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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PPM #1: Draped Design

For my first pattern in this Project Pattern Magic series, I wanted to start with something that could be wearable and fairly easy to make. The Draped Design in the first PM book looked simple and not too whacky.

Drafting and cutting
Drafting the pattern was indeed easy. The basic method that most patterns follow start with a sloper or block. You adjust it and add some lines here and there, following the instructions. Then you cut along the lines and spread out the area that needs more room. You tape this spread out pattern to another piece of pattern paper, and draw or trace along the outlines. Then you have your actual pattern.

I have a better understanding on where to start making adjustments due to the class I'm in. This is a pattern where you have to create a lot of extra fabric at the middle, so you cut a lot of lines and then spread them outwards. Because you will end up with lots of individual pieces, tape the edges back together after you've started cutting. This way you won't lose track of which piece goes where. After cutting, fold the tape over the edge so you can move the pattern, but the pieces are still joined.

Give yourself some time re-aligning the pieces. They are all interdependent so just keep shifting until they are all in the right position. Again here it helps to tape a few corners to the paper underneath, so they stay put.

I found some nice eyelet cotton, a yard for 3,50. I didn't want to spend too much in case it did not come out wearable, but still used a nice fabric in case it did. I wanted a lightweight cotton because I was afraid a medium weight would cause a big knot. I figured I should keep it as small as possible since I have only a tiny apple dumpling shop, as Cation would call it :). Also, make sure it hase some drape, it really should be soft and not stiff. A yard was barely enough by the way, get 1,5 if you're making this.

I had to cut the front piece off grain and the back on cross grain in order to make it fit on the fabric. The back is not cut on the fold, it has a curved center seam. Because this is a pattern drafting book, it doesn't say much on putting it together, let alone finishing techniques. I guess this is also why it is not suited for beginners, you have to know basic construction techniques. After the last step in the book, you'll only have the front piece sewn together, edges still raw. The back has two shoulder darts and two asymmetrical waist darts, so you'll need to sew those up too. If you're making this in cotton or other non stretch fabric, you'll have to add a zipper or some other closure too. I added a blind zip at the side seam. Then, you'll have to finish the neckline, armholes and hems. I used black bias tape on all three.

You can see how nicely shaped the back is due to the darts. There's a bulge in the picture, but that's not how it looks when you'd see it in reality. Even though the goal is to create a draped front, I like how the back piece is carefully shaped as well. I did iron the seams, in case you're wondering :) It's this light from the side that makes them look bulky.

I am quite happy with how this turned out! You can see I had to use the fabric all the way up to the selvedges where the eyelet stopped. But I managed to position these parts at the shoulder, so it looks quite allright I think. The knot is not out of proportion and because the fabric is quite simple, it doesn't look too weird at all. I like this top a lot, and I think it'll be perfect for summer days as well as layered in spring. It's even appropriate for work. And it's black, so easy to combine. I haven't decided what I'll make next month, but I'll announce it on Twitter when I've chosen.

So, do you think you'll be able to make this top, too? If you have any questions, now or at any time, just let me know so I can help you draft or sew!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cake That Lasts

Doesn't sound too delicious, right? Fortunately this is cake you won't have to eat :) Right after I made a hoodie for Stef, I bought fabric to make another hoodie for myself. I wanted to see how I could adapt a men's pattern into a women's pattern and I thought my wardrobe could do with a sporty casual zip hoodie. The fabric is a petrol sweater jersey (looks blue in the pics, but it isn't!) with a fluffy inside. I lined the hood with a slinky knit, with a sort of random black and white houndstooth pattern.

I used the same Fehmarn pattern from the Germand brand Farbenmix, but I traced a size S. I adapted the pattern by making the armholes and sleeveheads smaller, taking in the shoulders, making an armhole dart to create a bit more shape at the front, and I curved the sideseams at the waist. The shoulders are still a bit wide, but I'm not sure a hoodie is supposed to be super fitted anyway. The armhole darts are a teensy bit too high. Funny, because I did some careful fitting although the hood was not attached at that point. I guess the hood pulls it a bit backward and thus the dart moves up.

An improvement I made in comparison with Stef's hoodie is lengthening the lining at the front so it doesnt stop so abruptly. I like the seams on the front that show through. I've gotten better at neat and straight seams and matching them up at zippers and it's nice to notice that. And I used binding strips of fabric at the pocket entrance, instead of just folding over the fabric like the instructions say. I've also managed to topstitch the yoke seams at front and back and the cuffs without stretching the fabric. Thanks to TanitIsis' tip of releasing presser foot tension!

I think this hoodie turned out exactly what it was supposed to be. A casual hoodie, for sundays at home or walks in the park with the dog. Cake, if you will :) I'm not completely sure about the combination of the petrol and the lining. I mean, I like the effect, but I'm not sure it's entirely my style. Maybe a bit too young? (Oh god, did I just say I'm too old for something? Aaaggh...) And black and white around my face might not be the best idea. But it's comfortable and I hope that with the extra attention I paid to finishing techniques, I've also made it durable. In short, cake that lasts!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Design Review: Paper Goods

In these Design Review series, I want to discuss and compare a few indie pattern designers on various subjects. I've chosen seven designers, loosely based on popularity, size and diversity. I'm hoping you'll talk with me on your experiences, what you like and don't like, so I can take this into account when shaping my own products. I'll leave out all the (dis)advantages that these options will have for me as the maker, and just look at the subjects as a customer. In the coming weeks I'll cover instructions, pattern style and variation, and communication.

But today, I'll start with paper: the way in which your pattern is delivered to you (downloadable or physical), the packaging and the pattern paper. I've created another survey to collect your answers at the bottom, it'd be great if you'd fill it out!

Digital or physical
As you know, patterns are usually delivered in two forms. With the first you have the pattern immediately at your disposal, but you have to print and tape the pattern yourself. With a physical pattern, you have to wait some time before it arrives, but then the only thing you have to do is trace it or cut it out. Some designers offer only downloads (Grainline, Victory Patterns), some offer only printed versions (Sewaholic, Papercut Patterns, Deer & Doe, Megan Nielsen) and some offer both (Colette Patterns). For me, the choice is clear: I would go for physical. I don't own a printer, which takes away the argument of having it immediately. I also find the printing and taping a bit annoying. To me, the joy of receiving an actual package and having a pretty instruction booklet to flip through is worth the wait and the extra money. And it's easier to store them because they already come in an envelope. But then again, it is not me I'll be making patterns for :) So my question: what is your preference?

When it comes to packaging, it seems everyone has chosen a different strategy. Sewaholic uses a standard (but pretty) pattern envelope that opens at the top. Megan Nielsen uses the same but with a wider opening and a velcro closing. Colette Patterns has an envelope and booklet in one with a fold-in closing. Papercut patterns has taken packaging to a whole different level, cardboard with a fold open hook and stenciled logo. Deer & Doe uses an envelope but bigger than normal.
To me, the Papercut and D&D envelopes are a winner because of their size. Sewaholic's has a clean look but I don't like the small opening, it teares easily. I don't use it to store the pattern afterwards. Megan Nielsen makes this a bit easier with the wide opening and the Velcro closure. The folding flap on the Colette envelope had already teared before I used the pattern. But I like the fact that you can keep instructions and pattern together more easily. What are your thoughts on these different ways of packaging a pattern? What would your ideal package look like?

Pattern Paper
Another important difference between these pattern designers is their choice of pattern paper. Sewaholic and Colette use the standard tissue thin pattern paper. Megan Nielsen, Papercut and D&D use normal/recycled paper, I'm guessing the standard 80 grams. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The brown tissue paper tears easily but takes up less room and works better with stretchy fabrics. The thick paper lasts longer but you'll have to iron it well for it to lay flat and you can't see through it. I personally would very much like something in between. My sewing teacher has something like that, sturdy but still see-through. What kind of pattern paper do you prefer?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Can't Get Enough

This is the outfit I have been living in since I made this cropped Briar back in December. At first I was a bit scared of the high front, so I googled some images on how to wear a cropped sweater. And then I realized I had the perfect fabric, and the perfect shirt to go with it. And it turned out exactly as I had imagined!

I love how the briar hem and the shirt hem form this oval shape. I made this right after my first Briar, in just 3 hours including cutting. It hardly uses up any fabric, too. I cut out size S again, with 3/4 sleeves. I heightened the neckline 2 cm, but I think 1 cm would have been enough. I could still redo it, the neckline has come loose a bit so I need to redo it anyway. I didn't use my serger on this one. I want to get better at sewing with knits, even without a serger. But I don't know, although I've improved on keeping the stretch the neckline seam still snapped. I've noticed that Megan Nielsen's instructions do not include stitching the neckline down, while Sewaholic's do. I never do that in fear of wobbly stretchy fabric anyway. But I'm busy acquiring a walking foot so I hope that'll open up some new possibilities.

It makes me want to make more cropped tops and also more shirts like this. The blurry pics and horrible overcast winter weather don't do it justice! The Briar looks like a very simple pattern, but with the various length and sleeve variations it's possible to create quite different styles. I'm betting this won't be my last Briar!

Friday, January 18, 2013

On commenting

Just a quick note: I heard some people weren't able to comment, so I've turned on 'anyone' for the comments, which means you can also comment if you dont have any online profile!

And while we're at it: I want this blog to be a place where you can be honest. That means you don't have to spare me in the sense that if you see a mistake, or have a suggestion on how I could do something better. I'd always like to hear it. That's how we learn, right? So, thanks in advance for your comments ;)

Project Pattern Magic

You'd think I'd already have enough to do what with starting a pattern company and all, but I would really like to try and do this other project, too. It will help me get better at pattern drawing, so it will be beneficial anyway. Besides, the pattern business doesn't have to be up and running asap. (First pattern is coming together though! Yay!)

I've got all three Pattern Magic books, and I'd really like to use them. Which is why I started Project Pattern Magic: one magic pattern every month. I'll choose 4 projects from each book and post about them on the last wednesday of every month. Some of the patterns will be wearable, but the last one from each book will be the most complicated, challenging, intruiging or whacky pattern in the book. I.e., not necessarily wearable :) Below is the first one, drawn on half scale just for fun. Can you guess what it'll be?

Ofcourse it would be really awesome if anyone would join me for this project. So if you didn't already have a 2013 project, this is your chance :) I understand if it is too big or too short of notice or too expensive to get all the books, I just thought that I'd mention that doing this together would be even more fun! You could always join me for one of the months, or use patterns from one book only if you like. If so, let me know!

The projects so far:

PPM #1: Draped Design
PPM #2: Bamboo Shoot
PPM #3: Kakurenbo Pinafore
PPM #4: Knot Dress (Musubu)
PPM #5: Asymmetrical Facing

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Coat: Fit Issues

I almost started hemming my coat, but then I realised how stupid that would be. I hadn't seen it on photo's yet. And I hadn't asked you what fit issues you see. How could I forget how important these things are?

The pattern is Burda 10/2012 #106. It is not intended as a winter coat, but I lined it with some very thin fiberfill. It still needs buttons (14!). I'd love to hear what you think!

About the front: I'm not sure if there is too much room around the bust area. And should these princess seams be located so far to the sides? And I'm thinking it could do with some more shaping at the sides and maybe also at the princess seams around the waist.

About the back: There seems to be too much room at the upper back. Or do I need this room to be able to move? And what about the extra room around the lower armscyes? And there seems to be some pulling at the sleeve heads. Would you fix that? And how?

Are there any (other) fit issues you see? Please enlighten me, wise readers!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Briar Cardigan

The idea of a cardigan with a high-low hem sat in my head for a while. I had planned on drawing the pattern myself, but then Megan Nielsen launched her Briar pattern. I had wanted to try one of her patterns anyway (you know, "market research") so the choice was easy.

The table indicated I should cut XS. I was surprised by this, I am usually a size M. I cut size S because I didn't want a snug cardigan, and I think the size turned out right. I slashed the front piece in half and added 5,5 cm to both center fronts. I then folded it over twice, whereby the middle of the newly formed edge was at the center front. Other than that, I pretty much followed the instructions! Except for shortening it a few cm. I found that this shape of the hem does not flatter those with big hips. My shoulders are just as wide as my hips, but with the long version my hips looked much bigger. Shortening it improved this a bit. I chose brownish buttons for an oldfashioned look. I deliberated on faux leather shoulder and/or elbow patches to complete the look, but that didn't happen. Mostly because I couldn't find nice faux leather. I did find beautiful soft lambskin leather, but didn't feel comfortable about it. That, and a bit of laziness to keep searching :) (Anyone know a good source for nice faux leather?)

I quite like the outcome. In fact, I liked this style so much I made a second Briar shortly after this one. I have never before made the same pattern twice! But then, this is such a fast and easy make, it hardly requires any planning. What I also like about it is that it was a piece I needed in my wardrobe, and that this colour fits in really well. What I don't like is that the fabric is already pilling, and together with the style, that makes it look a bit sloppy. But all in all, it's a day-to-day cardigan that is just a bit more interesting than usual. Sometimes that's all you need!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top 5 of 2012 - Lessons, Inspiration & Goals

Top 5 of 2012

You've probably seen some of these lists already, which is why I'll keep it short. As theperfectnose stated, if you want to see what I've made there is a search bar on the right side :) Plus I just did a recap of hits and misses half a year ago, and nothing spectacular had been added to my wardrobe since then. Except for two unblogged Briars and an unfinished coat that will hopefully very spectacular, but not finished in 2012. I've added some of my favourites at the bottom though. So here goes, all in no particular order:

  1. Sewing with stretch does not automatically mean you should use a serger. 
  2. I learned to recognise whether someting has turned out well or not. Admitting mistakes and not getting upset about it is wonderful.
  3. No blogging is better than half ass blogging. I.e. provide good content or just be quiet. 
  4. Finding my style. Or at least I came close, and I hope to be able to define it a bit further next year.
  5.  I LOVE pattern drawing.
(i.e., go check them out if you don't already know them. )
  1. Catherine Daze - Love her tough but feminine style. 
  2. Mokosha - A beer-loving archeologist who sews pretty dresses and does quirky poses.
  3. Grainline- I love her minimalistic style and dude-ness.
  4. Esther from the sticks - Very talented young girl, does pretty dresses and beautiful photography. 
  5. Whole larder love. - Completely sewing unrelated, but very much related to the DIY lifestyle that sewing is part of for me. 
  1. Take more classes. There's my regular pattern drafting class once a week, but I also signed up for a handful of Craftsy classes. 
  2. Sew jeans. And more pants in general. 
  3. Learn a bunch of new tricks like sewing with a twin needle. 
  4. Get better at photographing. 
  5. Set up an awesome pattern company. 

Thank you all for your encouragement, kind words and also your critiques. I hope we'll talk a lot more this next year! 2012 has been a good year, and I'm hoping 2013 will be even better. I wish you all a belated but very happy New Year!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

This last year I've realised one thing (among many others): I am grown up. Whatever external criteria one might have for being grown up (independent, job, house, relationship, pet, all that stuff), the most important one is whether you feel grown up. And I do, and despite the romantification of youth that is embedded in our Western culture, being grown up is not a bad thing at all. It means you get to be what you want to be. All these years until now you had these dreams about what you would do and be, and this is the time to start realizing them. Awesome, right? And also a bit scary, but definitely worth a try.

So, what I want to become now that I'm grown up is (drumm roll...) a pattern designer!

Designing and making clothing is where my passion lies, so it would be only logical that this should also be how I sustain myself. I am ofcourse also a bit scared by the shear amount of stuff that that comes with this decision, and I am certain I have not foreseen half of it. But Stef and I will be working together on this, so I am confident that we will get there one way or another!

I decided to share the whole process of setting it up here on the blog. I'm going to need your input on lots of aspects. I will want to hear about your experiences with other pattern designers, about style and fit, but also about packaging and instructions, downloadable or paper, all that stuff. After all, the one I will be making them for is you! This way, you get to have a say in what kind of patterns, and in what form, will be available later this year.

The decision to start taking pattern making and sewing more seriously was also sparked by our dream of traveling for at least a year. That is ofcourse where the firetruck comes in, as it will be our means of travel during that year. The plan is to have the pattern shop set up by the end of September, the month we start our big journey. I will continue working during the trip, and I'm so excited to see how that will work out.

The first steps now will include revealing the name, setting up a new website and later also a shop, and finding pattern testers. The first thing I can reveal is that the first pattern will be the Folded Mini Skirt! It will be a free downloadable pattern, and, as what most of you asked for, available in multiple sizes, in two lengths and a with a proper closure. Thank you for sharing your wishes! Besides the pattern design stuff, I'll also keep showing finished projects like I did before.

So, today marks the official start of our pattern company! I hope you are as excited as I am and that together, we can create some awesome patterns!