Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a great weekend.
Have you ever wondered how it would feel to give up your day job and follow your passion, and make it work. I am not about to do that, in fact I am going back to my day job in November - but this was my dream job for a long time. Now I am wondering more and more what it would be like to do something with this crafting obsession I have. To find out more I have decided to interview those who just went for it.
This month I am talking to Pauline of Pauline Alice patterns about her experience as an indie pattern designer. She has her own style, so feminine yet simple, it is no wonder I have already sewn three of her patterns (here, here and here). She is also French and lives abroad, in Spain in her case, so I feel we have a bit in common as well. I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I do.
Hi Pauline, so tell us more about you getting involved in sewing?
I started sewing when I moved to Spain. I was reading some sewing blogs and thought I would love to try it. So I bought a machine and started sewing with some vintage patterns.
- Have you always known you were going to be a pattern designer?
I have always loved to design, draw and make things in general. As a teenager, I fancied myself a future fashion designer but didn’t go through and ended up studying English literature at university. But I loved fashion and always dreamt of doing something artistic and creative.
- When did you start to draft your own patterns? How did you acquire the skills you needed to feel you could start of?
I started making self-drafted patterns a few months after starting to sew. At the beginning, they were easy (a simple skirt or dress) and I guess not very well-fitted, but I loved the possibilities it offered. I made my first commercial pattern in September 2013. During the 3 previous years, I had learnt to make tailored garments and draft some patterns by reading some books on the subject, taking classes on internet (I’m a big fan of Craftsy) and lots of toiles!
|Details from Eliana dress|
- What would say your signature style in your designs is?
My style is clearly feminine and with a retro flair. I think the signature style would be a fit and flare dress and a great coat – I love coats! The common theme would be feminine details: it can be a pleated yoke, or a collar, pockets – yes what my patterns have in common are pockets: they all have pockets! Which means, I guess, that the Pauline Alice sewists like girly and practical garments ;-)
- What is your best-selling pattern?
My best selling pattern is still the Camí dress, the first pattern I released. It has to do with the fact that it’s great for everyday and every season (my own version is here).
- When did you make the switch from 'regular work to make business out of your passion?
The first two years in Spain, I had a “regular” job, but every free time I had I spent sewing. When my contract ended, I thought it was the perfect time to think about what I wanted to do. So I started drafting the Camí dress and releasing it on PDF first.
- Do you have an aim in mind - number of patterns per year, number of sales, etc?
I try to release between 4 and 6 patterns per year but I don’t have any bigger aim. I try to get better patterns every time and learn from the sewists reviews.
- How do you run the business side of Pauline Alice? Do you have external help (at this stage)?
I work alone at home, the business part is the most difficult for me. If I could I would spend all my time designing patterns but unfortunately, there’s a lot more that needs to be done: invoices, books, shipments… Sometimes I would like to have an external point of view. Being on my own, it’s difficult to see the big picture and know what decisions are good or not.
- What do you do to make your workplace an enriching and inspiring place to be?
I’m not sure my workplace is enriching or inspiring ;-) I work at home and I’m lucky enough to have my home room to work (even though the whole house if full of fabric, patterns, boxes…). But I’m dreaming of a big studio… maybe in my next house.
- What sort of things are inspiring you right now?
I like to spend time looking at Pinterest, don’t we all? But sometimes I’m inspired by looks on the street, in a movie, a magazine.
- When do you feel the most creative?
Usually the best ideas occur when I’m not looking for one! So I try to always carry a notebook and pencil with me to draw.
- How do you combat creative blocks?
I try to think about something else and just relax. As I just told you before, ideas don’t always come when you need them.
- How do you know that designs will resonate with people?
I guess you never know. Sometimes you spend a lot of time on a pattern and it doesn’t sell as well as you thought it would, and sometimes you make a simpler model that is a huge success.
- We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society where everything is either a click or a short drive away, why should people continue to make things by hand?
I think that when you make things (sewing garments, knitting, patchwork, or even cooking, gardening…), you like the making process as much as the resulting object. For me sewing isn’t about having nice clothes in my wardrobe (even if I like that as well) but about taking the time to make something with my hands, thinking about the details, enjoying all the process, learning new things. And this is priceless.
- If you had the time to sew anything for yourself right now, what would you choose?
I just bought fabric for the last pattern I purchased, the Isla Trench coat by Named patterns, and I’m looking forward to make it.
- What can we expect from Pauline Alice in the coming months?
The new pattern will be released in October!
How lovely is Pauline!!! Thank you so much for being so open with us, and also bringing so many wonderful patterns and amazingly clear tutorials to the sewing world!