Christine Haynes, Queen of Frocks and LA-based pattern designer with her own line of patterns
We catch up with Christine Haynes, Los Angeles-based sewing author, teacher, and pattern designer with her own line of sewing patterns for vintage-loving modern seamstresses
Tell us about yourself and how you got into dressmaking?
"I learned to sew when I was about 10 years old from my mother, but I didn’t really get deep into sewing until I was around 18 years old when I worked part-time at a local fabric shop and bought my first overlocker machine. From there, I sewed my own clothing as a fun hobby while studying for a Bachelor’s of Fine Art from college.
After graduation, I participated in the second Renegade Craft Fair selling finished garments, which launched my former ready-to-wear label. But quickly realised that it was too much work to do all that sewing alone, and when I was given an opportunity to write my first book, I took it. With that decision, I closed my label and launched the current phase of my career–teaching sewing, designing and distributing sewing patterns, and writing for books and magazines. I’m so thrilled with the way it’s been going."
What is your favourite fashion label and why?
"That is such a hard question to answer! I love Orla Kiely designs, and think we've a similar base of inspiration for our designs. I also hugely admire the designs of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino. They make sublime creations, and wish I could get away with wearing a lace gown everyday!"
Who is your sewing pattern range aimed at?
"My hope for my designs is that they speak to more than just one age range. I’ve seen my garments on teenagers, as well as ladies in their 60’s, like my mother. I do think, there’s a common style sensibility however.
My designs are for people that like the vintage detailing, but don’t want anything overly fussy or overdone. I never want to look like I’m wearing a costume, and it’s key for my designs to be vintage-inspired, while remaining modern."
What is your favourite pattern that you’ve designed so far?
"My favourite is always the next one! I get so excited about the garment I’m working on, in anticipation for releasing it into the world. For my past patterns, the Emery Dress is an all-time favorite of mine. And based on its reception, I think it’s a favourite for many people as well!"
How can dressmakers in the UK get hold of your patterns?
"I ship directly from my website to anywhere in the world, but if you want to find it locally, I've many UK retailers, and a list can be found on my retailer’s page of my website. There are lots of online-only retailers, as well as physical shops, so there are plenty of choices."
Who do you most admire in the sewing industry?
"I have to say that I’ve such respect for the indie sewing community as a whole. Many of these ladies with their own pattern companies are dear friends, and the fact that we all support and help each other, instead of constantly competing is simply amazing.
It’s an incredible group of women. If I were to choose one person, it would be Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns. I think many of the indie pattern companies, myself included, really didn’t think that producing our own line of patterns was an option until she came along. I give her credit for blazing the path for the rest of us!"
You’ve written a string of sewing books. Tell us about them?
"I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to write four books. Each is different from the other, so in a nutshell, here is what each is about:
My first book, Chic & Simple Sewing, is a beginner-friendly book with projects for simple dresses, tops, skirts, jackets, and a nightie. It’s out of print, but there are still some around, including in my shop on-line.
My second book is The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction. I'm so proud of this encyclopedia-style book and without sounding biased, I think it's a very helpful resource for beginners and beyond. It illustrates in clear photos, how to do nearly everything for constructing a garment–darts, all kinds of zippers, gathers, pleats, and so much more.
My third book, Skirts & Dresses For First Time Sewers, is another beginner-friendly book of patterns. This is focused on skirts and dresses with classic silhouettes, like a slip dress, wrap dress, tunic, and more.
And my fourth book is How to Speak Fluent Sewing. I love reference books, so this is another favourite, and I'm hugely proud of the way it turned out. It’s basically like an illustrated dictionary of every possible sewing term you can think of, with clear explanations on the who, what, and why of each item, tool, or technique. Great for all levels of sewing!