Hello my colour loving friends! It’s a beautiful sunshiney morning here in Brisbane, and today I’m delighted to introduce you to our Designer of the Week (also from Brisbane), Jenny from Mitedesign. Jenny is a sewing extraordinaire and master of fabrics, and today I have the pleasure of reviewing her cheerful Apples and Pears t-shirt.
The Apples and Pears t-shirt is a handcut, handsewn original, made locally in Brisbane, Australia. The workmanship in the tee is quite superb, and the silhouette has a charming curved hem with the added whimsy of ruffled sleeves. However, it’s the smiley fabrics that truly tickled my fancy.
A bright sky blue mingles playfully with pink, red, lime and turquoise apples and pairs on the front, whilst a pretty mushroom is perched on plum polka dots and pink stripes on the reverse. The sleeves boast a groovy retro spherical pattern, all topped off with ribbon tags on the side hem.
The Verdict… A true experience in whimsy and joy!
Mitedesign began its journey in mid-2011, but designer Jenny has been creating and sewing since primary school. She explains, “I’ve always wanted to have a shop, and I’ve always loved beautiful things. I have been making clothes and accessories for my kids and their friends, so selling them was the next step. Creating things for others is really calming for the soul.”
Armed with her sewing skills and a playful vision, Jenny commandeered the lounge room for her creative space, invested in a high-quality sewing machine to add to her collection of 2 overlockers, a coverstitch and an embroidery machine, and started to create. She also joined the the BrisStyle designer’s co-op, attended business seminars specifically aimed at artisans, and networked with fellow crafters at social events and workshops. She says, “Getting advice and learning from those more experienced is invaluable!”
Jenny is Mum to fraternal twins (boy/girl), Trevor & Eleanor, who will be 5 at the end of this year. Her business name, MITE, is a tribute to her children… MI (my), T – Trevor, E – Eleanor. One of things that I loved about Jenny’s Apples and Pears tee was the intricate design, so I asked her to walk me through the design process…
When I’m designing clothing, I usually start by designing the pattern – be it t-shirt, skirt, pants, booties, whatever. I choose patterns based on the seasons, and try to build an inventory that works well together.
Next comes the expensive part – choosing fabrics & embellishments! I source a lot of my fabric from Germany and Scandinavia. I like to do machine embroidery too – and most of my designs are from German stores. Fortunately I can get most of my ribbon and bobble trims here in Australia.
I just love woodlands at the moment – mushrooms, hedgehogs, foxes, fairies! Matching the fabrics to the embroidery and the embellishments is definitely the fun part.
The design process doesn’t end there, as I then decide on the sewing techniques to make the garment even more special. For example lettuce leafing a cuff or hem can really make the garment pop! (Lettuce leafing is where frills are added, in a way where the seams are stretched, and they produce gorgeous twisty frills at the seam).
Lastly, I add the embellishments to match – this could be machine embroidery, gorgeous ribbon & bobble trims or iron-on transfers.
I test products at regular markets and seek advice from my customers. Other mums have great ideas!
Here’s three fun facts about Jenny (in her own words):
I am left & right brainer – as have a bachelor degree in Built Environment, plus qualifications in millinery & fashion.
I have unusually long hair, down to my bum.
My creative director is my cat Lily who monitors the cutting and sewing processes from atop my sewing table!
Mitedesign creates a range of clothing, homewares, giftware & accessories including jewellery. All products are handmade by Jenny, and each is a handcut and sewn original. You can purchase Jenny’s designs via her Etsy Store, or visit Mitedesign on Facebook. Custom orders and international shipping are welcome.