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Article 21 - Sept 13, 2010

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By Montgomery Harris

Author Christine Haynes book Chic and Simple sewing is a must have in our Love to Sew studio.

While visiting friends in New York this past June, I stopped by the Renegade Craft Fair ( in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This was not your typical Saturday morning hunting for tea cozies with Grandma in an elementary school gymnasium: Renegade is a mosaic of wind-blown tents offering items like organic cotton t-shirts, pen-and-ink squid prints, and hand-crafted jewelry created from vintage advertisements. Among the noticeable trends were mustaches (thick, curled, black ones) and bicycles. These made appearances on tote bags, t-shirts, jewelry, posters, and stationary. One vender even featured a print of a mustache riding a bicycle. 
Although I found the mustaches rather charming, the highlight of the day was serendipitously meeting Christine Haynes. 
Iíve been teaching sewing for seven years and often find myself frustrated with introducing commercial patterns to beginner students. Patterns from major companies like McCalls and Vogue--even ďeasyĒ patterns--tend to leave basics out of the directions and use more complex closures (like zippers and buttonholes). Christine Hayneís book Chic & Simple Sewing offers both patterns (on actual paper, none of that disc-printing nonsense) and detailed instructions. It is an ideal textbook for our adolescent newbies because the looks are easily made and beautiful on. Yes, I would wear the Date Dress on a date, and it is often our studentsí first complete garment. 
It was exciting and fortunate to meet the woman behind the book that has helped so many of our students. Her designs--fully realized--looked gorgeous blowing in the wind. Christine was refreshing and kind. Kind enough, actually, to answer a few questions for us:

CW: How would you describe your style?
CH: I like to wear simple, classic cuts that flatter my curves, with a hint of girly, vintage flair. Iím totally uncomfortable in pants and pretty much live in dresses. Iím not a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl! For my beginning level seamstress readers and students, I try to make those classic designs in a stripped-down way with fun details to keep their learning growing.

CW: Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
CH: I love looking at magazines, vintage yearbooks, films, art, and the Internet. But my favorite inspiration comes from traveling and observing people. Getting out of the studio and away from the daily grind is the best thing you can do for creativity. I gain tremendous inspiration from patterns on buildings, the curve of a window, and the way the body travels through space. Itís one thing to make something beautiful, but itís another thing to live and wear a garment in real life. Paying attention to how one interacts with the world around you can inform your decisions tremendously.

CW: What do you find most pleasing and most difficult about working in the fashion industry?
CH: I love clothing! I obsessively stare at what people wear, drawings of clothing, old paintings of garments, and photos of clothing. So in that respect, being around it all the time is great. That being said, the fashion industry can be challenging, and to do it ďfor realĒ is a very expensive prospect. If I had my way, Iíd open a boutique, sell my dream designs all over the world, and make anything I want. But itís all very expensive to do and working with trade shows and stores is very challenging and can really stifle your creativity. Since Iím not independently wealthy [to open the dream boutique], I decided that I was more comfortable being a small one-woman operation, sewing most everything myself and teaching and writing about sewing.

CW: Was there any aspect of writing (your book and patterns) that you found particularly challenging?
CH: When Random House approached me to do Chic & Simple Sewing, I was flattered but also scared since I had never written a book before! Certain aspects of the book came naturally Ė casting models, location scouting for the photos, working with my photographer Stuart Mullenberg, and dreaming up designs. The parts that were more challenging were making the vision fit into the scheme of a book. Drafting the patterns to work with multiple projects and to fit as many body sizes as possible due to the space limitations was the hardest part. In the end, Iím very happy with the book, but there are of course things that Iíd change if I could. Thatís why they say hindsight is always 20/20! I took the knowledge that I learned and moved it forward to future projects.

CW: Chic & Simple Sewing has been an immense help and pleasure for the students and staff at Love to Sew. Do you have plans for a future book?
CH: Iím so happy that your students and staff are enjoying the book! Iíve seen my students use and love it, but as I travel outside of Los Angeles, itís such a pleasure and surprise to see others using it too. As for future books, absolutely! It will be a while, as books take a couple of years to complete, but I am planning future publications and promise an announcement when I am allowed to do so!

CW: Is there any advice you would like to impart upon aspiring designers?
CH: Go for it! I know thatís such a clichť, but really, this is your life, so donít hold back and psych yourself out of going for something that you want to do. Whether it is the desire to be a home-sewer, make curtains and dresses for yourself, or to go to fashion school and be the next big thing, just do it already! Life is too short to live it for someone elseís dreams.

Christine wrote about meeting me, too. See her point of view and learn more about her fashions on her website:


Founder & Publisher: Judi Harris

Editor in Chief: Montgomery Harris                                                                                                  

Art & Photo Editor: Andrew DiMaio
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copyright 2010 Love To Sew
Article 21 Sept 13, 2010




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