Today I want to write more in depth about something I shared a little bit about on Facebook in the spring, but haven’t really shared on the blog, because things were planned, and truth be told I was still sorting out how I felt about some of this. More on that in a bit – first, let’s do the exciting part – 4 (soon to be more) of my patterns have been published by McCall’s Patterns and are available at Joann stores nationwide! You can also order these paper patterns online here.
How did this happen? Well in May of 2013 (yes, that long ago) I was getting ready to go to Tater’s preschool graduation when I checked my email and found one from McCall’s, wanting to discuss publishing my patterns. !!!!!!! This resulted in a crazy text then phone call to my friend Heather to determine if this was legit and how I should respond and what things I needed to make sure and discuss.
And then…lots of emails went back and forth. Finally, in August, I signed a contract.
And then…they told me which patterns they wanted to start with, and that was where the mixed feelings started to creep in. You see, all along I had been operating under the assumption that they would only want my children’s patterns, as at that time the Rose T-Shirt was the only women’s pattern I was doing. But we got to the selection emails and they wanted the Rose T-Shirt.
(Note: Things are going to get a little deep and I might end up on my soapbox for the next few paragraphs. Feel free to skip on past that next big chunk of text and look are more photos of the new paper patterns instead)
Why was this a problem?
Well, this was the cover photo for the Rose T Shirt at the time:
And I’m the model. Now I won’t go into all the things I think are wrong with that picture (in terms of lighting, branding and showing off the pattern), but suffice it to say that I already thought I needed a new cover image and this just lit a fire under me.
But then I paused. Because the thought of me being in print on the cover of my patterns freaked me out.
You might ask why – I mean there are photos of me all over this blog, which is on the internet, which anyone in the world can see, right? How is a limited run of printed patterns anywhere close to that? And I admit, my thought process didn’t make a ton of sense, but I figure that if you see me on my blog you were searching for something I have here. So you’re a friend, and as a friend less inclined to judge maybe? Whereas if my face is on a pattern cover, you don’t have to be searching for me, any person who walks by that pattern in the store can see it. And if that’s the case, what’s to stop them from judging me as not young/thin/tall/pretty enough to be on that cover in the first place?
So I went to a group of bloggers I know online and asked, should I hire a model for this? And the answer overall? Yes. Models do the best job at presenting clothing, that’s why clothing manufacturers use models.
But then I paused again…
See, I don’t have daughters. But I am a woman, I was a girl, and I do get frustrated with this media ideal that my blogger friends and even I apparently had internalized: to be in print, you must be young, thin, tall and gorgeous. Except here’s the thing – I know dozens upon dozens of beautiful women – like those bloggers I talked with, like women I went to school with, and women in the MOMs group at church, and women I worked with, and even women I taught when they were in school. Not one of them is a model. Nor was I. And those women – those lovely women leading everyday lives – are the women I’m hoping buy my patterns and sew themselves something that makes them feel as beautiful as I know they are. Those women are my target audience. Not professional models.
Plus, I have sons. And I want them to see all kinds of beauty, not just one cultural ideal that someone picked out that doesn’t resemble most of the beautiful women I know personally. I know now that I’m not alone in believing, up through my late 20s, that I just wasn’t good enough in the looks department, before finding a tentative peace with my appearance in my 30s. And I want the girls in my boys’ age group to be able to find images in our commercial society that are shown as beautiful even if they’re outside the current cultural norm, so that maybe they don’t grow up with their psyches as damaged by comparison as mine and many of my friends were in high school.
So that maybe their first thought upon finding out that someone wants to publish something they were, up until that point, quite proud of, isn’t, “I can’t put that picture on the cover, no one will buy it.”
And after that kind of soul searching, well how could I not put my money (literally) where my mouth was and put myself on the cover?
So I called my product photographer, Alison, and explained the situation and asked her to take some photos. Which she did, and that is the story of how I ended up on the cover with this photo.
And, in a nutshell, that is also how I chose to call my friends C and J to model for this photo, and others now on my site, and why I will continue to use the beautiful women I know personally, and not professional models, for my pattern images.
Alright, soapboxing aside, after I dealt with my own turmoil about the cover, the rest of the process seemed easy. I got to work reformatting my patterns and illustrating the instructions, and sent off files, and then I waited. And then in late March, these appeared.
And I have to say it’s sort of surreal to see my patterns printed just like the ones I grew up sewing.
Just for my mom, I even took a photo with my cover. After a soccer game, with messy hair. As real as it gets. And I made Tater do the same for his mom 🙂
So if you happen to see my patterns at Joann, and you want to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram or Twitter (@mellysews) – believe me, I haven’t gotten tired of it yet. Thanks for reading.