Pamela Leggett

Pamela Leggett

Pamela Leggett, owner and designer of Pamela’s Patterns built her career around sewing and fashion.  She never imagined doing anything else.  Born and raised in Michigan, her first memories are of sewing with her Grandmother on a treadle sewing machine. By the time she was twelve, she could put a garment together without help.  By age 14, she was sewing for others, mostly doing alterations. She has become a designer, teacher and author with a national reputation.  She is also the coordinator/ instructor for the Palmer/Pletsch East School of Sewing.

Pamela says, “My first job as a teenager was in a shoe repair shop. I was just supposed to be a cashier, but every chance I got I was back in the workroom trying out the really amazing machines. Through school, I worked for sewing machine dealers and fabric stores.  My senior year was spent apprenticing with a Japanese tailor as part of a work/study program.”

In 1978 with the optimism of youth and a huge collection of vintage clothing, Pamela opened a boutique in the resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan. She soon realized her shop needed another source of revenue.  She brought in retail fashion and her own designs. She also did alterations, custom clothing, stage clothing for rock bands, home dec and bridal, which she continued to do long after the boutique closed.

blog-4Pamela and her first husband moved to Connecticut in 1980 to start a family.  Her most prized possession was her Viking sewing machine. When it broke down, she rushed it to the nearest sewing machine dealer. When the owner of Manchester Sewing Center quoted a price for the repair, she was shocked.  Since she had always worked for dealers, she’d never had to “pay” for a repair.  She couldn’t afford to have it fixed.  The owner could see how upset she was.  He said, “I’m going to fix your sewing machine and you can pay me when you’re able.” She cried all the way home because he had been so kind.

A year later, that man — Aaron Cheerman — called her out of the blue. He was expanding his store and wanted her to teach classes. She told him she had never done anything like that.  He said he was not worried, she could do it. As a matter of fact, he believed she would be great. Pamela says, “To this day, I have no idea why he even remembered me.  But that phone call was a turning point. Mr. Cheerman became my employer, business teacher, mentor, and biggest supporter.” Pamela managed the store for 22 years. Manchester Sewing Center spawned an amazing number of sewing educators and pattern designers. J Stern Designs, Gail Patrice Design and Anna Mazur, (Pattern Review Editor for Threads Magazine) all started teaching at Manchester Sewing.

Teaching became a new focus in her life.  She loved to develop sewing classes about sewing machines, fashion, tailoring and proper fit. For several years in the late 80’s, Pamela and two of her sewing students started a fashion company called Tuesday’s Original Wardrobes. Their target market was the entertainment industry in the Hartford CT area, and they sold their line to the likes of Gayle King (Oprah’s best friend!).

In 1985, Pamela got her first serger, but she was not impressed.  It seemed like there were so many things it could NOT do. The seams on knit fabric would stretch out, inside curves puckered, and serged seams weren’t strong enough for woven fabrics.

Frustrated, she took a serger class from Patsy Shields at a Sulky conference. “I could not believe the things she did with a serger!  Patsy turned the knobs, she fiddled with tensions, and I realized this machine required a different set of rules.  It was an epiphany for me and I was hooked. I was determined to find out exactly how a serger worked.  I wanted to understand every element of this wonderful machine so I could explain it and teach people.”

Pamela Leggett's Serer Tips
Gaining confidence about sergers became Pamela’s new mission. The development of differential feed rocked her world!  Pamela enjoyed learning about and mastering each new improvement in the technology, and she cannot imagine sewing without a serger!! She does almost all of her seaming with a serger — and all her finishing work with a sewing machine.

Pamela became fascinated with the possibilities of decorative work with a serger. She loves flatlock and calls it the “two-for-one stitch” because you get ladders on one side, and loops on the other — both beautiful stitches. She developed new concepts which became the basis for her very popular series of flatlock serger classes.

In 2000, Pamela started writing serger articles for Threads Magazine based on her popular class, The Serger Workshop.

In 2005, Pamela moved to the Philadelphia area with her second husband, Bill, and became the manager of Steve’s Sewing in King of Prussia.  Pamela says, “Steve’s is an amazing store with a talented staff and very loyal customers.  I am blessed to have a store of this caliber to call my home.”  She teaches garment, fit and serger classes at least two days a week, unless she is traveling.  She also enjoys purchasing and displaying the fashion fabrics (which are selling very well!)  She organizes and presents a Serger Club event every other month.

 

Pamela Leggett's Serger Patterns

Some of Pamela’s Patterns.

 

Pamela created her first patterns to use in her classes.   Although she never intended the patterns to become a business, after Threads Magazine did a feature on Pamela’s Patterns, she learned how to run a pattern business — super fast!

The tag line on Pamela’s Patterns is “Designed to fit and flatter women with REAL figures!”  Her patterns are made for women with curves and fluff and scallops — all the things that happen as our bodies mature.  As a Palmer/Pletsch Fit Specialist, Pamela is able to assess the most common alterations needed for a mature figure and put them into her patterns.  They have a much more realistic fit than commercial sewing patterns.

A peek into Pamela Leggett’s sewing studio.

A peek into Pamela’s studio.

Pamela’s sewing studio and warehouse are attached to her home.  This is a good and bad thing.  It is very convenient, but bad for a workaholic! Her studio was featured in Threads Magazine a couple years ago, and is very functional.  It contains her office, shipping center, design and workroom.  Pamela’s Patterns are sold internet retail, wholesale and to distributors.  She has an assistant who does most of the shipping and website work.

Melissa Watson, Pati Palmer & Pamela Leggett

Melissa Watson, Pati Palmer & Pamela

Like she’s not busy enough — Pamela is also the instructor and coordinator for the East Coast branch of Palmer/Pletsch.   Steve Chubin, owner of Steve’s, hosts the Palmer/Pletsch School of Sewing four times a year. People from all over the country come to Philadelphia to attend Pamela’s classes in Fit, Pant and Knits. The April and May 2015 workshops sold out very quickly.

Pamela says, “Sewing has brought wonderful people into my life. Outside of my family, teaching sewing is my greatest joy. It is such a blessing to be involved in the lives of women who sew.  They are the most generous, giving, thoughtful, funny and creative people on earth.”

Pamela’s favorite sites:

www.pamelaspatterns.com
www.palmerpletsch.com
www.stevessewandvac.com

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Angela Wolf – Fashion Designer and Founder of ABO Apparel and Angela Wolf Pattern Collection

Angela Wolf - Taping TV Show with One of Her New Patterns

Angela Wolf, anchor of the PBS series It’s Sew Easy and host of Craftsy’s new sewing channel on YouTube, is a fashion designer and founder of ABO Apparel and Angela Wolf Pattern Collection. She wrote the book, How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Business.  She is also a spokesperson, blogger, and has contributed to both Threads and SewStylish magazines.  Angela enjoys sharing her passion for fashion sewing and was voted 2012 Teacher of the Year by the American Sewing Expo.

Angela Wolf Book, How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Design BusinessThe oldest of 5 children, Angela’s mom always had a craft going:  needle point, rug kits, paper crafts, cake decorating — there was a big variety.  But sewing was Angela’s favorite.  She made her first outfit (skirt and vest) at summer camp when she was 11.  Even though she was the biggest tom-boy ever, she chose to make a skirt and vest.

Angela recalls, “I was obsessed with fashion sewing and design.  When I was a sophomore in high school, I snuck some vibrant red fabric out of my mother’s stash.  I lay on the fabric and my sisters drew around me with chalk.  The result looked more like a crime scene than a fashion pattern.  But I used their chalk markings to sew and fit the cutest dress.  I wish I’d kept it!
 
I always loved math (which really comes in handy), so I started college with an engineering degree in mind.  Instead, I graduated with a business degree as that seemed more applicable for entrepreneurship.  During college, my old Singer machine went with me from dorm room to dorm room to apartment, and I designed clothes for myself and others. My sewing machine died two weeks before graduation.  As a gift, my family gave me a brand new sewing machine and serger.  Their idea was to satisfy my ‘hobby’.  Little did they know those machines would launch my career.  I could hardly wait to do what I knew I was meant to do . . . Fashion Design.“

After graduating, Angela moved to Saint Joseph, Michigan and studied everything she could about Fashion Design:  Couture sewing, fitting, flat pattern making, draping, and designing for various body shapes.   She designed a collection with 16 garments and invited all the women she knew to an informal fashion show at a local restaurant (offering free wine). That night was the launch of her custom apparel business, ABO Apparel.

Angela Wolf designs jeans to dresses appropriate for wedding bells.

Angela designs jeans to dresses appropriate for wedding bells.

Many of her clients wanted her to alter their ready-to-wear garments to fit like the custom clothing she designed for them.  Although Angela felt that asking a fashion designer to alter clothes was like asking Picasso to paint your bathroom, she took on alterations because it paid well.  Also, she felt every woman, no matter her size, deserved well-fitting garments.  She soon realized the bonus to doing alterations on designer garments (Chanel, Armani, Escada, etc.) was that she could learn from the masters.  As she pulled them apart, she could clearly see how these fine garments were interfaced, underlined, understitched, staystitched, and so much more.

In 2008, Angela entered the Passion for Fashion design contest at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan.  The contest was similar to an episode of Project Runway, except it was live and on the show floor of a very busy consumer sewing show.  The contestants were given a challenge, and then shopped for fabric from show vendors.  They created their garments with thousands of consumers watching their every move.  During the final Fashion Show, Angela was declared the winner.  It was a game changer.
 
Until that moment, Angela didn’t even know there was a “sewing world” out there.  She had never attended a consumer sewing show and her victory at the American Sewing Expo (ASE) was a turning point.  The following year she exhibited a large display of her couture designs and the year after that Angela was invited to teach.  In 2012, she was awarded the ASE teacher of the year award.

Angela looks back on her first 15 years in business as a sewing, fitting, and pattern designing bootcamp.  After getting involved with American Sewing Expo, she realized she had a lot to share and she loved teaching. She developed several classes including how to sew your own designer jeans, hand dying fabrics, how to sew with knits, and starting and running an alterations business. And now, thanks to PatternReview and Craftsy, she has over 77,000 students from all over the world.

During this time, Angela met Kathie Stull, who was in the beginning stages of planning the PBS series, It’s Sew Easy.  The concept was for a sewing show that focused on garment sewing.   Angela was a perfect fit and she has been the anchor of the show for 6 years.

Angela Wolf Pattern Collection

What are you wearing today Angela?

Angela’s credibility for It’s Sew Easy came from the fact that she designed and sewed all her own clothes.  She started receiving viewer emails asking “what pattern was your top, or your jeans? etc.”

At that point, Angela made the decision to switch gears in her business.  Instead of designing and sewing for individual clients, she invested in a new CAD software program and started Angela Wolf Pattern Collection — to create patterns for the home sewist.

Her goal with the patterns was to offer a good fit with easy to follow directions no matter how complicated the design.  She wanted the pattern printed on quality paper (easier to trace), with a spiral bound booklet with the directions so the booklet could fold back at the sewing machine.  There would be a coordinating PDF file for the tablet users.

Angela works from a 6,000 sq. ft. office/studio about 10 miles from her house.  She tries to keep to a daily routine when she’s not traveling.   Her first hour is shipping and answering customer emails.  Her day might include some or all of the following — blogging, taping and editing video tutorials, testing new patterns, consulting, experimenting with new technology on sewing and embroidery machines, or designing fabric.

“Fabric inspires me to create and I have quite the stash. I design a lot of my own fabrics, although I don’t sell it on a mass scale, it’s on my short-term bucket list.  From hand-dyeing, printing, embellishing with embroidery and quilting, the list goes on. It makes me sad to see so many fabric stores closing, as people buy online or they go to a store and find a better deal online.  There is nothing better than touching and feeling the hand of the fabrics!”  

Angela with 20+ lbs. of King Salmon Glory!

Angela with 75 lbs. (well, we think it’s that big) of King Salmon Glory!

From April through September, Angela leaves the office on Friday to jump on board their boat the Win-n-Angel.  Her husband (his name is Winn) and she (sometime the Angel) fish professionally on the Salmon Tournament Trail on Lake Michigan. They are featured on the Salmon Showdown reality tv show.  Brother is the official sponsor of their team.  So, of course every team has embroidered jackets and hats.  Angela is honored to be Brother’s official brand ambassador in the sewing world and humbled by the fact they believe in her enough to sponsor her fishing team in the sports world.

“The phrase work hard, play hard sums up my life.  I never stop working — even when I am laying in the sun on a beach — I am coming up with new embellishing techniques, new patterns, thinking about new technology on the machines, researching new trends, new ideas for fabric designs.  Years ago, my grandmother asked, ‘does your mind ever stop?’ Not when you love what you do!
 
One viewer wrote and told me that watching It’s Sew Easy on Saturday mornings became her new routine after she lost her husband. She told me it helped her to work through the grief and inspired her to start sewing again. I am very blessed to have a career that I am able to grow in and inspire others to do the same.”

Visit Angela at:
www.AngelaWolf.com
www.AngelaWolfPatterns.com
www.ItsSewEasytv.com
fashionsewingwithangelawolf.com/blog
www.youtube.com/user/aboapparel
www.facebook.com/AngelaWolfCouture
www.pinterest.com/angelawolfpins/
twitter.com/Angela_Wolf

 

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