Meet Named Patterns
We're excited to introduce our featured Sewing Designers of the Month for September 2021 - Named Patterns!
For those who are new to Named Patterns, how would you describe your company?
Named is an indie pattern company founded by the two of us, sisters Saara & Laura Huhta, back in 2013. We have a long history with sewing, starting from being hobbyists when we were kids and our mom taught us to sew. Saara has graduated as a fashion designer & pattern maker, and Laura has a degree in footwear design.
Our company started as a whim: in 2012 we had a hard time finding sewing patterns that served our style and needs, so we decided to start making them ourselves.
What we wanted from sewing was a classic, yet not boring wardrobe that lased time and wear. But we also wanted patterns that intrigue as a project, not just as an end result. This is why we try to design garments that are not only nice to wear and look at, but fun to make. We often include some unusual cuts and details in our collections for the home sewists to get excited about.
When starting our business, we saw self-made fashion as an ecological and ethical alternative for fast fashion. Having been in this business for almost a decade now, our perspective has changed. We have realized that me-made will never really challenge pre-made, but as a business we can do our best to encourage our audience into a more sustainable direction. It is an ambitious goal but something we feel passionate about.
What are the highlights and challenges of working alongside your sister and how do you split tasks up?
We are incredibly lucky to work with each other! We know each other well, and even though arguments and disagreements happen, they are never serious enough to cause permanent damage. We support each other and never push each other to do things that feel uncomfortable. Even when working as an entrepreneur means having to exceed your skills and limits almost daily.
And even though we are so similar in our likes and goals, somehow magically our skills are completely different: Saara is a very detail-oriented, patient and skilled pattern-maker, so she is in charge of pattern-making. Well, she also has the training for that! Laura is more at home with words, so she takes care of writing our instructions, and other communication such as emails. She also likes to play with all things visual, so her work also includes a lot of graphic design. We design everything together and make all big decisions together.
What we both lack, is commercial skills, but now we have a part-time marketing assistant Tessa to take care of that side of the business. We’re also both shy introverts, which is why we don’t share a lot of photos or personal news about ourselves. It is something we would like to do more, though: we would love to get to know our customers better, and for them to get to know us.
How do you think sewing habits have changed since you launched eight years ago and how do you keep up with these changes?
It feels like the sewing world has changed a lot! There are many new technologies, and people are looking for better and easier ways of consuming patterns. We also feel like the popularity of sewing as a hobby has grown, and we have a lot of newbies of all ages sewing right now, which is awesome! Sewing is cooler and more fashionable than ever.
The popularity has caused its side effects too, and sometimes it feels like the sewing world has become more commercial, which worries us a bit. It is lovely that sewing as a hobby is big right now, but sometimes less really is more – sewing less but better, avoiding stashing up on fabrics and sewing supplies. Sewing one’s own garments can be an excellent form of slow fashion that could help in consuming less and better.
What are the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in growing your business and how did you overcome them?
We have learned incredibly much in eight years! And we keep learning all the time.
The beginning was hard, because we didn’t have any experience in making commercial sewing patterns. During the first couple of years we learned by trial and error and made a lot of bad decisions too. Luckily, we had so much passion and drive, that those alone took us over any obstacles!
sometimes less really is more – sewing less but better
What has been your most satisfying achievement as a company?
Our first book, Breaking the Pattern. Until then we had been just making self-published patterns, but having an actual publisher trust and believe in our work so much felt unbelievable. And holding the first copy in our hand was incredible – did we actually do this? For real?!?
What's your favourite pattern you've ever designed and why is this?
Everyone is probably expecting us to name Kielo, which is our most famous and best-selling pattern. And of course, Kielo is one of our favorites, but there are others too, and for different reasons.
Saara looks at the designs from her pattern-maker’s perspective, so the most memorable patterns for her are designs such as Aava blazer and Pulmu skirt. Items that have a very unusual cut that made them exiting to make pattern for! For Laura, one fun and memorable pattern to design was Helga playsuit. We don’t remember which one of us first came up with the idea of a wrap playsuit that looks like a dress at front, and a playsuit in the back, but it took us several tries and a few prototypes to figure out the best way to actually make it. And once it was ready, it felt just perfect! Such an effortless look that took a lot of effort.
Which celebrity would you most like to see wearing your patterns and why?
Probably someone powerful and influential like Greta Thunberg! Seeing something we have designed on an advocate of change would probably feel amazing.
You like to focus on timeless, classic pieces - what are your top tips for sewing a capsule wardrobe?
It is always best to start by looking at what you already have. Making a good capsule wardrobe is not about discarding all old items and starting from scratch. See what are the items that you love wearing the most, and why – is it the color, the silhouette, the material? Then try to figure out if you feel like your wardrobe lacks something. And instead of following trends, try to think what feels like you.
Once you figure out what you like and what you lack, make garments that fill the gaps in a way that matches with what you love. Stay true to your color palette, and choose fabrics that can be easily matched with what you have.
Remember to also pay attention to fit. Even with small fit alterations one can make the garment much more comfortable – often the garments we like the most, are the ones that we feel most comfortable wearing.
It’s also good to remember that a capsule wardrobe is not a goal, but a process. It is never finished, so avoid approaching it with that mindset. Constantly adding items in the wardrobe will not make it complete.
What is your favourite part of the sewing process and why?
The part when you have just prepped everything: cut and interfaced all pieces, and your project is just in the beginning! At that stage everything is usually easy and breezy. We don’t say that more difficult parts aren’t fun, they are, but in a different way.
Are there any sewing techniques you'd still like to learn/get better at?
There are probably tons of sewing techniques that we have never tried or even heard of, that’s just an example of how much there is to learn in sewing! There are two things that we always split when we’re making our samples though: Laura never sews an invisible zip and Saara doesn’t touch the in-seam side pockets. Neither of these are hard techniques per se, and we can surely both sew a zip or a pocket, but not as well and effortlessly as the other.
What is the best piece of sewing advice you’ve ever received?
Saara’s best tip would be to pay attention to pressing every construction as well as possible after sewing, but it’s not really a tip received, but rather something she has come to realize.
The best tip is from our mom, who is an awesome self-taught seamstress. She says: If you are in a hurry, slow down. There shouldn’t be a reason to sew in a hurry anyway, but unfortunately we sometimes find ourselves in that situation. Especially when we have a tight schedule when sewing our samples. In that case slowing down is definitely better than speeding up!
If you are in a hurry, slow down
How would you like Named Patterns to grow over the next eight years?
For the past four years we have been busy making books. It has been fun and rewarding and has taught us a lot! But currently we crave for the rhythm that we had before making the two books – releasing self-published patterns twice a year. So, for now we’re actually dreaming about taking a step back and doing what we started with.
We’re also hoping to raise awareness on ethical and ecological consumption when it comes to sewing. Sewing alone is a good place to start, but there is so much more one can do to make sewing more sustainable, from choosing the materials to garment care. We have released a sustainable sewing section on our site, but we’re also hoping to expand it in the future. Adding more sustainable fabrics in our selection would also be lovely, but it’s a lot harder than we thought.
Do you have any exciting plans for 2022 you'd like to share?
Yes, we do! We have actually just started to design a new collection, our very first complete Named collection since 2017! We haven’t decided a publication date yet, but it will be in the spring of 2022. We always design our collections around a theme, and this time our theme is ‘Balance’. We thought it would be something we all need and deserve in this crazy time.
FREE NINNI CULOTTES PATTERN
To celebrate Named Patterns being our featured designer in September, we will be offering a FREE download of their beutiful Ninni Culottes for CraftWorld Premium members exclusively during the month of September 2021.