Work In Progress: Paco Peralta’s Cassock Coat

Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been really busy with work, and this weekend was a super band performance at the Salem Invitational, with DS the Younger conducting the HS band. DS the Elder came home to see it and cheer on his younger brother, so it was a great weekend with family.

In the meantime, I have been sewing, just more slowly. I’m working on Paco Peralta’s Cassock Coat. I’ll do a full review when it’s finished, but here are some WIP shots. Before I begin, let me just tell you how impressed I am with the drafting on this coat. It is flawless.

This is theater shell, inside out.

I’m making it using a pre-interfaced mohair bouclé. This is a joy to work with, except for the lint that is everywhere. I’ve gone through about half of a lint roller getting the fuzz off the ironing board, cutting mat and myself. For those who took part in the poll on the Gorgeous Fabrics FB page, the YSL-pink silk charmeuse won by a landslide.

Sleeve with organza and “Cigarette” sleeve head

I took this shot before I put the shoulder pads in. I am using sleeve heads that I got from Susan Khalje. And my friend Thaïs gave me these brilliant vintage shoulder pads. They had belonged to her mother, and they are just the right thickness and shape for this coat.

Groovy, baby!

Here are shots of the front and back as it stands right now:


and back. Sorry for the overexposure, but I want to show off the bouclé.

The lining is about ¾ of the way done. I just have to attach the sleeves and then sew it to the garment. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make bound buttonholes or if I’ll take it to Jonathan in NY when I am there later this month. I’m kind of leaning toward the latter, since the mohair could be rather finicky. The other option I’m mulling over is making bound buttonholes with leather welts. I’ll do some samples and then decide.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. How about you?

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Paco Peralta, Sewing | 4 Comments

The Case for Muslins, Part the Second – Knits

The question arose in discussion around The Case for Muslins – what about knits? Can you use unbleached cotton to make a muslin for knits? In 99% of the cases, the answer is no. You really need a fabric with similar stretch to approximate the way a knit fabric will act. Most of the time you will need a knit to muslin a knit.

What I do in that situation is use an inexpensive knit that has a similar stretch and weight to your garment fabric. For instance, if you’re making a jersey dress I would use a jersey, not a doubleknit, for the muslin. Likewise, if you’re planning a skirt with a garment neoprene fabric, use a doubleknit. You don’t have to be exact in the weight, but as my dad used to say, “close enough for government work.”

As an example, I just cut out a muslin for the bodice of Christine Jonson wrap dress. Because the Travel Trio One jacket runs rather large on me, I decided to try a size small (8-10) instead of the 12 I made in the jacket. The fabric I used to mock this up is Poly ITY Jersey in Beyond Basic Black. What you see here is straight out of the pattern envelope with no changes. I did that because I don’t know how this pattern is drafted and I wanted an unmodified version.

It's black, but I played around big time with settings to make things easier to see.

The fabric’s black, but I played around big time with settings to make viewing easier.

It’s too small, which isn’t surprising – I’m way bustier than the pattern is drafted for. The shoulders are a wee bit tight on me – I can probably go up to halfway between the small and the medium at the shoulders. I’ll definitely need a FBA. What surprises me is how short-waisted the bodice is. You can see on the mannequin (size 10) that the lower edge doesn’t quite reach the waistline. Take away 5/8″ with the waistline seam and it will be even shorter. The back is equally short. I will need to add a solid inch to the length in front and in back before I do a FBA. I’ll make all those adjustments on the paper pattern, then I’ll make another muslin. Once I get the fit to where I want it, I’ll carefully take apart the muslin. In the case of jersey knits, I press the pieces back into shape. Depending on my mood, I’ll either use the muslin knit as my pattern piece or – especially if I think I’m going to make the pattern more than once, I’ll trace the adjusted muslin back onto paper to store it more easily.

I already hear the groans. Yes, it’s work, but hey – I don’t know about you, but I’m worth the extra work! Besides, I timed it, and from tracing off the pattern to trying on the muslin took 45 minutes. I did it during my lunch hour. The next muslin will probably take about the same time, thanks to the FBA, but once that’s done, the final version will sew up really quickly. And it will save me from disaster with my intended fabric. To be fair, do I make a muslin of every single knit pattern? No. I have enough experience under my belt to know which patterns need them, which adjustments I make with which pattern companies, and when I can get away without any big adjustments. But I always make a muslin for wrap dresses, because if you don’t get the fit right, it’s either a wadder, or at best you’re stuck having to wear a camisole underneath. And we all know how I feel about that. :)

So I’ll reiterate what I said in the last post: When in doubt, make a muslin! Do so and I’m willing to bet you will have…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Fit | 11 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Marlo Top

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website, This is a great top that is so easy to make but looks amazing when finished. The front keyhole neck line and the cut outs on the raglan sleeve make this top a standout.

I’ll add that this is a long sleeved raglan top with neckline binding,

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Available as a PDF? Not currently.

Fabric Used: A flannel-faced ponte panel knit from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). It’s sold out, sorry.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD-654DL, Naomi the Naomoto, tailor’s ham, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, thread. That’s all.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits, Sew From Wide to Narrow.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes.

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them, though I did take a look at them and they seem fine. This top is really well drafted and it goes together beautifully. I made it a little more difficult on myself by changing the construction a bit, but if you do it their way it goes together really quickly.

Construction Notes: The way the pattern is designed, there’s a center front seam. Because of the print on the fabric, I eliminated that seam, adjusting the pattern to have a CF fold instead. I created the keyhole by making the same type of rectangular opening that you use for a welt pocket. This makes the opening a little wider than it would be if you had the seam but I can live with that. I used two rectangles of self fabric as the facings for the opening.

The CF keyhole is a rectangle like a welt pocket

Other than that, I sewed the raglan seams with a narrow (.5mm X 2.5 mm) zigzag stitch. I serged the side seams and I serged the neckline binding to the top. I used the same zigzag stitch to sew the hems and to topstitch the neckline.

Closer view of the neckline and topstitching

Likes/Dislikes: I love the lines of this top. It’s worth noting here that the two side keyholes make this top bra-unfriendly. If that makes a difference to you then you might want to consider sewing them shut. It’s exacerbated slightly by the fabric that I used, but I think you will find it even with an ITY jersey.

The way I worked with this print was to have the bottoms of the motifs hit in the same place, and match them at the side seams. The front is slightly longer than the back, thanks to the FBA, which adds both width and length. That’s why you see a little of the beige peeking at the bottom front and not the back. Here it is on Shelley:

I just love this print!

And I really like the shape of this top

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. The little snip of fabric that StyleArc sends as an example of the type of fabric to use is ITY jersey. I think I would use that next time, to give a different feel to the top.

Conclusion: I’m going to like wearing this in the cooler weather – it’s comfortable and chic, and the peekaboo keyholes are a fun touch!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Reviews, Sewing, StyleArc | 12 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Willow Pants

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website, Wonderful classic slim line woven pant featuring a side zip. This pant looks amazing worn with heels or worn casually with flats. Willow sits on the real waistline. Willow has positive ease of 2cm or ¾ inch as it’s a tailored slim line pant.

Adding to that, this pattern has front and back darts and side slits at the ankle.

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10

Available as a PDF? Not currently

Fabric Used: Lightweight wool satin from Gorgeous Fabrics. This fabric is long since sold out, but you can see a Similar Fabric with a little Lycra Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MO-654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto/board, tailor’s ham, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Pro-Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. invisible zipper, button that was a gift from my friend Joanne in France, a couple of scraps of silk organza, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: The Case for Muslins, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow (Video Version Here), and Sewing Invisible Zipper from The Sewing Divas.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were adequate. This is StyleArc, so you need some confidence or experience. But honestly, as long as you know how to insert an invisible zipper, these pants are easy-peasy and go together without any problems. StyleArc rates them as medium on the difficulty scale. I think they are easy. There are no tricky design details, and like I say, if you know how to put in an invisible zip, the remainder of construction is a piece of cake.

Construction Notes: The part that took me the longest was making the muslin and adjusting for fit. These are quite close fitting, so you are best off doing a trial run. The fit is true to RTW size. I used the straight stitch for all seams and finished all edges with the serger.

Finished all SAs with the serger

I hand stitched the hems. I finished the slit’s raw edges with scraps of bias-cut silk organza.

But of course, you can’t see it

Closeup of the zipper and button

Likes/Dislikes: I like that this pant goes together very quickly and easily. It is beautifully drafted. It is quite fitted so make sure to match your measurements against the pattern (or use a stretch woven fabric for insurance). The only downside is that it has no pockets. These are dress pants the way I wear them, and I understand why they didn’t design them in – they’re supposed to fit closely and pockets would disrupt the line. But if you need them, I’d put pockets on the back (probably patch pockets).

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This is a great pattern with good bones.

Conclusion: Another winner from StyleArc! Here are shots of the front and back (boring I know) on Shelley. I’ll get some on me at some point. I probably won’t wear these until the weather cools down.


And Back

Closeup of the front darts

And how I’ll wear it

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Pants 2015, Patterns, Reviews, StyleArc | 5 Comments

The Case for Muslins

You all know that I comment very infrequently on other people’s sites. But I do lurk, lots. On many sites, and quite often, posters will claim that they

  1. Never make muslins
  2. Hate making muslins
  3. Think muslins are a waste of time
  4. Don’t see the point of muslins.

I, on the other hand, love muslins. And I’m not talking about “Wearable Muslins” (On another note – was that really 6 years ago? Man, I didn’t realize my bulletproof undies were that old. But I digress…)

Seriously, muslins, the way I use them, are tools for achieving better fit. Because of that, in Ann-land they have a very specific purpose: they become the pattern. Today, for instance, I cut out a pair of StyleArc’s Willow pants. These are woven pants, and they are pretty closely fitted. My goal is to make them in a black wool satin from my stash, to take me through the holidays and go with a stunning jacket I bought from my friend Tess last year. I cut them from The Best Muslin Anywhere (of course I have to plug it!)  and ran them up this afternoon.

Singing along with The Talking Heads: Cut out and ready to sew...

Singing along with The Talking Heads: Cut out and ready to sew…

I use waxed tracing paper (that you can buy online or at Sil Thread)  and a tracing wheel to mark darts, grain lines, fit lines and other landmarks on the pattern. I notate the markings, when needed, with a sharpie.

Annotated Pattern Pieces

Mark it up, baby!

I use long machine basting stitches (6mm) on all the seams. For zippers and darts I use regular length (2.5mm) stitches. I figure if seams pop, that’s okay – that’s what the muslin is supposed to show. But I want the darts and zips to stay where they are.

Seams get long stitch length

Seams get long stitch length

Darts (and zippers) get shorter stitch length.

Darts (and zippers) get shorter stitch length.

I also don’t bother with an invisible zip in the muslin. I just use the ugliest zipper from my stash.  “Close enough for government work,” as my daddy used to say. The goal is to get the fit right. I know how the zipper will go. But – if you are unsure about how to insert an invisible zipper, this is the time to practice, so go for it!

For this pair of pants, the muslin (minus the waistband) took less than 1.5 hours to cut out and sew up. 90 minutes of my time? That’s totally worth it to see if this will even begin to fit and work for me.

Once I sewed the muslin, I tried it on and started making adjustments. This is easier if you have a fitting buddy. If you don’t have a fitting buddy, take lots of pictures. Don’t worry – you don’t have to share them. Use them for yourself and look for wrinkles, drag lines and problem areas. No one is judging you, and this way you’ll see things through the camera’s unwavering and unemotional eye. Sorry – I don’t have pictures of myself in these pants. One benefit of having been sewing since the Pleistocene Era is that I’ve done this enough times that I can literally feel my way around the muslin and figure out where I need to pinch. It’s more precise if my best fitting buddy Phyllis is here, but I can do a pretty passable job on my own.

I don’t have pictures on me, but I do have pictures of the results. I need a slight adjustment on one side of the front.

Adjustment at the Front

High hip? Low hip? Not sure but pinching that out makes them look much better

And I need the “Fish Eye Dart” (I want to say I learned about that from Debbie Cook?)

Fisheye Darts in Back

I’ll pinch  these from the pattern pieces, and I’ll  remove about an inch in length as well.

If you are relatively new to sewing, you may be wondering, “Okay, now what?” It’s an excellent question. Next I will take these pants apart, true up the grain lines with the pinches and changes, and then use them as the pattern pieces for my wool satin.

All in all, this process (including writing this blog post with pictures and all) took less than a day on a long weekend. The payoff will be that I will have a pair of pants that fits well, falls well, and won’t end up in my wadder pile or at Goodwill. And it will take me less than a couple of hours to make them, start to finish, because I have already sewn them once. So if I can give you one piece of advice, it is…

When in doubt, make a muslin, dammit!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Fit | 42 Comments

The Diminishment of Fears – A Parable

Once there was a young woman. She was smart, and she went to college, where she took a class with a professor. This professor was an ogre. He frightened everyone, his class was haaaaaard, and he made people cry. Many thought he was the epitome of the Worst. Teacher. Ever.
Shrek Roar

No one in the first year completed his projects. He was a taskmaster. Everyone felt like they were complete losers in his class.

The young woman fled the class. She took an incomplete. Like many before her, she went to her college advisor and found a class with an easier professor. She learned some good things from this professor, some were easy things, sometimes intermediate things. But that was okay, because she felt like she was learning, and she wasn’t intimidated by the professor.
Slowly but surely, the student acquired knowledge and techniques to make her more confident. As time went by, the memories of the ogre professor faded. She got a job, then another job and another. Then one day, she was invited to a party, where the Ogre Professor was also a guest. She was surprised. He was no longer frightening…

In fact, he was rather nice, and very interesting. He had good things to say and knowledge to impart and she realized…
So she spent some time with the professor and discovered that, contrary to what she had thought, the professor could still teach her, and she could use what she learned from the professor. She and the professor became good friends, and to this day they work together and enjoy each other’s company.

The moral of the story? Things that seem hard or scary –  let’s say patterns, may be so at one point in your life, but as you learn and grow, they become far less intimidating. It’s the diminishment of fear, as your experience grows. And your experience will grow.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 10 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Erin Culottes

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website: The culottes are back!! The pant that appears to be a skirt is the hot new trend, we just love it! The angled front pleats become part of the pockets creating an interesting and flattering design. The waist band is shaped and sits on the natural waist. This is the most comfortable pant/skirt that you will wear this season. For that luxurious evening look just lengthen the leg; or try them in Lurex.

Sizing: 4-30, I made a 10

Available as a PDF? Yes, through their Etsy shop

Fabric Used: Japanese Satin Finish RPL that’s sold out, sorry, from Gorgeous Fabrics. You can find fabrics that work for this pattern Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto, Ironing board, sleeve board (I really want a pants board now!), Tailor’s ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle, silk organza selvages, invisible zipper, Pro Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, hook and eye.

Tips Used during Construction: J? or L?, Anything by the Pressinatrix, Sewing Invisible Zipper by The Sewing Divas

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Typical StyleArc, so they are fine if you know what you are doing. If you are hesitant or a newbie, just keep a good sewing reference handy for the parts you don’t understand and you’ll be fine.

BUT – I do want to make one little point that I almost overlooked, so hopefully this will help others.

Step one in the instructions tells you to cross the pleats over the CF seam by 3/8″ or 1 cm.
Looking at the drawing it was really tempting to cross them over to the notches, which were about a half inch further away fron the CF, so do be sure to mark where they are going.

CF Overlaps

It just overlaps a little bit

It will probably be very helpful to mark the different pleats (A, B, and C) with different colored basting thread to make it easier to match.

Construction Notes: I made my usual adjustments to the waistline (½ inch off each side seam and 1 inch off the CB seam). I also changed the crotch curve to more of an “l” shape. I used Els’ foolproof invisible zipper method, which doesn’t leave a bubble. I finished all seam allowances and raw edges with a 4-thread overlock.
Looking at the CF

I stitched the facing and the hems by hand over my lunch hour.
Hem Finish
I am not crazy about my finishing of the back waistband/zipper, but I couldn’t get a decent picture of it in the light I had so you’ll just have to believe that I can do better next time. The CB of the waistband is okaaaay, but not quite there – there’s a wee bit of a pagoda wing, even though all the stitching looked straight, :/. Here’s a picture of the inside:
Invisible Zip
Well it will do for the wardrobe plans I have for it.

Likes/Dislikes: I really like the pleating, and they make my waist look slightly smaller, which is a great thing. But here’s the bottom line. I know culottes are all over the fashion bloggers scene, and these are a very good rendition, but I’m not sold on the whole concept. Maybe it’s just too hot to wear them right now. Maybe I need to style them with Docs or high heeled boots and a blazer. Maybe. But if this is your jam, I say go for it.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Would I do it again? I haven’t decided. It has nothing to do with the pattern. It has everything to do with the trend. I want to try wearing them in the cooler weather, then I will let you know. But then, maybe that’s my answer right there.

Conclusion: These may not be for me, but if you like this style, This is a sleek, stylish version. Here is a picture on Shelley. I will try to get pictures on me when the weather cools down a bit.

I do like that it has a skirt like feel

I do like that it has a skirt like feel

ETA 9-3-15 to add a sucky selfie of me in them:

I think I may like these after all...

I think I may like these after all…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc | 10 Comments

Another Karen Short

Wow – I honestly didn’t expect as much discourse as my Last Post generated. But the discussion is really interesting so please keep it up! And a warm welcome to those who are new to this blog. Lots of new visitors this week and I hope you’ll take a look around. If you click on the categories, I try to break things down. Ones that I hope are particularly useful and/or amusing are the Tips, Tutorials and Pressinatrix categories. Have fun, I hope it’s helpful.

While all that was going on, I found a little time to run up one last pair of shorts for the summer. I used the StyleArc Karen Walking Shorts, the Shortened Version I made up earlier this month. I made a couple of minor changes that I’ll go over here.

First up, I decided to use jeans-style patch pockets on the back this time. I did a chalk trace-off of the pockets from my favorite pair of jeans (good old Gaps). That pocket is big enough to hold my phone, and it’s not so big that it does weird things to my butt.

Second, I spread the waistline alterations around. If you recall from my last version, I had to take 2 inches off the waist to make it fit properly. Last time I took it all at the CB seam. This time I spread it around to the side seams as well, taking about ½ inch from each side and 1 inch from the back.

I used Mr. Tweedy Lightweight RPL in Light Tan for the main fabric and quilting cotton from JoAnn that I used for DS the Younger’s Prom Vest. You know, I try really hard not to criticize other fabric stores, but this cotton is really crap. My son chose it for a vest, because it fit the criteria he wanted (mostly clashing violently with his date’s dress, since she broke up with him a week before prom). I have worked with good quilting cottons. This is not one of them. But it will do for this.

Sorry it's slightly blurry, I had to get ready for dinner

Sorry it’s slightly blurry, I had to get ready for dinner

I got some (kind of deserved) hell for my finishing of the insides on the last version of this pattern. Whatever. This is the only time all but one of you are ever going to get into my pants. Anyway, this time I hand sewed the facing to the waistband seam. I stitched all seams with a straight stitch and finished all seams and pocket edges with a 3-thread overlock.

Karen 3 Closeup of Fly and Button

You can see the bobbin thread pulled through on the bottom of the buttonhole

Because of said hell that I caught, I used blue thread in the bobbin to match the facing, and beige on the outside to match the fabric. All kidding aside, it does look nicer. But it has one unexpected side effect. This time, instead of using hooks and eyes to close the waistband, I used a button. The button stitch ended up pulling up some of the blue bobbin threads to give a slightly ombre’d effect. It’s actually kind of cool.

Other than that, I did everything else similarly to the last time. I wore these out to dinner with DH and BFF tonight, and they are so comfortable! Here are some pictures both on Shelley and (gasp!) on me.

Karen 3 Front

Front, pinned on Shelley

Karen 3 Back

Back on Shelley, showing the pockets

Karen 3 On Me

Straight on – I promise you I don’t have camel toe. It’s an artifact of the lighting and my lousy photography.

NOT a Glamour Shot

Oh yeah, I’m a freaking supermodel – NOT!

So once again I recommend this pattern. It’s easy, classic and comfortable.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewing, StyleArc | 6 Comments

Is the Independent Pattern Bubble Starting to Burst?

I’m wearing my bullet-proof underwear today, so I’m going to put it out there. Three posts back, Michelle noted that Blue Ginger Doll, an “indie” pattern company, seems to have shut down with little or no notice. Sure enough, when I went to the site, it has a little closed sign hanging on the page. I have no affiliation with Blue Ginger Doll, and I don’t know the owner/designer, so I have no idea what may have happened. I have linked to their patterns from Gorgeous Fabrics on occasion, but that’s the extent of it. Hopefully everything is okay with the owner. I never want to see small business owners go through bad things (voice of experience talking here). But it got me thinking about the general ebb and flow of companies, pattern companies in this case.

Round about two years back, it seemed like there was an explosion in the number of patterns being offered by new companies. I’m not talking StyleArc or HotPatterns, both of which have been around for several years and whose designers have industry chops. I’m talking about patterns offered by bloggers who may or may not have had design training. They seemed to come flying out of the sewing blogosphere (SBC) like fireworks on New Years. There were tons of reviews on blogs, there were calls for pattern testers all over, there were blog tours, there were hordes of me-too iterations of certain patterns.

Then it died down. And of late, some of the independent pattern companies seem to have fallen off the radar. I’m not going to mention any names beyond Blue Ginger Doll, but I’m sure you can come up with your own list. Here’s what I think happened.

Too many beginner styles, not enough beginners.
It seemed for a while that we were seeing many of the almost-exact-same patterns cropping up from different blog/design sites. Easy skirts, easy tops, pajama bottoms, headbands. All were introduced with the goal of getting newbies into sewing. I love it! I applaud it! The more the merrier when it comes to sewing.

The problem arises when saturation sets in. There are only a certain number of beginners out there, and there are a sh*t-ton of pajama bottom patterns. It’s hard to justify paying $20 for an a-line skirt when you can buy the same pattern (not on sale, mind you) for $3.99 from New Look. Add to that the attrition rate when a newbie sew-er hits a wall or runs up against fit or generally gets frustrated, and you quickly run out of customers. Which brings me to…

Cute idea on paper, crappy execution IRL
Ever been seduced by the soft lighting, beautiful backgrounds and cute posing of the model in some of the photographs of independent patterns? But after purchasing the pattern, you discover that the bodice makes your boobs look saggy (thanks, I don’t need help with that), the sleeves are drafted so no matter what they won’t hang correctly, the skirt is cut in such a way that it makes a skinny little thing look like she gained 20 lbs.

There’s a reason fashion designers – most of them, anyway – go to fashion design school. There they learn not only how to sketch and use CAD software. They also learn things like proportion and balance, and technical skills like grading and dart manipulation. Very few of us are born with the innate ability to drape or design a piece of clothing that will look good on bodies of different sizes. And…

If it doesn’t look good on the “designer” it won’t look good on me.
There are two parts to this. First, there’s the general design. I’ve seen some patterns modeled by the designer that look, frankly, awful on them. Yet fangirls heap adoration on them while 97.8% of the blog reading public is thinking, “Whut??” Second, even if the design is good, the construction is so poorly done that it causes The Pressinatrix to Clutch Her Pearls and Fan Herself. If a pattern’s photograph has puckery seams, dimply darts, uneven necklines and wavy hems, it is not ready for prime-time. And that kind of shoddy construction reflects a lack of respect for the customer. If a designer can’t be bothered to put in the work to make their design look fabulous, why should they expect anyone to buy their pattern?

Does it age gracefully?
This question has two meanings. First – is the style one that will look fresh a few years later? That’s a really hard thing to accomplish, and kudos to those who can design looks that do. The second meaning has to do with the wearer. A certain style may look fantastic on a recent college grad who is starting out. But how does that look translate to that same person 4 years later when she is looking to move into a more senior position? Many of the early SBC patterns were designed by and for a young demographic. I applaud that, we need new sew-ers! But we all change, and our wardrobe needs change. Which brings me to…

It’s a dragon that needs to be fed, constantly.
Fashion is almost literally a churn-and-burn industry. Way back when, there were two “seasons” in fashion: fall/winter and spring/summer. Now companies like Zara and H&M are releasing collections – not looks, collections – every 5 weeks. It’s the same with pattern companies. The big ones have Early Fall, Fall, Halloween, Holiday, Winter, Early Spring, Spring, Early Summer, Summer… and it goes on year after year after year. If you’re a one-person shop, that’s a pretty daunting schedule to try to keep up. Even 4 seasons a year is a lot. Something has to give, whether it’s the quality of design, or the health of the designer. You know that adage, “the reward for hard work is more hard work?” Yeah, this.

Game of Thrones? Game of Sewn

Game of Thrones? Game of Sewn

It’s a piece of clothing, not a lifestyle.
Have you ever noticed that the biggest lifestyle brands out there don’t offer clothing lines? Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Jonathan Adler – not one of them. Ralph Lauren could be considered an exception, but he doesn’t have a TV show and he doesn’t publish magazines or books. He just has a team of designers who do all the work under his umbrella. Alabama Chanin is probably the closest thing to a lifestyle brand that also designs clothing, but the aesthetic is geared to a narrow audience. A narrow audience who has lots of time to do hand-sewing, or has the disposable income to purchase hand-made-in-America goods. Lifestyle brands are aspirational. Maybe people aspire to wear a-line skirts and hoodies. Not people I know. Designs with a slight edge and beautiful, unusual details? That’s aspirational.

So, is there a shakeout in the “indies”? Perhaps. Certainly the number of patterns released from the SBC seems to have slowed from the flood of a couple of years ago. It’s probably fashion Darwinism at work. Some will survive, others won’t. Others will come on the scene, and perhaps one or two will be the Next Big Thing. I do hope that we continue to see new pattern designers, and I hope those pattern designers come out with cool designs that appeal to many. Because when they do, that means…

Happy sewing!

ETA 8-28-15 – Blue Ginger Doll, whose vanished site prompted this post, is back up again. Yay!

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Pattern Review: Christine Jonson Travel Trio 1 – Pants

This time, it’s the pants!

I had a bunch of fabric left over from my Travel Trio 1 Jacket, so I figured I would make a pair of pants. There are surprisingly few reviews of this pattern out there that I could find. That never deters me, so here you go…

Pattern Description: From the website, “ Center Seam Pants: Semi-fitted, front and back seamed pants with waistline yoke.

I would call it a waistband, not a waistline yoke, but that’s a minor nit.

Sizing: 4-22. I made a 12 based on my measurements and the pattern sizing worksheet. Honestly? It’s big. If you don’t do a muslin (recommended) then plan to go down a size.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: More of the (sold out, sorry!) heavy doubleknit. This fabric feels like it’s halfway between a ponte and a neoprene, and I just love it! You can find Similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: The usual suspects: Pfaff 2130, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto,
Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle. Thread. That is it.

Tips Used during Construction: Easy and Quick Way to Mark the Back, Anything by the Pressinatrix (I know, every post- but you know what? I see so many things that aren’t pressed and it Makes. Me. Crazy!), Tips and Tricks for Sewing With Knits, J? or L?

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Quite good.

Construction Notes: I came very close to a wadder on this one. It had nothing to do with the pattern, it had to do with my cutting my fabric. I had 4 yards of my fabric and I cut it into two pieces. One was slightly longer than the other and guess what happened? Yep, I got 6 pieces cut out then realized I didn’t have enough length for the other two. I was all set to concede defeat when I remembered that I had some fabric left over from my jacket. Woo hoo!!! There was enough for the two pieces! Whew!!!

I made a size 12 right out of the envelope. They run large on me. Not outrageously so, but enough that I would probably go down to a 10 without any ill effects. What you should measure is the crotch-to-waistline length. It’s long. Make a muslin so you don’t end up with a Pappy-in-O-Brother-Where-Art-Thou length.

Likes/Dislikes: Love the lines. I really like the fact that I don’t have to take a lot of curvature out of the side seams. Love the seams in the front and back for both design and fit. Not crazy about the crotch length, but shame on me for not measuring, I suppose.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? It’s a good pattern, and I really like the seaming. I doubt I’ll do it again. I like it but I don’t love it. It will look great under a long jacket (including the Travel Trio One), but to my eye it doesn’t stand on its own.

Conclusion: Here are pictures on Shelley, with how I will style it:

Jacket, Breton top and really comfy loafers = yeah!

Posted in Patterns, Sewing | 4 Comments