The question we most often get regarding our Kate Bias Top and the Christy Slip Dress patterns, is how to create those barely-there spaghetti straps. We have good news! They are easy to make and we will be showing you how in this post.Read More
Sewing Tidbits is the sewing blog written since 2013 by Delphine, the co-founder of Just Patterns.
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Dear readers, I'm slowly climbing out of the overwhelmed single working mom hole although I have to acknowledge that I may fall right back into it at any time. Life has a thing for intently proving me wrong every time I start feeling like things are under control. But before that happens, I'm trying to get as much sewing and photographing done!The skirt I am showing you today has been on my mind since November, I had just finished a grey wool and cashmere version of our Just Patterns Stephanie Skirt because I thought it would come in handy for the New York winter and then learned I would be relocating to Haiti within weeks. So in the midst of selling all my belongings, packing my things and my baby, I, of course, started thinking about new wardrobe options! I went on a last shopping spree at Mood, before leaving because fabric shopping in Port-au-Prince is limited. I wanted to find a cotton lace or Guipure that would enable an scalloped hem and some transparency, and I had an immediate crush on this particular fabric!
Pattern - Just Patterns Stephanie Skirt
Size - 34
I didn't do any change to the pattern, except lengthening it by 3 inches for the lace layer and shortening the poplin underlining so that it's a total 12" long. I really wanted for the sheerness of the lace to show, so I kept the underlining as wanted the underlining to be as short as possible. One thing I would do differently in working with this kind of fabric would be to add wider seam allowances than just 1/2" as it can get tricky for the "holes" part of the lace.
Lace and cotton poplin are both from Mood Fabrics in NYC
The invisible zipper and hooks and eyes are from the stash.The poplin is serged all around the edges of the lace. Although I am usually not a fan of overlocked edges, for this particular fabric it provides some needed stability the the seam allowances. Treating the poplin as an underlining rather than a lining also has the benefit of hiding the pocket bags. To create the scalloped hem, I carefully cut around the flower shapes, trying to respect the flare. Unlike some pleated skirt patterns or tutorials you sometimes find, the hem is curved because the pleats were added to a flared skirt and not to a rectangle.
Although I have been a member of Pattern Review for the last 13 years (!!), I don't enter many contests except this one. I also have the feeling that sewing contests are not as popular as they once were. I could be only an impression though and it would be very interesting if PatternReview looked at the number of contestants over the years. What do you think? Do you participate in contests? Do you think they are still relevant?
After a period of involuntary hiatus and regrouping we are gearing up to our next pattern releases! It's been great to interact with our customers on Instagram and by email the mean time. We also received great feedback from our development group and other members of the sewing community so you can expect to see some changes around here in the coming months.But before we go more into all of that, we thought we would share some of the visuals that drive our aesthetics these days and the direction we are taking!
We hope that some of those inspire your sewing as much as does for us! If you want more Ready-to-Wear inspiration for each our patterns, you can follow us on Pinterest where we keep a board for each of them!
Inspiration & Styling
The Yasmeen skirt was born from our desire to have a statement skirt that introduces a hint of the the over the top feel of the 90's runway shows into your every day wardrobe. Its design lines celebrates women's curves, in a way we hope is reminiscent of the King of Cling, late Azzedine Alaïa.
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While the skirt has definitely a special occasion feel to it, your choice of fabric and styling can transform it completely. For a very dressed up version of Yasmeen, choose a fabric with a sheen to it. The drape will dramatically affect bottom of the skirt looks. In a taffeta the flared bottom will tend to stay out and give a very formal look, while in a more fluid fabric such as silk, the volume will only appear with movement.[gallery ids="946,947" type="columns"]
There are also plenty of ways to make your skirt more casual. In the winter you can try a wool version, to be worn with a chunky sweater, or a leather jacket. In warmer weather, a linen Yasmeen worn will flat sandals will take you easily from the beach to a nice dinner out with a chic resort look.
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Finally, you also have the option of playing with the length. You could experiment with an ankle grazing skirt in an airy fabric for fluttered hem effect. The modern proportion will look very chic whether you pair it with heels or with sneakers for a cool yet polished feel!
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Do you want more inspiration? We collect images in a dedicated Pinterest board for you to look at (and for ourselves!!). Don't forget that you can also check Instagram for #yasmeenskirt since our testers have already started to post their amazing work!!
Are you ready to get started on your very own Yasmeen? Don't forget to share it with us!
I have tendency of making radical statements, about the smallest things, even when I'm not that convinced myself. It's a French thing and it's embarrassing. As a result, I often end up in the awkwardly looking at my shoes because I just did what I said I would never ever do. A few weeks ago I heard myself proclaiming that I was officially sick of seeing exposed metal zippers. And here we are with this pencil skirt, which most interesting feature is an exposed gold metal double zipper…
I had initially no plan to participate in this year Sewing Bee contest organized by Pattern Review, but when the pencil skirt theme was announced, I knew I had to. I wear a lot of pencil skirts, I have my own pattern and I can make one relatively quickly. But the twist is that the skirt has to be inspired by music or a musician... I've more of an analytical mind than a creative one. So asking me to think of skirt when I listen to song or look at a bridge leaves me completely blank.
I decided to look at celebrities wearing pencil skirts, and Victoria Beckham is a big proponent of them. I know it's a stretch to call her a musician, since she publicly acknowledged that she actually never sang while part of the Spice Girls. But I was a HUGE Spice Girls fan in my early teens (walls covered in posters type of fan!) so it's actually a pretty good match for me. I also very much like the way she handles her fashion labels. Pencil skirts are a basic piece of Victoria Beckham's main label and she has at least one per season. Since I live a few blocks away from Saks Fifth Avenue, I decided to have a quick look at her skirts. Just like Roland Mouret, she uses a type of thick knit material, something between scuba and Herve Leger Bandage dresses, and leaves the garments unlined. I'm not a fan of the knits, and that exact material is quite hard to come by, so I decided to do a classic lined wool skirt with that distinctive metal double zipper at the center back.
Pattern Link – My own free pencil skirt pattern
Size – 00
I removed the waistband and did a faced high waist instead. I extended the waist line straight up by 1"1/4, including the darts, and I drafted a facing.I used my lining pieces (unfortunately I haven't been able to make it available as part of the download yet) and remove the CB seam allowance on both the self and the lining to allow for the exposed zipper. In effect, that eliminates the back vent too.
Fabric – Wool suiting from Mood Fabric, I believe it was The Row, lining is a lightweight silk twill from my stash.
Notions – Custom made double zip from Botani in the NY Garment District.
The wool, the silk I used for lining and the interfacing were all from my stash so it was basically a "free" project. Until I decided to splurge big time on the zipper. I know you can get a double zip shortened at Pacific Trimming in NYC, but the day I went their technician was not there. I couldn't come back any other day and I was on a deadline for the PR challenge, so I went to Botani instead. Their service is great, you can customize any element of a zipper, the tape, the metal color, the size of the teeth, the pull, separating, etc. 20 minutes (and 20 dollars) later you have your perfectly matched zipper!I've made quite a few pencil skirts by now so the construction was very straightforward. I bagged the lining, enclosed the zip between the self layer and the lining and left an opening in one of the lining side seams to turn the skirt over. It's quick and it looks very clean.
The hardest element of this project was managing to take pictures of it before the deadline of the contest. I only managed to get a few decent ones and a little person decided that she needed to be part of the photoshoot. I really like my final skirt, and I'm super happy that it was part of the pieces I had on my #2017MakeNine plan! I hope to do a post soon on how I'm doing with that plan, let's see if I carve out the time.
What about you? Are you following up on your sewing resolutions for 2017?
First, let me thank you for your reactions on my last post. I received lovely messages in the comments, on Instagram and by email. In addition to people volunteering to become part of the Just Patterns Development Group, I had some great discussions about sewing, patterns and fashion!With over 70 volunteers for the development group, it has been very difficult to restrict the selection to 20 but we managed and now everybody is hard at work and already providing great feedback!
To offer an alternative to those who want to ask questions while they sew our patterns or post their finished makes we also created a Facebook Community Group. I'm not much of a Facebook person myself but I'm surprised already at the fluidity of conversation it enables...
But let's talk about today's dress! This is my first version of our latest pattern release, the Linda Wrap Dress. I have been obsessed with this dress since Eira drafted it and It's for garments like this that I originally wanted to launch Just Patterns. I am thrilled that it has finally joined of my closet!
I could go on and on about this design because I love everything about it! I think it has great details, such as the collar, the metal buckle and the big pockets. It also has a kind of uniform vibe that makes me feel extra confident on days I have to attend important meetings. A little like a man suit, but more interesting that its traditional female counter part, the sheath dress.In case you are wondering, the only closure is at the waist. I recommend wearing a slip underneath unless you like to live dangerously! The skirt overlap does generally a good job at revealing only an attractive yet appropriate amount of leg. But I've been caught in some crazy NYC winds and luckily I was prepared!
Pattern - Linda Wrap Dress
Size - 34
The biggest disclaimer of this post is that I did not sew the pattern as is. I used size 34, I removed 1" to the skirt length and 2" to the sleeves length. I could have sized up for the skirt to have some extra ease in the hips area. For future samples, I will also skip shortening the skirt and remove only 1" of the sleeve length. When we reviewed the fit and measurements of the final garment, we decided that it would be too small on most people. We moved all of our grading up one size as a result. But in case you are not into the relaxed look, sizing down is a great option.
Fabric - Wool from Mood Fabric, I believe it was Rag&Bone
Notions - The 35mm buckle, eyelets and snaps (inside the belt) are from Botani in the NY Garment District.
Of course I am biased, but I find the construction of this dress very straightforward. I love that using french seams and sandwiching the bodice and the skirt between the 2 layers of the belt provides clean finish on the inside, no serging or binding required!You may have seen on Instagram that I bought a Dual Compensating Raising Foot for my industrial machine and it really made the double topstitching easier. Since buying it I keep looking for excuses to double topstitch ALL THE THINGS!
The belt buckle is probably the only unusual part of the construction but I posted some pictures of the process and if you take your time it shouldn't be hard to figure out.
I used our bias slip dress pattern to create a lingerie style slip. I needed a V neck to match the wrap dress plunging neckline, so I used the neckline of our bias top pattern. And since I was going to cut some silk I decided that I may as well make a lingerie tank too!
Fabric - Nude Silk Charmeuse from Mood Fabric
Notions - Gold lingerie strap hardware from Botani.
I used a single layer of fabric instead of 2, finished the edges with bias binding and made adjustable lingerie straps instead of spaghetti ones. I wouldn't say that it is a very quick sew because of the time it takes to cut properly but the construction is relatively fast. I always find my slip/tank projects very rewarding. The garments feel luxurious and get worn a lot (including just to sleep!!) and the time involved is reasonable.
I really love those 3 additions to my handmade wardrobe and I can predict that the wrap dress is going to remain a favorite for the years to come.
After all, isn't creating pieces that will last longer than some cheap fast-fashion option what we try to achieve as sewers? Which of your handmade garment(s) has endured the test of time? I would love to hear your thoughts on creating a wardrobe that lasts!
Dear readers,Welcome back for a new edition of Tidbits, where I gather links of what I enjoyed reading, watching and listening lately. This week is all about inner conflict and my naturally french contradictory spirit. You can blame it on my on-going binge of In Treatment. That show is seriously addictive! I decided to add excerpts of the articles I am referring to in case you don't have time to read through. Let me know if you think it's the right or wrong approach!
Pillowcase Pattern Co
The patterns will be available soon from Etsy for just $24, and include detailed instructions with full color photographs, beautiful packaging, and all the information you need to get started. There will also be a big blog tour so get ready!
This April fool's joke was hilarious. I do see the irony of me saying that, since I just started selling sewing patterns on Etsy. I decided to jump on the bandwagon, when I realized that there were 2 ways of not selling 24$-beginner-friendly-hipster-sewing-patterns. One is not to sell sewing patterns at all, which is what I had been doing until then. The other other is to sell cheaper patterns that would build on sewer's experience and encourage self-confidence rather than hand-holding. So far, we had a little over 30 sales with our marketing efforts are very minimal and inconsistent so I feel it goes in the direction that there is appetite for a different offer...
Sewing Polar Bear
I admire makers that are able to create visually pleasing Instagram accounts. I certainly don't have the discipline to do it myself (hum hum... all the baby pictures) but I wish I did! See what I mean with this lovely lady, Sewing Polar Bear. At the same time, I look at my feed and I like that it reflects my real life, or at least a filtered version of it...
The White Wall Controversy: How the All-White Aesthetic Has Affected Design
So what does that mean for white rooms and the all-white trend? I think this look is one of the many styles in this particular zeitgeist that will be beloved and revered by some for years to come, but changed and moved past relatively soon for many.
Grace Bonney, Design Sponge
My walls are all whites and my style revolves around classic and simple silhouettes. Still, at times, I am embarrassed about how much it fits current trends. Is it what I really enjoy, or am I a product of too much Pinterest? How do we keep challenging myself visually? Obviously home and fashion trends follow similar cycles. Are we on the verge of going back to a more maximalist approach to design?
Minimalism is Boring
Can I have both — the noise and the quiet; the jeans and the neons? Here are three outfits born out of the totems of a minimalist wardrobe.
Leandra Medine, Man Repeller
Gretchen Jones touched upon a similar issue in Episode 7 of Seamwork Radio when she said that she wasn't really interested in the current fashion scene. I like Leandra's differentiation of a maximalist style vs consumption. Hopefully, you can achieve an over the top look without over sized closet size.
Minimalism: another boring product wealthy people can buy
We cannot pretend that performative reduction in consumption, or choosing to only consume in certain ways, is not one of the most gratuitous displays of privilege out there, and to frame it as in any way a moral choice is more than a little offensive.
Chelsea Fagan, The Guardian
I'm a Konmari convert, but I couldn't help agreeing with a lot of what was said in the article. This type of writing is essential for me. Although I can never be free from trends or my preconceptions, recognizing that they exist is the first step in minimizing their impact on my behaviors.
The Myth of the Ethical Shopper
We are not going to shop ourselves into a better world. Advocating for boring stuff like complaint mechanisms and formalized labor contracts is nowhere near as satisfying as buying a pair of Fair Trade sandals or whatever. But that’s how the hard work of development actually gets done: Not by imploring people to buy better, but by giving them no other option.
Michael Hobbes, Huffington Post
I cannot agree more with what is said here. Buying fair trade is not bad per se, but it shouldn't stop us from looking at the (very) big picture. Changes have to happen at all levels!
We’ve Forgotten How to Dress Like Adults
Each decade of age seemed to offer its own licenses.“By the age of thirty, most women were married, held jobs, or both,” writes Przybyszewski. “And they were presumed able to handle the eroticism embodied in the draped designs that made for the most sophisticated styles.” Draping gathers excess fabric into unique waves that draw attention to the wearer’s womanly curves and the tug of gravity.
Rebecca Huval, Racked
"Adult" dressing used to be valued and enviable. Back in December, I visited a great aunt in her 80's with a great sense of style. She was telling about meeting her late husband when she was in her early 20's and he was in his 40's. She said "You have to understand, it sounds like a big difference but back then at 23 we were women. We wore gloves, suits and a hat. Not jeans or t-shirt". I was of course in my rattier jeans with the little human on my lap...
That's it for today. I would love to hear your thoughts and what you have you read lately that challenged you!
Dear readers,At this stage, you may rightfully ask yourself what is going on, well I could tell you that I will explain at the end of this post, but I won't. I'll say it right now. I'm moving back to NYC!!! Starting 1st of January, I will change jobs and will relocate in Manhattan. On the one hand, it's a great news. On the other hand, it means that I'm swamped at work trying to close as many processes as possible, plus organizing my move, searching for an apartment etc. Don't expect too much sewing or blogging to happen before I'm settled...However, since I have a significant blogging backlog and I'm never post very often anyway, you may not even notice the difference! Enough about the logistics, let's talk about sewing! For the 4th post of the serie (see part 1, part 2 and part 3), I gathered some inspiration pictures for simple tunic dresses (all found on Pinterest, as usual) :https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17029304818030395/https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17029304818116501/If you want to know more about using block patterns, you can read this post of the Fashion-Incubator. Basically, it's about iterative designs based on an initial pattern that fits well. In the home-sewing world, it's what we call TNT (Tried and True) patterns. The benefit is that you reduce alterations and depending on cases, can skip the toile stage. I really liked the upper body fit of my chambray dress so I started working on this version almost right afterwards (yes it was a while ago).For the pattern I simply took the bodice pattern of my previous version and lengthen it. I used french seams for the sides and added pockets. If you wonder about in-seam pockets and french seams, you can check out this tutorial.http://www.instagram.com/p/6FXVJnmrGO/My other construction change was to use bias binding as facing. It would have been quick and easy if I had used the self fabric but of course I decided to make things complicated and used some of the silk crepe remnants from my slip dress. It took a little more time but I love the contrast of the cream silk and the blue/grey chambray. I used this fabric before for a pair of Colette Madeleine pajamas. I bought it at Mood NYC back in 2013 and it's very easy to work with. I used white thread for topstitching. I stole the pocket pattern from my white shirt.These days, I try to skip bust darts to simplify the lines for a cleaner/sharper look. I love those simple straight silhouettes on other people but when it's time for me to wear them I find them more flattering when belted. I have to apologize about the pictures, unfortunately The Old Man has not completely mastered the focus with my new lens!!Overall this project has been very cheap since everything came from stash and I made my own pattern. Regarding the fit however, I'm only 75% happy. I wish I had shaped the side seam a little to take in the waist and give more ease at the hips. I did add back darts as an afterthought to remove the excess when belted. Most importantly, I should have worn my previous version of this pattern more before using it as a block. I drafted a square angle under the arm that requires to be clipped. It's a point of weakness for this design and I had to repair it on each side for the first dress.I believe that it's the fundamental difference when you draft/drape your own pattern compared to buying patterns or RTW garments. Nobody did the testing for you!! Just like when buying a car, you have to take it for a ride before you commit! Standing straight in front of the mirror or for a 10 minutes photo session in your garden won't give you all the insights you need to assess the fit, the durability and versatility of your design. Now let's talk about it! How many times do you make a pattern before it becomes a block/TNT ?
Dear readers,I am currently flying back from Guatemala and Honduras where I visited the amazing mayan ruins of Copán which partly explains the lack of activity around here! If you followed me on Instagram during #sewphotohop, you will have seen some sewing happening. I made that tee on a whim while keeping up my resolution to sew more from my ideal closet items pinned on Pinterest. Below are the two shirts that triggered my crush for widely open back tees.https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17029304818045646/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17029304816858252/For a reason I cannot explain, there is something intrinsically italian in my mind about those shirts. I picture myself in the countryside (maybe where Sasha lives?), leaning on the door frame of my imaginary bungalow, drinking delicious coffee and gazing at my olive trees in the horizon... When the tropical backgrounds of Haiti are not exactly Italian landscape, I can at least have my shirt and drink coffee!!One Saturday, I went to hide in the heat of my sewing for an hour or two and pulled out my Nettie pattern. To turn it into a hip length tee, I stopped the patterns where it indicates to add for dress length and decided on the high front, mid-low back and short sleeves. Since I made this pattern twice already (here and here), there is not much more to report.The fabric came from my stash, I bought it in Port-au-Prince and it's a left over of a Shadi skirt I made last year. The entire shirt was sewn on my serger and I am still not perfectly good at matching stripes with that machine... I changed the order of construction slightly so that I can attach the neck band and the sleeves flat. I was so determined to own this tee that when I realized that I actually didn't have enough fabric for the front, I decided to piece it. Not very professional since you can see it in my shoulder area, but I don't really mind.As soon as I finished it, I threw it on and ran to The Old Man to get his opinion on my Italian tee. His comment sounded appreciative but was along those lines: "OOOooh a French tee!!". I guess the stripes betrayed me... No matter how much leaning on the door frame I did with a coffee mug in my hands, he would NOT see the Italian side of it...In other news, I just moved houses so this will be the last time you get to the garden in the background I've been using for the last two years. Our new apartment is smaller but I still have a sewing room (most important thing about housing!!). Also, it's higher in the mountains which means fresher air and amazing view!!I still have some posts coming up but since there will also be more traveling it's hard to commit to regular updating... In the mean time, let me know what you think, French or Italian tee??
Dear readers,Canadian weather seems to make me lazy, and since I'm not a very prolific blogger already, it's getting sad around here. But here I am! As promised, I have pictures to show you of the finished chambray dress I draped in my previous post. I mentioned before that sewing your own patterns is completely different experience than sewing commercial patterns. Since you don't have instructions it may seem counterintuitive, but it's much easier. Steps just flow naturally. Of course you have to figure out a lot of things, but hopefully you did that in the patternmaking stage!If you remember the original dress, it had a kind of funnel collar, which I don't find attractive. Instead, I decided to do a "visible facing". There may be a real name for that but I don't know. I stole the idea from my new favorite sewing book: Sewing for Fashion Designers by Anette Fischer. I plan on doing a book review of it because I am truly impressed by it. Considering the number of sewing books I read, this is quite exceptional.Another design change is the little turn up detail in the sleeve. The construction of the entire dress was pretty straightforward. I used a lot of my fusible tape to stabilize the neckline, the pocket opening and the zipper area. For the neckline, I dumbly interfaced the wrong side when, with my inverted, I should have done it on the right side. Oh well...If you saw this dress on my instagram, you may have thought that I was very fitted but in fact it's not. I love how comfortable it is, the style is relaxed and it makes it a perfect weekend dress!The fabric is from Rag&Bone, purchased at Mood during my last trip to New York. It does wrinkle and the sleeve style tends to accentuate the wrinkling but It doesn't bother me for a relaxed dress. I used some of of my muslin for my pocket bags, I always think muslin is the perfect match for denim and chambray and it feels less wasteful about the whole process. I didn't make my pocket bags deep enough for my taste, which is a recurrent issue. I always eyeball it and it's systematically to shallow. I wonder if there is a rule of thumb out there... Any hint?I love the upper body fit and I may iterate from this style and see what I can turn it into. I'm currently thinking and tunic/dress length without waistband of gathers to be worn with a belt. It looks clean and simple in my head and if I could sketch I would share with you. But my drawing skills are ... let's say limited (understatement...) so I guess you will have to take my word for it!I only wish I had checked the ironing before taking the pictures because the back looks quite terrible. It looks like the waistband does not match at the zipper, when in fact, it does!! The fancy camera does not do it all, I have to put more efforts in my pictures... I'm trying to turn those posts in a little serie that i call "From Inspiration to Garment". Now that I wrote it, I may lose all my interest in doing it (yes...). But in case I don't, I like the idea of exploring different ways to draw from inspiration to make an aspirational wardrobe materialize and work in real life. Next post will be unrelated (it's a leather one) but I will get back into it shortly! In the mean time, I leave you with a side by side comparison picture, do you think it looks close enough (except for the bad pose)? I'd love to here your approach to sewing from inspiration!
Dear Readers,I mentioned in my last post that my sew-jo has been low since the beginning of the year. I can think at least of 2 reasons. One, I cleaned out my closet (and the whole house while in my Marie Kondo phase) and I like owning less things, which tends to be incompatible with sewing. Second, I'm quite satisfied with my wardrobe. It sounds counterintuitive but after cleaning it , I see less gaps than before. Probably because I actually know what I own now. If you add the fact that I also shop RTW, it means that I'll have to empty my wardrobe regularly and focus on less but better quality items.When I cleaned out my closet, I had to part with a lot of handmade items. I never managed to do it before. The Konmari approach helped me realized that they were garments that performed their "Joy-Giving function" by being made but no longer did it by being worn. They had to go, and they did. However, it was not a very pleasant and to avoid it in the future, I want to focus on sewing what I will really enjoy wearing. Different tools are available for that (Capsule planners, Wardrobe architect, etc.) but they are all too formal/definitive for my taste. So I decided to be simple and shop my own Pinterest fashion board for ideas. I created a Sewing Queue board to gather my ideas and help me maintain focus when fabric shopping.After finding a pretty Rag&Bone Chambray at Moods during my last trip to New York City, I decided to start by the first above picture. I believed that it has been pinned thousands of time. I went to find the original dress on the Cos website (see 2nd picture) and I was stunned at how this dress would never have caught my attention without Pinterest!Since I am also to renew my sewing appetite, I decided to brush up on my draping skills. I attended several FIT courses when I lived in New York, and this is probably what I miss the most from the city! When draping by myself, I have a draping book open for guidance and reference. I actually don't use it much but I like to have it next to me. I own several and my favorite is still one of the first books I bought: Draping - Art and Craftmanship for Fashion Design, by Annette Duburg. In my opinion, it has the clearest step-by-step instructions both for basic and advanced designs.No matter what book you use, the steps to draping are always the same and I will try to outline them. Before starting, this is what I did:
- Design analysis - in this case I noted kimono sleeves, front and back gathers for the bodice, font and back darts in the skirt, italian pockets and an invisible zipper at center back.
- Preparing the form - it includes adding style lines and in this case attaching my (self-made) arm which I taped to a cupboard to keep it way from the body (for the kimono sleeve).
- Prepping the muslin - cutting the different pieces, straightening the grain, pressing it and adding the main lines (center front, center back, bust, hip and others as necessary).
I then proceeded with the actual draping. There is a general order to this (neckline at center front, waist, bust at side seam, neckline at the shoulder, etc.) and it becomes natural once you have done it a few times because it's quite logical.I like to use style tape not only to mark the line on the form but also on the muslin. You may need to re-do it a few times and it will help keeping the toile relatively clean until you are ready to mark on it. Tape is also very useful to drape pleats or gathers. When one think about draping, we tend to picture ourselves creating beautiful "drapés" and laboring over tiny gathers. The reality is that you spend a lot of time removing the muslin from the form, ironing it flat, "true-ing" your lines, cutting the excess of fabric, repining together and putting it back on the form. After each change, you repeat the process to assess whether it works or not. In that sense, draping is not necessarily much faster than flat pattern making. Of course, it depends on the design and your own preference. The waistband is a simple straight band, nothing particularly is particularly challenging about it. The only thing you have to get right is the positioning. In my case, I realized that it looked better a little higher than what I initially thought. Once I was happy with the bodice and the waistband, the next step was the skirt. You can see it below but I was unsatisfied with the hip curve. I ended up using the pattern of my open skirt project. I removed the pegging at the hem and I widened the side seams to match the waistband.I have to add that the overall this is tighter than how you should drape. I lost some weight since my form was made to measure 4 years ago. My solution is to drape "skin tight" on the form and I get a comfortable garment on myself. I never had bad surprises so far...My least favorite step is next: copying onto paper. I find it an intrinsically imprecise process. Once done, I added my seam allowances, drafted all the details such as facings, closures and pockets. It's the perfect time to mentally sew the garment to make sure the process is engineered in the pattern as much as possible. Doing this, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to sew a pattern you drafted compared to one you bought. Everything just comes naturally and I make less mistakes.I don't do many process posts so I hope this was useful to you. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen the dress finished already! Let me know if you have any questions or if you have any draping tip you would like to share!One final point, I'm currently spending the month in Ottawa, Canada (for work). If any of you are around, I would love to engage in some sewing gossiping/fabric shopping/coffee drinking!
Dear readers,Coming back from Guatemala in March to a clean and organized sewing room had the most surprising effect. I lost all my inspiration. After a week of indecisiveness, I bit the bullet and decided to use a pattern from my stash you probably all know, since Mccalls was running a sew along on their blog. My inability to participate in social events around the sewing community is well
documented un-documented. As soon as I decide to take part in a sew-along, contest or anything, my excitement for the project drops entirely. In addition, not getting many opportunities to sew during the week, when I do, I clock several hours at once. The step by step approach of sewalongs - attach the collar and next week we'll tackle the sleeves - does not work for me. I'm more a #sewuntilyoureyeshurt and #oopsthatsleeveisinsideout kind of person. But I'll admit it, I am weak. I did not know what to sew, I had the pattern in my stash, I love thinkingI'm copying designers. So I went for it...I think I wrote several time about how rarely I work with Big4 patterns and why. I will NOT use 5/8" seam allowances on a knit. Reading the instructions, I realized there was ease in the cap sleeve. Ease in a t-shirt sleeve!! I also checked the many many PR reviews and saw that the skirt is considered very full. I draped size 8 on my form with the paper pattern. The picture is blurry but you can see how different it looks from the illustration. I decided to redraw the side seam and remove a lot of length. The final skirt length is 20" and the hem circumference is 74". I was surprised to find the waistline hitting at the right spot. I assume that it should be lengthen for none petite bodies. Other than that, the bust measurement is quite high, do they believe bust level is where the circled cross is??? I removed 1/4 where the point of the wrap at the bodice meets the waistline to prevent gaping and changed all the SA's to 3/8". I removed 1/4" on each side seam of the bodice, thus a 1" overall.I found around 1" of ease in the sleeve cap. To remove it, I lowered the cap by 3/8"flatten the back portion and remove about 1/2" on each side of the underarm seam (1/4" being due to my intake in the bodice side seam). The dress was sewn entirely on the serger and what took the most time was probably finding the motivation of catch stitching the facing and the hem. The good parts in my procrastination is that with 2 weeks on the form, the skirt had all the times it needed to stretch out so I could safely mark and hem without risking further stretching.I only did a passable job at making my catch stitching invisible and it bothers me a little. But definitely not enough to redo it! The fabric is the last piece of a black jersey which at this stage I'm not entirely sure I bought it in Paris or in NYC. I get very worried about my memory. When I hear other seamstresses with stashes 20 times the size of mine (yes, it's small), saying that they can remember buying each piece, I'm embarrassed. My entire stash holds in one drawer and although I think I know everything I own and could mention it from the top of my head, I get surprises every time! Am I the only one? Is my memory particularly bad?I didn't like spending all this time on the pattern of what I consider a relatively basic knit dress. If you add my low sew-jo and The Old Man's not-so-subtle-comments about spending time on dresses when I mostly wear jeans & shirts, I was about the quit several times. Even when I finished it, I was disappointed. I was planning a pathetic blog post about how I AGAIN sewed something I don't need and how The Old Man was right. But last week I had a work cocktail and it ended up being very useful. I got a lot of compliments, including from The Old Man. I am now convinced that this dress induced a major blogging break. Yes, I blame it on a dress ;-) . I started this review a month ago and could not manage to finish it. Final verdict: I will probably wear that dress but I can't say that I love it. I decided to take it as a lesson. Recently I was discussing with the very smart Seamripped if we sew what we want to wear or wear what we want to sew. In that case I believe I have been wanting to make a wrap dress for a long time (blame it on the DVF patterns) but I never pictured myself wearing one. So in the future I want to take let what I want to wear (my fashion board on Pinterest VS my sewing board). If you follow me in Instagram you saw that I put it into practice twice already...What about you? How do you decide what to sew?
Dear Readers,If this was a competition about boring sewing, I believe I would win "haut la main" (I had to google translate this, apparently appropriate English translation is "hands down", funny because in French in "hand high", interesting...). Not only I'm showing you basic t-shirts from a pattern I used before, but I used only black and white knit. I did not even buy the fabric, I used tshirts from The Old Man. That's not actually true, I had one cut out for months in a corner of my sewing room, but my serger was threaded in white, and the knit was black... So there you have it : 2 white t-shirts, 3 black ones. 4 made from existing tshirts. I did not even remove the labels at center back, because I got really lazy! Because it's not that interesting, I will spare you and show you only two of them. I used SBCC free tonic tee pattern. On some I save the neck ribbing which makes it very close to the neck and on other I used the original hem and made a band out of the excess I cut off the sides. I also used size XXS or XS to have a more relaxed fit for 2 of them. It was all done in a few hours. The longest operation was probably switching the serger from white to black.This is obviously a weekend outfit for me, and they already got tons of wear, as expected. Since there is not much more that can be said about super basic tees, I figured we could talk a little about the idea of uniform. I don't know if you noticed, but these days it feels like one cannot open its reader or Facebook without stumbling on an article about a woman who decided to wear "a uniform". Some take it very seriously, like wearing the same clothes everyday, some a little less. The rational is more or less always the same : "I have super important things to do in my life, so I decided to figure out what to wear once and for all, like men do, (really ? do they?) and now I can focus on the rest (usually career)".I have to admit, it is seductive. In general, radical approaches tend to do very well on the Internet. Wether it's sewing all the dresses in a vintage book (but then you don't finish ;-)), or cooking all the recipes, it "sells". I love reading about those big projects but I'm incapable of making such decisive commitments. Or maybe I just don't have time. Actually, maybe this is why they are so seductive, because we know we would do it. Personnally, I'm a good audience for them. After all, I did quit smoking with Allen Carr and cleaned my house with Marie Kondo. Going back to the uniform, it looks like the latest wardrobe craze. Remember when we were looking for our "signature style", our "10 essential" or creating "capsules" ? Well now, we need a uniform. It doesn't matter if you actually lead 1 or 3 lives (work, evening out and weekends) or leave in an environment with 4 seasons. You just need to say that you have a uniform. Because it shows how much more focused on important things you are than the rest of us.In Haiti, we have about 2 seasons, one when it rains and one when it does not. And you actually don't need to dress any differently. Because it's hot. All the time. You just add a rain coat. I have to admit, I started wearing a variation of pretty much the same thing everyday : skinny jeans/pencil skirt, button-up/t-shirt and the occasional dress. You can combine it and you will know how I'm dressed wether in the office, at the supermarket or dining out. So I guess, yes, I have a uniform. If I was to participate in Me-Made-May (I'm not), I would bore the hell out of all of you! But here is the problem, I don't want to to call it like that because it already became a cliché. Trends go so fast online that you can get tired of them before even adopting them! Just like when everyone started "curating" inspiration on Pinterest and their blog. Maybe I can skip to the next wardrobe trend ? Please jump in, do you have a uniform, or a minimalist wardrobe? What do you think will be the next wardrobe trend?Lastly, I am about to board the plane to New York for a week, in case you are there and want to shop at Mood or just gossip email me!
Dear readers,It's already in April and I am completely ignoring my only commitment for this year : to post twice more than in 2014 - 46 times. As a wannabe M&E expert, I have tell you we are NOT on track to meet the target!I have been sewing, but since it's 5 black or white t-shirts and a knit wrap dress, my excitement to take pictures and write about them is pretty low. On the other hand, I got something in the mail last thursday and it's A LOT more exciting!!It's CraftSha Leather Light Hand Sewing Set and it's pretty amazing, because 1/ I ordered it from Japan (GoodsJapan, in case you are interested) and 2/ it came in the mail. IN THE MAIL! You may know that there is no mail in Haiti... I'm not entirely sure how it all happened but I don't care, it is soooo nice!! I also bought a very fancy knife, specially made for left-handed people, which makes me feel like a leather samurai!!Of course I had to start right away and The Old Man very conveniently lost the previous leather phone case I had made him, and the one before that was eaten/destroyed/buried in the garden by our dog (yes, adorable but evil). As the third iteration of the same pattern I made for his phone (Samsung Galaxy S4, I think), it is a lot more special because it's hand sewn (the others were ruthlessly thrown under the machine) with Japanese tools.The set comes with a little booklet (in Japanese) for a basic project. I am very partial when it comes to all things Japanese and this is no exception. The pictures are very clear so you can follow along without understanding a single sign. I always wonder how much I would learn if I could read Japanese instructions. Their diagrams are so informative already, I cannot help but think what is written must be mind blowing (like, this adjustable uniform shared by Very Purple Person).All the tools were a nice to use, but for such a small project you have a lot of steps. Cutting, filing, applying the thingie on the edges, glueing, punching holes, stitching (with 2 needles at a time), more edge thingie, etc. In addition, there is a learning curve. As you can see my stitching leaves a lot to be desired. What I learnt so far:
- Pay a lot of attention when punching the holes, 1mm difference is HUGE in the final look
- Hand sewing requires regular tension and not too much of it, the stitches tend look better a little looser.
The leather is a from a skin The Old Man bought years ago in Colombia. It's softer than the vegetable tanned leather used in the booklet and dyed (but only the upper layer) so that also made a difference on how it reacted to the tools.It's not my first time working with leather, I've made handbags, wallets and garments by machine, using a teflon foot and a special needle. Lately, I started to find the results disappointing since I don't own a machine that would handle the thickness well. My industrial hates it, the feed dogs leave marks on the skin and it skips stitches. The home machine does a slightly better job but topstitching is very unpredictable. So hand sewing seems to be a good solution for small projects.That's it, the case is not perfect but I'm reasonably happy with it as a first project. I can't wait to experiment more, maybe with a clutch for myself. Have you tried hand sewing leather or do you avoid it completely? Share your tips!!
Dear readers,I have been talking about this project for a good 6 months and I think I am almost there. I showed you toiles and I felt quite of bad for not updating the blog about it... I always wanted to know what it took to develop pdf sewing patterns from scratch to a product usable by others than me. I did learn a lot and I still have a lot of work to do. So far, my 2 main take-away are:
- It's not the patternmaking or the grading that takes the most time.
- Writing instructions is really really hard.
Dear readers,I am showing you 3 shirts in a row. For the sake of diversity, I probably should have broken it up with something else but it's not like I'm posting every day (haha, posting everyday !!) so bear with me!So yes, third shirt. I thought I was done with them, especially after sewing what I considered my TNT and then Sewaholic released the Granville shirt. Nice pockets + fitted lines + indie pattern company I meant to try = download the very day of the release. Let's jump right in the review.First, the PDF. Everything lined up well and I had the impression that efforts were made to spread each piece on a limited number of pages. Nice. I needed size 0 and since this pattern goes up to size 20 (which is awesome), I felt I was using a lot more paper that I would need for my size. I guess you can't really have it all but maybe it could be an option to spread the size range from 0 to 12 and from 8 to 20 (so that people can still blend between sizes).My second concern is regarding the V notches, they look too thick/messy on the PDF. The issue is actually more general. Sewaholic patterns are very close to the standards of the Big 4. It makes them an easy entry in the Indie pattern world if you come from a Big 4 sewing background but I haven't sewn Big 4 in a while. 5/8" seam allowances and V notches annoy me. A. LOT.I wanted to try the fit of the pattern out of the printer so I made only one substantial change. I measured my last shirt and shortened the sleeve pattern accordingly... BY 3 1/2 INCHES !! Now, I mentioned several times being aware of my short arms situation. But all the reviews of the Granville pattern I read so far mentioned shortening the sleeves as an alteration. Sewaholic: patterns for pear-shaped ladies with Gibbon arms? (Gibbons are cute though).I did not use the instructions for the construction. I read them, they were standard and I think that the series of post written by Tasia provides great information if you are into the Coffin's method. I'm not. If sewing was like being part of a sect, my shirtmaking guru would be Shimazaki. Therefore, I HAD to change ALL the seam allowances : a mixture of 1/4, 3/8 and occasionally 1/2. I could get into details but I don't know how interesting it is for you, is it? I will say thought that IMO, sewing a collar + stand with 5/8" makes no sense. Call me clumsy, but I don't see how you can be precise (without a template, which is a good idea). 1/4" forever!!Lastly, the hem allowance is way too big: 3/4" is hard to fold twice and a final hem of 3/8"looks too wide IMO. I went with the Grainline approach: 1/2 folded twice.The construction was smooth and without major challenges. I read other reviews finding the instructions unclear for the sleeve placket but I followed them and I was fine. The amount of ease in the sleeve cap is limited and I managed to set them in flat and sew the side seam afterwards.Now let's talk about the final product: I like the shirt, I really do. The small collar is adorable and very modern. The pockets are perfect (size and placement). The shoulders are where they should. However, I probably won't wear it much, which is a shame considering all the flat-felling and topstitching that went into it. Why? Because the arms are OMG so tight!!! See below for an illustration:Yes, that tight. I feel like I'm about to incredible-hulk my shirt every time I brush my hair, put eyeliner or drive... I don't believe that I have particularly muscular arms for my frame. I do work out but I wear (mostly RTW) shirts probably 6 day/week and this has never been an issue. As much as I would like to tell you that this is my new favorite shirt I can't, it's too restrictive. I'm not against some tight clothing but not for woven shirts... Rolling up the sleeves does help a little. Which is good because The Old Man LOVES the shirt.You may recognize the fabric from my Lekala/Michael Kors dress, it's the same lightweight denim that looks like linen. Interfacing and buttons are from stash.Final verdict: I still like my shirt and I think with some tweaking I could have 2 TNT patterns. One unfitted from the Archer and this one if I want a closer fit. Next version would include : using the sleeves and armholes from size 2, shortening the body above the waist and reducing the flare at the hips. What do you think, would you recommend additional alterations?
Dear readers,I have a long-distance/one way love affair with Japan. it all started 10 years ago, reading mangas and buying Gosu Rori magazines (fashion and sewing magazines about the Gothic Lolita). Yes.... Later, I spent 2 years studying converational Japanese with the plan to do internship in Japan. Other job opportunities came, I never went to Japan and I forgot the limited number of words that I managed to memorize. In the mean time I fell in I love Japanese sewing. What is Japanese sewing ? I don't know, but I never encountered a Japanese/japan-based sewing blogger, pattern company, sewing instructions, pattern making book or actual Japanese fellow student at FIT that I did not find fascinating. Yes, I sound creepy... Unfortunately, the styles of the patterns rarely suit me, but I cannot help but marvel at the quality of the drafting, the clarity of the instructions and the consistency of the garments produced.Junku in Paris and Kinokuniya in New York enabled my weakness for Japanese sewing books. Living in Midtown East in Manhattan meant that 1/ I could walk to the Garment District (which I did almost every weekend) and stop by Kinokuniya on my way back. Over the years, I have been accumulating books: the Pattern Magic serie, Drape Drape, Bunka drafting books, etc. One of them is THE shirt book by Ryuichiro Shimazaki. For shirts, I know that to many people David Coffin's book is the reference. I own that book too. I read it. And I dislike it soooo much. I just do. I find everything unclear, wordy and not well presented. I have no idea if Ryuchiro Shimazaki's book is wordy, because I can't read any word in it but what is for sure is that you can make a shirt from that book without the words. You cannot make a shirt from David Coffin's book without the words. I realize that I'm being unfair, since it's a book and you can be expected to read it on order to access the information...I would not recommend this book for your first attempt at shirt making (at least, if you don't read Japanese), because the construction is unusual. I found that having 2 nice RTW shirts by your side and taking your time help a lot. For the pattern itself, I used model 3, with the pocket of model 11. I picked size M after measuring The Old Man's favorite shirt and comparing with the pattern measurements. At customer's request, I redrew the collar points to match the favorite shirt. I'm so nice. I shortened the front and back A LOT since he wants to wear it untucked. The construction relies varying seam allowances: anywhere between 1/4" to 3/4" depending on the seam.. To make that easier, the book recommends to create some pressing templates: pocket, sleeve head and a pressing gauge.For an idea of how different the construction is, the front and back are hemmed first, before the side seam is sewn. It's confusing at first, but it works quite well. A lot of pre-pressing is required, for instance pressing the wider SA of the flat-felled seams in half before attaching tot the narrow side of the side seam. The one thing that I was totally unable to do was the hem, I could not fold and press 7mm and then refold for a final hem of 4mm. I burnt myself and I blame it on my thick European fingers! I ended up folding 1/4 twice, as for my Archers. The hem is finished at the sides with the little triangles that you often find on RTW's shirt.The collar construction worked fairly well too. I still prefer to do what Nancy Ziemann call a "wrapped corner", or described at Fashion Incubator. Meaning you sew the long edge of the collar, fold the SA towards the non-interfaced collar and sew the short edges. The seam will roll naturally on the undercollar side. The collar stand attachement to the shirt was also a little unusual and I believe that with some practice it can come out very nicely.For the cuffs, I am entirely converted to Fashion-Incubator's attachment in one pass. It worked perfectly well since my very first try and I guess it will be hard to convince me to do it any other way now... The tower placket is 2-piece and made following the book's instructions. I could have used Off-the-Cuff's tutorial which may be a little less fiddly.The fabric is a delicious navy linen, purchased in Paris, at Sacré Coupons, during my June trip. It was picked by The Old Man himself and I remember paying 22 euros for 3 meters. Not too bad. Buttons are from stash, as well as interfacing. The only thing I am not totally happy with is the button placement. Since I had to shorten the shirt a lot compared to the pattern, I think I should have repositioned all the buttons starting at the bottom. The last one is awkwardly low. Of course, The Old Man does not care at all but it bothers me... Also, I realized after cutting that I was out of Navy thread, so I used black everywhere. David Coffin must be choking out of disgust right now! (Sorry David, I'll do better next time!)OK, now we can also discuss the obvious, the good looks of The Old Man! By the way, please refrain from questioning his nickname. For the record, he IS substantially older than me and it does NOT make me feel good when people say we look like we are the same age. We are not, he just happens to have better genes... But of course, he enjoys those comments a lot so I will allow them exceptionally. This is not the first time I've sewn for him, I also made two pairs of pajamas/boxer shorts (all flat-felled seams and everything) and I even have pictures but I don't want to risk breaking the Internet with all this handsomeness. I don't think they will make it on the blog, sorry.... Now I go back to my Granville selfish sewing!
Dear Readers,First things first: Happy New Year! I won't do a review of my year because I only posted 23 times, so there would not be much to say... My goal for 2015 is to double this number! Now, without any transition, let's look at my new favorite shirt! The shirt was finished at least 3 weeks ago but I hate making buttonholes so much that it waited in a dusty corner until I made another shirt, for The Old Man this time, and then did all the buttonholes at once.I wanted this shirt to be as close as possible to a man classic Oxford shirt but with an appropriate fit. I believe that I achieved my goal.The initial pattern for this shirt is my modified Archer. Additional changes included using the collar and stand of my white shirtdress (from the Japanese book Blouse, Skirts, Pants), adding back darts, removing the CB box pleat and shortening sleeves AGAIN by 2". They look embarrassingly short on the hanger but just right when worn. #Creepybabyarms, again.I can now officially say that no pattern piece is the same as the original Archer and that I am very close to a TNT pattern. Why, not a TNT yet? Because of some pooling in the upper back. I tried to pin out a horizontal take of 1" just under the yoke and it looked so much better. However, I have not figured out how to remove it without completely killing my armhole... I'm waiting for an Eureka moment that may or may not come!The fabric is cotton I bought in Panajachel, Guatemala (by the beautiful lake Atitlán). It was cheap, has some texture and looks like washed cotton. I'm not sure if it has a name but it can get almost a paper feeling. I think it works well for this shirt but I would not recommend it for any project.My shirtmaking skills are work in progress but they are improving each time. Compared to my last shirt, I went back to a classic collar construction order and I used different seam allowances for the flat-felled seams. Everything came together painlessly EXCEPT when I prepared, attached and topstitched BOTH sleeves to the body, only to realize that the wrong sides were on the outside. A lot of seam ripping/self cursing. Not fun.The shirt is definitely filling a gap in my wardrobe. I cannot remember for how long I've wanted a 100% cotton white shirt. They seem to have become a rare commodity and I hate the blends that are sold currently from H&M to Ann Taylor. In addition to yellowing and aging badly, they also tend to be see-through, which is puzzling to me since their primary use is for the office.Finally, the pictures were all taken with my new camera, in full manual mode! I know it seems normal to a lot of you but I'm very happy about it. Also I quit on trying to keep the dog out of the pictures. He loves being in the middle of things...After this shirt, I decided I was comfortable enough to go up one step: a man's shirt. I will be back in a few days with pictures of The Old Man in his fancy linen shirt! I thought I would be done with those 2 shirts for a while, but then I saw the beautiful one Sasha just posted and Sewaholic released the Granville pattern. So... Granville is already printed and taped, I guess I will be back with more shirts soon! What about you? Are you getting closer to your TNT patterns in 2015?