Friday, April 18, 2014

Curvy Colette Plus Size Blog Tour: Interview With Alyson Clair

Good morning, friends! As promised, today's stop on the Curvy Colette Blog Tour is focused on the brains behind these lovely patterns: Alyson Clair and Sarai Mitnick.

The Mabel and the Moneta are not only Colette's first patterns for knit fabrics, but also their first with an expanded size range. We thought it would be fun to peek inside the creative process behind these new offerings, so Alyson and Sarai graciously agreed to answer some questions for us. Thanks, ladies!

Today on Idle Fancy, I'm chatting with knitwear goddess, Alyson Clair, while Jenny is hosting the lovely Sarai Mitnick over at Cashmerette. Check out both interviews and let us know how you're enjoying the Curvy Colette Blog Tour!

Mary: Good morning, Alyson! We're so excited about these two designs and fascinated by the creative process behind them.  What were your main sources of inspiration for these patterns?

Alyson: My main sources of inspiration are always classics that can live in your wardrobe for a long time, and also be very versatile. When I'm designing a pattern I try to think of all of the different bodies that may wear it, and how to make it flattering on a variety of them. I'm also a fan of fancy, and comfort. There is no reason you can't have both.

Mary: We're so excited about the inclusive size range of these patterns! Could you describe a bit of what is involved, when fitting an expansive size range?

Alyson: When doing a size range of this scale, it is best to have 2 bases. This is important, as body proportions can change a lot from one end of the range to the other. We fit on a size Medium and a size 2XL live models, and also Colette Patterns now has dress forms of both of those sizes. . So it's double the work from a regular pattern or style, but it is so important to do it right! I'm a super big patternmaking nerd, so it was an exciting challenge to work on this. I'm very happy with how the patterns turned out, and I really think people will enjoy them.

Mary: Your own clothing line, Clair Vintage, is known for chic knitwear. How did you begin designing with knits?

Alyson: I actually did not sew until I got to college. I cursed my way through sewing with wovens in classes. As soon as I learned to sew on a serger with knits, it was magical. I find knits are easier to sew, much more forgiving, and easier to fit. I also looked at what was in my closet. 95% of my wardrobe is knit, and knits are what I am most comfortable wearing. So it was natural as I started making clothes to sell, it was with knits. There is so much fabric variety, it never gets boring. I also really enjoy patternmaking with knits, and love things with spandex.

Mary: It must be a very different process, designing for home sewists versus designing for your own line! What were your favorite parts of this project?

Alyson: Yes it is very different, but it has been really fun! Sometimes I feel like I speak a different language with commercial sewing vs. home sewing, since I spent 4 years working a factory. So I've learned a lot of things in this process, and love it. My favorite thing is all of the variety and options that can be done with the patterns. Working on a clothing line, you make many of a style and have to be concerned with sewing time, fabric costs, and embellishments. Home sewists can do whatever they like. I am so excited to see all of the variations and creativity that will come out of these patterns.

Mary: So many sewists are still afraid to try out knit fabrics. What are the biggest advantages of sewing with knits?

Alyson: If I can sew with knits, so can you! It's just different from wovens, from the way the fabric behaves, and how it is handled when sewn. Have patience, practice, and hopefully fall in love with sewing with knits. There are many advantages to sewing with knits. My favorite one is comfort. My body fluctuates in size a bit, and I like to know I can have 15lb up or down, and still be ok fitting into the majority of my clothing. Knits allow you to move freely, stretch with your body, and be comfortable. Also, a good majority of the time, the sewing time is not as long.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Alyson! You make knit fabrics sound like such fun to work with! I had a blast sewing up both of these patterns and can't wait for more knitwear options from you and Sarai. 

Readers, I'm curious, how many out there are newbies to knits? Are you excited to give these wonder fabrics a whirl, now that they've been demystified?  If you are interested in trying out knits for the first time, Alyson's new e-book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, is now available. There's no better expert to have at your side, while you sew up the Moneta and Mabel. 

Also, don't forget to pop over to Cashmerette and check out Jenny's interview with Sarai

Curvy Colette: A Plus Size Blog Tour

Wednesday, April 16th: Jenny at Cashmerette
Thursday, April 17th: Mary at Idle Fancy
Saturday, April 19th: Laurence at QuirkyPrettyCute
Monday, April 21st:  Tanya at Mrs Hughes
Tuesday, April 22nd: T at UandMii
Saturday, April 26th: Sophie-Lee at Pins & Noodles
Monday, April 28th: Mary at Young, Broke and Fabulous 

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