Archive for December, 2011

December 29, 2011

As Promised…

As promised, here’s the Pussy Bow Blouse on the dressform. After having some time to think about it, I’ve come to following conclusions:

  1. I like the arms. They are softly gathered at the cuff and the sleeve head. They fall perfectly at the top of my forearm.
  2. The body does nothing for my curves. Other than the side darts, the torso is extremely masculine. The side is a straight cut with no shaping and it seems mismatched with the arms.
  3. I should have made the pussy bow. The masculine body and the feminine arms wouldn’t seem so mismatched with it. It’s like the dude’s rug – it would have really tied to blouse together.
  4. It’s white. Seriously. I started looking at my closet and it turns out, other than white undershirts, I don’t own all-white garments (edit: that’s a lie. I made this over the summer and love it! What gives?) I think my subconscious has known all along that white isn’t flattering to my skin tone. Molly may be on to something when she suggested dyeing the blouse.
December 28, 2011

7. The Good Old Rain Button-Down

I set off this afternoon intending to get shots of my latest creation only to get rained on a few minutes in. I managed to get two shots; unfortunately, the blouse is almost entirely covered by a pullover in both. If nothing else, I’ll try tomorrow (update: see here) to grab a few on the dressform of the blouse alone.

Pattern: Pussy Bow Blouse by Pattern Runway

Fabric: Cotton Batiste

Notions: 8 white buttons (that I ripped from one of Kelley’s shirts… shh!)


This was my fourth pattern that I’ve used from Pattern Runway and as always it was very well drafted. The collar came together very easily which was what I was most apprehensive about. I cut a medium but in future makes I’ll grade the hips to a large – the bottom spreads when I move but nothing awful. The only part I struggled with was the curved hem. The pattern calls for a 2″ hem allowance which seemed excessive for a lightweight garment and was entirely impossible with my skill level. I consulted my sewing guides which suggested running a gathering stitch to help ease the excess which helped on outside curves but did nothing for those inside ones. I finally gave up and did a narrow hem which looks more than acceptable.

The original intention of this project was to check the style on before I cut some luscious cotton/silk to make a copycat of this blouse. I grabbed a stashed cotton batiste but I was short about a yard so I left out the bow. To add some visual interest (and texture!) I took inspiration from this lovely top and beaded the collar tips. It’s nothing revolutionary but I had a lot of fun planning it out and beading fabric for the first time. I was actually pretty amazed that the only beads that I had in my stash were copper-colored! Just waiting for this project, weren’t they? I had to rip out my first attempt as I wanted a machine washable shirt and I had my doubts that they would stay on. Once I got the hang of securing the little buggers, the process went really quickly. I’ll definitely be adding beads on future projects (wouldn’t it be divine as a hem accent?).

Here’s the thing – I think the shirt is lovely. It fits well and is well sewn (not to toot my own horn) but there’s a reason why I don’t own white button-down shirts. They just don’t speak to me. I went through my entire closet trying to feel comfortable in an outfit that showcased the blouse but nothing was “me”. Most left me feeling like I was in a catering uniform or perhaps playing the bells in a Christmas pageant. This is baffling because browsing through pinterest shows so many inspiring button-downs but, at the end of the day, the only way I wanted to wear the shirt was heavily layered. Fine but it doesn’t make the most thrilling sewing showcase!

I’m going to keep trying but until I feel more comfortable remixing the button down, I’m going a different route for that cotton/silk!

December 26, 2011

Update: Independent Pattern Designers

Adding to the list:

  • Christine Haynes – The author of Chic and Simple Sewing raised funds through Kickstarter to produce two sewing patterns. No word yet on the release date.
  • DIY Couture – The un-pattern pattern company, DIY Couture produces books and e-books with instructions to make the garments from their collection.
  • The Center for Pattern Design – This wonderful center produces patterns from time to time. Julian Roberts’ Pyramid Dress was featured on the December cover of Threads.
  • Fashion in Harmony – Designers Julianne Bramson and Susan Lenahan have created a line of bias cut sewing patterns. Check out their bias cut sewing seminar coming in 2012!
December 26, 2011

A Bead Eye View…

I apologize for the double post this morning but I couldn’t contain my excitement for the project on my ironing board. It’s a wearable muslin (what does that even mean?) for Pattern Runway’s Pussy Bow Blouse.  The sewing is moving quickly and it should be done in the next day or two.

December 23, 2011

Outfit: Batik Skirt Remix

Friends, I had a feeling you all were interested in independent pattern designers but the stats proved it! It’s intriguing to see which topics drive the most traffic and yesterday’s brought in a whole slew of new readers. Welcome and I hope that I can keep your attention now that you’re here!

Gail, from Today’s Agenda, asked me this week how much wear my challenge garments are getting so I thought that I’d continue posting pictures of my outfits. I’ve been wearing a similar getup to the one above but pairing my batik skirt with my black sorbetto and a black sweater. I’m actually more fond of that ensemble but in an attempt to continue mixing prints I thought I’d try it with this Marimekko shirt that purchased on a trip to Finland eight years ago (!!). How this shirt is not threadbare and misshapen, I’ll never know.

I’m always excited to see how other sewists incorporate handmade garments into their wardrobe. The goal for this blog has always been to build an effortless wardrobe and sew pieces that work with my other garments not against them. I’m hoping that these outfit posts will show you how I’m remixing previously made pieces to create new and exciting outfits. If there’s something you’d like to see in regards to outfit posts, please let me know.

December 22, 2011

Independent Pattern Designers

I’m a huge fan of independent patterns and I’m always on the search for new ones. I thought that I’d include a working list of pattern designers that I’ve come across for your reference. I’ve tried to stick to designers whose focus is on adult apparel. Some of these brands have numerous patterns while others are smaller outfits with one or two items. I haven’t tried them all but each listing has a pattern that I would like to try. Please be aware that the links below will open in a new window.

  • Colette – There’s little that I could say about Colette that hasn’t already been said – vintage inspired designs with excellent community support.
  • Sewaholic – From Vancouver, Tasia designs for pear shaped women but these classic patterns would look good on many shapes and sizes.
  • Pattern Runway – There’s no hiding how much I love Sarah Olding’s designs – these downloadable patterns are a treat. There are a few styles available in print.
  • Jamie Christina – Boutique apparel patterns with bohemian flair.
  • Sis Boom – PDF patterns brought to you by designer Jennifer Paganelli.
  • Megan Nielsen Sewing Patterns – From the designs to the packaging, these patterns are beautiful. Currently there is an emphasis on maternity wear with plans to expand.
  • Favorite Things – Taking inspiration from both past and present, Favorite Things offers sewing patterns for all members of the family.
  • Grainline Studio –  Jen, the designer behind Hound, offers sewing patterns for download through her blog.
  • Salme – After being frustrated with available patterns, Elisa of Salme began offering these chic, stylish patterns for download.
  • Victory – Kristiann introduced her new line of print-at-home patterns in November 2011. These patterns will inspire you to make your own unique garment.
  • Papercut – From New Zealand, these modern patterns come with some nifty packaging that transforms into a hanger for your finished garment.
  • Nette – Fellow blogger Nette introduced her first pattern in November. It’s available to download for free.
  • Wiksten– Limited edition hand-drawn sewing patterns by Jenny Gordy.
  • Style Arc – Pulling inspiration from celebrities, Style Arc provides patterns for the latest fashions.
  • Sew Liberated – Meg McElwee designs patterns with country charm.
  • Hot Patterns – High fashion inspired sewing patterns.
  • Merchant & Mills –  As thewallinna put it, these British patternmakers are bringing couture to the public.
  • Christine Haynes – The author of Chic and Simple Sewing raised funds through Kickstarter to produce two sewing patterns. Christine also has a Craftsy class with an exclusive blouse pattern!
  • DIY Couture – The un-pattern pattern company, DIY Couture produces books and e-books with instructions to make the garments from their collection.
  • The Center for Pattern Design – This wonderful center produces patterns from time to time. Julian Roberts’ Pyramid Dress was featured on the December cover of Threads.
  • Fashion in Harmony – Designers Julianne Bramson and Susan Lenahan have created a line of bias cut sewing patterns. Check out their bias cut sewing seminar coming in 2012!
  • Onion – Jette Frokiaer designs sewing patterns with an eye on Scandanavian fashion trends.  Her patterns have been translated and are sold through MariaDenmark.
  • Your Style Rocks – This pattern company takes reader design submission and offers FREE downloadable patterns from the winners!
  • Pattern Scissors Cloth – Patternmaker and designer, Sherry, offers her patterns through her blog. She is just finishing a sew-a-long for her Ruby Slip so there’s a lot of support available!
  • Sense and Sensibility Patterns – As they’re slogan says: “winsome clothing with an old fashion appeal”.
  • Wearing History – Vintage and historical inspired sewing patterns.
  • Paco Peralta – Classic sewing patterns.
  • Fitzpatterns – Print-at-home patterns with alternative appeal.
  • The Sewing Workshop – writer and sewing instructor Linda Lee offers a variety of apparel patterns. Also available from her shop are the intriguing Shapes patterns, a collaboration between Louise Cutting and Linda Lee.
  • In House Patterns – Alexandra describes her line as “runway inspired and vintage influenced creating a perfect blend of sophistication, elegance, and style for the fashion savvy home sewist.” Keep your eyes peeled for new PDF patterns from this emerging company!
  • Seamingly Smitten – A mix of both women’s and children’s garments by designer Jenny Hall.
  • Dixie DIY – I recently found Dixie through The Sew Weekly and have enjoyed perusing her blog recently. She’s published a few of her designs in PDF’s on her blog. Most are free and some are multi sized.
  • Angela Osborn – Anna of ::Paunnet:: introduced me to Angela Obsorn’s patterns recently and I’ve been so excited to share her store with you. She sells her PDF patterns through her own website as well as Etsy. There’s an interview with her over on Anna’s blog this morning that you’ll want to check out.
  • SewnSquareOne – thanks, Dixie, for pointing this company out. SewnSquareOne was recently featured in Threads Magazine. They have 7 designs that have some intriguing variations.
  • Ohhh Lulu Lingerie & Apparel – Sarah has designed some beautiful lingerie patterns with more to come!
  • You Sew Girl– With detailed instructions, Nicole Mallalieu’s patterns are designed to teach you the principals of construction.
  • Sew Chic – Modern patterns with retro style.
  • Deuxieme Arrondissement – Lovely maternity patterns with several that would work regardless if you have a bun in the oven. In French.
  • By Hand London – Charlotte and Elisalex are launching their first pattern collection October 2012. Stay tuned!
  • Modular Design for Couture Artwear – As her bio puts it, “Kayla’s patterns have no facings, no zippers, and no buttonholes, and lots of creative potential.”
  • Ralph Pink Patterns – From basic blocks to corsets, Ralph Pink offers downloadable patterns.
  • Cake Patterns – Blogger Steph of Three Hours Past is set to release her first pattern in November. Stay tuned!
  • Mrs. Depew Vintage – While mostly vintage reproductions, Anne has several original designs in her Etsy pattern shop.
  • Immi Made Patterns – Immi Meyer offers free patterns through her blog.
  • Make It Perfect -From Tasmania, Toni Coward offers patterns for all ages – be sure to check out her women’s collection.
  • The Makers’ Journal – You’ll find a range of clothing and accessories printed on beautiful recycled stock paper from this Australian designer.
  • Made By Rae – While the majority of Rae’s patterns are for children, I couldn’t resist adding her to the list after the release of the Washi Dress. I hope to see more adult apparel patterns in the future!
  • Deer and Doe – Pretty sewing patterns from Paris. In French.

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Do you know of an apparel pattern designer not included here? Comment with a link and I’ll include the listing here.

December 21, 2011

6. The Old Is New Blouse

Pattern: The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook – Our Blouse

Fabric: 1 yard polka dot poly blend, 1 yard silk/cotton voile

Notions: A smidge of 1/4″ elastic


What I love about documenting my sewing is it’s often forced me to take a second look at shapes and lines that I’ve previously dismissed. I am so in love with this blouse and if I’d seen it on a rack in the store I would never have tried it on. I’ve always thought that peplum blouses like this would be unflattering on me and draw negative attention to my hips but after spending a week diligently working on it,  I was determined to find a way to love it. I tried on at least a dozen outfits to find ensembles that weren’t just acceptable but some of my favorites this year. The best part is it forced me to dig out this skirt that I’ve had for ages but only wore once. The blouse breathed new life and possibilities into the garment and this revelation is going to do major damage on my ability to get rid of old clothes!

The blouse was a joy to make. I cut a 38 and I’m pleased with the overall fit. When I make the blouse again, I’ll take off about 3/4″ at the back waist and remove the same amount in the form of a french dart in the front. This is something that I’m learning I need to do for princess seams but luckily the gathering at the waist hides these issues. The only major change that I made to the pattern was to get rid of the side seam zipper. Since the elastic and tie-waist left quite a bit of room, I felt like a zipper would be rather silly.

This is the first long sleeve blouse I’ve made and it’s actually the first long sleeve woven shirt in my closet. I’m not sure how this happened but I’ll continue to work on correcting this closet-error. That being said, I’m really thrilled with my work on the set in sleeves and gathering in particular. I always worry about getting the gathering even on each side (especially gathering that’s so prominent) and I took extra caution when completing this step by hand basting the sleeves in first. In fact, yesterday’s post shows that I hand basted throughout the project and it really helped to keep the shoulder “lining” stable and in place.

I’m pleased with the results and look forward to using this pattern again. I think there are so many opportunities to make a really unique garment with these lines. Has anyone else made up this blouse yet?

December 19, 2011

Taking It Slow

After rushing through my last project and feeling disappointed by doing so, I decided to slow down for my remaining winter wardrobe pieces. I realize that this may mean I won’t meet my self-imposed deadline but that’s no reason to continue this sloppy sewing. I’ve been working on the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook Blouse since last week, taking small steps each day to prevent fatigue. Today I’m inserting the sleeves and hemming the bottom – which means I’m finally done! I hope to have final project photos up soon.

December 16, 2011

5. The Art Nouveau Dress

I’m finally posting pictures nearly two weeks after finishing this garment! The lack of light and a crammed schedule made it rather difficult to get some shots for you all but I finally succeeded.

I go back and forth on how I feel about the dress. It’s a great vehicle for color and with the right belt and accessories it can be quite cute on. However, I don’t seem to gravitate towards it and I fear it might be forgotten in my closet.  I’m hoping that once it warms up around here, I might feel more inclined to wear the dress. The sleeves are an awkward fit with coats and you can forget about a cardigan – the ease in this dress is just too bulky. I’m going to keep experimenting with styling the dress but there’s just something about it that isn’t all that flattering.

The first time I made Pattern Runway’s Kimono Dress pattern, the fabric was heavier with more drape and hugged my curves for a much more flattering look. I think the pattern either needs a lofty, ethereal fabric or one with significant heft like my 4 ply. This poly crepe from Gorgeous Fabrics doesn’t fit into either of these categories.

It’s too bad really because I was so in love with this yardage when it came in the mail a few months ago. It immediately reminded me of art nouveau posters and graphics. If I could do it all over, I would take this original inspiration further and incorporate the fashion at the turn of the century into the dress design. I’m afraid I picked the wrong fabric for the pattern and the wrong pattern for the fabric.

December 10, 2011

On the Sewing Table

With shortened days and holiday preparations, a photo shoot of my latest garment hasn’t been possible yet. While I search out some time with the husband at home, I’ve started on the next project.


Source: via Anna on Pinterest



Last week, while attending one of my bookclubs, I picked up the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. It’s been so fun to see all the contributions and read about them on various blogs and I just can’t wait to try my hand at the patterns. For the first go, I’ve chosen the blouse and plan to embroider the embellishment lines on the front and back pieces. I haven’t done much embroidery but I stumbled upon this wonderful blog with tutorials on every imaginable stitch. It’s such a great resource that I wanted to share it with you.  Sarah’s still adding to it too, so I look forward to watching the progress.