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Chatting Burnout, New Patterns, and Career Changes With Sew Love Patterns

by Polina K
Johanna from Sew Love Patterns sitting on a high chair

At Good Fabric, we love sitting down with fellow sewing enthusiasts and chatting about our one true love – sewing! It’s even better when that enthusiast is a business owner, too. So, when we had the chance to speak with Johanna of Sew Love Patterns, you can bet we jumped at it! An experienced pattern cutter from London, Johanna was ready to talk about career changes, advice for young designers, and what you can expect to see in the future from her modern sewing patterns.

Sew Love Patterns is a sewing pattern company with a focus on ethical, sustainable design. After years spent cutting patterns for large companies and eventually setting up her own studio in East London, Johanna has plenty of expertise to bring to the sewing table. Now, Sew Love Patterns offer a wide range of feminine, timeless pieces directly to fellow sewists, encouraging everyone to sew their wardrobe from scratch, the ethical way.

We sat down with Johanna to discuss the ins and outs of her career journey and learn a little more about what’s on the horizon for Sew Love Patterns. Take a look at the full interview below.

johanna from sew love patterns

Having pivoted my own career from fashion production manager to fabric shop owner, I’m always curious as to what caused a career change. What led you to go from in-house pattern cutter to creating your own studio and, in turn, Sew Love Patterns?

I’ve always looked for a sense of freedom and growth in what I do. Working as an in-house pattern cutter was a fantastic learning experience, but at a certain point, it felt limiting, so creating my own studio with my own clients was a natural expansion. I loved having my own space to work in and being able to work directly with the client.

After running my own pattern-cutting studio, I took an extended sabbatical which I spent travelling the world visiting different meditation centres. This was inspired by feeling burnt out by the speed of the fashion world and the intensity of juggling lots of different deadlines.

When I finished my sabbatical, I wanted to work at my own pace and more creatively, whilst still using my pattern-cutting skills. Starting my own brand creating modern sewing patterns felt like a good move! Now, I get to work on my own designs at a speed at which I can enjoy the process, which I absolutely love.

joelle dress in pink by sew love patterns

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Knowing what you know now about the fashion industry, would you take the same path?

Oh, definitely. It’s been a great progression to grow my skills and expand what I’m doing. I haven’t been afraid to change things up and that’s given me a lot creatively.

Many of our customers are fashion students, so what advice would you give to young designers who are about to embark on this journey?

Slow down and have good boundaries! The fashion world is about speed and consumption. When I worked for fashion brands there was often a culture of long hours and demanding deadlines, with little thought to the sustainability of how things were being produced. The new generation can change that.

sew love patterns springe jumpsuit in cobalt blue

We know you have a soft spot for bridal-inspired dresses and jumpsuits. Would you ever create a Sew Love Patterns bridal range?

I would love to. At the moment I’m still building my customer base and I think that bridal is more niche, but I’m definitely open to doing that in the future.

We share your love for sustainable fabrics, and we can’t not ask you a question about fabric. There are so many amazing fabrics that are just a pleasure to sew with, but as part of the learning process, we would love to know which fabric is your nemesis?

When I worked only as a pattern cutter, I mainly sewed with calico which I find is the absolute easiest to work with. So any fine, slippery fabrics such as silk are a challenge to me! That’s why I love viscose materials. They have a heavier structure that I find easy to sew with, but also have a lovely drape and are super breathable.

As a business owner, you wear many hats – from designer to customer services, web developer, digital marketing, accountant and any other task that’s required to run a business. Can we get an insight into your typical day running Sew Love Patterns.

It’s about a three-month process to develop a new modern sewing pattern, so my day can change depending on where I am in that process. I usually start the day by checking my emails and then doing any marketing, such as scheduling Instagram posts or writing a newsletter. Once all the admin is done, I will be either drafting patterns, sewing samples or writing sewing pattern instructions.

Many business owners struggle with boundaries. We work weekends, nights, and all day every day. Do you have any pearls of wisdom on how to keep sane and avoid burnout?

I think the most important realisation I’ve had is that I can’t do everything that I want to do. There just isn’t time. So, I often work out what is the least I can do, and then anything on top of that is a bonus. I also try to keep off social media at the weekends and evenings, which isn’t always easy!

sew love patterns springe dress

I love this hypothetical question: if money was no object and you had all the resources you would need, what would be your next business move for Sew Love Patterns?

I would immediately hire a Social Media Manager and a Seamstress!! If I could do that it would free up more time for me to do pattern cutting, which I sometimes feel I don’t do enough of.

Then I would consider doing made-to-measure occasion wear. At the moment all my customer contact is online and I do miss doing fittings and working one-to-one with clients, so it would be great to do a little of that again.

Can you give us a hint as to what your next sewing pattern will be?

My next sewing pattern will probably be a jumpsuit/playsuit based on a similar bodice to my last pattern release, the Chloe Dress. I have a few other patterns in development, but I think this one will be ready first.

sew love patterns chloe dress

Thank you so much Johanna for speaking with us! We think there’s some really great advice here for fellow sewists and business owners, and it was a pleasure learning more about what goes on behind the scenes at Sew Love Patterns. Be sure to take a peek at the beautiful designs Johanna has created over on her website and fall in love with her gorgeously feminine dresses and jumpsuits.

If you take the plunge and purchase one of her modern sewing patterns (always a good investment!) then make sure you stock up on your sustainable materials at Good Fabric. With natural fibres and Lenzing tencels, we have every eco-friendly fabric you need to bring Johanna’s designs to life.

For plenty of bitesize sewing tips and lots of sustainable fabric inspiration, be sure to follow us @good_fabric_store over on Instagram. We can’t wait to connect with you!

by Polina K

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