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069: Meet Couture Dressmaker Mette Baillie

with special guest Mette Baillie of Freja Designer Dressmaking

A Conversation with Couture Dressmaker, Mette Baillie of Freja Designer Dressmaking


Dressmaking isn't just about fashion; it's about empowerment and self-expression. It's the art of turning fabric into something that speaks to you, something that fits perfectly, and something that tells a story. And for Mette Baillie of Freja Designer Dressmaking, it's a lifelong passion.


Starting Early: A Love for Sewing Begins

Mette Baillie with Scottish Tweed
Mette Baillie with Scottish Tweed

Mette's journey into dressmaking began at a remarkably young age—nine, to be precise. She vividly recalls making her first outfit, a skirt and waistcoat with a satin back, reminiscent of "Little House on the Prairie."


Little did she know that this humble beginning would shape her future. This initial creation marked the birth o f her love affair with dressmaking, driven not only by the act of creation but also by the language that clothing spoke. Her clothes made her feel different, empowered, and she was hooked.


She embraced her love for sewing while also pursuing other interests, like sports. It was this athletic background that fueled her fascination with the human body's movements and how clothing should encourage and enhance those movements.


Interestingly, her Danish roots played a role in her approach to clothing. Denmark's strong cycling culture, with roughly 80% of women cycling to work, influenced the design of their clothing. Practicality and smartness in clothing are paramount for these women.


Mette recognized the importance of creating garments that accommodated the activities and lifestyles of their wearers, a concept that would later underpin her dressmaking philosophy.


From Couture Design in Denmark to the Heart of Scotland

Freja Designer Dressmaking, Edinburgh
Freja Designer Dressmaking, Edinburgh

After earning her Couture Design Degree in Denmark, Mette embarked on a professional journey that led her from the Denmark to the UK. Her transition was motivated by her husband's job relocation. Initially, she worked in pattern cutting, acting as the vital link between the design and technical departments of a clothing supplier for Marks and Spencer.


This experience offered Mette a unique perspective on the fashion industry. She observed the challenges of creating standardized garments for women of all sizes. The "one size fits all" mentality didn't align with the realities of diverse body shapes, leading to disillusionment and frustration.


It was during this period that Mette's resolve to establish her own couture dressmaking business took root.


These experiences shaped her vision for her business, Freja Designer Dressmaking, which she set up in Edinburgh 24 years ago. She aimed to offer women something different—a personalized, empowering dressmaking experience that celebrated individuality.


Empowerment Through Dressmaking

Mette believes that dressmaking is a transformative process that empowers individuals to create clothing tailored to their unique body shapes and personal style. The act of making your own clothes is about more than just fashion; it's a declaration of self-acceptance and self-expression. It's a way of saying, "This is me, and I'm proud of it."


One of Mette's core motivations is helping women recognize the skills they didn't know they had. Many people are quick to admire the craftsmanship of others while underestimating their capacity to create. Mette's mission is to bridge that gap and enable women to unleash their creativity.


She emphasizes the importance of appreciating our bodies as they are, rather than aspiring to conform to unrealistic standards. Dressmaking offers a fresh perspective, allowing individuals to appreciate and adorn their bodies in a way that conventional shopping often doesn't.


Freja Designer Dressmaking

Mette's beautiful creations
Mette's beautiful creations

A significant portion of her business revolves around creating exquisite wedding dresses and outfits for the mother of the bride and she has won awards for both. Her work with Scottish Tweed has even attracted attention from Scandinavian clients, who come to Edinburgh for her Scottish Tweed jackets.


In response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, Mette established an online course, offering a platform where individuals from all over the world can access her expertise. The course, a monthly subscription, provides students with a pattern designed by Mette every month, accompanied by step-by-step video tutorials that guide them through taking measurements and adapting patterns to their unique body shapes.


Mette recognizes that dressmaking can be intimidating for some, but she has made her courses accessible to everyone. It's not just about creating garments; it's about creating a supportive community that fosters creativity and self-assurance.


The Impact of Well-Fitting Clothes

Mette firmly believes in the power of well-fitting clothes. A well-fitted outfit not only enhances your appearance but also transforms how you perceive yourself.


At a session with a stylist Mette shared, "I turned up with this stylist and I had a whole suitcase of things and she opened the suitcase and she started pulling things out and said, whose are these clothes?


I said, what do you mean? And she said, whose are these big clothes? Why would you bring all these big clothes? I told her, they're mine. And she said, no way, you're not that big, I never, saw you as such a big size.


I think it's just because my, clothes fit, so they go in and out in the right places. So I do think that I look slimmer than I am, or, that have a better shape".


Incorporating Playfulness in Dressmaking

While dressmaking involves precision and attention to detail, Mette encourages a spirit of playfulness in the process. She believes in experimenting, not always following instructions to the letter. Her philosophy is to get out of your head, be curious, and give things a try.


As Mette aptly puts it, "dressmaking should have an element of the nine-year-old you, the playful, fearless individual who wasn't afraid to make mistakes and learn from them".


Mette's Tips

Making wedding dresses
Years of experience making wedding dresses

Working with challenging fabrics like sequins and slinky materials can be a daunting task. Mette's advice is to work through your pattern first.


Sequins and slinky materials are not forgiving of mistakes, and they can be expensive, making the unpicking process undesirable. By carefully working through your pattern, you reduce the chances of errors that require adjustments.


Another of Mette's invaluable tips is to become a keen observer of the clothing in shops.


She suggests looking beyond the surface and examining how garments are made, especially in high-end shops. Pay attention to the meticulous details and craftsmanship. This practice helps you to bring these intricate details into your own creations, elevating the quality of your dressmaking.


Mette's Favourite Creation from this year

I asked Mette what her favourite make from the year had been. I expected her to share about a beautiful gown or jacket but her answer took me completely by surprise.


"Oh, it's gotta be my mermaid outfit."


She went on to explain that the mermaid tail was a birthday gift from her mum - seemingly something she'd always wanted.


"I made a skirt that went over it with all beading and sequins and a see-through top with seaweedy lace on top just where my bra would have been. So yeah, I think that's my, my favourite."


Favourites and Least Favourites

Mette's favourite sewing tool is her table. She appreciates the convenience and comfort of having a spacious table for spreading out her materials, cutting fabric, and working on her projects. The right workspace, complete with good lighting, is essential for efficient and enjoyable dressmaking.


On the flip side, Mette's least favourite part of dressmaking is the interruption to her creative flow. The need to put things away, step out of the zone, and return to reality can be jarring. Like many artists and creators, interruptions can disrupt the magic of the creative process.


Mette's dressmaking journey is a testament to the transformative power of creativity and self-expression. From her early beginnings in Denmark to her current role as the founder of Freja Designer Dressmaking in the UK, her dedication to empowering women through dressmaking is inspiring.


Mette's Special Offer!

Just for you, Mette is giving £10 off her subscription valid until 1st November 2023. Just use the code below at checkout to get your discount:


Offer code: 10POUNDSOFF


Don't miss out!


If you'd like to listen to my full chat on this topic with the lovely Mette, click the button below or look for Sew Mindful on your favourite podcast app:

In this episode you'll hear:

  • [00:01:55] Introducing Mette Baillie

  • [00:04:19] How long have you been sewing?

  • [00:05:21] Studying Couture Design

  • [00:07:03] From Queen's First Maid to M&S

  • [00:10:02] Creating a capsule wardrobe with Mette

  • [00:16:11] The impact of great fit

  • [00:18:22] Mette's insider tips

  • [00:21:34] Quick fire questions (with an unexpected answer!)

  • [00:24:29] Connect with Mette and SPECIAL OFFER

If you do join Mette's program (or if you are already a member) then please do get in touch and let me know what you think. And if you would like more help with any of the aspects mentioned in this article or this podcast episode then I would love to hear from you so do please email me at hello@sewmuchmorefun.co.uk. Thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope you find some useful tips that you can apply.

Connect with Mette Baillie

If you'd like to connect with Mette, she would love to hear your feedback or thoughts too.

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If you found this article helpful then please click the heart icon below to let me know and I'll create more content like this. And you can also use the icons in the footer if you want to share this with other sewing friends. If you enjoy this podcast episode please be sure to share it and to leave a review in your favourite podcast app to help others find us.

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Thank you so much for listening and for all your support. x

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