label?
Kate is my own name in English (Kati – pronounced Kah-tee – is the short version of Katalin, which is Katharine in Hungarian). I’ve always been a huge fan of Katharine or Kate Hepburn… Rose was my great-grandmother’s name. There are a couple versions of it in Hungarian: Rózsa, which can be a given name but also means rose, and the name Róza, like the Róza pattern. The rose is a flower that figures so often on Central European folkwear textiles that pairing the two names has an added layer of folkwear history, beyond my family history.
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
I’ve always loved to sew but I didn’t think I’d ever be designing sewing patterns myself. Then, while working on a different business venture for ready-to-wear that did not pan out, I realized sewing and making things was where my heart was, and I fell in love with the nitty-gritty details of pattern making. It took me a while to get up the nerve to release my first pattern but once I did, there was no turning back. The sewing and crafting community is just so amazing, watching the creativity unfold, and being able to participate in it with my own contributions has been extremely rewarding. I love embroidery because – as I mentioned above – handmade touches remind us that real people make everything we wear. But my work is inspired by folkwear for another reason too: because it connects us to traditions and our past through everyday garments.
And looking forwards, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
Releasing 3-4 sewing patterns and a couple of embroidery patterns a year would be great, building on what I have to create a full line inspired by folkwear from many parts of the world.
Where do you do all your work?
There’s a tiny room in our apartment that I call my studio. It’s more like a large closet with a window – but it has a window! This is New York so I’m very lucky to have even this much space for my work. We recently built a huge wardrobe in an area of our house we renovated, because after removing some walls, we found SEVERAL hidden square feet of space. This is now my warehouse for printed patterns. I use ELFA from the Container Store for shelving, and have a tiny rack for samples I’m currently working with. Part of the reason I love PDF patterns is that I don’t need to store them: I print what I’m working and recycle it once I’m done. I keep rolls of paper for drafting in the front window of the living room, along with one of my dress forms – they double as decoration. I also have a rolling cart for sewing/patternmaking supplies, and another for embroidery. I do a lot of my embroidery on the living room couch late at night.
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
First I love the feeling of finishing something and watching it come together. But what I also love is seeing what others make with my patterns. I’m always humbled and amazed by the ideas people have with the underlying framework I worked on. It’s almost a kind of collaboration: I do one part of the design (the shape and sewing pattern), and the customer who purchases my pattern does another part – fabric choice, finishes, embellishments.
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
I love the Zsálya blouse the most. It’s so easy to pull on with jeans or cargo pants and yet it’s quite sleek. In the summer I wear the dress version a lot: it’s breezy and comfortable but polished. I can forget all about what I’m wearing and go about my day. I also love the finishing technique I figured out for the crossover yoke and yoke facing, it’s so fun to make!
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business?
My grandmother was an incredibly creative person who used whatever she could find to make clothes for herself, her children, and then her grandchildren. When a sweater got torn beyond repair, she’d unravel it and use the yarn to make something new. She was constantly making something and I’ve always found that inspiring. My designs are inspired by folkwear, I’ve always loved the colorfulness of Eastern European folkwear and the idea of embellishing even the simplest garments to make them more beautiful. I am also hugely inspired by Natalie Chanin’s amazing brand Alabama Chanin. I admire the way she is infusing folkwear, folk art, local culture and DIY into a business that began with couture. She traces and rethinks the traditions of both the industry she’s in and the people she lives among and works with through the each garment she designs and through her innovative approach handmade.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon? Any hints you can give us? (We’re so impatient, haha!)
I have some new patterns slated to be released in September, then October. If you look carefully at one of the photos, there’s a sneak peek in there!
Thank you so much for telling us more about your designs and your business, Kati! So many gorgeous photos. I’m looking forward to seeing your new patterns – exciting! 🙂