Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pattern design for beginners

Have you been adjusting and altering your patterns to the point where they are now something new? Do you have visions in your head of the perfect garment and think you might be able to create a pattern for it? How would you even begin such a project? Well, I have been doing just this and have gotten to the point where I am now dabbling in pattern design.  I have nothing to share at this point, but here are some of the resources I have been using. Now, of course, you could go to fashion design school and learn all of this but since there is not one near me, I embarked on my online learning experience.

1. Pattern design books. 
  • Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear is, apparently, one of the standard textbooks one must have if pattern design is in your future. This is the fourth edition of this book and it is available on Amazon both new and used.  I found this book to be very helpful in understanding how measurements work together with design.  It does refer only to metric measurement, so that may take some getting used to if you don't use Euro patterns.  This book is not easy to use for the beginner, I won't kid you. But, it is invaluable.  The author, Winnifred Aldrich, also makes versions for menswear and women's wear. 
  • How to use, adapt, and design sewing patterns is another good book to read.  I got it from our local library but then decided to also buy it on Amazon. It has chapters on altering commercial patterns, designing your own patterns, great information on techniques and tools, and, most importantly, a huge assortment of pattern blocks for you to use.  What are pattern blocks? Read on!
  • Some other books to consider are: Patternmaking for a perfect fit by Steffani Lincecum, The complete photo guide to perfect fitting by Sarah Veblen, How to make sewing patterns by Donald McCunn, and Sewing Couture Techniques by Claire Shaeffer. These, and more, are for sale on Amazon and may also be in your local library.  I also found some great vintage pattern design books at local used book stores.

2.  Pattern design blogs
  • The Fashion Incubator is a great place to start looking online for information on pattern design.  Kathleen Fasanella not only runs the blog but also writes books, runs a forum and has other products, services and resources about fashion and pattern design. I do not belong to her forum, so I cannot comment on it.  I do find her posts about pattern design to be very helpful, such as this one on "how to check the accuracy of graded patterns."
  • Carla Crim, from The Scientific Seamstress, who makes awesome patterns, wrote a three part series on making epatterns for Sew, Mama, Sew. They are a beginning look at what it takes to design a pattern.
  • Burda has some resources for pattern design, such as this list of tools you need. You are only as good as your tools, so definitely plan on getting at least a few new ones.  I have to say that my new set of French curves makes me very happy.
  • You definitely do not need a lot of fancy tools to just begin to make a pattern for yourself or your family. Look at what Katy did at Sweet Verbena. Google around and you will find more!

3.  Software  - as far as I know, there is not software for the home user that will do all the work of pattern design for you. You can, however, use these illustration software products to draw your own.
  • Inkscape is free. Don't ask me how to use it. I couldn't figure it out.
  • Adobe Illustrator is not free, but you can probably find a class at a local community college to help you learn how to use it. That is what I am currently doing!  
4. The last thing you need is some lovely friends who can answer dumb questions. If your friends don't know pattern design, you can join me in the journey! I would be happy to try to answer our questions or find someone who can.

Here's a sneak peak of what I am up to!

Thanks for reading!

 PS If you made it this far, I will tell you what a block is for!  A basic block is a drafted pattern that has been perfected to fit the body precisely.  After it is tested, it becomes the base for other patterns. You can take that basic block and use it to build other patterns. Like, if you have a basic bodice block, you can add different sleeves, sash, skirt types, etc, and build more patterns on that bodice block. This is not to be confused with sloper.  A sloper is a pattern without seam allowance. Fashion incubator explains it better.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

She's Worth it Zipper Pouch tutorial roundup

It is time to begin sewing your zipper pouches for the She's Worth it Project.  If you are on team Handmade Dress Haven, or would like to join, here are some tutorials to help you make your pouches.  You can sew as many as you want. You will be shipping them, along with $10, to Andrea of The Train to Crazy.  That is $10 per sewist, not $10 per pouch.

Thanks for participating!  The due date is end of March.  Let's hope these pouches brighten up the life of a girl or woman who has suffered enough.

1. First of all, Andrea has a nice blog post with a few links for you to check out. And, be sure to look at her She's worth it pinterest board for ideas. 

2. Here is one tutorial I found that looks really cute.  Michelle Patterns calls these cuties "dumplings" and they don't look hard to make. 

3.  I like this simple little pouch from Skip to my Lou. It looks easy and quick to sew and you don't even need interfacing.   

4.  Make it Perfect has a really cute zipper pouch tutorial that uses a lot of little scraps.  

5.  Last, but not least, this cute wristlet from Fresh Squeezed Fabric's blog would definitely brighten someone's day.

Happy Sewing!!

PS. If you want to participate, be sure to email me for the mailing address to Train to Crazy's Andrea.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It takes a village

They say it takes a village to raise a child but it also takes a great group of gals to learn to sew!  In the last week, I have used the help of so many sewing friends to complete this great outfit for my daughter's valentine's day celebration!  They are my village. My online village of sewing friends.  I couldn't do it without them.

First of all, I couldn't have made this dress without Jen's Butterfly Dress pattern, at Tiedyediva.  Thanks for making such a great pattern. This is my all-time favorite dress pattern. It is a pdf pattern and it comes with great step-by-step instructions, complete with pictures, and the pattern sews up beautifully.  Some patterns cause great confusion for ther user but not Jen's! They are always well done, easy to use, perfect for the beginner to moderate seamstress.

 (I swear the bodice ruffle is straight! It just looks wonky in the pic!)

Thanks to Meagan, the Mean Princess, we have a cute top to go underneath the dress.  The Bella dress pattern also makes a really cute top and she shows you how to sew it on a tutorial from her blog.  Lindsay, of The Cottage Home, is to thank for the lace on the sleeve. I won one of her giveaways, last year, and it included this lovely lace.  Finally, Kristi, from The Burlap Button, gave me a great tip on how to sew the neck of a knit top using your serger.  Brilliant! 

Thanks for being in my village. There's a whole lot more of you and I appreciate you all.  I couldn't sew without you. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

She's worth it!

Announcing: I will MAKE because She's Worth It

Last week, I read on The Train to Crazy Blog about the great idea to raise a half a million dollars to fund organizations that fight human trafficking and slavery.  The idea is called the  The goal is to get crafters together to make a difference in the lives of girls and women affected by slavery through making and donating bracelets and zipper pouches and giving money to fund organizations who work to improve their lives.

What is the problem?  
Check out Polaris Project.  "Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of "labor or services," such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. The factors that each of these situations have in common are elements of force, fraud, or coercion that are used to control people.  Then, that control is tied to inducing someone into commercial sex acts, or labor or services.  Numerous people in the field have summed up the concept of human trafficking as "compelled service."  Every year, human traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, and here in the United States.  Human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world."  

Yes, you read correctly. This happens all over the world, even in the USA. 

What Now?
I believe that while what has happened to her is almost unbearable to even consider, we must stand for her. We must no longer close our eyes. We must do something. We may not all be able to storm brothels, spend hours holding a girl as she heals or sit in a small village teaching her how to make jewelry so that she can earn a fair wage, but we can do something. We can do our part. Our part may be donating $10. It may be recruiting 10 friends to donate $10. It may be recruiting 100 friends. It may be something we haven’t even dreamed of yet!

In light of her great bravery to survive this life and to fight daily for hope, rescue, freedom and healing – we will choose to be brave too. We will choose to never look away from her pain. We will choose to show her that she’s worth it.

What will you do? Will you consider her story? Will you consider her bravery and choose to be brave too? Will you use your voice, your finances, your talents to help protect, rescue, restore or reintegrate her today?

Will you help be on my team to make bracelets or zipper pouches and donate $10 to this cause?  I am assembling a Handmade Dress Haven team.  All you have to do is agree to make either a bracelet or zipper pouch, or both.  Or more than one!  And donate $10. We will all be sending our wares and dollars to Andrea at The Train to Crazy.  I will give you the address when you contact me.  How do you contact me?  Send me an email at

For more information, check out The Train to Crazy. Andrea updates frequently with more team members, questions and answers, and information.  Our contribution will be part of her larger team but let's see how much we, as a team-within-the-team, can contribute!!

Post in comments and be sure to link your email so I can contact you about helping. 

Go team!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tiedyediva Chelsea pattern

I forgot to tell you all I tested a great new pattern a few months ago: Tiedyediva Long Sleeve Dress Pattern for girls -  The Chelsea Dress. This is such a pretty dress and not hard at all to make. Yet, it has a fancy look to it, in my opinion.  The front has a bib closure that is not hard at all to sew.  But doesn't it look lovely! You can do inner buttons that are hidden or buttons on the outside, as I did. I decided it was a perfect dress for my beloved Deco Demure Stash.  I have been hoarding it for a while! This line is by Laura Berringer for Marcus Fabrics. It is currently not in their catalog but if you search, you could probably find some. And it has peacock feathers, which is my bliss.  Here is my daughter wearing her new dress. The sleeves, bib, and skirt are Deco Demure, the red is from Felicity Miller's Gypsy line and the brown floral in the bodice is from Robyn Pandolph's Chateau Rococco line.

Here is a closeup of the finished dress. The Gypsy red fabric is becoming my favorite blender fabric for trims!  I just scored two more yards from, from their recent sale.  Made me very happy.

Closeup of the bib.  

Closeup of sleeve.  The lovely ribbon is from Trimgoddess, on Etsy. She has the BEST selection of lovely ribbons I have seen.  One of my favorite Etsy stores.

I highly recommend this pattern to beginner sewists on up.  Tiedyediva patterns are always well written and come with a great many pictures and advice for you to make sure your garment turns out perfect.  The directions to make the bib are simple to understand and the sleeves come out beautifully.   This is a pdf pattern you can download and print.  I keep my computer near my sewing area so I only need to print the pattern pieces, not the directions. I can read them off the computer.  Works out perfectly.

Thanks for reading!