For Me Made Monday we’re pleased to bring you Addie K (aka Addie Martindale) owner of AddieK.com, Ph.D. candidate, mom, blogger, college professor and…. Well, let’s have Addie take over, I’m already exhausted. But, before I go, I have to say reading her interview gave me goose bumps. Clearly this lady loves sewing, her family and all the possibilities of the future. Please read on for more on her creative process, working in the fashion industry, what the future holds and more!
Where do you live/from? Are your surroundings inspiring?
I currently live in Columbia, SC. We have been here about 3 years. I grew up in Mississippi. I have also lived in Florida, Idaho, and Colorado. I would say I am more inspired by mountain regions but Ashville, NC and the Blue Ridge mountains are only a few hours away. I go there to renew my inspiration when I can.
Can you give us a little background on how/why you got started sewing.
I started sewing in my early teens, and my first experiences were not great. I found my love of sewing in my early 20’s while I was in college at Mississippi State. I had a great apparel construction professor. One of the main reasons I was drawn to sewing and apparel design was a lack of garments that fit me correctly on the market that I actually wanted to wear.
Your bio states that you are a pattern designer, college professor, blogger, mom and you create your own wardrobe and run a business. How do you find the time?
Well, to be honest, I do not sleep much and my house is often messy. I am really fortunate to have a husband who supports me and helps me keep it together. I also really have to prioritize what is most important each day, and I don’t get patterns out as fast as I would like.
The thing about a handmade wardrobe is once you have your staple garments made you just have to sew a piece here and there to update it.
When did you move into role of pattern designer? What was an early design? Can you tell us what the difference is between a commercial (Vogue, Butterrick, McCalls etc) sewing pattern and something for RTW, manufacturing etc..
Honestly, I had never considered pattern design until about 2 years ago. After school, I struggled to find my place in the fashion industry. I did an internship in NYC and learned that was not the lifestyle for me. I tried technical design type job, and I just did not find it fulfilling, I felt isolated. I worked retail management and loved the fast paced but got burnt out. I then decided to finish my master’s degree and started looking at teaching college. It was in my first teaching position where I had a really great mentor that encouraged me to put into action some of the things that I was teaching. Designing patterns allows me to be involved in fashion at a level that works for me. It also works well with teaching. I then discovered the online sewing community and love being a part of it.
Can you tell us what makes a great pattern designer? It’s seems quite technical and demanding job.
I think the biggest thing is attention to detail and thinking through how others will sew the pattern you are making. There is a lot that goes into getting a pattern ready to release. It is so much more than just the pattern. There are instructions, illustrations, and testing, You have to be patient. It is not a quick process. It is important to remember that indie designers do not have software that grades their patterns or technical writers doing their instructions. Indie designers do it all themselves. It takes dedication to get a pattern through all the steps needed and released.
Do you machine embroider at all?
I have a machine that embroiders, but I rarely do it.
What do you find are the greatest challenges? Are there any challenges with technology that you find inspiring and/or frustrating?
Well, the first pattern I drafted on a computer was in Autocad about 15 years ago, so technology is much more user friendly now and accessible. It used to be very expensive to learn and get access to programs that allowed you to create professional designs, but now it is really open to anyone with pattern drafting skills. I still really love to make patterns by hand, and do that for all my designs even the ones I convert to digital.
In the years you’ve been sewing what is the greatest change that you’ve noticed? Or is there something that you’ve had to adapt to?
The biggest change I have seen are all the new gadgets for sewing. Every time I teach a class a student shows me a new product, that I have never seen. Also, sewing machines have changed so much, with thread cutters, speed control, and self threading. It is a whole new world now from when I learned. I am still using the same sewing supplies that I had 15 years ago and even though I have a newer machine with all the bells and whistles, I love to sew on my old Pfaff my dad bought me.
Many readers are familiar with Betsy Johnson, what was it like to work for the brand?
I did a summer internship when I was in college. It was competitive to get in and competitive while I was there. Everything was very fast passed and interns did all sorts of jobs. I spent most of my summer in a dye room seeking the perfect color green for the upcoming spring show and then dyeing mountains of fabric that color. Betsy was not in much, but the interactions that I did have with her were great. Although, my summer in NYC changed my mind about my fashion future, I would not have changed it for anything.
What sewing machine do you do most of your work on?
My old Pfaff machine and my Pfaff serger my dad bought me when I start out in apparel design 15 years ago.
What do you do when you are not at your sewing machine?
Well, on top of all the other things I do, I am a Ph.D. student, so I spend lots of time researching and writing. I also spend every second, I can with my kids. We love to be outside and do crafts together.
Can you tell us more about your pledge to only wear clothing that you had made (in 2013-2014). Do you continue to wear most of your own sewn clothes.
Well, about mid August 2013, I decided that I was only going to wear clothes that I made for 6 months. I made a few exceptions, like undies, athletic wear, and my winter coat. At the time I, only had about 8 pieces I had made and liked in my closet.
It was all inspired by my apparel construction class. They were always asking me why I did not sew my own clothes. They did not understand why I did not use my skills and the skill I was teaching them. So I decided to do it.
I would say that now 90% of my daily wardrobe is handmade. I have not bought anything but under garments and a few vintage items since that challenge started 2 years ago. I also did not keep much of my wardrobe I had before the challenge. I only kept things I really loved like my favorite jeans, some cardigans, and a few favorite dresses.
There is great interest in sewing capsule wardrobes. Can you give us some pointers.
Honestly, you just have to decide to do it. There is never going to be enough time in your schedule or the perfect time to start. Make a piece or two a week for a few months. That is what I did. I sewed a garment or two every Sunday night after my kids went to sleep for several months. Then once you have pieces that you love, sew an item once a month or even one every other month. Remember a great wardrobe is not about the number of garments. It is about having clothes you love and fit great.
What has been your (to date) greatest/proudest achievement in the sewing world?
I think the day, I finally released my first pattern after months of working on it. I was also really excited the day I found out I had a pattern accepted to Sew News.
What would be a dream project for you? What are your plans for the future?
I have been doing a lot of research on reduced waste and zero waste pattern cutting. I am also really interested in environmentally sustainable practices, and would love to explore how we could implement these in the home sewing industry.
One of my biggest sewing related dream projects is to write a book. I want to be able to go to a book store or library and see my name on a binding.
If you woke up tomorrow and had no desire to sew or be ‘in the biz’, what would you be doing instead?
It would definitely be something food based like learning more about gardening, cooking or recipe development, or healthy food advocacy.
Any tips you’d like to share with the Sew News readers?
Instead of a tip, I would love to give a piece of advice. Sew things you know you will love. Take the time to adjust your patterns for a perfect fit so you will feel comfortable and confident. Spend a little more on great quality fabrics and make things you will wear for seasons to come.
To find more on Adelaide, please find her online here: