As I celebrate finally making it to the week in which I will release my new pattern - the Collins Top, I can't help but become a little reflective, thinking about the process, the lessons learned, the challenges overcome and the skills gained. If you asked me a year and a half ago, when I started In the Folds, where I would be now, I would have told you that I would have had a truckload of patterns in my Pattern Shop by now. Oh how naive I was! And thankfully I was that naive. If I knew how much time, blood, sweat and tears would go into creating just three sewing patterns, I probably would have run the other way. Thankfully, all I had for a reference were the amazing women in the indie sewing scene that are producing patterns, and they seemed to be able to churn out 4-6 patterns per year, so why couldn't I?
Well there is many a reason that I have learned (and finally accepted) that at this moment, it is just not in my power to do so. And the main reason is not that I'm a one-woman show (although I am), or that drafting a pattern and creating the instructions takes a really long time (although it does). The reason is that I like to let my thoughts and ideas percolate. I like to work on things in a way that allows my ideas to do their time in my brain, dancing in and out of my thoughts, coming back in different shapes and forms, until eventually they feel right. I can't make important decisions on the spot, and I have decided to stop putting pressure on myself to do so. I have learned that I create my best work when I give it the time it needs to breathe, and without doing so, I don't think I would be pushing myself to my creative limits. I have learned over time that my best ideas come when I am not looking for them, or forcing them, or expecting them. They come when I'm going for a walk, or driving my car, going to sleep, or talking to friends. They surprise me, and exhilarate me and remind me why I started this journey in the first place.
I want to create patterns that are beautiful, thoughtful and surprising to makers. Patterns that are timeless, and are relevant year after year. And that is my mission. That's what gets me up each morning and what goes around and around in my mind when I'm working on one of the tedious parts of the process (I am looking at you cutting plans and yardage requirements!) It's what allows me to work on the same pattern for months on end, never giving up, even when the stress of it does seem too much. It's what makes me choose to hold a pattern back if I know it can be improved. It's what makes me illustrate an entire pattern after I have already completed and tested the pattern with photographs (the shift from photos to illustrations happened weeks before I was planning to release the Acton). It's what makes me re-test a pattern when I know the fit could be better.
I recently did a customer survey (thank you again to all of those who took the time to do it) and many people asked what takes me so long to produce a pattern, and I realised that I rarely talk about my creative process. So today I start. I will aim to talk more openly about the way in which I work and how a sewing pattern is created. I can definitely not speak for everyone, but my process is one I know inside and out, and I would love to share it!