If you’ve ever ordered an online pattern, you may know the somewhat daunting task of printing/cutting/taping together the pattern from a PDF document. Enter Sarah Kirsten, whose patterns are designed around your own measurements, which are transferred directly to the fabric, cutting out the pattern altogether.
Sarah Kirsten’s designs are functional, beautiful, and because of her ingenious drafting technique, the finished product is tailored specifically for your body.
If I could have one wish, it would be a complete wardrobe of Sarah Kirsten clothing. I’m not much of a sewer, so this is somewhat unlikely to happen, but a girl can dream. It’s a huge thrill to feature Sarah Kirsten for the first interview of the Aningri Work series.
1. What is the work that you do?
I'm an indie sewing pattern designer. I design clothes and bags that help people express who they are, show how beautiful they are, and take away all the confusing clutter of sewing patterns so people can focus on the important thing -- creating.
2. How did you get to where you are now in your work?
It took me a long time to get to a place emotionally where I was willing to sell my patterns. Drafting has always been natural to me. Visualization of shapes and sizes angles and the interfaces of 3D objects has always made sense in my head, so I didn’t realize for a long time that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And then there was the whole thing of feeling strange because I realized I had a talent that others didn’t and figuring out how to deal with that was difficult. I finally came to a place where I realized that in order to fully embrace who I am I need to fully embrace my talents. Along with that I’ve realized that walking fully in our talents is the best way we can serve others.
3. What is the value of being yourself in your work?
I think when you're in any field, but especially in design, it's so important to remember that no one else can create something exactly like you can. Even if you have similar design ideas to someone else, the way you construct the design is different. You bring uniqueness simply because you are a unique being. I think the more we are willing to be in touch with our uniqueness the more of ourselves shows up in our work, and the more valuable our work becomes. Ultimately realizing that we are talented, we have things to bring to the table, we are unique -- that's the value of being myself in my work.
4. What do you personally bring to your work?
It's especially fun for me to use skills I know I have but wouldn't necessarily be using if I weren't designing patterns. I know that I'm good at creating things as simply as possible, I know I'm good at explaining and presenting things clearly and simply in a visual way, and I know I'm good at breaking things down into clear steps. It's a joy for me to be able to use all of those skills as the basis of my whole brand. And not only that, but to watch them grow and change and to learn how adaptable they are to trends and styles.
5. Who or what inspires, encourages, teaches you in this line of work?
Sewing is often presented as this complex thing where you need a lot of tools and equipment. I just saw a tutorial the other day that recommended 3 different kinds of scissors just to do a certain zipper technique -- not to mention all the other tools recommended. If I were new to sewing and didn't have all those things I would feel overwhelmed. It's inspiring to me to make sewing simple and accessible to people who don't have all the tools that an advanced seamstress has. Sewing at its simplest is merely stitching fabric together. That added with some simple measuring and cutting, you can make clothes that fit your own body. It's pretty amazing and doesn't need to be complex.
6. What do you dream about?
I dream of having a big warehouse studio with lots of windows and white walls, a few employees milling about, and a more diversified business. I sell patterns now, I'd like to get into selling textiles or something else related to the sewing field. And I dream of living in a place where I can go rock climbing every night.
7. What does a good day’s work look like for you?
I put myself on a weekly schedule where I divided up the necessary tasks for each day of the week. It's been really fun to experience the mental breakthrough of not being pulled in multiple directions at one time. So my ideal day is a day I complete each task with fullness and excellence. Even if I don't completely finish it, if I give it the best of me and am proud of the work I do, that is my ideal work day.
8. How do you relax/wind down/take time off/recharge?
Get some exercise, eat ice cream, check Instagram (sometimes you even need a break from IG though, right?), watch a movie, read a book, sit in the car and drink chai lattes while watching the sunset. And sometimes if it's really time for something different or recharging I like to do a different sort of creation. Like paint something or do some woodworking or other crafting. I feel like that helps reset creativity sometimes when I start to feel exhausted.
9. What guidance would you give to someone who wants to do the kind of work you do?
Believe in your abilities. You are talented. You are unique. Step into your gifts. Trust your gifts. Accept your talents. Then just go for it!
10. What do you need right now in your work?
More willingness to publish things before they are perfect.