Happy New Year everyone! We are so excited that we’ve been able to bring you a sponsor for the monthly challenges and hope to continue to do so going forward! Not only to bring a little more excitement and motivation to each challenge, with a prize at the end of the month, but also to share up-and-coming and well-known designers alike with the community here! We are super thankful for Arielle of Seen & Sewn Patterns for joining us this month for our Unselfish Sewing Challenge! We caught up with Arielle to learn a little more about her business and patterns.
**Make sure to check out Arielle’s patterns and take advantage of the discount code “Monthlystitch18” for 25% off through the end of today (31st)!**
Welcome, Arielle! We are so excited to have you sponsoring this month’s challenge! Tell us a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
I like to design fashionable basics that anyone can pick up and sew. In my day job, I teach high schoolers to sew and so many big 4 patterns are just too difficult for them to understand without me holding their hand. So I starting designing patterns that my students and other new sewists would like but could also be sewn up pretty easily with little room for confusion.
How did you come up with the name for your label?
Choosing names for a label is so difficult, and I wanted a name that was identifiable to what it is. I chose seen and sewn for my name because often times, when I am shopping, I see things and if I can sew it myself I don’t buy it. So I see it then sew it! I want to give women the option to create stuff they love, with fabrics they choose, without having to support fast fashion.
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
I am a trained fashion designer, and used to have my own clothing line, Elleira Couture. My biggest goal was to have my clothing produced in the US. This was a steep goal to have when there have been so many garment factories closing. The remaining factories had high quantity minimums that I could not meet as a small designer. I didn’t want to send my products overseas and support an industry that was taking away from ours here. I eventually disbanded the brand in 2011. Did you know in the 80’s about 80% of all the clothing Americans wore was produced here. That all changed with the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) which made it easier and cheaper for companies to have their clothing made outside of the US. By 1994, we saw clothing manufacturing drop to 50% and now today only about 2% of American’s clothing is actually produced in the US today. Unfortunately, this affected our economy as well as the quality of clothing we purchased, with many of our garments getting one use and ending up in landfills and contributing to global warming. It has just created a huge snowball effect, and I wanted to create pieces that last a lifetime. After disbanding my brand in 2011, I was searching myself and all around me to decide what I would do. In 2012, I started working at a small independent fabric store, and it opened my eyes to the world of indie designers and home sewing. While I had always sewn for myself and others, it was mainly for more formal, one of kind pieces like wedding gowns, and prom dresses. I never made everyday pieces, and this sparked my interest. After teaching an array of garment sewing classes to adults, and meeting a few indie designers, I knew this is where I needed to pick up where I left off. I could still design pieces, but I could design pieces that others could produce and put their own spin on, while not having to support fast fashion.Meanwhile, I would be creating a “Free” Library of patterns for my high school students to use. I officially launched with my first pattern in August of 2016.
Looking ahead, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
That’s a hard question. I don’t necessarily want to do Seen and Sewn full time, because I truly love my day job. However, I would like to see it grow to where I can reach many people through sewing and encourage others that they can create too!
Where do you do all your work? May we have a sneak peek at your workspace?
I have a home studio where I work, but I am kind of a mess, and like to move around a lot. If the weather is nice, I do my digitizing outside on my patio or if I need some snuggle time, I am on the couch working while simultaneously snuggling my two dogs.
What is your favorite part of releasing a new design?
I love seeing all the creations, the fabric they chose, and how they put their personal spin on the design.
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what is your favorite of all your designs so far, and why?
I love them all for different reasons. I think the cozy cardigan is just so cozy and anyone can sew it up and feel comfortable. But I am excited about my newest pattern, the Parker Peplum, Set to release in a couple weeks.
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business (or both)?
I am inspired by all that is around me. The iconic fashion designers of the past like coco chanel and christian dior are a couple of my favorites. I love love love costume design, because it gives me the opportunity to create something out of the norm. My number 1 influence though is probably how I am feeling in my body and what makes me happy when I put it on. I think every woman should be comfortable in her skin and wearing the right clothing can certainly help that!
Do you have any new patterns in the works? Any hints you can give us?
The Parker peplum is coming soon. Testers are working on it now, and if all goes well, I’ll be releasing it the week of December 17th. This top features 2 sleeve options; one short, one long, as well as a drop shoulder seam, perfect for beginner sewists. The pattern is designed for knits with a looser more comfortable fit. If a cute peplum shirt is not for you, there is a version for a basic knit drop shoulder top as well.