Monday 4 March 2019

The Name Behind Kwik Sew Patterns

Kwik Sew patterns emerged on the scene in 1967 under the name Sew Knit and Stretch. Nearly a decade later, 1974 to be precise, a shorter name that captured the ease of these patterns filled its place. 

There is more to the story of Kwik Sew patterns.  Kerstin Martensson, the designer and name behind Kwik Sew patterns, was born in Gothenburg, Sweden.  She received her fashion and design education in Sweden and England and used her skills in the ready-to-wear industry before settling into a career as a fashion designer and pattern maker for the Viking Sewing Machine Company. It all happened by chance you can say. While working with the Swedish based Viking Sewing Machine Company, she became one of the company's international representative to be sent to the United States.  You see, in 1960 Viking Sewing Machine Company released the Viking 2000 which was supposed to be an user-friendly sewing machine with colour coded settings and automatic feed for elastic stitches. Sadly, the machines didn't sell well this side of the pond because the home sewist didn't have the experience with sewing with stretch-stitch capability and these new stitches.  

Thanks to Martensson, the fortunes of the Viking Sewing Machine Company turned around when she was called upon to create sample patterns to help promote the new stitches of the Viking 2000. Her experience in the ready-to-wear landscape where quick and easy methods were reproduced into her sample patterns and the rest is history!  The patterns and the Viking 2000 were hits and the home sewing community could not get enough. International business travel along with designing more patterns for Viking Sewing Machine Company began to take a toll and that is when Martensson had to make a decision on the career path she wish to follow.  

Relocating to the United States in 1967, Martensson struck out on her own with her own pattern line and releasing her first book, How to Sew Knit and Stretch Fabric.  

Sweater dress, circa 1967
The time was right with new knit fabrics hitting the scene and easy-to-wear styles tempting the home sewers with the ability to recreate the fashionable looks at home. Martensson continued to design patterns and write. The instructions found in the vintage Kwik Sew patterns are a testimony to the wealth of sewing techniques she learned during her career.  The patterns stand out both for their craftmanship and perfectly graded patterns printed on glossy hard stock paper.  

Martensson passed away in 2002 and in 2006 became a Sewing Hall of Fame Honoree yet her company name and quality patterns stand the test of time and are still available.    

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the background on this. Kwik sew was always my favorite pattern company. These days I check out thrift shops for the older patterns. The fit and basic styles are rarely outdated. Canadian pattern company Jalie is also excellent for basic shapes and well drafted patterns.


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