On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about sewing glamor with my guest Gretchen Hirsch.

Specializing in vintage glamour, Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a designer who infuses her passion for sewing into glamorous creations that can be customized for anyone. She got her start as a blogger with the popular Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing, and has collaborated with Butterick and Simplicity on the “Patterns by Gertie” line of sewing patterns, and designed fabrics for Joann Fabrics, Spotlight Stores and Michael Miller. A sought-after instructor, Gertie has traveled the world to lead sewing workshops highlighting her techniques.

In 2017, Gertie launched her own independent sewing pattern line called Charm Patterns, focusing on new women’s clothing designs inspired by classic looks from the ‘40s and ‘50s. In 2020, she launched her Patreon subscription service, which includes monthly downloadable patterns and accompanying video tutorials, virtual sewing circles, live streams, and more. It has amassed a large community of passionate sewing enthusiasts from around the world.

She is the author of five books published by Abrams, including Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses, Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book and Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, with two new books due to come out in Spring 2024 and Spring 2025.

This episode is sponsored by Craftsy.

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We begin this conversation with Gretchen talking about learning to crochet and sew as a child. Gretchen loved to read when she was young and loved theater. She went on to study theater design at NYU for college. Out of college, she got a job working at a bookstore and then as an assistant at a children’s book publisher. Gretchen worked in children’s book publishing for over a decade and it was during this period that she returned to her sewing skill to begin creating garments to wear to work.

Gretchen loved the vintage looks of the 1940s and 50s, but searching for them and finding garments that fit proved challenging. Once she realized that people were sewing their own new garments using vintage sewing patterns she was hooked and set about learning all she could about sewing techniques. She took classes and private lessons, read voraciously, and taught herself by tackling a vintage Vogue pattern book that inspired the name of her blog, Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.

She talks about the project of attempting to secure the patterns and sew every project in the vintage Vogue book, and the development of her blog along the way. Gretchen uses “Gertie” as her online name and she explains how helpful it has been to separate herself from her “work self” by using a nickname. We discuss her partnership with Butterick, designing fabrics for Fabric Traditions, and her book deal with Abrams including the lessons and skills she developed along the way.

Finally, we talk about the launch of Charm Patterns and her decision to begin using Patreon which has allowed her to hire a team and create a financially sustainable business. We touch on how she’s learned to do her hair in vintage styles, how she thinks about going back to the 1940s and 50s while being a feminist, her tattoos, and more. We hope you enjoy hearing about Gretchen’s journey!

black cat on purple cloth

Elvira the studio cat.

And, of course, I ask Gretchen to share three things she’s loving right now. Gretchen recommends:

  • sketching in Procreate
  • the Juki DDL-8700 industrial sewing machine
  • and having a studio cat

Keep up with Gretchen on Instagram, and become one of her patrons on Patreon.

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