Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Canada Cups - Interview with Émilie of Jalie

Today, as part of the Cross Your Heart Relay, I have Emilie of Jalie in the hot seat! If you haven't heard of Jalie and their specialty patterns where have you been. 

The first time I purchased a Jalie sewing pattern, ironically enough, it was for a constructions and fit class to make my own underwear...it was back in 2000 maybe. As it turned out, I purchased eveything need to take the class, pattern, fabrics and elastics, but never was able to take the class. 

This is the pattern the teacher had required us buy, I actually still have I do think I do need to use it more often. 

I love that their patterns keep on evolving. I also have the most current pattern for underwear. I have to add that it was given to me for the purpose of reviewing it (all opions on the pattern are my own) but you'll be able to see more of that on Thursday as part of the Cross Your Heart Relay tour.  

The Interview:

Who have you trained? Who have you taught? (sometimes the pupil becomes more famous than the teacher)
"Jeanne taught sewing classes in the family home basement for a few year. She taught hundreds of people how to sew and also trained Jalie instructors who would teach in fabric stores or from their homes."
Who are you wanting to reach? Who is your target market for patterns, for classes, for selling?
"We try to focus on things other companies won't tackle or try to find or revisit classics to make them easy to make and in size for kids and adults. This means we mainly create patterns for knits: staple garments like t-shirts and underwear, activewear and specialized sportswear (gymnastics, figure skating)."
 What got you started in this business?
"Students taking Jeanne's classes suggested she markets the patterns she would bring to class. The first patterns were printed on a copy machine that was in her bedroom at the time" 
What are your future goals?
"We want to reach more and more people and grow while keeping the team small and flexible."
What do you absolutely love about the business?
"When people share photos, comments. We sometimes receive very touching testimonies from people who got back to sewing because of us, people who got out of a depression by sewing, moms who saved tons of money making their kids' leotards / dress and this allowed them to continue practicing the sport, our patterns used for special olympic athletes (figure skating / gymnastics) who could not find anything off the rack in regular stores..."

Here's a look at Jalie 3421 as sewn by Mel of Filles a Maman...check out more images and full blog post here!

What do you despise?
"People who copy designs and claim it as their own. It happened in the past and it is so stressful to deal with that and see those companies still in business today, promoting new designs that they produce in record time. We can't help but suspect them from copying every single design from another pattern company or RTW garment... That and when parcels get lost"
What lack do you  see?
"That is not an easy one to answer since "what the market lacks" is typically what we go for"
What was it like when you started?
"People would sew everyday clothes for their families to dress them on a budget. We were they only ones offering patterns for knits. I could recognize Jalie garments at school because so many kids back then wore clothes their mom or grand-mother made. It's nice to see that those moms are now retired and took their machine out of the closet and started sewing again for their grandkids."
What trends have you seen?
"Browsing through an old catalog is so funny. Again, some of our first patterns would actually blend in with current trends (with new photos on the covers thought :)). The trend that I remember most vividly was neon colours. I remember 1990. I was dressed in Jalie neon everything from head to toe. Jogging suit, winter jacket, ski pants, hat, mittens... "

I just had to find some loud neon fashion! 

What is the difference between RTW and custom made?
"The first thing that comes to my mind is fit. With RTW you have to be lucky and find brands that work for your body type and keep your fingers crossed that the company will be consistent. If your body does not correspond to the commercial standards, you have to alter or settle for ill-fitting cloths. With custom made, using a pattern won't guarantee it will be perfect on the first try (although we work really hard to make that happen) but at least you have everything you need to tweak and make a final version that will be flattering, that will make you feel beautiful and most of all, proud of your creation."
What is the difference between the ever-growing number of patterns out there?
"Just like RTW companies, style varies, each designer has its signature, instruction style, body type they design for. Also, quality may vary too from one company to another. Some test on mannequins, others on real people."
Where do you see your business going?
"I would like for the company to be more mobile. We currently do everything from our office. It would be great to design in a little villa during the Quebec winter, have people running the warehouse while we are in the sun, designing and testing, wouldn't it?"
Where did it come from?
"It came from a family home in Levis (south shore of Quebec City), where it is still located. The inspiration for the company is basically the life of a young mom living on a shoestring budget who had to use knits to dress her little girl because it was the cheapest fabric available at that time."
Where else are there businesses doing what that do? 
"There is only a handful of printed pattern companies in Canada. There are more companies popping up all over the world, which is good because it means that more people are sewing." 
Where can we buy your patterns/classes?

"On our website www.jalie.com and from retailers worldwide www.jalie.com/retailers
When did you start?
"The company was founded in 1983 but Jeanne has been sewing since the 60's"
When will you quit (shudder!)? 
"I strongly believe that Jeanne will sew until her very last breath. I will do everything possible to keep it going afterwards, surrounding myself with inspiring people."

 Why don't you use Craftsy?

"We did have a few patterns on Craftsy before but decided to keep PDFs on our website,
 Because it's easier to manage everything all in one place."
Why patterns?
"Because patterns are a tool for people to make amazing things. We don't sell fish, we sell fishing rods :)"

 How did you become globally famous?
"We were one of the first (if not the first) pattern company to sell online back in 1999. That caught the attention of some retailers overseas.
A review of our t-shirt pattern 2005 on Pattern Review was also a turning point. The US market opened up and there was more demand (from customers and stores) for our patterns."
PDF Patterns allowed us to sell to countries where postal service is either very expensive or unreliable. The Internet really transformed the sewing world.

How many patterns do you have?

"We currently have 93 paper patterns designs available for purchase. 121 available in PDF (includes current and discontinued styles). Since the 1983, Jeanne has designed over 500 patterns at the very least."
How many do you have planned? How many in the works right now?

"About a dozen patterns are planned for the upcoming collection. That's why it's taking so long :) We try to include a little bit of everything in each collection... This one will cover pretty much all market segments!"
How do you reach your target market?

"Through social media mostly. When a new collection is released we post on our blog about it and we will have newsletter starting with the next collection."
Do you use technology?
"Yes! Patterns are drafted in a pattern-making software (their customer support still does not quite understand why we make our lives so complicated with 27 sizes per pattern!). Pre-press work is obviously done digitally (it was done mostly by hand until the late 90's) and we could hardly exist without our website."
How do you get the word out?
"Just like in the offline sewing world, word-of-mouth goes a long way online. We make announcements / promote to our customers and the word spreads quite rapidly. Also, lots of people find us by searching online, on Pinterest and Google mostly."
How long do you see this trend of making our own bra/panties/lingerie continuing? 
"I think it will last as long as any other DIY trend. I think there will always be suppliers selling beautiful fabrics and notions, passionate designers will keep on designing and sewists will keep the trend alive with their blogs / photos. I think seeing photos of garments completed by other people who have similar skills / body type boost many people's confidence. Reviews and ratings are good, but a there is nothing like a detailed blog post with tons of pictures. We designers are so lucky to have customers who take the time to not only make the garments but also share their experience and knowledge with their readers!"

A huge thank you to Emilie for taking the time to answer all our questions! 

How about a quick giveaway,  thanks  again to our sponsors on this tour! 


Click the image below now for a chance to win a bundle of 3 Craftsy classes (your choice)*:

 Stay with us through to the end of the tour for a chance to win additional prizes:
  • complete kits to make your own bra,
  • bra- and swimsuit-making classes,
  • fabric, and more ...
*This blog contains affiliate links meaning I make a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase through it at no extra cost to you. All affiliate links have been identified in blog posts. 

Tour Schedule Itinerary

Follow the magical tour to see what we all have under our clothes

Canada Cups Logo Draft // Please note that none of these post links are available before the scheduled date. If you click on one too early, you will get an Error 404: Page not found. You know about those, right? //
Sunday, September 11
Monday, September 12

Tuesday, September 13

Wednesday, September 14

Thursday, September 15
Friday, September 16
Saturday, September 17
Sunday, September 18
Whoohoo! It's giveaway day today!
Monday, September 19
Have you entered the giveaways yet? Today's your last chance.
Tuesday, September 20
Giveaway winners announced on all the blogs:
After September 20
  • Come back to visit all the blogs for followup posts. It's always fun!
  • Craftsy class discounts expire at midnight Sept. 30


So see you back here on Friday so you can see what I made using the Jalie pattern!

Until next time, xx.


  1. I love Jalie patterns they fit well and the size range is am-a-zing! VEry interesting interview Deb.

  2. Oh wow I didn't know they'd been around that long. I have that new underwear one, I was excited to be able to make undies for me and my little girl from the same pattern, so nice. I hate having to buy separate kid/adult patterns if we want to match.

  3. Emilie and Jeanne are so cool! I love their pattern very much! Thanks for featuring my leotards! xx