I first heard about True Bias patterns when Kelli released her first pattern last year – the Hudson Pant were an indie sewing phenomenon, and it seemed I was about the only woman who hasn’t sewn a pair yet (and believe me, they’re still on my To Sew List for someday!). I’ve had the privilege of talking to Kelli to find out more about her sewing, aesthetics, and what’s up next, so read on to find out more about the lady behind the label… – melissa
Kelli in her Hudson Pant pattern
You kept a sewing blog for quite a few years before starting True Bias – what was the impetus for starting a pattern company?
Yes, I started my blog about 3 1/2 years ago. When I started it, I always knew that it would somehow turn into a business for me, I just wasn’t sure in what way. I was new to motherhood, having an identity crisis, and needed something to work towards. I was passionate about sewing and the community, so it made sense to focus my efforts there. I entertained the idea of a fabric store for awhile but it didn’t stick. I knew of a few independant pattern companies at the time and loved what they were doing. I had taken a couple of patternmaking and draping classes in college, but I knew that I didn’t have the skills yet to start a company. It wasn’t until after moving to NYC and starting classes at FIT that my confidence and abilities grew. My first pattern, the Hudson pant, was a huge leap of faith for me. And it was super slow at the beginning and scary. I wasn’t sure that this was all going to work, but it did and I am so glad.
What’s the single biggest lesson you learned so far?
Don’t worry about what other people are doing, just be true to yourself. This is SO hard though. The indie pattern market has become very saturated and we are all influenced by the same trends to one extent or another. This means there is going to be some overlap. There have been multiple times when I have seen a sneak peek on instagram of another designer’s pattern and I have had a total freakout because it looks similar to something I have been working on for months. It’s scary because you don’t want it to appear that you are copying, but in the end you have to be true to yourself and your own ideas. Like I said, it’s really hard though.
You’ve recently moved to New York City, which must be amazing for fabric and haberdashery shopping – where are your favourite places to shop in the Garment District (or beyond)?
I feel like fabric shopping in NYC is awesome and horrible at the same time. Like you mentioned the Garment District is so fun to visit and shop. It can be overwhelming though and expensive. It’s perfect for shopping with out a purpose, but not good if you just need some cheap fabric for halloween costumes or sewing patterns or something. Also, kids plus the garment district do no mix. I do have some favorites for sure though. For a more extensive list check out my post here, but off the top of my head I would say that Grayline Linen, Chic, Mood, and Metro are my go tos for fabric.
It’s really unique that you’ve released each of your patterns for both women and children. Do you take both sizes and body shapes into account when you’re thinking of new pattern ideas, or do you tend to design for women first and then “downsize”?
I definitely design with women in mind. That is my focus for sure. I usually start thinking about the kids version halfway through the process for the women’s design. I always give myself the freedom to take a lot of liberties with the kids version to make it age appropriate so that makes it easier.
Kelli’s daughter modelling the Mini Sutton Blouse
What does your daughter think of the clothes you make her? Is she part of the design and testing process?
My daughter is a big part of the testing process as well as my son. They are my size 6 and 2T fit models right now. I think my daughter is actually pretty spoiled when it comes to the fact that I can make her whatever she wants. Right now she will only wear dresses so she won’t wear the mini hudsons that I make her, although I have some special fabric put aside for this fall that I am hoping she will be more into.
What’s your favourite sewing technique at the moment?
Oh that’s a hard one. I’ve done a few exposed zippers lately that have been really fun. There are a few different ways to do it, and I’ve tried multiple, each which gives a slightly different effect. I just like that it adds a bit of edge to an otherwise simple garment.
Kelli in an LBD with exposed zipper
As we move into Fall in the Northern hemisphere, many sewists are planning out their fall and winter sewing for the next few months. What’s in your personal sewing plans, or do you tend to take things one project at a time?
I haven’t done a lot of planning for the fall/winter just because so much of my time has been taken up with my next pattern. That being said, I do have a couple of things on my want list. I am currently working on another pair of Carolyn PJs because I love my first pair so much. I also have a plaid Archer that I cut out last year that I am aching to sew up. I’ve been eyeing Tessuti’s Sydney Jacket ever since it was released and am on the lookout for the perfect fabric for that. Also, I am going to try my first ever crochet project with this Malikoo video tutorial of a cocoon cardi called the Canyon Shrug from Two of Wands.
Say you’ve got an entire weekend, to yourself, with no commitments or distractions – how would you spend it?
Sewing for sure. I am lucky enough to love what I do and I feel like I never have enough time to balance it with raising my two kids. It’s so rare that I get hours of consecutive, uninterupted work time that I crave it. I would probably add in a trip to the garment district, some ice cream, and some netflix. Sounds like an amazing weekend.
What’s next for True Bias – any upcoming projects or patterns you’d like to talk about?
I am working on two patterns right now. The first one is a women’s pattern. It’s called the Roscoe Blouse and Dress and it is boho inspired. It will be released the first week of October, so really soon. Also, it’s no secret that I have been working on a men’s version of the Hudson pants. I have had so many requests for it that it’s about time. It will be released sometime in November so that there is plenty of time to sew it up as holiday gifts. And that’s it for me as far as pattern releases for this year. The rest of my sewing time will be dedicated to personal sewing projects.