Another new sponsor for Indie Pattern Month this year is By Hand London. Best known for their Anna dress, which took the sewing blogging world by storm and was voted one of the best patterns of 2015, Charlotte and Elisalex from By Hand London create lovely womenswear patterns, with a focus on dresses. Kat caught up with Elisalex to find out more….
Hi Elisalex! First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
We like to think of our designs as modern updates on classic silhouettes. We celebrate women who like to dress up and stand out!
How did your come up with the name for your label?
It was one of those very organic things… We had been throwing around ideas and when we came up with “By Hand London”, it just kind of felt right and summed it all up, so it stuck!
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
Well, it’s a pretty long story that certainly didn’t start with sewing patterns… In a nutshell, Charlotte and I (Elisalex) were old school pals, and one Summers day we met up over a coffee (or five!) to talk about a business idea Charlotte had and wanted my opinion on. We quickly and excitedly decided to go in on it together there and then! That initial idea never actually made it past the coffee shop, and soon we were planning a sewing emporium complete with classes, events, vintage crafting treasures that we would source on fabulous trips all over the world…and our own line of sewing patterns. Looking through our extensive business plan we sadly realised that we were dreaming a touch too big, and so we decided to start small and focus instead on creating a beautiful product – sewing patterns!
Looking forwards, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
From the beginning we’ve been very open to, and excited by, an organic growth of our business. Because this industry is still quite young, it’s been incredible to watch it evolve, and to continue being a part of that constant evolution. Who knows where we’ll all be in five years! For the time being, we want to continue to create fabulous sewing patterns, keep on providing helpful content on our blog for people honing their sewing skills, working with other creatives and generally helping to spread the sewing bug far and wide! We’re certainly not short on ideas for the future, so it will be exciting to see how things unfold…
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? 😉
Since folding the fabric printing arm of By Hand London, we moved out of our industrial studio space in North West London, and went back to working from home. There are so many pros to working from home – no overheads, no commute, fully stocked fridge! – but we definitely miss being altogether every day! We make sure that we have regular Skype meetings to keep up-to-date on each other’s to-do lists and bounce ideas around, and of course, not seeing each other as often means more compulsory BHL cocktail nights!
Seeing as most of the sample sewing and tutorial shooting is done by me, I’ve created a dedicated sewing nook at my flat. Having gone from a huge studio which inevitably was in a constant state of shambolic mess, I absolutely love how the limitations on space at home have forced me to be more tidy, organised and compact – a tidy workspace equals maximum productivity, I find!
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
Without a doubt, our favourite part of releasing a new design is seeing the first wave of customer makes on social media! It’s such a nail biting experience, and we’re constantly terrified that we missed something out or that people will hate the design, so you can imagine what a relief it is to see a flood of happy sewists!
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
Oh, that’s like picking a favourite from a brood of children! The Anna Dress seems to be the most popular of our patterns – she’s easy to sew and insanely flattering on all body types. I think it’s safe to say that we have a bit of a penchant for cocktail dresses, and for that our Kim Dress and Elisalex Dress certainly do the trick! We also love mixing and matching – or Frankenfrocking! – bodices and skirts from our entire range… Current combo obsessions are the Anna bodice with the Flora skirt, and the Kim bodice with the Zeena skirt.
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business? (Or both!)
I think that in this age of social media, the wealth of inspiration out there can be so overwhelming! There are so many people and brands that inspire us, and in so many different ways. But when it comes down to it, our designs come largely from a place of greed – what we want to be making and wearing! In terms of our business, the main thing we try to do is listen to our customers and evolve alongside our industry in a way that is both financially sustainable and creatively fulfilling.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon? Any hints you can give us? (We’re so impatient, haha!)
For the moment, we can reveal that we will be releasing the Charlie Dress – which we released last year in conjunction with Simply Sewing magazine – but with a few extra bells and whistles in the form of two new skirt variations and an alternative bodice construction method. Then, after the Summer we have the Alix Dress coming, which is a glorious, billowing Ossie Clark inspired number that we could not be more excited about!
Thank you so much Elisalex for telling us a bit more about By Hand London! Especially those hints of what’s coming up next in your patterns – I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Alix Dress looks like, it sounds gorgeous! 🙂