Get to know Nancy of studioTANTRUM
Redondo....Hermosa....Zuma...do these words ring a bell? If they don't - where have you been? Not only are these patterns the hottest thing since twirl skirts - the designer behind them on fire herself. Known as boosegumps*couture on eBay, she has hit the boutique scene running.
Nancy, owner of studioTANTRUM and mother of a boy & girl, started her pattern line recently. "It happened (happens) through a bit of creativity, a strong sense of trust, a lot of goodwill and a good amount of elbow grease," said Nancy.
"Like so many of us wanting the kinds of clothes for kids they have in Europe and having to resort to making them ourselves, I stumbled upon Sabine's online community klickundblick.de. I was pretty much hooked."
"One day, I got up the nerve and posted a couple of my outfits on klickundblick. The response was so welcoming and heartwarming and positive, that I sewed some more and I posted some more. And then I created a spiral flounce skirt. When I posted this, Sabine asked me if I wouldn't mind turning that skirt into a pattern. This offer blew me away. I have had a few ideas in my time and my ideas had been too often rejected outright (my inc. has tried this and that). So when Sabine offered this, I was really flattered and humbled. Redondo was our first collaboration."
"Of course Redondo needed something in the way of a shirt, so that was Hermosa. And Zuma just kind of happened in between."
This is a good time to introduce Sabine Pollehn. She is the force behind the amazing Farbenmix patterns, www.farbenmix.de. "I am really riding on her coat tails. She is the one who had faith in me and offered to help me make patterns. Sabine is rather shy and she is modest to a fault. I can share her philosophies of children's clothing and the ideas and opinions she has shared on her Web sites and blog."
"Sabine started "something". Her focus on colorful, joyful, quality handmade children's clothing made with the child and childhood in mind has brought hundreds of seamstresses to their machines. Sabine is very sharing of her ideas and techniques. She offers step-by-step online instructions for all kinds of things, even putting in a zipper in trousers, making the craft of sewing very accessible. Her use of color and seemingly bottomless wellspring of ideas, I'll argue, brings this craft close to art."
"She also cares so greatly about this craft, that in addition to the spectacular designs like PAULA and CARA, she will invest the time and money to put out a plain raglan shirt. But ZOE will be the best fitting, best looking raglan shirt out there, you can bet on it. She answers every--yes, every--email sewing question she receives."
"The buzz on European online forums is all about Farbenmix patterns, not the big pattern publishers. (Okay, one or two things have been said nice about studioTANTRUM, as well), These Farbenmix patterns are just better. I'm selling these patterns, so don't take my word for it. If you know a seamstress of children's clothing in Germany, ask her what she likes. You sew up one of Sabine's patterns and all of the sudden, you like to sew. It's that simple. The clothing looks great. It fits the proportions of a child and emphasizes a bit of whimsy. It is not adult clothing scaled down for a child: It is clothing for a child, from a child's point of view."
"If you know Sabine's patterns and her style you will see that others are looking to her and not the other way around. If you know how to look at European collections you can recognize Sabine's influence."
"Sabine and I, I think, have slightly different styles, but they are very complementary. We are in different parts of the world, have had different life experiences and are subject to different influences. I trust Sabine's judgement, respect her perfectionism and admire greatly her creative mind. I'm riding her coat tails and these are great coat tails to ride!"
Nancy shared with me her process of creating the patterns. "The process, for me, involves sketching, playing with fabric, twisting paper, looking at forms in nature. I try not to look at children's clothing, believe it or not. I look at historical clothing, ethnic clothing, unusual ideas in textiles and clothing forms. All of that input might take me to an article of clothing."
"But a pattern is some distance away from an article of clothing, because a pattern has to appeal to a lot of people on a lot of levels. That's the point that when the idea gets handed over to Sabine, who gives my pattern pieces and finished items a good, thorough, critical look.
" And then it goes to the test seamstresses, whom I value most for their criticism, as well as their talent and enthusiasm. The test seamstresses invest many painstaking hours doing centimeter and millimeter work until a design looks, fits, hangs and sews just right. This work can take a few days or a few months."
"And I am very, very grateful to have had the good fortune to work with these generous, postivie and creative women in a real labor of love."
I wanted to know how she came to sell on eBay? She is a member of the fantastic group, The Not So Plain Jaynes. "Hmm, have I come to Ebay? Okay, I'll admit I have sold one design example and I have a couple of auctions up and those are partly to promote these patterns (but it is also a ton of fun to participate in a launch--forgive me)."
"Ebay boutique sewing and the seamstresses behind it are the seamstresses doing the most sewing of children's clothing. And I like to see what they like. But really, I sew for my daughter and if ideas for patterns come from that, great! If I have more design examples sewn up than one five-year old could possibly wear in 10 years, those may find their way to Ebay as well."
"But now that I'm outed, I suppose I'll have to change my serger thread to match everytime ;-)"
"As far as what I think of the "boutique community"? I find it to be a happy, helpful, fun place full of creative women with whom you can discuss ruffles and button band strategies. How cool is that?"
What does she think about her patterns being used to make clothes sold on eBay? "I might have an idea now and then, but there are much better seamstresses out there. My favorite Redondos, Hermosas and Zumas have not been sewn by me, they were made by Elke, Gaby, Andrea, Claudia, Katalina, Wendy, Rebecca, ... the list goes on and on. And several of these ladies are in the cottage industry of making these up and selling them.'
"I, personally, get a huge kick seeing in which direction these patterns are going, places I wouldn't think of going (Rebecca putting Hermosa sleeves on a Western shirt? That's amazing)."
The patterns are road maps and the seamstress determines the journey. The designs that have sold for $200+ on the Ebay? I would not have thought of doing the designs that way. More power to them! (You go girls!)"
"I welcome the selling of single sewn examples by individual, private seamstresses. Why not? Despite the prices some items receive, from what I know, this sewing and selling is much more about the creative joy than about the money."
"Let's get real: the hourly wage on these handmade creations is way below minimum ;-)"
Redondo has been mass produced without my consent. Now, THAT is a bummer."
"I am very touched, however, when I'll get, for example, an email from a lady telling me how much she enjoys a certain pattern, that she sewed up one for her granddaughter, whom she doesn't see very often. Just the thought that I contributed in that act of love in some tiny way ... I get all teary. Or the mom whose girl just "had to" have a Redondo, so she basically learned to sew making it and is now hooked. Then I'll see the poorly photographed snapshot of some munchkin twirling her little heart out and that tickles me pink. But, honestly, I feel a great deal of responsibility. People are going to invest time and fabric and ideas with these patterns. I really hope they bring a lot of happiness to the seamstress and to some little girl."
studioTANTRUM is a worldwide company. There's Nancy in a small beach cottage in California, Sabine and family in Germany, her translator is in Australia and a part time seamstress in New Zealand. "A lot of the things are translated into 3 languages. So sure, how much more global can you get? In actuality, this is cottage industry with a lower case "c". On the other hand, as a reformed yuppie, I do believe this is a new and valid way of doing business and this is only a beginning." said Nancy.
How many of you want to know how she came up with the name studioTANTRUM? Well here is the story...."Let's say I know that feeling of not getting what you want and it makes you just want to--yeah--scream. I know that feeling and let's just say, as a mom, I've witnessed that feeling of frustration frequently enough. I don't scream and stamp my feet, but I will dig into a creative project with that energy. That's how I get my tantrums out. Same with "Mother of Invention": It is a necessity for me. I need to do something creative. Lately, it's been sewing. But I also enjoy writing and designing furniture. And you should see my sandcastles ;-)
"Tantrum" is also kind of a strong word and moms seem to understand it immediately. I also put "Got Love" on everything, because that is why I sew: I love my children, just the way they are, tantrums and all. And I put wings on most everything, because I think of the second verse of Gershwin's "Summertime" which is one lullaby I'll still sing "...come one morning, you're gonna rise up singing ... then you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky ..." and I remember how precious and short this time is."
"I have a more hoity-toity brand name up by sleeve that maybe I'll put to use one day."
Do you have a question or comment?
Leave a comment:
GERI OTTO | Sunday, November 29, 2009 6:24 PM | flag
WHAT A GREAT LINEE OF CLOTHING I LOVE YOUR IDEAS I TO AM A DESIGNER WAITING TO BE SEEN!KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK
| Thursday, July 2, 2009 12:18 AM | flag
DeeDee, Your story is inspiring and delightful. I am also creating now. I am slow. Thank you for sharing.
irina | Wednesday, April 8, 2009 11:50 PM | flag
Great work!Your's designs are so beautiful...
Gramma to two | Sunday, January 18, 2009 4:54 PM | flag
At 52, I am trying to learn to sew. Why? Because I absolutely fell in LOVE with Nancy and Sabine's beautiful european style designs!! But I can't afford to buy the clothes ready-made by others for my granddaughter. Wish me luck, I am nervous about trying to trace the pattern and add my own seam allowance. Would you ever consider making American patterns for those of us who are new to sewing? Thank you :)
Caroline - Mistletoe Ranch Kids | Friday, January 11, 2008 9:47 PM | flag
Thank you for sharing your story. My daughters just love your designs and I enjoy creating them for the ones I love.
pink-Lisa | Monday, February 26, 2007 6:31 PM | flag
Hey Nancy, great interview...you are a genius!
Jaike | Wednesday, February 14, 2007 4:59 AM | flag
Hello Nancy I think you are very cool with soooooooo cute Designs.... Best Regards to you Jaike
auntpatsattic | Saturday, January 6, 2007 3:35 PM | flag
Where do some of these mean people come from? Anyway--I got my first Patterns--Zuma and Redondo for my 2 year old granddaughter and CANNOT WAIT to start them tonight!! Love these patterns--they're exciting--and love Journal Modiste!
pixikins*boutique | Sunday, October 15, 2006 5:29 PM | flag
I got my first studio tantrum pattern a couple of days ago for zumsa and I just can't wait to use it! You designs are so creative, and DIFFERENT! It's so refreshingn to have an option for something besides ruffle pants! Thanks! Ashley
Naomi | Thursday, September 28, 2006 3:31 PM | flag
I've just discovered your patterns and am going to try some out! I'm very excited!!!!!!
| Monday, September 11, 2006 7:11 AM | flag
Oh Nancy , call me stupid , call me old , I just descovered yout interview right now and I think if someone has diserved it than you and Sabine ..you are the best... andrea
| Saturday, September 2, 2006 5:45 AM | flag
I noticed a seller on ebay selling these patterns, is that Nancy?
| Friday, September 1, 2006 3:35 PM | flag
"The Redondo skirt pattern is NOT new. It was designed by Birch Street Clothing a LONG time ago. Look it up if you don't believe me." Gored skirts have been around forever. This pattern is a NEW twist on an old spiral skirt. This is NOT the same pattern as Birch street. It does not make up the same and does not sew up the same. It doesn't have the same pieces or waist band or shape when your finished. I have sewn both - have you?
| Thursday, August 31, 2006 6:53 PM | flag
The Redondo skirt pattern is NOT new. It was designed by Birch Street Clothing a LONG time ago. Look it up if you don't believe me.
Anjana | Friday, August 25, 2006 5:13 AM | flag
I can only agree with you all. Nancy and Sabine are the best creative minds I've seen. I really started sewing when I came across Sabines website. It was before she started her online store. I was forever searching for fun and kidfriendly clothing for my daughter and Nancy and Sabine just have the most fun patterns there are. I get so many ideas when I look at their patterns. I get inspired when I see the wonderful outfits Nancy and Sabine have created and off I go and order fabric to make some new outfit for my daughter. I am from Germany myself and every time I go there to visit Friends and Family I am amazed at how many little girls are wearing Nancys Redondo pattern skirt. It's funny, I never thought I would actually start sewing, but here I am and my daughter and her friends just love all the different color combos and sometimes even funny outfits I've made. I am so happy to have come across these two very nice, helpful and creative women. Thank you so much for your great patterns Nancy and Sabine and get to work and invent and create more. You have created a "monster" as my husband puts it :-) My fabric stash is getting bigger every day and I can't wait to see the next Tantrum pattern. Greeting from the eastcoast to the westcoast sends Anjana
Melissa | Friday, August 18, 2006 7:36 AM | flag
I adore you and Sabine. My girls love everything and they go dancing in these clothes. I am addicated to StudioTANTRUM and Farbenmix patterns now. I am so happy that it comes out everywhere. :-) Congrats!!
Nancy | Saturday, August 12, 2006 6:17 PM | flag
Oh, c'mon! You all breath new life into these ideas everytime you sew them up anew! Thank YOU. I am just thrilled and grateful to be a tiny part of this creative movement. I want to express my thanks to my brave band of independent retailers, who took a chance on sellilng these untraditional patterns! Thank you, Amy, for the chance to talk about Fabrnmix and studioTANTRUM. -N.
Dayna (my*unbirthday) | Wednesday, August 9, 2006 11:12 PM | flag
I loved reading this article and adore all of your pattern designs Nancy! My girls are screaming for more! I look forward to seeing what's next...Dayna
Cree | Wednesday, August 9, 2006 6:42 PM | flag
Yippee Nancy! You are SUCH a super star! I can still remember the feeling of absolute excitment, enery and motivation that swept over me when I discovered you and Sabine. I just get such a buzz working with you amazing ladies! See ya round like a rissole! Cree
Nicole - Fabrichound.com | Wednesday, August 9, 2006 6:07 PM | flag
Wonderful article. I love your patterns Nancy and Sabine's too. Not only do they make my customers happy, you two brought back my joy of sewing too with your wonderful designs!! I can't wait to see what you talented souls come up with next!
gyl | Wednesday, August 9, 2006 1:31 PM | flag
Well I wanna come see the sandcastles & I think you are a super designer Nancy!!
Priscilla-KNB | Wednesday, August 9, 2006 9:04 AM | flag
You are one of my favorite designers, I think I have bought some of these patters. They look very familiar to me.I think its what I bought. I can wait to get them. I only wish that when I lived in Europe that I had found you then. Keep the good patterns and the wonderful flavor you have!
| Tuesday, August 8, 2006 6:52 PM | flag
Love the patterns. You have a great eye for details!