Interview: Deer & Doe sewing patterns

I'm so very happy to have Eléonore on my blog today, with her spanking new sewing pattern line, Deer and Doe. I'm a huge supporter of this lovely French girl who I had the pleasure to know a little better thanks to her brilliant new project. I hope you'll enjoy a peek in her world!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? When did you start sewing?
My name is Eléonore, and I'm a 25 years old girl living in Paris with my boyfriend and my lazy cat. Beside sewing, I love drawing, photography,  and sciences :) .
I started sewing when I was studying computers engineering in Toulouse seven years ago, and it grew from a hobby to a passion! I graduated in computer sciences, and for the next 4 years, I worked as a web developer, growing my sewing skills on the side and creating a French sewing community.
And now I've taken the big leap to become a full-time pattern designer!

How did you start Deer&Doe? How did you choose the name?
My work as a web developer was taking me more and more time and energy, and I was slowly giving up on all the things I love (sewing, managing my community, developing my creativity). I wasn't really happy, and one day I woke up and decided I couldn't be like this anymore!
I've always wanted to start my own creative business, and I saw a real need for modern, fitted and easy-to-sew patterns among French seamstresses (the independent sewing patterns industry is not as developed here in France as it is in the US). It was really scary because it was a total career change and I knew it would be a LOT of work, but with the support of my family and the encouragements of my friends I took the plunge !
I knew from the start I wanted to convey a relaxed, stylish but nature-conscious vibe. I have a special thing for forest, and being in the woods gives me such peace and serenity, so I chose a symbol linked to fashion and to nature : the deer and the doe (and the duality of the name flatters my inner Gemini ^^).

Do you have formal training (art, design, sewing, etc.)?
I have a master degree in computers engineering, so I was destined to a very different career ^^. When I first started to think about creating my own patterns, I talked about it with a designer friend, who taught me pattern making was in fact geometry.  I realized it wasn't very different from the problems I used to solve in school, so I bought and borrowed a lot of books about pattern making and nerded my way into pattern design ! I love to learn new things, and I'm constantly looking for new techniques to master :)
I've also been doing design and illustration during my spare time, and it helped me a lot to master the softwares needed for pattern drawing and grading.

What are your main sources of inspiration? Your favorite designers or style icons?
At first, I tried very hard to find specific sources of inspiration (style icons, actresses, making moodboards with pieces of fabric and fashion sketches), but I found that "doing it by the rules" was not working for me.
So now I just have a huge Pinterest board named "Style" where I pin everything I like (fashion shows, ready-to-wear, fashion bloggers outfits, pictures of friends, old magazines). Basically, I try as much as possible to draw garments I want to wear (and would wear everyday), and not to be too influenced by what I think other people want.

Where do you see your pattern company in the future?
I've just opened my shop (and have received so much support already through the blog, Facebook and Twitter! Thank you!), but my dream is to be able to make a living selling my patterns! (and -let's dream- be able to hire an assistant and create employment in my community!)
For the moment, the patterns are in French only, but I plan to translate them to English as soon as possible! And I'm already working on a spring/summer collection :)

Do you still sew for yourself?
I don't exaggerate when I say that starting a pattern company means sewing A LOT (and sadly not for you!). I've managed to sew some garments for myself during the summer, but being made from my patterns they couldn't be shown before september... how frustrating! But I plan to sew a lot of variations for me in the next months, and also  to continue discovering other independent pattern designers! (I love the special care all indie designers put in their products).


Thanks, Eléonore!
I don't know about you, but I've been in love with these designs ever since I saw them a month ago (I was lucky enough to have a little preview), so I snatched them all as soon as they were available.
If you don't speak French, you should know that the instructions of these patterns are heavily illustrated, so it shouldn't  be too big of a problem if you have some sewing experience. They will be translated into English eventually, but you'll need to wait a little longer because Eléonore is still working on it.

Finally, Eléonore has a present for you: a giveaway!
If you want to win a Deer and Doe pattern, just comment below telling me which design is your favorite (you can take a better look at them here). Mine is definitely the Bleuet dress, the perfect shirt dress with adorable details that I've been wanting for ages!

The giveaway closes Wednesday, September 26 at 12 pm GMT, the winner will be selected at random.  Please remember to leave your email address.

Good luck!

Interview: Charlie's Aunt

Hello, there! I have a new guest today, the extremely talented Emma from Charlie's Aunt. I fell in love with her bag designs and she was kind enough to share a few words about her and her work with us.
I'll see you back at the end of the week with my first Me Made May recap! :)

Introduce yourself: tell us something about where you live, your origins, hobbies, etc.
I live in Suffolk, a rural county in East Anglia, England. I was brought up here but later moved to Australia, where I lived for about nine years. I have dual British and Australian citizenship and would describe myself as vintage British with Aussie attitude. I love the British countryside, tea and scones, and quilted jackets, but I adore the openness and humour of the Australian people.
My hobbies include running four times a week, and making jewellery (although not at the same time!). I also play the oboe and piano.

High Tea Clutch

How did you start your shop, Charlie's Aunt? How did you choose the name?
I am a journalist by trade and I work for a regional daily newspaper (The East Anglian Daily Times) by day. I dreamt up the idea for Charlie’s Aunt while I was living in Australia. It all began after I wrote my first book, "Making Vintage Bags", which contained my own retro-inspired patterns for 20 handbags. The book has since gone on to sell more than 50,000 copies and is one of the publisher’s bestselling titles.
Because it was clear from the reaction to the book that people quite liked my handbag designs, I decided there would be a market for patterns. I have always been fascinated by sewing patterns – the diagrams, words and templates – and the way flat pieces of fabric can be turned into a fully functional three-dimensional or wearable item. After many years of making/selling clothing and accessories and tinkering with different ideas, I think I have finally found my calling. I started the business on money I earned from the day job.
The business is called Charlie’s Aunt because I have a nephew called Charlie. We lost Charlie’s mum, my sister Sarah, to breast cancer in 2002 when Charlie was just six years old. He is a big part of my life and very important to me. Sarah used to model my designs – she was beautiful on the inside and out – so it seemed fitting to name my business after her offspring. I have not been fortunate enough to have any children of my own, so being Charlie’s Aunt is the next best thing.

Anglia Bag

Do you have formal training (art, design, sewing, etc.)?
I have formal training as a journalist, adult education teacher and musician but no art or design qualifications. It all comes from my head and heart. My father was academic but also extremely creative. His mother used to make clothing for all eight of her offspring during WWII without using a pattern. I guess pattern design and sewing is in my blood. I have Ann Ladbury’s "Guide to Simple Pattern Cutting" to thank for my early technical know-how. 

What are your main sources of inspiration? What are your favourite materials to use?
My inspiration comes from vintage clothing catalogues such as Sears, old sewing patterns, and traditional British fabrics. The woollens and tweeds that I favour for my bags are not to everyone’s liking but to me, they are an integral part of the design. Most pattern designers sample in patchwork or quilting fabrics, where I favour the more rustic wool plaids, tweeds, corduroy, moleskin and linen cloths. As I said, although some might find these a little dull, I am totally in love with tweed and at least it makes my patterns stand out in the crowd.

Casablanca Clutch Bag

Do you have any advice for who sells or wants to sell online?
Selling online has been largely successful for me. I have an essentially “niche” product and the internet enables me to reach customers all over the world, which is absolutely necessary when selling such a niche brand. 
However, on the downside, I would have to say that you have to constantly keep reminding people your shop is there, either through blogging, social networking or endless self-promotion! That side of it I find quite challenging, but if you have a good product and heaps of enthusiasm for it, you can’t go far wrong.
One piece of advice is to make sure you charge accurate postage fees in your listings because you can easily get a shock when you arrive at the post office with a parcel. I posted some fabric to the US once and it cost $40 to post! I had only charged the customer $10 … and he didn’t even bother to say thanks when it arrived! Not good for business.

New Patterns available at Salme Patterns

Last week I visited Elisa's shop almost by chance and... what a nice surprise! Many new, beautiful patterns! They are all very coherent with Elisa's previous work: clean, simple lines with trendy details. I couldn't resist and purchased a couple... Which are your favorites?

Cut out shoulder dress - So very in trend!

Peplum skirt

Minna blouse 

Colorblock t-shirt
Gathered top
Yoke blouse
Maija dress for children -
I SO wish this pattern was for adults too!