Colette

Meet: Katie-Louise Ford

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Katie-Louise is a young designer from Melbourne Australia, who makes frocks reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s. Katie also strives to lessen her impact on the environment by using recycled and vintage fabric and notions where she can. When she’s not sewing she can be found riding her bicycle, drawing, baking scones,  and having long picnics by the seaside. Katie is also the model in all the photographs, except the wedding photo.

How did you first learn to sew?

I first started hand sewing outfits for my Barbies at a very young age, this progressed to jumping on sewing machines whenever possible and teaching myself.

What led you to choose sewing as a career path?

I sewed a lot as a teenager, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do when I finished high school in 2006. I moved to the city and my Mum suggested I do a fashion design course, from day one I knew that was where I was meant to be.

I am now studying costume design, which has really changed my design aesthetic. I’ve learnt many old fashioned techniques that really inspire me to create well-made, beautiful clothing.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

In everyday life, 1950s children’s books, nature, old family photographs, and art.

Your designs seem heavily inspired by vintage designs, what is your favorite era of fashion to look to?

My designs are mostly 1940s-1960s in style but I am inspired by so many different eras.  Studying costume history has exposed me to so many beautiful garments with the most intricate details. At the moment my favorite era of fashion is Late Baroque.

The bride wears one of Katie's creations for her big day

I think it is great that you use so much vintage and recycled fabric and materials. Where do you usually find the materials you use?

I dedicate days to fabric hunts and catch trams all over the city to different op-shops and remnant fabric warehouses.

Do you think that working with vintage and recycled materials presents any challenges, if so what are they?

It is next to impossible to go hunting for a particular fabric and hit gold; once I realized this everything became much easier! Now I love the potluck nature of fabric shopping. Some of my popular designs are made with new fabrics but I always try to incorporate some vintage elements, whether a zip or a few sweet buttons.

How did you go about creating a workspace that worked for you and your creative process? What are some aspects of your workspace that are important to you?

I work out of my apartment, which I absolutely love; it feels very homely and relaxed, which really helps my creative process. The important aspects of my workspace are inspirational pictures and fabrics on the walls, plenty of natural light and air, my super steam iron and knowing that the beach is only a 5-minute stroll down the road.

Who are some other designers that you admire?

Dette Ede, Alexandra Grecco, Nadinoo, and Death By Drone.

What is your favorite sewing tool and why?

My new steam iron that the Mr. gave me for Christmas, it puts all other irons to shame and makes my work a whole lot easier!

What sewing technique would you be lost without?

Herringbone stitch, hand basting and invisible zippers.

Do you have any tips for aspiring designers/seamstresses?

Start today! There are so many wonderful opportunities out there for young designers such as Etsy and young designer markets. It is the perfect time to get yourself out there, people love supporting handmade!

You can see more of Katie Louise on her website!

Kirsten Harris   —