Me-Made-May Spotlight: Tara Viggo of Paper Theory Patterns

MAY 1, 2020 updated Jun 5, 2021

When you’re a one-woman show running a wildly popular indie-sewing pattern company, it can be easy to feel like you wear many hats. For Tara Viggo, founder of Paper Theory, we think it’s safe to say her many hats are replaced with many Zadie Jumpsuits. The tried-and-true pattern has quickly become a sewing community favorite and we are so excited to partner with Tara this Me-Made-May

We sat down with the London-based designer to learn more about life at Paper Theory and all the insider tips you need to know for sewing a Zadie Jumpsuit. Be sure to check back on the blog at the end of the month to see our annual employee Me-Made-May roundup featuring 23 different versions of the Zadie! 

When did you create Paper Theory?

I started Paper Theory in mid-2016 but I didn’t release my first pattern until September 2017. Before that I was just sharing behind-the-scenes photos of my job as a pattern cutter and tips and tricks for other makers.

How would you describe the style of your patterns? 

Paper Theory patterns are relaxed and easy to wear pieces with simple lines and interesting construction details.

Featured pattern: Miller Trouser
Featured pattern: Kabuki Tee

What does a “typical” day at Paper Theory look like?

A typical day is pretty scrambled for me. Paper Theory is a one-woman business so I’m never doing the same thing. I have a studio with all my equipment and a cutting table, but I also work from home a lot—especially now that I have a new baby at home! Some days I’m cutting patterns, some days I’m doing bookkeeping, replying to customer emails or website maintenance. I wear a lot of hats!

What sewing advice have you learned along the way that you still use today? 

At fashion school my sewing teacher told me “never ruin a good shirt with cheap buttons” and it has stuck with me since. 

What does Me-Made-May mean to you?  

Me-Made-May is like an annual reminder for me to stop and take stock of my wardrobe and think about the year of sewing that has gone by. I’m not very good at consistently posting on Instagram, so instead of putting pressure on myself to keep up with challenges, I make sure I take some time out to go through my wardrobe with fresh eyes and see what could do with a little bit of extra love or some new styling. 

What inspired the Zadie Jumpsuit?

I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. I love the simplicity of wearing a dress but they often feel too dressed up for me and I’m pretty casual day to day. A jumpsuit is a good middle ground piece. It can be dressed up or down with the right accessories.

What is your favorite part about the Zadie?

Definitely the fact it has no buttons or zips! I tend to be a slightly disorganized sewist, so often I’m sewing late into the night. There’s nothing worse than almost finishing something but needing a certain trim that you can’t pop to the store to buy at 1am. I try really hard to design all my patterns with the least amount of notions as possible. 

Why do you think the Zadie has become such a popular pattern with the sewing community?

I think because the jumpsuit suits all different body types. It’s designed to be a relaxed style and looks best when it’s a bit loose, so it’s pretty forgiving fit wise. Having a waist tie gives it an extra level of flexibility and means it can adapt to your body throughout its life (or even throughout the day!)

See over 4,000 versions of the Zadie Jumpsuit on Instagram!

What Spoonflower fabrics do you recommend for sewing a Zadie? 

The Lightweight Cotton Twill is the perfect medium weight fabric for a Zadie, it has plenty of body but isn’t too thick. The Organic Sweet Pea Gauze™ is great for a summer Zadie and I also think the Organic Cotton Sateen would be a good fabric for doing an evening wear version of the Zadie for a special occasion.

Featured design: Kuba in Black by domesticate
Tara’s in-process Sweet Pea Gauze Zadie Jumpsuit

What are your top tips for sewing the Zadie? 

I think the most important thing is to take your height into consideration before you cut. The jumpsuit is designed for someone who is 5’7”. If you’re 5’4” it could be 3 inches too long for you and the crotch might be floating around your knees. Likewise, if you’re 5’10” it might be 3 inches too short for you. Everyone has different proportions, so decide before you cut out your pattern if you want to remove or add length—and then consider if you want to alter that length to the body or the legs.

Is there a Zadie hack from the community that stands out to you? 

There have been so many fantastic hacks but by far the most widely loved is from Catherine (@threadsnips). She made a top with puffy sleeves from the jumpsuit that is great—there also happens to be a tutorial on her blog for the sleeves.

Do you have a favorite pattern or other indie pattern maker? 

Last summer I made the Sorrento Bucket hat from Elbe Textiles for a holiday and I LOVED it. I made it from old denim scraps and it gets so much wear. I have seen loads of great versions of it—and its free.

Don’t forget to tag your photos on Instagram with #spoonflowerapparel, #memademay2020 and #zadiejumpsuit so we can see your version.

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  • Cassandra Keirstead

    Such inspiration! Many thanks; I am very pleased to find this company.

  • Terry Kessinger

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    I’ve been watching this pattern on IG so it’s great to meet the designer! Also, I’m using PDF Plotting for the first time and my prints are coming in tomorrow! I have a question, which fabric is the black jumpsuit made out of? It looks like linen, but you didn’t mention that fabric. I love that look!! Thanks for this post, it’s been so enjoyable! I’m just now starting to sew garments again after a verrry long time away. These independent pattern makers are awesome artists and it’s so fun to support them.