T.E.S.T. Interview: Loulou James Creative Studio

We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 41st in our series with Tracy of LoulouJamesCreative

Why PDF maternity patterns on Etsy?

When I was expecting my older son I started sewing a lot again. I was making and modifying clothing for maternity wear, decorating the nursery, and making baby items. I found it frustrating that there were hardly any maternity sewing patterns (let alone nursing wear) and the options for little boys' items in particular were limited. I would just drool over the lovely things on Etsy but there wasn't really anything for me to make, and I knew there were sure to be other crafty types out there with the same dilemma. So the entrepreneurial side of me decided to create and sell my own! I was used to buying traditional printed patterns, but I love the instant gratification of a downloadable PDF - when I want to make something I want to start now!

Tell us a bit about your fashion design background.

I have been making clothes for myself and others for as long as I can remember. I would use store-bought patterns and modify as I wanted. I moved to Toronto almost 20 years ago to study fashion design at Ryerson where I really enjoyed the patternmaking and draping classes - when you can take an idea and draft it up as you like it's quite rewarding as a designer.

In my 'day job' I work in a creative field, not designing clothes, but home fashions. The two industries are so linked today - we study the same trends, have the same inspirations. Working on Loulou James allows me to channel all my apparel ideas that I can't otherwise work into an item like a shower curtain or a soap dish!

What are the advantages of sewing your own maternity clothes?

The advantages are huge! There are certainly a lot more options out there now in maternity wear but the fit can be tough if you are taller, shorter, have longer legs, broader shoulders...we become loyal to brands and stores based on fit and style, but with maternity wear your options are so greatly reduced. When I'm designing a piece I also try to think about it's 'second life' - can it be used for nursing wear? Can it be modified for before and after maternity? I know that moms don't have a lot of time to spare sewing so getting another use out of a design is really helpful.

The presentation of your shop is wonderful. Did you do the illustrations yourself?

Thank you! Yes, these are my own illustrations, and I based them on the style of vintage sewing patterns. I love how the women always look so feminine - the way the hands and are feet are posed, the facial expressions and hair. I've always loved fashion illustration, and it's a great way to keep improving my Illustrator skills.

What is your most popular design to date?

The sleep sacks are all very popular, especially the "Stargaze" style. It's perfect for a new sewist, and best of all, I think, something you can make for a little boy. Having two little boys you realize how few patterns there are out there for them.

For women, it's the Celia wrap top - it's good for maternity and nursing, and so easy to make. You could even reuse pattern later by eliminating the camisole insert and just make a great wrap t-shirt. A lot of people are scared to sew with knits so this gives me hope that there are a lot of creative, confident sewists out there willing to experiment and perhaps challenge themselves!

Would you ever consider selling finished clothes on Etsy?

I've thought about it and had a few requests. I may in the future add a one-of-a-kind 'sample' section since I don't really need any more maternity clothes...

Where do you see your shop in 5 years?

I'd love to expand or set up a separate shop to feature more baby & toddler items, specifically for boys. I have a lot of experience in textile design so it would also be fun to do a few little limited-run collections of printed fabrics to accompany the patterns.

Check out the other items available from Tracy in her Etsy Shop! You can find more of her work on her blog, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Interviewed by Darlene of BijouxBead in Toronto in January 2013.

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