Friends of TFS

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Papercut's Katie Romagnoli

15—November 2023

This week we catch up with long time TFS friend and creative mind behind Papercut Patterns, Katie Romagnoli!

Papercut's Katie Romagnoli — Friends of TFS
Nov 15 2023

As the genius behind Nelson-based pattern brand Papercut Patterns, Katie Romagnoli needs little introduction in the sewing community. Katie's been a dear friend of TFS for many years and this week we take a behind-the-scenes look into her warm, modern studio space. Read on as we chat to her about her sewing journey to date, plus projects past and present!

Hello Katie, please give a brief introduction of yourself to our readers!

Hello, my name’s Katie and I’m the founder of Papercut Patterns. I live in the South Island of New Zealand with my Italian husband Marco and three kids, Estella (22), Jack (12) & Louis (6).

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What led you to sewing, and how long have you been sewing for?

I started sewing when I was only 11 years old. For as long as I can remember, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say I wanted to be a fashion designer. From a very young age, I always had a sketch book full of designs!

I started out learning embroidery when I was about 10, then begged my mother to teach me to sew. The first garment I ever made was a fully lined formal dress with poofy tulle underskirt… in hindsight, it was very ambitious and if I’m honest, I think my mother probably did most of the sewing. Once I figured out sewing, I quickly moved on to pattern drafting. I would lay clothes out and trace around them onto newspaper and figure out how they went together. Growing up in a small rural town in the South Island of NZ in the 80's/90's, there was never any clothes that I liked in shops. I got really into refashioning when I was a teenager and then studied graphic design, followed by fashion design when I was 19. I’m 43 now, so I’ve been sewing for 32 years!

First garment ever made
Describe the space you use for sewing in 5 words... "Calm, Creative, Inspiring, Fun, Refined".
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Can you let us in on the story of your favourite wardrobe item?

My favorite wardrobe item right now is a beautiful handknitted cardi that my wonderful friend Annie knitted for me while I was going through chemo. Anyone who knows me, knows I am absolutely obsessed with knitwear. My wardrobe is bursting at the seams with knitwear in every possible colour and texture... it's a bit of a problem. I think it's about time I learn how to knit!

Fave garment
What are you sewing at the moment?

I’m currently working on toiles of an upcoming new collection I’m super excited about.
(Nothing I can show you just yet I’m afraid). I’m also planning a couple of Marnie Swimsuits for our fast approaching summer.

Share with us what you learnt from your biggest sewing success

My biggest sewing success is probably launching a sewing pattern company in a very empty market and helping to pioneer the indie sewing pattern industry. I bought the domain name in 2008 and launched the company in 2010. It was very risky at the time as I wasn’t sure whether anyone would even be interested in my patterns. Back then there was pretty much only the big 4 and I wanted to offer something different. I was absolutely overwhelmed at how well Papercut was received and continue to be inspired everyday by the clothes that the sewing community make with our patterns.

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Share with us what you learnt from your biggest sewing flop

When I was at high school I took sewing and I’ll never forget when I encountered my first fly front zipper! I just couldn’t understand what the instructions in my pattern were telling me to do. I repeatedly asked my teacher for help, but she just kept telling me to read the instructions. It was very frustrating. I must have unpicked that fly about 10 times, but I finally got it! To be honest, still to this day I have a little bit of fear every time it comes to sewing a fly! Perseverance is key, sometimes it’s going to take a few times to get a technique and there are many different ways to get the same result. You need to find a technique that works for you. I know I’ve taken this experience into my instruction writing, and I try to talk through, and illustrate my techniques so they can be understood.

Do you have any secret sewing tips you’d like to share?

Not really a secret tip, but I think it’s really important to make toiles to ensure you get a garment you’re happy with. We do our absolute best to get the fit right in our patterns, however we are working with a set of block measurements and every body is different. It’s hard to get the fit right for everyone. To save on toile fabric expenses, you can explore options like repurposing old sheets from thrift stores or hunting for clearance fabrics at your local fabric store.

What are your top 5 sewing must-have tools?

Sharp scissors
Good pins
Quick unpick
My set square
And a safety pin… I always need a safety pin for something!

Are there any favourite books, podcasts or blogs that you love?

I really like 'Time Sensitive' by The Slowdown. It’s a podcast featuring creative people from various backgrounds at the top of their field, each episode is an in depth discussion about their process, their background, and how their practice has evolved. The discussion always has a component about time, its perception and how this influences their work. As a promoter of slow fashion, these interviews align with my values about design.

I’ve also been listening to a lot of audio books on health and wellbeing. As I’m currently going through some pretty serious health issues, I’ve been looking into every alternative way to help myself heal.

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What and/or who motivates and inspires you?

If you know my patterns, you know I love interesting details. An interesting pocket, pleat or an unusual construction method really gets me going! Whenever I see these things I screenshot them or pin them to one of my numerous Pinterest boards.
Also, having an Italian husband, means I get to travel to Europe quite often. We always try to have a stopover somewhere on the way and way back. Seeing fashion in different cultures is so inspiring for me. I always come back with so many ideas.

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What are your top 5 favourite fabrics are from our Online Store and why?

Any of the organic linens! You’d be pretty hard pressed to find one of our products without a variation made out of one of these linens. The drape and feel is just so beautiful! I love your upcycled denims! The weight is perfect and I really like the colours.
The ZQ Premium Merinos - what can I say about these... they are a dream to sew with and they can go in the washing machine! Any of the rayon crepes too - once again, this is a very frequently used fabric in our sampling. And the Liberty Swimwear fabric is really cute, and would be perfect for our new swimwear patterns.

Any future projects that you are excited about?

I’m pretty excited about our next collection. I feel like they are all really versatile pieces that will be loved, wardrobe staples.

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Thank you so much for joining us this week Katie, we're so exited to start sewing the new Slow Down collection!

We hope you've enjoyed this Friends of TFS interview, head over and follow Papercut Patterns via Instagram, and don't forget to check out your nearest store or jump online to shop the new patterns.

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Location — Australia