Kyle Jensen / The Record — Seamstress Patricia Francisco works on one of her many projects in her Langley studio. Francisco has built a following from her work on clothes from the 19th and early 20th century. Her customers have come from Dallas and even Dubai.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Seamstress Patricia Francisco works on one of her many projects in her Langley studio. Francisco has built a following from her work on clothes from the 19th and early 20th century. Her customers have come from Dallas and even Dubai.

Langley seamstress discovers passion in creating era designs

From a well-lit corner room in her Langley home, Patricia Francisco can often be found working magic on a sewing machine.

But her work space isn’t your average seamstress studio. Her creations, ranging from corsets to throwback dresses to turn-of-the-century accessories, reveals she isn’t limited to handling alterations or tailoring.

“Custom sewing work has been a lifelong passion of mine,” Francisco said. “Although I’ll do alterations, I really prefer creating something to satisfy my artistic side. It’s an opportunity for me to share something I love.”

Francisco is a master of working with clothes from a bygone era.

Her sewing and alterations business, Patrician Designs, offers a variety of services and then some. While alterations tend to pay the bills, Francisco’s skills truly come into play when working with decadent dresses and their accompanying pieces.

Francisco typically has projects working with bridal gowns, Victorian dresses and Edwardian dresses, which emanate from the turn of the century to the World War I era. She’s even had a customer ask her to make a Russian court dress, which comes from the days of czar rule.

She also does work with the steampunk genre, which Francisco describes as “neo-Victorian.” Essentially, she takes Victorian dresses and gives them a modern twist, sometimes drifting into the sci-fi genre.

Think of the 1999 film “Wild Wild West.”

According to other seamstresses on the island, Francisco has a skill set rarely found on Whidbey Island.

“I wouldn’t just say she has unique skills for someone on Whidbey Island, but in the Pacific Northwest,” said Langley resident and seamstress Sue Ellen White. “She’s spectacularly talented and skilled. She’s perfect for someone who’s into steampunk, reenacting and people who just love period costuming.”

Francisco’s work isn’t costuming. Costuming, is done to make articles of clothing look authentic from afar, but up close the typically poor stitching work shows since it’s not a crucial theater detail, according to White and Francisco.

Rather, Francisco’s work shows craftsmanship and precision in the stitching and fitting. Francisco has an associate’s degree in applied science in apparel design, White said.

Her skills as a modiste, a female tailor, earned her a niche costumer base that spans far and wide. It’s essentially a scene of its own; regulars at the Port Townsend Victorian Festival regularly seek her services, as do customers from places including Dallas and Dubai.

Francisco works with customers via Skype to obtain their dimensions for proper fitting. She’s also open to in-person consultations. She might even teach them a thing or two.

“I want to show people the work I do,” Francisco said. “What I do is kind of a dying art, since many of the women who do this are older. And that’s a shame, because every custom piece is the only one in the whole world.”

“That’s what I love about it.”

Since she works out of her home studio, Francisco works by appointment. She can be reached by email at whidbeysewing@gmail.com

Langley seamstress discovers passion in creating era designs
Kyle Jensen / The Record — Corsets lay on Francisco’s table awaiting alterations and custom work.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Corsets lay on Francisco’s table awaiting alterations and custom work.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Francisco holds up an example of steampunk clothing. The style is Victorian, but there are modern touches with the button work.

Kyle Jensen / The Record — Francisco holds up an example of steampunk clothing. The style is Victorian, but there are modern touches with the button work.

More in Life

Courthouse circa 1891
Ghost of Courts Past: The Story behind Washington’s oldest courthouse

Washington’s oldest standing building that’s ever been occupied as a courthouse is in Coupeville.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Festival of Trees goes online

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County’s biggest fundraiser is online this week.

Rockin’ a Hard Place: Making the most of the short end of the drumstick

So here we are, having given thanks for all our blessings on… Continue reading

t
Santa Claus set to make rounds on Central Whidbey

Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue will resume their traditional Santa Mobile tours soon.

The Nutcracker -Swanson
Dance theater brings Nutcracker to the drive-in, living rooms

A popular wintertime performance will be offered virtually this year.

Georgia Gerber with her whale statue on display along First Street on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Whidbey’s Georgia Gerber creates iconic shapes in bronze

She turns abstract forms into some of the region’s most beloved public art, including the Pike Place Market pig.

Sabine Wilms spent the beginning months of the pandemic taking care of two goats, Lady Yang Xiaomei and Marisol. She used Chinese medicine to help heal the goats. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times.
Home for the kids: Whidbey woman takes in two goats deemed lost cause

A South Whidbey woman nursed two goats back to health with the help of Chinese medicine.

Cory Fakkema has brought the family farm near Oak Harbor into the modern age, using more ecologically sound practices that are considered better for the land and livestock. Photo by Ron Newberry
Regenerative agriculture: A new, healthier way to farm

A Whidbey farm is relying on more ecologically sound practices.

t
Kau Kau Corner to give away free meals on Thanksgiving

It’s the business owner’s way of saying ‘mahalo’ for the support this year.

Most Read