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Know Me Patterns with Ella & Gwen – The Asian Sewist Collective Podcast
Patterns & Designers mentioned
ME2008 – Ella’s Jumpsuit (Fall 2022)
ME2021 – Gwen’s Bell Sleeve & Bow Dress (Early Spring 2023)
ME2029 – Gwen’s 60’s Inspired Dress (Spring 2023)
ME2033 – Ella’s Colorblocking & Wavy Separates Set (Spring 2023)
ME2003 – Alissah’s Knit Cardigan and Skirt (Fall 2022)
Everything you need to know about: Know Me ME2021 Pattern, Gwenstella Made
Everything you need to know about: Know Me ME2029 Pattern, Gwenstella Made
Ada: Welcome to the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. The Asian Sewist Collective is a group of Asian people from around the world brought together by our shared appreciation for fiber and textile arts, and our desire to see more Asian representation in the sewing community.
Nicole:In this podcast, we explore the intersection of our identities and our shared sewing practice as we create a space for Asian sewists and our allies.
Ada: I’m your co host, Ada Chen, and I’m recording from Denver, Colorado, Denver is a traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples. I’m a Taiwanese American marketer turned entrepreneur and these days you’ll find me running my own natural skincare business called Chuan’s Promise. That’s C-H-U-A-N apostrophe S Promise in sharing my marketing tips on my blog. Most importantly, for this podcast, you can find my sewing @i.hope.sew on Instagram.
Nicole: And I’m your co host, Nicole, I’m based outside of Chicago, the original homelands of the Council of the three fires, the Ojibwe, the Potawatomi, and the Odawa people. I’m a Philippine American woman, a lawyer by day in the sewing enthusiast the rest of the time, you can find me on Instagram at @NicoleAngelineSews.
Ada: We have 16 people on well hello everyone on Instagram. We’re obviously live right now with Gwen and Ella. Gwen Stella made and Handmade Millennial and we’re going to be chatting about Know Me patterns. If it doesn’t look like I’m looking at the phone, it’s because we are also recording on the podcast on our computers. So we’ve got two screen setups here for everyone. And we will be releasing this as a full episode. But yeah, we’re back. We’ve been on a little bit of a hiatus. And today we just decided to do this on Instagram Live and on our podcast. So we’re gonna skip our usual like, what are you working on that we start at the beginning of every episode and get right into introducing our guests who may add it as the month of May. So they are here just in time for us to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. APAHM.
Nicole: That’s right, and we’re back with a special in between episode today in between seasons episode today. And we have Ella Clauson, who is @Handmade Millenial on Instagram. And who was our guest on episode 12 And Gwen Hweng @GwenStella.made and GwenstellaMade.com. Who was our guest on episode 29
Ada: Sorry, I’m like fidgeting with my button again. And so today’s episode is episode 46. So a lot has changed for us since we both had you on and for you guys as well. But most importantly for today we are talking about Know Me patterns, which you’re both designers for So since it’s been a while. Would you mind introducing yourself again to our listeners? Maybe Gwen and then Ella. Yeah.
Gwen: Hi everyone. I’m so glad to be here today. My name is Gwen and I am a freelance content creator DIY slash sewing blogger and designer for Know Me patterns. I was born and raised in Singapore, but I now live in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with my husband, three dogs and a foster dog. So yeah,
Ella: Awesome. Hi, can y’all hear me? Sorry, my audio is giving me drama. Good. Okay, great. Hi. I’m Ella Clauson aka handmade millennial. I am a 30 year old designer and marketer by day sharing some of my makes and sewing progress on Instagram and also on my website handmademillennial.com. I live in Oakland, California, with my husband and my dog and when I’m not sewing which is a lot of the time we’re hiking, cooking, doing lots of other fun stuff. So it is lovely to be on with all of you today. I love the Asian Sewist Collective community. racially I’m half Black and half Filipino. So it’s awesome to get to connect with folks over our shared identity and sewing practice.
Nicole: Well thank you both for joining us today. We love you as well and we’re so excited to have you back. And for those of you who don’t know Know Me patterns is a newer pattern brand, which launched last year and it was created by Mimi G who is the Vice President of Design and brand management for the Big Four now Big Five pattern companies and the idea behind Know Me patterns is that it will represent what the sewing community actually looks like as Mimi G put it you know, quote “because who better designed for us than us” end code.
Ada: So both Gwenn and Ella have designed coming out in the latest Know Me collection which is spring 2023 Which if it had hasn’t hit the shelves yet, in your area, we’ll be hitting it soon. But I’ve seen a bunch of posts, and Nicole holding them up right now that some people are seeing them out in stores and in the wild. So we thought this would be a great opportunity to ask them about their experience as designers for the brand. So maybe we can start with Ella, can you give us a brief overview of what the design process is.
Ella: So I love Know Me patterns, and was so excited to join this brand new initiative, especially when we decided to launch with a full group of 12 BIPOC designers, and then added Gwen in the next iteration as well. And it’s just been such a fun, amazing experience, and to be inspired by and see more designers of color on the shelves in the stores, and to just be in the presence of the whole group. So I’m really grateful. How the design process works is that Gwen and I are both designers, we’re not necessarily the pattern makers for it, right? So we come up with styles and ideas for what we would like to see as sewing patterns, things completely from our mind, from our styles, from the things we see in the world and our lived experiences. We create sketches with lots of detailing. And we send that to a pattern making team at the Big Four, who then take our ideas, and they make them come to life. So those professional pattern makers will use the Big Four bodice blocks to create our styles and then create a mock up, they’ll then send us photos for virtual fittings where I can go through and say like heem on that too deep that has too much ease, you know, like actually imagine the shape going this way. And then they’ll go and take my feedback, come back for another iteration and change that into the pattern. From there, they send us a final pattern that we get to sew up our final samples and take photos for the marketing materials. So I get to take when my husband gets to take the photos that show up on the cover. I’m very fortunate that he listens to my photo direction. Well, I wouldn’t necessarily call him a photographer. He’s more like my handy tripod. But very grateful for him. So anyway, so we get to take the photos that are on the marketing materials that are on the cover, which is also really special because these patterns look different than any other patterns on the market because they’re by the creators of our very own community. And yeah, so that’s a little bit about the process of how it all goes. Gwen, anything you want to add.
Gwen: Um, I would also just want to add, I think I think you’ve described it really well. But you’ve went through the process really well. One thing that I will add is that during the design process, we also talk about the type of fabrics that we already have in mind, when we want to sew up the samples, like what what type of fabric are we designing this style for? Because that kind of affects the pattern making process, as well. So yeah, so that’s another part of the design process. Other than that, no, I can’t think of like, you’ve pretty much mentioned everything
Nicole: Ella you made a really important or interesting distinction between a designer and a pattern maker. I think that it’s really cool that you get to see your ideas come to life. And so Gwen, you have flat pattern making experience, right? What was it like for you, you know, to sketch this process out?
Gwen: Yeah, so in terms of my design process, I try to really focus on having a pattern that is beginner friendly. So in terms of coming up with a design, I try to make a design that I try to come up with a design that doesn’t involve like too many pattern pieces to just to make it less complicated. And one other aspects of the designing for Know Me patterns is also thinking about the design variation that we want in the single pattern envelope right. So usually, like most of us usually have like two design options in the single pattern envelope. And when it comes to thinking about like Okay, so what’s the view B that I want for my design, I my experience in doing flat pattern making for myself comes in little handy. So for example for my spring design, the variation actually ended up being like a difference in the skirt design. One of the routes that I was thinking about during the design process was considering like do I want it to be a sleeveless bodice. But having done some flat pattern making for myself and knowing that a sleeveless bodice block is actually a little bit different from a bodice block for a sleeve design. I decided to go with just like let’s just keep the sleeves the same because personally, I’m pretty like it’s not the about the world to have the same bodice block and have like a sleeveless dress. But personally, I’m pretty picky with like fit. And I know it’s just not going to fit me. And it’s just not going to fit people the same way that I want it to fit. So then that’s kind of like, how it helps with the decision making process in the when designing for the pattern. And also, like the, the main way in which we convey our design is through the sketch, right. And, like, honestly, I’m not very good at sketching, like only I started sketching more with, once I started working with Know Me patterns, and say, if I were to draw a skirt that looks gathered around the waist and flat out around the knees. It could either be something that’s cut on the grain or something that’s cut on the bias. They can be interpreted in like different ways. So having done flat pattern making, I know that that distinction is a key information to kind of convey at the beginning. So then that’s kind of like something that I would try to that’s like extra information that I’ll try to add on top of just the sketch itself.
Ada: That’s a good point. I think going back to the sketches, right. I’m curious, because, Gwen, you do a lot of like, process, “here’s how I did it” Reels. Ella, you do a lot of like, from “design to outfit” kind of Reel. So like, what’s the sketching process like for you? Because you’re not a professional fashion designer? Like no offense? Like, you know, you’re not like out here drawing a croquis every day. So like, are you sketching on a piece of paper? Are you doing it on an iPad? Like, what are you sending over? To actually get to like, let’s say, like, mock up number one?
Ella: Yeah, there’s a couple things that I think about when I’m choosing a design for a certain season. And actually, right now, we’re both thinking about what we want to submit as options for early spring. So this is very important, very pertinent question. I think
Ada: Next year?
Ella: 2024. Early spring 2024. We’re planning for January or February. So right now, the things that I’m thinking about are like, what styles and designs do I feel passionate about? And also designs that I haven’t seen, you know, so there’s things that that, you know, the different elements of design that I know, I really like like recently, I’ve really been into color blocking is a big one, or like Angular lines, or like Angular bust details and skinny straps, like these are things that I know that I’m really interested in, I’ll make a list of those types of things. I’ll think about what designs I haven’t seen on the market that I’d really like to see or what types of features or even sometimes what types of skills that I’d like to see as instructions. And then I spent a lot of time on Pinterest scrolling, what popped up to me what kind of combinations I like to see. And then I’m in Procreate creating sketches, which is an app on iPad. And I have like a little outline of recruit key and I’m doing digital sketches where I’m just like, iterating, like, I’ll make like 20 different sketches before there’s something that I’m like, Okay, I think this is what I feel good about. And then with that digital sketch I’ll then like, see what it would look like with different fabric options and drapes. And so import like photos of like fabrics from like Stone Mountain and daughters website, and like, see what it would look like and what the options are. And then I’ll create like a little kind of pitch deck that I share with Mimi and the folks at DG with like not only my sketch and then lots of details of like I want for hem this much. I want this much ease, like all of those very specific details, but also some like inspiration clips of kind of just like the vibe that we’re trying to approach you know, so not even photos of just something similar to what I’d like but like similar things that kind of encompass the look and feel of what we’re trying to go for so that I can get all of that information across to a professional pattern maker.
Nicole: Gwen, apologies if you’d mentioned this I’m having some audio trouble but Ella mentioned that she works on incorporate propriate Procreate, also known as Procreate. Do you do you do yours by hand digitally as well? Or do you start with like a notebook? What works for you?
Gwen: Um, I am kind of a tactile person. So I like I would read a physical book, but I won’t read a book on Kindle. So like I need I need to like be able to touch the paper. So I like drawing it on paper. And I have like literal croquis template that I use as well. So I trace out the croquis. And then I draw out my sketch. I mean, I call it a sketch, but it’s not like a like like Ada you mentioned like I’m not a fashion designer by training. And I don’t do the very stylized like oh the models standing this way type of sketch but it’s just like croquis 2D hardline sketch. And I honestly I prefer that too. Because with that, it’s basically the pre line art line art. So the like the line art is like the line drawing that you see on the back of the envelope. And I try to, I feel like my process is probably very similar to Ella’s. But on top of that, I also try to add some details that I think would help with the finalizing of the construction. So I would make like for this dress, I mentioned that I want top stitching around the color and has to be like a certain width, and topstitching around the button. placket. So those are the things that I tried to convey in my sketch as well, because I know that that’s what they’re going by to draw the line art and then make the pattern. So yeah.
Nicole: Okay, it’s really cool to hear about the process of designing and let’s turn to your style. So Ella, you’ve talked about this before with Mimi G where your style is something you can dress up or down. That’s practical to wear and you like a lot of dresses, jumpsuits and two pieces. So I think you said you were really bad at basics. So are you designing with someone in particular in mind when you’re working on your sketches?
Ella: Yeah, I think probably someone who’s pretty similar to myself, who’s looking to sew because they want to sew frosting, which is what I’m doing. Yeah, both the patterns that have come out with new patterns are like a very special occasion jumpsuit and then also my like kind of loud colorblock two piece set, which are both like occasion items. So someone similar to myself who’s looking to make something really fun for a cool event or occasion or they just like want to have a standout moment. All stages, all walks of life. Ideally, all body types. My croquis actually doesn’t reflect my body shape. She’s like more of what I imagined it like, forgive me, but like average woman, so a little curvier and a little more so than than I am I’m like a bit of a stick. Yeah, and so that’s kind of what I’m I’m keeping in mind is like the average woman but also just like someone who wants to have fun and so something like creative and exciting for themselves.
Ada: I love how you say that. They’re both frosting. And I’m like literally looking at the envelope of the the jumpsuit right now. And I was like, I don’t think this…I’d wear this on a regular basis when I’m, you know, not doing production work.
Nicole: Maybe we should clarify for folks who don’t know, cake versus frosting because I didn’t know what cake and frosting were besides the things that you consume. So…
Ella: Do you want me to go?
Nicole: Yeah, what is what is frosting and what is cake in the selling contest.
Ella: I don’t know where I’ve heard this, but maybe it was the Love to Sew podcast but it’s kind of just this concept of like you’re either the type of person who sews basics like good things to wear every day you’re sewing T shirts and jeans and things that you can wear often. And then there’s the other type of sewist who gets really excited by sewing for a wedding or you know, like a special event or like some like you know, making a birthday dress that’s frilly and big and that you’re never going to wear again. But it’s just like not practical, but really fun. Which you know, not that my items aren’t they’re not unpractical, but they are like something you were somewhere special to me at least it’s all Yeah, it’s all subjective. But
Nicole: I can see both as everyday as well for myself too. But I am definitely a frosting type person. And everyone else are you frosting or cake.
Ada: I’m Cake.
Gwen: I think I’m frosting. Yeah, but then I I feel like I have a frosting life. Or like I tried to have a frosting life. Like I feel like like this outfit. Some people would think that it’s more of a dressed up look. But I would go to work like this.
Ada: You were getting a lot of frosting. Yeah, we’re getting frosting comments too. But Gwen like, that’s a great way to bring up what you’re currently wearing, which is your spring pattern and then your pre spring pattern, I think in your blog post about the spring pattern, which everyone should check it out because they’re super helpful in terms of going through step by step how to do the pattern and suggestions. But you share some details about how this pattern was influenced by 60s styles. So is there a certain type of sewist or I don’t know event that you’re designing for for folks to be using these patterns for is like kinda like anybody anywhere should be able to wear these.
Gwen: Yeah, I do feel like anyone anywhere should be able to should be interested in trying this pattern. But definitely 60s mod inspired a little bit of 60s Mary Quant, a little bit of 60s Paco Rabanne. I like I, we’ve talked about this in the podcast before as well, like I’m definitely gravitating towards like vintage, inspired retro type of styling. So both of my designs for early spring and spring are actually 60s inspired. So, but they’re, I feel like they’re both like really beginner friendly. Like if you’re just starting to learn to sew, and you want to learn how to like, put sleeves on bodice bodies to skirt, invisible zipper on the back, like, like, it would be great for people who are just starting out to sew and learning how to put a dress together. And along the lines of frosting versus cake, I want to use my pattern as a way to inspire people to think about a pattern a little differently from what’s presented through the line art and the the photos on the pattern envelope as well. So for my I’m just like where’s my I have it prepared. For my early spring design, I made it, I made it in two different versions. That’s what I tried to do for every pattern. So the orange one is a quilting cotton. So that’s kind of like cake for some people I guess. But I know some people might see the bishop’s sleeve as more of a frosting, it’s all subjective, like Ella mentioned. And then the pink version is crepe back satin. So that’s more of like a frosting type, but it’s the same pattern. And I’ve also made another version of this with a little black dress version with organza sleeves. And that’s like, more like I don’t know, cherry on frosting
Nicole: sprinkles sprinkles.
Gwen: Yes sprinkles. And for this spring version, I am also trying to kind of show different ways to make up the pattern too, which is why I came up with this like nautical version of it, which won’t be as clear just by looking at the photos and the line art, but just showing people how you can reimagine a pattern.
Ada: I love that. And we kind of talked about the design process earlier. So like once you send in the sketches, and it becomes an actual pattern, it gets made into a muslin and then you get 2-ish muslin fittings before it’s finalized. So I’m going to open it up to either of you like, can you tell us about that fitting process like Ella, you mentioned giving them notes on like, the ease and the hem and details? But like, who’s sewing the muslin? And how are you communicating? Like, is it all email or Zooms involved?
Ella: I can jump in. I think actually some of the the team are the same as the folks who do McCall’s patterns, I think it’s a little bit of combination. Like a lot of the employees there I think work on multiple brands actually. So it’s the same folks who are professionally pattern making day in day out. That’s their job. It is email feedback most of the time and like sometimes the changes are pretty significant. Like sometimes I’ll get the first muslin and I’m like, that looks horrible. But it’s also just because it’s a muslin, you know, like a drapey dress or something like does not look as good and like a flat cotton as it will in the intended fabric. And then we make changes or like one of the time I actually sew it up. I’m like, Oh, this is great. You know, but it’s just it’s it’s yeah, it’s a funny process to be doing. Just all virtually, but it works really well.
Gwen: Yeah, yeah, sometimes. For me, it’s a bit like, I’m, like, I get a little anxious when I open up the photos and my is it gonna be like how I imagined it. Did I convey my message well through my sketch. And sometimes it’s a bit hard to like, imagine what it’s going to be like with the muslin fabric as well. And yeah, so for me personally, with photos that gets sent back, I would try to take the photos and like, make line drawings to show like no, this has to be smaller, it has to be bigger. So for my early spring pattern, I had to really reiterate that I want the sleeve I want the sleeve to have like a certain width at the bottom because it’s supposed to be a lot more dramatic. You know? So that’s something that doesn’t necessarily convey the same like just through a sketch
Ella: it’s interesting because you know, in our experiences but also in talking to some of the other Know Me designers like our our personal styles, and what we create is sometimes so different than what these pattern makers are doing in their day to day and I’ve heard feedback from like, I think Duana is on here or like Neff, who are like no, I want the collar bigger, like bigger and they just don’t get up you’re like no, BIGGER, you know, we just have to like, really, it’s not what they’re used to. So it’s a little bit different and fresh. And that’s the fun of it is that these patterns are really different than the average of what big the big four is usually doing. And Sarah, I think, also asked a question in the chat, she said is most of the time in the design phase. And for me, I think most of the time was actually in the fitting phase. And it also takes them a little bit of chunk of time to take my feedback, credit it, add it to the patterns, and then sew it and then send it to me. So I think that’s a lot of steps back and forth in there.
Nicole: Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.
Gwen: No, I was just gonna say yeah.
Nicole: So you off, there’s a question. Do you have Sewalongs for your patterns?
Gwen: Yes, we do. We do have our video sewalongs for each of the pattern and they’re on the Know Me pattern channel. I believe it’s Know Me patterns on YouTube. So you can
Ella: look that up. Yep. Every single Know Me pattern has its own.
Gwen: And if you Yeah, and if you have to pattern as well, there’s a really handy QR code. So if you scan that, it should lead you to the sewalongs as well.
Ada: I will vouch for the sewalongs I have not personally made your patterns yet. You I have I have them. I’m just like waiting for the right fabric. But I did make Alyssa’s skirt twice. And the sewalong was actually very, very easy to follow along with and it was really well done. And if you think about it a sewalong like it wasn’t done in the traditional Big Four Big Five way of like, you know, reading the, the, the little black and white thing and like, here’s the sides, it was actually very, here’s how we teach sewing. And here’s how to sew this pattern from an actual person who also sews you know, as a hobby, and not necessarily someone who’s just like flat pattern making and writing instruction. So I thought it was actually a plus for the note. So
Nicole: I think that’s yeah, and I was just thinking that it’s gonna go ahead,
Ella: It’s just another benefit to kind of having like, quote, New Age designers, as a part of this is a lot of us are learning and doing things ourselves through YouTube and through videos. And so it’s natural to also teach others through things like video sewalongs. It’s like something that’s a part of our day to day, so in practice.
Gwen: Yeah, and I think I know a lot of other Know Me designers as well, they show the way that they prefer doing something like what makes more sense to them through their own experience of sewing. So then you kind of get an idea of like, you kind of get to learn, like, learn and see like different ways of putting a garment together and kind of like, figure out what works best for you. Because every everyone works differently. And what’s most important is to like figure out a way that works the best for you that where you can have the most fun and less amount of tears, I guess.
Nicole: No tears, some tears sometimes. But hopefully not. Though, yes, absolutely. And it’s I have not looked checked out the sewalongs yet I have your patterns, and I have yet to make them as well. But you know, I’m looking forward to seeing how that is because sort of seems to fit with the whole ethos of the Know Me pattern. It’s like it’s, you know, with created with us in mind. And so I’ve been looking forward to checking that out, because I’m actually not really a sewalong person, because sometimes I find it to be like, overwhelming and I like to read instructions. And we all know that sometimes big four instructions aren’t as informative. So it’d be nice to hear from you all like how this was going. But another, you know, exciting thing about, you know, Know Me patterns, and the evolution of patterns in general is something that we’ve talked about on the podcast before and that’s, you know, size inclusivity. So Ella, you chatted with Mimi G about it before, and she’s mentioned that big companies like the Big Five don’t necessarily want to jump right into size inclusivity with their legacy brands, but they’re more willing to, you know, with her audience and with your audience. So can you tell us about, you know, how advocating for inclusive sizing has been a part of your experience as a designer and how it impacts the pattern development process.
Ella: I’ll say a couple things. The Big Four is getting better, right, like, especially with Mimi at the helm and bringing in some new changes and a new perspective. Like they’re doing better and smoothing, you know, slowly but surely, right. At least that’s what I like to think. And I think it was as of last spring like spring 2022. They did up the entire size range to some degree and then with every Know Me drop, I believe it’s at least five styles. I want to say don’t quote me on that, but I think it’s five that are within the new updated extended sizing range. And so when MiMi reached out to me personally about this opportunity. And I was like kind of going back and forth and thinking about whether I wanted to do it. And in the contract negotiation stage, I was just considering, you know, like, Okay, this is my moment of power, to speak truth to power, let me just try. And so I made the request that, you know, for something that I wanted to be a part of that I would like it to be size inclusive and go up to at least to 62 inch if not more, and then that’s when she shared with me that size extension is definitely a big part of her focus with the Big Four and something that they’re doing and working on. And so my first pattern was included in the size extended range, which was awesome. And then there’s a few in this, this round, as well. And so I think every season, at least that number will be in the size, extended range, but it’s something that they have on their radar and that they’re aware of. And then the other piece that I’ll share is that it was kind of informal, but like so many people, I think, end up sizing down because of the high amount of ease that are in big four patterns that like even if it says it ends at like a 50 inch hip or whatever, like, depending on how you want your garments fit. Maybe you could still, you know, a 52 inch it could fit into to what’s in there. So that’s like another funny quirk of Big Four patterns in general.
Ada: Yeah, I did notice that on a list was pattern because I cut a small and I think that was the smallest size on the block. And I’m I’m normally in ready to wear I’m a smedium like small medium, firmly, like six, eight, right? US sizing. And I was like, What am I doing here and I was like, right, it’s size to the Big Four bodice block, which when you kind of like go back and look at all your other patterns, it makes a lot of sense that you would have a little bit more built in ease there. So definitely encouraging on that front. Now you both have two patterns out now with Know Me. So two and the current spring collection. And I’m looking at my computer because I have the numbers which are me 2029, which is Gwen’s dress that she’s wearing right now. And then we’ve also got me 2033, which is Ella’s top and pant set with the cool wave design. And then Gwen had a bell sleeve dress in the early spring collection ME2021. And then Ella had that jumpsuit. So that’s me2008. So I’m curious, because you also both just said that you’re working on early spring of next year already. So what kind of timeframe is all of this happening in because obviously you have to submit the design, then you go through that whole process that we talked about, and then you get to the photos for this season or ahead of a season or a deadline for pattern launch, because it has to go to print. Right. So how far back are we working here? Go ahead. Gwen.
Gwen: So yeah, so we are submitting our designs for early spring for 2024. Now and when the designs are submitted, actually, it’s hard to tell like, cause time is like a weird concept. For me. Now, it’s hard to tell like how long it usually takes between submission of design to getting the line art back. Do you Do you know, Ella,
Ella: I think we’re usually at least might be a little late. I feel like we’re usually submitting like eight or nine months before a pattern launches. And then we submit a design and maybe take some time for me to choose which ones are going to actually be included, like not all of the designs I submit are actually chosen, I’ll submit like three each season and maybe one will get chosen or might not get chosen. And then I think by the time we actually start the process, it’s like one to two months later.
Gwen: Yeah, yeah. Like for me on my end, like for us on our end, there are more specific timelines that we have to bear in mind of like, like the moment we get, so we have like all the back and forth with the Muslim fitting and finalization of the implementing finalizing the designs and all that right. Then the moment we get the pattern by FedEx, then we have to start throwing because I believe it’s like a 10 day window, am I right to say that? Yeah. 10 day window for us to work on our muslin. Sew the final samples that you see on the envelope, and take the photos for those photos. So 10 days from the day we get the pattern, then we all stay. So that’s like the big thing that we have to work on, which is like the garments that we show on the envelope. The second big thing would be the video sewalongs um, so that’s something that we will so Okay, so after, let me just backtrack a little so after submitting the photos, then it’ll be quiet for a bit again because there’ll be in the background kind of like grading everything and then printing all the patterns and all that stuff. Then once the patterns are printed, then we get sent a couple of copies through FedEx. I don’t really like why does it sound like a brand…
Ada: They’re like like in a rush to get you these things.
Gwen: Yeah. Okay, so and then, no, I only say that because I will get like a phone notification. I’m like, Oh, it’s coming, you know, so I gotta be ready. Your cancel all my plans Oh, I can’t Okay, not to that extent, but. So then once we get our printed patterns, then we have to start filming the soul. And then we also get like a timeframe, I can’t remember maybe like 10-14 days, something like that, to finish to sew along, so that once the patterns hits the stores, and once people will start scanning QR code, they won’t be like led to a broken link. And that the you know, the sewalong video will be up and ready for people to watch and start sewing.
Ada: We also did get a question from Sarah really quick, will this be recorded it is going to be it is recorded on both here and we’re recording it as an episode so you will see it again. Go ahead, Ella.
Ella: I was just going to add that. For me in particular, somehow these deadlines have been like the worst possible times of my life both times that it’s happened, where Gwen mentioned that we’ll receive the final paper pattern. And then we have 10 days or so until we need to have the garments made and to view sometimes. And then photos sent to the Big Four and both times for me the first time was like It arrived like five days before my wedding. And I hadn’t finished my wedding dress and my mom’s reception dress and I needed to sew two views of this jumpsuit and then take the photos. That was a nightmare. The second time was like I was also doing an all day bra making workshop like like 10-6pm Saturday, Sunday and then I had to so from like 7pm to 2am two nights in a row before I left for Mexico and like I was just like chaos, but those are both like you know, it’s just my own schedule. But it’s it’s a little high stress, high pressure and you know what, ultimately I get things done under pressure so
Ada: It’s panic sewing to the max.
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Nicole: So I think, you know something people notice these patterns like obviously you are on the covers, you do a lot of the content creation. You know, is there been anything surprising about you know doing all of this but for know me as opposed to just posting on your Instagram or your blog?
Gwen: Yeah, just you know, talking along the lines of panic sewing, like I’ve never really done panic sewing, like I’ve been sewing for a long time. But like back when I was in Singapore and I have a full time job as a speech therapist, I have I would have a project that I work on for like weeks and months. So doing trying to finish two dresses in a week. And I usually try to finish it within two to three days so I can move on and work on other stuff has made me realize like how much sewing is actually a physical labor. Like it’s, I mean, like you I mean you read reports about you know, fast fashion and how bad it is for like laborers and things like that. But you just never like I’ve just never really experienced it myself until I’ve had to so on a tight deadline. So that’s something that’s like pretty, I guess pretty surprising to me. Ella What about you?
Ella: That’s a really interesting insight and also I’m proud of you that you never have situations or your panic sewing like me because fairly is just a part of my life with occasions. Yeah, what’s been different? I think it’s it’s interesting having to think about usually I’m sewing garments for myself, right? You know, and I’m just focused on what I want what my preference is. But then now I’m like creating garments and choosing fabrics and styles that are that do reflect me and reflect me at the core, but also are meant for other people, you know. So when I’m choosing the fabrics that will be for the two views of the cover and my sewalong, I’m like trying to think of how I can represent multiple styles and show multiple variations and like, maybe even think about some hacks that I might not be interested in hacking, but I know other people might be interested in hacking. So I guess it’s just that piece of like, creating something that’s meant to go out into the world and for others.
Gwen: Yeah, yeah. And so on top of that, for me to just, you know, like Ella mentioned, thinking about the hack and thinking about the different fabrics that you choose for yourself. I think working with Know Me has also kind of changed my design process and my own content creation a little bit in the sense that like, personally, it’s pushed me to make fabric choices that I usually shy away from. So I talked about how I made the pink dress in crepe back satin, and before that, I’ve only sewn with crepe, like one time. And that dress never even made it to the grid, the Instagram grid, like I’ve never even worn it because, but it’s a long story. So yeah, and then also with the spring drop, I experimented with putting two prints together the floral and the polka dots. That kind of felt a little outrageous in my head and even when I like made a digital version of it. But then I mean it’s like a almost like a once once in a lifetime. Like it’s either I do it now and show people like what’s in my head or I don’t right so so I feel like working with Know Me has kind of pushed me personally in my own creative endeavor, in terms of like picking prints and picking fabrics. And also like professionally in the sense of thinking about designs and showing my some of my designs to the world. So I, I only have like a handful of patterns out. So this hat is one of them is the Orion hat. And when I actually released the design, I didn’t even have a line art for it. But then through the process of sketching, and then having a line art and then understanding how important the line art is. I actually then went back oh, you know what, I think I actually need to draw a line art for my hat pattern. Let’s do it. Um, so yeah, so that’s kind of like how I guess Yeah, I don’t know, I guess that’s kind of like how it’s changed the way I think, and the way I create.
Ada: So I’m hearing panic sewing, I will be sending many more panics, we have extra panic sewing labels. And I don’t know if that was a personal attack on me or not. But I will be sending them both your way. Because clearly, that is part of the process. But also part of the process is just, I guess, furthering your design skills and furthering kind of how you think about design and garment and how they go on bodies other than your own, which is, I think, pretty cool. But a trickier topic, I think is pay. So you’re getting paid for this work, right? And so can you share a bit more about how the compensation works? Like what is the best way for the folks who are tuned in right now who follow both of you, who are interested in these patterns to support you and support your designs?
Ella: Yeah, I can, I can jump in first. So when Mimi brought us on, one of the things that she made very clear in my initial contract conversations with her was that we’re getting the same deal that she got as a licensee. And one of the inspirations for even having Know Me patterns is that she was brought on to Simplicity. And she had the incredibly successful line of Mimi G by Simplicity patterns in that it really skyrocketed her career. And she wanted to be able to offer that to other people. Right. And so she made sure that when we were brought on, we got the same kind of situation setup that she got, which is that we get a flat fee for each style. And then we get a small percentage royalty from each style sold. So if you’d like to support us, we would love it if you’d buy our patterns. That would be amazing. Share them with your friends, and then the other people and then yeah, just get and keep engaged in what we’re doing otherwise. And I also wanted to share too, that I will be launching some of my own patterns later this summer. Just in my general brand name Handmade Millennial. I’ve been taking like digital pattern classes by night for a while, which is exhausting. And I want to bring couple styles to you all outside of the Know Me world so you can support me that way as well. Summer and beyond.
Ada: Love it can’t wait. I’ve already been like mentally designing both of your spring patterns in my head, I just have to, like physically go to a store.
Gwen: I’m so looking forward to seeing it.
Gwen: Um, like, I would just like to add that, you know, like, of course, buying the patterns would be for people who are able, but if you’re not able, like easier ways would be choose for you to like, share your, like, share our content with other people that you think might enjoy it. And if you spot our patterns in the wild and Joann, take a photo and tag us and just you know, spread the word, not just for us, but also for like the all the other amazing BIPOC designers that are online because we know how much inclusivity and diversity matters. And this is, this is, this is something that has never happened before to have so many BIPOC creators come together. And so yeah, so just even just sharing all about stuff. Yes, actually, word of mouth, that all helps.
Ella: And I’ll also say that Know Me patterns is an experiment, you know, like, this is the big four deciding to put its money into uplifting and celebrating BIPOC designers, young designers, people of the sewing community, and just new voices and faces and it’s an experiment and it’s not guaranteed. And so showing as much support as you can for this project is huge. It’s helpful, and we just want it to thrive, we want it to be successful, and to show them that supporting new types of people and voices is a worthy endeavor. So we appreciate your support in any and every way that that you can, you can help contribute, whether that’s just sharing, or buying the patterns or whatever it might be.
Nicole: I just want you all to know that I bought eight of your patterns for
Ada: Did you clear out your Joanne’s?
Nicole: They weren’t out yet. And I was like I called. And then they’re like, I’m still in the box. Can I come in? And and? And look and they’re like, Okay, fine. Yes, go ahead. And, you know, I bought them in both size ranges, because what I’m going to do is like, I’m just gonna give them to friends who sew I mean, it’s just something that you know, and I do buy other the other patterns as well. I have this thing where like to buy things, and I don’t do anything with them, but I swear I’m gonna make them i But like, I’ll both rounds of designs, so far, I’ve bought several from you, you both and then also other designers. And I’m like, This is great, I’m going to sew all this. I mean, I don’t do that with pretty much everything. But um, but it’s, it’s easy to help support this endeavor and to help support you as the designer. So plus one for buying the, the designs if you are able, and then of course sharing all of the wonderful content that you put out, because it’s really great to be able to get this sort of complete package with each pattern, which is very cool. So last last question for the both of you. We’ll start with Gwen, do you have any tips while you know you for using your patterns? You’ve covered some of these in your blog post? Do you mind sharing some of those tips here?
Gwen: Yeah, so I’m just speaking specifically about my spring design, I think you will look really good with like a funky print width for the main part of the bodice and the skirt. And then like a plain contrast for the other bits like the color the button placket and the patch pocket. And for my early spring, the one with the bell sleeves, I really want to see more versions with like a contrast sleeve. So like I mentioned, I’ve made one with organza sleeves. I have plans to make one with chiffon sleeves, but I just haven’t had the time. And I’m bad at panic sewing but yeah, so chiffon sleeves would be like another idea. So really experiment with colors experiments with prints experiments with like fabric types.
Ella: Yeah, I can also jump in on that. I think one of the most important parts is to that now the patterns have the finished garment measurements on the envelope. So definitely take a look at those for your size. And you know, if you have an idea of how much ease you want the cropped shirt to have, like choose your size based on how much ease you want. So be smart about those choices. Of course, also I would I include a lot of helpful information in my summer long videos. So I would encourage folks to at least you know maybe look at the intro or a little pass at the sewalong like for the spring style my curvy colorblocked garment. Sewing curves can be kind of difficult for some folks, it can create like puckers, you’re working with a lot of bias. So I have a bunch of tips in there for the best way to sew curves in particular. So that would be something I would tell folks to pay attention to as well. And then just be smart and you know, research patterns as you normally would. I personally, I mean, less so at lunch, but I personally, whenever I make something, I’d love to see how it looks on other folks. And I’ll open up the hashtag and see like, Oh, I like this new drape your version, or that’s really good and one solid and one print or whatever it may be. I think that’s always kind of fun. And that’s another benefit of sharing too is that when you make something and you share it, you’re contributing to that wealth of information that’s available out there for others as well.
Nicole: Thank you both. And I had not noticed that the finished garment measurements are on all the patterns like that’s a huge deal, because I found that to be really challenging. Because when I first started sewing, I only started sewing the big four. And I was like how am I supposed to know how this is gonna fit? But that’s, that’s a big deal. I love it.
Ella: It’s new I think is the last one or two seasons, they do that across all of the all of the color patterns, I believe.
Gwen: That’s one of the things that Mimi mentioned in one of her instagram videos. Like that was one of the things that she pushed for. Yeah, so yeah,
Ada: That’s they heard us. And they were like, Here you go.
Gwen: Yeah. So I mean, just, I mean, just kind of going back a little bit, you know, about size inclusivity. And talking about like how one of the different ways you can support us, like even if even even just like sharing the pattern and saying that, you know, you wish this was in a bigger size. And then just putting your voice out there so that more people know that people want it in a bigger size. You know, and I was also going to say, Nicole with for you just the act of even just calling up your local fabric store to ask why do you have those patterns out? Because we’ve heard, we’ve heard from a lot of fellow makers saying that they don’t even find it in the local big box fabrics, fabric store. So even just making a phone call and say, do you have this, I’m looking for this, it just helps people on the ground just to know that yep, there are people looking for Know Me patterns. So we have to put them out, we have to make this available.
Nicole: They can stop people like me from digging in the boxes.
Ella: I’ve done that too. I was just gonna add that they get shipped to all stores at the same time. And if it’s they’re not out at your local Joann’s or Walmart or whatever. It’s just because they’re sitting in boxes in the corner. So don’t be afraid to open up those boxes or to request them because they are probably they’re sitting there and they just haven’t put them out yet. So that’s just a tip. I’ve done that at my store. I’ll like do a little merchandising for them and put them put them out. Probably enough.
Ada: That’s how I go up with the envelope like Hey, look.
Ella: I’ve like been curious if they’ll notice, like the first time I rang up and like but I bought like three copies of my pattern because I wanted to give them to folks. And she didn’t notice at all. And I was like, That’s me, by the way.
Nicole: I wouldn’t be like, I’ll take one of these. And another one of these
Ella: because they scan the back, you know, so they might not even cover but the second time she did recognize and then she was just like, Oh, I was I didn’t want to ask anyone to sue him. And I was like yeah, that’s right.
Ada: I love it. I’m just gonna walk into like all the Joann’s I can find and I hate. Everybody knows I’m like, not the biggest fan but I will walk into all of them for both of you and everyone else who’s a Know Me designer should be like, Look, these are my internet friends. And I’m buying multiples of their pattern. I would like to clear out this drawer The reason I asked Nicole Have you cleared it out is because every time I go there’s like less, there’s definitely less than eight in under each, you know, when it’s in the filing cabinet. And like eight like, do we even get that many or are people actually buying them before I get there because I’m not good about physically.
Nicole: I when I had purchased them, they were I was at the register and I got a little bit of a look. Okay, odd because they’re my friends. It’s like I know them. And the the rich person at the register was like, oh, okay, okay. And yeah, so don’t I’m not afraid to call in and that is a helpful thing to know is like for me, I know that I’ve done it for both both launches or not both. There’s been three all the launches. And and every time I’ve had to call but it’s because other people on the interwebs are like hey look, here’s one, here’s Ella. And I’m like, yes, it’s time because I’ve gone there once and then they weren’t out. So yeah, ask, definitely ask for it.
Ada: Okay, the last thing I will add here it was that we used to have this thing and a company that I used to work for, which was like, Do you have a ticket for it? And so to both of your points of, you know, showing that we care, and we want something, the more comments that we leave on like the Know Me, Instagram, not Gwen and Ella’s, like personal Instagrams, although definitely comment and boost their posts there. Yeah. But if you have a complaint, like I haven’t seen it in a store, I can’t find it. Where is this design, or I want a bigger size or wish this came in my size, comment on the Know Me patterns, Instagram, comment on, you know, the big four big five, Instagram so that they see it because that means that somebody working there who manages that account full time is going to see that comment. And then they have proof, to bring it back to the higher ups when they’re doing all the feedback. And they’re reading that, like that is something that I used to have to do in my job. That is something that most business owners have to do. And so obviously, when it comes to bigger companies like this, that’s how we’re getting our voices heard. And I think the mere existence of Know Me is kind of proof that they are listening, and they are trying, you know, it might not be as fast as we want it to be at all times. But definitely keep the comments and the feedback coming directly at the right channels, please. Obviously, we’ve heard a lot about the design process, panic sewing, how all of it kind of comes together, which I think is super interesting. And just kudos to both of you. You know, you are I take back what I said before, you are both designers, you’re designing on croquis like, Fuck fashion school, I don’t really care about cursing. Right? Like, clearly you guys are making something that folks want to see out there and see on their bodies. And so, yeah, I’m really excited that we got to talk to both of you about these patterns. Thank you for being on with us today. Again, everyone go promote their work, share it with others, buy lots of copies of the patterns for yourself and your friends, share them and support. And stay tuned for some more AAPI creators working with Know Me in the future.
Ella: That’s right. It was a pleasure to chat with you all today. Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. And I appreciate everyone who is in the sewing community all of your support as well. Thanks, everyone.
Nicole: I was gonna say yeah. Oh, Aaronica is here. And she had mentioned that the Ella’s new pattern was isn’t in her size. So maybe when they’re digitized. So hopefully again, you know, it doesn’t have to be you that it doesn’t fit, like, you know, use your voice to say, Hey, we should be including the people that are also designing them like they shouldn’t be able to fit all the designers as well. So thanks for thanks for being here today. All the folks on the live and of course Gwen and Ella, and Ada I’ve already met you in person, so no thanks to you.
Ada: Thank you so much for joining us on this week’s episode of the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. If you like our show, please consider supporting us on Kofi by becoming a one time or monthly supporter or by buying our stickers and selling labels. That’s right, we have merch by the labels they are hilarious. Your financial support helps us with overhead expenses and will allow us to give back to our all volunteer team who work so hard to provide you with new content each week. The link to our coffee page is ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective and you can find the link in our show notes on our website and on our Instagram account. Check us out on Instagram at Asian Sewist collective That’s one word AsianSewistCollective. And you can also help us out by spreading the word and telling your friends. We would appreciate it if you could rate review and subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Nicole: All of the links and resources mentioned in today’s episode will be in the show notes on our website. That’s AsianSewistCollective.com And we’d love to hear from you. Email us with your questions, comments or even voice messages if you want to be featured on future episodes at AsianSewistcollective@gmail.com This episode was brought to you by your co hosts Ada Chen and Nicole Angeline. Thank you so much to the other members of our collective who made this week’s episode a reality. This is the Asian Sewist Collective podcast and we’ll see you next week.