We’re super happy to welcome Christine Haynes Patterns to the group of Indie Pattern Month sponsors this year. Chances are, you’ve heard of the Emery dress – a super popular Christine Haynes design. I caught up with Christine to find out more about her designs and her pattern label.
Hi Christine! First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
My designs are vintage-inspired, feminine, clean, and modern. I really strive to find the line between vintage and feminine, and yet unfussy and simple for the modern woman. I do not want to look like I’m wearing a vintage costume, as I am a modern woman, but I do love the femininity of dresses from past eras. So I try to incorporate interesting feminine details into clean and modern designs.
How did your come up with the name for your label?
Well, it’s just my name! But even that was a hard decision to make. Most pattern companies are named for something other than the designer, but I decided that since I was already more than a pattern company, having already written books and on-line classes, I just kept it simple and called it Christine Haynes Patterns. That way when you see one of my books, or one of my written articles, or one of my classes, you know it’s all the same person and I don’t have to explain that I’m Christine Haynes, from the “blank” pattern company. It’s just me, so it’s just my name!
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
That is a very long story, but the short version is this: I started sewing when I was young, and it was just one of many arts that I did for pleasure. I attended art school and got my BFA in fine art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and all the while I was sewing my own clothes. One day a friend of mine started the Renegade Craft Fair, and I put a rack of handmade clothes out to sell, and to my surprise, they all sold out! From there I had my own ready-to-wear label for many years, hand making clothes and selling them at boutiques around the world. That proved to be hard on me physically, and that coupled with my first book deal and the crash of the economy, I turned to teaching and writing as my main business and closed the ready-to-wear line. It was a natural progression to then release patterns, but it took me many years to raise the funds and learn all I needed to know to make it happen.
And looking forwards, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
I’m really happy with the way things are working out, and in five years I hope it to be much more of the same that it is currently – teaching workshops, writing books, releasing patterns, and making art. I’m thinking more and more about incorporating my fine art degree into my work and would love to do a line of fabric or other printed goods with my designs and/or photography. But for now, I’m really happy and lucky to be doing so well.
Where do you do all your work? Reckon you can share a photo or two with us, so we can have a sneak peek at your workspace?
I work from home in my apartment in Los Angeles. I live in the mid-city area of LA, which puts me close to everything. My apartment is set up with a formal dining room, which I have turned into my living room, and a large light-filled living room, which I have turned into my studio. My bedroom is large enough to have my office in there, and my kitchen has enough room for a table and chairs for eating. So by turning my dining into my living, and so on, I still have a spot for each thing, just not necessarily where you’d suspect them to be! I love working from home and my space is very quiet and peaceful.
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
Without question, the best part is seeing people make the patterns, then love and wear them in their everyday lives. Patterns are not static items, they are meant to be used, so when I see people wearing dresses made from my patterns, it’s the absolute best! But I’ll be honest, from the moment I push the button on my site when releasing the pattern, to the time I see the first one made, I am incredibly nervous and afraid that no one will like it! By the time I release a pattern, it’s already been tested and such, so I know they work well and I know those around me that give me their honest opinions and feedback like the pattern, but until I see it being well received by my customers, I am quite on edge.
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
I love the Emery Dress, for so many reasons. First, it’s the dress I always want to wear and feel pretty in. I love a classic fit and flare dress, and when I released it I couldn’t believe that none of the other indie designers had made something so classic yet. I was thrilled to be able to offer that to the market. But the other reason it’s my favorite is because it really put me on the map. The Derby and Chelsea Dresses are lovely, and clearly I think they are great, but they don’t appeal to quite the same wide audience that the Emery Dress does, so the Emery really established my business and opened my brand up to so many people that didn’t know about me previously. It single handily kept my business afloat for many many months!
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business? (Or both!)
My designs come from many sources of inspiration, and there’s no single thing that I can say is my main spot of inspiration. I do get tremendous ideas from watching regular people on the streets, walking and living in their clothes, and I also have hundreds of vintage sewing patterns that I love to use as a reference library. Vintage yearbooks and films are great windows into the past as well, and browsing garments in vintage clothing shops is a wealth of ideas too. But no matter the original source, sketching the ideas out into practical patternmaking transforms the ideas into a real idea, and from there a garment is made.
Inspiration for my business stems from the artist in me. I have never been lured by big business, and the desire to support small business and fair working conditions keeps me from buying cheap goods at big box stores. That’s just one of many reasons I choose to make my own clothes, and to be as kind to the planet and the people and animals that inhabit it with me.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon? Any hints you can give us? (We’re so impatient, haha!)
Ha! Well, depending on when this runs, my new pattern might just be out, or just about to come out! I can tell you that it is a dress (shocking, I know!) and that it is called Sylvie. There are two views, and they are both fantastic for your summertime sewing! If it’s not already out, don’t worry, it won’t be long!!!
Thanks Christine! I loved hearing more about your label and your history (and I must admit to being rather envious of your gorgeous work space with all it’s natural light!). Want to know more about Christine and her designs? Head on over to her website to have a look.