Happy New Year, everyone! I know it’s been the better part of a month since I posted. Lots happened. I went on a bucket list trip. The website will be back up and running shortly (big updates, meaning little things broke and we want to fix them).
In the meantime, I want to share with you my favorite pattern companies. I try very hard to be egalitarian with my recommendations for patterns for the fabrics on Gorgeous Fabrics, but these are the ones that I sew for myself.
I’ve sewn Vogue patterns since I was a teenager. They are the gold standard for designer patterns. They went through a bit of a fallow period, but recently they have brought in new designers, and the results are great! And hey, they have recently engaged with one of my favorite pattern designers…
BCN Unique Patterns (aka Paco Peralta Patterns)
Classic, Barcelona (the home of Balenciaga) inspired, fabulous for any age patterns. Amazing drafting, beautiful lines. Total LURVE! Full disclosure, Paco is a dear friend, but still – the patterns are great.
If you want to copy recent ready-to-wear, this is the company that you want to hook your little red wagon to. Recently they have embraced the athleisure wear trend, and that’s fine, but I really like their more structured looks.
Couture patterns, meant for those who really (really) know what they are doing, but drafted so well that the less complicated ones are pretty easy to figure out. No instructions, no seam allowances. You are on your own but the results are almost universally FANTASTIC!
If you want casual clothing with a truly RTW fit, and easy sewing, great drafting and adherence to trends without going all wacky, this is the line for you. Emilie and her mom design and grade the patterns, and most of them (all of them?) come in sizes from les petites to femmes/hommes and they all seem to fit beautifully. A real treat!
Lots of new stuff is coming once we get the small broken shoelace module *cough*shipping*cough* fixed on the site. It should be back tomorrow, and thanks for your patience.
Just to be very clear here, I have not received any recompense for this post from any pattern companies. I don’t solicit or take reimbursement for any recommendations. I really like these guys, and I hope you will too!
I’ve been slowly making my way on this pattern. If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen the progress. But with the holidays, children coming home to visit, refreshing our SCUBA skills, getting ready for vacation (YAY!!!!!) and the sale (yes, The Sale!) I’ve been too busy to post, or even to sew very much. But I did finally finish this cape, so here we go!
Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website (don’t even get me going on that), “These military style capes and classic cape and capelet are the stylish statement piece your wardrobe is looking for. For the cooler weather, view E offers faux fur collar that will keep you warm and cozy”
My take on the pattern description, “Capes and capelets in different lengths with neckline and armhole variations. I made View A with several changes.
Sizing: XS to XL. I made a Small
Available as a PDF? Yes
Fabric Used: Bouclé (sold out, sorry) lined with 4 Ply Silk Crepe left over from my Pippa Dress (also sold out, sorry again!). Silk Organza for interfacing, French cotton braid that was a gift from Susan Khalje.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030 sewing machine, Reliable Iron, Shoulder Stand
Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needles, squared-off hooks and eyes from Pacific Trimming, Silke waxed thread (THE Best!! Never knots. I’m totally sold), thread, Clover Needle Threader (is that a tool, rather than a notion?)
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Kinda-sorta. I left off the epaulets and the (really badly done on the pattern photo, but we won’t talk about that here) closures. How were the instructions? They seemed adequate, though I made enough changes that I didn’t use them very much.
Construction Notes: I decided to take a more couture approach to this garment. I used sew-in interfacing (the silk organza).
I thought the sewn closures that were included in the pattern had a very Becky Home Ecky… well, not the look I want, so I used large hooks that I bought at Pacific Trim, which I sewed in right at the Center Front.
This pattern has straight CB seam. Simplicity does that because they have you turn the lining out during construction through the CB seam. A straight back seam? I don’t like unnecessary seams, so I eliminated that and used one of the side seams to turn the garment. It gives a much cleaner line.
I hand sewed the Trim around the CF, neckline and the arm openings.
Likes/Dislikes: This is a cute pattern, good for non-frigid days in the New England weather. Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? No, I won’t do it again. One (I guess that’s me) only needs one of these. Conclusion: A cute topper that goes together easily. It’s good for anyone who has a little sewing experience. Here are shots on Shelley:
Okay, so here’s the BIG NEWS
I am going on VACATION for the first time in 10 years. No phone, no internet, no nothing. The site will shut down (you can still view it but you won’t be able to buy) starting at 5:00 PM on Friday. We’ll move the warehouse and then we are all heading out!!! So if you want any fabric, grab it before 5 PM Eastern on December 23. We will be back on January 12, 2017. Have a wonderful, wonderful holiday season and I’ll see you next year!
Thanks to some lovely folks who have kindly mentioned that our moving sale is going on, I’ve fielded a bunch of questions so I figure I’ll answer them here to have an easy place to reference.
First, our sale is not just for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. So go ahead and shop all you want. We’ll be here!
Second, you don’t need a coupon. The sale prices are already taken for you. You can tell fabric is on sale by the green “sale” button in the upper right corner of the fabric’s picture! Feel confident that you are getting the amazing 40% savings on your Gorgeous Fabrics!
Third, I’ve had some complaints about the fact that we don’t show original/sale prices explicitly. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but it has to do with the way our underlying shopping cart software works. You really are getting the discount, and we have put in a bug fix request to get it changed.
Fourth, during the sale, no other discounts apply, including Gorgeous Points. However, you will earn points for your purchases that you can use on future orders.
I hope that helps! Have fun with the sale and happy sewing
First up, I hope all my friends who celebrate it had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving! It was delightful to have the kids home. Both our boys were off from college all week, so we got to spend lots of time with them. Last night was really wonderful, because a bunch of their friends came over and we made homemade pizzas. The house was filled with laughter and happiness.
Second, this is a long post, so grab a cuppa or a glass and settle in. And just to add the normal disclaimer, Paco is a very dear friend. I bought this pattern without any urging from him, and I get nothing from anyone for doing this review. So here we go!
Pattern Description: From Vogue Patterns’ website, “Semi-fitted lined jacket has princess seams, single-button closure, shawl collar, in-seam pockets, two-piece sleeves, back vent and contrast inset. Loose-fitting blouse has collar extending into tie, back yoke extending into forward shoulder seams and French cuffs. Semi-fitted skirt has back invisible zipper.”
I made the jacket- though I refer to it as the tuxedo coat.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030, Reliable iron and ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, ham, silk organza press cloth, clapper.
Needle/Notions Used: Buttons that my dear friend Rosie brought back from Paris for me a while back. Hair canvas interfacing that was in my stash (not sure where I got that one from, sorry), 1/2 inch Tailor’s Set-in Shoulder Pads, sleeve heads that Paco sent me ages ago, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes!
How were the instructions? Not great: I had several issues. I’ll send this list to McCalls to let them know as well.
Problem 1: There are 8 pages of instructions. I got pages 1/2, 3/4, 5/6 and another 5/6. I didn’t get 7/8.
I understand from several friends who have this pattern that they had the same issue. Paco sent me a picture of the last two pages of instructions, and I’ll ask McCalls to send me a copy of the PDF so I have a complete set.
Problem 2: The instructions and pattern markings conflict on the front interfacing.
The cutting instructions tell you to interface the entire front piece. But the pattern piece, and the illustrations in steps 3 and 5 all indicate that you only interface the facings. The ultimate answer to the question, “Well, which is it?” depends on your fabric and interfacing. In my case, I knew I only wanted to interface the facing. But that’s because I know what I’m doing.
Problem 3: The instructions omit one small but potentially crucial step. After step 8, clip the seam allowance to the stitching line at the small dots and press open. If you construct the buttonholes and follow the illustrations as written you’ll block the hole.
Problem 4: The instructions don’t explicitly tell you to hem the sleeves. They have you baste the sleeves , then they tell you to attach the lining to the sleeve at the hem. This will give you a wibbly wobbly hem, especially after putting the jacket on and taking it off a few times. I hemmed the sleeve attaching the lining to it. Doing this will give you a crisper finish that will withstand wear and tear better.
Much as I love Vogue Patterns, I’m going to lay the blame for this at their feet. I’m pretty sure Paco didn’t write the directions, and even if he did, someone at Vogue should have caught the discrepancies before publishing them.
Construction Notes: I Made Two Fitting Muslins to get the fit the way I want. It was pretty good out of the envelope, but to make it better I did a FBA
and I added about 1 inch around at the waist, sigh… Other than that, I didn’t make any major sizing changes.
I inserted sleeve heads to support the shoulder/sleeve.
After making the buttonhole, I decided that I didn’t want a small button. Rather, I wanted a statement button, so I closed up the buttonhole and I used a snap closure and stitched the button on. (Yah, I know – it’s a men’s-style close. Sue me.)
I used the smaller buttons (which fit through the buttonhole) on the sleeves. Here’s a picture of the buttons so you can see the details.
Likes/Dislikes: Instructions aside, I LOVE this pattern! The lines are beautiful, it makes me look long and lean. It’s fabulous. Period.
The dislike is the instructions. That’s fixable. As long as the pattern is well drafted (it is!) and the fit is reliable (it is!) you can work around the instructions.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I probably won’t do it again. How many of these does one need? But I am saving this in case I change my mind, and I DEFINITELY recommend it. This is one that will stretch your abilities and give you a beautiful result. Make a muslin, that’s my biggest recommendation.
And of course, now that I’m thinking about it, I do have a pink duchesse satin that would look fabulous in this design for Easter. Maybe with some of the silk satin left over from my Wedding Gown Refactor as the lapels. Hmmmm…
Conclusion: A great pattern. Keep in mind the instructions issues and power through and you be rewarded with a great garment! Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll get pictures on me later this week.
I am so happy with this jacket! Hopefully I haven’t put you to sleep. And as a parting shot, here’s Hoover saying “I like the holiday season.”
Before anything else, a disclaimer. Paco is a close friend, and I am thrilled beyond belief that he has secured a license for some of his patterns with Vogue Patterns. Bravo, Paco!!!!
That said, I bought this pattern with my own money with no expectation of recompense neither.
If you follow me on Instagram, you can see that I started this pattern a couple of weeks ago, and I want to do this right, so I made a muslin. For my first muslin (yep, there are more than one) I traced off the pattern as-is in a size 12 and changed the seam allowances to 1 inch a la Susan Khalje’s couture sewing guidance. I knew this would need some adjustments, but going with the Vagaries of Fit: Shoulders, I started with the 12. That works well with my shoulder measurement. Here are some pictures of the first muslin.
You can see that the bust is not right, and the waist is a little snug. The sleeves are great. Normally I have to shorten all Vogue/McCalls/Butterick sleeves by at least 1/2 inch, but these are perfect for me. So I made those changes (I’ll show them in the ultimate pattern review) and made another muslin.. Here are shots on me
And here is a picture of the back on Shelley – I couldn’t get a good shot on me, sorry
Pattern Description: From StylArc’s website, Beautiful feminine blouse featuring a front tie and 7/8th length sleeves. This blouse is designed to pull on so therefore easy to make and wear along with keeping all the on trend features.
I just noticed an error on the technical drawing. The sleeves have elbow darts which are not shown on the tech drawing. You can see them in the picture of the pattern pieces further down in this review. It’s a minor nit, but worth noting. Also, the blouse has slight gathers at the front shoulder yoke, which do show on the tech illustration.
Sizing: 4-30; I made a 10
Available as a PDF? Yes
Fabric Used: Emerald jewels print silk charmeuse that I received as a gift. This one was a bit ravelly, which made it tricky to work with, but I took my time and it turned out well.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030, Juki MO645DE serger, Naomi the late, beloved Naomoto, Reginald the Reliable Iron, ironing board, shoulder press, pressing ham, sleeve board.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? StyleArc normal, which is to say pretty minimal. I didn’t need them, other than to check the diagram to make sure I inserted the tie into the neckline correctly. If you are an intermediate sewer, you can follow their instructions without trouble. I recommend keeping a good general sewing reference (my favorite is the Vogue Book of Sewing) handy if you need more information.
Construction Notes: I made two muslins before I cut into my silk. The first was from cotton muslin, just for fitting purposes. The second was with Abstract Floral Crinkle Crepe Chiffon – Brown/Eggy to better approximate the drape of the silk. I was planning to make the chiffon a “wearable muslin”, but I forgot to put the tie in the collar (doh!) so it was just a fitting muslin. I’m glad I did it, though, because it did point out that the sleeve cap wasn’t high enough. I added about 3/8″ height to it. I did a Full Bust Adjustment and lowered the bust dart by about an inch. Here you can see the changes on the flat pattern.
I sewed all seams with a 2.5 mm straight stitch and finished the seam allowances with a three-thread overlock, serging the side seams together, then pressing them toward the back. I made a narrow hem to finish.
One thing to note about this pattern: like all StyleArc patterns, it uses RTW industry standard seam allowances. That means that seams for the sides and main body pieces are 3/8 inch wide, and facings (like at the collar) are 1/4 inch. If you are dealing with a fiddly fabric like my charmeuse, which had a tendency to ravel, it can be trying, so you might want to increase the SAs along the neckline and then trim them after you finish. Also, I found the facings to be too wide and unwieldy, so I trimmed them back to about 5/8 inch and I topstitched around the neckline edges to keep them in place. If I were to do it again, I would probably use a bias piece of self fabric to face the neckline edge. Also, as I discovered on the chiffon, you really need to stay stitch the neckline edges or they will stretch out, especially in the front. Finally, the instructions have you fold the cuffs in half and then serge them to the sleeve. I decided to do a slightly more ‘couture’ approach and I sewed one edge of the cuff to the sleeve, folded the remaining raw edge under and hand-sewed it:
Likes/Dislikes: This is a very well-drafted pattern that goes together quite easily. I really like the clean lines that let the fabric have center stage. This would be great for a big bold print. I don’t dislike anything about this. It’s definitely a pattern that requires some precise sewing in small places, so take your time and you’ll get good results.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I doubt I’ll do it again. I now have two of these tie-neckline blouses and I think that’s enough for me. I do recommend it, with the caveat about the facings and seam allowances for the neckline.
Conclusion: I’ll get a lot of use from this blouse. It looks great with jeans as well as with a pegged black skirt, and I like it both tucked in and worn out like a tunic with a belt over it. Here are shots on Shelley:
I just received my order from the last McCalls Pattern Company sale, which included both Paco Peralta patterns. This morning I found out that my husband’s company holiday party is the first Friday in December, so I think I’m going to make the long tuxedo jacket, and probably pair it with cigarette pants. That gives me a hobby!
In Other (family) News…
This past weekend was the last home game and Senior Day for the UMass Minuteman Marching Band. Oh yes, there was a football game, too. We got to see DS the Elder conduct “Appalachian Spring” for the last time in his college career. It was a proud Mama moment. Sniff!
And not to be outdone, it was Homecoming at University of Delaware, and DS the Younger and some of his tenor saxophone cohorts saw that their most famous alumnus was on the field so they went over to him and asked for a picture, to which he graciously said yes.
I’ll have more on the Paco Peralta tux over the next weeks. In the meantime,
Or is it desolée? Your Pressinatrix is so bereft, she cannot remember her proper French. Why, you may ask, is The Pressinatrix sad? Because my dear friends, Your Pressinatrix has lost the premier tool in her arsenal, her beloved Naomi the Naomoto.
Please pardon The Pressinatrix whilst she stifles a sob and dabs delicately at her eyes. The trouble started earlier this month when The Pressinatrix noticed that Naomi was leaking when powered off. Then two nights ago, when The Pressinatrix was perfectly pressing the seams on her new StyleArc blouse, Naomi stopped emitting steam. This was heartbreaking, and The Pressinatrix was thrown into paroxysms of grief and despair.
But the Pressinatrix is made of sturdy stuff, and following the 5 stages of grief, she ultimately picked herself up, dusted herself off, made sure her clothes were properly pressed and…
Stole the Reliable Steam Generator Iron from her lesser self’s alter ego’s office. She’s not using it there much anymore, anyway, since she sold her industrial sewing machines and stopped sewing at the office after hours. And The Pressinatrix’ needs outweigh any of those of her lesser self alter ego.
So now The Pressinatrix is able to resume her quest for perfectly pressed seams. On a positive note, The Pressinatrix remembered a trick learned on line (she believes it was from Kenneth King, the marvelous sewing teacher), and left the 5-liter water reservoir in place so she can easily refill the Reliable with filtered water.
Farewell, Naomi. You were a wonderful iron, and you helped bring joy to The Pressinatrix and her legions of followers. You shall be missed.
One of the things customers tell me they really like about Gorgeous Fabrics is our recommendations for patterns to pair with our fabrics. It’s one of the more fun aspects of my job, so today, I’ll talk about some of the newer patterns that have hit the market, and give you some suggestions for Gorgeous Fabrics that I think will work spectacularly well with them. Enjoy! -Ann
Dress for Success
It’s heading into cooler weather here in the US, while our friends in the southern hemisphere are starting to warm up. A great silhouette that works for almost all seasons is the classic wrap dress. And one of the favorites of our customers is the Appleton Dress from Cashmerette. This great take on the look is perfectly suited to any of our ITY or rayon jerseys. It’s even a brilliant choice for some of our stretchier rayon doubleknits. Those will give you options for cooler weather. The three perfect pairings I’ve picked for this dress include, from the top:
Any of these will give you everything from work-ready to holiday party options!
Button Up Your Overcoat…
One of the hottest looks in outerwear right now is the anorak jacket. Closet Case Files just released their Kelly Anorak, and it’s got all the details you want! While traditionally thought of as cold-weather or rain gear, this jacket is more versatile – just think a little outside the box! You can, of course, make it into a hard-working, long-wearing coat for cooler weather, but it also makes a surprisingly elegant turn for an evening or dressier look with different fabrics. Try a satin or taffeta version for a fun, designer-inspired look! Check out these two options for dressing down or dressing up:
I can’t live without my jeans. Even though I love dressing up, jeans are my go-to garment on many days. There are tons of great jeans patterns available to the home-sewing enthusiast, from classic 5-pocket versions to the more athleisurely take on the look: pull on stretch jeans. StyleArc has come out with a great pattern for this comfortable wardrobe staple, the Georgie Stretch Woven Jean. Make a “classic” take on it with:
Jacked Up Jackets
A great jacket or blazer is a cornerstone of any wardrobe, and as sewing enthusiasts, we can make all different styles! One that just came on the market is McCalls M7513 Peplum Jacket. I really love that this pattern gives you both sleek and “foofy” options for the peplum, so you have lots of variety by varying peplum and fabric. From a tailored version with wool, to a fun animal print for dinner or weekends, to a showstopper in brocade, this versatile jacket can take you just about anywhere! Try it with:
With the holidays just around the corner, let’s finish with a formal look. This one comes from my friend Paco Peralta, a couturier in Barcelona, by way of Vogue 1527. This three-piece outfit includes a lovely straight skirt, a blouse with a jabot style tie and (this is what I adore) a long tuxedo style jacket. On the pattern, they show it in black and white. But for holiday, I love it with a rich red and black print blouse. It’s beautiful, and it evokes Spain! I would make this (actually I will make this) with these three fabrics for the tux, blouse and trim for the collar. From the top:
I hope this gives you a little inspiration, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have putting it together for you.
Note: I have no affiliation with any of the pattern companies mentioned here, and I receive no financial compensation for mentioning their patterns or linking to them. In fact, they have no idea I wrote this post, so click away with a clear conscience!
We’re almost halfway through October, and it’s time for a PSA. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are a woman over age 40, PLEASE make sure you get an annual mammogram. I know, I know – there are conflicting opinions about whether it’s worth it because statistically the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer if they have no risk factors doesn’t justify it.
Well, you’re looking at one who WAS diagnosed, at age 48, with no risk factors. So remember those three books in increasing order of thickness: “Lies”, “Damned Lies” and “Statistics”. Please, get an annual mammogram.
A dear friend asked me to send her links to my blog posts during chemo, for a friend of hers who is going through it right now. I fervently hope that none of my readers ever have to endure it, but if you do, maybe my experiences can help some:
After all was said and done, hopefully forever, I donated all my wigs back to the hospital for folks who need them and can’t afford them. Actually, not all. I still have the pink wig and I keep it as a talisman. I can’t say it enough – please get an annual mammogram if you are a woman over 40. They save lives. I know.
This week, the sewing interwebs have exploded over a recently-released pattern. I won’t name names, but it’s easy enough to find. Said pattern is giving people fits (pardon the pun) over the fit of the bodice. I don’t own the pattern so I can’t comment on it, but the brouhaha did get me thinking (uh oh, she’s thinking again).
Let’s talk about fit. This can be a very long subject, with lots of subtopics, and I’m certainly not going to cover all of them here. But there’s one area that I’ve found is critical to the success of almost any garment: the shoulder. When I was actively singing, a voice teacher said to me in reference to how to hold the body, “Everything hangs from the shoulders.” Boy oh boy, that resonates for sewing enthusiasts, doesn’t it? You can play with ease and adjust things on other parts of the body to make your garment tighter or looser, but the shoulders are the area that need to fit properly for the rest of the garment to work.