Title: The Maker’s Atelier – The Essential Collection
Author: Frances Tobin
Choosing and using fabrics
Measuring, making a toile and fitting a garment
Pattern One – the stretch pencil skirt
Pattern Two – the drape front top
Pattern Three – the cigarette pants
Pattern Four – the tie neck blouse
Pattern Five – the book bag
Pattern Six – the raw edge coat
Pattern Seven – the wrap skirt
Pattern Eight – the oversized t-shirt
Paperback or Hardbound? They say paperback, I say hybrid.
Retail Price: $35 list, $26.25 from Amazon
Does the book have clear illustrations or photographs? Yes. More on that later.
What do you like about this book?
I like that the bookbinding allows you to open the book all the way without having to split the spine. The photography is lovely and the writing style is engaging. The author clearly loves the styles she presents. While they are simple, they will make up a capsule that will either form the basis of or add to your existing wardrobe.
Each pattern chapter includes a page called “Developing the [pattern name]” which gives insight into the history of the garment type, along with the author’s thoughts about how she envisions the fit. It’s a nice primer to give sewists guidance on mixing and matching.
Each pattern chapter also includes pictures of the garment being worn by different women, so you can see it on different figure types. It has suggestions on how to wear each garment to make the most of it. The photography is beautiful, and the photos are inspiring.
What could the book do better? Well, the styles are pretty basic. It’s a reflection of the author’s aesthetic, and they are good basics. Also, the section on fabrics is… basic. If you have already read a book on fabric (like Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide) you’ll know what I mean. Also, to me, the bag pattern seems like a throwaway
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this book in the “must have” category? Probably a 6-7. It’s good, but it’s not a must have. The photography is lovely and can be inspiring. The patterns are basic.
TBH, I have not yet made the patterns. I have fabric to make some, so I’ll review those separately when I make them. In the meantime, it’s a good book, but it’s an add-on to a library.
I ran the random.org random number generator which gave me
That means the winner is,
Tanya! Congratulations to Tanya, enjoy your $100 store credit at Gorgeous Fabrics. And thank you all for playing, and thank you again for your support!
I’ve been putting up dozens of new fabrics, and more are on the way, so check the NEW section often. Thanks for the last 10 years. Here’s the future!
Exactly 5 years ago, I made this top. I wore it tons in the summer of 2012, until I spilled something on it that wouldn’t come out, so I recycled it. The pattern sat in my pattern stash until today, when, as a diversion from trying to decide what to make with some Milly Silk I have (see my Instagram if you want more about that). I wanted something quick and easy, so I pulled it out.
Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website, “Particularly attractive neckline slightly fitted top”
My addition to that: Semi-fitted tank top with deep v-neck.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes.
How were the instructions? Didn’t need them, didn’t use them. This pattern is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Construction Notes: Because I was using a remnant of silk jersey, I didn’t have quite enough to lay out the pattern pieces (both of them) in the same direction. And because silk jersey will tend to run in high stress areas, I ran a 4-thread serger stitch along the bottom raw edge. Because of the style, it’s not going to see a lot of stress, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.
I serged the seams, and instead of just turning and stitching the neckline and armholes, I cut 1-inch wide facings on the bias (to make sure nothing would run). I serged them to the neckline and armhole edges, then I turned them under and stitched them
I used a 2.5mm x .5mm zigzag stitch to finish the hems.
Likes/Dislikes: Easy to make, easy to wear. Nothing to dislike.
One thing to note is the neckline can be pretty low, depending on your build. You might want to raise it a little bit (maybe an inch).
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely! This is a great wardrobe building pattern. Make a bunch of these in different fabrics for basics you can wear by themselves or under a jacket.
Conclusion: Great pattern! Here are pictures on Shelley:
And check it out – a sucky selfie on me!
It’s been in the high 60s for the past few days, so I wanted something springy. I guess I made this top just in time for the temperature to drop closer to normal. Oh well – spring is coming!
Happy Anniversary to us!!! 10 years ago I started this wonderful business. 10 years – I can’t believe it, but it’s true! To celebrate, we are doing a couple of things. First, take 10% off your purchase* with the coupon code ANNIVERSARY10. Second, all US orders get $10 shipping, regardless of how big an order you place! Our international friends will receive a $10 gift store credit when we process your order to use on a future purchase.
Win $100 to Gorgeous Fabrics!
But here’s the big one – One lucky person will win a $100 gift certificate to Gorgeous Fabrics! It’s really easy. No purchase required (though there are benefits if you do make a purchase, see below). Just leave a comment on this post. One entry comment per person. It doesn’t have to be anything flowery. Professing your love for Gorgeous Fabrics won’t hurt, but it isn’t necessary. “Please enter me” or “Happy anniversary” will do just fine.
Please note that comments on this blog are moderated, so if your entry/comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry. I’ll put it up as soon as I’m able.
Now, if you do make a purchase from us during our 10th Anniversary Celebration (which started on Monday, Feb 20), then for every $50 of cut fabrics you purchase (before shipping, excluding muslin), we’ll enter your name in the drawing once. So if you leave a comment here, and purchase $100 of fabric, you’ll get 3 entries in the contest. Woo hoo!
The winner will be chosen on March 1st. We’ll notify the winner by email and announce it here on the blog as well. Good luck and thank you for 10 wonderful years!
*Da rules: Contest and sale run through February 28, 2017. No purchase is required to enter. Limit one entry on the blog per person. Gift certificate applies to products, not to shipping costs. Winner will be drawn the afternoon of March 1, 2017. 10% off coupon excludes clearance items, gift certificates, swatches, muslin and notions. Coupon savings may not be combined with any other discounts. Coupon and flat-rate shipping offer cannot be applied to prior orders.
Long one coming up! I love this type of blouse, and I have since I was young. When I saw Paco had included it as part of his Vogue Pattern V1527 I knew I would have to make it. Then this silk came across my desk and the rest is history…
Pattern Description: (From Vogue’s website) Loose-fitting blouse has collar extending into tie, back yoke extending into forward shoulder seams and French cuffs.
Sizing: 4-18, I made a 12
Available as a PDF? No
Note: Theresa pointed out that the pattern requires 3.5 yards and that seems like a lot. I pulled 3.5 yards per the instructions and I have a solid yard left over. I think the yardage requirements are wrong. Do yourself a favor, especially if you have an expensive fabric, and measure the pattern. Realistically, on a size 12 body, 2.5 yards of 45 inch fabric should do a blouse unless you have a very large print that you are trying to match.
Even better, both these fabrics are still available! That almost never happens. I usually don’t get the chance to sew something until the fabric is long since sold out, so it’s a treat to show you a fabric that’s on the site. Did I mention we have our 10th anniversary sale going on right now? Get 10% off, plus US shipping is flat $10, regardless of how much you order! International peeps get a $10 gift certificate upon ordering, good for a future purchase.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030, Juki MO654DE serger, Reliable iron and board, sleeve board, ham/stand, shoulder stand, pressing finger, bamboo chopstick, point presser.
Needle/Notions Used: Universal 60/8 needle in the sewing machine, Universal 70/10 needles in the serger. Vilene Shirt interfacing (a gift from Paco Peralta last year), pearl buttons, self-covered buttons, basting thread, thread, hand needles.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes.
How were the instructions? They were fine. This is not a terribly difficult pattern. The fabric choice can make it tricky to work with, but it’s a good pattern for anyone who’s been sewing for a while. If you’re intermediate level you should have no trouble with this.
Construction Notes: I made a muslin to check the fit. It went together pretty readily, but I noticed that the bust point on the pattern was really high:
The pattern bust point marking is 8 inches from the shoulder line. I checked it against the printed pattern to make sure I didn’t make a transfer error. Nope. 8 inches. I don’t know anyone over about age 10 who has a bust apex 8 inches below the shoulder line.
I tried the muslin on to see if it mattered, and there was a slight drag line between the bust point and the armscye, so yes, it does make a difference, especially if you are large busted. I made a small FBA, mostly to drop the bust point down to where it should be. Drag line gone. I also shortened the sleeves about 5/8 inch, which is not unusual for me with Vogue patterns.
Vogue recommends lightweight fabrics like crepe de chine or charmeuse for this pattern. Because my silk crepe was heavier than recommended, I made some modification to the construction. They have you use French seams for the sleeve and side seams. I did a mockup to see what I thought of it with my 3-ply crepe.
With this fabric, that would put 8 layers of fabric into the seam at two points – where the yoke joins to the front and back. That’s a lot of bulk, so I decided instead to use standard 5/8 inch seam allowances and finish the raw edges with a 4-thread overlock.
This is a judgement call. If I had used a georgette or charmeuse, the French seam would be great, and would give an elegant finish. But my fabric was heavy enough that I think it would have been a bit of a disaster. I heartily recommend doing mockups with scraps when you are dealing with situations like this.
The pattern recommends using fusible interfacing. I decided instead to use sew-in interfacing. The Vilene that I used is nice and crisp, but I wanted to avoid bulk in the seams, so I cut both the Vilene and I also cut silk organza. I stitched the Vilene to the organza just outside the seamlines. I trimmed the Vilene close to the stitching, leaving just the organza seam allowances. Voila, less bulk!
I used purchased pearl buttons for the front closure
I made self-covered button cufflinks. I fused a scrap of lightweight interfacing to the silk to give it a bit more support and to make it easier to cover the buttons.
Likes/Dislikes: I love this pattern! It was a pleasure to sew, and the fabric was a joy to work with. The pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without a hitch. Do test runs of your seams to see how the French seam works with your fabric.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes I would, and yes I do! This is another winner from Vogue and Paco.
Conclusion: A beautiful classic, something that I will wear for years to come. At some point I’ll get a shot on me, but here it is on Shelley:
Snow Day! I seem to get either my baking or my sewing mojo going during snowstorms. Today we have had at least 6 inches of snow -they’ve been forecasting a foot- and my sewing mojo made an appearance like a long lost cousin of Punxatauney Phil. Yay! I rummaged through my (long neglected) pattern collection and found this gem. I previously made the maxi dress, but I wanted something I can layer over tee shirts and tanks as the weather gets warmer. A girl can dream, can’t she? This fit the bill perfectly!
Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website, “Close-fitting, unlined jacket in 2 lengths has front extending into single-layer tie ends (wrong side shows). A: Three-quarter length sleeves. B: Long sleeves. Very close-fitting, pullover dresses are sleeveless. E, F: Racerback straps, front seam detail, bias upper/middle fronts, and lower front/back (cut on crosswise grain of fabric. All have narrow hems. F: Star detail.”
I made view A, the shorter bolero with ¾ length sleeves.
Sizing: 6-22. I made the 12.
Available as a PDF? I thought it was when I made it before, but now it appears not.
Fabric Used: Silk jersey in Soft Mauve from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s long since sold out, sorry, but there are a few Here
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? I did look at the instructions after I finished and they seem fine. I didn’t need them during construction, since this is pretty straightforward.
Construction Notes: I made a FBA. I also applied scraps of woven interfacing to the shoulder seams to stabilize them. I serged the seams. I Flat Set the Sleeves.
I made narrow hems all around the edges.
All in all, this took an afternoon to make, and that was with long breaks for checking in on orders and emails. I’d estimate this took me about 3 hours from first cutting out to final stitch.
Likes/Dislikes: Love it! This will make a great piece for transitioning from winter to spring. It’s also will be pretty tossed over a tank or dress for cool summer evenings.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! This one will definitely go into rotation. Great pattern. I made this one from silk jersey, but I’ll make a more “workaday” version with ITY.
Here are pictures on Shelley:
Conclusion: A great pattern, this will get lots of wear. It’s easy enough for beginners, but also a great wardrobe component.
Man, the winter doldrums have hit hard! Since I got back I have made a total of two things. I copied a Calvin Klein dress for my friend Renee. That dress is one of her favorites, and she asked if I could make her one from (sold out, sorry) Big Bold Chevrons ITY Jersey. It’s a perfect colorway for her, and she loved the bright and graphic print.
I simply traced her dress to create the pattern. The design couldn’t be simpler – it’s a close fitting tank top maxi dress with a flared hemline – more flared than any of the patterns I have without being overwhelming. It’s kind of nice because it gives a lot of freedom of movement to the legs. The pattern is two pieces, and I bound the neckline and armholes with Beyond Basic Black ITY Jersey. The order of construction was:
Stabilize the shoulders with scraps of fusible interfacing.
Stitch the shoulder seams.
Stitch the side seams.
Apply binding to neckline and armholes.
Ta daa! A dress that took less than 3 hours from starting to trace the pattern to finished garment. I shipped it off to her last week so hopefully she’ll have it soon.
I had enough fabric left over that I decided to make myself a top. This time I did another StyleArc Cold Shoulder Top. Everything is the same as the Last Time I Made This Pattern. I did make sure to carefully place the pattern on the chevrons, to avoid any arrows pointing to the wrong place. Here’s a front/back shot on Shelley
I haven’t decided what I want to work on next. I need some more knit tops, but I’ll make those from my go-to long sleeve tee, the Ann Tee Top from StyleArc. That’s not really worth a blog post. I also am inspired by Tany’s version of Paco Peralta’s Vogue 1527 Blouse, so I may start making a muslin of that.
So that’s what’s new here. What have you all been sewing?
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