Fitz Patterns is a fantastic sewing/pattern site from Australia that allows you to download a range of hip sewing patterns so you can make your own clothes. Their tagline “For making individuals” aligns well with our own DIY self-expression mentality. Lisa Howden, designer and founder of Fitz Patterns, gave us her top 3 pattern picks as I got a chance to talk to her a little bit about sewing and her love of the craft.
NZ: What was your inspiration for starting Fitz Patterns?
LH: I’ve been sewing clothes since I was five – my aunt was a dressmaker and taught me how to sew. I think it started with a little lime-green shorts and bolero set! I was studying an Internet Communication masters course and we had to create a website. I thought I’d combine the three things that I love doing: web, sewing & music.
I work during the day as a web editor on the CSIRO (Australia’s industrial science organisation, www.csiro.au) website and I find doing the site helps me have an appreciation for the organisation and functionality sides of that.
I know you can buy paper patterns online but I found the existing catalogues out of touch with the clothes I wanted and I often found myself at home wanting to make something with the fabric I already had – so, being able to download patterns seemed pretty cool to me.
NZ: Tell me about your passion for sewing or crafts?
LH: Working all day on the computer I find it’s nice to come home and construct something away from the computer screen. I’ve made lots of things: clothes (hoodies, blouses, pants, pyjamas, dresses), handbags, table mats, bean bags, cushions. As with most creative endeavours there’s a few casualties along the way: I tried to cover a three seater couch once – it was a disaster and I handed it over the experts in shame. I’m currently making a set of Pacman cushions for a games mad friend. I usually have three or four items on the go so I can do a little bit at a time. I’ve learnt it is a mistake to think you can cut something out and complete it in time to wear it out that evening. Well, you can and I occasionally still do, but it usually results in some bodginess.
I do clothes a lot mostly, because I live in a city where there is not much in the way of boutiques and because I like to have something a little different. It’s cheesy but there is a fair bit of satisfaction when somebody likes what you are wearing and you get to say “I made it”.
NZ: How is this crafting revolution changing the nature of fashion?
LH: I think at one level a lot of fashion has always been about craft – certainly haute couture is.
At the international designer level there does seem to be a bit of a trend towards a “crafty” look with applique, and patchwork popping up every now and then…
To turn your question around, I think fashion is probably changing crafting. It appears to have had a bit of a makeover lately with a lot of younger hipsters getting in to it – I’ve heard stories that sewing machine sales are increasing for the first time in years. It seems like I see more people modding their stuff but then there has probably always been an undercurrent of people that are don’t want mass-produced stuff that looks the same and people who just like to make stuff.
Home sewing used to be pretty good for keeping ahead of fashion trends but fashion and ready-to-wear stuff is so fast these days it’s can hard to keep up, even if you are making it yourself (apparently Zara can turn around a range in six weeks!). In some ways I think the superfast and supercheap stuff like H&M & Topshop are killing a bit of the D_I_Y mentality because it’s very hard if you value your time, to make a shirt cheaper than you can buy it in these places.
That being said home sewing is no longer about being able to do stuff cheaply, rather about having fulfilling hobby that uses your brain and being able to have something different. This trend of having something different but same could be impacting streetwear fashion: I see that Addidas have just released released the Addicolour sneakers where you get white sneakers with pens and paint to create your own look. I’ve seen things like knitting kits being sold in Sportsgirl (an Australian chain store similar to TopShop/H&M).
Here’s Lisa’s top favorite 3 patterns from her Fitz Patterns site:
Debbie (http://www.fitzpatterns.com/Pages/DEBBIE/DEBBIEPatternPage.htm) is one of the first patterns I made for the site and it is probably due to be updated but I still like it. It’s super simple and I like to think it has a bit of a Debbie Harry/Steven Sprouse feel about it!
Tonia (http://www.fitzpatterns.com/Pages/TONIA/2114_Tonia_Cape_Main.htm) because it’s a cape! Who’d of thought capes would come back? They have and they look hot. I blame Helena Christensen, I think she started it. It’ll be deerstalkers all round next winter I’m sure.
Lars (http://www.fitzpatterns.com/Pages/LARS/Lars_Patternpage.htm) because I like men that can sew and don’t give a f* about what other people think. It’s like building or woodwork – there’s a plan and you need some skill to put it together, man ;)