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…

  2. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

New Named patterns!!!

I have no idea why my blogroll is not full of them already but FYI the new Named patterns are out!!

I never tried them before, mostly because I believe that they are designed with tall (Finnish) people in mind. And obviously 5’3 dark hair me does not qualify (not because of the hair). But I love that we have more edgy pattern designers around. Honestly, I am not a retro girl, so even if I find a lot of indie designs cute, I will never wear them. Unfortunately for me, a lot of the designs don’t fit my lifestyle. I don’t know winter, or even fall (Yes you can hate me now), and I have very little activities that require wearing overalls or fringed sweaters… So I had to go with a basic design.
Even though I could have found it in a burda magazine/hacked my nettie/drafted it, I decided to give the company a try with the Shadi Knit Skirt pattern.
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It was just bought and printed, I will report back asap!

You can see the whole collection on the Named website.
What do you think? Do you plan on making some of the designs?

Franken-Pattern Making for faster/better sewing

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.

Lekala 5430
Grainline Studio - Moss Skirt
Grainline Studio – Moss Skirt

A 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 :

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I 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…)

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Then I added seam allowances on the back pieces and compared with the Moss pattern :

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My 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.jpg

The 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.

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For the front, I added seam allowances and drafted the zipper pieces from Laurel Hoffman’s book, using a 5″ zipper instead of 7″.

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Interstingly enough, it seams that although the back are almost exactly the same width, my Lekala is considerably larger in the front.

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The 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.

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A better view of the zipper set :

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Now the pockets : I did not change the pocket shape from the Lekala pattern as I find it close enough.

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But 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 :

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An 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.

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As 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.jpg

I 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. !!