Hello Readers! Gosh, is your summer flying by as fast as mine? It’s already July and I feel like I totally missed June. Ha! Today, I’ve got a special guest post for you. I’ve been corresponding with Christine Haynes a little bit and have been completely intrigued by her story and how she does what she does. Have you guys met Christine? She’s been popping up all over the place! She’s got a new line of sweet sewing patterns out (ps ~ these are in the shop too!), she’s a Craftsy teacher and she teaches at Sew L.A. in Los Angeles, CA. She’s got a rather unique story and I find it so inspiring – so hopefully you will too. Take it away Christine!
Sunni ~ Christine, you have a rather interesting story about how you got started in pattern making/producing. Can you enlighten us a bit on the process of what you went through to get your pattern company off the ground?
Christine ~ Yes! I think my story is a bit different than the usual! After writing my book, Chic & Simple Sewing, I knew that I wanted to do more patterns, but doing another book wasn’t quite right. I wanted more intricate patterns than a book format would allow and I wanted complete control over them. So working with a publisher wasn’t going to work for me either. But printing patterns are very expensive, since the minimums are very high for the print houses, so I had to get creative about how I was going to do it.
Insert Kickstarter! I found the amazing Kickstarter site when another friend was promoting a project and thought, yes, this is perfect for me. I have loads of students, tons of friends and family, all that want to help take my business to the next level, and hopefully between them all I could raise enough to release the first two patterns. In the end, I met my goal of $6,500 and that provided almost enough to do all that was needed to produce the line. It’s amazing how much goes into it- printing of the envelopes, instructions, patterns; hiring models, photographers, and hair and make up artists; buying fabric; hiring a graphic designer; and on and on. But now they are done and I couldn’t be happier with them!
Sunni ~ Are you a drafter, draper or both?
Christine ~ Both! I would say I’m about 60% right brained and 40% left brained, so it’s a happy balance to being free and loose, all the while making sure that lines are true and straight. I am a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and grew up in a very creative arts-centric community, so making clothing was just one of many creative things I did along the way. I also throw pottery, weld, shoot film, and loads more. So working freely at the beginning works for me. Then I get more serious after working with draping for a bit and take pencil to paper and make sure that the left brain part of my personality can keep things in order. It works for me. I couldn’t imagine only drafting. It’s so 2-dimentional!
Sunni ~ What’s your favorite sewing tip or trick that you could share with us?
Christine ~ Well, it’s no secret that pressing well elevates a homespun garment tremendously, but that is my all-time tip for any home seamstress. Press, press, press! I get made fun of in my sewing classes for constantly telling my students to “press crisp!” But seriously, the difference between an un-pressed hem and a pressed one? Night and day ladies!
Sunni ~ What influences your style? Do you have any style icons?
Christine ~ I’m hugely influenced by people. Just regular people out and about. I have zero interest in making costumey retro fashions that we will never wear in our everyday lives. I want to make the dress you want to toss on everyday because it’s cute, comfortable, flattering, and good for a multitude of social situations. So watching people “live” in their clothes is what I love doing. Sit me down on a bench in a city and I’m good to go!
My style icons are mostly French ladies of the 1960’s. It’s my favorite place and time, and they influence me hugely. But again, I don’t think you’d look at my two recent patterns, or my book, and see that in any blatant way. And that’s because I don’t want to look like I’m wearing a costume. I hope to achieve a modern take of those influences.
Sunni ~ What part of the sewing process gives you the most pleasure?
Christine ~ I’m sure most people would answer, “finishing!” And yes, being done is awesome! But aside from that, I love matching up all my materials at the beginning. Finding the perfect pattern with the ideal fabric match and then hunting for great buttons to finish it all off. That part is really fun. I also love the act of sewing. Just sewing and sewing and sewing away is really pleasurable.
Sunni ~ Where do you see you and your pattern company/business going in the next few years?
Christine ~ I’m a one-woman show, so I am okay with starting small and hope to release two to three patterns each year. I am completely in love with my fall pattern and I can’t wait to finish it up so I can get it photographed and out in the world. I can already tell that it’s going to be my uniform for a very long time!
I also plan to do another class with Craftsy. I currently have one up now called the Sassy Librarian Blouse and have almost 1,400 students in it to date! I am really enjoying their website which allows me to interact directly with my students who are from all over the world. It’s pretty amazing!
In addition, I still plan to teach classes in Los Angeles, which I do currently at Sew L.A., and also I write from time to time for Sew Stylish and Sew News. I have an article coming out next spring in Sew News about the sewing scene in Paris, where my man and I try to escape to each year.
And sometimes you can find me at the occasional conference too. Earlier this year I participated in the Craftcation Conference in Ventura, CA, which was a total blast and I have plans to return next year too!
Sunni ~ Just for some fun and discussion, what are your thoughts on the future of sewing? Do you think sewing is coming back into style?
Christine ~ I think sewing is back! I find it hilarious that all these articles are coming out, like the recent one in the New York Times, about how sewing is starting to come back. It feels like a long road since I started out at the second Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, and I know a ton of other people who have been working their butts off that long or longer too, so in my world, it’s been back for kind of a long time now.
But I know my circle isn’t the same as other circles, and I know my city isn’t like other cities. So if I lived in small-town America and my only fabric store choice was not terribly hip, I might not see that it’s back in a big way. But living in Los Angeles, we are very fortunate to have amazing fabric shops, huge networks of craft support, and it feels like everyone I know is making a living doing what they love. It’s an amazing time and place and I’m extremely happy to be in the middle of it!
Thanks so much Christine! It’s been a pleasure hearing from an up and coming pattern designer on the block. Readers, don’t miss out on the Chelsea (I’ve got my own version of this dress coming up soon!) or the Derby sewing patterns. Visit Christine’s Blog and start getting excited for her Fall pattern release!