Christine Haynes’ studio.
Photos courtesy of Christine Haynes.
Just over two years ago, independent sewing pattern designer Christine Haynes moved from Los Angeles to New York City to work a full-time job, leaving the future of her business in limbo.
In the fall of 2019, she relaunched her sewing pattern business. Now, she’s running the business in a totally different way—a way that maintains a healthy work-life balance.
The Breaking Point
Burnout is the number one reason Haynes temporarily closed her business. The breaking point, she says, is when she filmed a Creative Live class.
While the film crew was wonderful, Haynes says it was clear to her after viewing the class that something needed to change. “I know, looking at myself, that I look unhealthy like I wasn’t taking care of myself. . . just getting by,” Haynes says. “I could see that in me in the video and I was like, I cannot keep doing this.”
The Emery dress.
The Lottie dress.
Haynes thinks part of the problem was that her business was more of an evolution than an intentional plan. Her business started as a ready-to-wear line but shifted to pattern design and teaching after Random House approached her about writing her first book Chic & Simple Sewing. “It was naturally evolving, but when I finally got to a point where it was a full-time job of me designing patterns, I hadn’t come at it as a business in mind with a game plan for the year and goals,” Haynes says.
The lack of goals caused Haynes to feel pressured.
“Before I knew it, I felt like I had to say yes to everything in order to make ends meet and keep things going.”
Because of that pressure, Haynes was working nonstop. “Before I knew it, most days if I wasn’t doing something with friends or with my boyfriend, I was basically working from the minute I got up to the minute I went to bed.”
Haynes began to question whether she wanted to continue with her business, and she was also considering a move to New York.
Pattern designer Christine Haynes is relaunching her sewing pattern line with an eye towards creating a more balanced life.
Around that time, Haynes applied for a full-time manager position at Purl Soho in New York. One week later she had the job. Two weeks after applying, she moved to New York.
She worked at Purl Soho for two years, then decided it was time to move on. Her boyfriend offered his support and told her that if she wanted to focus on her business, he would float them financially while she got settled.
In September of 2019, she published a blog post letting customers know that she was back in business.
To celebrate the relaunch, Haynes will rerelease all of her old patterns while mixing in new patterns. So far she has rereleased two patterns: Emery and Lottie.
Customers may notice a few changes. First, Haynes is expanding her pattern sizes from 0-18 to 0-30. In addition, there are also small changes to the old designs. Her Emery dress, for example, no longer has a collar option. For Lottie, Haynes played with length, added sleeve options, and changed the bias lining to facings.
Haynes will also self-publish her online classes—a process she says will give her more creative control. “What [bigger companies] are looking for and what I’m looking for is never going to be the same,” she says.
Haynes has returned to teaching sewing classes in person, including an option for private lessons.
To prevent burnout, Haynes restructured her studio and her schedule. “I definitely clock out in the evening, and my studio is in our apartment building but it’s not in my apartment like it was in Los Angeles,” she says. “So when I’m in my apartment, I can’t physically see it, which is really helpful.”
Haynes is also launching patterns without announcing release dates. “I don’t mind being a one-person team. . .But it means being really honest about what you can and can’t do,” she says.
Despite the challenges, Haynes loves what she does.
“I couldn’t leave it because in the end I love it. It all stems from the love of sewing and the love of making things,” she says.
The Emery dress.
Ashley Little is a craft writer and editor living in Asheville, North Carolina. She has given up on reducing her yarn stash and refuses to feel guilty about it. You can see more of her work at thefeistyredhead.com.