Five Pattern Companies I Love

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.

Vogue Patterns
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.

StyleArc Patterns
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.

Marfy Patterns
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!

Jalie Patterns
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.

Happy sewing!

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!

Shameless Plug: Gorgeous Fabrics’ HUGE Summer Sale!

July 4 Sale Starts 6-22-16

I give Shameless Plugs for other people’s businesses, so why not for my own?

Starting right now (actually, starting yesterday), it’s our biggest sale of the summer!

10% off? Pffft. That’s peanuts.
15% off? Guffaw.
20% off?? Keep going…

Everything* is on sale at Gorgeous Fabrics for 25% to 60% off site-wide, so you can stock up and save big. This is our biggest sale of the summer, and you won’t see savings like this again anytime soon, so come on over and get your stash on!

Click Here to Start Shopping and Saving Big at Gorgeous Fabrics!

On top of the super sale savings, orders over $50 before shipping receive a free gift with purchase, and orders over $200 receive free shipping in the US!

Happy saving and sewing!

*The fine print – there are a few exceptions: muslin, gift certificates, swatches and notions. Other than that, you’re good. 

Tip: Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern

I’m taking part (albeit quite late to the party) in the McCalls Pattern Shirtdress Sew-Along. I’m making Kwik Sew 4155, from a lovely lightweight shirting from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). After pre-washing my fabric, I saw that it was puckery along the selvages. That’s not at all unusual with woven fabrics. Because of the finishing of the fabric at the edges (to keep it from unraveling), the tension on the selvage threads is higher, which can cause some puckering:

Puckered edges before clipping

Well, at a sit and sew with the wonderful couture teacher Susan Khalje, I learned a little trick to release that tension.

Simply make small cuts along the selvages. These cuts are about 1/4 inch deep in the case of this fabric, and spaced about every 2-3 inches. I did make a cut right at a pucker if it seemed pretty tight. I cut on a diagonal, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you cut perpendicular to the selvage. The picture below shows what it looks like after snipping, and I didn’t press it or otherwise flatten it out, so you can see what a difference it makes.

It only takes a few seconds to do, and it will make sure your fabric lays flat so you get an accurate cut close to the selvage.

Same section after clipping. Much better!

This is closely related to the tip I wrote a while back on Trimming Your Knit Selvages. Same principle, and it will make your life a lot easier.

Shameless Plug Time: Speaking of Susan Khalje, if you ever have the opportunity to take a class with her, do it! Susan is a delightful person, a wonderful teacher and, as a professor at FIT said, “She sews a mean stitch.” One of my bucket list items is to go on her Paris Tour. I can’t do it this year because of a very big (!) family commitment at the end of the year, but hopefully soon! Full disclosure: Susan is a dear friend of mine, but she is one of the BEST sewing teachers out there, bar none.

HTH and happy sewing!

Shameless Plug: website

Happy Tuesday! I hope you are recovered from the post-Halloween candy coma. We make witches’ brew for the grownups in the neighborhood so our house is really popular. Thank heavens for Daylight Savings Time ending on Sunday morning. I think everyone needed that extra hour.


Apropos of nothing, I just found a new website that I think will be of interest to my readers: It’s done by the Lekala folks, whose patterns are generating loads of buzz around the sewing community. I like the modern look and feel of the site, so I signed up. You have to join to see it, but it was easy and free, so I did. If you have a Lekala account the login is automatic. I have no affiliation, and they have not asked me to plug them, but like I say, I joined so I think it’s worth checking out. Send me a friend request if you join and I’ll probably accept! 🙂

Happy sewing!

What to Do with Scraps? Recycle Them!

I often get questions about what to do with scraps left over from sewing projects. And as the owner of a fabric store, I frequently am left with headers and other bolt ends that are too small to use or sell. This presents a conundrum, because I hate to put anything in the trash, and discarded clothing, shoes and textiles make mountains of waste in the US.

I used to Freecycle all my old headers, but I had some bad experiences with Freecyclers, so I stopped using it. Fortunately, around the same time, my local high school sent out a notice that Bay State Textiles was setting up a recycling bin for textile products at the school’s parking lot. They recycle clothing, shoes and linens, and after inquiring, I found out they will also take my headers. Plus, they pay the school district a set amount per pound for recyclable goods. So everyone wins – I get rid of scraps that aren’t useable, the fabrics get recycled, and the school gets money.

Bay State Textiles is a member of SMART, Secondary Materials and Reclaimed Textiles Association. If you click on the link, it will take you to their website. They have a Search Capability, where you can enter your state or country and it will give you a list of recyclers in your area.

I have no affiliation with Bay State Textiles or SMART, I just think they are a great idea. It’s a great way to cut down on post-consumer waste, it doesn’t cost you anything, and it benefits the school and the planet. All in all I’d say it’s a win!

Happy sewing!

ETA 5-13-15 Betty posted on our Facebook page a link to a Dallas, TX based recycler,
American Textile Recycling Service. Thanks Betty!

If you know of recyclers in your area who accept scraps, please leave a comment with the link and I’ll post them here. The more the better (for the planet)!

Shameless Plug – Susan Khalje’s Classes and Videos

Before I start with the subject at hand, let me apologize for not moderating the comments from last week. I don’t know what I did, but suddenly I stopped getting email notifications of comments waiting in the queue. They are all released now. I’ll try to get that fixed.

Image cribbed from Susan’s website

Now, where was I? Oh yes – shameless plug time! Susan Khalje is a dear friend and colleague of mine, but even if she wasn’t I would recommend her classes to anyone who wants to build their skills and take their sewing to a higher level.

Susan teaches classes all around the country, and she has several per year at her home in Maryland. I’ve taken her Sit and Sew classes, which she often teaches with Kenneth King, three times over the years, and I’ve also taken her couture sewing class. I learn so much from each class I take with her. There’s always something new for me to take away.

With Susan
I made this dress in Susan’s class

She also hosts classes taught by other couture sewing professionals. There’s a set of draping classes coming up, taught by Julien Cristofoli. One of these days I will take that class. Susan runs an annual guided tour to Paris, where participants get to visit couture houses and suppliers, take classes and soak in the atmosphere and knowledge in the City of Light. Sigh – that trip is on my bucket list.

But the reason I love her classes, and the reason I recommend her so highly is that she not only has mad skillz, but she also has the patience of a saint. Susan will take the time needed to explain something so everyone gets it. I have never seen her lose patience with any of her students, and she clearly cares deeply that each one of her students gets the most from her classes.

And hey – she also has video classes! So if you can’t make it to one of her in-person classes, you can take your time and learn at your own pace (in your bunny slippers if you want, always a plus). I’ve taken her Couture Dress video class and it was excellent. The first chapter alone was, for me, worth the price of admission.

So if you want to increase your skills under the tutelage of one of the best, I highly recommend Susan’s classes. NAYY, just a good friend and a great teacher.

Happy sewing!

Shameless Plug: BCN Designer Patterns (a.k.a. Paco Peralta)

Happy snowstorm, campers! We’re suffering through the weather reports about the purported blizzard. I say purported because the weather media in Boston (and even moreso on TWC) are all whipped into a hurricane force frenzy, while the snow hasn’t even accumulated an inch yet and there is no wind. But if you are in the northeast, please be safe, because even the folks at NOAA are expecting this to be pretty big.

On another note, I haven’t done a shameless plug in a dog’s age, and I just got the most wonderful news that my dear friend, Paco Peralta, has released a new pattern! And in fact, he is back with a vengeance, and those of us who know him are so glad he is!

My muy guapo amigo!

Paco is a hugely talented couturier in Barcelona. He had a thriving young pattern business, but he had to put it on hold for health issues, which totally sucks (voice of experience), but he is back!

I’ve made several of Paco’s Pattern’s, and I own several that I still need to make or in one case, (the chaqueta) finish. They are all beautifully drafted and they go together like a dream! I made his Drape-Front Top, and I just love it, so I was thrilled to see that he released a version with sleeves! I ordered it tonight, and I can’t wait to make it up. I love a cowl neck top, and I have his sleeveless version, which I have made a couple of times, but this being Boston in January, a sleeved version is perfect!

One of the great things about Paco’s patterns is that each one is hand-drafted and hand-drawn by the man himself. So you are getting a couturier’s work, with all his training and expertise behind it. You can’t go wrong with his patterns. They are beautifully drafted, and they make garments that you will want to keep for years. The Barcelonian influence (hello, Christobel Balenciaga!) is clear in them, and what can I say? I highly recommend anything he does!

I’ll add a disclaimer – Paco is a dear friend, but hell, this is a Shameless Plug so I have no compunction about doing a shout out about him. Also, I receive no recompense neithah for plugging his patterns. I just love them so. So here, go check out his Etsy Store!

Paco Peralta Patterns on Etsy

Happy sewing!


Can You Recommend a Good Dry Cleaner for my Gorgeous Fabrics?

That’s a question I get fairly frequently. I’m in the Boston area, so I know some good ones nearby, but for those not near Beantown, not so much. But here’s a hopefully helpful hint. There’s an association called America’s Best Cleaners that certifies dry cleaners for quality. The cleaner to whom I take all my really good garments is a member, and I can’t say enough good things about them – Holly Cleaners in Newton, MA. They are a half-hour drive in no traffic, and the fact that I’m willing to do that is a testament to their quality and service. The members are all over the country, so if you need a dry cleaner for your couture-quality garments, check this website out:

America’s Best Cleaners

I have no affiliation with any of the cleaners or the association, I’ve just had very good experience as a customer of Holly.

HTH and Happy sewing!

Some Indie Pattern Companies Worth A Look

Darlings, I’m feeling a bit, shall we say, saddened. After months of joking with him about how I’ve been ready to kick my little fledgeling out of the nest, it actually happened today. We moved DS the Elder into his dormitory.

DS the Elder and His Roomie
DS the Elder and His Roomie

He’s actually been at college since last Saturday, when we brought him to Band Camp.

First, he's pushing his sunglasses up on his nose, not doing anything gross. Second, how about that farmer's tan, huh?? That's my boy!
First, he’s pushing his sunglasses up on his nose, not doing anything gross. Second, how about that farmer’s tan, huh?? That’s my boy!

But that was different. I knew then that I would be back today to move him into his permanent housing (brand new digs at the Honors College). Leaving today, well that was kvell-inducing. I’m proud of him, and I’m thrilled to see him heading off on the next new adventure of his life. But still, sniff!

The cynical side of me has declared that whenever I start getting misty about mah baby being all growed up and going off to college, I’ll pull out one of these to bring me back to reality:

Lest We Forget What It's Really All About
Lest We Forget What It’s Really All About

Okay! So speaking of Back To Reality, I haven’t had time this week to sew, but I did stumble on some new pattern companies. And I wanted to bring them to your attention. Have you noticed that pattern companies seem to be sprouting like mushrooms recently? I’m loving that! As you know, over at Gorgeous Fabrics, I give recommendations for patterns that might work with our fabrics. When I first started the company 6 (almost 7!) years ago, there were the “Big 4” (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and Vogue), along with Burda, New Look and a number of independent pattern companies: Jalie, The Sewing Workshop, LK Designs, Loes Hinse, La Fred, Cutting Line Designs.

Recently, however, there has been an explosion of independents! They are breeding like bunnies, it seems. That’s not a bad thing, BTW. There’s Colette, of course. Then there is Sewaholic, which has some great styles. In Europe, there is Maria Denmark/Onion Patterns. Then of course, there is my friend, the amazing couturier (with the patterns that are To Die For), Paco Peralta.

In the last couple of years, StyleArc has become one of my go-to sources. Chloe and the girls come up with amazing designs every month. And their fit is impeccable.

Some that I haven’t tried, but like, include Cake, Victory Patterns, Disparate Disciplines (love that name!).

There are so many more patterns that are coming on line, it gets exhausting at times. But what an exhilarating exhaustion it is! Several years back, it seemed we were all singing the requiem for sewing and sewing patterns. Nowadays, it’s a veritable renaissance. Of course, it makes it more work to keep up, but I love the work and I’m not complaining.

So, what other new and interesting pattern companies are you finding out there?

Happy sewing!

It’s Like When the Drywall is In, but Before the Skim Coat Goes On…

That’s where the Chanel jacket stands. Major parts are done, but lots and lots of small things to go.

It’s been a while. I had to go out of town on business, followed by a big family affair last week. That means this week was spent catching up back at the office. Adding to that, DS the younger had a sore throat followed by pink eye, so we spent much of yesterday at the doctor’s office and the pharmacy. And we had a band concert thrown in for good measure. On the plus side, DS the younger, who plays bari sax, was featured prominently in all three bands.

Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of time to work on the jacket. Phyllis came up today and we had a sewing afternoon. She worked on a costume for her daughter. It’s going to be amazing. Phyllis has an eye for matching multiple diverse patterns and trimmings that is second only to Georgene. She’ll share more when it’s ready. It’s going to be good.

So here’s where the jacket stands. All the major seams are sewn. I’ve tacked down the seam allowances on everything except the right sleeve. I’ll do that tomorrow. The seam allowances of the lining are pinned down and ready to be stitched. Now comes all the detail work that will take some time. I’m hoping to have much of it done by this time next week. We’ll see! Here are some pictures of the work in progress:



Sleeves, Inside and Out

As you can see from the sleeve on the left, it’s really important to tack the seam allowances. Left to its own devices, this fabric ravels like crazy.

Have you checked out Susan Khalje’s Craftsy Class?
Shameless plug time. I signed up for Susan Khalje’s class on Craftsy, “The Couture Dress”. Can I tell you? Fabulous! I am only a couple of lessons in, but it’s great. And I love that you pay one price for the class. They don’t nickel and dime you to death with buy-the-video, buy-the-pattern. Just pay the one price and get going. I’ll do a full review once I finish it, but so far, it’s great!

And as a follow-on to my post about books for those of us who have been sewing a while, I got an email from a sewing deity recently, and I think our prayers will be answered in the not-too-distant future. Please keep your comments coming, because they are being looked at by publishers. And I really, really appreciate the kind words from folks who think I should write a book, but I’m not ready at this point. I’m really good at a lot of things, but I know my limitations, and I know my time constraints. Maybe some day, but not right now.

That’s all for tonight. DH has the new “Sherlock” on Netflix. Time to snuggle with him and have a glass of champagne. Just because.
Happy sewing!