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Kristl interviews Trudy Hanson of Hot Patterns

July 23, 2009

If you don't know already, Trudy Hanson has a fantastic fashion-forward line of patterns called Hot Patterns. She is one of my favorite pattern designers and definitely my favorite Brit (she's right up there with the Beatles for me!) Her patterns are right on time for style, and yet she's translated the look for a real woman. I know you will enjoy getting to know her better.

What did you do in your former life to bring you to the world of sewing patterns for the home sewer?
Well I actually started sewing at about the age of 14...I was (still am!) fashion obsessed, and I started off, as most of us do, with a few Big 4 patterns. But I'm afraid that my fashion obsession soon outgrew what was on offer, and so I started to draft my own patterns, and make my own clothes. I wasn't always very good at it, but I kept on learning and improving. And quite honestly, I couldn't imagine doing anything else career-wise. After Fashion college, I had various design jobs in the UK rag trade. I ended up with my own couture bridalwear business in London, but throughout it all I kept on sewing and making my own clothing. When we emigrated to the USA we decided that the time was right for us to launch our own pattern business...and we did! And I'll admit, I'm pretty self-indulgent...I do patterns for all the fabulous clothes I see (but can't afford or fit into!) and I'm so lucky to have such an enjoyable job. So it's really come full circle for me, from sewing patterns to sewing patterns.

Where does your inspiration for the smokin' hot pattern styles come from?
Truthfully, inspiration for our pattern styles comes from everywhere. Obviously I do a lot of trends research and I'm constantly looking at fashion mags, but I also love to check out what people are wearing on the street, the beach or out at night. But I have to say, the internet is a constant source of inspiration...as well as the obvious runway collections, I love to check out street-style, crafting and off-the-wall lifestyle blogs. I think the day you stop being excited by fashion, clothing and style, or you're no longer inspired by anything and everything, you may as well hang up your designing shoes for good...but I don't see that happening anytime soon!

Do you sew for yourself? If so, what do you like to sew the most?
I sew for myself all the time-I'd say that I make about 85% of my everyday clothing, which is a good thing as I'm very very greedy for new clothes! If I bought the same amount of clothes that I make I'd be bankrupt in a very short space of time.

I make all sorts of things, and I do tend to make lots of knit tops and T-shirts...with 2 small children in the house I go through those very quickly!...but I also like to make pants and skirts, because that's the only way I can make them fit. It's true, I'm blessed with some major fitting issues, but rather than sit in the corner and cry about them I prefer to just make myself something fabulous that fits and looks great.

And frankly making new clothes is waaaaay more fun than doing laundry.

What is your favorite Hot Pattern and why?
Oooooh, do I have to pick just one? Well I can tell you what I make over and over and over again...Weekender Sunshine Tops and Deco Vibe Cigarette Pants. I love these because they just work on me so well, worn together as an outfit or mixed with other pieces. But my new favorite is the Wong-Singh-Jones Shangri-La Jacket, especially the shirt-jacket version we did for our YouTube clips....that one is going to get used a lot in the next few months!

Tell us about the You Tube videos. What will we see and learn?
We started doing little clips on YouTube to show details of our new patterns...sewers are visual people and our customers have really found it helpful to watch a clip that, say, shows how to do a particular trim or fit a certain garment. Usually, we make a sample 'as is' straight out of the envelope, then we have some fun making different variations. It's amazing how totally different the same pattern can look just by changing the fabric or the print or by adding a few trims! If you want to check out our YouTube clips, here's the link...


What is the number one question your receive most often about Hot Patterns, and what is your answer?
The number one question would be...what styles to choose for a particular body shape. And this is a little complex to give a straight answer to...partly because the person isn't standing in front of you, partly because what you may think is a problem area may not be such a problem, and partly because there's no real formula! I will say, though, that we do have some pattern styles that suit pretty much every body shape and size. If you're stuck, or just a little unsure, choose any of these because they will work for you.

What is the number one figure issue most of your customers seem to work through?
It's not so much a figure issue as a fitting issue, and it's dealing with...pants! From my own experience I know that finding off-the-rack pants that fit well-actually, that even just fit OK-is really really tricky for a lot of women. So we do get lots of emails asking, how do I make this pants pattern fit my body? How do I make this pants style work on my physique? And quite honestly, I'd love to be able to answer all the queries we get in-depth, but until there's another 24 hours in the day that won't happen. But we are working on a Pants-fitting DVD, because then we can go into greater detail, with visuals, than we ever could via emails.

What are your favorite fabrics and why?
I do try not to be a fabric snob but honestly, I really do prefer natural fibers, and living in hot-and-steamy Florida means that most man-made fabrics are a bad choice for me anyway. I love-love-love linen, sheer cottons, drapey knits and good denim, and I have a real thing for cotton sateen and tencel...especially jaquard tencel.

Do you have a favorite color or motif that you favor?
Much as I do try to use different colors and palettes, I always seem to end up choosing green...anything clean and yellow-toned like cilantro, chartreuse or leaf. Which is a huge step for me as, being a total child of the 80's and working in fashion for so long, I've always worn black, teamed with black and accessorised with black. My new black, however, is white...more specifically, just off-white. So, green! and white! And anything sparkly, especially silver tones and anything with square sequins.

As for motifs, I do have my favorites...paisley, big splashy roses, toile du joie, Chinese-style dragons...honestly, I have many many favorites, my problem is always editing out what doesn't work for that particular garment!

What's your favorite British phrase (translate for the Yanks if necessary)?
"Blimey!"...which, roughly translated, sort-of, kind-of means 'good grief" or "oh my" or something similar!

Do you have a favorite American phrase or word?
Hmmm, good question! I think what I really find hilarious is the disparity between 'English' English and 'American' English, especially when it comes to clothing terms. I'm juvenile enough to find the terms 'Pants' to be amusing when referring to 'Trousers'...in the UK, 'pants' are underwear, or even a kind of slang insult, like saying, "that restaurant was awful, the
food was total pants".

Now that you know Trudy better, get to know her patterns!



Really enjoyed the article.

Great article! I love Trudy's work and even if I did not the curvygirl
sizing and i am guessing other size ranges are excellently done.
A rare a wonderful find!
I like to check patternreview.com's gallery to gauge how a pattern designers
work looks when made-leaving out the sewists skill issues- and hot
patterns shows very well.
It is suprisi g how some other lines which one would expect to be
fine in this area are awkward looking and consistently illustrate a poor fit.

Thanks for the great post, I just stumbled your post

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This page contains a single entry by Kristl Pelz published on July 23, 2009 8:14 AM.

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