Lucky us, that even out here in the country we have so many talented designers nearby. We especially admire Jen Giddens, who designs some of our favorite bag patterns while attending university in a quite competitive program. So that you could get to know her too, Jen was kind enough to answer some interview questions recently. Read on and you’ll see why we think Jen is so awesome, and why we’re so excited for her upcoming workshop at Suppose!
Other than designing bag patterns, what do you spend your days doing?
The bulk of my time is spent doing school projects. I’m a junior in the Interior Design department at Utah State University. I love the creativity and practicality of my major, and I spend a lot of time perfecting projects and participating in school organizations. I also work for the USU Cooperative Extension program, where I write researched based documents and develop projects about clothing and textiles.
When I’m not working on patterns, school, or work I enjoy skiing, training for my second half marathon, baking oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, spending time with my husband and with friends, and drinking endless amounts of tea!
Where do you get design inspiration?
I hope that all of my patterns are a combination of aesthetics and function. This is true for interior design as well: for something to be truely beautiful, it must first satisfy its functional requirements. When I first develop a pattern, I ask myself what functions the bag should fulfill. Of course I think about how the bag will look, and it’s often a back and forth process as I move from function to aesthetics and back.
In terms of what inspires me in general, this is a tough question because my inspiration changes daily! I am inspired by images from interior design magazines, textiles, furniture, etc. I am also inspired by the natural world. I enjoy going to the library and checking out books about shells, seeds, corals, beetles, or whatever else strikes my fancy as I browse through the stacks.
What was the first thing you ever sewed? The last thing?
In Home Economics in middle school I sewed a pillow shaped like a jar that held a cute little felt bug! It was adorable, and I loved it until it was completely squished and flat. Most recently, I sewed a lovely gray linen dress with a ruffled collar.
What’s the hardest part about designing patterns?
The most difficult part about designing patterns is making sure that what I am thinking in my head is effectively communicated onto paper in my instructions. I wish I could invite you over to my house so we could sew together! Instructions seem so impersonal, and it is hard for me to bridge the gap sometimes.
What one sewing tip do you wish everyone knew?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and mess up! I am self-taught, and the way I do things might not necessarily be the way it is taught by some expert seamstresses. I have made SO many sewing mess-ups, but each time I learn something new that I can apply to my next project. Don’t be afraid to do things that aren’t by the book.
What one sewing tool can you not live without?
I absolutely love my Gingher scissors that my Grandma got me for Christmas years ago. They feel lovely in my hand and are a dream to cut with.
Any plans for other types of patterns in addition to bags?
Eventually, I would like to branch out into patterns for home use. I would like to make patterns for home organization and patterns for use in the kitchen. I have no concrete plans yet, but I do have pages of doodles in my sketchbook.
Can’t wait for those home org & kitchen patterns!
Jen will be teaching her most popular bag pattern in the Pleated Tote Workshop on Saturday, April 17 at 10:00am Suppose. See more about the class here and more of Jen’s bag patterns here.