Wearing History Pattern News- Re-routing Productivity & Re-Direction

Hello All,

What a wild year 2023 ended up being for me. Actually, what a wild ride 2019-2023 ended up being.

I’ll spare all the details, but life has been crazy. And I know this isn’t just me- nearly ever human alive has experienced the full range of emotions and experiences from pre-covid times to the current times.

In 2020, with people at home during lockdown, at-home crafts took an incredible leap of growth. Almost every sewing supply or pattern company I know saw a renewed interest in their work, and in the home sewing or crafting market in general. A lot of us were scrambling to keep up with demand, and finding ways to expand with the wishes of customers who were now at home and looking for ways to keep their mind and hands occupied while the world looked extremely uncertain. Thank goodness we had crafting during that time!

Luckily, we now are able to go out and about more in 2023. Events are opening up, people are traveling, and able to get together more reguarly with loved ones and friends. We are *all* thankful for that.

But with this new world landscape, and current economy (there, I said the dreaded “e” word), the landscape for small makers looks incredibly different than it did when the whole world seemed to be looking for a craft to make.

Many, many makers of sewing patterns and niche products are just burned out. Not only emotionally, but monetarily. The demand is less as more people look to real-life expenses that need to take precedence over sewing hobby “wants”. They have to scale back. This includes changes I have witnessed with other makers, sadly, laying off help, moving studios back to home, and having to streamline their processes. I never did expand outside the home or hire external employees, but I did take on a lot more work during the sharp craft incline of growth from 2020-2021.

Straight up and honest- most indie businesses are down *significantly* many of us are hovering around about half of where we were just a year or two ago.

That’s scary.

Add to this, raising a child and having to invest a huge amount of time in education, and just “mom life” in general- this leaves me with very little time for product development and new pattern projects, other than maintenace to keep things plugging along.

I’m no longer willing to burn myself out emotionally and physically by neglecting my family and my personal health and mental health to put out frequent, intense pattern projects, that *may or may not* sell. For years and years I worked for nearly nothing to build up my work. But earlier this year, my body straight up told me NO. I had burned myself to the ground physically and mentally. I cannot go down that path again.

So. I’m drawing my boundaries for what my current life needs are, while still feeling the intense desire to create, restore, revive, preserve, and do my life’s work of this funny little niche of historical and vintage sewing. Honestly, if it weren’t for this little thing I’ve done most of my life, I’m not sure what I’d do!

The passion and joy and creative spark are still here. I *love* what I do. But I need to find way to balance this while still meeting my family’s needs, my personal needs, and respecting mental health needs and balances.

And so. Here’s what I’m doing to make this work for me so I can keep doing my patterns. Because I really do love making patterns.

  1. I’ve decided to go back to how it started. I’ll work on very rare period originals in single sizes, as presented. I won’t do the intense reworking, redrafting, re-writing, correcting, adding illustrations, and other things that I have been quietly doing for the past many years, without specifically mentioning or noting it.
    • What this does mean is that I’ll be able to make extremely rare period originals available for use that otherwise could be lost to time.
    • These are relatively quick projects for me, since I’m so familiar with pattern cut and the history of home sewing patterns. It means more patterns available in a shorter amount of time.
    • It means there will be more experimentation and alteration for the end-user, as antique patterns, especially of the 1930s and earlier, were quirky at best, and downright “off” at worst, but since many of these patterns are extremely rare and for people who are specialist in their tastes, it makes sense to make it available in original form, instead of not available at all.
    • I could likely have the only patterns in existence of many of these. And other collectors with incredible collections have come to me and volunteered to have their patterns made available for this model. This is amazing!
    • It would be a huge shame to not have this happen because of my lack of time. And so, we will make it work with what time I have available to me at present (not a lot).
    • These will be closer to actual “reproductions”, which, of course, they can’t be, because antique patterns were not marked, and were punched from tissue. I’ll still add bits of labeling or lines to the pattern sheets to clarify, at my discretion, things that could help the end user. But I cannot do the redrafting and supplementation that I have been doing.
  2. I will occasionally do a personal, in-depth, redrafted or drafted-from-scratch project, in multi-size with its own instructions. These are my “Signature Styles” patterns. This is why I chose to have different pattern line names under Wearing History, so you can distinguish which type of pattern you’re getting. You can tell these patterns by the label on the pattern cover illustration. These ones are my babies. I realistically can do one of these a year, or every few years with my current life situation (pre-kid, maybe I could do a few a year).
    • I also will include the extended size drafts of Leslie, Smooth Sailing, and Begonia under this umbrella, as these were my own drafts that I did to the plus size blocks I drafted. They get called “repro”, but those were drafted by me, so even though some fell under the “Resto-Vival” range and not “Signature Style” I now recognize that was a mistake on my part, as they were misclassified and could lead people to think they were “reproduction” rather than “redrafted”. They were based on period original misses designs but were a significant amount of work for me to do to add a second base size with their own grading. I would *love* to do more of this, but in my current position my ability is limited, so it will be as time allows.
  3. Graded multi-size patterns of either Resto-Vival (generally 1930s and later patterns), or Archive Couture (generally 1920s and earlier patterns), will be done based on my discretion, based on what I expect will truly sell well, or, selfishly, what I want in my size. \
    • These are a huge monetary and time commitment for me, and several of my last ones did not pay me back for my time or expense.
    • I would *love* to do more like this, but it truly does depend on the economical climate and monetary return. Eventually it would be lovely do to this just for the sake of creating, but I’m not in a position to do this for everything.
    • Multi-size patterns will be based on whatever the original size standard of the period pattern was. This *does not* mean it will only be to a smaller size measurement (most vintage patterns only went to 38-40″ bust, and most of my multi-patterns for the past several years go beyond that to 44″+ this will not change).
    • As always, the range is dependent on the size of the period source material original. The larger or smaller it is, the more “safely” we can make an accurate pattern within that range, as patterns do start to distort during grading once you get beyond a certain range.
    • It does mean that the ones on either side of the range may require more fitting or alteration as it will be based on that period size standard.
    • I completely understand this is a disappointment to some, but I hope that, when I can do these projects, that the multi-sizes will be a useful jumping off point rather than just a single size (usually very small) period original.

Each of these three things are personally fulfilling- for each number above, the following statements match.

  1. For my passion projects preserving history and exploring antique pattern cut.
  2. Using my professional training and feeling personally fulfilled.
  3. Being useful and making projects quicker.

I understand that this three-fold approach might be a bit of a disappointment to some, but I truly hope you can understand why I’m making this decision for the time being. This doesn’t mean this is a forever change- it’s just a change for this season in life so I can still keep making some patterns instead of not making patterns at all.

I also highly encourage you to seek out the work from other amazing pattern makers in the vintage and historical sewing world. I prefer not to view other makers as competition, but as co-creators preserving and making history alive. If you love that *insert maker here* does more frequent patterns, please do support their work! If their size range works wonderfully for you, totally support them! If you just love the patterns they have available, by all means, please do support their work. In this current world, every maker needs our help to keep making patterns. Go forth, create, support, and keep on being positive!

Much love,

Lauren

3 Comments on Wearing History Pattern News- Re-routing Productivity & Re-Direction

  1. Stéphanie
    November 8, 2023 at 10:25 am (7 months ago)

    Congratulations! I think that you have expressed yourself very clearly and I truly respect you for recognizing and living within your limitations. None of us are machines and we are all better for it when we value our humanity. Thank you for sharing your process.

    Reply
    • Julie Lord
      November 8, 2023 at 11:06 pm (7 months ago)

      Beautifully written, explaining your past, current & future work ethos.

      Reply
  2. April
    December 16, 2023 at 11:46 am (6 months ago)

    Thank you for explaining where you are at and where you’re going. I completely understand. I’m making one of your wonderful kids patterns right now and am grateful for the multi size patterns you’ve done. I love your patterns! Happy new year.

    Reply

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