This interview means alot, since for the past four years Rima and I built up the tutorials section of The Thread together, me trying to make sense of what editing and sewing meant, her learning the skills and craftsmanship of a seamstress and pattern maker, but underneath it all, Rima has been a friend for some 20 odd years, always kind with that beautiful radiant smile of hers ready to welcome those close to her heart. I am so grateful we found this platform to work on together, she was the first person I truly learned how to collaborate with, in the sense of this business, she taught me humility and what truly matters- dignity, honesty and the ability to talk through difficulties in business when you are friends at heart; her work ethic is impeccable and one I strive to one day achieve. Brooklyn forever will be associated with her laughter and eating some delicious food and drinking great french wine together (always), reading through this interview leaves me feeling bittersweet, it dawned on me that the reality of what was, and what now is the new post COVID-19 era starkly evident even in the reflection of our relationship. A few weeks back Rima and her family moved to France, in fact we are now geographically closer than ever before since I live in London, but somehow it feels like this chapter has now passed. I am deeply grateful for our friendship and for this journey we have shared in making The Thread what it has become, not just for us, and as a business, but as a platform that people all over the world find a use for, I could not have done it without her, neither one of us knew much about sewing when we started, she since has become an almost maestro. I am so proud of my friend.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Rima, I am a mom and a sewing enthusiast. I was born in Moscow, Russia, studied film in Paris, then moved to New York and now back to France. For many years I worked in film distribution and film festival programming but discovered a true passion for patternmaking and making clothes with my own hands. For the last 4 years I’ve been creating free sewing patterns and tutorials for The Thread blog.
Why do you sew?
I started sewing because I wanted clothes that fitted my figure better. With a small bust and full hips, the styles I liked rarely fit me off the racks. This is what got me interested in making my own clothes and consequently in patternmaking. Plus, as I was learning about sustainability and environmental impact of fast fashion on the planet, making my own ethical and durable clothing seemed like the right thing to do. Over time, however, sewing became so much more than that. It is my creative outlet and therapy, The meditative action of sewing, the mindfulness and concentration that come with it, the ability to delineate a personal physical space – these elements are so important to my well-being.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
I like to listen to independent online radios like the London-based NTS or The Lot Radio in Brooklyn. They have the most amazing radio shows and playlists by new and established artists. Sometimes I also like to have some nature or history documentaries running in the background.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
The first memory of beauty that I can clearly remember was when I saw the sea for the first time. I think I was about 6 years old, same age as my son now, and my parents took my sister and me to a coastal city of Batumi in Georgia for a family vacation by the Black sea. It was one of the favorite holiday destinations of all Soviet families back in the USSR days. I remember seeing this amazing expanse of blue-green water with waves rolling as far as the eyes could see under a clear sky and bright summer sun and feeling stunned by its beauty. The smells, the salt on my skin, the tropical plants and palm trees – all this was so new to me and made such a strong impression on me as a child.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
Two weeks ago I was still living in Brooklyn, but with the COVID-19 outbreak, the closings of the schools and borders, the uncertainty of future and what it holds, we packed 9 years of life in one shipping container and took one of the few remaining flights to France. So I guess my home is in France now. I haven’t still fully processed what happened and how it’s going to change my life, but I know I’ll be fine as long as I have my family and my sewing machine with me. But I can say that Brooklyn with its concentration of creativity, talent and style has been an enormous inspiration for me as a sewist.
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
I have just finished reading “The Plague” by Albert Camus and was amazed by how the story parallels our today’s reality. The book chronicles a fictional outbreak of bubonic plague in the Algerian town of Oran sometime in the 1940s. As the epidemic spreads infecting thousands, the people of Oran find their town shut off from the rest of the world, confined to their homes, quarantined and powerless. I have read this book for the first time almost 20 years ago and was very impressed by it then. Now, in light of a present pandemic, I saw this story with a new filter and relevance.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
I have always made things with my hands. The first craft I learned as a kid was knitting. I remember making my very first scarf and how proud I felt of myself! My mother was a great seamstress who taught me the basics of sewing. Back in the Soviet Union you couldn’t buy much in store, the food was rationed and good clothing was hard to come by. So she had to learn how to sew to make her own clothing and elegant dresses based on designs from fashion magazines like Burda. And even though I was exposed to sewing from a very early age, I reconnected with it about 8 years ago when my husband gave me a vintage sewing machine for my birthday and from then on I was hooked!
Who are your muses and inspiration?
My biggest muse is my mom. I’m constantly amazed by her strong will, character and the unconditional love she gave me and my sister. Coming from a small village, she achieved everything in life by herself and became this strong woman who always gave us the support and encouragement to become our best selves. I wish to become the same kind of mother to my son one day.
As for the inspiration, I find it from the sewing community on Instagram and our readers here at The Thread. It is amazing to see all the things and ideas people come up with!
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
I work from home so I’m usually making things on my own. However, I met some really nice people who are as passionate about patternmaking and sewing as me when I was taking evening classes at FIT Fashion Institute of New York. People from different backgrounds and with different career paths but all makers and crafters at heart. Some of them became really close friends with whom I enjoy making things and bounce ideas off of each other.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
Making things with my hands is absolutely vital to me! It feels so empowering and gratifying to be able to imagine a garment in my head, put it on paper, adjust to create a perfect fit and create something totally original and unique! It is such a rewarding experience that has made me appreciate craftsmanship and the value of labor. I know that I am happiest when I’m at my drafting table or sewing machine.
What does success mean to you?
I have never really thought about it because the pursuit of success is not something that drives me personally. But if I had to define it, I would say that success to me means doing what you love to do and what you are good at. Success also provides a certain level of financial freedom that is important to maintain the creative spirit.
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
Throughout my multiple collaborations with The Thread, I was lucky enough to have worked with so many of FS linens! I know almost every color, texture and finish. For this project I decided to make two of the patterns that I designed for the blog in my two favorite linen fabrics – the Agustina Top in IL019 BLEACHED FS Signature Finish Medium Weight Linen and the Magda Linen Pants in 4C22 Ginger Softened Heavy Weight Linen
These two patterns are my definition of comfortable, stylish and practical. My perfect uniform! With my love for minimalist clothing and earthy tones, I think the combination of the patterns and fabric works really well. Plus, these two patterns have been really popular with our readers and they specifically designed for linen fabrics.
Rima is wearing the the Agustina Top in IL019 BLEACHED FS Signature Finish Medium Weight Linen and the Magda Linen Pants in 4C22 Ginger Softened Heavy Weight Linen