Archive for September 2013

Jackets – architectural shapes

September 28, 2013

I’ve been reviewing the new jacket patterns, with blazers here, and soft and shapely styles here.

But perhaps your taste in jackets is neither for crisp blazers or shapely softer styles.
There are several other options mentioned by YouLookFab in her review of jacket trends for the season (2013).
I may write on the more edgy looks – bomber, biker, military, though there aren’t many new patterns.

YouLookFab didn’t mention the soft and shapely styles in her review, but you obviously like them, as my post on them got more visitors in its first weekend than I’ve had for some time 😀

– – –

Avant garde

YouLookFab also picks out ‘avant garde’ as a key style for the season.

She says :

Avant-garde: A non-classic style that is arty, sometimes asymmetrical, architectural and boxy, usually quite dramatic, and full of interesting design elements that make it unique. Avant-garde styles have a long expiry date because they are pretty trend-immune, but don’t look classic either.

Well, that doesn’t place many limits on what we can wear 😀

I’ve picked two key themes out of that quote :
– architectural shapes
– interesting and unique design elements.
I have so many links and comments, I’ve divided this into 2 posts, this one on sources of ‘interesting’ shapes. Second post to come on links about adding ‘textile art’ details.

Not a listing of new patterns, just some of the more obvious links.

– – –

Architectural shapes


Ivey Abitz
Krista Larson
Terry Macey, Angelika Eisenbach

That is a just a small selection of studio designers who produce unusual clothes.

Eileen Fisher
Gudrun Sjoden
are more mainstream with multiple retail stores.

Many more links to styles of this type in the Lagenlook thread at Stitchers Guild.

Patterns (garments not prints)

Louise Cutting at Cutting Line Designs
Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop
Shapes by Louise Cutting and Linda Lee
Diane Ericson (ReVisions)
Tina Givens has many interesting patterns. But do make a trial garment – many of the patterns and instructions need considerable adapting to get them to work.

Koos van den Akker at Vogue
Lynn Mizono at Vogue
Marcy Tilton at Vogue
Katherine Tilton at Vogue
Katherine Tilton at Butterick

There are also usually a few individual designer jackets at Vogue which are ‘architectural’ or strongly unusual, both hard-edged and softer styles. These are some of the current ones (2013, these links don’t work in 2016, do a search if you’re interested) :

Vogue 1264 by Anne Klein


Vogue 1211 by Guy Laroche


Vogue 1347 by Chado Ralph Rucci.


Vogue 1263 by Donna Karan


Vogue 1346 by Donna Karan


Vogue 1129 by Donna Karan


Some non-English language sources of more unusual shapes :

For extreme shapes try the books by Tomoko Nakamichi:
Pattern Magic
Pattern Magic 2
Pattern Magic Stretch fabrics

or the series by Hisako Sato :
Drape Drape
Drape Drape 2
Drape Drape 3

– – –

What a lot of riches to explore ! Even if you don’t want to wear this style of garment yourself – if you’re fascinated by the shapes of clothes and how patterns work to achieve them, you’ll take pleasure in all this !

Or perhaps you’re more interested in jackets with unique details – jackets that are ‘textile art’, jackets that use fabric combining or are rich with embellishment. I have a second post planned with links on those topics.

Enjoy 😀

– – –

Originally published September 2013, links revised August 2016

= = =

Knit top sewalongs

September 21, 2013

(Hey, not sure I would have chosen this topic if I’d realised it was going to be my 200th post ! Amazing what starting a blog can turn into 😀 Thanks for all your interest over the years.)

Knit tops are so popular as a quick make, I thought there would be many sewalongs. There are several ‘let’s have fun together’ sewalongs, but not so many with detailed instructions for a specific pattern (at least, not ones that are easy to find !).

The skirt sewalongs in my previous posts included all sorts of pattern-sewalong combinations.
These knit sewalongs all come from the designer of the pattern.

Many of these assume you’re working with a conventional sewing machine rather than a serger/ overlocker. I’ve noted what’s used in some sewalongs, but I haven’t seen all of them so don’t know about the others !
Some are video and some written materials.

– – –

Written instructions with photos
(most of these are free)

Child’s cut-on sleeve top from KitschyCoo


download pattern

scroll to bottom of page to get first post
Uses a serger/ overlocker.
Many ideas for variants – apply them to adult’s patterns too !

Fishsticks’s Designs Charlie Tee

A sew-along for a simple tee with separate sleeves.
The instructions show a children’s version, but of course the same instructions apply to the adult sizes !


Pattern for adult sizing, tissue or download

Intro to the sew-along
For later steps click the link at the bottom of each post.
Sewing machine, includes sewing a twin-needle hem.

Renfrew top from Sewaholic patterns


Top with variants of sleeve length, neckline shape, cowl neck
The Number 1 best pattern for 2012 at Pattern Review.

tissue pattern

Sewalong intro
List of links
Final step
sewing machine

The Sewing Workshop Trio pattern Tee – raglan


tissue pattern (includes woven sleeveless jacket and pants)

Sewalong for tee only, sewing machine (not free, 62 pages)

– – –

Video, on-line, free

Ttutorial from Hot Patterns on making a basic v-neck tee.

Video demos, on-line or on DVD
(not free)

Basic Tee from Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns


Craftsy on-line video class – Sewing with knits
download pattern included
sewing machine

Fleece Hoodie from Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns


Craftsy on-line video class – Sewing with Knits
download pattern included
sewing machine

(See above for basic tee in the same class. Class also has patterns and instructions for knit skirt, pants, dress)

Pamela’s Patterns 104 the Perfect T-shirt DVD


tissue pattern

sewalong in ‘The Perfect T-shirt‘ DVD

Vogue 8793 from Katherine Tilton


tissue pattern – class price includes pattern
complex collar with zipper trim

Craftsy on-line video class – The Ultimate T-shirt – from Marcy and Katherine Tilton
includes fitting, and making variations

– – –

P.S. useful links not related to a specific pattern :

Sewaholic’s big list of tips for sewing knits is itself a collection of useful links
Noodlehead’s self-made pattern for racer-back tank with detailed sewing instructions
Crafts class by Linda Lee on Sewing Fashion Knits.

– – –

Of course there are many other good sources of useful tips on sewing knits. Though you’re expected to pick out for yourself the information you need. My focus here is on thorough guidance from project-based instructions, which give more help than there is in specific pattern instructions. “If you follow these steps one-by-one you’ll make this. . .”

Again I haven’t read or used all these instructions, so no guarantee of quality !
But I hope you find something useful and helpful 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available September 2013

= = =

New jacket patterns – soft and shapely

September 14, 2013

I started reviewing the new season’s patterns while talking about capsules for the season.
And one of the suggested jackets is a blazer –
see my previous post on new patterns for them.

I’m not a blazer wearer. I was amused by Angie of YouLookFab’s recent post on her personal shopping list for fall 2013. As the colours, shapes, styles she wants are all wrong for me. Big city style for people who look their best in strong cool colours and sharply edged clothes. A good reminder to enjoy styling advice for the ideas, but not to follow it blindly !

That doesn’t mean my fashion future is hopeless and I’m doomed to drabness, just that I have a different personal style. I could dress happily out of several trendy catalogues. I’ll mention Mint Velvet here, as their mini-catalogue doesn’t include a single blazer 😀 I love the styles, though it’s all a bit black for me. And I could wear nearly everything in the Poetry catalogue if they were the right colours and lengths.

In fact, mis-firing advice from stylists I usually admire has been a feature of this summer. Both Judith Rasband (Conselle newsletter of 31 May) and Imogen Lamport (Inside-Out post of 7 August) have told everyone to wear black. Oh dear, oh dear, have they got so famous they don’t bother to look at real people any more.

Anyway, back to topic – when I was talking about blazers, I was following YouLookFab’s advice in her post on a capsule for this season.
But there are many other possible jacket styles. YouLookFab’s review of jacket high-styles for the coming season doesn’t include any soft or feminine styles, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fashionable. And this post is about the new patterns for them. These patterns may have notched or shawl collars, but most are neither straight nor structured and many don’t have strongly defined shoulders.

I’ve divided these patterns into :
– more drape in the styling, a softer non-tailored look.
– cascade collars.
– emphasised waist (often with a peplum), for people who have an indented waist, or want to look more shapely.

– – –

Skim Fitting and Drapey

Vogue 8845 by Claire Shaeffer no doubt has instructions for beautiful couture.


Vogue 1364 by Sandra Betzina


That back centre panel can be cut on the bias or have added texture interest.

No shaping, and Cascade collar

Even more drapey, cascade collars have been around for a while, but there are plenty still in this season’s trendy catalogues. Drape down to no lower than waist level. Many small cup people look better with drape to bust level, while if you have a large cup size you may prefer the drape to waist level or lower.

No new patterns, but several already available.
McCall’s 6444 has both higher and lower drape options.


Close fitted and Shapely

Butterick 5962 by Gertie


New Look 6231 wardrobe with a choice of necklines and peplum styles. (Despite the slimness of those pants, this pattern doesn’t insist you use knits or stretch fabrics.)
With a shoulder princess pattern, it’s relatively easy to change the neckline style by changing the central front section, so this jacket has many styling possibilities.


Vogue 8931 is shapely and structured, not soft in effect.


With a choice of collars, and colour blocking suggestions.

– – –

Would any of these new patterns flatter your body shape and enhance your personal style ?

And of course they can all be made in the new fabrications too, see my previous post on blazer patterns.
Some of the patterns here already include ideas for colour blocking or texture blocking.

But perhaps you don’t wear either blazers or shapely soft styles. Perhaps you prefer more edgy or fashion extremes, or the sort of creativity which is outside fashion.
YouLookFab mentioned these in her review of jacket trends for the season.
And I’m hoping to write posts on
patterns for bomber/ biker/ military jackets
and on the new curved shoulder look.
YouLookFab also picks ‘avant garde’ as an important style for the season. And I have posts planned on some of the many options for those.

So, many many exciting jacket possibilities.

Choose the ones you love 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available September 2013

= = =

Sewing skills lists

September 7, 2013

Are you the sort of person who likes to tick your skills off on a list as you learn ? or have some sort of structure to guide your learning ?

I don’t like exotic vacations away from home, but I do like to spend August as a stay-cation – sew-cation.
I usually take some sort of on-line sewing class.
And that makes me think about my sewing skills.

Three groups of items here :
Some .pdf lists of skills which I’ve produced.
These are project based.

Some .pdf lists about sewing education from 4-H.
There are several other 4-H sewing booklets which aren’t free.

And, for people who like to learn by working through a suggested sequence of projects, there are the increasingly difficult projects required in a couple of recent knock-out sewing contests.

My own lists

Beginner skills list.pdf

Intermediate skills – based on the book Dressmaking by Alison Smith
31 projects.A4.pdf
31 projects.USletter.pdf

Taking it further, I haven’t produced my own list of jacket sewing skills, but there are comments on them in my post on Sources of jacket sewing advice. Jackets can be made at a huge range of levels of difficulty. All the way from advanced beginner ones which use the same skills as sewing a simple blouse. Through to advanced couture and tailoring skills such as underlining, pad stitching, roll line taping, sleeve head supports, welt pockets. . .

– – –

4-H lists

Different states use different systems.
Here are some .pdfs that are free and I’ve found worth a look.

Penn State
Sewing skills progress chart
(not sorted by level)

Washington State
Sewing skills checklist
(3 levels)

Sew much fun
(3 general levels, 12 detailed levels)

Oregon State
Sewing advancement guide
(3 general levels, 9 detailed levels – general clothing skills, refers to Sewing skills checklist for sewing details)

– – –

Knock-out sewing contests

How about using extended sewing contests as guides to a project sequence to work through ?

Super Online Sewing Match

This on-line sewing contest used patterns going up to intermediate skills. Contestants had one or two weeks to do their sewing, in their own sewing space.
The entries show how much can be achieved from a simple starting point. The basic patterns may be intermediate, but the workmanship and richness of ideas in the entries were at a very high level.


Round One – a-line skirt
Deborah Moebes’ Design and sew an a-line skirt Craftsy class

Round 2 – child’s dress
Oliver + S Roller Skate dress

Round 3 – bag
Cinch bag download pattern from U-handbag

Round 4 – men’s shirt
Colette Patterns Negroni men’s shirt

Round 5 – final – adult dress
Sewaholic Patterns Cambie fully lined dress with bustier style bodice

– – –

Great British Sewing Bee TV series

The Great British Sewing Bee TV series was a more advanced challenge, as it worked up to making jackets and using special occasion fabrics, plus fitting someone they hadn’t met before.

Sewing quickly in an unfamiliar environment – not something I would do well at all 😀
Though the building they sewed in looked delicious, a historic building bursting with fabrics and haberdashery, a sewer’s paradise.
Contestants could take their own tools, but had to use the sewing machines provided.

In the 2013 series there were 3 challenges each weekend, each with only a few hours allowed.
First day :
1. Make up a commercial pattern supplied.
2. Decorate a ready-made item.
Second day :
3. Choose fabric and pattern for a specific type of garment (contestants were given the brief a few days beforehand). Make up to fit a real person, who modelled it for the judging.
There was also a simple suggested home-dec project for viewers (not at all well explained !).

The episodes used to be available on YouTube, but sadly they’ve been deleted for copyright reasons. . . yet the makers haven’t issued a DVD – pooh !

Jan 2014 – the show has appeared on YouTube again – don’t know how long it will last !

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Round One

1. A-line skirt
2. alter neckline of RTW top
3. made-to-measure day dress
Project – drawstring laundry bag

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Two
1. men’s trousers
2. add patch pockets to RTW skirt
3. made-to-measure silk blouse/ shirt
Project – tied closure cushion/ pillow cover

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Three – semi-final
1. child’s sun-dress with shirring, french seams, rouleaux straps
2. change shape and embellish RTW shift dress
3. made-to-measure fitted jacket with lining
Project – simple curtains

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Four – final
1. men’s shirt
2. embellish ready-made fabric evening purse
3. made-to-measure special occasion wear (all contestants chose to use 2 difficult fabrics !)

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

– – –

Do you like to develop your sewing skills ?
or do you like to use familiar sewing processes, and put your creativity into choosing what to make and how to embellish it ?
or just burble along for complete relaxation 😀

I hope you had a lovely summer vacation, whatever your vacation style 😀

– – –

Links and patterns available September 2013

= = =