My name is Lucy Blaire, and I make oilcloth bags and PDF sewing patterns at my studio in Catskill, NY.
I started my sewing journey as a seamstress in a custom drapery workroom in South Boston. I like to tell people that sewing drapes is the least creative thing disguised as a creative thing in the entire world. I was itching for a fresh start when my husband and I moved to upstate New York (where I grew up) and I started hearing such wonderful things about this new website called Etsy.
The makeup bags that I’m now known for happened by accident when a local store needed me to design something extra for a Christmas event they were holding. When it was all over I threw the extra bags in my shop and they sold out within days. Now, years later, they’re my specialty and still selling like crazy. I’m always excited to hear the ways people use them – from holding dog biscuits to wet bathing suits; one customer used his to keep the tools for his drum kit!
Up until recently, I’ve been leading a double life. For years I’ve been selling my bags in my Etsy shop and designing sewing patterns for various books and magazines. I would toil away with my protractor, rulers, and compass designing all sorts of projects by day and then running out to the studio at night to make up Etsy orders. I continued this even after my daughter Marian was born a year-and-a-half ago, until both of us were running on empty. Etsy introduced the instant digital download feature and things seemed to finally fall into place. I’ve been able to take a break from the magazines and sell patterns directly to my fans and followers on my time – instead of having to explain to my little girl that mommy has yet another deadline.
I plan on bringing many more stuffed animal patterns to my shop, as that’s what I love to do. Each one starts out in my head fully realized, then I work backwards, reverse-engineering it in my mind. They’re like puzzles, except instead of putting them together you have to figure out how to take them apart. From there, I make pattern pieces and construct samples out of muslin, sculpting each one line by line, curve by curve, until it has the perfect shape. I’ve also been working to get some kid’s clothing patterns in the shop as well, so look for those in the near future. The makeup bags aren’t lost in the process though, rest assured! (Instead of makeup, they organize my diaper bag now.)
All photographs by Lucy Blaire.