Tonight I'm happy to bring you an interview with a very talented designer-- and mom-- who is using her gifts to raise her family and make the sewing world more interesting at the same time. You've heard me reference her a few times in the Easter dress posts, so it's about time I introduced you to the lady I've been blathering on about and also time I clue you in as to why I think she's so cool.
Who she is: Jodi Jean, aka Jocole
Where you can find her: her website, Etsy store, blog, and Facebook page
What she has to say:
Q) Tell us a little more about you and how you got started designing
A)I’ve been designing clothing since for as long as I can remember … if you go back through my notes from high school you’ll find sketches in all the margins and I have a plethora of notebooks just filled with sketches waiting to become a reality. I pursued designing in college at Brigham Young University – Idaho where I majored in fashion design. After college I worked as a patternmaker for a bathing suit manufacturer and then a modest prom dress manufacturer. Now I’m married and staying at home and taking care of my three crazy crazy kids. My pattern collection stemmed from my need to be creative while staying at home.
Q. What is your design philosophy or aesthetic? What are you hoping people will "get" when they see your work?
A) My design philosophy definitely involves easy to wear pieces that can be dressed up or worn everyday, I adore versatility. I hope people see my patterns and want to make things with them and use them over and over.
Q) What inspires you? Design? Fabric? Your adorable kids?
A) My kids definitely inspire the pattern collection – I sew for them and the clothing that I would like to see them wear.
Q) Give us a peek into your creative process. What goes into producing a new JoCole design?
A) All my patterns start with a sketch which is then hand-drafted into a full size pattern. A sample is sewn and I fit it and make changes/tweak if necessary – I make sure to take detailed pictures of each step during the sewing process to add to the sewing instructions. Back to pattern making to draft the pattern into all the different sizes. I then trace the multi-sized pattern onto my pattern grid paper. The grids are then scanned and then I use a graphics editor program to draw the crisp clean digital lines over my hand-drawn lines which are then erased. The image files are then turned into a pdf pattern. Picture editing of the step by step and model photos. I then type up the detailed sewing instructions and add LOTS and LOTS of pictures which is then turned into a pdf file. The pattern pdf and instruction pdfs are merged into one file and sent to my pattern testers who test how well the instructions are written and how well the different sizes fit. I use people who are seasoned seamstresses and novices who are just learning so I know that anyone will be able to use my patterns.
Q) And how do you do that with kids, I'd like to know....
A) Let me tell you this is probably just as hard as you would imagine. My kids are LITTLE … my son just turned 4, my daughter is 2.5 and I have a baby girl who just turned 1 (oh and I’m pregnant again with another girl, due to arrive in the beginning of July). Their playroom is right next to my studio so they play in there or in the backyard and interrupt me constantly. If I’m on the computer we’re in the living room and they are playing while I’m editing photos or typing. It’s always a little bit chaotic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way … I LOVE being able to work and be home with them. I don’t mind stopping the sewing to read a book.
Q) Your Etsy store offers everything from practical playclothes to pretty dresses-- you even remember the boys! Was this wide range of designs intentional or just a happy creative accident?
A) I definitely try to have a wide range of clothing. There are a couple boy things because I have a son and I like to make him things … but there should be more boy things but I have girls on my brain and he is outnumbered.
Q) The pattern design competition on Etsy is getting fierce. What do you think your patterns offer that sets you apart from other designers?
A) It is definitely getting fierce, when I started there was just a handful of us. I try to look and see what patterns they are offering and do something different while staying true to my design aesthetic. There are enough knot-dress patterns out there I promise you won’t see one in my shop.
Q) My personal favorite (so far) of your designs is the Circle Flounce Dress. It is simple yet lovely and surprisingly easy to make. What led you to create that specific design?
A) That is one of my favorite designs too. It actually stemmed from my daughter needing a dress but I didn’t want to fiddle with ruffles and I HATE buttonholes so it uses snap instead. I LOVE that the simple bodice can be easily fancied up with lace, ric rak or other trim and you could easily ditch the circle skirt pattern and just add a ruffle skirt.
Q) What do we have to look forward to from you for spring and summer? My girls do love a summer dress (hint hint)
A) I definitely have some new patterns up my sleeve … a pair of knit ruffle pants, a knit tank with ruffles along the neckline, adjustable suspenders and even a skirt pattern for all you lovely ladies will be coming … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I also just launched a ready to buy custom handmade women’s clothing collection that I am absolutely in LOVE with. Cute and comfortable … you’ll look super stylish but feel like you’re still wearing your pajamas (shhhhh … I promise I won’t tell anyone)
Q) I am sure I'm not the only mama who never touched a sewing machine before she had children. What advice would you give to newbie craftistas? Which of your patterns you would recommend as a "first project" piece?
A) Practice, practice and more practice. Don’t be afraid to try new things … that’s how you learn and get better. I would actually recommend the Circle Flounce Dress, it’s the one I always recommend. Then branch out into knits (I promise you they are not as scary as everyone says … I actually prefer to sew with knits) … and I would recommend the Peasant Knit Tee and the Basic Knit Leggings … super easy but my go-to patterns for my girls.