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Today we are bringing you some exciting news about Simple Sew patterns. You may be familiar with their patterns from sewing magazines such as Love Sewing and Sewing Made Simple. When we heard that they were planning to relaunch we were intrigued to find out more and what dressmaking patterns they have in store for us this year! If you are a sewing blogger or like testing patterns then you can get involved too.

The pattern company Simple Sew patterns only started about two years ago and the inspiration behind the brand is Claire Garside. We asked Claire what motivated her to start designing patterns and to find out more about her sewing journey.

Claire Garside is starting to run stitching lessons from her home in Clifton Road in Prestwich. Her daughter Ruby, aged 4 helps her mum on her own pink sewing machine. Picture PAUL SIMPSON 28th April 2013

“I didn’t start sewing until quite late on, in my early thirties just after my youngest child was two, so nearly 6 years ago, but I started sewing because I had an overwhelming desire, more of an urge really, to create something. Actually I tried oil painting first, which I was hopeless at, then I tried furniture re-vamping which wasn’t for me either, cross stitch was also attempted and one day I was looking online for inspiration and I came across a Cloth Kit girl’s dress kit,  I just really fancied it straight away, it jumped off the page as it was for a beginner, so I bought a cheap sewing machine, the Cloth Kit dress kit and I was away. I became totally addicted from the word go and haven’t stopped since! I take my hat off to the girls at Cloth Kits, I can thank them for kick starting my sewing career!”

Like many beginner sewists, Claire found sewing patterns quite complicated, this inspired her to design patterns that were simple to sew up and ideal for beginners.

“As my confidence grew I progressed onto adult patterns, but I found them very complicated to work out and to be honest, really overwhelming, with all the charts and notations and so many pieces. I couldn’t work out the instructions either, so I decided to get some patterns cut for my own use that would be simple to use. I contacted a trained pattern cutter and the rest is history. I gave her my designs and she converted them into simple to sew patterns. I was chief tester in those early days, because frankly if I couldn’t understand them, then my target market wouldn’t have been able to either. I just wanted other women to be able to experience the sheer satisfaction of creating clothes that fitted them properly in the styles they liked. Also I am quite short at 5’2″, and I find the bigger commercial patterns are often cut for much longer legs and torsos, coupled with a lot of ease. So I decided to cut my patterns based on the average height of women in the UK and I also reduced ease to a manageable amount, so that patterns didn’t have to be amended or resized so heavily by the sewist.”

Designing patterns

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Almost two years ago, Claire’s designs were spotted by the company, Practical Publishing, which publishes Love Sewing and Sewing Made Simple magazines. They asked Claire if she wanted to produce patterns for the magazines and she jumped at the chance. It is with the help of Practical Publishing that Simple Sew is now relaunching their patterns with a new brand and soon to be released pattern collections.

“Honestly, when I started the brand, it was mainly for fun and so that I had patterns that I could use, but when the patterns started going out to so many people I though it would be a good time to utilise the incredible team at Practical and give Simple Sew a facelift!  On the face of it, the illustrations have changed and the website and packaging, but behind the scenes are the biggest changes that I am most proud of. There has been about 12 months of work on the redevelopment of the pattern blocks working with some of the best pattern cutters in the fashion industry. This has been more than a re-brand, it has been a brand ‘re-development’ from the bottom up!”

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With all the resources available as part of a larger company, designs are now visualised, developed, cut and tested in just a month! The patterns are cut from custom made blocks for the brand and sewn up using normal sewing machines to make sure it is easy for homesewers. At the moment you can get the patterns in paper format but PDFs are on their way soon. You can still expect to get free downloads or template patterns with Love Sewing and Sewing Made Simple magazines and previous copies of these are also available on the new website. The new pattern collections are now being created by a design team Claire works with, where they collaborate and pool ideas together to get inspiration for the upcoming releases.

“It is a really exciting way to work after being on my own, I love it when we bounce ideas off each other and create the next collections. It is more often a very noisy and enthusiastic style meeting with lots of cake and tea! There are a lot of people involved, it is really dynamic and I am so lucky to be surrounded by professionals with years of experience and amazing talent. The team consists of the stylists, the art illustrators, the pattern cutters, the seamstresses, the back and front end IT department, and now, we have bloggers on board too. So in all, I would say we have a team of around 17 people plus myself directly involved in the production of the patterns from conception to distribution.”

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New Collections coming soon … 

Simple Sew new pattern collection 6 Simple Sew new pattern collection 5

Simple Sew new pattern collection 4 Simple Sew new pattern collection 3

Simple Sew new pattern collection 2  Simple Sew new pattern collection 7

Simple Sew have over 30 new patterns ready to be released (the Lucille, Trudy and Veronika dresses are already available). They plan to release a new pattern collection every 8 weeks and if there is a design you’d like to see in the collection then do let Claire know. We can reveal that in the next year the new collections will include a new contemporary range, a vintage inspired range and night/loungewear and a yoga/leisure ranges. Claire is designing the collections to fit in and around the diverse lifestyles of the women who inspired her and believes what you wear is a direct personal expression of how you live your life. The Ruby pattern is still their best seller with fitted bodice, high neckline and full skirt.

Sewing Bloggers

If you’ve ever worked on designing new sewing patterns or testing them for indie companies you’ll know that a lot of time goes into the testing process. This is where you can get involved if you have a sewing blog and want to be part of the Simple Sew blogger team. The main ethos of the brand is for the designs to be simple to understand and sew, so even if you’ve only been sewing and blogging for a short while, why not email Claire directly to get involved: claire@simplesewpatterns.com

We thought we’d take a look at some tutorials already available from Sally of Sew Sweet Sally @mrsk06 and Gabby of Living on a Shoe String @livingonashoestring.

Sally has written step-by-step tutorials for the Peter pan blouse, Skater dressRaglan dress, Batwing jumper and Nancy tunic/dress.

Sew sweet sally blogger  Sew Sweet Sally  Sew sweet sally sewing blogger

Gabby has been busy writing tutorials for the Wiggle SkirtBardot Dress and The Classic Trouser.

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You’ll also find on the new site a growing collection of video tutorials for different sewing techniques as Claire is keen for sewists to have a place to grow their skills.

“As a not so distant beginner sewist, the memory of lying awake at 2 in the morning wondering how to  sew a french seam, is fresh in my mind. The hours of trawling through You tube to find the exact answer to my problem. Well, I wanted to create a port of call for sewists, a place of reference and learning and a place where they can find answers to grow their skills and more importantly their sewing confidence. I trained in education at uni and worked as a teacher and as such I am fascinated with teaching people how to do things. This is another big passion of mine, life long learning. Sewing keeps you switched on and the cogs turning!”

We are looking forward to seeing what new patterns are planned for later this year!