Meet the Designer: Kati Lovasz
Allie is the co-founder of Indiesew and creator of all things pretty on the site. Follow Allie and receive other Indiesew updates by subscribing to the blog.
She's a Hungarian-born, NYC resident who designs beautiful old-world sewing patterns. But that's not all. Her stunning and intricate embroidery patterns adorn nearly every finished garment she makes. Her name is Kati Lovasz and she's one of Indiesew's very own designers.
When I first learned of Kati, the designer of Kate & Rose sewing patterns, I was immediately drawn to the embroidery she designed and then stitched into her own clothing designs. This woman has a trademark peasant style with a folk-inspired take on embroidery. The mash up of these two styles results in beautiful garments that are reminiscent of tradition and European folklore.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Kati a few questions about her past, her passions and what her daily life looks like. Here's what she said.
So, tell us a little about Kati Lovasz. Where do you live?
Hi Allie, thank you for interviewing me for this new feature! I live in New York City, near the Flower District, which is not far from the Garment District itself. New York is an inspiring if sometimes overwhelming place, and I love that I get to be so close to fabric shopping (ahem, my wallet loves it a bit less!) and to the flowers and bustle of the odd little corner of it that we inhabit. It's a great place to be for making things!
It seems like you've lived all over the world. Tell us more about that. How did these places shape you and your craft?
I was born in Budapest and because of my parents' work (they are math professors) we lived in quite a few university towns in Hungary, the U.S., Canada (where I learned to speak English when I was six years old), and, in then, West Germany. I do sincerely wish it really had been all over the world! But I loved being immersed in another culture, learning a new language, making friends and living a kind of alternate life, seeing all the possibilities in human beings.
I was very lucky to grow up this way. I loved learning what different cultures and people consider important and why, and different ways of doing things. I think this is also important to my craft: thinking of different ways of doing things, and constantly learning something new. Moving around also gave me an appreciation for carrying tradition with us even as we move into new lives: the old coming to life again in the new. This is why I try to infuse all my designs with folklore and tradition.
What does your daily life look like?
My daily life is quite busy with taking care of my family, so I fit sewing and creative work into every bit of time I can find. There is not nearly enough of it! My younger daughter is starting kindergarten this fall, which will give me a few additional hours of creative time than I had before. But spending time with my children is important to me, they are growing up fast and I try to soak in as much of their presence as I can.
But then, I really only started doing what I love to do most in life when I was nearly forty years old, which spurs me on to fit in as much creative work as I can, rather obsessively perhaps. I feel I have a lot to learn and a lot of time to make up for, a lot more knowledge and practice I need to gain.
I also love to cook and try to prepare a fresh and healthy dinner every day. After fabric and embroidery thread it's very possible my largest expense is food...
How did you learn to sew?
When we moved back to Hungary from California the summer I turned fourteen, I had very few friends around and was rather bored. My grandmother was a very accomplished seamstress and she let me use her sewing machine and taught me how to sew that summer. We still have that sewing machine in my parents' house. It doesn't work anymore but it's something that had been so important to my grandmother.
How did the evolution to designing your own sewing and embroidery patterns take place?
I had been thinking of starting a business selling sewing kits of folkwear-inspired clothing, perhaps even with embroidery and had originally meant to work with a patternmaker and a few contacts in Hungary who would have created the embroidery for me. But then I discovered how much I loved the actual nitty gritty of making things and how much I disliked just organizing the production of what was almost a finished product.
So I enrolled in patternmaking classes at FIT and revived my somewhat dormant embroidery skills. When I was in elementary school in Hungary we were taught how to embroider, along with woodworking and bookbinding. I'm not sure they do this in Hungarian schools anymore...
Your embroidery designs are stunning. How long does it take to add one to a garment?
Thank you!!! I wish I could say it doesn't take as long as it does but...embroidery can indeed be very time-consuming, depending on how complex your stitching and the design is. I tend to work in 15-30 minute increments on one piece; I find that I need a break after that. So one design can take quite a while! But I always work on more than one at a time. It's so soothing to have projects at the ready that I can return to over and over. It's a bit like reading a really good novel.
For those sewists interested in getting into embroidery, what are some resources to get started?
I have a set of embroidery how-to tutorials and ideas found here
- these posts all deal with Central European folkwear-inspired embroidery, which is what I know best. Another great resource is Mary Corbet's website
, where you can find detailed and careful video tutorials of individual techniques and stitches.
I do find that the heart of folklore embroidery is to feel free to do it any way you like though. So a good way to get started is to try out a lot of stitches but use just one color thread or use one or two stitches you are comfortable with and play with colors and harmony. Either way, have fun with it! It doesn't have to look perfect, just beautiful, and beauty is in what you make.
What inspired the name of your pattern business, Kate & Rose?
Kate is my own name in English - I also love Kate Hepburn so that's a part of it too, and Rose was my great-grandmother's name - Rózsa, actually. But the rose is also a very commonly featured flower in embroidery - hence the name.
Show us your fabric stash! What colors and prints do you gravitate toward?
My fabric stash is not as neatly organized as it should be, so rather than showing you that big giant mess, I pulled out some fabrics that I mean to work with soonest. There are a few yards from Anna Maria Horner's new Loominous
line, and also Allison Glass' Handcrafted
I'm also working with white linen right now for a new peasant blouse pattern that will include embroidery designs. Then there is of course chambray (I love chambray!). The bright floral print and the polka dot print I've been hoarding since last summer, I bought them in Berlin when I met up with Constane, the owner of Santa Lucia Patterns
for some fabric shopping.
What are your prime sewing hours? When are you most productive/creative?
I love to work most late at night, when everything goes quiet. Needless to say, I often don't get quite enough sleep.
Let’s see your sewing space! What elements are required for your ideal sewing space?
The photos below show a picture that's close to what my workspace looks like on a normal day. Not super pretty or neat...but I love being in there!
The sewing side has the three machines I use most, and the other side has the computer and drafting/cutting table. I have one rolling chair, which lets me easily move from one workstation to another while sewing. (Also, there isn't much room in there for another chair.) I use my Juki straight stitch machine the most; it's so fast and easy to sew with accurately. Then there's my serger and the portable computerized Juki I use for sewing knits. I guess I'm a Juki fangirl! I recently got a laundry station for ironing, and because I use the laundry bags underneath it to store fabric. A regular ironing board doesn't let you store anything under it, which is a problem in this space.
One of the turquoise Ikea carts you see in the cutting/drafting side has my cutting and marking tools along with sewing-projects-in-progress. The other has the embroidery supplies I currently use. I keep rolling these from the sewing to the cutting side of the room, depending on where I need to work. I try to keep the drafting table clear at all times, I find this clears my mind between projects. My embroidery threads are organized in a red Ikea file drawer.
Ok, I'm officially inspired! How can we follow along with you?
You can check out my blog
, though these days I'm mostly found on Instagram
, where I try to post pics of finished projects and works-in-progress. I'm not as regular with posts as I'd like to be, sadly there aren't 36 hours in a day! But I'm working on it.
Thank you, Kati! For more embroidered garment inspiration, check out this Fern-adorned Alberta St Skirt and the embroidered yoke on this Jenna Cardi.
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