This week meet Jennifer, the designer behind Jennifer Lauren Handmade! Her patterns are fun and modern but give a nod to classic vintage attire, with a form-flattering fit and beautiful details. Jennifer loves spending time creating with her hands and when she is not in her sewing room you will find her probably out, hunting her chicken's eggs or tending weeds, or in her kitchen baking up some treat. Keep reading to know more!
Why do you sew?
I love the creative freedom that comes with sewing.To be able to make virtually anything you can dream of is so empowering.
When did you start to sew? And what was your first make?
I started sewing when I was young, probably 7 or 8, and the first thing I remember making was a bag. I had no pattern but a firm idea of what I wanted it to look like. I remember spending an afternoon figuring out how to turn the image I had in my head into an actual thing and what the flat pattern pieces needed to look like to achieve the final look. In the end, it worked out pretty well! It was all hand stitched and I was so proud of it — I'm sure it's still hanging around somewhere...
When did you start to draft patterns? How was the learning process?
I think my first proper sewing project (the bag mentioned above) would have been the first thing I drafted but I definitely spent many years getting comfortable with manipulating patterns before I drafted my first 'official' pattern. The learning process has been fun, and of course, full of twists and turns as I figured out how I liked to draft and fit. I've done in-person training which was invaluable, but I've also done a lot of experimenting over the years and I think that has given me a lot of freedom to bend the rules a bit to see what worked and what didn't for me.
How is your creative/design process?
I pretty much design for myself, I figure that if I wouldn't wear something I had designed, then I can't expect others to either. I tend to work on multiple designs at once, each at varying stages of complete-ness. I sketch out my ideas, let them stew for a bit while I work on something else and then sew it up to see how it feels. Sometimes an idea is spot on, but most of the time I'll tweak the design — this can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to settle on a final design. My aesthetic is a modern take on the silhouettes from the 40s–60s and adding in interesting details and features to each pattern is something I strive for in each design.
How/where do you see yourself and your business in the future?
I'd love to produce paper patterns and have them stocked around the world as well as be able to employ someone full- or part-time to help me run some of the 'less than glamorous' parts of my business. Right now it's just me doing everything, from pattern design, to instruction writing & illustrating to customer service and accounting. There's a lot that goes into it, but I am incredibly grateful for where I am now. I couldn't have imagined this 3 and a half years ago when I tentatively put my first pattern out into the world, not really knowing how it would be received or that it would allow me the freedom to be able to take care of my family while also earning an income. So, as long as it stays steady, having this business is one of the greatest gifts I could have asked for.
Bronte Knit Top, pattern by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
What sewing machine do you own? Is it the machine of your dreams?
I currently own a Janome — I use it virtually every day and it has been the best workhorse I could have asked for. I'd love to own a Bernina one day but it's definitely a want more than a need.
What is your favorite make ever? Why?
My favourite make ever would probably be my original Afternoon Blouse. It was the pattern that started everything for me so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
What is on in the background while you're sewing?
Knitting podcasts!! I can't get enough of them. I'm a knitter as well and since I can't do both at once, listening to others talk about knitting and showing off their recent makes almost makes me feel like I'm doing two things at once.
Which is(are) your favorite pattern(s)?
I love the Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan. I've made several for my husband who wears them a lot. They definitely made me realise that menswear was not scary and in fact, way easier to fit than women's wear! My husband had been bugging me to adapt one of his favourite vintage (and falling apart) cardigans into a new pattern and sewing the Newcastle pattern definitely gave me the confidence to do that. I released The Auden Cardigan last year.
Who's your sewing/blogging/style/fashion/designer/quilter hero(s)?
I love old hollywood as well as the street styles from the 40s through 60s and will forever draw most of my design inspiration from them. There is no one in particular, but at the moment I'm loving the styles of the Teddy Boys & Girls that popped up in the early 50s.
Mayberry Dress, pattern by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
What are your favorite sewing techniques?
My favourite technique when it comes to fastenings is the lapped zip. It was a common zip insertion technique when zips were first invented, and my inner vintage enthusiast loves any technique used in my favourite eras. I also find them much easier to put in than invisible zips, and although they have a few extra steps, you get a perfect zip every time. I also love a good tailor's tack.
What is your least favorite sewing technique/step?
Hemming. It's the last step, so I know I should be excited rather than ambivalent about it, but when it comes time to hem, virtually everything else is done and I'm just excited to wear it, rather than finish it.
Describe yourself in 3 words:
3 Favorites - color, texture and fabric:
- Blue. Soft. Cotton.
3 things that make you happy:
- A productive day.
- Flowers, sunshine and a happy baby (oops, more than three!).
3 random things about you:
- I have two tattoos.
- I lived in Papua New Guinea until I was 5.
- I've never dyed my hair.
Life or sewing motto:
Let's Make Things!
Juniper Cardigan, pattern by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
Thank you, Jennifer!
Enjoy 20% on Jennifer Lauren Handmade patterns during this week! (Offer ends on Friday, October 27th 11:59 PM PST)
Come back next week and meet another favorite pattern designer!