The sixth letter

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First and foremost, I want to wish you a Happy New Year. 2023 will be like every other year I am sure- filled with highs and lows, moments of joy and sorrow, successes and failures.  The only thing I can predict is that it will start with one winter and end with another. Personally, my year should be interesting. I have two more moves planned, the purchase of a house and work that goes along with that, a makeshift workshop in a small room for several months, and a new way of life much closer to nature. As for the rest, only time will tell.

As promised, I will tell you more about my work process. For my coming collection it differs from the previous ones. I had already started to work on my new collection using my previous method, but I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough time and that I would need to outsource part of my work unless I wanted to release my new patterns in two years.

I asked Michèle (@mithe54) to work on writing the sewing instructions on 3 of my 4 patterns. Michèle and I have been collaborating for several years now. She went from customer to proofreader to pattern tester to advisor and now collaborator. She accepted this mission. Here is how we have been proceeding.



I draft the pattern and send it to Michèle along with a very brief summary of construction notes which contain the most essential instructions that will help her as she works. For example, I explain the steps that I don’t want to compromise on (a certain collar finish, whether the sleeves are sewn flat or set-in etc.), while for other steps I rely on her expertise because I am indecisive.

Michèle then sews a toile of the pattern while taking a photo of each step. If she is ever unsure about the order and assembly techniques, we call each other to discuss it. If it’s necessary, I modify the pattern according to her suggestions (adding a facing, modifying a seam allowance, etc.). Finally, Michèle sends me a folder containing the photos she has taken along with the written instructions that I then use to create the final instruction booklet which comes with each sewing pattern.


For my part, I have started testing the samples and have made test patterns in different sizes. Here my Maxime my 9 years old niece who is testing the Penny overalls fit and below Billy, 7 years old, who is testing the fisherman' smock.


I have also started grading the patterns. It is actually a pre-grading that I will later refine according to the fittings. I have never delegated the grading of my patterns even if it is very time-consuming work, because it gives me the freedom to come back to the model as many times as necessary and also to adapt the grading according to the model. Grading is not just an application of a set of rules to make a pattern bigger, it’s a skill that requires a little intuition, common sense and an eye for detail. Once I am happy with the samples, I finish grading the patterns.


Next I begin working on what I like to call styling work. I think about the identity of the collection, as well as the coherence with my overall brand image. I choose the fabric and colors based on the collection’s identity.  I order my materials, wash the fabric and prepare packages for my seamstresses.s (Michèle @mithe54 et Emilie @mggplusplus ).


{Small update: as I'm about to send this newsletter, a parcel got lost in the wild, according to La Poste, in two days, I have to consider it lost forever. This package contained a lot of merchandise, including very expensive fabric that came from the USA, I very rarely order from abroad, but I could not find this specific fabric in this specific color elsewhere. Cross your fingers for me ;-)}



While samples are being sewed, I am busy at work on the written pattern instructions and diagrams, the page layout, the pattern sheets, having the instructions translated and proofread in Spanish and English. I also sew several of my own samples, I don’t outsource them all. After that, I have to put online step-by-steps and various blog articles for each pattern. Generally, this is the moment where it seems to outsiders as if I have arrived at the end of the tunnel, when in fact, that is not at all the case. This last step is extremely long and can be very repetitive, and I am still pretty far from the finish line.

Once the prototypes are finished, I get ready for the photo shoot. This is a key step which often determines the success of a collection. It’s as exciting as it is stressful. For this photo shoot for example, 5 people have to agree on the same date, the three models, the photographer and myself.

Imagine a funnel that is stuffed with all of these months of work, various steps, multiple toiles, fittings and days of pattern grading. Now imagine a few photos come out of all of this hard work, and these are the photos that will need to convince your clients to support your work.  

Once the photo shoot is over, I have to start thinking about the pattern release. This means selecting the best photos, putting them online and creating a product sheet, writing the supporting communications, notifying distributors, writing a newsletter etc… 


Take a breath, finally!  Then wait for your reward.  

While I hate to admit it, it’s the “like” on Instagram, the comments, the first sales. But the best award comes with time when, after several years, a pattern continues to sell well.  It’s an immensely satisfying feeling of a job well done and of accomplishment. It’s what makes me say, “What I am doing is not completely futile or useless, it’s sustainable and of high-quality.” 

Tags: business


Created On jeudi, février 9, 2023 Posted By Agathe Comment Link
Merci de prendre le temps d'écrire ces lettres et de partager avec tes clients et lecteurs ta vie d'entrepreneuse. C'est interessant de connaître ta méthode de travail. Avant de lire tes newsletter je ne m'imaginais pas tout le travail qu'il y a derrière la sortie d'un patron ou d'une collection de patrons.
Created On jeudi, février 9, 2023 Posted By Sheila Comment Link
Thank you so much for sharing your ups and downs and some behind the scenes. I never realized how much work goes into a tiny collection like this. Kepp going ! We love your pattern. Sheila

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