Studio Peeks: On Teaching + My New Pattern

My honey and I are enjoying a breezy holiday in our favoritest city in the U.S. I’m feeling super chilled out and getting what seems like a personal living room concert from Beyonce & Jay Z, who are live for two nights at Giants Stadium. Her voice is just incredible, no? Especially when blasting across an entire city.

But it took me a few days to get chilled. When we left Austin I was smack in the middle of finishing one of the most labor-intensive creative projects I’ve taken on in a long time, and it was so hard to stop. I can almost smell the finish line…

My new lingerie pattern…

Cloth Habit | new lingerie pattern

Behind that yellow bra you can see what became the beginnings of this pattern. This is as close as I have to a picture right now! I took this photo last summer and at the time I was experimenting with all sorts of design ideas.

It’s taken me over a year to develop this pattern! Patternmaking [well] and grading is hard work. Selling stuff is work, too. My Ladyshorts took me a month of solid concentration but I wanted to improve many things for my next pattern. I went back to the drawing board and did some hard research on sizing and even developed my own drafting and grading system. All the while I had a lot of doubts and reassessments. Did I really want to make a product from my ideas? Do I want to do all this stuff myself or hire others to do parts of it for me? Or am I interested in creating my own handmade line of lingerie with no sewing patterns at all? Do I want to have a business? Or am I just happy to make lingerie for myself, and occasionally blogging about it?

I’m glad I wrestled with these questions and took my time because it got me thinking harder about what I loved doing, what I was actually good at, what I wanted to learn more about and what I’d rather leave to others. And all the while I was wrestling with how to take my design and sewing further.

Perhaps you are someone who, like me, started out doing a craft or an art form as a hobby or pleasurable release in your free time but it evolved beyond that. You may have started blogging about it, and I believe blogging is a unique hobby, craft and time-skill in its own right. But what if those weren’t enough? I knew I didn’t want to be a professional blogger. My sewing and designing inhabits this strange world in between “hobby” and “profession”, and lately I’ve taken to calling it my “practice”. Visual artists use this term and I rather like it what it connotes–it helps make sense of what I’m doing almost every day.

Once I began working on my pattern in earnest, one thing became very clear for me. I love to teach and share what I learn. My friends would argue that I seek out new learning experiences just so that I can turn around and teach them. Patterns are one avenue through which to teach skills. Whenever I began to have doubts about whether the world needed one more indie pattern company–and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in those self-flagellating doubts about entrepreneurialship–I reminded myself about my passion to teach. I reminded myself how much I love patterns as tangible teaching tools. I love instructional design.

Whenever I’m learning something new, I appreciate sewing patterns that are designed to get your feet wet by introducing some basic skills and design elements but happily produce a good result from the first or second try. Some pattern designers are especially good at introducing simple basics–Colette’s Hazel, Sewaholic Renfrew and Grainline Scout come to mind–that are really helpful with basic skill-building and easy variation. Eventually, many sewists reach a point where they want to take a lot of creative liberties with a pattern, draft their own design elements, change up techniques and order or sewing, refine their fitting skills, etc. It’s very natural to progress to point of needing and wanting to deviate from a “follow this to get that result” and perceive patterns as mere jumping off templates.

Cloth Habit | On Teaching

Bras present a particularly unique learning challenge in that there are lots of little bits of materials and notions, and the fitting itself can fill an entire book. (And has.) I liken them to making something more like a handbag with all its unique notions and potential materials, except one doesn’t have to fit the handbag to a body. What I love about my new pattern is that it takes a little bit of the fitting frustrations out of the process, since it is not an underwired bra, and introduces basic sewing techniques and fabrics used in bras, but allows for a little bit of design fun. Plus it’s just hands-down my favorite bra to wear. I’ve made it many times for myself and feel a bit old world in it.

Now I’d love to hear from you: Did you have a favorite pattern for teaching you new skills? Did you feel happy about your finished project and did it leave you hungry for more in a good way?

p.s. My pattern launches in September!

40 comments

  1. Maureen says:

    I am on Clothhabit email list – is The Lingerie Maker a different email list?

    Have never tried lingerie, but some of your beautiful work is inspiring! Wish you would come to SW Ohio to teach a workshop!

    Thanks!

  2. Sara says:

    LOVE the bra design! Also, love your thoughts and comments regarding deciding whether to do blogging, patterns, instruction, or some combination–I feel the same way and am overwhelmed by the non-sewing skills (writing, photography, blog-skills) needed to accomplish those things. You are doing a great job and I am glad I found your website/blog!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Sara. I’ll always love blogging but turning an aspect of my sewing/patternmaking into a business has been a long thought process. If you ever adventure into it, you don’t have to do it all, either. It’s fun to collaborate and find/hire others skilled at the things you don’t have time to learn!

  3. Anna says:

    This was a really thoughtful post and all things I’ve thought about myself, but you captured everything so well in your post.

    Sounds exciting!

  4. Kathy says:

    This is sooo exciting! Congratulations on all your hard work. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the release next month!!!

  5. How exciting! I’m looking forward to your new pattern. Do we need another indie pattern company? Yes! I think this is an area that the indie pattern is lacking, bra patterns! I’m looking forward to September. I’ll be quietly cheering you on until then. 🙂

  6. Grace says:

    I am so very excited to know that your bra pattern is on the horizon. I am quite certain that the grading for bras is a serious challenge and I am very impressed that you would take it on yourself!

  7. M. Inez says:

    I have spent the last couple of weeks reading everything I can find on your blog about bra-making. I am looking very forward to seeing your pattern.

  8. MadeByMeg says:

    EEEEEK! I have been waiting and hoping and hoping and waiting that you would release a bra pattern! I have been less than please with the patterns I have tried so far, and always learned so much from reading your blog. I CANNOT WAIT!

  9. Annabella says:

    I’m really looking forward to your pattern! I’ve never made lingere before. My favourite pattern is the Grainline Archer, sewing my first shirt taught me so much and really elevated my sewing skills. I’ve made several now and I’m proud of every single one.

  10. Laurel says:

    I am very interested in a new bra pattern! I do hope it will be available in larger cup sizes, such as 34G or 32H at least!

  11. Sew Chic says:

    Congratulations! How thrilling to learn you’re creating a line of patterns. You’ll be sure to launch a whole new generation of lingerie makers. Looking forward to all the tips, techniques and tutorials. I’m continually inspired by your work.

  12. Novita says:

    Ooooohh so exciting about the new pattern!
    I love learning new things and always hungry for more. In fact, every finished project leaves me with a bit of sad feeling because it means the fun is over.

  13. OOOOOHhhh I am so excited for you and so FUCKING PROUD that you are doing this! You taught me how to make lingerie, and I think having a great tool at your disposal means you can do the same for so many people. I think about patternmaking in the same way; I love that patterns have the ability to teach, and its why it takes me so darned long to make patterns. Research is way too fun.

    Ps. If you get Viber on your iphone (do you have an iphone?!) we can chit chat any old time my friend. Would love to hear your voice soon!

  14. Very exciting to hear you’re close to releasing what sounds to be a true winner of a bra pattern!!! Your lady rosy shorts are my fave pattern, both construction but comfort too, and I have tried others to compare. Can’t wait!
    Sounds like you’re really fuelled by knowing that you’re focusing on what’s important to you – what a powerful place to be!!

  15. Geo says:

    Your bra sew along and every other post about lingerie was so inspiring! Seeing everything you made, I am sure the pattern and instructions are going to be great.
    A not underwired bra must be more comfortable. And am I wrong thinking a darted bra is easier to fit?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Geo, thanks for the cheers! A darted bra is actually harder to fit, especially above small sizes. It’s usually better if you have an entire seam (rather than one dart), or more than one seam, to accommodate more curve in the cup, if that makes sense!

  16. Sallie says:

    Love this!! I’m so excited for you!! Can’t wait to see the new pattern!! And I love all your thoughts about building a little business from your sewing and blogging practice, I’ve struggled with the same issues and I’m not even contemplating releasing patterns! Enjoy your chill out time! You deserve it!

  17. Katie says:

    I really love your blog and can’t wait to see the pattern.I love indie companies that release patterns and have a blog and sew-along. Such a great way to learn!

    I noticed that Sewaholic has fabric & notion kits to go with some of their patterns. I think that’s a fab idea, especially for bras. I’ve been slow to order a kit because the ones available online have crummy websites.

    A new pattern and a kit? Wow, I’d be all over that!

    Fantastic blog and I definitely wanted to learn this skill after stumbling upon your awesome blog!

  18. maddie says:

    Amy, no matter how many indie pattern makers exist, there is always room for one more. That’s what we’re good at – bringing people into the community. I cannot wait for what is to come of you!

  19. Jennifer M says:

    You have a beautiful way of allowing the peeks into your process. My work runs parallel to what it must be like for you and the decision making arena of undergear. I admire the process and hear you completely. What a journey we have in store, yes? I stand beside you as a cohort in crime. xo

  20. Marie says:

    I’m so excited about these news !
    I try to register to the mailing list but it didn’t work…. 🙁

  21. Gergana says:

    There is a problem with subscribing mailing list – I’ve tried couple of times, but nothing happened 🙁

  22. rita says:

    I tried to subscribe to you lingerie makers newsletter but after entering my name, email address, and hitting ‘SUBSCRIBE’, “webpage not available” came up. Boo hoo.

  23. Amy says:

    Hi Rita (and others who had trouble subscribing), there was a WordPress goof in my confirmation page but you were still subscribed to the newsletter. I checked! There is no need to re-enter your information.(I fixed the problem page, too.)

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