This week I’m incredibly excited to be interviewing the lovely and talented Fi and Linda of Two Ladies Who! These vintage loving gal pals make super cute vintage reproduction clothing using vintage sewing patterns that I know you all will love!
I hope you all enjoy the interview!
Tell us about your business, Two Ladies Who! 🙂
Two Ladies Who create.
Two Ladies Who Sew.
Two Ladies Who like to party…
Two Ladies Who create wonderful Retro wear from our wide range of lovingly collected Vintage Patterns. We love to bring these Vintage patterns to life with modern, funky fabrics.
We have been collecting vintage patterns for many, many years and have been using them to create garments and accessories for ourselves for a long time. We started getting requests from friends to create vintage wear for others, so Two Ladies Who was born.
We aim to provide quality, hand crafted one-of-a-kind retro wear with quirky, funky fabrics sourced from a variety of sources. We use feminine, elegant designs which are both comfortable and fun to wear. Our first ‘event’ was a fabulous Launch, with afternoon tea, hand made goodies, and our full range to explore.
Collecting and wearing vintage is wonderful but costly at the dry cleaners. Our clothing can be thrown into the wash, and worn daily if needs be!
We started expanding from clothing to accessories when we opened our Market Stall. These proved very popular, so these joined our online shop.
Being mindful of slow fashion, and our impact on the environment, we now have range of Mini-Me dresses for toddlers and little girls, all using off-cuts from our designs, using vintage patterns too! These are incredibly cute, and will be released on our online shop soon. We also do custom orders!
When did you start your business? What inspired you to start it and what excites you about your work?
We started in May 2016 with a high tea picnic to display samples and meet our customers. It was a lovely afternoon, and we got lots of positive feedback for our products (and our cupcakes!). We have known each other since Linda came along to dance classes run by Fi. From there, we got together under the name Kazuri Tribe and created costumes for the Tribal Belly Dance community.
As creative types, we like to be inspired by lots of different things, and one of these was the New Look by Dior from the 1950s. We began creating and wearing vintage inspired clothes, and then became overwhelmed with people asking us if we make for other people. That’s when we changed from costuming to Vintage reproduction. We love to use modern fabrics with Vintage patterns to create well-made, quality apparel. We are creative people and but not robots. We don’t like to make the same thing twice as we get a bit bored! (Never ask Fi to make eight shell pink identical bridesmaids’ dresses. She would prefer never to do that again!) That’s why we only ever source enough fabric to make one dress. And that way we can guarantee one of a kind garments.
We also create accessories – you will find lots of brooches, badges and hair accessories (flower crowns, ribbon flowers) on our etsy page. Many of these with vintage memes or fabulous stars of the silver screen!
To cater for everyone, we like to use designs that are not too restrictive or tight fitting. We love to wear wrap dresses or dresses that can be cinched in with a belt to create an hourglass figure. But they must all be easy to wear designs!
We love to be able to create for hours at a time. We get lost in our studios. It is so exciting to meet our customers at markets, and to get feedback from our fans too.
One of life’s absolute pleasures is walking into a fabric store and exploring all the new designs, feeling fabrics and getting inspired. Linda loves a lovely bold floral, while Fi adores bold, weird or quirky prints.
What is your process? What tools do you like using? Where do you do your work? Can you walk us through a day in your life with your business?
Linda: Just this Xmas gone by my dad made me some beautiful oversize cotton reels, I use these to store bias binding (I love making bias binding and incorporating them into our designs).
When working on our clothing range I like to do a batch cut of the same pattern then plow on into the sewing process. While sewing I like to listen to youtube sewists, and music to keep my inspiration going while I sew. Fi and I live a couple of suburbs away and will quite often be messaging back and forth with pictures of works in progress and words of encouragement to each other.
Fi: I have mum’s 1962 Singer Slant-o-matic machine – which is wonderful to create with and has sewn everything from leather and canvas to fine silks for wedding dresses. I’ve also has an industrial overlocker which is amazing to use. All of my machines are nestled into my studio along with a two other sewing machines, a vintage cutting table and garment racks filled with our creations! This studio is the hub for creating, networking, communicating to clients and storage.
Like Linda, I tend to cut a number of different designs out on one day, then sew the next. Music on, I can lose hours in the studio. One minute I’ve just had breakfast, and the next it’s almost dinner time!
What do you love the most about your business?
Seeing a flat piece of fabric come to life as a garment that fits a body is a wonder indeed. Fabric has endless possibilities and looks so different made up in different designs. We often purchase fabric without a design in mind, and we wait until it speaks to us before using it. This is incredibly exciting, creative and fulfilling.
We love seeing the delight on people’s faces when they walk into our market stall admiring our designs. And of course, getting compliments on our outfits! Some of our older customers they remember wearing this as a young lady and then sigh wistfully and wish the elegance of vintage was back in style. We always tell them it is!
Being able to bring these Vintage designs to a new generation is a wonderful experience, and the creative process is what we love the most!
What is the most difficult aspect of running your business?
We have so many ideas that we bounce off each other and get inspired to try new things. Having the time to bringing things to life as we both work and have families to run is a daily challenge, but something we embrace.
Why vintage? What about it is special to you and made you decide to go into making and selling vintage reproduction clothing?
Vintage designs are amazing. They are classic, elegant, incredibly feminine and flattering. The designs we use are simple to wear and comfortable, both of these are something we like in an outfit! While modern designs also fit this criteria, they don’t have the clean, elegant graceful lines of vintage! Being able to marry vintage designs with quirky or girly prints is a great experience.
How do you decide which vintage fashions to reproduce for your shop? Where do you draw inspiration from for the clothing that you make?
We start with sourcing the designs! We are constantly looking for new (old) patterns to broaden our designs. We take these patterns and grade them for different sizing, tweak them for modern bodies, then source the fabric. All of which takes a while, but is thoroughly enjoyable. We love to wear our designs which are comfortable and makes us feel fabulous! Having customers feel the same in our designs is super special. We are currently in the grips of the 1950s but next season will move onto shifts from 60s.
How do you go about designing your clothing? How do you decide which vintage patterns to use?
Firstly we trial the vintage pattern. We create an outfit for ourselves initially to test the fit and suitability of adding the design to our collection. We then modify the design and the pattern to reflect our design aesthetic.
Both of us love to source fabrics and designs from all over, so that search is eternal! We regularly catch up over coffee in a new outfit to get some feedback from each other, and to test the designs. Being a walking advertisement for our designs a great way of sharing the love of vintage. We recently got all ‘dolled up’ for a fund-raising morning tea complete with gloves and matching handbags. We got so much flattering attention from everyone, especially as we certainly didn’t look the same as everyone else!
What do you love the most about using vintage sewing patterns?
The elegance of the designs! There is also a challenge using the patterns, as the instructions or pattern pieces are sometimes missing! This means we need to draft a pattern piece to suit. But this intellectual challenge is stimulating and exciting! Because we have sewing experience, we don’t often follow instructions if using modern patterns. However, a lot of vintage patterns have very unusual instructions so we need to read them carefully. Vintage instructions are written with a level of assumed knowledge, so first time sewists often find them really challenging!
If you manage to get your hands on an old pattern that has been used before, finding notes from the previous owner it is so cool. It makes us think about the dressmaker and how they went about making the pattern, what fabric they used whether they hand sewed the item and what machine, if any, they used.
Do you have a favourite vintage sewing pattern to work with? What do you look for in a vintage sewing pattern?
While we don’t really have a favourite pattern (it is like choosing your favourite child!), we do love a good wrap dress pattern. We both have a number of these in our own wardrobes in our favourite patterns as they are so easy to wear and comfy too. A full skirt is also flattering and cool to wear in the hot Australian Summers!
I love that you include plus sizes in your clothing line! Can you tell us some more about that and why it was important to you?
We believe that no matter your size and shape you can always look and feel great in your clothing. Both of us are not stick figures, but we are healthy and curvy. We wear our designs a our market stall to show people how they look and move on a real person. Catering to customers of all sizes is important to us. This means we do have garments to fit our petite customers and also our plus size customers! Every Body is different!
When did you start sewing?
Linda: I have always had a love of sewing and can remember sitting on my Grandma’s patio watching her sew up clothes on her Singer treadle machine. When I was very little I remember using the Grandma’s scraps to hand stitch dresses for my dolls (I still enjoy hand stitching to this day). I did home economics in high school and loved the sewing component and it inspired me to make my own uniforms, which my mum bought in kit form already cut out. I felt so good making them as uniforms are expensive I felt that I was helping mum out in a big way. My mum had inherited her Singer sewing machine from her mum, and I loved using it to sew listening to the hum of the metal working parts and the smelling the oil. Throughout the years I have found that sewing gives me such a sense of achievement that I can get lost in my sewing room for hours. I used to make clothes for my children when they were little and have recently been making nightwear for them and some office clothes for my daughter.
When I started dancing it opened a whole other creative side. I was designing costumes to wear on stage which then led to making for other dancers in my tribe. We started having a stall at dance events to sell off the extra pieces we had started making. The collaboration with Fi truly began to unfold into what it is today.
Fi: Like Linda, my Grandmother was a big influence in my choice to be a dressmaker. As my Grandfather had passed away when my father was 10, my Grandmother needed to be the breadwinner of the family. This must have been a tough experience for her with three young boys. As a child, my mother made a lot of my clothes. I remember a tartan/plain green reversible dress she made me (which I absolutely refused to wear the plain side. It was Tartan all the way!) While I did some sewing in year 8, I didn’t really sew again until I finished Uni and began working. After saving up for an overlocker, I started sewing first for myself and then for others. Wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, formal dresses, and later costumes soon followed. I’ve always sewn for myself, and rarely wear RTW garments as I like to be different from everyone else!
It must be so much fun running a business together, can you tell us some more about that and your friendship?
Linda: Fi and I actually met when I went along to a belly dance class she was teaching about 15yrs ago. She was so inspiring and encouraging (and a fantastic teacher), and so creative with choreography and costuming. The desire to make something different to wear on stage gave me the sewing bug again.
Fi is very easy going and oh-so organised and has shown me how to keep motivated and on task (as I can get sidetracked at times, with so many ideas that just seem to pop into my head). It is so lovely to sit in our stall with Fi doing some forward planning about our clothing range, our set up (which is constantly changing), thinking up some sayings for our badge range, (we can have some great belly laughs about those), and accessories.
(We both love mint flavoured chocolate so there are usually some home made nibbles we have made to share with each other on market day, which just adds to our great night!)
Fi: I met the tall and elegant Linda over 15 years ago and clicked! After many years of dancing together, and having shared experiences, we became close friends.
We are on the same wavelength all the time, but our conversation is often very difficult to follow as we get sidetracked all the time! Linda is a gentle, caring earth mother soul, and is always wonderful creative company.
With so many shared experiences, and heads overflowing with ideas, starting a business together seemed natural.
What started your love of vintage?
We both love looking at our mothers in photos. They were so classic and stylish with beautiful hats and gloves to complement each outfit.
Vintage makes a statement each time you wear it. But wearing real vintage every day is difficult, but reliving it through vintage designs with modern fabrics certainly isn’t! It is so lovely to be able to recreate beautiful pieces with a little modern twist.
How would you describe your own style?
Linda: I feel I have an eclectic wardrobe. I love the 20s and how they layered beautiful fabrics and laces. I have a few kimono type pieces I have made to go over outfits. I do have a tendency to mix my eras but I love to use styles that suit me and also love a great wide legged pant which were popular in the 40s. I can’t go past the fantastic 50s which I love to wear especially when I go out to lunch with my friends or to a more formal affair. The 50s did this so well! At the moment we are having such hot weather here in Queensland that I love the easy wear of the 60s shift style dresses.
Fi: Definitely eclectic. I love to mix styles and adore to wear dresses and skirts. It is very unusual for me to wear trousers. I love to wear looks from the 40s and 50s when I am feeling feminine. But I do adore the 1960s mod, quite a bit of punk and anything weird and unusual! I’m also not afraid to have colourful hair. It is mainly blonde at the moment, but it has purple and blue stripes in it too!
Who or what is your personal vintage style inspiration (movie/actress/actor/singer/family member/etc)?
Linda: There is nothing better to watch then an historical based series or movie to inspire. I love the Miss Fisher series which is set in Melbourne in the 1920s. Fi and I got to see all the costumes for the series up close and personal when the exhibition was displayed in Brisbane recently. Of course we were dressed in our best 1920s gear and went along to be inspired! In 2017, we took an amazing trip to Melbourne to see the costumes that were designed and made for the movie “The Dressmaker,” a fabulous movie based on a book that was written about a small town set in the outback in the 50s ( right up our alley!). We try go along to vintage displays and exhibitions and designers when we get the opportunity, and we find them so inspiring that they get the creative juices flowing!
Fi: Audrey Hepburn is my style icon when dressing in Vintage. Any or all of her movies, and her personal style and ethos are all incredibly inspirational. Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock movies and James Stewart are some serious icons who I love to watch and get inspired by.
What is your favourite era for vintage?
It’s so hard to choose there are so many amazing designs and style lines that inspire us. The 20s, 40s, 50s and 60s. So difficult to choose. We are definitely heavily influenced by the 1950s at the moment, although that will change as we evolve.
Do you have a favourite vintage era fashion designer?
Fi: Dior. (who else?) For modern designs, I love Vivenne Westwood as she loves a bit of punk (with a heavy dash of tartan!)
Tell us about yourselves!
Linda: I grew up in Townsville in North Queensland Australia. I lived on a street with my Grandma and Grandad as my next door neighbours with my aunties, uncles and cousins living in the same street. This was lovely to have my extended family so close by.
I started my career life as an apprentice hairdresser then went on to try my hand at floristry. I went to university to study child care and worked in the industry for a number of years. I went back to uni to study remedial massage, which is what I have been doing for the last 15years. During these busy years I met and married my wonderful hubby who encourages me in all my endeavours. We have three great children ( two boys and a girl who are now young adults with one at still at home). My daughter also enjoys modelling our clothing range for our Etsy shop, along with some of her friends.
Fi: I was born in a small village outside Liverpool UK, and was just a couple of weeks old when we moved to Zambia where my parents worked on a mission. Dad was a teacher, and mum worked at the local leper colony. My parents continue to be amazing and inspirational to me. After my younger brother was born, we headed back to England before crossing the world to settle in Brisbane, Queensland.
After completing a Teaching degree, I have worked in and around Brisbane as a primary school teacher before becoming a Master Teacher at a local high school, where I teach teachers how to teach! Over the years, I have completed Diplomas in Fashion and Textiles, Remedial Massage and Aromatherapy. I am currently developing a new Eco-Fashion subject for senior students. When I was still in high school, I met Steven, my husband. He is incredibly supportive of everything I do, and we have three boys (26 yrs to 15yrs) all at home.
What do you do in your free time?
Linda: Hahahah! Stay busy! I do like to go to lunch with my friends and catch up on life and living, but there is nothing better then spending time with my hubby, going to dinner and the movies to see the latest Sci Fi fantasy on the big screen. I do love to watch the telly or go along to a music concert with Fi and Steve.
I belong to a couple of living history groups, one of the groups Karvan Saray, is a 15th century Middle Eastern group depicting travelers on the Silk Road. The other group is a 15th century group Company of the Phoenix, which depicts a European free traveling group. Lots of research and different hand-sewing techniques goes into constructing our outfits needed for both groups. Lucky I am handy with a needle!
Fi: I love to get stuck into a good book, and go through series like lightning. I too watch SCI FI and love Mystery TV shows. I crochet, spin and embroider through the cooler months. I’m always searching the internet for vintage patterns and designs and the market stall keeps me busy. I am president of the Living History group Karvan Saray, so that keeps me busy too. My favourite way of winding down is to share a pot of tea on the deck with my lovely Steve!
Do you have any words of advice for someone who might be thinking of starting their own business, whether it be in vintage reproduction clothing, sewing, pattern making, or any creative other field?
Take it slowly, do what you love and other people will love it too. Be kind to yourself, as mistakes often lead to miracles.
Do you have anything special you would like to promote to my readers?
We have had so many requests from people asking if we teach how to sew classes, that we are proud to announce our first sewing workshop on 18 March. This workshop has participants bringing their own machines, their own pattern and own fabric.
We will step through the process from measuring and cutting through to sewing. We want people to use their own machines so they get used to them, and to chose their own patterns and fabrics. This makes for a more personalised, creative workshop. This Sew Easy workshop is a stimulus to get people confident in their abilities to learn new things.
We do plan on having more of these workshops through the year, and also running part 2 workshops when we are available for support!
We also have a monthly newsletter. This lets our readers know of new designs and where they can find us. If anyone would like to subscribe, then they can head to : https://www.facebook.com/twoladieswho/app/100265896690345/
Where can we find you online?
We also have a newsletter which comes out monthly which people can subscribe to via the facebook page.
Thank you so much, Fi and Linda, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to answer my questions! I wish you both the absolute best and can’t wait to see what comes next for Two Ladies Who!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Fi and Linda! If there is anyone you would like to see interviewed here, please let me know and I’ll do my best!
All images featured in this interview used with kind permission from Linda and Fi of Two Ladies Who.