I recently started following Margu Design on Instagram and fell in love with everything I have seen from them so far. The clothing style is simple and feminine with a hint of vintage charm. This weekend, I had the honor of interviewing the woman behind the company, Emily DeLong, to learn a little more about her journey to becoming a fashion designer and what goes into each piece she creates.
What led you to design clothing and what attracted you fashion?
It's kind of weird to think about how I ended up where I am now, designing and producing my own fashion label, because it was never the path I thought I was on, even if I was unknowingly on it the whole time. I first became interested in fashion as a teenager (before that, as my parents will attest, I wore nothing but sweatpants). At that time, I began to wear clothing from a hodgepodge of sources — the mall, the thrift store, my grandmother's closet — and while back then my often-eccentric ensembles were coming partly from teenage angst and a need to distinguish myself as unique, I realize now that I was also using clothing as a vehicle for self-discovery, something I still to do this day. I was way into crafts as a kid (I loved all those crafty kits that came in boxes you could buy at Hobby Lobby), and I taught myself how to sew (with my mom's help) when I was around 12. I made a lot of garments back then from Simplicity patterns that I was proud of at the time, but, uh, don't really hold up to my current standards. I didn't do much sewing when I was in college, but shortly after I graduated, I rediscovered my sewing machine and started making things from patterns again. That quickly turned into an obsession. I began altering the sewing patterns I bought, and then I stopped using the commercial patterns altogether and taught myself how to draft my own patterns. By sewing my own clothes, the theme of clothing as a vehicle for self-discovery emerged again, and I began to have a lot more respect for everything in my closet — from the stuff I had made, to that on-sale Anthropologie top I bought in 2010, to the vintage 1960s sundress I've had forever. Fashion, to me, is at the perfect intersection of art, craft, mathematics, utility, and self-identity in a way that nothing else is, and I think that because it is so multifaceted is why I never tire of it.
Your pieces are so sweet, what inspires you when designing clothes?
So many things! A lot of my designs are inspired by vintage clothing, either vintage pieces I have in my closet that I want to recreate, or vintage pieces I see in a store or on the internet that inspire me (Pinterest is one of my go-to places for online inspiration). I don't live completely in the past, however; I enjoy keeping up with what's going on in the fashion world and like to incorporate trends that resonate with me into my clothing — but always with my own personal spin on them! Really, though, what I design comes down to what I feel like wearing. My design process often feels to me like standing in front of my closet, thinking about what I want to wear — except instead of my closet, I'm choosing from anything I can dream up.
How long does it take you to make a dress? What goes into it?
A single dress can take me anywhere from 2 to 10 hours to make, depending on how complicated the design is and how much hand-sewing is required. Provided the dress has already been designed, patterned, and graded (a process I do in my studio, by hand, with pencil and paper), this is a brief sketch what goes into the dressmaking process: 1) I prepare the fabric I'm going to use by washing and pressing it. 2) I lay out the fabric on a big flat surface, lay out the pattern pieces on top of the fabric, and carefully cut out each pattern piece from the fabric. At this point, I also transfer any pattern marks (such as dart positions) from the pattern pieces to the fabric with chalk or a marker. 3) I head over to my sewing machine and start sewing! This part of the process is the most variable, time-wise: if a dress has only a few seams, like a simple shift dress, it can go pretty quickly; if a dress has lots of seams, or lots of embellishment, or if it is lined, it can take hours. Throughout the sewing process, I am pressing each seam with my iron after it's sewn to make it crisp, and I am finishing each seam, usually with French seams, so that the dress looks as great on the inside as it does on the outside. I'm also doing things like adding pockets, adding buttonholes, attaching collars, and attaching linings at this point. 4) I do any necessary finishing touches on the dress. This can include hand-sewing buttons if the dress has them, hand-sewing hems if the design calls for it, snipping off any loose threads (always a necessity!), and giving the dress a good final press with my iron. At this point, the dress is finished and I'm ready to start on another one!
Do you have a shop in Arkansas or is your business all online?
We currently do all our business online from our website (margudesign.com). I'd love to have a little shop someday, but it may take quite some time before we get there!
What can we expect from you in the future? Will there be another collection coming out soon?
We will be releasing our Fall/Winter 2016 collection near the end of September. It's bigger and a bit more ambitious than our first collection and features a mix of organic cottons, silks, and handloom cottons. We're working on final touches right now, and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you!
You can visit margudesign.com to learn more, see more, and shop the collections! Thanks for reading and thank you Emily for talking to us!