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Celebrating Crafty Women – iThinkSew by Sue Kim

10 March, 2019 - 0 Comments

Introducing Sue Kim from iThinkSew, offering a wide selection of unique patterns with user-friendly instructions and a fresh modern style. Ranging from bags and clutches to baby shoes and other items iThinkSew is a well known brand among the sewing community.  Extra care and effort is put into every design and it’s not hard to see why iThinkSew is so popular!

  • How did you come up with the idea of launching your own brand of sewing patterns?

I’ve always loved sewing as a little child and has been a past time since then. Even after becoming a mother it was a hobby I continued pursuing. Then one day I carried a handmade quilt bag to one of a fabric store and the owner saw the bag. She saw the design and asked if it was my own – which it was. She suggested I make it into a package and she would sell it at her shop. Thanks to her support I was able to kick off my own career in designing patterns

  • What do you like about your job as a designer?

I absolutely love the fact that I can design & make whatever I want. Previously, when sewing was a hobby I would be restricted in time and material costs in what I wanted to make. Yet now that it is a full-time job I’m given the freedom to be creative 100% of my time.

  • Do you work full time as a creative?

Of course! One of the unknown things about designing is the documentation and paperwork involved. In fact, I don’t always just design and make new things (as much as I wish). There is downtime in the process. But even during then, I find snippets of time to be creative with my sketchbook very close by.

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  • What obstacles did you face in launching your brand of patterns?

One large obstacle I faced in my early days was the aforementioned documentation process. Although designing and drawing new patterns was a passion, writing and editing instructions was a new story. Often I would find myself focussing on the “creative” aspect while the “technical” aspect would be handled either by a partner or myself after some procrastination. This juggling of both sides of the brain required some adjusting to since we could not simply decouple the “design” versus the “technical”. After about the 2nd year though, I have found joy in both activities!

  • Why did you choose to sell your patterns on Makerist?

I was first reached out from Makerist and when I saw the website I was in love right away. My very first book was considerably popular in Germany and I felt that this was a great way to reach out to sewers abroad North America.

  • What are – beyond the quality of your patterns – the little tips that have allowed you to succeed?

I think one distinguishing factor is that when I entered the pattern market it was tailored towards the older generation. As such I wanted my design to befitting to the younger audience as well. The second tip I had was adding a lot of pictures to my instructions. Due to high cost of printing, paper patterns rarely included color images. When we transitioned to PDF patterns, we wanted to include as many colored pictures as we can to further assist the sewers. In fact, this allowed us to reach non-English speaking sewers as well thanks to the abundance of images.

  • What advice would you give to someone who wants to start designing patterns? What is the most important thing you have learned?

For any aspiring pattern designers I would give them 3 tips.

  1. You must be consistently creative. No matter if the design has a positive reception or a negative one, always be creating new things. For those who want to design as a career I would strongly recommend sticking to a strict schedule of new patterns.
  2. Designing is not just in your head! Do not be afraid to create the design because it is only a “draft” but rather draw the pattern and make the sample right away. Perspective will provide you with more insight than thinking it over and over again. In my experience, it is better to make and regret than mull over about it endlessly!
  3. Never forget that sewing is a collaborative process. For me personally, I found it important to never forget the sewer out there who would enjoy this pattern as I design it. Keep the audience in mind and let it inspire you to keep moving forward!

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  • What did selling patterns bring you?

I have never thought I would make a living as a designer. My life took a turn as I live a life of constant creativity – always looking for something new to create. Starting from the first draft to the final print of the instructions, my life is designing. Yet that is the beauty of it! I am blessed to be living with a job that I genuinely enjoy and almost get addicted to (according to the husband). The selling patterns is synonymous to work as well as rest for me.

  • The world of DIY is a world that changes quickly: how do you see things for the next few years?

Thanks to the internet and the power of new technology, DIY is changing rapidly. DIY designers are also learning to adapt to such changes and creating designs we have never seen. Although traditional techniques like quilting or embroidery are still commonplace, they are elevated with a modern mix.  

  • Tell us a bit about your journey to where you are now.

For over 10 years I have released numerous pattern designs. To organize these designs for all of us, I started taking on the task of sub-branding these designs. Last year we released the MOCHA brand solely focused on apparels that are comfortable to wear and easy to make. Thankfully, I have seen a lot of positive responses from these changes! Recently, I started to write embroidery instructions & designs under the brand “Coco Stitch”. Embroidery was something I did often in my early days of sewing. However, I lost it with time and it was originally a challenge to apply myself to it. As a sewer, I am looking to challenge myself continuously and hope to do so in the future as well.

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  • Do you have support from friends and family, please tell us how they have helped in your journey to success as a designer.

It would have been impossible for me to come this far without the support of my family. Everyone fully supported the work I do and even gave their best assistance i helping. My three (young at the time) children took up the house duties such as cooking and cleaning. These practical things all made my dream possible.

  • Anything else you want us to know about you, your brand, your family, your journey?

The biggest joy for me in pattern designing was the collaborative aspect. In the early years of my career I had a huge opportunity to turn towards the finished bag market instead. Yet I wanted to stick with the PDF sewing business for the reason I found joy in sewing. Sewing taught me so many things and helped through difficult times. In fact, I was able to make so many friendships with it that I will be always grateful for.

I want to share that with old and new sewers around the world. That is why I love to focus my designs towards the novice users – so they can feel the joy too! There is a deep sense of happiness I get with sewing and I genuinely hope I could share that feeling with someone else in the world.

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