Well today I’ve rather a different kind of blog post from those I usually write. I’ve an interview with the inspiring Lisa Lam (she of UHandbag & The Bag Making Bible) and a giveaway.
Now this is part of a promotional blog hop for Lisa’s new and exceedingly cute little girls’ dress patterns- the “Dance with me Dress” and the most gorgeous playsuit ever- the “Happiness Halter Playsuit”. I covet them myself but thankfully can recognise that I have finally gone beyond making up cute girly clothes for myself to compensate for never having a daughter to sew for - these are designed for small girls – graded for girls aged 2 to 6 years.
Now, I have never sewn for a little girl, apart from making fancy dress. Whilst I was flattered to be invited to take part in this promotional tour, before I committed to being part of it I had to ask myself how it fitted with what I usually blog about, and thought that actually hearing from Lisa herself how fun it can be to sew for little girls was my angle. I mean potentially, girls clothes are smaller and cuter and could use some of those too-large-to-throw-away scraps of lovely fabric. And if inspired enough, you could easily find a deserving little girl to sew for, couldn’t you?
So I got excited to be able to ask Lisa some questions, hopefully some new to her questions as well, to share with you and give you a feeling for the person and inspiration behind her two patterns, with a chance to win yourself a copy of each at the end.
The Lisa Lam Sewing Patterns Collection is available now from the team at Stitch Craft Create. Have a look at the schedule here to follow the blog hop!
SB: So you’ve been successfully designing and selling bags since 2003 with the launch of your online business in 2005 – Uhandbag, selling bag making supplies and patterns. Your book, ‘The Bag Making Bible’ is a best seller and even known of by people who haven’t yet made a bag, why the new direction into designing clothes to sew for little girls?
LL: My little girl, Mabel, has been the prompt for my designing clothes for little girls. I almost feel that it wouldn’t be right for Mabel to grow up without wearing ‘mummy made’ clothes. My mum made loads of my clothes when I was little and those clothes bring back happy memories. As I can design patterns I wanted to take it bit further and design for my daughter, as well as sew for her.
SB: Your designs are so cute – a dress, a playsuit and a halter top. What kind of situations / occasions do you have in mind when conjuring up your designs? What/ who motivates and inspires your designs?
LL: Thanks very much! As I’m a (almost painfully) pragmatic person I like my clothes and accessories to be uber versatile. As such I don’t own party dresses, rather for occasions, I like to wear classic shapes made in wondrous fabrics and/or accessorise to max. I like taking this approach in children’s dressing – keeping it simple and keeping it versatile. So I honestly think all of the my clothes would look just as great a wedding as they would at a play date. Just change up the fabric to suit the occasion and of course you can accessorise with party shoes or dress down with sneakers. Would I personally wear a playsuit to a wedding? Yeah totally! J Though I am aware of trends I don’t really follow them, my designs are very much led by my desire to be practical and my desire ‘to look most agreeable’. Haha!
SB: Haha! I love the idea of wearing a playsuit to a wedding too!! Do you make clothes for yourself? What kind?
LL: At university I used make myself flowy tank and camisole tops and strappy dresses. I also baggy silk pyjama bottoms. I’d wear these items with chunky workman’s style boots and a felt cloche hat. At the time I thought I looked the business!
SB: What a stylish & comfortable student wardrobe! What’s the difference between designing for children and for adults do you think?
LL: Well, I haven’t really designed for adults (simply because it’s trickier Getting a fantastic fit for adults involves working with curves and angles (that children don’t have!).
SB: Many of my readers are probably in a similar situation to me – a bit more free time with kids that are older. But we might have little girls we could sew for if we were feeling unselfish & fancied a frill flurry. So sewing for little girls – I am sure it takes a lot less time – but how long, really, would it take someone who is able to make their own clothes whip up one of your designs? what’s the advantage in sewing for little girls as opposed to ourselves?!
LL: Ohh that’s easy! As little girls are more petite, it’s faster also little girls don’t have the curves that we do (well sadly I’m not curvy, (I’m a ruler!) but you know what I mean). This means that don’t have concentrate so much on getting a precise form-fit for little girls.
SB: I get it! Yes. Clearly one of the reasons your designs stand out is because of your bold fabric choices, or is it that they provide the perfect canvas for showing off fabulous fabric. Traditionally I know the temptation would be to choose a ditsy small scale print for a little girl’s dress. What tips can you give to become more courageous with larger scale prints?
LL: Hmm, nice question! I think the best tip is to trust your taste! If you (and you little girl) like big scale prints, and/or wacky colours then great! Sew with them and have fun. The whole point of sewing for yourself is that you have to freedom to break free from what is: safe, predictable and (let’s face it) easy to shift in the shops. As sewists, we don’t have to conform, if we don’t want to and we should embrace that!
SB: And I love a bit of piping and ric rac – what scope is there for embellishment?
LL: Jumbo ric rac in rainbow colours? Yes please! Pop it on: necklines, sleeve holes, hems, on the a purse strap, bodice line and edging on pocket openings.
SB: A ric rac user after my own heart! I had boys, and although I sewed a few things for them when they were toddlers (eg I particularly remember a blankety rainbow duffle coat, a large scale polka dot shirt, gingham dunga-shorts – poor boys!!) and am now making them man-shirts (yay!) I think there is a gap in the market for cute boys’ clothes which could also take advantage of the fab fabric designs that are now available. I know you are inspired to make for your own, and maybe if you had a boy it would be different, but have you had any thoughts about designing cute things for little boys?
LL: Haha! Your boys were lucky! Actually, Mabel’s bestest buddy in the whole wide world ever, ever, is a (same age) boy and his mum and I are good pals. So I will be sure to make him some cool clothes, as the years go by.
SB: I would love to see what you had up your boy-design sleeve! Now, finally, I am always fascinated by how people got into sewing. Do you have a sewing guru? Who sparked your interest in sewing? How did you develop your sewing skills?
LL: My sewing guru is my mum. My mum had 4 children and had to work in the family business so unsurprisingly she didn’t have much time to spare (I don’t think I’d have coped as well as she did!). As a child one of the best ways of spending time with mum was to sit with her as she stitched up clothes or soft furnishings for us. Crafting with mum was great for me because I enjoyed learning these cool new skills and it was great for mum because she could keep an eye on me!
SB: And I bet Lisa’s going to be passing her love of sewing onto Mabel too as the years go by. Thank you so much Lisa for your lively Q&A! It’s been a real pleasure hearing about your side of pattern designing & sewing for children, yourself & your sewing roots.
Now I said that there is a chance to win a copy of these two patterns. Leave a comment before 1 August and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a free copy of the Dance with Me Dress and Happiness Halter Playsuit pattern booklets!