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Sewing Tidbits

Sewing Tidbits is the sewing blog written since 2013 by Delphine, the co-founder of Just Patterns.

Filtering by Tag: sewing pattern

Welcome to the Stephanie Sewalong: Inspiration + a fabric discount!

Delphine (Sewing Tidbits)

To celebrate the re-release of the Stephanie Skirt with an improved size range and illustrated instructions, I am hosting Just Patterns’ very first sew-along! I hope that it can help beginner sewists to feel more confident and encourage more experienced makers to try new techniques. Don’t forget to grab your pattern in the shop and let’s start look at some inspiration to help you choose your fabric. I’m very happy to be collaborating with my friends Dibs, who just launched her online fabric store Selvedge and Bolts, and she is generously offering 20% a selection of fabric that would be amazing to sew Stephanie, check out the code at the bottom of this post!

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Another take on the Stephanie Skirt

Delphine (Sewing Tidbits)

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.

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Getting started with Just Patterns

Sewing Tidbits

The information we include with our patterns may be less detailed than what you are accustomed to, but they should provide enough information for an intermediate sewer or an adventurous beginner to complete the garment. In this post we'll show you where to locate the most important elements and use the layered PDF functionality. When you buy a pattern in our store, you receive a link to a zip file containing the following :

  • The information file

  • The pattern in print-at-home format (A4 and Letter)

  • The pattern in copyshop format (A0 and US Copyshop 36”x48”)

Below is the cover of our Christy Slip Dress:

Just Patterns - 2101 - Christy Information-page-001.jpg

In the following pages you will find information about the style, fabric recommendations and the cutters must. It summarizes how many of each pattern pieces you need to cut in each fabric (self, lining, fusible, etc.). As well as other pieces for which paper pieces are not provided, such as bias strips. It also includes the technical drawing of the garment and an estimation of fabric requirements. We currently do not include cutting layouts because of how much they can vary  depending on the size you are cutting and the width of your fabric.

Just Patterns - 2101 - Christy Information-page-002.jpg

The Christy Slip Dress is currently available in size 34 to 46 and the pattern includes negative ease. We recommend choosing your size based on your bust measurement for this pattern.

Just Patterns - 2101 - Christy Information-page-003.jpg

Next is the printing layout that will help you put together the pattern after printing it.

Just Patterns - 2101 - Christy Information-page-004.jpg

The following table is a suggested order of operations. This is the order we used to sew the samples shown on the cover. But if you are making changes to the pattern, for instance you decided to make the pattern single layer and finish the edges with bias binding, then these operations will be quite different. The table is designed for you to check at a glance the width of the seam allowances and type so you don't have to rummage through pages of text to find it.

Just Patterns - 2101 - Christy Information-page-005.jpg

In case you need more help, links to tutorials, videos, etc. are available in the resource page of each pattern. Finally, you'll find the hashtags to share your work on social media. For the slip dress it's #christyslipdress and for the camisole it's #katebiastop (there is another Kate Top sewing pattern out there by Tessuti, so don't forget to add the bias!).

Now let's have a look at the pattern files! The layers are enabled in every printing format. When you open your pattern in the Adobe Acrobat Reader, use the layers tab on the left of the screen and select only the size you need but keep "print marks" and "all sizes" activated. As you can see above, the pattern pieces extend beyond the cutting marks. This should make it easier for you to put it together. You will also notice that the seam lines are printed on all pieces. This is why we strongly recommend you use the layer function. Otherwise it can get quite busy, even for a simple pattern.

Just Patterns Layered PDF

We hope that this post was useful and we will be back soon for some actual sewing posts! Don't hesitate to reach out in the comments or anywhere else if you would like more information! Do you see a Christy or a Kate in your near future?

Sewing Bias - Introduction and Inspiration

Sewing Tidbits

Today we are kicking off a series of posts around our 2 sewing patterns on the bias, the Christy Slip Dress and the Kate Bias Top. Both patterns are strongly inspired by our favorite fashion decade, the 90's. We just love the era of supermodel and clean lines.The dress hits below the knee and has a flattering rounded neckline, while the top features a sexy V, but they come from the same block, so you can easily interchange necklines. The simple lines of those designs lend themselves to endless possibilities to suit your fancy. You can choose a beautiful silk, make it double layer and add delicate details such as french seams, a baby hem and tiny spaghetti straps to achieve the perfect party dress or top. We promise you that you will never feel under or over dressed!

But you can also decide to make them as luxurious sleepwear or undergarments, with a single layer of silk charmeuse, bias binding and adjustable lingerie straps or try cotton batiste to stay cool on those hot summer nights. And if you feel like going even fancier, how about some lace appliqué around the neckline or the bottom edge?

We created Pinterest boards for you to browse and get inspired, we'll keep adding more so don't hesitate to follow them!

https://www.pinterest.com/justpatterns/2101-slip-dress-inspiration/https://www.pinterest.com/justpatterns/3101-bias-tank-top-inspiration/

Our upcoming posts will feature specific techniques and tutorials as well as versions sewn by you! Grab your patterns in the shop and share your slip or our camisole with us on Instagram (#katebiastop #christyslipdress) or in our Facebook Community Group!

Introducing: the Linda Wrap Dress sewing pattern

Sewing Tidbits

After literally months of teasing on Instagram, we are thrilled to finally release our newest sewing pattern, the Linda wrap dress! This dress is a favorite of both Eira and I as it is the perfect garment to be dressed up and yet still comfortable. Add the Linda to your handmade wardrobe and we promise that it won't ever let you down!Our wrap dress has a relaxed fit with gathers in the front and the back of the bodice and skirt. The sleeves feature a with a two piece placket and a cuff closed by a button. Their mid-length makes it a perfect choice all year round to wear in the office to fight the freezing A/C in the summer and or the crazy over heating radiator. They provide coverage but won't get in the way!

Linda wrap dress by Just Patterns

It's truly the details that make this dress special. The bias cut collar sitting at the base of the neck. The super practical side pockets and the double top stitching elevate a wardrobe basic to a special piece that you will reach for over and over.The cream color sample shown is made from a heavier 4 ply silk, while the black one was made from a wool blend crepe. Both fabrics are characterized by a nice drape, therefore we recommend woven fabrics with body and drape for this pattern.The waistband has an interesting a belt closure. We recommend a 35mm metal buckle but we can't wait to see what creative alternative solutions you are going to come up with. Seeing your interpretations is the best part of designing sewing patterns! For the eyelets, you can use 2-piece metal ones with the ring (they provide a cleaner finish on both sides and the eyelet alone, or you can embroider them just like buttonholes. If you are in the New York City area, we recommend going to Jonathan's Embroidery.

What the pattern includes

The dress pattern is currently available from size 34 to 46 (see our size chart for more information). The pattern includes:

  • a layered PDF with 4 printing options (30 pages in A4, 32 pages in letter Letter, 2 pages A0, and 2 Pages for US Copy Shop 36"x48" and 30"x42");

  • a cutter's must;

  • a suggested order of operations.

We strongly suggest that you make full use of the layered PDF files and print only the size your need, as we include as much information as we can directly on the pattern pieces.

Our patterns are meant for dressmakers who already know the basics of sewing but if you need more help to sew your dress, our dedicated resource page is available. We can't wait to see your versions of the Linda dress. Don't hesitate to reach out to us by email or on Instagram @just_patterns #lindawrapdress!

What is going on with all the big shirts?

Sewing Tidbits

Dear readers,From the reactions to my last post, I gather that you are still around and ready to engage and that's pretty good news! So first I would like to thank all the commenters, I think there was a great conversations going on!One of the reasons for my lack of posting is the fact that I sewed several items I ended up disliking. In my opinion, that's the most discouraging thing that can happen to a seamstress. You have an idea, get excited, find the fabric, the pattern, spend hours making it, try it on and..... Meh. How anti climatic is that? It doesn't help that once I reach  construction stage, I don't like to interrupt myself.I finish all the seams and stop to try on items only just before hemming/adding closures. I usually can get away with it because I know what shapes work on me and I spend time adjusting patterns before cutting fabric. Except these days, I have no idea of how to fit myself because....Squareshirt SewingTidbits-1I'm growing a little human!! That's another reason the blog hiatus, I really really didn't feel like being in front of a camera and all my clothes feel weird.I used to wear fairly fitted clothes, most of the time in the smallest size available, with a defined waist. Obviously all that is gone already and I'm not sure of what's left... I don't really feel like wearing a lot of those tight jersey dresses that seem to be screaming "LOOK AT MY BELLY" but I'm also not use to see myself hidden in voluminous shapes. Tricky time! So I thought about big shirts:After seeing the version made by Paprika Patterns, I decided to try Ralph Pink's Sahara Shirt pattern. I've been tempted several times by his patterns, on the basis that they look "different" from most other Indies, but the sizing seemed too big for me and I struggled finding a pattern I really liked. It probably doesn't help that not a lot of other bloggers have made his garments (with notable exception by Inna and Oona) so I wasn't sure what to expect.https://www.instagram.com/p/BFFrqlrGrPF/I printed the pattern, found suitable cotton-silk in the stash (same as a Vogue 1247 skirt sewn in 2014), cut the smallest size (US 0), sewed and sewed and sewed. It's a relatively quick make, without many seams (although I used french seams everywhere), and they matched well enough. I would recommend checking the length of the front button plackets (I think they were too long) and the side seams but there was nothing truly catastrophic... Until I tried on the shirt. I could not picture myself going around the city is what looked like A GIGANTIC TENT!!I put it away my sewing friend from the Pattern Line came over and convinced me that all it needed was taking in the sides a little. By a little, I mean 3" on each side seams... The total reduction is 12" (!!) tapered to nothing at the underarm. I also removed some of the extra length at the back to soften the curved hem effect. But you know what? Now, I actually really like it! As you can see, I didn't lie when I previously said that blog posts would have less pretty pictures... Next time I will tell you about my iteration in white poplin (in the first picture).In the mean time, I would love to hear your thoughts on those pattern companies that seem less popular among sewing bloggers, does it stop you from trying them out?  

Anachronistic sewing - still stuck on Archer shirt

Sewing Tidbits

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Dear readers,I rarely manage to make-up the "trendy" sewing pattern at its trendy time. While you all finished your Alder shirt dresses, I still sew Archers. In addition, when Alder first came out, I could not wait to make it up, but now I am having second thoughts. A-line may not be that flattering on me after all.Also, unrelated to this post, I wanted to thank all of you who shared their thoughts on my last post. It is definitely something I could talk about all day but I will spare you and only add 2 things :

  • Can you get more disappointing than this? This dress is in any big 4 catalogue, burda magazine and you can get a customized pattern by Lekala. What are you bringing to the cutting table? Apart from pulling at the bust. No, I'm not nice, I  know.
  • Hope for collaborative sewing exists. Lovely reader Miranda emailed me about this PR conversation that I had missed. Seeing how the community can engage in a project all together is heartwarming . I would not make that pattern because it's not my style but it seems to appeal to many. My only regret is that the result of this awesome collaboration is yet another simple knit pattern for sale... BUT it should not detract from how great it is to witness all the contributions.

Now back to the shirt! Pictures are still from my Iphone, but for once the location is NOT my garden, YAY! My dog is therefore NOT in the background, (NAY?). I spent a week by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala (highly recommended) in August and I packed some garments to photograph on the beautiful terrace of the house we rented.wpid858-Modified-Archer-2.jpgPlease note that this is not the pattern straight out of the printer. I was happy with my first version of the shirt (see my shirtdress version) but I want to create a TNT pattern for boyfriend shirts and I am glad to report that it is almost a success. To guide my fit alterations, I used a Banana Republic shirt I love. I measured elements like shoulder length, waist shaping, pocket placement, final length, etc. Beth's post on Craftsy is timely as it is exactly what I did!wpid856-Modified-Archer-1.jpgMain fit alterations:

  • adding 3" of overall length, and note that I am only 5'3". But I like my shirts tucked in and I want to raise my arms without exposing skin.
  • Shortening the shoulder length by and adjusting the yoke accordingly

Archer alteration

  • Removing most of the sleeve ease at the underarm seam and reshaping the sleeve head a little (for an idea of how, you can check this post at Fashion-Incubator)
  • Further shaping the waist at the side seam
  • Shortening the sleeves

wpid862-Modified-Archer-4.jpgI also tried to use more advanced sewing techniques, and I will do a detailed post. Some worked (tower placket, button placket, cuff construction) and some did not work at all (ouch, collar+stand). Sometimes, a "if it's not broken, don't fix it" approach is best. I never had a problem with  stand collar construction before so why did I try to find a better way to do it? Don't know... Some of my techniques required pattern alteration or drafting of extra pieces. Look out for the post next week soon!wpid864-Modified-Archer-5.jpgI am planning my next shirt with further alterations. The final pattern may have little to do with the original Archer but I still believe that it was a great start. It produces wearable garments from the first trial and can be altered easily. Next time, I want to tackle the collar & stand: the collar could be wider and the stand should close at a 90 degree angle (this is what I mean). I will also start adding darts to the back so it remains relaxed but more fitted. Finally, further shortening of the sleeves is necessary (creepy baby length arms, again), sad...wpid860-Modified-Archer-3.jpgI almost forgot to tell you that the fabric is one of the pieces I brought back from Paris last June. I found it at the cotton stand of Marché St Pierre. However, looking at the drape I guess some rayon is thrown in.While I prepare my post on shirt construction, I would love to hear from you your favorite shirt making tutorials. I am familiar with the Archer Sew-along, Fashion-Incubator, Off the Cuff, Male Pattern Boldness and Sewing Square Walls but I may be missing on important ones! Please, fill me in!

A simple black Nettie dress

Sewing Tidbits

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Dear readers,Do you realize that as seamstresses, we tend to overanalyze our wardrobe? I mean who else spends these hours reading about the Wardrobe Architect, or every current and vintage wardrobe/style advice ever printed? I, for example, am having a massive style crush on Un-fancy. Even though her style is much much more casual than mine, and I have 0 plans to get dressed with 37 items, I am addicted to her daily remixes and the clean feeling of her pictures. And even after all our careful analyze and planning we get distracted by the latest pattern release or a nice print at the fabric store...Finally let's also be honest about one point: having a blog does change what you sew, because for instance neon color will pop on the screen and social media, as well as pretty prints. For some of us it's ok, because it is actually our uniform, but for others it is not. As I am now just 1 year before 30, and I'm starting to admit that I don't wear that many eye-popping color and prints. I will keep enjoying them on other blogs and once in a while fall for distraction bu, sewing my "birthday dress" meant sewing something that will come out of my closet every time I need to "fancy" up myself!What can be better than a black Nettie dress from Closet Case files then ?? Nothing.wpid830-Black-nettie-dress-35.jpg wpid828-Black-nettie-dress-29.jpg wpid819-Black-nettie-dress-15.jpgI made this dress before, so I did not change anything, except that I did not add bra cups inside. The fabric is a viscose jersey bought in Paris while I was there in June (at Sacré Coupons), and although it is very soft, it is slightly less stretchy than the printed lace I used for my previous version. Therefore, I am trying to feel what the reviewers stated about the arms being on the tight side. However, please note that I use the smallest side of the initial pattern release, before Heather corrected it.wpid826-Black-nettie-dress-27.jpg wpid824-Black-nettie-dress-19.jpg wpid821-Black-nettie-dress-16.jpg wpid817-Black-nettie-dress-3.jpg I have several garments to show here, including some that are not even photographed yet. Last weekend I did try the Named Shadi skirt and made 2 (knit skirts, so fast...). BUT it is this time, you know the one that comes every 8 weeks. I will be traveling to Guatemala (for rest) and Panama (for work). I have hopes to take pictures before and write blog posts during my holidays. We will see how this goes.Now, I would really like to hear about your strategies to make clothes that suit your lifestyle and not be distracted by pretty prints and patterns releases !  

Short Shorts on the line - Retro Burda 07/2013

Sewing Tidbits

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Dear readers,This is so rare that it is worth noting. I MADE IT FOR A DEADLINE. Ok, at work, I'm pretty much fine with deadlines but when it comes to sewing I believe that I am cursed. As soon as I think about following a sewalong/contest/etc. there are 100% chances that I won't. Hence, new strategy, I make whatever I want and then believe that the sew along gods will align their plans with mine. This is totally what happened with Shorts on the Line! 2 weeks ago I was browsing my burda magazine collection for a color blocked dress (did not find) but then I rediscovered those seriously cute vintage shorts from the issue of july 2013. I'm not entirely sure what is supposed to be retro about them but I know one thing, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! I've reached a new level of comfort in the daily Caribbean heat that denim cutoffs CANNOT compete with...wpid786-Burda-linen-shorts-5-3.jpg wpid788-Burda-linen-shorts-1-4.jpg wpid784-Burda-linen-shorts-1-3.jpg wpid794-Burda-linen-shorts-6-2.jpgAs you can see my ability to have any picture taken without a beagle biting my heel has considerably decreased over the last 4 months. Along with the one of making it with clean pants from the front door to the car, but that's another story. I also have to apologize for the wrinkles, which are the result of way more than 1 day of wear... (TMI?)The nice bonus about this project is that it felt "free". You may or may not recognize the navy linen I used for this dress, the pattern came from my existing burda collection (justifying to move twice overseas with magazines, yes), zipper and eyes and hooks from stash!wpid792-Burda-linen-shorts-5-4.jpg wpid790-Burda-linen-shorts-4-4.jpgRegarding the construction I did not look at the instructions but shorts are pretty straight forward. I used my usual technique for the fly (see here), the pockets are self lined and all seams are finished with the serger and then topstitched.My only note is about waistband, I HATE (yes hate) waistband. Especially the moment when you try to stitch in the ditch the wrong side folded. It gets distorted, it looks bad, stop me now because I can go on for HOURS. I've been experimenting with different techniques (I know Colette just wrote something about using the invisible hem of your machine but I haven't tried), and these were done with a lot of swearing and using the technique described here for shirt cuffs on which I plan to write very (or not) soon.wpid797-Burda-linen-shorts-11.jpg wpid799-Burda-linen-shorts-12.jpgwpid807-Burda-linen-shorts-13.jpg  I can foresee a another version with single welt pockets in the back because honestly, this was way too satisfying and eventless...Now pleeeeaaase tell me if you have a waistband secret (no hand sewing) that I have not heard about!!!

Lekala 4362 - Michael Kors

Sewing Tidbits

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Dear Readers,I made a terrible mistake. The sign that my pinterest board has become too big for my eyes has come. When I said that I was going to make Lekala 4362 because it reminded me of a Ralph Lauren design, I was terribly wrong... It was Michael Kors. Let's see it in pictures :Now that I confessed my mistake, let's look at my version, my Michael Kors knock-off very own Mickael Chors dress.wpid766-Lekala-4362-front-main.jpg wpid768-Lekala-4362-back.jpgThe differences that you can notice with the original "inspiration" are 1/ the pleats at the shoulder and 2/ the symmetrical hem. Although number 2 is deliberate, I have to admit that number 1 is probably linked to my limited non-existant understanding of russian...The fabric is an extremely lightweight denim bought before I moved out of NYC at Moods. I know it looks like linen but it's not, I promise!wpid772-Lekala-4362-front-second.jpg wpid776-Lekala-4362-closeup2.jpgwpid774-lekala-4362-closeup.jpgOn the opposite of my Lekala experience, this pattern required quite some work before I "made it work". First, as you know the patterns are generated automatically to fit your measurements, which I believe is fine when doing simple shapes, but becomes a bit more complicated when there are slashes and pleats and rotated darts all over... So that means WALKING ALL THE SEAMS, to make sure they match.The good thing is that I could still trust the fit enough not to make a muslin (time is a rare luxury these days). However the bottom part did not come "exactly as expected". On the below pictures the dress is just pinned at the sides on my form :wpid758-lekala-4362-form-before.jpgHum... Not really what I had in mind so I re-draped the front skirt portion and transferred the changes to the pattern to get this :wpid754-Lekala-4362-skirt-redraft.jpgwpid762-lekala4362-form-after.jpgI also took the back in before inserting the invisible zipper and decided to do my usual 4" inches tapering on pencil skirts, adding a slit at the back because it was obviously too late for a vent... I drafted a lining (the front bodice lining is included, one less thing to do) and found the most luscious silk twill in my stash. I have 0 idea where it comes from but if I had to (wondering who would threaten to take my dog if I could not remember where each piece of my stash is from?? The stash police maybe...), I would bet on Paron's in NYC.Oops blurry... The correction is in red!wpid764-Lekala-4362-lining.jpgFor the construction side, it went rather smoothly. I finished the lining edges to edges (the lining is a tiny bit smaller than the dress) because I hate facings. Did I tell you I hate facings? Ok, yes I probably did... But really, I HATE facings. The invisible zipper, the best one I ever sewed according to The Old Man, was inserted following the technique that I mentioned several times. Because it's the best. Yes. It. Is.One last thing, there is a new feature on the russian lekala website (leko-mail.net), if you click on "order" for a pattern, then under the technical drawing the last icon before the "save" button takes you to a page where you can CHANGE THE COLOR OR THE PRINT of the illustration. OMG. SO MUCH FUN!!! Go and try it for the dress I just made, and it works for all their recent patterns!Sometimes I wonder how a company can be so advanced on their core technology (automated made to measure patterns!!) and so behind with their website designs and marketing... What do you think ? Do you enjoy this fun feature ?Come back soon because I've been away from the blog for the only valid reason: I've been sewing a lot (well at least for my standards)... More later!

And this is how you lose sewing focus...

Sewing Tidbits

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I was in France. For 3 weeks. I bought fabric (of course). I came back less than a week ago and pre-washed all said fabrics (gold star for me). I started working on an apdapted Archer pattern for 1 or 2 shirts out of the new fabric.Proof #1Practising Plackets à la Off-the-Cuff mode...And Proof #2 Removing shoulder length...And then i visited Lekala's website and saw this :Good by focus... HELLO RALPH LAUREN INSPIRED SHEATH DRESS!!!I'm off to check my mailbox compulsively until the custom sized pattern arrives. It's been 6 minutes and 48 seconds. WHY IS IT TAKING SOOOO LONG??!More to come....

Linen dresses part I

Sewing Tidbits

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20140318-091635.jpg20140318-091608.jpg 20140318-091553.jpg 20140318-091505.jpg 20140318-091543.jpg OK I know I announced a lot of posts, or at least weekly ones, but of course life/work got in the way. I'm currently enjoying freezing in the streets of NYC for a quick 5 days and then I will be off to Guatemala. I made this dress before the end of 2013, and it is sort of an experiment than could be entitled "what happens when you let your boyfriend design your dress?".First of all, I have to say that he is very interested in women dressing. Like we shop together, for real. He does not wait around the entrance looking like he's trying to escape. He selects clothes on the rack, wait around the dressing rooms, gives his opinion about fit and quality of material, etc. I've never been so much of a group shopper but for some reason it works well and generally if I follow his advice I get a lot of compliments by strangers later... So ok I give in, a guy may have better taste than me to dress me... After doing a closet clean-out due to some weight loss and style evolutions, I talked him into defining a dress he would like to see me in.Overall no big surprises : it's short, it's fitted and in a solid color... Men... He also made the specific requirement that it should be linen (and navy). Which is good because it's the only natural fiber readily available in Haiti (at high cost though).For the pattern I used the made to measure lekala 5166 that I used for my little 90's dress. I altered the pattern to make a sleeveless dress (bring the underarm seam up and in), removed the back seam and its shaping so it's a bit more loose in the waist, raise the neck line and create a placket opening, and finally lengthen it  a little. I'm sticking to my strategy of working based on Lekala patterns, and it has been very rewarding so far!20140318-091648.jpg 20140318-091700.jpg 20140318-091713.jpg 20140318-091738.jpg Construction was fairly simple, I finished the seams with french seams and the front placket unbuttons down to the waist so no need for other closures. I fused the placket pieces and the opening on the dress. Unfortunately I only had white interfacing but it's on the inside so it does not bother me too much. Since I made that dress well over 3 months ago, it got a lot of wear already. Comfortable + flattering + easy to wash = heavy rotation!!20140318-091726.jpg 20140318-091523.jpg Overall the experiment was a total success so we tried a second time. I already have the pictures of that second (linen... again...) dress and should be able to post it soon! What about you ? Have you ever let someone else decide on all the aspects of a garment you were going to sew for yourself? Is your partner a good source of advice for clothing or does he run away when you say you are looking for constructive criticism ?

Late Archer appreciation: it's a shirt, it's a dress, it's a shirtdress!

Sewing Tidbits

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What, a new post??? I warned you, it's going to be crazy blogging weeks with at least a post a week... It will be probably followed by the usual hiatus. Not because I haven't been sewing (I have, 2 pencil skirts in one weekend, so proud!) but because I travel every 2 months so that usually put everything on hold. This time, I will be going back to NYC for 5 days (YAY!!! FRIENDS !!! DOUBLE YAY!!! MOOD FABRICS!!! TRIPLE YAY!!!) and then joining The Old Man) in Guatemala (3rd time now).

Now going to this dress, if you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I have a limited number but very pronounced obsessions (hum hum Miranda Kerr... hum hum). Among them you can count skinny jeans, pumps, shirts, maxi skirts, pencil skirts and SHIRTDRESSES. All these pretty much define how I dress on a daily basis.I already made one last year but since then I started thinking about a dress that would be basically a long loose shirt. And what would be more perfect than Grainline Studio's Archer pattern for that purpose ? That's right, NOTHING!Following the advice on Twitter from A Stitching Odyssey, I used size 0 for bust and waist and graded out to a 2 in the hips. In addition, to turn this shirt pattern into a dress I just added 10 inches below the hips area. I think it's important to do the lengthening below the hip level other wise you end up elongating the curve between the waist and the hip. Other than that I did 0 alterations. Yes, you read well zero.Knowing me you could have expected a debauch of 1/4" seam allowances, redrafting of the under collar, changing the button placket, etc. But, I wanted to follow the sewalong to the letter, so i did NONE of that, ET VOILA! I finished all seams with french seams, including the armholes (I recommend it, it's really really nice).The fabric is something synthetic that I found here in Port-au-Prince, I would go for something like rayon. Actually, The Old Man found it and made me buy it. He is EXTREMELY proud of it, so every time I got a compliment for the dress, he is beaming (men..). As much as I like to contradict him, I have to admit that it's nice to wear, easy to wash and to iron. I already used the remnants to make one of the pencil skirts mentioned above. But of course it will probably take me an additional 2 months to blog about those.So anyway, I did not make it on time for the Archer Appreciation month launched by Lucky Lucille and Miss Crayola Creepy back in December (part of my love/hate relationship with sewalongs) but I really love this dress. It's a great option for these days when you have nothing to wear! I have a white 23mm silk crepe in my stash that is screaming to be made into something similar to this very popular pinterest picture... I may remove 3/4" to the shoulder length though, because they are dropping a bit.Have a great day everybody, I will finish this post with a gratuitous picture of where I was last weekend, this is  Ile-a-Vache, an island in the South of Haiti.20140226-122851.jpg

Frankenpattern making, the result of Grainline Moss and Lekala 5430

Sewing Tidbits

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Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460 by Sewingtidbits

 You guys! I took pictures! I did, and of 3 projects so get ready for some intense blog activity, because I may be reaching a post a week! I know, I know, it's going to be INSANE!So, first to come is the result of my frankenpattern-making from december (DECEMBER !! shame...). I did a whole construction post then, so there is not much to add.

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460 by Sewingtidbits

 As you can see, it's VERY VERY short. I don't know what possessed me when I decided on the length... If I remember well I chopped off at least 3". Aaaah late night sewing, when will I learn ?? It's a lot of (short) legs showing... But surprisingly, it does not stop me from wearing it almost every weekend. It's like impractical cut-offs. What can I say, I like to live a dangerous life!Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460Now, on the whole process... The construction went seamlessly (haha) except because of my own stupid, stupid mistake. Can you spot what is wrong here ?

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460

That's right, I assembled the wrong yoke and back pieces AND serged them AND topstitched them. YES BOTH OF THEM. The result looked kind of weird but I did not stop. When I realized, even though I was alone in my sewing room, I was extremely embarrassed... Of course I took a picture, so that you can all make fun of me or reassure me that it happens to everyone (while thinking, OMG this girl is kind of dumb!).Apart from that I'm super happy with my pattern prep process, the zipper and the pockets almost assembled themselves (almost)...Grainline denim moss skirt

Denim grainline moss skirt Grainline moss denim skirt

Fabric : in my initial post, I said it was chambray and as you can all see, it's not. It's denim. OBVIOUSLY! I actually had to google the difference... The verdict is : denim is a twill, chambray is a plain will. So if you all knew this, you can make fun of me again.

Going back to this nice and soft denim, I do not remember where I bought it. It was 4 years ago, when I just moved to NYC and I decided to knock-off an Abercrombie gathered mini skirt. It was a disaster, skirt was never completed and very little fabric was salvaged, stored and moved to Haiti, to finally found its use 3 1/2 years later.

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio Lastly, I'm thinking more and more about what I sewed and what I sew. I lost some weight in the last 6 months, so I went through a closet purge assisted by The Old Man - TOM. It was a painful process, but I had to admit that I don't wear a lot of things that I made (including quite a few that was blogged last year). The time involved makes it extra hard to remove items from the closet, even though they were worn once. So I want to plan my projects a lot more carefully now.TOM has a very precise idea of what he likes me to wear (very decent, I promise) and I'm starting to realize that he is usually right. Currently, I'm running by him my ideas before I jump into the making and the results have been very wearable: more solid colors, natural material and focusing on a close fit. As much as I like loose shapes and interesting prints, they tend to make overpower my small frame. To give you an idea, the next posts will include 2 solid linen dresses and a shirt dress.What about you ? Do you have an approval process before you start a garment or you jump right into what your heart (or pinterest) tells you ?

Sewing with Lekala patterns - Part III / A simple dress

Sewing Tidbits

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Lekala dress 5166Lekala dress 5166Lekala dress 5166Lekala dress 5166

The last time that I managed to take pictures for this skirt, I also did this Lekala 5166. BUT while I was uploading them in Iphoto, something went wrong - Iphoto quit "unexpectedly" - and the pictures were GONE. Already deleted from the camera and nowhere in Iphoto. I could have cried.2 weeks later, I'm looking for a picture for a friend and I ended up founding the pictures of the dress in the photostream of my Iphone. My friend could not have cared less because I was trying to find for him the picture that a Haitian Government official uses as a chat profile pic where he happens to be topless with 3 rottweilers (yes it's true... and the guy well into his 50's). Anyway, I cared more about my dress!!If you remember, I scared you in this post deciding to use an old school Lekala Pattern, namely Lekala 5166. IT IS scary on paper but in real life it's just a cute fitted dress! The only change I made to the pattern (made to measure with the Lekala advanced features) was to make it shorter, waaaay shorter. I also changed the seam allowances in the back on the dress and the facings to apply my favorite invisible zipper method.There is not much more to say apart that I LOVE THIS DRESS and I already modified the pattern to make a sleeveless version out of linen (waiting to be photographed). Next time that I will make it with sleeves I want to remove maybe 1/2" of ease in the sleeve head as it almost puckered.The fabric was bought in Mood NYC when I went back in June. It's from Anna Sui, it was in the silk section but I have to admit that I never saw a silk with such a weave... As you can see on the back I paid absolutely NO attention to print matching. Should I have to? I don't think I care (which is weird because I'm usually slightly obsessive about this kind of things)!For the construction I mostly used my 4-thread serger as I am trying to teach myself to use it more. Since you can't really cout on the instructions here is my order of construction :

  1. Sew the front and back darts
  2. Serge shoulder seams on the dress and the facings
  3. Serge side seams
  4. Serge underarm seam and hem the sleeves.
  5. Set sleeve in armhole, serge the finished seam.
  6. Serge Center back seams separately, attach invisible zipper, sew the back seam, attach facings to zipper and sew facing to the neck of the dress.
  7. Hem the dress
  8. DONE!!

It really is a quick one and the result quite 90's but nice and easy to wear. The dress form shots :

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Did I convince you to use Lekala yet? Is print matching absolutely mandatory? But most importantly: How much 90's is too much 90's??

Franken-Pattern Making for faster/better sewing

Sewing Tidbits

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If you are not familiar with the concept of Franken-Pattern Making (you can read about it here and here, unfortunately the original post from Sew-4-fun is no longer accessible), it consists of using sewing patterns for the design details only and mix them with a pattern you already know fits well (your personal blocks/TNT patterns if you want). It's actually very close (if not the same) to what Carolyn does with her Pattern Sandwich method. It particularly suits my sewing style because 1/ my sewing time is limited and 2/ I don't always have the courage to make a muslin. I also tend to spend a lot of time on the pattern. Taking classes at FIT (draping and patternmaking) really taught me patience when it comes to working on the pattern.  I remember reading one day on Fashion Incubator that you could break up time like this :

1 hour of pattern making, 1/2 hour of cutting, 1/4 hour of actual sewing.

It was enlightening! I drafted blocks in the past, trust me! I started early, by the time I was 15 I decided that pattern companies had it all wrong (haha, teenage overconfidence... I also thought that sleeves were stupid because they could not fit in armholes, STUPID SLEEVES!). As a result I got books and I started drafting, some of the result were TERRIBLE (this was my first book, not good...), some were good (with this book, this one, or this one). But at the end of the day, where are those drafts ? I DON'T EVEN KNOW!! I spent looooong  hours making them and turning them into usable patterns. I want to start from something that is already a pattern!

I said it before, I believe that Lekala patterns are particularly suited to play the role of starting blocks (haha, pun intended) or be used for a Focus on Fit approach, because :

  1. I'm very happy with the fit of the made to measure feature. It fits almost perfectly without alterations
  2. They have a wide range of styles, so I can start from something already close to what I want
  3. They are relatively cheap, they don't add much to the overall cost of the project.
  4. I can print them with or without seam allowances. If I'm going to do a lot of changes I prefer to have none.

But let's take a practical case so that I can explain myself better!For Thanksgiving, amazing Jen of Grainline Studio organized a sale. I really admire the level of professionalism she brings to home-sewing patterns but I only made the Scout tee in the past. After seeing all the praise on her work (specially Archer), I decided to go ahead and purchase the Portside Travel Set, the Archer shirt, the Maritime shorts and the Moss mini skirt. Over the last few weeks I came to the conclusion that a short chambray skirt was THE basic that I was missing. To be with fair, I have this type of thoughts quite often, sometimes it's legitimate (a white shirtdess, black slacks, a pencil skirt, etc.), sometimes it's more questionable (a shiny midi skirt, leather shorts...). Anyway, my heart is currently set on a chambray mini skirt so I. NEED. ONE. NOW. The technical drawing of the Moss skirt is exactly what I want, but after looking at the size chart and Pattern Review, I know that there are very little chances that this pattern fits me right out of the enveloppe printer. My hips are size 4 and my waist is size 0...So I  went on a search on the Lekala website, looking for something as close as possible. I set my heart on number 5430.Grainline Studio - Moss SkirtA comparison of the 2 drawings shows the design changes that I'm going to make to the Lekala pattern. But in addition, I like to embed construction in my pattern as much as possible. This means often changing the zipper parts, reducing seam allowances, etc. For this case, I settled on the following changes:Design :

  1. eliminate the back dart for a yoke
  2. chop off the top of the waistband
  3. and add a back seam

Construction

  1. The Seam Allowances are dependent on the type of Seam Finish. I will serge and topstitche all visible seams on the inside. This means 1/2". The seam between the skirt and the waistband will be encased so I will use 3/8". But the top seam of the waistband will be only 1/4 to eliminate the need for grading it later. Hem will be double-folder : 3/4"and 1/2".
  2. Pockets : i read how pleased people were with the pockets being attached to CF on the Moss skirt and how deep they are so I want to keep this feature BUT I also liked the 1 piece pocket bag from the Jedediah shorts by Thread Theory I just completed so I will incorporate that too!
  3. Fly zipper : I know everybody has it's favorite technique, and people seems to feel very strongly about them. My best fly zipper of all times (and it was not only luck since I used it several times) was completed using this amazing book : Design Room Techniques by Laurel Hoffman. I know it's pricey but it's worth every penny. I promise!! Otherwise, I think this one by Notes from a Mad Housewife looks great too!

Now for the visual people out there, I took pictures of the process. First this is what a Lekala sheet looks like for a pattern without seam allowances :20131212-091117.jpgI started by drafting the yoke and closing the dart (TIP: close the dart first, which is not what I did on the picture below so I had to redraw my curve completely...)20131212-091139.jpgThen I added seam allowances on the back pieces and compared with the Moss pattern :20131212-091151.jpgMy yoke is a lot curvier than the Moss one, which makes sense since I have a bigger hips/waist differential (please not that I should have aligned the straight grains before taking this picture)20131212-091210.jpgThe Waistband pieces have been modified to be thinner and to have the extension needed for the fly zipper. There for there are 2 pieces fro the front and one is longer than the other.20131212-091336.jpgFor the front, I added seam allowances and drafted the zipper pieces from Laurel Hoffman's book, using a 5" zipper instead of 7".20131212-091201.jpgInterstingly enough, it seams that although the back are almost exactly the same width, my Lekala is considerably larger in the front.20131212-091227.jpg20131212-091236.jpgThe key of this zipper method is that right side and left side are NOT identical pattern pieces. I will remove 1/4" on the one of the sides but only after cutting since I'm cutting double layer this time.20131212-091256.jpgA better view of the zipper set :20131212-091307.jpgNow the pockets : I did not change the pocket shape from the Lekala pattern as I find it close enough.20131212-091243.jpgBut I redrafted the pocket bag, so that it's deeper, it reachs the middle (Grainline Instructions) but it's 1 full piece of contrasting fabric (I like to use muslin) to be folded and with "facings"  of self fabric (Thread Theory Style). The result is this :20131212-091250.jpgAn essential step after all this work is to WALK ALL THE SEAMS and check/correct the notches. This is what will make your sewing really fast because everything will match seamlessly (haha, again).For the fabric I had a very small leftover of chambray from an old old UFO (which I think I finally tossed). The limited amount of fabric will not allow extra for mistakes, all the more reasons to be extra careful with the pattern.20131212-091313.jpgAs you can see on the picture below, I like to cut my waistbands with the grain parallel to the longer side. I think it makes them more stable. You can see all the fabric I have... It's not much!!20131212-091322.jpgI hope this process post was helpful, as I said in my blog anniversary post, I'm trying to bring more substantial content and not only final results pictures. So I would love to hear your thoughts about franken-patterns, fly zippers, etc. !!

I'm alive... And I took pictures!!

Sewing Tidbits

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Sooooo, from what I read on other seamstresses blogs I'm not the only one struggling to take pictures. To be honest when it's between some sewing time and some picture taking time, sewing wins every time... But I managed to make an effort. I praised so much the Lekala patterns that you deserve to see what they look like. CIMG2327 So as I said in my previous post, I started with Lekala 4285. It's a nice pencil skirt with some shaping and pleats at the back. CIMG2308 The fabric is a stretch cotton pique from Mood. If I remember properly it was from Theory. It has quite a lot of stretch so it's actually perfect for a pencil skirt to make the walk easy. CIMG2321 I made one alteration that is going to sound major but it's actually kind of my fault. Between the stretch of the fabric and me being scared of not having enough ease in the hip area (so I stated a bigger hip measurement that usual when I ordered my pattern), the skirt was really big when I tried it on (before adding the facing). I ended up removing 1/2"on each side (total reduction 2"!!). Other than that, I made no alteration, not even the length!! CIMG2322 I used seam binding for all the seams. I'm sort of a seam binder maniac. I only got a serger this year and sometimes I get very upset that I don't get good results right away. Because of my classes at FIT, I took the habit of binding the raw edges of my muslin samples (yes I like to get As...) so I bind quite fast now... But I promised that I'm improving my use of the serger, I try to use it at least once per project.IMG_2202 I think the skirt will get a lot of wear, mostly at work. Of course, being white, it does suffer from a typical Murphy's Law. Everytime I wear it, I have a 50% chance to drop something on it (think coffee, blood, anything that will show A LOT) in the first hour that I arrive in the office. It would be way too easy if it happened before I left the house, because I could change and where would be the fun of trying to conceal a stain for the whole day!IMG_2196 The fabric definitely appears more wrinkly in the pictures than it is in real life. All the back seams are top stitched as well as the top of the pleats.IMG_2197If you plan on making of these patterns, don't rely on the instructions. Google Translate will NOT do a good job translating sewing stuff from russian to any other language. However the technical drawings are quite accurate so they are worth taking a look (or 2, or more...) at. IMG_2199For the invisible zipper, I used my favorite technique (from Fashion Incubator), I know some people do it differently but I really don't know why. It works perfectly every time! The adjustments that you need to your pattern are the followings:

  • The seam allowances in the zipper area is 1/2", from the top to 1.5" lower than the finishing point of the zipper.
  • The rest of the back seam is the way you like it (for me it's 3/8").
  • The facings have 0 seam allowance where they are going to be sewn onto the zipper.
  • Once you did this, you can refer to this post for the sewing order (includes pictures for the visual learners). I never even made the pressing jig (I'm too lazy).

So in my configuration, the pattern looks like this :IMG_1372And the finish zipper on the inside :IMG_2203What's your favorite zipper insertion method? Have you tried the Fashion-Incubator ones ?Next time I will show you the little 90's dress but I also already made a variation from that pattern and I finished the Jedediah shorts (YAY!!) so stay tuned, updates are coming!

Scary 3D and sewing in Russian (Lekala patterns)

Sewing Tidbits

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First of all, I moved in my new house (which is totally cute and adorable) and I HAVE A SEWING ROOM AGAIN :

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So I have been sewing! But in addition, I have been RUSSIAN sewing. I have jumped in the wonderful made to measure world of Lekala and I will have 2 reviews coming very very soon :This skirt (already done, just waiting to be photographed):

Lekala skirt

Nice huh? That skirt is a good example of their current offering, and the way they styled their newer patterns. Now get ready for old school Lekala with my other ongoing project, this dress :

Lekala dress 5166

OK OK I know what you are thinking... WHY ???

Well, because of the made to measure feature. I'm happy to report that It works EXTREMELY well (more on that below). After making the skirt (with super minimal alterations), I thought I should focus on a basic shapes to build a library of blocks with well-fitting patterns (by now you should know that I am a Fashion Incubator avid reader). So now in only 2 weeks (and no muslins), I have a basic pencil skirt pattern that finally accommodates the difference between hips and waist and a sheath dress pattern with short waist, wide hips, and narrow shoulders adjustments !

You may have an idea of how happy this makes me feel if like me you have been spending years of buying pattern making books, taking classes at FIT, reading blogs, grading for height and, of course, making countless muslins...

5166 lines

If you look at the lines, you can see that dress is nothing more than a basic sheath that I mat end up using endlessly!Even if it's a very basic shape, I believe that a short version in a nice print could be a cute cute dress. By chance (actually it has more to do with addiction to the silk section of Mood NY than with chance...), I am the happy owner an adorable Anna Sui print! Let's sew cake with frosting fabrics! The whole thing feels kind of 90's but hey, I grew up in the 90's.

If I was following a similar process to Sunni's "Focus on Fit", I think this is where I would start (or maybe with this dress eliminating the terribly cheap looking belt and the very classy front zipper...). And I would even go crazy and use 2 units and have the seam allowances included because I'm lazy and because blocks have seam allowances.

Now, if you want to join the fun and use the Russian patterns from Lekala (and not the american version), you NEED to read:

Once you read them this is my 2 additional cents: you need to do step 1 BEFORE step 2 on the registration page. I know I know... it sounds completely stupid not to. Sometimes you (ok, I... maybe it's only me) think that you can spare the extra step when really YOU CAN'T! Wait to receive the confimation of your PIN number (yes you need to wait... and it may take a few hours...). Then you can go as described by Fehr Trade and Steppenpuppy and use step 2 (second option) to register the credits you bought (done on softkey with a paypal account so you don't give your banking info to any russian website...).

The made to measure feature. What I can report after 2 patterns is that it works extremely well and ease is minimal !! For less than 2 dollars per pattern it is totally amazing.

One detail is that I feel that if you use the same measurement for hips with and without belly slightly projecting you will receive a blank email, so I put a minimal difference (1cm). Now get ready for the funniest and most hideous version of your body that you could ever imagine. This is mine:

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So when you find a pattern that you like, you can click directly on this button (next to the order button) (line-size)  and there you will enter the "string" that you received with your scary 3D body. Choose your printing options (for me it's pdf and letter), enter the email address you have been using for registration in step 1 and click "proceed with the order". Now tricky part (not really but I hesitated so...) choose the 3rd option : Payment from the user"s account (pin code 4 digits). Enter your PIN (the one from step 1) and you are done ! Your order may take has much as an hour to arrive in your mailbox so don't worry!

Finally you need to be pretty comfortable about sewing on your own, the Google translate of the instruction from Russian is... confusing to say the least! I will try to give more details about fit, use of seam allowances and other things in my review of the skirt.

I also want to report that I contacted the customer service: leko@lekala.info (twice... because of my refusal to submit and accomplish step 1 before step 2...). There is a big language barrier but they are very responsive, less than a day, and willing to help.

Have you tried lekala? What do you think about them?