11 April 2012

Colette Patterns S/S12: Interview with Sarai


Last week I was lucky enough to get an early sneaky peek at sewing pattern favourite Colette Patterns' Spring/Summer range - exciting! I took the opportunity to conduct a mini interview with founder and designer Sarai about the gorgeous new line. Enjoy!

Where do you find your design inspiration? And what were your particular sources of inspiration for the new collection?

"A lot of my design inspiration simply comes from what I want to make and wear myself. For Lily, I've long wanted a really cute, classic, sort of sultry summer dress. I even knew I wanted to make it in white pique, which I did for my trip to Argentina this past December. Caitlin and I nicknamed this one 'the Sophia dress' because it reminded us both of something Sophia Loren would have worn.

The Hazel dress was partly inspired by a vintage dress in my own collection, which I bought at my favorite vintage store here in Portland, Xtabay. It had the V-shaped seaming on the bodice, which was just so flattering when I put it on. It really gives that hourglass sort of look. But I wanted to design something that would work for certain types of fabric, namely stripes and border prints. This one was really fun to design, and I particularly love the striped version.

The main inspiration for Iris came from customer requests, actually! Many people asked for shorts, and I wanted to do something with a slight nautical style, but still with fairly clean lines and easy to sew up. I imagined them as the sort of thing you could make ten of in different colors."

Can you give us an insight into the design process? How do you go about starting a new pattern or line?

"The design portion is definitely the most fun. There isn't really a set process, but Caitlin and I gather a lot of inspiration and then sit down and go through it, sketching and talking through ideas. I really take into account what our customers love and want more of, and any holes that seem to be in the current offerings. We also have to consider the practical aspects, like skill level, how many pattern pieces, etc. Finally, once we have the main designs down, we'll work out design details."

How long does it take you to produce a new pattern from design to promotion and all the steps in between?

"We release every six months, and that's about the amount of time it takes. The printing and binding takes quite a while, because we coordinate with 4 different companies to get everything the way we want it. I'm already working on Fall patterns right now!"

What can we expect from Colette Patterns in the future? Where do you see the company going?

"Sewing patterns are definitely our core business, but I'd love to branch out into other sewing-related areas, perhaps more media and publishing focused. We're starting to dip our toes into digital patterns with this release, which opens up a lot of possibilities. We're also in the very early stages of a collaborative project with another small company I really love and respect, so that's very exciting. But it's way too early to talk about!

We're definitely a growing company, and sometimes it feels like we're growing a bit too fast to keep up with! This year, I'm trying to make smart decisions about where I invest our time and resources so we can keep making things we love and feel proud of."

Congratulations, Sarai, on producing another delightful line of sewing treats!