The fifth letter
My work rhythm and the release of new patterns has changed a lot since the beginning of RTS 7 years ago.
The first two years, I would release almost one pattern per month: Janis, Jimmy, Jumpy, Jeanette, Jude, Josette, Joanne, Jane… were all born during this period. I would work late nights and weekends and when everyone else was on vacation. The second year was punctuated by the release of the Jazz pattern, which had six different variations at the time. Jazz is the pattern that put Readytosew on the map.
Here is a picture of the first photo shoot for the Jazz sewing pattern, which was not yet an e-book and only had 6 variations. At the time there weren't any flowy rompers on the market and big sleeves weren’t yet as trendy as they are now. My testers even told me that the sleeves were too big, but I know when I should follow my instincts and when to listen to my testers- I kept the sleeves the way they were.
By the third year, my work rhythm had evolved, and I began to be more interested in more complex patterns like lined jackets or overalls which required more time for development: the Joe blazer, Jack trench, Jasper jacket, Jim overalls all came about during that year.
The Jack trench coat and its numerous details. Jack is lucky to be here today. I was working on a different pattern when one night I had a dream about a drapey trench that cinched at the waist, with gathers everywhere, big pockets and a gathered collar that is almost a hood. Jack is chic and sporty at the same time.
Then the time came when I tried to organize my work by small collections. First came a collection of basics that are easy to sew and wear. Again, my rate of pattern releases slowed down. That year, without knowing it, I was working on my best-sellers: the Jeanne t-shirt, the Jamie cardigan, the Julienchore coat and the Jean-Paul boilersuit.
Who would have guessed that Jeanne was destined to become THE pattern for a t-shirt with a boyfriend fit ? I almost didn’t release this pattern, fearing that it wouldn’t sell because of all of the similar t-shirt patterns that are available free of charge, but Jeanne won over your hearts and closets. Thanks again for your enthusiasm in regard to this pattern.
Ah, Julien! It’s one of my patterns that I wear the most often. It’s practical, comfortable, solid and as you know … I am a big fan of workwear.
Then, the next year RTS took a long pause, or at least a pause for my clients, because behind the scenes I was working harder than ever. That year I developed my plus-size range in addition to the Pepite collection: the Patsy overalls, Pekka jacket, and finally the Papao pants. That was the collection that propelled me into the big leagues. I had envisioned it as one that could be made out of natural materials such as linen, cotton or even hemp and had created the patterns in such a way that they did not require any other material other than thread and fabric.
Can you guess when this collection was released?
Right at the beginning of lockdown I had, without knowing it, designed the perfect collection for that time period. Remember, during the spring of 2020 and everything was completely shut down, we couldn’t even order on the internet. We had time to sew but not much material, often just the fabric in stock. I hadn’t seen it coming or predicted anything. Sometimes you have to recognize that the stars are aligning without you noticing.
One day someone asked me what pattern I was the most proud of. I responded Papao, without hesitation. When first designing it, I had to absolutely rack my brain to translate what I had in my mind into a physical pattern. I could have designed something a little simpler and more approximate- a piece of fabric sewn into the side seam and tied in the front and that would have been that. But I would rather do nothing at all than to do it sub-par.
I had to sew numerous toiles before being satisfied with the fold integrated in the front leg pattern piece, and especially with a fold that stayed in place and wouldn’t open. I would test each toile while dancing in front of my camera and with each movement of my leg I would focus on the fold. If it didn’t return to where it was supposed to be, it wasn’t considered finished.
Pekka is the multi-faceted jacket of my dreams. When sewn in a structured linen it gives off Haori vibes (a traditional Japanese jacket), but when sewn in a quilted fabric it's soft and comfortable.
The years following the lockdown will be synonyms of slowness at work. I had a hard time finding a balance between my personal life and work life, and even though I worked up until the very end of my pregnancy, the fatigue also affected my work rhythm. That said, during those years I created certain patterns that I love: the Partner overalls and the Valley jumpsuit (created in partnership with Peppermint magazine). I also took the time to revisit my older patterns like the Jane top and to release extensions like the ones I created for the Jolene dress.
I really challenged myself with the Partner overalls. They had to have all of the accouterments of work overalls, but the assembly had to be relatively simple. If you look closely, it’s not a very complex garment to sew: pants without a fly, long patch pockets that become knee reinforcements and a cinched waist that is created by attaching the bib to the pants. But thanks to the topstitching, when you first look at them it looks like a big project.
Then my daughter was born and since then, almost nothing is as it was before and it never will be again. Everything is slower when you have a child. My working days are more limited, because I have decided to not wake my daughter in the morning and to spend time with her before taking her to daycare. I also finish working early so that I can pick my daughter up and because she is in a sort of part-time daycare situation (called halte-garderie in France) certain days are not guaranteed and those days I can’t work at all. Our year was also punctuated by various benign illnesses like the flu, colds, a stomach bug (thanks to daycare) and other delights.
In spite of everything, several patterns have emerged, the Pleat pants (that I love- a simplified version of the Papao pants, Papao for lazy people), but the most exciting has been the very first children's collection that I loved working on.
It was a TOTAL FLOP.
I put so much thought and energy into the creation of that collection as well as the communication surrounding its release: a video with a dancer, two different photographers for the photoshoots, four models with diverse body types, all of the samples dyed with natural materials… In short, my disappointment came at the height of my creative engagement.
Can you guess when this collection was released ?
At the exact moment when Instagram drastically changed its algorithm to highlight accounts that were creating videos for the “Reels” tab. My account lost its visibility in a snap of the fingers. I spent a week trying to understand why all of a sudden my posts were invisible.
The Pleat pants are another pattern who shouldn't be here today. They were born out of an attempt to siumplify the Papao pants for a children's pattern. By trying to remove the complexities of the Papao so that kids could take them off easily, I created a new pattern and immediatly wanted them in my own size. When worn with heels and a simple silk top you're ready for a wedding. Worn with sandals and a basic t-shirt, they are the perfect every day summer pants. Sure, they are pants with an elasticated waist but they are anything but basic !
Sometimes you have to accept that the stars are not lining up. I took that failure as a sign and decided to disconnect from socials and take a step back but ...
don't worry, I haven't thrown in the towel just yet ! next up is a new children's collection ;-)
I love everything about this collection of children/teen clothing. They are simple, practical, durable, comfortable and will be able to create one or two outfits. I will soon be able to have the samples created and during that time, I will be able to work on the sewing instrctions, step-by-step sew alongs, pattern sheets etc... but i will tell you more about my work process very soon in my next letter !
PS: since my last letter, I have delated Instagram off my phone and I have deleted WhatsApp too. It's amazing