Christine Haynes is an author, teacher and vintage inspired pattern designer. She started out in the industry sewing ready made garments, but has since written four books, countless sewing patterns, has been featured in many magazines and television shows, and teaches people how to sew through workshops all around the country. She has basically had her hand in every inch of the sewing industry and we are in complete awe of her all accomplishments. She recently moved from Los Angeles to New York City and is taking over the management of the NYC based store, Purl Soho, and taking on her next challenge.
Your patterns all seem to walk the line between vintage and modern. What draws you to more the more vintage silhouettes?
I absolutely do try to ride the line between vintage and modern, without falling into overly modern minimalist, or vintage costumey. I love getting inspiration from past designs that are timeless and classic, rather than trendy. I honestly don't care about being "on trend" with my designs at all. All the subtle vintage details are key to me, like extending the sleeve on our Piper Top to land closer to the elbow, or giving the option of a flat 1960's bow on the front of our Emery Dress, or adding a button cuff to the sleeve of the knit Marianne Dress. Of course, some patterns are far more modern than others, but I am always looking to have a hint of vintage ladylike femininity to everything I design.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, pretty much everything in my day to day live recently changed, as I moved from Los Angeles to New York, just over a month ago! When I was in LA patternmaking full time, I split my time between designing, shipping, stuffing patterns, marketing, and sample sewing. In my new life in New York, I have a full-time job, so things are shifting tremendously. I have yet to figure out the routine for my business, but as I get settled and unpack, things will carry on. But right now, I take the subway from Brooklyn into Soho five days a week and manage a shop there. On my two days off, only time will tell...
What inspired you to switch from making ready-to-wear garments to teaching others to make their own garments?
While I was sewing and selling ready-to-wear in boutiques around the world, I was approached by an editor at Random House to write my first book. This was my first foray into releasing patterns, writing instructions, and showing others how to do what I do. Around this same time, a friend of mine opened a shop in LA and asked if I would teach sewing. It was a natural shift from doing it all myself, to writing and teaching others to do it instead. It was also timed exactly with the collapse of the economy, and people were spending less money on finished things. Though I found that they were willing to spend the same amount, or more, to learn how to do it themselves. So at that point, I launched head first into teaching and shut down my ready-to-wear line.
You have been featured on TV shows, written books, drafted patterns, taught workshops and classes, etc. What do you find to be the most rewarding at this moment in your life?
Of all the things I've done, I probably find teaching workshops and classes the most rewarding. Maybe because it's all in your hands for the most part. I'm super proud of the TV shows I've appeared on, and all four of my books, but in the end, I have no control over what the editors (in both print and TV) decide to do. There are things I would have done differently, but that's how it goes when someone else is paying you to do a job. For teaching, it's direct one-on-one with students, and it's very satisfying. It's also incredibly challenging, but I do really love it.
Do you remember the first garment you ever made?
I do! I was around 10 years old, give or take, and I asked my mom to help me make a floor-length white cotton skirt. Yeah, super practical for a 10-year-old child! Needless to say, we made it out of quilt weight and I hated it and I'm pretty sure I never wore it once! But god love my mom for teaching me to do it anyway!
What’s next for Christine Haynes as a brand?
With the change in location and job, honestly, things are a bit in the air right now. After I get settled, I absolutely plan to continue to release PDF patterns, but for right now in this very moment, I can't exactly say what's next! That's both exciting and terrifying really, as I'm used to having a plan. But I'm allowing myself to live in the moment and enjoy this new amazing city I now call home!