Welcome to my handmade corner of the internet. I’m Heather Lou, a Montreal based sewing pattern designer & blogger, and learning to sew changed my life.
I was a shopaholic, Vogue-reading fashion obsessive with a “dream job” in commercial interior design; I also had a packed closet, nothing to wear, and a whole lot of consumer debt. I was fed up with fast fashion, my credit card bills and that empty feeling that came after a shopping spree so I made a deal with myself: for one year, the only “new” things that came into my closet would be clothing I made myself. It was a year of tremendous growth and self reflection as I discovered the act of making. It’s hard not to talk about it without getting hyperbolic, but learning to sew was the best, biggest, most awesome thing that ever happened to me. I felt like I unlocked a superpower, or got hit with some kind of ray-gun that made it possible for me to shoot beautiful handmade outfits out of my fingerprints.
Sewing took over my life. I learned everything I could about construction, fitting and fabric. Eventually I moved on to pattern-making, which tickles my left and right brain equally, and was a natural extension of the technical design and drafting I was doing in my professional life.
I released my first sewing pattern almost on a lark; I thought that maybe a few other ladies would appreciate the modest but sexy Bombshell swimsuit as much as I did, but the response was overwhelming, and I figured i was onto something when many of my customers posted pictures of themselves actually wearing it online. Mind: blown.
In 2014, after a lot of soul searching, I left my day job to focus on pattern-making and blogging full time.These days, I’m at work in the studio designing sewing resources that will help my fellow makers explore their own creativity and personal style. Closet Case Patterns are chic, modern, necessary luxuries: the items in your wardrobe you never knew were missing but reach for again and again. I’m focused on releasing beautifully designed and drafted patterns that can be infinitely customized, personalized and hacked, along with hopefully sharing the skills and research I’ve picked up along the way. In the meantime, this space will continue to be the place where I share my personal projects, inspirations and thoughts about making and running a creative business.
Thank you so much for reading, for being a part of this community, and for your comments, friendship, advice and wisdom.
STAY IN TOUCH
What’s with the name of this thing?
I love a good pun, and I grew up reading Nancy Drew books; Closet Case Files came into my brain one day and stuck. I am now proud to say that this blog is the first google search result for “closet case”. Take that John Travolta!
Why do you blog?
I started writing about my sewing practice as a way to document my progress. I ended up falling in love with a bunch of strangers who were doing the same thing, and this space has become a way for me to stay connected to an amazing community of sewists, while sharing my makes, musings and internet meanderings. It’s also a venue for me to talk about what I’m designing, and to create tutorials and sewalongs so I can share what I’ve learned along the way.
Why don’t you draft everything you sew?
Drafting patterns can be very time consuming, and since it’s what I do for a living, I often just want something fast and easy when I can find time to sew for myself. I also love to support other indie pattern companies when I can. My current favourites are Grainline, Named and True Bias.
What do you do when you’re not shackled to a sewing machine?
I read (a lot). I also cook, host dinner parties, go for long bike rides around Montreal, and try to find undiscovered gems on Netflix. I recently rediscovered knitting, which helps soothe my over-active brain and has become a bit of an expensive obsession.
I have a few coveted vintage Vogue designer patterns from the 60’s that I will track down, lovingly caress, rage at for the inadequate instructions, and eventually create a few insane, couture quality garments that will be buried with me when I leave this mortal coil.
How did you teach yourself to sew?
I’ve sewn since I was a kid, but I really got going again in my 20’s. The vast majority of my education has come from the internet. Google is my best friend when it comes to new techniques or terms I don’t know. These days, as my practice has evolved, I’ve found I turn a lot more to books for more refined or specific information.
- The Readers Digest Complete Book of Sewing is a great old-school reference.
- Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes is a wonderful book for beginners.
- Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin is a great resource for sewing knits.
- If you’re looking to up your construction game, I highly recommend Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaffer or The Dressmaker’s Guide to Couture Sewing Techniques by Linda Maynard.
- Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing is perfect for vintage lovers.
- Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin is invaluable.
- Fit for Real People and Fitting & Pattern Alteration are my go-tos for fit advice.
How did you learn pattern-making?
I already had a good foundation in drafting principles and technical drawing after 9 years in interior design, and I was very comfortable working in Adobe Illustrator when I started experimenting with custom patterns. I invested in a few pattern-making books and proceeded from there. I really love Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear, and the Bunka drafting books are great for more specific drafting applications. Draping by Karolyn Kiisel is wonderful for a more hands-on approach to making patterns.
Need a confidence boost? Read Just Make It Already for a “you can do it” pep talk.
I loved the dialogue that resulted from this post on pattern testing.
How to make the greatest cutting table ever.
That time I quit my day job to sew for a living.
My journey designing packaging for my patterns.
Advice on quitting your job to follow your dream.
I like to share stuff I’ve learned about blogging & running a business:
- Relocating your blog to a custom URL from Blogger
- The best camera for blogging
- Choosing an ecommerce platform
- How to monetize your blog
- Accounting tips for creative businesses
PRESS // INTERVIEWS
- Talking about money with Seamwork Radio for Colette Media
- Episode #68 of the While She Naps podcast
- Ginger Jeans in Threads Magazine (May 2016)
- Carolyn Pajama pattern in Seamwork magazine
- An investigation on the fabric industry in Seamwork Magazine
- A history and guide to working with denim in Seamwork Magazine
- Ginger Jeans in Mollie Makes Sewing
- “Sew Your Own Swimwear”, Love Sewing Magazine, Issue 17
- Reyna Lay Designs Podcast
- The Sewing Affair Podcast
- Three Questions for Mode Montreal
- Pattern Picks for Plus Size Sewing, Love Sewing Magazine, Issue 16
- Meet The Maker on Kollabora
- Made in Montreal: The Bombshell Swimsuit
- Interview on ::Paunnet::
- Interview on personal style with Seamstress Erin