Just Patterns Linda Wrap Dress

A project 17 years in the making…

Dear Readers,

I remember vividly why I started sewing and I bet you do too. In my case, I was 14, I had my mind set on a particular dress I saw at the mall for the holiday season and I had no money to buy it. It’s was a bustier dress with a floor length a line skirt. The fabric was a cheap purple woven with some stretch and a tulle overlay. One of my friends was fortunate enough to own it, so I borrowed it and decide to recreate it. I went to “Marché Saint Pierre” in Paris, bought inappropriate fabric and a plastic zipper. I went home and got to work. No pattern, no tutorial, nothing… Unsurprisingly, I ended up with a big mess. But I took it to a professional seamstress, aka my grandmother, who was very encouraging and ended up saving the day.

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Just Patterns – Bias Slip Dress

With time sewing has become something more than just owning clothes I couldn’t buy, I learned to enjoy the process of making and recognized it is an essential part of my inner balance. But why I sew has never really changed, it has always been about making the clothes I couldn’t afford or find. The clothes that I find appealing today are not the same but I still can’t buy them… Setting high-end RTW as my standard is a sure way to get frustrated. With some exceptions, there are no patterns, books, or YouTube videos teaching you how to make what is for sale in Galeries Lafayette or on Net-a-porter. I bought all the books, trying to teach myself pattern making. I took drafting and draping classes at FIT. I even took a CAD pattern making class.

Getting the fit and the silhouette right is a time consuming affair. And even more time consuming than drafting a shell/sloper/block is adding everything else, the pockets, the closure, the collar, etc. All the little elements that make or break a design. As you witnessed if you have been following this blog for some time, I kept going back and forth between making my own patterns, hacking existing ones and sewing garments straight out of the envelope.

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Just Patterns – Linda Wrap Dress

In addition, sewing patterns are only one side of the equation. Construction is the other side, and home sewing has its own set of rules. Some of those rules are linked to the home sewing machines, some are from past practices and some are adapted from “industry” or from “couture”, etc. What they have in common is they are not equivalent in terms of the results they provide. For instance, like many others, I find that sewing with smaller seam allowances is more accurate and reduces the need for trimming/notching, etc. But, because home sewing is somewhat codified, many pattern companies still release patterns with 5/8″ seam allowances. Yet in some cases, for instance when your fabric frays a lot, wider SAs may be a good idea. Let’s just say: it’s complicated…

How much the sewing world has changed in the last 5-10 years is something that I recognize and I write about regularly here. But I still feel that there is more to be brought to the table, and I’m going to assume that there may be others like me. Or rather, I’m going to test if others feel like me! While on maternity leave, I was obviously not seeing things clearly and I decided it was the perfect time (??!!) to release sewing patterns… I convinced Eira (from the The Pattern Line) to follow me in my madness, and we used her existing pattern library to choose five patterns. They were digitized and graded and four of them are already available in our Etsy Store.

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Just Patterns – Kate Bias Top

In a way, we followed the Minimum Viable Product approach that is so popular with Tech Start-ups. It consists in developing a new product with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters and to take their feedback into account to refine further iterations. This is guiding a lot of our choices for the project. The website, Just-Patterns.com is nothing fancy but hopefully it is functional. Our only “marketing” (that’s a big word for what we are doing…) currently is Instagram with @just_patterns and the patterns are for sale in an Etsy Store so that we don’t have to run our own e-commerce. The instructions are minimal by choice, because we want to keep the costs down and we believe that dressmakers have a mind of their own. You can suggest things but they always end up doing it their way. That’s for sure how we do things around here!

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Just Patterns – Pleated Skirt

To understand better how to improve, it’s crucial for us to get systematic feedback from our users. We currently systematically email a survey 30-45 days after the pattern purchase and we maintain a log of comments made to us directly by email/IG or that we find on blogs and sewing boards. This is something that we really want to take to the next level and in order to do that we are about to set up a pattern development group of 10-20 sewers to review our existing and future patterns. It’s similar to pattern testing, in the sense that the patterns will be provided for free and there will be some sort of deadline. But we want to make it a wider discussion space to review what is working and what is not. If you are interested, you can email me!

I think that’s already quite a long post, so I will leave it at that for today! I will of course keep running this blog for my personal sewing but also to keep you updated on how the Just Patterns project is going. I hope you find it interesting and that you don’t hesitate to comment if you have questions/suggestions/comments/criticisms! Everything is welcome and you know how much I love to discuss what is going on in the sewing world in the comments!!

Tidbits #6

Dear readers,

It’s Me Made May! I wish I was able to write some clever opening about it but really I can’t… I obviously didn’t make any “commitment” to MMM but I’m trying to make conscious decisions about wearing my handmade garments more often. So I’m loosely participating, and I broke my personal pathetic record by wearing at least one me made items around 10 days of the the months so far. I actually don’t have a clear idea of how often I wear clothes I made rather than RTW. But I’m nerdy and I would like to know more about how much I actually wear my clothes (not only the handmade ones). I bought the Stylebook app but I have yet to catalog my closet… I’ll report back if I ever get around it!

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Although I’m fascinated by people who dress exclusively with clothes they made, I never made it an goal for myself. I wonder why I find the idea more attractive than the execution. Maybe because I have RTW items that I really love. So far I noticed that one of my challenges is that I haven’t been sewing pants for years. I wear a mix a denim and slim ankle cigarette pants. I know that sewing jeans have been all the rage lately. It has sort of been on my mind but I never particularly struggled to find styles or fit that I liked in RTW (I know… lucky me) so I guess my incentive is quite low. I also had a less than satisfactory trial years ago with the pattern considered the holy grail of jeans patterns back then, Jalie 2908. So that leaves me the option of sewing trousers. It’s tough. I don’t like the patterns out there, the crotch fitting is fiddly and I was never completely satisfied. Something to think about…

Let’s move on to this edition of things I enjoyed these days!

1. Sewing sketch on SNL

I always found the “sewing” part of superhero movies hilarious. I’m glad SNL picked up on that!

2. Designer Sewing Patterns

Since my teenage years, I’ve been dreaming of sewing some of the free designer patterns released on Showstudio. And they just published a new one! From the archives, my favorites were always the McQueen kimono and the Galliano pirate jacket. The Watanabe dress is also quite intriguing. I love just looking at the pattern pieces because they are “THE REAL THING”!!.

3. Echo Look

Did you see the Echo Look camera that Amazon is about to release. I can’t say that I care about the style “advice” feature. Seriously why would I ask a robot to tell me if I’m “well dressed”? Beth from SunnyGal Studio summarized my thoughts perfectly in her latest Random Threads. However I can’t help but think that it would make taking outfit pictures a breeze. Also, it could act as an improved mirror for self-fitting. I know that I could just put my camera on the tripod semi-permanently but with a little human about to start crawling that’s probably a bad idea… Do you know of a similar hands-free camera (hopefully a lot cheaper…) ?

4. Is Fast Fashion A Class Issue?

Are ethically produced clothes a privilege for the wealthy? Should people with limited disposable income really be expected to pay more for clothes just to avoid buying cheap stuff that’s bad for the planet?

Tabi Jackson Gee, Refinery 29

Those questions are of course tough to answer but this article is a good follow-up of the previous tidbits and the discussion that followed in the comments. The only solution for me is to buy less. It’s nearly impossible to ensure we are buying “clean” clothes/fabric etc. I feel that I need to go through my closet again to remove some items. I found out that the less clothes I own, the less I feel like shopping. I’m not quite sure why but whatever works! I may use ThredUp to send clothes out. I used it recently to buy some tops and I thought it was more convenient than going to a consignment store.

That’s it for today, I hope you share what you’ve been enjoying lately in the comments and some of your thoughts on MMM and 100% handmade wardrobes!

 

Tidbits #5

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!

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Sewing Bits

    1. 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!

      Made by Meg

      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…

 

  1. Sewing Polar Bear

Day 12 of #miymarch17 – Teacher. I suspect there are many patient mothers out there getting credit today ☺Mine is no exception, but my interest in sewing first appeared a few years ago. Since I have studied and worked far from home I have mostly used the Internet. There are some question though that Google has a hard time answering (like "how to get your collar band not to look like a turtle made it" and "how to sew that armhole of your coat without having a mental breakdown"). I have used Skype with my mum in those cases (let's just say she is very, very patient 😂). Side note: I'm currently trying to improve my shirt making skills and have discovered Angela Kane and her YouTube channel. She almost makes me want to quit my job, drink all the tea and handstitch collars all day long! 😆

A post shared by Miriam (@sewingpolarbear) on

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…

Other Bits

    1. 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?

 

    1. 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.

 

    1. 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.

 

    1. 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!

 

  1. 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!

Tidbits #4

Dear readers,

 

I hope you are enjoying the weekend. I am finally catching up on sewing plans I have been delaying and I’m finally making some progress. For today’s edition of Tidbits I gathered some information about making an arm for your dressform.

chambray-draping-5Sewing Bits

  1. First I thought I would mention this nice blog I follow : Note to self. I just love the short note style and the pretty nordic style pictures!
  2. This post from Cloning Couture, is what reminded me about arm making. Mary is even offering her pattern for free!
  3. I drafted mine (above) from a book one of my professor had when I took classes at FIT Integrating Draping, Drafting and Drawing. I’m fairly certain this is the method referred by Pandemic Apparel, unfortunately the post is old and all the pictures are gone…
  4. The last one, I’m terribly curious about. It’s from researcher Rickard Lindqvist who write all sorts of complicated interesting things about pattern making. His free pattern is a 3D simulation of an arm. It looks so unusual. If anyone you make it I hope you will let me know!!

Other Bits

  1. I’m not a quilt person, but I thought those modern designs by Louise Gray were very pretty and would fit very nicely in my apartment…
  2. I have a total crush on the Fall 2017 RTW collection by Christian Dior. I just want to dress in subtle shades of navy all day, every day!
  3. Talking about Dior, here is an nice Instagram accountnice Instagram account of a “petite main” who works as an extra during runway season. Enjoy!

That’s it for today, I hope you still find Tidbits interesting! Please let me know what you have been reading/watching/listening to!

Tidbits #3

Dear Readers,

 

It’s been a while since I wrote the last Tidbits, but here we are. I had drafts sitting in my blog editor forever and I had to delete a lot of the links which I thought were not relevant anymore. But I kept some, that I thought were interesting anyway. I want to mention first that if you are like me and enjoy those round-up posts, my two favorite sources articles you won’t find mentioned on all the other blogs are Oliver + S weekend links and the newsletter of Center for Pattern Design.

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On my sewing table…

Sewing bits

  1. I have an obsession about automated drafting to measurements so of course, Sew Fitography caught my eye. It seems to me that this is something that should already be widely available… At least, if I was a big pattern company, I would be investing on this quite a lot. Two years ago, I had an interesting discussion with the founder of Fitle (we graduated from the same business school) and it was fascinating. They are already working with established brands for RTW but also with custom shirt makers. The founder never thought about the home-sewing pattern market… Can you imagine trying on a pattern on your virtual double to decide what size to start with? All the fabric and time one would save?? That’s the dream for me!
    I just love when sewing intersects with new technology. I have so many questions about Kite, the pattern projector that Upcraft club is developing, but I’m excited to see what comes out!!
  2. This is a shameless plug, but my friend and I just started a pattern project. We had some sales already and we are super excited. I think you can tell that marketing is not our strong suit…. We’d rather be sewing all day!! I really want to do a full post here to explain the why and the what but I’m still thinking and pondering!
  3. I never heard of In-Seam studio before but I find their tutorials so pretty. I kind of wish I had the eye to make things look like that…

Other bits

  1. I believe I could spend hours just looking at behind the scenes video of Couture…. I’ll assume that all of you saw Signé Chanel, but maybe you haven’t seen that short video on the making of the mirror dress from S/S 2017.
  2. A great article by Tim Gunn.

 

That’s all for today! Did you read/see/heard something super interesting recently?

Tidbits #2

Dear readers,

Welcome to the second edition Tidbits where I randomly link and talk about sewing and non-sewing things that have been on my mind lately! I really enjoyed the discussion and the links you shared on Tidbits #1 so I thought it would be worth to keep going…

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found on Sigrid Sewing Projects

Sewing Bits

Interesting thoughts from Debbie at Lily Sage & Co on why you may end up with more iterations of a trend when you sew then when you buy RTW. Refining a design does require more than one garment for most of us, but unlike Debbie I don’t do much transformation/refashion of my previous makes and no matter how slow I sew my wardrobe grows and grows and grows…

You may have read recent blog posts and reactions (here at Sew Liberated and at Noble&Daughter) about the pressure of blogging, which I thought was quite interesting. I would link it to the sewing blog transition almost exclusively towards showcasing finished items. I was enjoying recently the latest posts of Sigrid who has been in my reader for a very long time.Like Sigrid’s, a few years successful blogs were all about elaborate evening dresses, little french jackets or tailored coats sewalongs, highlighting the process of making things. I went back to Gertie‘s older posts too, when she was actually sewing her way through the Vogue Book (exciting sewing blog times!!), and her posts were definitely more about the making. Today, the frequency of finished garments posts  influences heavily the popularity of a blog. While, blogs showcasing the process of making complex garments still exist but they are just not the norm anymore.

It could explain the relative simplification of patterns offered by some Indie Designers, as they try to match our expectation to have a quick make to show. But of course, there is only so much content you can create around making a woven tank, so you only post about your finished garment. The vicious circle of consumption is activated and you are looking for the next tank pattern, to sew in 2 hours and blog in 1!

In addition, it puts pressure on the Indie designers to try to churn out patterns as quickly as possible. I guess that if you are StyleArc or Burda, you have professional patternmakers, samplemakers and graders on your payroll as well as a huge library of existing patterns to derive new designs from. It’s completely possible for you to do monthly releases, especially since instructions are rather sparse… But if you’re not one of those established companies and you have the pressure of delivering new patterns regularly, it can lead to disappointing or underwhelming patterns. In my opinion, the latest pattern from Tilly and the Buttons, the Marigold Jumpsuit is the perfect example of that.

As a disclaimer, I’ll say that I am not in T&TB’s target customer so this pattern is not intending to fit my expectations. I have also no idea if this pattern is actually selling or not. So it’s definitely a stretch for me to call it a bad pattern release. It may be selling like hot cakes (“comme des petits pains” for those of you who like French-isms). But in my eyes, it’s just so sad. I don’t see it flattering, well-designed, filling some kind of gap or even cute. I know we could enter the endless debate of what is a flattering fit, personal taste, good design, etc. and that’s not exactly where I want to go. I’m not even sure that it does match well the rest of this designer’s offering. In addition, there are several cheaper and better looking jumpsuit patterns available in Burda, Big4 and other Indies… I will direct you to this fun free pattern released on the French blog Essais & Erreurs, if you are looking for something different!

On the other hand, having some kind of trust issue with the more complex patterns of Indie designers, I rarely buy them and even more rarely make them. I want to remedy that and I bought the Françoise Jacket by République du Chiffon. Between the pattern price and the shipping to the US, I ended paying way more than I normally would allow myself for patterns so I hope it proves a success. I am in love with the proportions and the narrow collar but of course I want to make changes so I will have to make a muslin and take it from there. I would like to make 2-pieces sleeves with functional button vents, add a back vent (or 2) and see if I can forego the double closure. Lots of work ahead, so I’m not sure I will gather the energy to do it all.

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and other bits

Because we cannot only talk and read about sewing, here is an interesting article in the NY Times about having more time to unwind, except if you are a woman

Today, I have grand plans of managing to go see the Manux X Machina exhibition at the Met, getting my nails done and taking pictures of finished makes all before 4pm (can I insert a nap somewhere??) so I’d better stop my ramblings, and get started!! Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts  and own tidbits in the comments, you know how much I love reading them!

Tidbits #1

Dear readers,

The other day, I wrote about short-form content and I never thought that with the blog name I chose (many moons ago, on a whim and without particularly liking it), maybe that’s what I meant to do all along!! So, welcome to Tidbits first edition, where I share stuff I saw, read, heard.

Dartless Top SewingTidbits-3Sewing Tidbits…

2 beautiful Instagram accounts : Notes of a Pattern Maker and Contour Affair.

Now that’s what I call a great post from Jen at Grainline Studios. I’ve been completely underwhelmed by the brand’s latest pattern releases but her voice hasn’t changed and is still ON POINT. There are no secrets to good sewing, only practice practice practice!!

I don’t think I really need a Cape Blazer in my closet (or do I??) but this is what I like to see from the Indie pattern designer!

A nice article about sewing in the Atlantic. I enjoyed the history part on the sewing kit but the text doesn’t really go anywhere at the end and I “stayed hungry” (that’s a litteral translation of the French expression “rester sur sa faim).

And other Bits!

I’m fairly recent listener to podcasts, and have been following the one produced by Leandra Medine of Man Repeller since the beginning. However, it’s been a few episodes that she is losing me. The last one is all about getting out of your comfort zone and I’m just getting tired of the constant run for improvement. Can’t you just be happy about where you are and what you have? Do you really have to “challenge yourself” all the time to become a “Better You”? Listen and tell me what you think!

A few weeks ago, I saw this great Cuban movie Viva and I highly recommend it! I’ve never been to Cuba but I could really feel the Carribbean vibe I have encountered in Haiti, the Dominican Republic or Panamá. The story is beautiful, the music is awesome and the photography is mind-blowing!

What are the words or images you enjoyed recently, please share!