Taylor Tailor talks about Sewing and Design

Interviewed by: Jen Sparkman 

What is your name and what do you do? 

I’m Taylor Hackbarth and my wife and I run a small web and graphic design company in Nashville, TN.

In my spare time sew and draft patterns for clothing and bags.

Why do you like to sew? 

I love creating. Sewing is the perfect combination of left and right brain activity, technical but creative at the same time. It’s also a useful skill in that I can make most things I want to wear. The other thing I like about sewing is that there is always something to learn. It’s a hobby you can grow old with, and constantly be challenging yourself with something new.

What have you made that you are most proud of? 

My jeans. They were my first “real” project that I completed, and by “real” I mean that I felt comfortable wearing them out of the house. I drafted the pattern myself, and they are still an essential part of my wardrobe. If you use the right kind of denim and take care of it, the jeans change and fade over time, representing a little bit about who you are.

What is your favorite kind of thread ? 

Hmm, I love heavy topstitching thread. It gives garments and bags a real professional finish that general purpose thread can’t. It has a polyester core for strength, and then a polyester wrap on the outside for thickness and appearance. 

Tell me about the process of pattern making. How do you start? What did you do to learn how to do it? 

For clothing, I start with a drafting system, which could come from a book or online tailoring forum. These systems use measurements taken from your body. Using various rulers and curves, the measurements are used to draft a jacket, or pair of jeans, or shirt, or whatever you want to make.

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Sometimes I get lucky and this first draft fits reasonably well, but usually there is a long drawn out process of trial and error to draft a pattern that fits great. I make a test garment, try it on, mark the problem areas, translate those adjustments to a paper pattern, and repeat with other test garments until I’m happy with the fit.

I’ve learned from books as well as online. I also have an amazing mentor/teacher in Nashville who helps me with fit issues and pattern adjustments.

As far as bags go, the drafting process is really influenced by the purpose and construction of the bag. How big does it need to be? What does it need to hold? How does it close? I try to consider all of these factors when making bags.

Do you want to open your own clothing line? 

I have no ambition to open a clothing line. I tend to gravitate towards “classic” menswear and basics like jeans, chinos, shirts, and in the next couple of months, my first casual jacket. The quick fashion cycle of constantly churning out new product to maintain sales doesn’t work well for the type of clothing with which I am interested.

Plus, there are a ton of overhead costs to opening and maintaining a clothing line and I think that would take all of the fun out of making clothes for me. For now, I’ll remain a hobbyist. 

What is your opinion of clothing made overseas? Did you partially start making your own clothes out of reaction to the fair treatment of workers in other countries? 

It’s complicated. I have no problem with clothing made overseas as long as workers are treated fairly. Would I like for more clothing to be made in the US, absolutely. I think supporting American workers is important, but in 2015, there is no getting around the highly globalized world we live in. So lots of clothing will continue to be made overseas, it’s just a matter of whether people are treated fairly in the process.

I started making my own clothing mostly because I enjoy the process. I am proud that a lot of my clothes were made by me with my own hands.

What do you want to create next? What project are you working on right now? 

Right now I’m working on my first jacket. This will be a simple cotton, unstructured, casual blazer. I’m almost done with the test fitting stage, and in the next month or so I hope to finish it. Once my jacket is complete, I have plans to redraft my trouser and shirt patterns. 

I’m also working on releasing my first sewing pattern for sale. This is a pattern for a roll top backpack, and the process from the initial idea to now has taken much longer than I initially expected. Its almost done though, and I could be more excited!

Do you have any favorite kinds of materials/fabric you like to use? 

I love denim, high quality cottons, and linen. I like pretty much anything that is made from a natural fiber. I don’t really sew with synthetics, other than nylon Cordura, which I recently used for a shoulder bag.

I live in Nashville, TN, where spring, summer, and fall can all be pretty hot and humid. I’ve been gravitating to really lightweight fabrics to stay cool and be comfortable. 

What is the Sewing Party? 

The Sewing Party is a collaborative blog organized by the company that owns Singer, Pfaff, and Huskvarna Viking (sewing machine brands). I was invited to contribute to the blog along with some amazingly talented bloggers and creative people from around the country. We focus on all kinds of things related to sewing such as garment making and quilting.

It’s a lot of fun (as a party should be), and I’m learning a lot as well.

If you were a commander of a space ship where would you go? 

This might be cheating, but assuming that this is a Tardis type spaceship that can go back in time, I’d probably travel through space and time to go back to the 1960’s to see the Beatles play live. That was a magical time for music and witnessing it in person would be amazing

If you could make an outfit for anyone living or dead who would it be? 

Although way beyond my skill level to make custom clothes for rock stars, it would be pretty cool to to make suits for the Beatles or Tom Petty.