Meet the Designer: Cheryl of Paradiso Designs

Cheryl KuczekWe are excited to have Seattle-based designer Cheryl Kuczek of Paradiso Designs back in our store at the beginning of August to teach both pattern hacking and handbag-making. Her past classes have been great hits with our customers and we thought you might want to get to know her a little more. Plus we wanted to find out what she's been up to since her class this past winter. Lucky for us, she was happy to answer our questions. 

When did you start designing patterns and what drove you to do so?

I was working at Nordstrom's flagship store in downtown Seattle, and had been with the company for many years. My goal was to design for their private Nordstrom brand labels. While working full-time there, I also had a custom clothing design business on the side.  One day I was driving through Ballard (a neighborhood in Seattle) and there, shining brightly like a beacon, was a new fabric store.  It was closed, but I stood there staring at beautiful Amy Butler fabrics displayed in the window.  Seeing her incredible fabrics opened my mind to design possibilities. 

I soon learned about Amy’s patterns.  I loved them, but I craved my own ideas and designs.  So I started designing handbags to sell. I had a light-bulb moment one day and realized I could design sewing patterns, too.  I was truly motivated and started producing and publishing my own patterns in 2007. 

What’s the best part about designing new patterns? What types of patterns do you design?

The excitement of creating something that is truly new and on-trend.  And, of course, like adding a combination of spices to a home cooked meal, I love adding my own “Paradiso” touch of details! I have 29 fun-filled, cool, edgy patterns of handbags, clothing, and home dec chic. 

Paradiso Designs bagsYou deal with a variety of substrates, but why not stick with just quilting cottons since they are so easy to sew?

Quilting cottons are fun to sew, but for myself I love working with other materials, and then finding and developing easy techniques to sew numerous substrates. Then, of course, to hopefully inspire sewists to want to sew them, too!! {Check out Cheryl's tips on sewing with faux fur here.}

Boho Frock Do you have a favorite Paradiso Designs pattern?

Truthfully, whatever I am designing at the moment is my favorite pattern!  I do use The Boho Frock and The Be Green Market Bag over and over again to create new and different versions of the pattern. I can explore new sewing techniques and possibilies, which I love, because I am such a curious sewing monkey. 

What makes your pattern design different from others?

The one thing that truly sets my Paradiso patterns apart from the other pattern lines is the way that my designs are constructed and the materials that I use.  My handbag patterns look and act like designer bags.  I use pleather and hardware for the straps and details on the bags. I even created my own line of the Paradiso Pleather and Hardware Kits that work in conjunction with my Paradiso bag patterns. The bags are stabilized in a unique way that keeps them looking great for years. 

Emma Foldover BagThe bag patterns are made to really be used and not fall apart.  The pleather straps are extremely comfortable on your shoulder, where as fabric straps can actually rub your skin raw with heavy loads.   

My clothing patterns are Boho chic, but completely adaptable to other kinds of fabric for more traditional types of fashion clothing.  Paradiso Clothing patterns are not graded either. Instead, I teach you how to alter the pattern with a formula, based on your own measurements and not arbitrary numbers from the pattern company. This technique allows my patterns to be used for a petite woman or a plus-sized woman, all with the same pattern. 

What’s coming down the pike for you? New patterns?

I have a new zip pouch pattern (The Paradiso Pouch Trio) that comes in 3 sizes.  The largest size can be a clutch, wristlet, and cross-body bag.  And if you really like it, it can also be a Mod fanny pack too!

I have a frock formula pattern (The Plain Jane Frock) that combines wovens with knit fabrics.  It will include instructions to make not only the frock, but a tunic, and a t-shirt.  As we all know knit fabric makes for comfortable clothing. 

There will also be a new tote bag with a new kind of Paradiso Hardware coming soon.  I am super excited about it as it looks awesome, but this will be great for the newest beginner sewists!

You're teaching a class on pattern hacking, but what does that actually mean? 

Gee, I wish I was the person to coin the verb “hacking”!! Hacking is defined as to  “gain unauthorized access by using something to get there as the pathway”.  So we would use a computer to gain access to information….OR we can use a sewing pattern for the base of a new design because it has good bones!!  In my pattern hacking class, I'll teach you how to combine the best aspects of two or more patterns to get your suit your own personal style!

Cheryl Kuczek class at Fabric DepotWhat are we going to do in your classes? 

On Saturday, August 1st, we will get together to learn how to combine your patterns and make just the perfect style for you. I'll have plenty of Boho Frock examples to show you, but you can bring your own patterns to combine, if you prefer.  

Then on Sunday, August 2nd we will spend the day making handbags! You can pick up a pattern before class (I suggest the Alison G4 Bag or the Xine Basket Bag!) and bring your fabrics and notions, then I will teach you ways to make a bag that looks and feels like a designer bag, but was made by you! 

Is it okay if I’m a beginning sewist?

Yes, yes, and, did I say, yes!!  If you have a desire to learn to sew, I would love to help you get started. I encourage everyone who is interested to join me on Saturday and/or Sunday to learn new sewing skills and techniques. 

Personalizing Your Patterns Lecture
Friday, July 31
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Fabric Depot, purchase tickets at Special Orders ($7 ea)

Personalize Your Patterns Workshop
Saturday, August 1
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Fabric Depot classroom
Register now

All About Handbags 
Sunday, August 2
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fabric Depot classroom
Register now


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