Kicking off our newest blog series is wedding dress designer Colleen Thorsen of the French Knot Couture. The Whidbey Island–based seamstress crafts custom vintage-inspired gowns and bridal party dresses alongside her ready-to-wear line available on Etsy. She’s also been known to whip up a retro mini skirt or two—you know, for all those groovy brides out there.
Shop Talk: What neighborhood is your studio in?
Thorsen: My studio is located on the south end of beautiful Whidbey Island. Looking out over the Puget Sound, I work with nature all around. I have a majestic view of the Cascades and the city of Everett, which makes sewing all day a quiet pleasure. I’m moving to a new space soon, though, and my new location will have a wonderful view as well.
What is your earliest memory of designing?
Remember the Brady Bunch singing group? Well, my sisters and I designed some seriously groovy miniskirts with matching neckties and vests that we wore with white blouses as costumes. I don’t remember the name of our super fabulous group, but I’ll never forget the costumes. After that adventure in sewing, I was hooked.
What do you do to get yourself in a creative or productive headspace when you’re feeling stuck?
My most creative time is early in the morning. Occasionally I start my day with a cup of coffee and a gander around my favorite online vintage shops. Some of my best (and worst) ideas come from browsing vintage patterns.
Five things you can’t work without:
Good lighting, of course! But beyond that the tools I cannot live without are as follows:
Embroidery scissors—perfect for removing the even the smallest stitches.
Glass-tipped pins. They make a regular pin feel like a pitchfork.
Starch-alternative spray. My favorite is vodka mixed with water. Believe it or not, it really works.
Stainless steel boning. It may sound hard and unforgiving, but it is flexible in every direction.
What is your favorite thing about your studio?
Right now my studio isn’t exactly my favorite, but I really can’t wait to move into my new space. It’ll be perfect.
Where can we find your dresses, and where would you like us to be able to find your dresses in the future?
My dresses are available on Etsy at the French Knot Couture shop; I carry several different styles in a selection of fabrics. Right now I am taking orders online. But in the future I would love to find a nice boutique to carry my dresses, where brides can try on a few sample styles before ordering.