Today we hear from Gail Seymour of Gaila Designs who shares with us what inspires her beautiful handbag pattern designs, her favorite bag pattern, design trends, and her thoughts on selling bags created with Indie patterns!
What do you think inspired you to want to be a bag pattern designer?
I have been sewing for interiors for about 20 years. In 2008 when the economy tanked, I suddenly found myself with some extra time on my hands. I was given a Nook for Mother’s day and fell in love with it. What I didn’t love were the covers available. They were expensive and very generic. So I made one… or two… or three. As a fan of Etsy, I thought that if I loved my eReader covers, others might too so I made up a dozen or so from scraps I had left from interior design projects. I posted them and sold a few, but they were not the “barn burners” I had hoped for.
To try and figure out what I might do to sell more, I started searching the competition on Etsy. As I searched, I discovered that many folks were designing pattern instructions to sew your own projects. Not only were they offering them, they were selling them in some pretty impressive quantities, so I decided this was something I wanted to try! Armed with my nice camera and some bright fabric, I make the same cover I had been producing and photographing every step of the way. Reviewing the photos, I wrote up instructions, converted the information into PDF and placed the pattern up for sale. I then began to design variations on the original cover and offer those for sale. Immediately, the patterns did well.
I promised myself that when my Etsy shop sold enough I would buy an iPad and before long, just that happened. That got me started creating covers for iPads and tablets. When I designed all the variants I could think of, I surveyed my customers and found a demand for purse patterns. That’s my current direction for new designs. I’m also exploring fabric design as an exciting future offering.
What typically inspires the bag patterns you design?
I collect photos of bags and purses I like as I see them in stores or online. Can you say ‘Pinterest’! When I am ready to make a new pattern, I scan back through ready-made Items I like and modify them to suit a new design.
Most inspiring fabric line or fabric print ever?
I love all fabrics. I often create unique bags from scraps left over from my interior design projects. These tend to end up as my own personal bags, because the texture and detail on those fabrics often don’t show up well in photos. I’ve learned to choose bright colors and bold prints for photos of bag samples to post with patterns.
Your favorite bag pattern that you designed?
The Emma Pattern is by far the best seller. It’s hard not to love your leading item! The design is very practical with the extra pocket and is my favorite personal case for my iPad.
In the sewing room:
What do you typically like to use for lining? Why?
I love to use silky fabrics for lining on device cases as they just slip in and out so easily. For purses, quilt weight cotton in a bold print are great. Easy to sew and when you open the purse offer a pop of style and maybe a surprise design detail!
What do you typically like to use for shape and stiffness? Why?
This really varies by the bag. I love decor bond and fusible fleece by Pellon. I do like for my bags to have structure when empty. I have had ready-made bags that were fabric with no support and they tend to slump and look sloppy when made that way.
Best sewing notion for bag-making? Why?
I love to have zipper closures in a bag, helps make the bag structurally sound and more secure for the contents. I also love finding ready made straps or chains, for some reason I hate to make straps!
What are your brief thoughts on sewers selling bags made using one of your patterns?
It’s fine with me, there really aren’t any ‘new’ looks in my opinion, most patterns are just variations of a shape already known to man! What makes a bag unique is the choice of fabrics and quality of construction. As long as the sewer is an artisan individual and not a production/volume dealer, it’s great!
Your most recent pattern released?
The Tina Purse pattern was released a few months ago and has been selling nicely!
When do you expect to release a new pattern?
I have a sample to work on now, hope to get the pattern drafted and tested soon, before the end of the year for sure!
What is a typical workday like?
There isn’t one! I continue to sew home interiors as well as pattern design, so much is dictated by how much sewing I have to do at any given time. While working for both private clients as well as professional interior designers, pattern development, and online marketing for both areas of my business, there is never a shortage of to-do lists daily!
The best thing about being a bag pattern designer?
Contact with my customers is the best! I love the thought that I can sell patterns world-wide, but if a sewer has a question, I’m only an email away.
Advice for pattern rookies?
The design is only half the process, you must be a good marketer and provide excellent customer service to really grow. Great feedback is everything!
Interested in trying out a PDF Pattern or checking out a Gaila Designs Pattern? Gaila Designs have two free patterns for either an iPad stand or eReader stand to sew. It’s a great way to see what Gaila Designs patterns are like before buying!
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