Meet Gabriela of Chalk and Notch! Gabriela worked several years as a professional pattern designer for other brands until she decided to work on her own patterns and turn them into PDF patterns. One of her goals is to offer designs that are fashionable and unique, and we say she is very good at it! All of Chalk and Notch patterns are best sellers in the PDF patterns community!
Women's Farrah Blouse & Dress, pattern by Chalk and Notch modeled by Gabriela.
Why do you sew?
I sew for lots of reasons, but mostly because I love to pattern-make and sewing is part of the end game. I can't see what I've created until I sew a sample, then another sample, and so on, until I can perfect the fit of a pattern. I love to sew other designers’ patterns as a break from my development process to enjoy the creative process and relax, but I don’t always enjoy it while I am creating patterns. If given the choice, I would draft all day.
When did you start to draft patterns? How was the learning process?
I enrolled at a community college after high school specifically to attend a Fashion Design program. I spent the next four years taking every class that was offered in both their Fashion Design and Apparel Production programs. My true education came from working in the Apparel Industry; nothing prepares you for the fast-paced work of real apparel production.
How is your creative/design process?
I know I will be investing a significant amount of time when I decide to release a pattern. I sew close to a dozen samples, and if it's a design that I don't really love, then it's really not worth the long time it takes me to create a pattern. I look for inspiration from all over -- the runway, ready to wear, street fashion -- searching for unique details. I am always thinking “What would make a unique design? How can I add additional interest? Would this be beginner friendly? What am I missing from my closet?” -- the list goes on. Ultimately I try to be thoughtful about the designs I release so they fit into my personal aesthetic. For my specific process, I start with flat pattern making with paper and pencil. I sew samples and then fit on a live model. I'm lucky to have a friend with great proportions right in the middle of my size range. Once I am happy with the fit, I digitize and grade the pattern. Then I continue to test at least 4 sizes from my size range on more friends and make any corrections before proceeding to testing. This all takes time, but I know when I enter into testing I am starting with a pattern that I feel pretty good about.
Women's Pony Tank, pattern by Chalk and Notch
How/where do you see yourself and your business in the future?
I'd love to continue to grow my business, release more patterns and build relationships in this community. I believe there is room for all of us and there is nothing like surrounding yourself with like-minded creatives who really get where you are and where you want to go.
What sewing machine do you own? Is it the machine of your dreams?
I own a Juki TL-2010Q and yeah I love it! It's not for everyone since it's only a straight stitch machine (no zig zag or buttonholes) but it's fast and has the most amazing back pedal thread cut feature that I can't live without. Of course that means I have other machines. I also love my Juki overlock and I hope to add a third Juki, a coverstitch machine.
What is on in the background while you're sewing?
I love country music so I usually have that on in the background as I’m drafting. If I'm sewing and can actually listen, I prefer a podcast, usually something from NPR or Gimlet media. Some of my favorites are: Serial (like 40 million others), How I Built This, This American Life, Crimetown, Science Vs, etc. Basically nothing sewing related.
Which is(are) your favorite pattern(s)?
I am pretty picky when sewing patterns since I can tell a professionally drafted pattern by looking at it. I don't really care about the instructions, since I'm the worst student and never read them. I haven't used that many other patterns, but do have a few favorite indie pattern companies. For kids, I love Petit a Petit + Family patterns; they are unique and basically super cool, and no matter what Celina releases, I would buy it. For myself, I love True Bias, Hey June, Closet Case Files, Named, Grainline, and I just bought my first Burda and Style Arc patterns so I am excited to try them out.
Who's your sewing/blogging/style/fashion/designer/quilter hero(s)?
I look up to all of the pattern designers I mentioned for their professional patterns and styling. Since I attended fashion school, I have always loved couture design. Some of my favorites are: Tom Ford, Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, plus so many more greats.
Cascade Maxi Dress, pattern by Chalk and Notch
What are your favorite sewing techniques?
I love the basic techniques, like pressing - it's the number one thing that can make your garment look amazing; please press as you sew. Under stitching - it's one more step, but necessary and so worth it. Also, French seams - who doesn't love pretty guts.
What is your least favorite sewing technique/step?
Whatever I can't get right, usually buttonholes.
3 things that make you happy:
- Iced tea - the caffeine can actually make me happy.
- A perfectly trued pattern.
- Spending time in San Francisco with my family.
3 random things about you:
- I love romance novels.
- I would rather drink all of my meals. I don't mean like tequila, I just don't like cooking or care about the taste of food.
- My mom is from Central America (El Salvador)
Life or sewing motto:
"Be the designer of your own destiny." - Oscar de la Renta
Thank you, Gabriela!
Women's Waterfall Raglan, pattern by Chalk and Notch
This week only, enjoy 20% off all Chalk and Notch patterns! (good through Friday, July 7th 11:59 PM PST)
Come back next week for another installment of Meet the Designer series and get to know another great PDF pattern designer!