An Interview with Founders Rachel and Kate of The Fold Line

The fold line

Meet Rachel and Kate of The Fold Line

Rachel Walker and Kate Underdown are co-founders of The Fold Line, the UK’s largest sewing pattern shop and online sewing community. The site offers thousands of on-trend, accessible and inclusive dressmaking patterns and reviews. The Fold Line also has an award-winning blog packed full of hints and tips for people on a mission to make beautiful clothing. 

1.Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?

We both have a background in design, making and sewing so had always been part of creative communities independently. In fact, we actually met at a sewing café in London in 2015. At that time, there was an ever-growing number of new pattern and fabric ranges to cater to the increasing size of the online sewing community. We wanted to work together to build a brand that would inspire everyone interested in making their own clothing, by offering them accessible, inclusive and design led patterns… and The Fold Line was born!

2.What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?

It was definitely a big challenge developing a website that could offer such a wide variety of functionality and content, from a pattern database and reviews to blog posts and videos. Adding all the sewing patterns to the database manually was, as you can imagine, a pretty mammoth task! The hard work was worth it, as we were always so passionate about offering the whole maker community a new place to get together and get inspired.

3.Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?

We are constantly inspired by the community we have built so we’ve always time to get to know them and talk to them regularly via social media and our newsletters. Makers are a really engaged community, so they give us ideas all the time for gaps in the market that we can help fill and problems we can help solve. 

People in the sewing community are really generous with their time, leaving reviews to help out other people and also sharing tips on how to achieve the best finish. We love seeing our audience develop their skills to take on increasingly complex patterns. It’s especially fun when they share pattern ‘hacks’ where they add their own personalised design details to existing patterns. 

4.What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?

One of the most wonderful things about making your own clothing is the power to choose fabrics and shapes that make you feel empowered and authentically you. That’s why we love to champion designers who share our passion for making sewing patterns accessible to everyone in the sewing community.  We want every person who visits The Fold Line to feel represented, included and totally inspired. Our site is an equally safe space for people new to sewing who aren’t sure where to begin and experienced sewers looking for challenging, satisfying makes.

5.What is next for your brand?

We want to continuing championing inclusivity, diversity and accessibility so that as many people as possible can start making their own dream wardrobe and know that The Fold Line is a safe place in which they can immerse themselves in the maker community.  

Events wise, in June 2021 we will be hosting The Sewing Weekender! This has been a much-coveted annual event in the maker community’s calendar for the past five years. Last year, due the pandemic, we hosted the event online and through ticket sales, we raised over £23,000 for NHS Charities TogetherBlack Lives Matter, mental health charity Mind and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

This year, we’re thrilled to be hosting The Sewing Weekender online again, on Saturday June 12th and Sunday June 13th.  We know sewing can sometimes be a quite solitary hobby and lockdown has left some people feeling isolated, so by taking the event online we allow attendees to connect with other makers from all over the world… all while raising money for a number of charities. 

As always, the two-day event will be full of workshops, amazing guest speakers, informal talks plus loads of chances to make new friends within the maker community and show off your creations in giant Zoom parties. Oh, and there are even digital goodie bags too!

Anyone interested in attending The Sewing Weekender can follow us on Instagram and Facebook to make sure they are first to hear about tickets going on sale for this year’s virtual event. They can also sign up to our newsletter for 10% off their first order plus regular hints and tips.

6.What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?

Talk to other business owners or get a mentor! it’s amazing how much better you feel when you realise you are not the only one who has certain difficulties when starting out or along the way. Often peers or mentors have also really useful advice or can recommend someone to help you.

For example, we attended a business lunch with other create businesses and bloggers and discovered a business growth training course at The British Library in London that was offering places. Thanks to the recommendation of an attendee at the business lunch, three months later we were accepted onto the course and receive lots of fantastic business training for free. It really helped with developing our business plan and identifying areas of growth for the business. 

Don’t be afraid to use your network of family and friends, explaining to them what you are doing and what you need support with. We’ve had so much help and advice over the years and a lot of that has been down to simply asking.

7.What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?

We have 122,000 followers on Instagram and we’re lucky they’re a really engaged and collaborative audience, sharing their makes, ideas and support every day. 

We’re always checking social media, following makers, bloggers and other sewing businesses to make sure we’re on top of the latest trends in patterns, fabrics and customer appetite. For example, there’s been a huge focus on inclusivity and diversity recently, which is fantastic so we are showcasing independent businesses championing those values.

We attend maker meet ups like SewBrum in Birmingham, Summer and Christmas maker parties at The New Craft House, trade shows and of course we read sewing magazines galore. 

We also keep an eye on high street trends, as these often translate into sewing patterns six to twelve months later. Interest in celebrity inspired fashion also led to us launching our ‘Find That Pattern’ series, where share patterns that allow makers to recreate looks from big and small screens as well as red carpets such as this year’s Golden Globes.

If you would like to include anything else about your journey, plans for the future or general information you would like us to cover, please include here: 

With the Great British Sewing Bee back on our screens, it’s time to get inspired on The Fold Line’s much-loved blog series dedicated to the show. Each week on the blog we will be sharing all the details of each sewing bee episode along with pattern suggestions. Sewing fans, whether newbies or experienced makers, can sign up to our newsletter for 10% off their first purchase and subscribe to our YouTube channel for special vlogs too.

More info on The Fold Line

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