Men’s Cardigan sewing patterns – Kwik Sew 3724 and Burda 6030

It was my husband Kofi’s birthday last month and I told him I’d sew him a cardigan. I confess I didn’t spend a whole lot of time searching for men’s cardigan sewing patterns. I wanted a more traditional v-neck cardigan rather than making another Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan, which I made last year and blogged about here.

Burda 6030 men's cardigan sweater

I found this cardigan pattern – Andrew 6030 – on the Burda website, which features ribbed knit on the bottom and wrists. The suggested fabrics are wool knit and cotton sweatshirt.

It seemed like a nice basic pattern and a PDF costs $5.99 so I bought it. But I didn’t pay attention to the size chart for this pattern until after I downloaded it. It only goes from 44 to 54. Burda’s men’s size chart goes from 44 to 60 (European), 34 to 50 (US). (Here’s a link to the page where you can download Burda size charts.)

Burda Men's size chart

My husband’s chest is 47 1/2 inches (nearly 121 cm) so so that means I would need to grade up 3 sizes – not to mention the many adjustments I’ll likely need to do – wide shoulder, bicep, full belly, etc. I had to make massive adjustments to the Newcastle Cardigan, which took three versions to get the fit right. So I decided to see if I could find another cardigan pattern.

The pickings are slim among the Big 4 (mostly pajamas and vests) but I did see Kwik Sew pattern K3724 – a men’s button-down cardigan on the Kwik Sew website, which has more variety for men – and it goes from size S to XXL. Perfect – except it was listed as out-of-print. Darn.

Kwik Sew 3724 men's cardigan - K3724

I tried adding it to my cart and it did appear there but I didn’t know if that was an error or if they really had one in stock. It was $11.99. So I went to eBay and found a seller who had three in stock and bought it for $10.25. Here’s a link to the eBay listing.

Here’s the line drawing of the cardigan. I like both versions. I bought two yards each of a black and a gray cotton knit fabric, which should be enough for this pattern. I bought black ribbed knit, too. So I think I’ll make version A in gray and version B in black.

 

Kwik Sew 3724 men's cardigan line drawing

I’m waiting for my Kwik Sew pattern to arrive. My goal is to finish one version by the end of the year. If you know of any other men’s cardigan sewing patterns, please let me know!

Men's cardigans patterns - Kwik Sew 3724 and Burda 6030 | menswear | sewing patterns

Fashion Industry Disruptor – Yuliya Raquel of Bootstrap Fashion

Fashion industry disruptoer Yuliya Raquel, founder of Bootstrap Fashion

Yuliya Raquel wants to disrupt the fashion industry. She is the founder of Bootstrap Fashion, a fashion design platform that sells custom sewing patterns, offers a fashion design app that lets you design a dress, and has two levels of membership. You can sign up as 1.) a DIY sewer, blogger, aspiring designer or 2.) a designer, retailer, or manufacturer. (Note: The site is a bit confusing to navigate – Yuliya readily admits that she’s not a user interface designer – but just explore and have fun.)

Bootstrap Fashion is not Yuliya’s first foray into fashion. “I’ve worked in every aspect of the fashion design business,” says Yuliya, who grew up in the Ukraine and came to the United States in 1991 when she was a teenager. She finished her last year of high school in San Francisco and then decided to be a premed college student with the intention of becoming a podiatrist.

“I’ve worked in every aspect of the fashion design business.”

But she had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. One day as she sat in a biochemistry class, she found herself designing and making fashion sketches. So she quit school, eventually launching her first fashion business in 1995 as a custom dressmaker. She learned on the job, she says, making “beautiful expensive gowns for private customers.”

Her number one client was her mother, a plus-sized woman – though she didn’t charge her, notes Yuliya with a smile. One day when Yuliya didn’t have time to make a dress for her mother, they went to the mall and only saw very old-fashioned styles for fuller figures. “It was so sad,” recalls Yuliya. “I thought, Where do women shop if they want to look sexy? Where do you go?”

This experience inspired her to design a stylish fashion line for full-figured women. After taking business courses and participating in a Renaissance Entrepreneur Center program, she launched Igigi by Yuliya Raquel in February 2000. Three years later, “Igigi exploded,” says Yuliya. “It became very successful.”

Then Yuliya got married and her husband became the CEO of the company. However, the marriage didn’t work out and the board of directors asked Yuliya to step down and her former husband (who she would prefer not to name in this article) remained CEO. The company has since gone through bankruptcy proceedings.

Despite the loss of her company Yuliya was determined not to let it get her down. “It was a lot of heartbreak,” she admits. “I could be sad and get depressed but I realized, what if I took my sadness and took that energy and turned it into something else?”

I chatted with Yuliya via Skype to learn more about her current venture, Bootstrap Fashion, which launched in May 2014. We knew each virtually via Twitter and the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. I met her in person in September at a San Francisco Fashion Week event where she spoke on a panel about sustainable fashion.


How did Bootstrap Fashion begin and how are you creating a disruption in the fashion industry?
I had a vision and thought about what was the most difficult part of fashion – product development. There’s a gap in the process from design to manufacturing. Going from the idea to the final product takes time and money. You get the design but it doesn’t fit properly. Then you make another adjustment to the [garment] sample. It takes three to seven versions to make it fit.

For me the disruption happens when time and money are removed. My initial idea for Bootstrap was to go from concept to fitted pattern –  to get a custom-fit pattern that has 80 to 90 percent fit.

For me the disruption happens when time and money are removed.

Because of all this time spent on product development, there’s very little time left to grow your business. Product development doesn’t allow independent designers to be sustainable and make money. I wanted to change that so that anyone who has an idea could launch a fashion design business. I could empower them to make money.

And that’s when I met a new life partner and he supported and empowered me in that decision. Together we started Bootstrap. The idea was great but raising funding is a science and art itself. Between myself and my life partner, we could be extremely resourceful if we could take on a lot of work ourselves. We decided to bootstrap rather than being accountable to investors. You have an opportunity to learn a lot by removing the money aspect and not so focused on “make the money, make the money.” So we could be more focused on the product, be service- and product-oriented and focus on making a difference.

Tell me about the custom-fit patterns on Bootstrap. They can be used by DIY sewists as well as fashion designers.
We have the classic Leko patterns, which are not exclusive to us. [They are also sold on Lekala, which has been around since 2012.]

Leko sewing patterns on Bootstrap Fashion

We also have patterns by independent designers who are exclusive to us, like Vado jeans. The indie patterns  are more expensive – $10 or $12 because we are sharing fees with designer – a 50/50 split. The designers are employers. Everybody has to win. [See what Beth of SunnyGal Studio has to say about her experience making a pair of Vado jeans.]

Vado jeans on Bootstrap Fashion

The patterns are easy to fit. If you design a pattern using our custom app, you could take it and resell it – our idea is to empower people. It’s a democratization and disruption of the fashion industry.

All of the Leko patterns are open source. You have a nice foundation pattern you could work from and make it your own. If you want to make it more of a business, you can order a pattern, download it, change it and sell it. The designer can use the patterns in product development and start with a nice collection.

They could also use our pattern designer app. If you design a pattern using our custom app, you could take it and resell it – our idea is to empower people.

Bootstrap Fashion design app
Bootstrap Fashion’s design app gives you many dress design options to create your own custom sewing pattern.

How well do the custom patterns fit?
You enter your measurements, pick a pattern and then in 5 to 15 minutes you receive a PDF pattern customized for your figure. Sometimes there are glitches and then it could take longer. You get the pattern, sewing instructions and how-to-print instructions. [See Beth of SunnyGal Studios’ experience in 2014 with making a dress from a Bootstrap Fashion pattern.]

Body measurements to enter on Bootstrap Fashion custom sewing patterns
Body measurements to enter

The patterns won’t fit 100 percent. If the measurements are taken well, it fits well 80 to 95 percent. There is a balance to the patterns. The shoulders will fit. Leko patterns have a smaller ease – but they are designed to fit. If there is a problem, we are happy to rerun the patterns or refund the money. Designers have 80 percent of the work done for them. It makes it easier and simpler.

I do recommend that you do a muslin – no matter how good the pattern is, you may need to make small adjustments and corrections. But it can save you many hours.

Leko is a coding language, coded algorithms. Vado patterns’ programming is more advanced. People have experienced 100 percent fit with her.

The new software we are working on will fit even more. It’s going to be groundbreaking. Leko’s algorithm is limited in sizes. Leko has a height limitation. The new system will have no limitation and will accommodate any size.

What’s happening now with Bootstrap?
We’re focused on advancing tech. Our design app launched in August 2015. It’s a big change in our company. As we were testing the software, we realized there were a lot of limitations. For a professional who wants flexibility in the design, our software wasn’t providing that.

We took a step back and now we have a team of CAD developers in Russia who are investing their time to develop and design 3-D software. The main audience for that product is commercial designers. We are taking it to a whole new level so you can design a garment and can get a 3-D version next to the actual flat pattern.

You can design a garment and can get a 3-D version next to the actual flat pattern.

You can make changes dynamically can see changes dynamically. You can make adjustments on the virtual sample on the spot. Then you can grade it. We’re taking a process that took time, money and effort and collapsing it into minutes. You can go from concept to virtual sample that is quite accurate. The painstaking process will no longer exist.

Our new software is moving forward and will fundamentally change the way garments are going to be designed. The people who never had access to the industry will now have access.

The 3-D design software isn’t new to the fashion industry, right?
It’s been around for 10 to 15 years and it’s expensive. It’s not new but it still takes time. There’s a learning curve. That’s what stopped me, this learning curve. I’m a business person and I don’t have time to learn. With this new software, there will be no waiting. You can instantly get the live pattern.

It will be our own proprietary software available for a do-it-yourselfer, a small manufacturer or large manufacturer. The painstaking development process will no longer exist. What used to take hours in real time, will take minutes.

What will you call it?
Design Center, for now.

You also have some designs available on Bootstrap.
I’m starting my own collection Yuliya Racquel, using my technology. [Here’s a link to the Bootstrap page where you’ll find Yuliya’s sewing patterns.]

Front Drape Tunic, a custom-fit sewing pattern by Yuliya Raquel
Front Drape Tunic, a custom-fit sewing pattern by Yuliya Raquel

What inspires you?
On my god – so many things – happy people. Seeing people being happy with the product. It  just makes me melt seeing people wear my designs. It makes me melt having people email me their creations. It’s so inspiring.

I’m a dreamer and I’m an extremely unrealistic dreamer. To me it’s those possibilities of these ideas that nobody thought of. Making the impossible possible is extremely fulfilling to me.

My philosophy is that I want everybody involved to be fulfilled and to be empowered. From the people who buy the patter s to the people who create them.

We’re committed to great customer service. If there are problems we try to resolve them or

What advice do you have for people who want to go into the fashion industry?
My number one advice is to make sure that you are extremely resilient. It’s about who you are, not what kinds of clothing you make. It’s being resilient. Do not give up.

It’s about who you are, not what kinds of clothing you make.

Train yourself in the business aspect. However you look at it, it is a business. Do not undervalue yourself. Understand marketing and visual presentation. The fashion industry is about branding. It’s all about branding and positioning.

Don’t do everything on your own. Create a team that will work with you as well. Understand the kind of customer you’re going to serve, which is part of marketing.

Don’t get stuck on the process. It’s marketing and sales that give you business. Being creative people, we get stuck on our craft, making beautiful pieces that nobody buys.

The fun part is the design. The hard part is the business. I bring people to complement myself. Don’t be afraid to take on partners and collaborators.

Q&A with fashion industry disruptor Yuilya Raquel, founder of Bootstrap Fashion

Body measurements, fitting, and sewing projects

Hi, way back in September 2014, I organized the first fitting meetup for the Bay Area Sewists. (You can read the meetup description here.) The idea was that we would help each other with fitting, learn about pattern adjustments, and pair up to take our body measurements.

At that meetup, I also did a demo for a small bust adjustment and another member, Ali (pictured below in the geometric top), showed how to do a full bust adjustment. It was a lot of fun.

Bay Area Sewists Fitting Meetup 2014

We’ve had two fitting meetups since then. Last year we were fortunate to have Kathleen, a member with a lot of fitting experience help us out. She works as a technical designer for Old Navy. We kept her really busy! I blogged about that meetup, too and discussed making pattern adjustments.

Before each fitting meetup I printed out this two-page worksheet for body measurements, which I found on Sewing.org‘s website. Anyone who wanted to get their measurements would pair up with someone else. This worksheet has 28 measurements – everything from high bust and bicep to cross back width and crotch depth. The diagram indicates where you’re supposed to measure.

Body measurement worksheet from Sewing.org - 28 measurements

At our most recent fitting meetup this past September, we had assistance from Jennifer Serr, owner of The Sewing Room and founder of Bonjour Teaspoon patterns, and Bay Area Sewists member Dana Taylor, who has done numerous fittings for her five (!) daughters. I asked Jennifer if there was anything missing from the worksheet and she suggested adding these three measurements to the list:

  1. Shoulder point to shoulder point, measuring from the back
  2. Shoulder slope – the amount your shoulder slopes downward. If your shoulders are really square – your shoulder slope will be zero. Jennifer measured mine using two rulers – holding one ruler parallel to the floor with one side at the highest point of my shoulder (near my neck) and using another ruler to measure from my shoulder point to the other ruler. My shoulders are fairly square so my shoulder slope is 1 inch. It’s hard to measure shoulder slope by yourself but Make My Pattern has instructions, which you can find here. (Make My Pattern is a website where you can customize free patterns designed by Joost De Cock. You need to enter your measurements to get a pattern.) You could also take a shirt that fits well in the shoulders, lay it flat and measure the slope, as demonstrated in this YouTube video. (If you want to learn more about shoulder slope, check out this Threads YouTube video: Shoulder Slope 101.)
  3. Inseam – measuring leg from ankle to crotch.

I had all my body measurements (except for the above three) taken in 2014. I knew I needed to get my measurements updated because I’ve gained (ahem) quite a few pounds/kilos since then. I got an even bigger shock when I went for a routine doctor’s visit and was weighed. I’ve gained nearly 20 pounds (9 kilos)! My first reaction was “OMG, I’m fat!”

OK, maybe that seems like an overstatement and not what one is supposed to say in this era of body positivity and acceptance. Well, I’m not thrilled at not being able to wear some of the skirts I’ve made. The extra weight is the result of being more sedentary over the past two years – too much time in front of a computer and too little exercise. It just kinda creeped up on me. Now I have more incentive to cut back on the chocolate and cheese and be more physically active.

Jennifer took my body measurements at the September fitting meetup. This weekend I finally sat down to compare my current measurements with the worksheets. It’s not pretty. I’ve gained about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in the waist and 3/4 inch (~2 cm) in the hips and thighs. Yikes. Of course, I knew my waist was bigger because certain pants (trousers for you U.K. and Aussie folks) no longer fit but I didn’t know all the expanded numbers.

Clearly, I need to get serious about getting in shape but in the meantime, I need to figure out what to do about my wardrobe. Do I let out some seams or just make clothes for my current body? Part of me says, lose the weight and fit back into those now-too-snug clothes. But who knows how long it will take to get back into those garments. Ugh.

For now I’m going to hold off on letting out any seams and focus on making some new garments.

I wanted to have one mock-up completed for our September fitting meetup so I had measured my waist so I could pick the right size to make my first Named Clothing pattern – the Mimosa Culottes. I cut a U.S. size 12 (U.K. 16, Euro 44). These culottes have wide legs so the hips are very generous, which meant I only needed the waist measurement. I brought my mockup of the Mimosa Culottes to this meetup and Jennifer pinned the back to get rid of some drag lines.

Fitting Mimosa Culottes, Named Clothing sewing pattern

When we transferred this change to the pattern piece, we folded it so it was the widest – about 1/4 inch (a little less than 1 cm) – at the center back and then zeroed it out at the side seam.

Mimosa Culottes - Named Clothing - back pattern adjustment

Jennifer also suggested adding a little more ease to the back crotch area by dropping that curve down about 3/8 inch (1 cm). It was a good idea because it was a little snug back there. I also lowered the hem 3/8 inch to compensate for the change in the crotch depth.

Now just to be sure it fits right, I’ll make another muslin. But I’ll just cut a new back and attach it to the front pieces I already have. I sewed this mock-up with a long stitch length so it would be easy to take apart. 😉

I’m also sewing these Vogue Patterns wrap pants (V9191), which don’t have side seams. They are just attached at the inseam and center front and back. The back wraps around and is tied in the front. So no worries about fitting but I added little more to the back side seams to make sure I had enough coverage.

This is the photo from the Vogue website. They look really comfortable don’t they?

V9191 - Vogue Pattern - csews.com

I’m using a hounds tooth knit fabric that doesn’t have much stretch to it so I’m treating it like a woven. I got it on sale at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. However, there are four waist darts in the back and six in the front, which I didn’t notice until I cut the pattern but I decided to go ahead and cut the fabric. I used a shallow zigzag stitch for the darts. I did a few tests using a straight stitch but it really didn’t work with the fabric. I’ve never sewn darts with a zigzag stitch before.

After sewing two darts with a small zigzag (stitch length 1), I realized that I needed to stabilize the fabric so I sewed the rest of the darts using Sulky Tear Easy stabilizer (soft, lightweight tear-away), which I got at Stonemountain for the Tessuti Eva dress pattern.

I had already pinned my darts for the Vogue pants, so I just put a small piece of stabilizer underneath the fabric and sewed the darts.

Sewing darts with tear-away stabilizer

The darts looked very neat when I used the stabilizer. At the dart point, I just sewed off the fabric on to the stabilizer.

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I put the front pattern piece on me and the darts look like this. I haven’t pressed them yet so they aren’t quite laying flat.

Darts sewn - Vogue Patterns - V9191 - wrap pants

Now the Sew House 7 Toaster Sweater is in my queue because it’s a new pattern and because it’s nice and roomy. My extra weight won’t be an issue here. Heheh. There’s a paper and PDF version. I got the paper version at Stonemountain, which carries many indie patterns as you can see here. I’m going to make it using this medium-weight wool double-knit that I got on sale at Stonemountain – pictured behind the pattern. It seems to match Version 2 of the pattern, which was a complete coincidence. I didn’t have the pattern with me when I bought the fabric.

Sew House 7 Toaster Sweater sewing pattern

I’ll measure the pattern pieces and if it seems like there’s enough ease, I might just go ahead and sew it up without making a mock-up.

Also, in my queue is making a 16-panel Shibori skirt from the fabric I indigo dyed. I’ll be using a pattern from the Japanese sewing book Basic Black by Sato Watanabe (Amazon affiliate link here, Tuttle Publishing link here). I made a skirt from that book and it still fits well because it has a lot of ease (blogged here).

For now, I’ll avoid the more fitted patterns and focus on patterns with a lot of ease or have a relaxed style. I want to make things that will look good not matter what my weight is.

What do you sew when you’ve gained or lost a significant amount of weight?

Taking body measurements for fitting sewing patterns

Jennifer Serr – an interview with The Sewing Room founder and Bonjour Teaspoon designer

Jennifer Serr of The Sewing Room

Jennifer Serr began sewing when she was seven years old. All the women in her family sewed so she was following a family tradition. The first thing she made was a reversible pinafore for herself. And once she realized she could make doll clothes, she sewed doll clothes, too. Eventually she made most of her clothes.

“My grandfather told me if I got straight As [in school], he would pay for whatever fabric I wanted,” says Jennifer, who grew up in Fremont, a city about 38 miles southeast of San Francisco. “My mom didn’t have much money so I got really good grades. I could get whatever fabric I wanted: fancy hounds tooth wool for a skirt, green taffeta for a prom dress with big rhinestone and pearl buttons on the front, a royal blue wool suit with a little bolero jacket and shorts.”

When she was 15 years old, she and her mother moved to San Diego. In high school, other students noticed Jennifer’s nice wardrobe and asked her to make their prom dresses. So she would sew her own prom dress and two or three others for her friends. “We would go together and shop for the pattern and fabric,” says Jennifer. “They would give me $50 and the rest was for fabric, mostly strapless mini-dresses.”

Two weeks after Jennifer graduated from high school, she went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (better known as FIDM), to study fashion design. She spent a year at FIDM in San Diego and then a year at FIDM in Los Angeles, earning an associate arts degree. Then she moved back to the Bay Area, working part-time at Z Gallery and began making hats and selling them at different boutiques throughout the Bay Area. She enjoyed making hats but had to stop after she realized she needed to pay self-employment tax and pay the government the taxes she owed. Her next jobs set the stage for her to open her own sewing business and launch an indie pattern line.

I spoke with Jennifer about how her career evolution. She was also a guest speaker for the Bay Area Sewists’s October meetup. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

What happened after your hat business closed?

I got a freelance job at Gap. I was hired to measure clothing. They had had fittings three times a week. We would measure clothing against the spec sheet. I helped out at fittings and then became a full-time technical designer in the 1990s for Gap kids, Baby Gap, and knits. We were building spec packages for the factories. I would go to the fittings, adjust the spec packages, and send comments off to the factories.

It was not design work. I was making sure the garments fit the models, that they were functional. [Pointing out] if the head opening wasn’t big enough, telling factory how to construct the garment, giving them details about the top stitching or the size of the buttons.

A friend of mine got married and I made her wedding dress. Then I got married and all my friends started getting married and I was making their dresses. It became clear I couldn’t work at Gap and make wedding dresses. And I was burnt out from working in the corporate world.

In 2000 I left Gap to start my own bridal gown company making custom wedding gowns. I took take classes with Susan Khalje and tried to soak up what everyone else in the class was doing. I took the class to get more familiar with lace. It was great to work with nice fabrics and see immediate fit results. At Gap you didn’t know what results would be.

I opened a little studio in downtown Oakland and then was able to do it full-time for a couple of years. I would see people in the fall for spring weddings and I would be working on their gown right up until the wedding. My busiest time was between January and June.

Then I decided to have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom. I wrapped up everybody’s project and was a mom for a few years. But it didn’t pay any bills so I took on some more freelance work. I also taught pattern making at CCA [California College of Arts in Oakland]. Sometimes I filled in for a teacher or taught a class. I started having workshops at my house or at Julie’s Coffee and Tea. It was fun and different. People were excited about what they were learning.

How did you get started teaching kids to sew?

A friend had a daughter who was really into fashion design and she asked me, “Would you teach kids?” This girl was darling and she would come over once a week and have sewing classes at my house. My daughter Emma was in preschool by that point. I had been teaching kids for about a year and one parent told me, “You should really do a summer camp.” I hadn’t really been to a summer camp as a kid. Modern moms didn’t stay at home over the summer. The following summer, I had a sewing camp and it was a mad success – lots of kids signed up. It was for a couple of weeks and I held it at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda. The owner had been in the fashion business. That student – Maya – had a birthday party at Rhythmic and had a runway fashion show. I had the fit model from Gap give runway tips to the girls.

I taught at Rhythmix, where I could rent space by the hour. I was there almost every day and I had to share the space with whoever needed it and sometimes got kicked out of space because a performance was going on.

It wasn’t a huge risk. It was affordable. As I would make money, I would invest in more equipment. I went from kids bringing their own machines to having machines.

When did you open The Sewing Room?

Four years ago, I opened up The Sewing Room with a friend who sold clothes in the front and I had the back of the shop, teaching after-school classes. Eventually she moved out because she got lonely and there wasn’t much foot traffic. My business would come to me because people would hear about my classes. So when she moved out two-and-a-half years ago, I took over the space.

I have an affinity for teaching kids. I had no idea that I would be good with kids. It was hard at first knowing how to handle a large group of kids. I knew I could handle a large group of adults but I eventually figured out what would work.

The first thing I learned, you gotta give them a snack. If they get restless and loopy, give them a break and a snack, it’ll be fine. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned throughout my lifetime and looking back at the past and a lot of it was self-taught. I would make it lighthearted and fun and not be concerned about the right way of doing it. I’d ask, “How do you feel about it – if it’s going to bother you, rip it out, if not, leave it.”

When I’m teaching adults, I have a different perspective on it. Some people are really afraid of making mistakes. For me, it’s how you learn.

If you put in a sleeve the wrong way, you cry about it and put it back in. It’s all ok. That’s my philosophy. We’re going to figure out the best ways for you.

For the kids’ summer camps, I like them to start at age 8 or older. One student, which is now 10, learned about my classes when she was 6 and waited two years to start sewing with me. She would come to the summer camps and sewed at home as well. Some of these kids won’t sew at home, just in my class.

How did your pattern line get started?

I had this one bag pattern I made and I was selling the bags made from recycled materials. One time I was teaching and I had this pattern and all of the other kids said, “I want to make it!” So I went home and traced it out ten times, wrote out instructions, photocopied it, and stuck a picture on it. Then I sold it to them for $10 and they kept asking for other things.

How did you get the name Bonjour Teaspoon?

Before I was pregnant with Emma, I went on a couture tour to Paris. We went to a pattern-making demonstration by a pattern maker for Azzedine Alia. While we were there, his little pug dog kept escaping from the kitchen and kept visiting us. I fell in love with the dog. His name was teaspoon – we kept saying, “Bonjour Teaspoon!”

Bonjour Teaspoon is cute and appealing to girls. How it evolved into a pattern line when kids would bring me things that they wanted to make. I helped them make a pattern and modify them so it would fit their size. I made a little collection inspired by the kids and then some of my original work.

Bonjour Teaspoon sewing pattern - Ava Lounge Jacket - doll and girl versions

One student started bringing in all these doll clothes patterns for her American Doll pattern. I saw that they had a partner program and you could design for dolls. They had a different philosophy about design and were encouraging people to make things from the patterns. They were saying, “We’re inviting you to have your own little business and help you with it.” They had a class in their pattern design academy on designing clothes for dolls. I totally learned a lot from this class about proportion and taking clothes from kids world or what they find fashionable and translating that to doll size.

I made kid patterns first and then did the doll patterns. I sent them a couple emails and they said they were interested in having girl doll and matching patterns. Because not too many people were doing it, it was technically challenging to get the girl patterns into digital form so you can print it out.

Bonjour Teaspoon - Ava Lounge Jacket sewing pattern

Now I sell my girl patterns and doll patterns digitally on my website (Bonjour Teaspoon), which is connected to Etsy. Pixiefaire.com is where the doll patterns are sold. I’m happy to talk to anybody about how I do it. [You can see Jennifer’s doll patterns here.]

Where did you first print your patterns?

I was able to have my first original pattern scanned at a large-scale printing company. Then I could trace them off into Illustrator and I went to I went to the print shop around the corner, the Alameda Word Factory that could print on large printer – 24 inches [61 cm] or 36 inches [91 cm] wide.

I came up with photographic booklet in black and white – put it in a 6×9 [15 cm x 23 cm] white envelope and put a sticker on the cover.

I still have them printed 50 at a time, which makes it more affordable. I have a few wholesale accounts as well – Stitchcraft in Petaluma and two stores in Portland.

Bonjour Teaspoon - Mia Dress sewing pattern

How many patterns do you have right now?

I’ve got patterns for garments and accessories, about 15 or 16 patterns. All of the hats come in kids and adult sizes. The Ava Lounge Jacket is sized for kids and adults. There’s a vest for adults only.

Most of my customer base is kids – having a size that goes from 6 to 13/14 is a good size range for my main clientele. I do like making patterns for grownups, too. I would almost have to drop the teaching business if I was going to pursue the patterns on a bigger level. Right now I’m at a standstill with the patterns. I will keep it as it is.

The doll patterns are easy to produce. If could produce two new patterns a month could make a lot more money.

What advice do you have for people who are looking for a printer for their own pattern line?

If I was going to expand the pattern business, I would do it a little differently now. I found a printing company that does printing for independent pattern designers, Palmer Publishing in Minnesota. But you need at least six patterns ready to go. I’ve also been contacted by pattern distributors. One distributor you had to use their fabric and photograph everything in their fabric. Another distributor said, “Oh, you might want to contact this place, a lot of our pattern vendors use this company PalmerPrinting.com.

You need to have a pattern line and it’s best if you have at least six that going to print. They will give you all the formats and paper sizes. There are different options for how you want to have patterns.

What advice do you have for people who want to launch their own pattern line?

Try to reach out to other pattern designers and get tips and tricks. Expand your community to expand your business. I can’t say that I’m the most experienced with the pattern part of my business. I would like to learn more about it and expand it some day. I studied fashion design and I want to be doing some design.

For independent design, I like Colette Patterns – the styles are really cute –  Waffle patterns – love her Instagram, love following her, and Sew Over It London and Cashmerette. I like the whole look of Tilly and the Buttons patterns and the sewalongs.

I love the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, which take old patterns and republishes them. I love 1920s fashions. I like the Wearing History Patterns company and Decades of Style for the same reason.

What should budding designers know?

Pattern grading is important. They need to know how to grade a pattern properly and they need to know about pattern balance.

One of my big issues with Colette is balance – the corners aren’t squared off at intersections.

Take some pattern making classes or learn about pattern grading. Test all your sizes if you are making apparel. Make sure your sizes work. I sewed up largest size of one of my patterns. The sleeve was way bigger than the body. The proportions weren’t right. Test your different sizes and learn about pattern grading.

Go online to some of the big manufacturers like Gap, J Crew and companies like that and look at their size charts. You can kind of see what the body measurements should be – what the measurements should be for each size. They have it down for the most part. Gap has everything online – some have plus sizes. At Gap we would make a test version for everything. Sometimes we would have to tweak the different sizes. We would develop our grade based on major size-range fittings. In the pattern room we would try on everything. Take each other’s measurements and see the different body shaping fit.

What keeps you inspired?

It was really teaching at CCA that drew me to teaching. Initially I got into it because I needed freelance work. Then I really enjoyed teaching. It’s what I loved to do. It was so full filling to see their confidence grow. Kids get so excited by learning something new and being able to make something. They have really good enthusiasm and pick things up really fast and don’t care as much. They don’t care about the same things as much. There is no preconceived notion about things. They are able to do it on a different level. I just love it when people have fun doing it.

I have fun hanging out with the Bay Area Sewists. They are just so enthusiastic about garment sewing. It’s just so much fun when people like doing the same thing that you do.

Jennifer Serr interviewed about her sewing business The Sewing Room and her pattern line Bonjour Teaspoon, which features patterns for dolls, girls, and adults

Sewing pattern organization

Sewing Patterns - Bay Area Sewists meetup

Bay Area Sewists had a pattern swap meetup in February. Members brought many patterns – vintage, indie, Big 4, and more. This photo is just a few of the many dress patterns people brought. After the swap part was over, we had a brief discussion of sewing pattern organization.

I’m the organizer for the group so when people RSVP’d for the meetup, I asked them how they organized their sewing patterns. Then I compiled and consolidated their answers and put them into a handout that I passed out to everyone. Here’s the list of answers, in no particular order:

  • Digitally using Evernote
  • Once a pattern is cut it goes in a manila envelope since its impossible to get back in the pattern envelope after changes are made to the pattern!
  • In comic book bags, in pattern boxes, some self-made.
  • Use gallon ziplock log bags
  • In an art bin I got from the container store.
  • Binder with clear sleeves for the envelopes so can “look through the book” for ideas. The “guts” then go into plain envelopes marked with the pattern number in a drawer, filed by type of pattern (tops, knit; tops woven; dresses;
    coordinates; etc.).
  • In drawers and baskets. I display the patterns want to sew next so I can see them in my sewing area.
  • File folders with the cut-open pattern envelope taped to the outside
    PDF files, use pattern hooks to keep mine hanging on the clothes rack. Alternatively, I also fold them and place them in manila envelopes.
  • No real organization for printed patterns, but digital ones are in folders on google docs.
  • Plastic bins for the physical patterns, one for dresses, one for tops, one for skirts and pants, one for other. Pattern Review “My Stash” for reference.
  • I keep them in cardboard boxes I bought from IKEA 10 years ago.
  • In a large box.
  • Binders and filing cabinet digital ones are in folders on google docs.
  • By pattern maker in Dritz boxes, and one small crate with patterns I plan to make “soon.” All indie, craft, and children’s patterns in separate spots.
  • By type of pattern and sometimes by size physically organized by pattern company.

Bay Area Sewists member Ali explained how she used Evernote and then wrote a brief description on the meetup page for the pattern swap. (Note: There’s a free and paid version of Evernote.) Here are Ali’s Evernote tips:

  1. I use three apps on my (Android) phone to do this, the Evernote app, my phone’s photo app, and a photo resizer app called “Photo & Picture Resizer”
  2. Take two pictures, the front of the pattern and the back of the pattern BUT the trick is to take a full frame photo of the front and back up the camera a bit for the pattern back. This is important bc you’ll want to crop the pattern back photo so its smaller in dimension vs the front. THIS will ensure the thumbnail in Evernote will be the pattern front!
  3. Use photo resizer app to reduce the file size for each photo, and in addition, crop the pattern back photos.
  4. Upload the photos to Evernote. Each note is a pattern. Use tags on each note ex: “Burda”, “knit”, “dress” for easy searching later!

If you want a more detailed description of using Evernote, check out this post Create a Sewing Pattern Catalog – Evernote for Crafters by Beth of Sew DIY.

How do you organize your sewing patterns? I put patterns I’ve traced from books in large manila envelopes labeled with the title of the book, followed by the name of the pattern. For other patterns I’ve traced, such as the Anna Dress below, I put the traced pieces in the plastic bag behind the paper pattern.

Sewing pattern organization - evnelopes and clear plastic bags

For Big Four or other paper patterns, I obsessively refold the patterns along the factory folds and put them back in the envelope – unless it’s a vintage pattern that was mistreated by the previous owner, such as the Vogue pattern above. In that case, I try to neatly fold the pattern pieces and then I put them in a clear plastic bags along with the envelope and instructions.

I get the plastic bags from Daiso, a Japanese variety store that sells a pack for $1.50. I forget how many are in a pack (25?). There’s a Daiso in downtown San Francisco on Market Street and one in Berkeley on Telegraph Ave.

How do you organize your sewing patterns? A few members mentioned Pattern Review‘s Pattern Stash feature. I’m thinking of using Evernote but I know it will take a while to take photos of every pattern.

Happy sewing!

Sewing patterns swap – Bay Area Sewists

Bay Area Sewists - pattern swap on 27 February 2016

The Bay Area Sewists meetup group had a big sewing patterns swap at the end of February. (You can read the meetup description here.) Everyone brought patterns they wanted to give away and they also had the chance to take home sewing patterns that were new to them. We had a big turnout and a huge array of patterns available – everything from menswear and dresses to coats and crafts. We also had many vintage sewing patterns courtesy of a member whose neighbor gave her a pile of them! I think we had nearly every decade from the 1950s to the 2000s represented!

Pattern swap - Bay Area Sewists meetup group

These photos are just a sampling of some of the sewing patterns at the swap. I took these photos after many patterns had already been selected. We had a ton of dress patterns. For some reason that always seems to be the category with the most patterns. They fill up two tables.

I’m the organizer for the group and created the format for the pattern swap: We have four rounds of choosing. If you brought at least three sewing patterns to the swap, you can participate in each round, and choose one pattern per round. Each round lasts the length of a song on my phone. 😉 The fourth (and last) round is a free-for-all – everyone can take as many patterns as they want. So even if you didn’t bring any sewing patterns, you still have an opportunity come home with a stack of patterns.

For each pattern you bring, you get one entry to the giveaway drawings. At this meetup, we had three giveaways: Sonya Philips’s 100 Acts of Sewing pants pattern (thanks for donating the pattern, Sonya!) and the book Subversive Seamster and a thread catcher, both donated by members. I donate the leftover patterns to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland.

100 Acts of Sewing and Subversive Seamster giveaway

I brought about 10 sewing patterns and came home with these three – a skirt pattern by Disparate Disciplines – now called Seamster Patterns – and these two vintage patterns – one Simplicity (love the neckline on the dress!) and this vintage Butterick, which is actually a maternity pattern. Whoops – didn’t notice that until I came home!

Sewing patterns from Bay Area Sewists pattern swap

We hold our pattern swap and fabric swap at the Berkeley Public Library. The library has a great community meeting room that’s free for Berkeley residents to use once a month. It has all these tables on wheels that are so easy to set up. I love the library!

We also had a brief discussion about pattern organization after the swap was over. I’ll put that information in another post – otherwise this post will be really long.

So I’ll close with our group photo. We all had a great time – as you can see from the smiling faces. Happy Sewing everyone!

Bay Area Sewists group photo - pattern swap

 

My sewing indie pattern prizes

Hi, I hope you’re having a fun October! This week I had a delightfully tough time choosing which indie patterns I wanted as part of my Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest prizes.

Everyday Casual Sewalong Pattern Prize Pack - csews.com

Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick which specializes in petite and petite plus size patterns, officially offered the Mimosa Blouse PDF pattern. However, Betsy, the SBCC’s designer told me I could pick whichever PDF pattern I wanted. Thanks, Betsy!

I decided to go for the Manhattan Trousers. I haven’t made any pants in ages. What sold me on these pants is that they have a contoured waistband. Yes! I typically have to grade up in the hips and a wide waistband will have “gaposis” if it’s not contoured. I’m not petite (5′ 8″ or about 172 cm) but it’s easy to lengthen. These pants have optional pockets and belt loops.

Paprika Patterns offered the Jade Skirt, a PDF pattern for knits with an interesting folds in the front (no folds in the back).

The other designers offered a couple of patterns to choose from or any pattern from their collections.

Waffle Patterns gave a choice between the Perpernoot coat … or the Monaca shirt – a draped wrap top. The coat really isn’t my style, plus it doesn’t get very cold in California so it wouldn’t get much wear, so I opted for the Monaca, which needs to be worn with a cami or tee because it dips a bit low in the front.
I really have no idea how this will look on me. I have a feeling it’s more flattering on slim figures but we’ll see…
Closet Case Patterns offered my choice of a PDF pattern. I already got the Nettie bodysuit as part of the Sewing Indie Month Bundle sale. So I decided to get the Carolyn Pajama pattern. I love pajamas! They can be really expensive to buy off the rack. I usually get something at a discount store but I’m never happy with the fabric – usually some cheap synthetic. But now I can make my own. Thank you Closet Case Patterns!
Muse Patterns are designs with a vintage feel. I chose the Jenna Cardi, a cute cropped cardi, which has nice color blocking opportunities.

And the other part of my prize package included…
Everyday Casual Sewalong prizes
I had fun browsing the Tessuti patterns – tops, skirts, dresses, pants, and jackets, oh my! I’d seen many lovely things people have made from Tessuti on Instagram, particularly the Stitcher & Gatherer‘s Sydney Jacket, which you can see on her blog here. Plus I remembered Sew Busy Lizzy’s blog post about the Sydney Jacket. I don’t have any Tessuti patterns, primarily because I’d prefer getting a paper pattern but shipping from Australia costs more than the pattern.
What did I pick? Well, I looked at all the patterns on Tessuti’s website. I liked the Eva Dress but wondered, do I really need another dress pattern? Then I went to Pattern Review to skim all the things people made from Tessuti patterns. (You can see them here.) The Eva Dress still caught my eye, particularly after I saw the versions by Blogless Anna and Up So Late. It’s got an interesting shape – and pockets!
So I picked this pattern and then I had one more to pick! I looked at all the jackets and decided that the one that would get the most wear would be the Tokyo Jacket. It’s got 3/4 sleeves and looks like it will go well with pants and skirts. And it has pockets in the front – always a plus for a jacket.
I can hardly wait to start downloading the PDFs and for my Tessuti patterns to arrive! Thank you to all the participating designers and companies for providing such great prizes!

Fall sewing – Vogue patterns preview – sailor pants, tops and a vintage reissue

Hi, I know summer isn’t over (!) but fall is just around the corner. Summer clothes at retail stores are all on sale, which is another sign that it’s not too early to think about fall sewing. A preview of the Vogue patterns fall 2015 collection is now on its website. So I decided to take a look at the offerings. Here’s what caught my eye, in no particular order:

I like the top from this Donna Karan Collection outfit V1465, which includes an unlined jacket with princess seams and a pencil skirt. I’m not a fan of the jacket or the pencil skirt. I like A-line skirts, not pencil skirts or closely fitted skirts. I would seriously consider getting this pattern (on sale at Joann’s) just for the top.

Vogue pattern - V1465 - Donna Karan
Donna Karan top – V1465 – Vogue Fall 2015
Here’s the line drawing of all pieces of this suit. The jacket lapels remind me of Grainline’s Morris Blazer (minus the princess seams). The back of the top looks interesting. You can see more photos of the model wearing the entire ensemble here.

V1465 - Donna Karan - Vogue pattern

Here’s a Vogue reissue from 1947 – V9126. I love the pleats and gathers in this dress, which has a side zipper. The recommended fabrics are “Silk Crepe, Rayons, Wool Jersey, Lightweight Woolens.” This could be a really slinky dress in silk. It could be fun to make and I would wear it to work but I can’t see myself wearing it more than a couple of times a year. Though I love vintage dress patterns, I don’t actually wear the vintage dresses I’ve made very often.

V9126 - Vintage Vogue - 1947 reissue
V9126 – Vintage Vogue – 1947 reissue – Fall 2015
Here’s the illustration…

V9126 - Vogue Vintage reissue - 1947

And the line drawings…

V9126 - Vintage Vogue reissue - 1947
V9126 – Vintage Vogue reissue – 1947
This Marcy Tilton top (V9131) has some interesting color blocking possibilities. It could be a nice stash buster and it looks comfy and flattering. This is a pattern for lightweight, two-way stretch knits.

V9131 - Marcy Tilton
V9131 – Marcy Tilton – Vogue Fall 2015
This knit top has a few variations and necklines as you can see from these line drawings.

V9130 - Marcy Tilton - Vogue Fall 2015

I’ve always liked sailor pants. Here’s a version by Sandra Betzina – V1464. But I’d make the legs a bit wider. And I have the perfect striped top for it – the one from the Japanese pattern book She Wears the Pants (you can read my review of the book and see photos of my top here).

V1464 - Sandra Betzina - Vogue  Fall 2015
V1464 – Sandra Betzina – Vogue Fall 2015
OK – so now it’s time to look at a few of the not-so-interesting or odd patterns.

This top (V9124) seems rather unflattering – maybe it would look better with a belt? Definitely not one I’ll be making.

V9129 - Vogue Fall 2015

Is this a cheerleading dress? This is a DKNY pattern (V1461) – I guess you could characterize this as the sporty, fun Donna Karan line.

V1461 - Vogue Fall 2015

OK, this dress (V9124) makes me think of the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

V9124 - Vogue Fall 2015

Check out this Vogue illustration that goes with the dress. Am I right?

V9124 - Vogue Fall 2015

And in case you need a reminder, here’s a photo of the Ingalls family on the show.

Little House on the Prairie

Calico fabric and tiered, gathered skirts are not my thing. There is a shorter version of the dress, which is cute and more contemporary. Here’s the illustration – still not my style but definitely more palatable than the long-sleeve version!

V9124 - Vogue Fall 2015

Thus concludes my brief look at a few of Vogue’s fall 2015 offerings.

Are you thinking of fall sewing yet? What are your plans? I’ve had the Sewaholic Robson Coat on my list for a while (fabric already purchased!), a 1970s vintage Vogue knit dress with princess seams (one muslin done, which you can see in this post), a vintage Vogue cropped jacket, and wool pants are a few other possibilities.

Happy sewing!

My Sewcation

Sewing patterns for sewcation - csews.com

I took off the entire week after Christmas for a sewcation. I had a pile of patterns and fabric that had been sitting around for months and months. It’s hard to believe that 2014 is over! But I didn’t get much sewing done last year so I thought if I finally had some time I could really get going on some things.

I went through my patterns to see what I wanted to make first. The Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt with inverted box pleats was the first one I tackled. Last year I participated in the Quirky Peach’s Summer Stashbust 2014 and fell in love with the pleats on the Chardon Skirt when I saw the version made by Camille of Attack of the Seam Ripper.

I’ve always associated pleats with plaids (not my thing) and my high school uniform (green plaid) and I also avoided them because they just don’t work with my curvy figure. They won’t lay flat. (I usually have to grade up a size in the hips.) But when I saw the inverted pleats, I thought Eureka! Pleats that even I can wear!

If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen some of my WIP photos. Here one I posted before it was hemmed.

Floral Backdrop/Flowers Photography Backdrop/Pink Flowers Backdrop

Inverted box pleats are great for people with hips! I didn’t have to grade the pattern up in the hips! I just traced a straight size 44. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I take photos of it. I also cut out two more Chardon skirts (one with the contrast band and one maxi) and drafted/cut a lining for the maxi.

I finally traced and cut out my muslin for a Sewaholic Renfrew top. I’ve had this pattern for ages but somehow haven’t gotten around to making it yet. I have yards of black knit fabric that I got for $3 yard at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.

The top middle pattern with the lady in the red jacket is a 1950 Vogue vintage reissue V2934, which I got a few years ago. The suggested fabrics are satin, velvet tweed, Ottoman (I don’t know what that is), and lightweight woolen. I have some black sweatshirt material that would be great for this jacket and then I wouldn’t have to bother with hair canvas interfacing. Plus it seems a bit subversive to use lowly sweatshirt fabric for this jacket.

I got as far as cutting the pattern – yes, I cut the pattern! I didn’t trace because size large is 16-18 – plenty of ease for me and there are no bust darts. And I prewashed my sweatshirt fabric.

I’m sure many of you recognize Colette Patterns Moneta. I got as far as finishing up cutting out my tracing of this pattern. I’ve been wanting to make it using a striped knit fabric but the thought of stripe matching has kinda put a damper on that. Plus I have yet to make a muslin of it. I want to make a version with inverted pleats, rather than gathering at the waist, which I’ve never done with a knit.

I haven’t done anything with the Esme top yet – it’s a Sew Liberated pattern that I bought at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, which is also where I bought the Deer & Doe pattern. I’m soooo lucky that my local fabric store carries indie patterns!

Oh, and I nearly  forgot – I made a muslin of this vintage Vogue pattern – 8343 from the 1970s as far as I can tell. It has princess seams – with four panels in front and in the back.

Vintage Vogue 8343 - csews.com

I used this brown jersey fabric I had in my stash. It’s rather thin though and my fashion fabric is a wool double-knit. Clearly, I will need to do an SBA, which I’m excited about because I’ve never done one with princess seams. I’ve read that it’s pretty easy because you just take it in along the seam allowances. How easy is that?

Muslin - princess seams - csews.com

I haven’t attached the sleeves yet. I think I’ll make another muslin with an SBA and then attach the sleeves. My wool jersey was really expensive so I want to make sure the fit is perfect before I cut into it.

My other goal was to make a tote bag using this fabulous oil cloth – at least that’s how it was identified at Britex Fabrics. I bought it 30 percent off at the store’s rare Black Friday sale. It normally retails for $30/ yard. I got 3/4 yard to make my bag. I love the print!

Oil cloth - csews.com

But I was worried about whether it would rip along the seams after some wear and tear. I got some great tips from folks on IG, including one from Brooke of Custom Style (@sewbrooke) who suggested sewing with duck cloth canvas underneath the stress points. Angela of Sewn by Angela (@sewnbyangela) suggested using a long stitch length to avoid tearing.

Then I took it with me to Stonemountain & Daughter and one helpful lady behind the counter suggested lining it with canvas or ticking fabric. So I checked out the ticking (they had several colors) and found this great red ticking that goes perfectly with my print! Oh, and I was told that my print wasn’t oil cloth but fabric that’s been coated. So maybe it will wear better than I think. She also suggested that the straps run the length of the bag so it wouldn’t have so much stress at the very top. I’m pondering that but I don’t want the straps on the outside, covering up the print so maybe I’ll sandwich the straps in between the fabrics.

Oil cloth and ticking fabrics - csews.com

I do want it to be sturdy. Maybe I need to make a test bag before I sew this up. 😉

Meanwhile, I prewashed my ticking and looked at all my sewing books that have bag patterns or ideas. I went through a spate of book buying a couple of years ago – some of them I picked up at Half Price Books for less than $10 each and the rest I ordered via Amazon. But I’ve only made one or two projects from all of these books.

books with bag patterns - csews.com

None of them quite had anything that I really wanted to make using this combination of fabrics but I did get some good ideas from Sew the Perfect Bag, a 2010 book with bag projects from Sew News magazine. I’ll be figuring out my own dimensions and construction later this month.

Oh, and I told the hubster I would make him a Newcastle Cardigan in black fleece. Last year I made a ton of adjustments to the pattern to get it to fit better and made him one in blue fleece (uh, I should mention that the first one I made in a double-faced black fleece was way too small). I told him I would make him one in black fleec. I had him try on the blue one again and he asked if I could make it a little lower in the back – it needed a butt adjustment. So I adjusted the pattern one more time, prewashed the black fleece and cut it out. After I attached the sleeves and had him try it on, he asked if it could be a little longer – what? Luckily, he didn’t want it to be too much longer so I just added a band along the bottom.

By day I traced/prewashed/cut/sewed and then at night my hubby and I listened to music and read aloud various books. For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading The Universal Tone, Carlos Santana’s fascinating autobiography. It’s full of great stories of his encounters with various musicians over the decades as well as a very personal look at his childhood, family, and spiritual and musical development. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, particularly of the blues and jazz. It was truly inspiring to read and one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. Last Friday, I read the final page. I was sorry to put it down – and it was more than 500 pages!

Here’s what I ended up doing during my sewcation:

  • Traced Deer & Doe Chardon skirt and Sewaholic Renfrew patterns
  • Traced/drafted Chardon skirt to a maxi length
  • Drafted a lining for a Chardon maxi
  • Went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics four times – to look at fabric for another Chardon skirt, buy lining/thread for a maxi skirt, seam tape for first Chardon, fabric  for contrast band of my next Chardon skirt, get buttons for the Newcastle Cardigan (I thought I had buttons!). I live within walking distance of this great fabric store, which is open seven days a week.
  • Cut fabric three Chardon skirts: floral print, black-and-white print on hemp/cotton blend with solid black contrast band, Dutch wax print maxi
  • Cut black knit fabric for a Sewaholic Renfrew, View A
  • Prewashed fabric
  • Sewed 1 Chardon skirt (finished!)
  • Sewed muslin of vintage Vogue dress (fabric was already cut)
  • Sewed Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan for hubby (finished!)

I thought I would have completed more garments but at least I’ve got a good start on a few things! How long does it take you to finish something?

BTW – I’m giving away a 2015 Fashion calendar. For details, please read my post Happy Sewing – Fashion Calendar Giveaway!  and comment by 11:59 pm Pacific tonight (limited to U.S. residents, sorry but international shipping costs are too high)!

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Bay Area Sewists Meetup and Pattern Swap!

Many patterns

This year began with a bang:  In January I was promoted at work and I also decided to take up the reins as the new organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group, which I mentioned in this earlier post. So life had been super busy, which is why I’ve hardly posted anything in 2014.

But I’m happy to report that on Saturday, February 22, the first official 2014 Bay Area Sewists meetup that I organized, finally happened in Berkeley. It took me a while to get going because I needed to find a free place to meet. One member suggested the San Francisco Public Library but I don’t live in San Francisco and you need to be a resident to use their meeting rooms. Then I discovered that the Berkeley Public Library has a great Community Meeting Room that Berkeley-based organizations can use for free. Our group qualifies because I’m in Berkeley.

I asked Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows if she could help me with this first meetup and she was happy to help. She checked out a Berkeley cafe and restaurant for potential meeting places and she arrived early to help set up. She also had her husband print out some labels for the various pattern categories (dresses, skirts, tops, menswear, etc.) And Meg of Made by Meg, Bay Area Sewists founder, also came early to help set up and stayed to get the room back in order. Thank you Kirsty and Meg!

The room has great tables on wheels that you can easily position around the room. I decided to put them in a square so people could wander around and look at all the patterns. As more and more members and patterns arrived, we added more tables. We began with four tables and ended up filling up eight tables. Dress patterns took up two tables!

Looking over patterns.cropped

More than 20 members came, and nearly everyone brought patterns – anywhere from three or four to more than 30! I handed out “tickets” (small history cards that I had at home) for each pattern. The idea was that people could take as many patterns as they brought.To be fair, everyone who brought a pattern got to pick one pattern, and then after everyone picked one, they got to pick a second one, and then we did a few more rounds and then everyone could just pick however many patterns they wanted.

I brought seven patterns and picked up these four at our swap:

Patterns from swap

I absolutely adore the hat patterns! I have another Patricia Underwood Vogue hat pattern that I got a few years ago. I really like her designs. I want to make that black hat. You can never have too many hats, right?

The vintage Simplicity pattern is from 1967. I always liked those dress/jacket outfits you see in those 1960s films. And now I can make my very own combo!

The Vogue dress pattern appealed to me because of the dropped waist and pleats. And I thought the Very Easy Very Vogue pattern could add some nice casual staples to my wardrobe. And all of these patterns were uncut.

At the end of the swap we held a drawing for Christine Haynes‘s lovely Emery Dress pattern, which was won by Nancy. Thank you, Christine for donating your pattern for our meetup!

If you make the dress, be sure to check out Christine’s Emery Dress Sewalong blog posts on making the dress. You’ll find tips on making adjustments and installing the invisible zipper, and plenty more.

More than 60 leftover patterns were donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland. Just for fun, I did a count and discovered that among this pile were 27 McCalls patterns, 12 Simplicity, 11 Vogue, 9 Butterick, 3 New Look, 2 Burda, and 10 miscellaneous (not Big Four).

Patterns donating

Oh, and as I counted the patterns, I found this XL, XXL pajama pattern – perfect for my husband who needs some new pajama bottoms.

Pajama pattern

Karen of Blinky Sews brought her husband to our meetup and he took some group photos at the end. Unfortunately, mine came out blurry so I won’t post them here. But Meg wrote a post last week about the meetup and included a nice group photo, which he also took. So be sure to check it out!

Hips, ‘Husky’ Girls, and Japanese Sewing Patterns

Clothing for Everyday Wear: Stylish Dress Book by Toshiko Tsukiori

A few days ago I got my copy of the English Translation of Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori (Laurence King). It was an impulse buy when I was browsing sewing books on Amazon a few weeks ago. I just happened to see it when I was in the midst of my I-don’t-have-everyday-dresses-in-my-wardrobe revelation (see Everyday Dresses). I liked the images I saw on Amazon so I pre-ordered it. This will be my second book of Japanese sewing patterns. I’ve also got Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa.

But now that I’ve flipped through the book, some doubts are creeping in. The models do not have curvy figures and they are rather thin. I have wide hips and I’m not a small person. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ (172 cm for you metric folks) and weigh more than 150 pounds (68 kg). Really.

Back when I was a kid in the late ’70s, my mom got me and my older sister jeans at Sears. I remember that we got the same size (she’s 11 months older) except that I got the “husky” version and she got regular (or was it slim?). I wasn’t overweight, just bigger boned. But I didn’t like being categorized as “husky.” Out of curiosity, I went to Sears website and checked out girls clothing. Guess what? “Husky” has been changed to “pretty plus” for girls but for boys, they still say “husky.”

OK – so maybe there’s still a teeny part of me that says I’m husky. I need to cultivate more of Leila‘s attitude of just being happy with my body as it is. (Check out her thoughtful post Before and After Pictures and Their Inaccuracies.)

The key is to make clothes to fit your body – not make your body fit the clothes, right? So I will see what I can do with this Japanese pattern book.

Here’s a preview of some of the outfits in the book. I think the designs and fabrics are all quite pretty. There are plenty of dresses but the book also includes patterns for tops, jackets, and pants. Maybe I’ll start with a top.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the dress patterns will suit me and my hips! I’ve been assured by @sew_la  via our convo on Instagram that Japanese patterns will work on a hip-y figure. 😉

And thanks to MaciNic of  The Somnolent Dachshund for telling me about the blog Japanese Sewing Books! Lots of photos there – though none yet from this book.

Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear - csews.com

Stylish Dress Book - Clothing for Everyday Wear - csews.com

Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear - csews.com

NOTE: If you haven’t used patterns from a Japanese pattern book before, be warned, on these patters you usually have to add a seam allowance and you cannot cut out the pattern. Multiple patterns are printed on both sides of the paper and the pattern lines overlap. This means you need to trace the pattern. I’m fine with tracing patterns but I sure wish they would use a different type of line for each size, which would make it easier to trace. I love that American patterns vary the lines for each size (dots, dashes, etc.).

Here’s what you’ll see when take one of the pattern sheets out of the plastic sleeve in the back of the book:

Stylish Dress Book - sewing pattern

Stylish Dress Book - sewing pattern

Yeah, it’s rather a mishmash of lines so you do have to stare at it to make sure you’re tracing the right ones. The technical illustrations are very nice so you can always look at those to make sure you’ve got the correct pieces.

Do you think these dress patterns will work on a figure with hips? Have you made any Japanese sewing patterns? If you have any tips, let me know!

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Fall for Cotton – A Vintage Sewing Challenge

FallForCotton

At the end of August I decided to participate in the Fall for Cotton – A Vintage Sewing Challenge launched by Lucky Lucille and By Gum By Golly. I bought several vintage patterns last month, so I figured, why not?

Purple fabric swatch (2)The important thing is that the fabric be 100 percent cotton. When I was visiting family on the East Coast a couple weeks ago, I did a little shopping in the Fabric Row area of Philadelphia. I wandered into a shop that was selling fabric for $5/yard. I nearly walked out when I found out it was all home dec/upholstery fabric but the owner said that many people bought his fabric to make clothes.

Then I spied a bolt of fabric with a nice shade of plum-purple and asked if it was cotton and he said yes. It felt like cotton so I decided to get 4 yards of it. I wasn’t really sure how much I would need because I didn’t have my vintage patterns with me and of course I forgot to take photos of them before I left California. I did a burn test when I got home but it kinda fizzled out – probably treated to be fire-resistant. It’s really hard to photograph this fabric. The color isn’t as red as this – it’s a little more on the violet side.

Vintage sewing patternWhen I got home, I flipped through my patterns to see if any of them used medium or heavyweight fabric. This one mentioned corduroy of one of its suggested fabrics so I think I’ll make this suit – or maybe just the jacket.

I feel like I’m a little behind because I haven’t cut anything out yet and I’m still wondering if this fabric will work because it is rather sturdy. I’ve put it through one wash and dry cycle but maybe it needs a few more, as Brooke of Custom Style suggested to me the other day. Also in the last Twitter #fabricchat (every Friday at 1 pm PT, 4 pm ET), folks told me that washing would help soften it. So I will definitely wash it some more. I did another burn test over the weekend and the fabric took flame rather quickly. So washing it also removed the fire retardant. 😉

Have you worked with upholstery fabric to make a garment? What did you make and how did it turn out? Did you wear it in public?