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Sewing Indie Month: An interview with Garmenter!

As I'm sure you guys have all heard, May 2014 marks the very first - and hopefully annual - Sewing Indie Month! The brainchild of fellow independent sewing pattern designer Mari of Seamster Patterns, Sewing Indie Month (SIM) has brought together a whopping 21 independent sewing pattern designers from all over the globe for a month of tutorials, interviews, sewalongs and general whooping, cheering and celebrating our now not-so-niche and ever growing community of designers and makers. We've already had the pleasure of moonlighting over at Heather-Lou's blog Closet Case Files with our pattern hack of her divine Nettie Bodysuit, and today we give you an interview with Swedish patternmaking maverick that is Julia Malmquist Jungman of Garmenter!

First things first, introduce yourself to our readers! 

Hello there readers of By Hand London, it’s an honor to be in such great company!

I’m Julia, and I created this corner of the indie pattern jungle called, a sewing pattern company that is just a little different from what you’re used to. In short, our products work as pattern basis to create endless designs from, always adapted to your particular figure to get the perfect fit.

This weird and wonderful independent sewing pattern industry is a pretty niche career, to say the least! How did you fall into it?

I’ve been a maker since I developed motor skills, growing up with parents who made sure my sister and I always had all the materials we could possibly need to develop our creativity. Design and clothing quickly became a particular favorite, with a specific interest for construction. After school and working as a patternmaker for a while though, I realized there wasn’t enough creativity involved in a patternmaker’s profession. So – after a quick flirt with political science (I know, random) – I devised this way of working as a patternmaker while still being able to design and be creative. Aka starting your own sewing pattern company.

We absolutely love your concept of giving people the tools to create clothes of their own design from your blocks - but did you ever feel you were giving up the design process? 

One of our basic concepts is to give customers design freedom when it comes to what they make, rather than using ready-designed patterns. So in a way I am letting go of the design process, and giving that role to our “garmenters”. But a huge part of Garmenter is also to provide instructive inspiration on how to construct different designs using our products as a base, which we do in the form of “projects”. There I get total design freedom, and customers can then take bits and pieces from different projects to make up their own.

We have an incredibly supportive and active sewing community here in the UK - having all “met” online, we now organise meet-ups, day trips and even a bachelorette party! What’s the sewing scene like in Sweden?

I must admit to being jealous pretty often of how the sewing community has developed and established in the UK, and I have no doubt that the presence of companies like yours have been an essential part of that process.

Sweden’s scene is not quite there yet, with the community still being fairly analogue when it comes to meet-ups. But the trend is positive. It’s pretty common for groups of friends to get together to coffee and the project each of them is working on at the moment (or what we call “syjunta” in Swedish). And the amount of sewing and DIY blogs popping up over here is constantly growing. So even though we haven’t yet taken the step to fully having an organized online presence, I strongly believe (fingers crossed!) it’s brewing. Hopefully Garmenter can influence the Swedish scene as you guys have in the UK :)

What’s cooking over at Garmenter HQ right now? Do you have any more patterns coming soon or projects you’re working on that you can reveal to us?

Indeed there are! I am over the moon excited about launching our upcoming two new patterns: our Garmenter Blazer pattern first, closely followed by our Trousers pattern. With the risk of playing favorites here, I really believe these two are special. The industry is full of great – ready-designed – skirt and dress patterns, but there are significantly less blazers and trousers out there, mostly due to fitting issues I believe. And since the core of Garmenter is to work for the perfect fit from the get-go, I do believe these two to be an awesome addition to any sewist’s pattern collection.

We adore your ‘Welcome to Garmenter’ intro video! And your video fitting tutorials are brilliant - especially how you are essentially teaching people the ins and outs of pattern construction through your hacks. Do you teach, or have any plans to teach pattern cutting classes?

Thanks, video is such a great way of expression! After a while working exclusively with video though, it was pretty clear that images worked better for instructive purposes, and that they were much more shareable as well. Which is such an important factor nowadays with all the blogs out there, Pinterest boards, and so on… Still looooving video though, and I’m sure Garmenter will be working with video again in one way or another!

As for teaching, it’s definitely a dream to unite a bunch of “garmenters” IRL and together delight in the joys of sewing and pattern-making! I’d love to create something like a recurring “syjunta” in the future, where makers can meet, learn, and inspire each other.

Since we started making our own clothes, we find it very difficult to buy Ready-to-Wear! As a result, buying fabric and notions has become our new guilty (or not so guilty!) pleasure. What makes you salivate when you’re out shopping for fabric? 

I hear you! Fabric has become my biggest weakness, and I just can’t seam to stop buying/craving/searching/idolizing fabrics of all sorts, which has led to quite a collection of garments-to-be. I have a particular soft spot for loud prints and all shades of shiny, and the irony is that I feel most comfortable in quite basic and monochromatic garments on a day-to-day basis. There must be a glitzy Broadway diva living inside me, trying to claw her way out. So in a way, with Garmenter I get to live out my inner diva, while letting her coexist with my more understated Swedish self for everyday life.

When planning a new make, do you design first then find the right fabric? Or let the fabric dictate your design?

My process usually begins by a magnetic attraction to the fabric shop, more often than my wallet would sanction if it had any influence over my decision-making whatsoever. Very rarely do I have a specific design in mind in advance, usually just a thought on what kind of garment I’m craving. Until I see T H A T fabric, which is just awesome and is screaming what it wants to be made into. It might happen though that by the time I get home, I’ve idolized the fabric so much that it takes some remarkable willpower to put it under the scissors. Eventually though, it usually gets done.

How do you hope to see your company evolve? What’s your big-picture ultimate life dream?

For now and in the next couple of months it’s gonna be business as usual, in Garmenter’s regular fashion. There are big things happening at Garmenter though, like growing a little Garmenter baby for instance. But after baby Garmenter arrives – and some well-deserved mommy time – you can expect some new twists to be added to the Garmenter repertoire, with nothing less than world domination in sight ;)

So make sure you don’t miss out on anything by checking in regularly!


Julia, thank you so much for being with us here today! We're loving - and most definitely identifying with - your split fabric personality! I'm sure that's something that will ring true to all makers out there, letting their sewing machines coax out their inner diva! Huge congratulations on your little baby Garmenter you've got cooking - we wish you all the very best and hope to be able to throw you a proper UK Sewist get-together when you next grace our shores.

Comments on this post (5)

  • Jun 07, 2014

    I really thank you for all you give useful lessons

    — mariamoh

  • May 24, 2014

    How did I not know about Garmenter, I live in Sweden!!! Checking it out now. I agree with what Julia said about being jealous about the UK sewing community, a Swedish meet-up would be lovely :)
    Congratulations on your baby!

    — Jennie

  • May 21, 2014

    Wow! That is genius! It is brilliant that we r now not limited to the sometimes outdated patterns in shops now. I love the idea that we can design exactly what we want using these blocks. Independent patterns r fab! Can’t wait to try this out! X :)

    — Amber

  • May 20, 2014

    thank you so much for this post! i didn’t know about this shop and blog and I love the concept. The fact that the basic patterns come in muslin is acutally genius! love the idea!

    — sophie

  • May 20, 2014

    A Garmenter baby! Congratulations! I hope that means we get some lovely & stylish maternity-suitable projects soon. ;) Also, can’t wait for the trouser and blazer patterns. I love what you do & hope to see your company grow.

    — ellebougies

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