visiting friends in New York this past June, I stopped by the Renegade Craft
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.
found the mustaches rather charming, the highlight of the day was
serendipitously meeting Christine Haynes.
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.
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:
would you describe your style?
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.
do you get inspiration for your designs?
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.
do you find most pleasing and most difficult about working in the fashion
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.
there any aspect of writing (your book and patterns) that you found
CH: When Random
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.
& 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?
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!
there any advice you would like to impart upon aspiring designers?
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.