Shifting from Custom Sewing to Pattern Design with Sew Much Jazz

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Find out more about Jasmine Chandler

“At the end of February I released my first pattern of my new pattern line J. Desirée Studio Patterns.  I realize that I want to shift my business from custom designing for clients to creating Ready To Wear patterns that fit well and have great styling.  I also want to focus more on the education aspect of fashion and teaching others.”

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Featured in the April Issue of Sewn Magazine

Featured on Spoonflower’s 10 Black Sewists you should follow 

 

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Lisa Woolfork 0:17

Hello stitchers, welcome to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women's Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast. With more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Lisa Woolfork 0:54

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please Podcast. I am delighted and so excited to be talking today with Jasmine Chandler from Sew Much Jazz. I have followed her for so long. And, we met - she and I met at DC Frocktails back in, was that 2020?

Jasmine Chandler 1:11

Twenty... oof, yeah Twenty, right before the pandemic started, actually.

Lisa Woolfork 1:15

Yes, it was 2020. We met in 2020. And, she remembered and I did not that we both got our tattoos. We got tattoos at DC Frocktails. This is why DC Frocktails is the best frocktails and DC Frocktails is the blackest Frocktails and DC Frocktails is the only Frocktails we recognize. And we both got... which design did you get?

Jasmine Chandler 1:37

Umm, actually my finger, I got a sewing needle and three kindof loops through my hand. (Giggles)

Lisa Woolfork 1:43

All I got on my forearm, I got a sewing needle and stitches shaped like a heart.

Jasmine Chandler 1:49

(Grunts of approval/understanding)

Lisa Woolfork 1:50

I love that it was such a great event we had so... it was so much... it was so much fun... It was so much fun.

Jasmine Chandler 1:55

It was fun.

Lisa Woolfork 1:56

So welcome to the program, Jasmine, thank you so much for being here.

Jasmine Chandler 2:00

Thank you for having me.

Lisa Woolfork 2:02

This is so much fun. I'm so excited to be speaking with you. Because I look at your work, and I see this really wonderful trajectory, this wonderful path that you have been on.

Jasmine Chandler 2:13

(Low volume) Oh thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 2:13

You are... you're a designer and you teach university level teaching about fashion and design. And you do custom sewing and now you're going to be shifting into pattern design and pattern sales.

Jasmine Chandler 2:26

Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 2:27

So, I would love to talk a little bit about, cus... this, just to begin. What is the start of your selling story? How did you get started? How did you get going on this as a creative practice?

Jasmine Chandler 2:38

Okay, so it's it's been a journey. But I will say, and I remember exactly I was in the fifth grade. Always used to like sketch and so I mean, it's so are you like sketch out like ideas, oh I go back to school shop, I would like draw out my outfit. I always used to love to draw. And I remember sitting in my table in fifth grade, I don't know how I remember this. I remember seeing my table in the fifth grade. And I said, "Oh, I want to be a fashion designer". I had no idea what that was. I don't know where it came to in my head. But I said I want to be a fashion designer. I didn't know how to sew, I just knew how to draw. And, ever since then I had been pursuing that dream. Funny enough, I actually... I started out as a pharmacy major in college, because that was a more safe career. The term was six years, six figures. So I said okay, I'll do the pharmacy thing. I'll make my money and then I'll open my fashion boutique up so that was always the goal to go back into fashion. My freshman year, I was miserable (Laughs). I like, I was... I was truly miserable. I had no idea, you know, what was going on? I remember sitting in class and just like, the words from not just like going over my head. I had no idea. I was thrown out on my classes. I was just miserable. I would come home back... come back into my dorm and just cry. Like I was just, it was just terrible (Laughs). So, and I had discussed with my mom that summer I said "no, I can't do this anymore. I have to do something different. I'm really wanting to pursue fashion design". She said, "Well, I'll give you an ultimatum - Either you stay where you at and you can change your major or you can go to another school. And you can do that". I had initially had an idea of the school I wanted to go to, but she said "no, I'm not paying for that you can go this other school that I know your friend goes to and you can do it from there". So I said "That's fine. I'll take it", so I changed my major and transferred schools. And now I have my BS in Textiles and Apparel Studies from Delaware State University. And then I went on and got my MS in fashion design from Drexel University.

Lisa Woolfork 4:29

Oh, that's fantastic. I mean, to go from pharmacy to fashion?

Jasmine Chandler 4:33

Yes (Laughs).

Lisa Woolfork 4:33

That is...

Jasmine Chandler 4:34

Yes (still laughing at subdued/polite volume).

Lisa Woolfork 4:35

That is quite the transfer.

Jasmine Chandler 4:36

Yes (still laughing).

Lisa Woolfork 4:38

But I mean...

Jasmine Chandler 4:38

My passion was I... that's the thing, I knew... I just knew it wasn't for me. I... even before then, I was... and I was... I went to HBCU for my undergrad career and they normally have like during the homecoming week they have fashion shows. And I remember just sitting there, the audience and is watching like the most thing that I want to say I need to be doing this. That's what really really motivated me to change and pursue fashion. I need... I need to be in that... in that area and work in fashion. So.

Lisa Woolfork 5:04

So it's, it's, it's just so interesting to hear your story of heartbreak sitting in a chemistry class (Jasmine occasionally affirms Lisa's words throughout this paragraph) or some kind of class like that. And just feeling like, "I am so out of place I am out of my depth. Maybe these other kids understand what's going on. And maybe they as confused as me, I don't know. But I'm not feeling, this is just not working for me". But then, like doing homecoming, you go to a fashion show, and then that's when your spark gets lit up. And you're like, "Wait a minute, this is what I'm... this is what... this is what feeds me. This is what's...

Jasmine Chandler 5:35

That's exactly right.

Lisa Woolfork 5:35

... getting me excited". Oh, that's, that's wonderful. That is wonderful. And to be able to discover that so early.

Jasmine Chandler 5:26

Mm hmm.

Lisa Woolfork 5:42

I think that's pretty, it's pretty unusual. Excellent. So you moved to, you then went to Delaware State? And that's where you stu... (cuts self off)

Jasmine Chandler 5:51

Yeah, that's right. I didn't know act[ually], that's the thing, I didn't know how to sew or do anything until I got into undergrad, when I first started my fashion program, I don't stay that's my first start going to so, it was still very basic. That's why I went on to go to grad school to kindof hone my skills a little bit more. That's when like I really learned and really got better into what I'm doing now.

Lisa Woolfork 6:12

I mean, I'm just pretty excited that you learn to sew in undergraduate.

Jasmine Chandler 6:16

Yes,...

Lisa Woolfork 6:17

Like....

Jasmine Chandler 6:17

...Sophomore year.

Lisa Woolfork 6:18

Like not like because you had a friend sat around the table in the dorm room, and she taught you how to sew something, you had classes that you were actually graded on. But I know this might sound like not a big deal to you. But it's a huge deal to me, because my undergraduate classes which I had a good undergraduate experience, but my classes and I was it was nothing. The closest thing that we did in from I was a communications and English major. And the closest thing that we did in terms of like practical arts was graphic design, where we had to design and trace out a font, which I loved doing.

Jasmine Chandler 6:54

(Grunt of approval/understanding)

Lisa Woolfork 6:55

I love. I love typography. I love the... I think that each individual letter of a font is a piece of art. And so like, the I love that kind of detail stuff, but I didn't ever walk into a class full of sewing machines. And like, you got to go there, cut out your pattern and do the interfacing and learn to understitch and all of that.

Jasmine Chandler 7:12

Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 7:12

It's pretty like that sounds like really, it sounds incredibly fun. Let me be honest, it sounds super fun. So you had a good time.

Jasmine Chandler 7:18

Yes. And that's the thing too, that I as I mentioned before, I was still in my freshman year of college, but I graduated top of my department on top of my class and also graduated with honors, magna cum laude. So that shows you how I mean your purpose. You will excel and within that area.

Lisa Woolfork 7:35

Yes, yes. This is fantastic. Magna cum laude. Yes! Amazing! So, when you look back at your undergraduate experience, can you identify like two or three things that you walked away with? That gave you the... the courage to kind of move forward through this career path?

Jasmine Chandler 7:57

Um, well, I know for the program that I was in, and it's fine enough, I will get to it later if need be. But I actually went back to that school, my undergrad and taught there. That's how I started my education career. But, I felt like it wasn't - I want to be a designer in a kind of like a generalized like fashion, I kind of do a little bit of everything. So what to focus on design too much. I had very basic, very basic, like sewing skills, like it wasn't that great. So I knew that one thing I had to do was no really, no push myself to you know, get to where I wanted to be. And also always said that when I know when I when I'm able to get there, I want to help the next person along to help them get to their journey. So, that's one of the biggest thing that I pretty much took from that experience.

Lisa Woolfork 8:40

Yes. So like, through your education, you (Jasmine gives mm-hmms throughout) learn the importance of connecting with people, and building community and inspiring, you know, because you were inspired, and now you get to turn around and similarly inspire someone else. So, so after undergraduate and then after graduate school, did you start right away into your custom sewing business? Or...

Jasmine Chandler 9:04

So...

Lisa Woolfork 9:04

... did you spend some time, some time doing something else?

Jasmine Chandler 9:08

... So that's the thing. So after I graduated from grad school, that was 2013. Actually, I was you know, I was applying no, they teaching, no they teach you all the, you know, all the the technical skills but, and I was trying to get into industry, I would attend interviews in New York, I was going to New York, like every other week doing an interview trying to get a job as a teller, assistant designer somewhere. However, like I wasn't getting the callbacks, I couldn't follow through which is weird. So I kind of just like gave up in a sense. And then I, you know, was I, you know, was back at home, I changed my parents' basement to my little mini-studio - sewing studio. That's where I kind of started doing like, prom dresses and prom gowns. I started doing my client told that way. Um, because I wasn't really you know, I had to make some type of income for myself. So I was basically you know, basically how my business started. I was doing a little bit towards the end of year to the last couple months of my grad school career, but once I, you know, I couldn't get a job in industry, I actually started, you know, building my brand, my brand building my business.

Lisa Woolfork 10:06

And, I really loved that because what it shows is that you had like your passion has been driving you from the beginning, from a fifth grader...

Jasmine Chandler 10:16

Yes (laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 10:16

...I mean that I just can vividly remember being a fifth grader sitting in class, drawing out pictures, like when I would be... I, for example, be excited about back to school shopping, supplies and stuff, you get excited about back to school shopping, so you can draw out your outfit. And then you can find pieces that would then match your drawing, I mean, incredible. So it just shows that you have the skills and that it doesn't necessarily require somebody else to acknowledge you. And I think that that's just an important lesson, we can all learn that you really have to know yourself and know your worth. And, even it-it because you can get easily discouraged. I believe that the fashion industry is a very competitive industry. It doesn't seem particularly equitable. It doesn't seem that way at all. And so, the idea that you can kind of, that you can fortify yourself.

Jasmine Chandler 11:16

Yes. That's funny (Lisa tries to interject). You mentioned that. I'm sorry.

Lisa Woolfork 11:19

No, go ahead.

Jasmine Chandler 11:20

Okay. It's fine that you mentioned that because even within my program, I wasn't like, by the way, the problem is that Drexel is both grant - the grant, you can go to the same classes. It's just you had ones for you know, master's degree, ones for a bachelor's degree. And I really felt like in my class, I felt very overlooked. By most of my professors, I was in my graduating class, I was only - the only brown, only black girl, - one other girl who was Indian - of Indian descent. I was only black. I felt very overlooked in that program, which kind of pushed me to kind of prove to myself that I know I'm worth it like I can, I can do this. Um, but yeah, that was the point like that was I remember just feeling very overlooked in their program throughout the entire time there doing the whole program. So.

Lisa Woolfork 12:03

And you said you were at an HBCU before you transferred to study fashion? Where were you?

Jasmine Chandler 12:08

Until my freshman year I was at Hampton, I'm doing pharmacy that I transferred to another HBCU, which was downstate and did fashion.

Lisa Woolfork 12:15

Okay, so (Jasmine gives affirmative injections or agreeable laughs throughout this paragraph) you stayed at a HBCU for both graduate for both undergraduate education. So it's not like you left, you know, the comfort of a HBCU to go to an aggressively wide university. And it's just like, "Oh, this is gonna be hard". But no, you still, you had a really firm foundation in undergraduate. And that, do you, Did you find that - that helped you when you got to Drexel? Or did it? Or did it? Did you feel like, "Oh, this is some bullshit. I don't know if I like...". This, I def[initely]..., this is how it was like, I went to, I mentioned it because I went to a women's college for undergraduates. And then when I went to graduate school, Jasmine, I was in classes with men for the first time, and I tell you... I tell you what, they would not shut up. They did not know shit. But they kept talking and talking and talking and I would get so angry. I'd be like, why am I busting my butt? I'm reading 300 pages a night, I am killing myself to kind of, to show that I can do this work and that I'm reading and studying. And they just roll up and say things like, "I didn't do the reading. But I believe bla bla bla", and that's like, "how are you going to admit to everybody that you just talking out of your buttcrack? What?". And so, did you have experiences like that? Because I could imagine like, just like you use, just from being from an HBCU and then being like, a lonely only as you went in Southeast Asia sister, like only two folks in there.

Jasmine Chandler 13:48

Yeah. I mean, well, initially, in my program, I first started out with me and like three other black girls, we actually - we still, I still talking to this day, one of the girls. I mean, I'm very, very close with my friend Abia we still like to talk every day. She's a designer as well. But I mean, we once, you know, throughout the time kind of got different paths. But, honestly, it wasn't that bad for me because, being in the graduate program. It's kind of like I didn't have that do-it do-it undergraduate experience. I kind of like came on campus, did my work and went back home, basically. And then, you know, I had my friendship that I had for I of course, I had friends with everyone else too. But you know, of course, I had my sister that I very, very like linked with as well. So wasn't that bad for me, um, I mean I, kind of, I mean, I was there to learn so I wasn't like looking for too much outside of that either. So.

Lisa Woolfork 14:34

Right, so you're like, you're not just gonna get in and get out. You know, it is true that graduate school can sometimes put our professional schools especially aren't so much about like creating communities or like building lasting friendships in the same way that undergraduate tends to be seen as. So, you've, you finished, you've got your degrees, you're trying to fit in and to get, you know, get a place at one of the fashion places in New York, which is a big fashion hub in the US, and it's just been really, it's been hard. It's hard. And so you're like, "you know what I'm gonna invest in myself". So what is the first step that you did when you decided to build a small studio in your parents' house? And to start doing prom - prom gowns? Like, what got you to that point? Was there a story you had to tell yourself, to help empower you to feel ready to do that, or, tell me a bit about that process?

Jasmine Chandler 15:26

Honestly, I feel like it kind of it kind of developed on its own, um, like, I never really promoted, I was like, making my business that much I got like a lot of referrals from like, friends whom I design and like, make clothing and I kind of went that way. And then from there, I got more referrals and more referrals. And I did, that's the thing too, I did do a lot of research on my own, because I had like, no way to figure out - there's like, no particular source to go to, to figure these things out. But then a lot of my own research, I would go to like, I'll go to New York and go to like trade shows, and just connect with vendors. And it's like, do a lot of buy back in and research, buy books, check, search the Internet, and just kind of figure things out, step by step, and talk and get, you know, get to where I need to get. So, that was the big thing.

Lisa Woolfork 16:09

So you just spent a lot of time and energy, supplementing the credentials you already had that's the thing that I hear you're saying is that you had like organic growth, because you had referrals and they and word of mouth and people saying "Oh Jas does a really beautiful gown and look what she made. And oh, I want one of those too. Mary. my daughter might want that or this for a special occasion". But you also had core competency in the industry already, because you studied it as an undergraduate. Tell me: what made you think that you still needed to know more? Is it because you are... is it because you are just intellectually curious and you are really passionate about the field? And you just want to know more? Or... I don't know, did you feel like you were... okay, you said so tell you I want to hear about that you love learning.

Jasmine Chandler 16:58

I love learning, I love color this craft like, I've been passionate about this. So I love this craft, I could take a class now somewhere and advance myself I would but there's something really like, you know, I'm not saying I'm better than, I'm better than but there's some things that is much better. And everyone's advanced, but something really around me like that. But I'm trying everything I can find across you know, online, I can do or go somewhere I would do it because I just I always love learning, I want to build my tech[nique], I'm still everyone's still learning, I'm still building my technique, I still bring my skill. So if I can find a class now, to this day, I would take it like I just love, you know, learning about you know, the industry, learning about my craft and doing, and honing on my skills. So, I also love that way.

Lisa Woolfork 17:36

I love that. And I think that it makes a difference in, in what you're able to create. Because it'll, and also it makes a difference in how you teach because I make, in order to teach well, you have to elicit my opinion and just speaking for myself, you have to also be in a constant place of learning.

Jasmine Chandler 17:54

Yes, that is exactly right.

Lisa Woolfork 17:55

Because I think, because like, if you feel like you know everything, and there's nowhere left to know, and nobody can tell you nothing.

Jasmine Chandler 18:03

Exactly.

Lisa Woolfork 18:04

This is... that sounds that's like stagnation to me, you know, because expertise always has to be refreshed. You know what I mean?

Jasmine Chandler 18:12

Industry changes like fashion changes. So it's good to stay abreast of things too. So...

Lisa Woolfork 18:17

Yes. So I want to talk about your own teaching. Well, we're gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, we'll talk about her teaching and how she teaches fashion design and garment construction. And then, we can shift to talking about her new pattern collection! Stay tuned, y'all We'll be right back after the break.

Lisa Woolfork 18:47

Black Women Stitch in the Stitch Please podcasts are happy to announce that we have another way to connect with our community. In addition to the IG Lives that we do every Thursday at 3pm. We also now have a club on Clubhouse. That's right friends, data messed up and given me the chance to have a club (triumphant musical cue)! Follow Black Ribbon Stitch on Instagram and now on Clubhouse, Thursdays at 3pm on Instagram at 3:45pm on Clubhouse, Eastern Standard Time. It will help you get your stitch together.

Lisa Woolfork 19:34

We are back everyone and I am happy to be speaking with Jasmine Chandler - So Much Jazz on Instagram, who is a designer and a teacher. And she's going to talk to us about both of these things. She was talking before about what it means to be a lifelong learner and as someone who studied design and sewing and garment construction at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. I just find, I find her so impressive, just absolutely impressive. She has the credential, she's done the work. She's done the training, and she helps to train other people. So I wanted to hear a bit about the classes that you teach Jas. What, tell me about that? What is, how, what was like to go back to your undergraduate institution...

Jasmine Chandler 20:20

Yes,

Lisa Woolfork 20:20

...as faculty.

Jasmine Chandler 20:21

So, okay, so a year and, I told you, I, and I came back from grad school, I started my business. I was just like working within my business. So, my old professor actually had reached out to me and said, "we have a[n] open position, do you want to come back and teach?" I've never taught before that. I did, like a small, like arts program at a local nonprofit art center in DC. But that was - that was the most of it sounds like, "Okay, I need a job". I was doing okay. But not enough to like, you know, really live. So I said, "Okay, I'll do it". So I went back, and I started teaching. And of course, I know, my first year, I felt bad. Because I was so nervous. Like, I know, I was just like, all over the place. We know, as time went on, I got into a lot more confident in it and actually realized, that's what I kind of realized. That's my true calling is the education portion of fashion. Kind of just remembered as being the individual who wanted to learn how to, you know, sew and

Jasmine Chandler 21:14

design, not really having any type of guidance, or idea of how to go about it. So I want to be that person. So you know, help the next person. I think it was really good as well, because you know, I was, I was like, I think I was like 23. When I went back, I was very close in age to most of my... not close to [my] age, but, yeah close to age.

Lisa Woolfork 21:32

Yeah, pretty close to age. Yes.

Jasmine Chandler 21:34

They, they looked up to me, they were like, no, I wasn't, I could relate to them pretty without talking about, you know, the trending things are going on and stay connected that way. So that was a pretty good, like, experience. And I taught there for four years. And then actually, three years ago, I left and I went - came back to Maryland and I'm teaching at the local community college.

Lisa Woolfork 21:55

That is fantastic. So give us a list of like, your favorite top two classes to teach. I know you've probably taught a bunch. But, what are your two favorite classes?

Jasmine Chandler 22:05

Umm, my favorite two classes, of course, is Flat Pattern Design. I just love cause I feel ike, it just gives, like it's no more a little bit more of an advanced class, but it gives you that like that final that, that freedom to actually, really design and make what you want. So I definitely love teaching Flat Pattern Design. And my second one is also um, Draping.

Lisa Woolfork 22:26

Yes, that sounds... So I would love to ask some questions. So that's why I wanted to know, so I can ask you questions about those. Because I still think, I think a fashion school kind of like the musical, the TV show Fame. Like, (Jasmine starts giggling) where everyone's singing and dancing and stuff. And but you guys are carrying around sewing machines instead of bookbags. And so, what I know that draping is important, that's a fundamental of design, it's one of the earliest ways to think about creating a garment. Why? Why is draping so important? Why is draping an important skill for a new designer to learn?

Jasmine Chandler 23:02

Well, I guess once you know, bro it was like you can choose either to drape or to flat pattern; that's why draping is umm, is good as especially if you have more of a visual person, can you actually see it come to life on the form as you drape out and move and create the garment on the, on the dress form. So that's why I like draping a lot.

Lisa Woolfork 23:21

I never understood how you go from draping something on a dress form, to making it a garment that people can wear. I'm like, "Oh, that is so pretty on this dress form, but how am I gonna get it on my body?

Jasmine Chandler 23:35

So you have to umm, yeah, yeah. You have to just mark it. So once you trace the design you just mark it, like take a pencil or like a, you know, like a... marking pin. And just mark out the good darts or whatever seam lines you have, whatever the design style is, then you transfer to like a pattern, then you make the pattern.

Lisa Woolfork 23:53

This sounds like I need to take a class with someone named Jasmine Chandler. Sounds like I need to find out the community college you are currently working at and after the Corduroyis all done. And everybody's vaccinated. I can come there and take a class sometime. And I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen. But Jimmy and Marilyn are actually rather far apart from where I am. I'm not in Northern Virginia. I'm in Central so it's really far. Umm, but it sounds fantastic. It's uh, have you. I-I really loved that. Thank you so much for elaborating on that because I've seen people drape and I- of course I know about drapes of fabric and that kind of thing. But I do not understand the transformation process of adding the seam lines and the center-front and center-back. Yeah, all these other things. It's all, it's, this is, your speaking now is reminding me of how you might have felt in chemistry class?

Jasmine Chandler 24:44

Yes (laughs).

Lisa Woolfork 24:46

Yeah, all you got to do is adjust the Co-avalent of this and understand, all you got to do is... so real quick you got to go chip-chip chop-chop, and I'm like, "What is she talking about?". And so, it's also really exciting to see that you really like to teach flat pattern design because now you have said earlier that you are shifting from your prom gown, prom dress, custom sewing business, which really does, I think, extend your skills as well. Because when you're custom sewing, it's you might start from a block of I mean I can ask you rather than telling you what I think, I mean, what I imagined custom selling involves is different sets of measurements because everybody's body is different. And so you learn to sew in a really... a really flexible and fluid and highly adaptable way. You know, like, you can't get mad that the skirt you made for person A, will not fit person B, you know, to do so you got to make the skirt, you gonna make it once. But now you've, you started to laun[ch], you're launching some patterns. So tell us about that. Tell us about this pattern line and where that came from.

Jasmine Chandler 25:52

Um, so well, I always knew, maybe the last five or six years, I had the idea to you know, start a pattern line, of course, and I never started because once you like, it's sometimes it's like, how do I, how, what do I even start, like is it seems so overwhelming, this is so big. But one thing I will say is once like the pandemic hit, let me to, allow me to slow down a little bit. Because no, actually, I, during the pandemic, all my prom, like, clients pretty much canceled, but they didn't care. They didn't even pick up the dresses and like it's kind of just, kind of died out. Um, so I was like, "No, I couldn't do any more in person courses". So I had to, like, you know, adapt and rethink how I was going to do my business plan. And that's it, you know, I'm wondering, you know, do some things I always say want to do and never know, never started. So I started working on, on launching my pattern line. So that's kind of like how that came about.

Lisa Woolfork 26:41

That is so smart. Because you're absolutely right, because and I know some friends who for example, work in the wedding industry. And what do you do if there are no weddings, but your job is wedding photographer, or wedding dress designer or our cake decorator?

Jasmine Chandler 26:58

Right.

Lisa Woolfork 26:58

You don't have those, it's so that so you really do have to adjust. And so with schools being cancelled and social functions being canceled, that meant that prom was canceled for many, many, many people for 2020. And that you still, you... what you want to move forward with your vision. It's also nice to think too, that your vision isn't dependent on what other people are doing. And by that, I mean, you were trying to get jobs in New York, and those weren't coming through. But instead of just giving up, you kept going - you kept with it, you devised a workaround that was thriving and successful for you. And then when that started to face some challenges, again, beyond your control, you still, you found another work around, you found another way to make it work and to advance your design philosophy, your passion for fashion design, made you able to kind of keep that going. And now, it's like, because you are... and now because you are designing and selling patterns. The benefit is larger. Instead of sewing for one client, you are creating a pattern that lots and lots of people can, can use. So I'm really curious about this: you are, as someone who enjoys teaching flat pattern design. Was there anything about designing patterns for a mass market? That surprised you?

Jasmine Chandler 28:27

Oh, yeah, it's still a learning curve. And I'm still learning lots of things. I've actually taken the, a class, pattern workshop that I take - it's actually how I help you know, helped me learn certain techniques. I know I have, you know, basic pattern drafting skills where to you know, make it to- for multiple sizes. There's lots of things you have to consider, also and make sure it is size inclusive. So I made sure mys izing you know, although right now and fast forward to 28 and do want to you know, add one more as I go along, but I want to make sure the size inclusive, no grading those sizes. That was a learning curve, figuring that out. I'm still, I'm still learning that so I'm not com-complete expert yet. But I- I mean, I had the basics, I'm kind of working with what I have and going along with it.

Lisa Woolfork 29:09

And I've seen images of the dress - of the swing dress is so super-cute.

Jasmine Chandler 29:16

Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 29:18

What made you decide to launch out with that dress? Like, what was, continue - you talk a bit about the process of designing the dress and then finding your pattern testers and why pattern testers were important?

Jasmine Chandler 29:28

Yes. So actually, I asked an initial of three pattern are rolling out now. I'm actually working on the last one for this particular collection. Um, and so back in the summer, actually, I was part of the Mood sewing network community like I got the fabric from them to make up pieces. So it is a big opportunity, this platform to learn drafting things myself I want to use, I don't want to attack any other parent company, but my own work so I'm gonna do that. And as I was posting them, I got a lot of like responses. "Oh, is this a pattern cus I, can you make it a pattern for me? Can you make this by...". Okay, but I didn't like, I just like whatever, like, I don't have time for t hat right now. But then actually I went back and said, I think I'll be almost with every thing that I posted. I was like, "Oh, I wish it was a pattern". So I say, "Okay, maybe this month, I need to go back and visit and redo you know, these pat[terns]- make these patterns out. So, that's what kind of like pushed me to do, it all I can do my initial no drafting and like, initial ideas. And this convert it into like a PDF pattern format. So...

Lisa Woolfork 30:27

That is incredible. I mean, if someone asks, "Oh, is this a pattern?" I just be like, "Nah, cuz I made that". I would not be able to say, "Oh, sure. Let me just go ahead and draw this down real quick. Make it a pattern in a- in some sizes and grade between the sizes. Okay, no problem". So I did see that some folks had the dress, and they were posting it on Instagram. And so were these the folks that you assembled to test your patterns?.

Jasmine Chandler 30:59

Yes, I

Lisa Woolfork 31:01

Tell me why- Tell me why you think pattern testing is important?

Jasmine Chandler 31:04

Oh, it's so important. Because when you need to see how it fits different body types, what may work for you and which company so for yourself, I mean, you know what works for you and what doesn't work for you. But we have multiple sizes, multiple bodies want to see you know how that lays on different body types and also goods to help you- they help you about... with certain call outs, so say you're missing something that you know that because, you just yourself, it's a lot to kind of, you know, manage, but touch is very healthy with certain issues or fit issues or either directional issue that you have in your direction or instructions. Now to kind of see how that looks. Nothing helps with no launch, you know, everyone's seeing all the bugs about the new pattern coming out. So that's where I was very helpful.

Lisa Woolfork 31:43

So you say there's three patterns in the collection. And I've seen the Swing Dress, I've seen the- the jacket that has that really cool detail at the elbow. And what's the third pattern? Are you able to share that now? Or do you- why- you want to sit on it? You don't have to...

Jasmine Chandler 32:01

I mean, it was it actually is no secret. I've, I mean, if you pay any attention to my page, I made this flight. This boiler suit, this orange boiler suit back in the summer, and people really liked it. That's actually one of the reasons. One of the major reasons why I went to go into pattern making and people readlly liked and didn't want to make it. So I said "Okay, I'll make this a pattern". So that's the next pattern which I hope to roll out... this... by May. Its supposed to been out but it's been a lot of issues with that. But, hopefully by either this month or next month, they can finally be out. So... (laughs)

Lisa Woolfork 32:34

That is so okay, y'all, you guys got a little bit of a sneak preview here. That this pattern may or may be at may- may, this- this episode's gonna come out in May so...

Jasmine Chandler 32:44

Okay, okay,

Lisa Woolfork 32:45

...may or may not be here and so... I'm gonna say that it is. I'm just gonna go ahead and believe that it's gonna be ready and you can just go to Sew Much Jazz on Instagram and you can find out all the information you need to know about this. And also you get to see the other- the other works. I mean, I just I just think that swing dress is just so absolutely adorable. So after you finish this collection Jasmine, what is next for you? What do you imagine the next step for Sew Much Jazz?

Jasmine Chandler 33:19

Well, I work for one. I'm gonna be I'm keep releasing, you know, different- now I'm looking forward to my- my summer patterns. So I have a couple of styles I'm gonna be working on and launched out from this summer and also want to bring back my... I'm doing the pandemic, I started doing my virtual live classes, lot of courses teach a flat pattern. So I'm gonna be working on that for this summer as well. I'm teaching a flat pattern design and in one, level one and level two, and also possibly in draping I'm probably bringing back so those are the next couple things I have to come out in the next couple of months.

Lisa Woolfork 33:53

So these classes that you're mentioning the flat pattern design and draping one and two, are these things that are going to be online so people can sign up for them? And, where wou- where would we find that information?

Jasmine Chandler 34:05

Um, it will be, normally I have it on my page under Sew Much Jazz, I also- that's another thing too. I launched a second page, a second business card: J Desirée Studio. I want the intent to help create educational resources for people who want to either make patterns or just like references for like, classes and courses also you know, tips and tricks. So tha- that's- that page is dedicated to, says J Desirée Studio on Instagram. So I'll probably also had them listed on there as well.

Lisa Woolfork 34:34

Excellent. So, you heard it here folks. You can follow Sew Much Jazz on Instagram and also J Desirée Studio to learn more about this fantastic project. Jasmine, this has been so nice...

Both 34:50

Thank you...

Lisa Woolfork 34:51

... so much for speaking with me today.

Jasmine Chandler 34:53

Thank you having me.

Lisa Woolfork 34:54

I am so excited. This has been so much fun. I mean just to learn about your- your rich background in sewing and I mean, I can't remember what I was doing in fifth grade. But I can tell you right now, I was not outlining my entire career path. That's for sure. So, you are certainly, you certainly win- you certainly win the follow through award. For following through on the ambitions that you had as a young child, and moving that forward for today, it's such a beautiful and (Sewing noises start) thriving business. Congratulations to you on everything.

Lisa Woolfork 34:54

Thank you so much. (Leaves)

Lisa Woolfork 35:41

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out with- to us with questions, you can contact us at Blackwomenstitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, p-a-t-a-r-e-o-n. And you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews. But for those who do, for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us in the Stitch Please podcast. That is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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