We all have sewers and designers we love and admire. Most of the time we wish we could meet them personally, but sometimes they live a world away! We are hoping to feature some of our favourite blogging sewers and designers on a regular basis on Quick Need.
For the first interview I had the an amazing chat with Linda Wilson. Linda is a popular blogger from Remake Remodel Recycle. I love how she remodels vintage clothes to suit her own style. Linda also pattern cuts and makes samples for independent fashion designers. The hints and tips she gives help me to produce better garments.
I hope you enjoy the interview:
For our readers who haven’t yet heard of you yet, can you tell us about yourself?
I sew all the time, for others, for myself, for tiny projects and for full collections. I love the fact that I’m still learning. Over the years I’ve been a designer/pattern cutter in industry, technician and pattern cutting tutor. I won’t go into too much detail here because I have written so much on my website, I’d be repeating myself?
What is your location?
How long have you been sewing? How did you get interested in sewing?
I’ve been sewing for about 40 years starting with tiny little creations for my Sindy doll! And before that I loved to get my weekly fashion fix from the “Bunty”.
What was your best sewing-related experience? What was your worst experience?
One of the best would be taking my Marks & Spencer addicted mum into the store to show her one of my designs that had become a girls wear bestseller (this was in the 80’s). Worst experience was getting a pocket wrong for a sample machinist in a tiny little factory in Glasgow (also the 80’s, but earlier). Now I enjoy making samples, for other designers, and love seeing them exhibited in whatever form!?
Who inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by all things vintage, for me as a student I was wearing 40’s and 50’s. It’s great, and scary, that the years move on by and to see what’s vintage now!
What fashion style do you personally identify with?
I never wanted to dress like anyone else. My parents used to be mortified but now they see lots of self-expression, it took them a while to catch up! But now, let’s say 50 is the new 40, I still don’t conform to what others wear, but wear what suits me, without it looking too young.
You spent many years buying clothes from charity stores to alter. Since fabric is easier to obtain now (locally and online), do you prefer making your clothes from scratch or altering store-bought clothing when starting a new project?
I always enjoyed doing both or all methods. When I was younger I dressed out of charity shops because it was the ”look” I wanted, it fitted in with the music I liked and the indie nightlife. I went a bit posher for industry but with all the spare fabric there, it was too tempting not to make garments to wear. There were times over the years when I just did not like or suit what was available in the shops, and time and time again this is when I would go back to making for myself.
When I buy from a high street store I will often tweak, shorten, or buy something for the fabric and recut it. When buying from charity shops I do exactly the same thing. I often alter things in my wardrobe, like sleeves becoming bow necks, so saving it from recycling but giving it a new look. But remember while I was making these items for myself, I was also teaching pattern cutting and techniques to students for 15 years, so this was fun time for myself.
There are fabrics to buy locally and online and I do buy locally, but the range is limited. I don’t buy fabric or clothes online because I can’t feel the fabric, I know enough about fabric types to guess, but haven’t ventured there yet!!
How long have you been drafting patterns, both for yourself and for sale?
I have been drafting patterns since 1980, my first year at Edinburgh College of Art. Then for industry, then teaching and now for independent designers in Scotland.
What made you decide to release your very first sewing pattern? Was there a specific ah-ha moment?
I have never wanted to sell my sewing patterns. I am happy to draft one off patterns for the people I do regular work for. I would like not be stuck in a world of pattern grading.
Some designers have a cause that has motivated them to design or support. For example making sexy lingerie for women who have mastectomies. Do you have a special motivation?
I am obviously a fan of recycling, something I started to do for myself before I realised there were so many refashioners and upcyclers out there already. I’d like to be involved in sewing tutoring with Remade in Edinburgh, but I think they’re just starting up and I’m going to have to spend some time chasing them.
Do you think formal qualifications (university degree) are needed/necessary for drafting and selling patterns? Do you have a formal qualification?
I learned more in industry than at college, however by the time I was teaching I was learning more and more and giving more pattern and making advice than I had ever received. Working in industry meant I learnt a lot about the technical side, which I enjoyed, and Marks & Spencer had particular requirements that had to be adhered too.
What advice would you give to someone interested in being a fashion designer?
Go for it, but it’s really hard work and colleges are taking in more and more students so apply yourself to the best. Or do it all online, I only started my blog this year and until then I was completely unaware of all the fashion /patterns to try/ sewing classes etc that exist, it’s like another world!
What advice would you give to someone just starting to sew their own clothes?
Try everything and anything, start simple, but make it to be worn by yourself or someone otherwise it seems like a waste. Follow tips and techniques, there are so many, including mine, but they are a good reference. Go on courses, or just experiment for yourself! Once you find a pattern you like working from, hack it, or as someone my age would say alter it! In sewing putting pieces together in the right order makes it easy and sewing itself is practise, practise and more practise.
What plans do you have for the future?
I will carry on doing what I do, I enjoy the garment sample making so would be happy to expand on that if anyone needs samples made (nothing wedding related though). I created the website to pass on tips and techniques that I have picked up and developed over the years.
Where can you be found online? What are your social media accounts and website? Are you interested in meeting up with other designers?
Website: Remake Remodel Recycle
Facebook: Remake Remodel Recycle
It would be a pleasure to meet up with other designers.
I want to thank Linda for her absolutely wonderful interview.
It has been an absolutely wonderful chance to learn about herself and her roots. I certainly have been inspired to pull apart those first few sewing patterns that I made that never fit and try to make something uniquely mine; I was always too sentimental about throwing them out, so they just collected dust.