The best part of Indie Pattern Month is helping you discover new Indie Pattern designers. It’s especially exciting when that new designer is also based in NZ. Scroop Patterns is born of Leimomi’s passion for textile history, teaching sewing and pattern making. Mel caught up with her to learn more…
First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
Scroop designs draw heavily on my background as a fashion & textile historian – I like mixing elements taken from historical garments with modern silhouettes and wearability, to create patterns that are quite different to anything else out there. I also make purely historical patterns, and simple, practical wardrobe-fillers, when I see a gap in the indie pattern market for those.
How did your come up with the name for your label?
Scroop is the technical name for the rustling sound that stiff silks like taffeta make. When we think of the desirable qualities of fabric we think of colours and patterns, surface sheen and texture, drape and and weight, and, of course, fibre content. Sound rarely comes into the equation, and yet the sound that stiff silks make is so wonderful and evocative that at some point fabric manufacturers began experimenting with ways to increase it, and now the acid bath that creates scoop is an integral part of the process of making taffeta.
As I developed my pattern line, I kept coming back to the idea behind scroop: of taking something that it already pretty fabulous (whether it is taffeta or sewing patterns), and adding just that little bit more to make it extra special and a little bit different.
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
Scroop primarily grew out of my work as a sewing teacher. My students kept asking for specific patterns and looks that just weren’t available, and I struggled to find patterns to teach from that actually fit a wide range of sizes and shapes. I’d learned pattern drafting and grading while studying costuming at university – with the added bonus that in costuming, unlike many fashion programmes, you are expected to learn to draft and grade for a wide range of body shapes and sizes. I was already drafting my own patterns for a significant portion of my own wardrobe, so it made sense to start grading those, and drafting more based on student demand.
It took me three years to go from drafting for teaching to selling online, and in that time the boom in independent pattern companies has meant there is now a fantastic range of patterns for all body shapes available for my students, but they still get excited about anything new I draft and make for myself – so I keep making patterns!
And looking forwards, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
I’ve got some really exciting plans and ideas I’d like to try for Scroop, but I’ll only be able to make them happen if the patterns are popular enough. So for now, I’m just working on getting my initial design set out, and giving you lots of choices. We’ll see how it goes from there!
Where do you do all your work?
Oh dear! I’m afraid this is a terribly embarrassing time to ask that question! I work from home and from the sewing workshop at Made Marion Craft, where I teach. We’re currently doing home renovations so I will actually have a proper working studio. Which means my studio is a pile of storage and construction, and I’ve been relegated to the dining room while the work is in progress.
I’m also in the last stages of pattern development, and my working process is ‘create an enormous mess, tidy it up at the end of a project, and then start on the next enormous mess. So here is my dining-room-serving-as-workspace, with all the incriminating mess that might give too much of an idea of what I’m working on shoved off to one side. At least I have a really gorgeous sewing cat who is always happy to pose for the camera though! Miss Felicity is a great help in making patterns and pretty pictures!
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
When the first photos of people’s makes come out after a pattern is released. I love seeing how other sewers took my vision and made it their own, with fabrics I would never have thought to choose, and hacks I didn’t have time to try. Every blog posts, instagram photo, share on the Scroop Patterns sewing group on facebook, and review is great. Sometimes I even get sewers who email me photos of their finished items. It makes me fall in love with a pattern all over again.
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
Ooooh, that’s like asking a mother which of her children she loves most! My first pattern, the Henrietta Maria dress and top, is probably still my personal favourite, but the Wonder Unders is the one I wear most often – for obvious reasons! 😉
Do you have a favourite make or two from your customers you’d like share with us?
That’s another unfair question! How to pick between them?!? I’ve loved every version of my patterns that I’ve seen made up! Since I can’t choose, how about a first example, a close example, and a most recent example?
I do have a real soft-spot for Thornberry’s red Henrietta Maria top, both because it is gorgeous, and because I’m pretty sure she was the first person to blog a Scroop Pattern. And Nina of SmashtheStash’s Miramar always makes me happy because I’ve actually seen it in person (yay for Wellington having a vibrant sewing community!).
Finally, Always A Crafty Lady just blogged her Ngaio Blouse& Fantail skirt! A full Scroop outfit!
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business? (Or both!)
Awesome women! I use a lot of amazing historical women as inspiration as a designer, and a lot of amazing women who I know in person as inspiration as a businesswomen. When I’m designing a pattern I often think of a historical heroine, and wonder what she’d wear today. As a business model, I look at other pattern designers who I really admire, like our own Kat of Muse Patterns, and Lauren of WearingHistory. As a person, I look to amazing women in my own life: my mother, and friends, as role models, and for support and encouragement.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon? Any hints you can give us?
I do! I’m working on something very historical coming very soon, as well as more modern things, and another pattern like the Fantail skirt, with a historical version and a modern version.
Leimomi’s patterns are beautiful and I am sure you are all as excited as we are to see what she has planned next! You can get 10% off Scroop Patterns with the code IPM2017 until 22 July.