Archive for the ‘sewing’ category

Books I have 2 copies of

December 4, 2017

I moved about 2 years ago, and for many reasons have not yet unpacked my many books.

Of course it has been a good excuse to buy some sewing books that I didn’t already have ! I’ve also felt the need to have access to several sewing books that I already owned.
I prefer print versions of reference books, but for a second copy have been getting Kindle versions where available.

I’ve found it interesting to pull together a list of what I already have, hidden in a pile of boxes, and felt a need to look at so got another copy. They turn out to be mostly simple books with a generous spirit. And I’ve mentioned a few videos which supplement the books.

Basic but not usually for complete beginners – I’m relieved to find I haven’t felt a need to refer to books that tell me how to use my machine, tools, and patterns 😀 And, although I do a lot of work on muslins, I haven’t bought any repeat copies of (or new) books on fit – these days I know enough to do-it-myself by ‘reading the wrinkles’. Though no doubt I will be continuing my fitting ‘rescue fantasy’ by trying yet more video classes on pant fit. . .

My choices make it obvious my main focus is not couture technique but simple techniques for sewing and pattern altering – though they do need to give quality results. Simple garments with much potential for variation. And I know, from my pleasure in my collection of 19c sewing books, that I have an almost infinite capacity for reading multiple instructions for the same technique.

Most of these books and classes include full size patterns, or have simple instructions for making your own. Most not for complete beginners – you do need to know a surprising amount to follow even the simplest garment sewing instructions. Although many of the books are simple, this isn’t a post on learning to sew.

The easiest of all, for both sewing and pattern alterations
See how much you can do by playing with the simplest of patterns.

Wiener & Rosenberg – Illustrated hassle-free make your own clothes book (don’t know how I got a kindle version, it doesn’t seem to be available now – perhaps too many people thought it’s in the boho spirit of the book to pirate copies). Draw simple patterns direct onto fabric.

Sonya Philip of 100 Acts of Sewing – video not book – shirt and pants classes at Creative Bug. The same sort of vision as the hassle-free book but with paper patterns (pdfs).

More sewing skills

Bolsover – Sewing machine basics (I do love the tunic pattern). Home dec and clothes, paper patterns. Does start with getting to know your machine, sewing straight lines, turning corners. . .

Aoi Koda – 12 lessons – all clothes (original in Japanese, now out of print – second copy in French). I love the very visual instructions in Japanese pattern books – a little easier to understand when annotated in a familiar language ! Overlapping traceable paper patterns.

Beyond beginner sewing, techniques only

The great Vogue Sewing Book – I already had the 1984 ‘new’ edition – bought when it first came out and was hugely expensive, to celebrate getting a new job ! Now I also have the 3rd. edition metric version.

Last Christmas I got the Threads magazine archive on DVD.

Simple pattern making

Cal Patch – Design It Yourself clothes (kindle version). Draft your own patterns. The book is not very visual and has minimal sewing instructions.
I prefer her Creative Bug classes.

Both sewing and simple pattern making / alterations, advanced beginner to intermediate techniques

Kerstin Martensson – Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew way.
Paper patterns not overlapping but on both sides of paper so need tracing. Not to worry, they’re multi-style patterns so would need tracing anyway.
Pattern proportions not very current, but easy replace with others such as : tee, blouse, skirt, pants.

Alison Smith – Dressmaking (2012).
2nd copy is the shorter edition (19 of the 32 styles in the big book) – Dressmaking step by step (2015). Classic styles, and the big book has them in drab fabrics, but the photo instructions are excellent. Download patterns.

Wiener & Rosenberg – Son of hassle free sewing. Draft your own patterns.

Looking at this list makes me feel happy.
I do know this is my taste. I’m not suggesting everyone should have these books ready to hand. But it can be an interesting exercise – what are the books or technique sites that you like to have easy access to ?

😀 Hurrah for sewing in all its forms 😀

– – –

Links available December 2017

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Speedy Patterns – to sew in 3 hours or less

November 19, 2016

These are patterns which the pattern companies claim you can sew in 3 hours or less. Mainly a list of all the timed patterns I found in print in November 2016. Since then I’ve been adding individual patterns when I’ve come across them.
These times assume you’re an experienced sewer !
And they usually only mean sewing time, not including preparation and cutting time.

I’ve posted several times on the topic of quick-make patterns, starting in 2010. My last post (March 2016) has now expanded so much it was getting unwieldy. So I’ve divided it in two :
– this post, on patterns the companies claim a sewing time for,
– a second post on patterns that are also very quick and easy, though no one makes any claims about how long you’ll need : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed.

Obviously these patterns have to avoid any technique that takes time. So they’re very simple, with few added design features and little shaping. But there are designers who manage to respond to this need by providing interesting shapes and design features that don’t need much work.

It’s also helpful to know which sewing techniques you’re relaxed about. For example, most quick patterns avoid zips and buttonholes, collars and set-in sleeves, any hand sewing. But if you’re a sewist who can do those in a whizz, then why not.

Fabric choice can be crucial. Quality fabrics can give a luxury look to even the simplest of styles. Choose wovens with a bit of body, so they don’t need much support from interfacing and don’t change shape while you’re sewing them. Not slippery, don’t fray easily. Similarly with knits – choose stable ones, that aren’t too floppy. Knits have the advantage they don’t fray, so no need for seam finishing. And there are non-knit fabrics like this too.

– – –

Big 4 timed patterns

These are the Big 4 time-limited patterns available in November 2016.
Most Simplicity-New Look patterns have a download option.

New Look 6816 capsule of knit top, skirt, pants.

Tops, Dresses, Shirts

All the dress patterns can be shortened to tops and tunics.

New Look 6483 sleeveless and sleeved woven tops.

Butterick 5948 Butterick used to claim these classic tops could be made in 2 hours, but they’ve changed the envelope.

New Look 6892 peasant style tops.

McCall’s 6558 peasant style tops and dresses.

New Look 6347 sleeveless dresses.

McCall’s 6102 short sleeved dresses with 3 cup sizes.

New Look 6936 cut on short sleeve knit dresses.

New Look 6889 sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

New Look 6352 sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

McCall’s 5893 sleeveless and short sleeved empire waist dresses.

McCall’s 6465 sleeveless and sleeved dresses.

Also for men :

Simplicity 8180 1-piece collar shirt, tie, shorts.

For previous editions of these patterns, Palmer-Pletsch claimed their unisex camp shirt and banded collar shirt patterns took 2 or 3 hours. They’re now not so optimistic !
McCall’s 6932 1-piece collar camp shirt (3 hours).
McCall’s 6613 band collar shirt (no time given).

Skirts and Pants

New Look 6399 woven skirts and pants.

Simplicity 1068 knit skirts and pants.

Simplicity 2414 tiered skirts and pants.

New Look 6843 skirts with zip.

McCall’s 5430 wrap skirts.

Butterick 5153 shorts and pants (also for men).

McCall’s 6568 slimmer shorts and pants.

Layers

McCall’s 2260 unlined vests.

McCall’s 6084 shawl collar cardigans, woven.

McCall’s 6209 ponchos.

Butterick used to have a quick pattern for waterfall front jackets, Butterick 4989, which is now out of print.

And they had an unlined blazer pattern that Butterick claimed you could sew in 2 hours ! but sadly that has disappeared from their catalogue 😀 Look for Butterick 4138 dated 2004.

McCall’s 6172, the famous Palmer-Pletsch 8-hour lined blazer pattern which sold over a million copies, is now also out of print.

Costumes for men and women

McCall’s 7229 nativity.

McCall’s 6142 clown.

– – –

Independent pattern companies

Again these are just a few patterns I’ve found which claim specific making times.
There are many more independent pattern companies mentioned in my other post on quick patterns : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed.

For modern casuals, try Seamwork download patterns from Colette Patterns – supposed to take less than 3 hours in total (a few for men).

Seamingly Smitten claims most of their download patterns can be made in an afternoon.

For more formal modern classics in less than 3 hours, see Textile Studio Patterns. Shorten the skirts and dresses to transform the look. Or try the jackets at thigh, knee, or low calf length.

With a little more time – Decades of Style ‘Everyday’ patterns are supposed to be sewable in a day. Most are also rated ‘easy’.

Some individual patterns :

Fancy Tiger Crafts free pattern for a One Hour Top is a simple dolman shape knit top. They have a video class for it at Creative Bug showing how to make it on a serger/overlocker and a sewing machine.

And if you enjoy self-drafted patterns from a book there’s the 1920s One Hour dress by Mary Brooks Picken.

Sew Over It says an Intermediate sewer can sew their Ultimate Shift dress (download option) in 3 hours.

Silhouette patterns
600 classic blouse with 1-hour sew-along webcasts.
85 sweater wrap, basically a knit circle with added sleeves.

CNT jackets
‘A little somethin’ 3 hour shawl collar jacket.
‘Start after breakfast finish before lunch’ jacket with raglan sleeves.

Christine Jonson Studio Collection draped vest and jacket download patterns for knits.
She says the vest can be sewn in 5 minutes !

These free download patterns from Camelot Fabrics are said to take an afternoon :
boxy dress – for variations : shorten to top / tunic, change neckline shape or finish.
cropped jacket – for variations : lengthen, change front shape.
pyjama pants – with elastic waist and side seams. Make a size smaller for a daywear version ?

Sewlidarity says she made 2 pairs of Sew Over It Ultimate Pyjamas (download) in 5 hours (vlog starts at 1.50).

– – –

Of course you may well have your own patterns which you can whip up in a short time. I’ve just been talking about patterns which the pattern companies are willing to make a commitment about. They show that everyone can make a garment quickly, not just people who have a serger/overlocker and are making a tee 😀

Incidentally you may have wondered why there are so few knit patterns in this post. There are many knit patterns in the next post, on quick but not timed patterns : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed. Perhaps there are so many techniques / tools / notions for making knit garments, the pattern companies don’t want to guess the time you might need.

Whether you enjoy using these fast patterns may depend on your sewing style. I’m not a quick sewer, and I don’t do well under pressure. I need to spend time developing the fit of a pattern and getting secure about the techniques used before I can be sure of making it more quickly.
But there are many people who love to jump straight in for a quick reward to their sewing.

So Good Luck with developing a range of speedy Tried ’N True patterns, if that’s what you enjoy.

– – –

Patterns and links available November 2016

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Very Quick and Easy patterns which are not timed

November 19, 2016

My previous post was on patterns which the pattern companies claim you can sew in 3 hours or less. That post is here : Speedy patterns to make in half a day or less.

The patterns in this post are obviously quick and simple, but the publishers are not actually committing themselves about how long you need to make them !

The same comments about fabrics apply :
Quality fabrics can give a luxury look to even the simplest of styles. Choose wovens with a bit of body, so they don’t need much support from interfacing and don’t change shape while you’re sewing them. Not slippery, doesn’t fray easily. Similarly with knits – choose stable ones, that aren’t too floppy. Knits have the advantage they don’t fray, so no need for seam finishing. And there are non-knit fabrics like this too.

Some of these patterns may use less than ideal sewing processes to speed up the make. You can always choose to take a bit longer on better techniques, though it may take some thought.

(The patterns are tissue unless download is mentioned.)

– – –

Some patterns for quick casual outfits

Here’s a very simple pattern for skirts and pants :
Butterick 3460.

For casual outfits, combine those with these free slouchy top download patterns from Tessuti :
Cut on sleeves, straight sides (sheers)
Cut-on sleeves with added length, straight sides (wovens)
Cut-on sleeve, a-line (knits)
Boxy with separate sleeves (knits)
There’s also the free MariaDenmark kimono tee (link in right menu).

Pattern companies and special pattern lines

All the patterns from 100 Acts of Sewing are ultra simple.

And the ePatterns among the download patterns from Sewing Workshop. Add quick elastic waist skirts and pants for a complete wardrobe.

I don’t sew knits myself so I’m not very aware of patterns for them, but I know many people like Pamela’s Patterns and find them quick to sew.

If you like a flouncy / lagenlook style, and have tried the pattern so you’ve found the pitfalls, a few of Tina Givens patterns use simple shapes and techniques, and most are downloads. Though ‘buyer beware’, you do need to know enough to correct any gaps in the patterns and instructions. If you like a softer look but don’t want to go completely lagenlook, many of these can be shortened to thigh length and worn with other skirts, pants or jeans.

If you don’t need good instructions, there are the ‘one figure’ styles from Hot Patterns. Some are available as downloads.

And it’s worth searching for the gems among the dross in the free download patterns from fabric.com (many of these are from Hot Patterns).

Also most of the styleARC patterns suitable for beginners are quick and easy.

Yet more simple tops and bottoms among the Sure Fit Designs Made in a Day styles. Most of these can be made starting from any basic top and pants fitting slopers, not just the SFD ones. Though you do need to do a bit of pattern work the first time you use them.

Quick and easy jackets are usually loose fitting with no collar. Maybe no closure, or use snaps, clasps, frogs, ties, cord loops instead of buttonholes. Often with cut-on sleeves. Or made from rectangles with square armholes. Sometimes raglan sleeves. There are patterns for these from many companies. Here’s my post from 2011 listing quick jackets from independent designers – most are still available.

MacPhee Workshop It’s Magic and World’s Easiest are ingenious simple casual patterns, though for my taste the techniques are sometimes over simplified. As they’re in Canada, there are many warm jackets and coats – not usual in quick pattern collections.
A couple of those are versions of the one-fabric-piece bog coat. Here’s Shirley Adams’ video about making a bog coat without a pattern.

I now have a pinterest board of patterns for very easy jackets and vests.

For a slight increase in skills and time needed, there’s a large range of Fast and Easy patterns from Butterick.

Very easy wardrobe patterns

Make the co-ordination decisions quick and easy by using a wardrobe pattern. Many easy New Look patterns for 2 or 3 items (most both tissue and printable on-line, see size menu), such as :

for knits :
New Look 6762, New Look 6735 (‘core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants), New Look 6730, New Look 6461, New Look 6458, New Look 6420, New Look 6403, New Look 6402, New Look 6384, New Look 6216.

for wovens :
New Look 6428, New Look 6292.
This one isn’t labelled ‘easy’ (skirt and pants have darts and zips), but is nearly and has a ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants : New Look 6217.

‘Learn to Sew’ pattern ranges

If you’re an experienced sewer, then you’ll probably find these patterns easy to make.

Kwik Sew Kwik Start
Simplicity Learn to sew
McCall’s Learn to sew (avoid the camp shirt 6972, or add a neck facing so you can sew the collar quickly and easily).

Although these are ‘Learn to Sew’ patterns, many of them would be challenging as a first project for most complete beginners. But they do usually use simple techniques and clear instructions. I think the Simplicity and Kwik Start instructions are better for beginners, but that won’t matter so much for an experienced sewer.

Beware patterns labelled Easy or Beginner by many of the pattern companies, which may not be at all quick or even simple. Assess these patterns carefully for whether they use techniques that are trouble free and quick for you.
I think the Very Easy Vogue label is especially mis-leading for beginners, these patterns often use techniques which would be called ‘intermediate’ by anyone else 😀

– – –

Lots of good options. But we do need to allow for our own way of working. People who often sew quickly will go “oh good, 1 hour. . . whizz. . .done”. Meanwhile I’m saying “hmm, I do need to make samples of that stitch on my new machine. . . hmm, I need to adapt that pattern for my x, y, z fitting issues. . . hmm, that style element may be quick to sew but often doesn’t look good on me, I’d better make a test garment. . .”. I can take months to make a 1-hour pattern 😀 I can’t happily sew quickly a pattern that’s new to me. If I want some quick sewing, it has to be a Tried ‘N True pattern, one on which all the testing and development work has already been done.

But the quick pattern choices are wide. These days the need for speed doesn’t restrict you to making very plain classics. Copy the well known designers who make very simple shapes in very special fabrics.

Good Luck with finding some speedy patterns which suit your clothing and sewing style. Then you can happily build a wardrobe with minimum effort 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available November 2016

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Update on sources of quick-make patterns

March 5, 2016

I added a list of all the timed patterns currently available from the Big 4, and this post got so large I’ve divided it in 2 sections. The more recent posts are :
1. Speedy patterns to make in half a day or less
A list of links to current patterns taking 3 hours or less sewing time.
2. Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed
This is not much changed from the post below.

There are wardrobe sewing contests at both Stitchers Guild and Pattern Review at the moment (March 2016).

Many contestants find themselves doing some speed sewing in the final weeks, to get the full number of garments made. So what are some good sources of quick-make patterns ?

Obviously these patterns have to avoid any technique that takes time. So they’re very simple, with few added design features and little shaping. But there are designers who manage to respond to this need by providing interesting shapes and design features that don’t need much work.

It’s also helpful to know which sewing techniques you’re relaxed about. For example, most quick patterns avoid zips and buttonholes, collars and set-in sleeves, any hand sewing. But if you’re a sewist who can do those in a whizz, then why not.

Fabric choice can be crucial. Quality fabrics can give a luxury look to even the simplest of styles. Choose wovens with a bit of body, so they don’t need much support from interfacing and don’t change shape while you’re sewing them. Not slippery, doesn’t fray easily. Similarly with knits – choose ones that aren’t too floppy. Knits have the advantage they don’t fray, so no need for seam finishing. And there are non-knit fabrics like this too.

Some of these patterns may use less than ideal sewing processes to speed up the make. You can always choose to take a bit longer on better techniques, though it may take some thought.

(The patterns are tissue unless download is mentioned.)

– – –

Patterns which the publishers suggest times for

This is the section replaced by a new post.
These times assume you’re an experienced sewer !

BMV used to give sewing times for several of their patterns, but do it less often now. Some of the timed patterns are still available. For casual classics, see previous posts on speedy patterns from the Big 4 which are supposed to take less than 2 hours sewing time.

Here are some new examples from Simplicity-New Look :
New Look 6816, knit cut-on sleeve tops, elastic-waist skirt and pants.
Simplicity 8180, shirts
Simplicity 2414, elastic waist pants and tiered skirts.
New Look 6399, skirts and pants
Simplicity 1068, knit skirts
Simplicity 8219, lined vests.

For modern casuals, try Seamwork download patterns from Colette Patterns – supposed to take less than 3 hours in total.

For more formal modern classics in less than 3 hours, see Textile Studio Patterns. Shorten the skirts and dresses to transform the look. Or try the jackets at thigh, knee, or low calf length.

Easy patterns which are not timed but only slightly less quick

Here’s a very simple pattern for skirts and pants :
Butterick 3460.

For casual outfits, combine those with these free slouchy top download patterns from Tessuti :
Cut on sleeve, straight sides (sheers)
Cut-on sleeve, a-line (knits)
Boxy with separate sleeves (knits)
There’s also the free MariaDenmark kimono tee (link in right menu).

All the patterns from 100 Acts of Sewing are ultra simple.

And the ePatterns among the download patterns from Sewing Workshop. Add quick elastic waist skirts and pants for a complete wardrobe.

If you like a flouncy / lagenlook style, and have tried the pattern so you’ve found the pitfalls, Tina Givens patterns use simple shapes and techniques, and most are downloads. Though ‘buyer beware’, you do need to know enough to correct any gaps in the patterns and instructions. If you like a softer look but don’t want to go completely lagenlook, many of these can be shortened to thigh length and worn with other skirts, pants or jeans.

If you don’t need good instructions, there are the ‘one figure’ styles from Hot Patterns. Some are available as downloads.

And it’s worth searching for the gems among the dross in the free download patterns from fabric.com (many of these are from Hot Patterns).

Also most of the styleARC patterns suitable for beginners are quick and easy.

Yet more simple tops and bottoms among the Sure Fit Designs Made in a Day styles. Most of these can be made starting from any basic top and pants fitting slopers, not just the SFD ones. Though you do need to do a bit of pattern work the first time you use them.

Quick and easy jackets are usually loose fitting with no collar. Maybe no closure, or use snaps, clasps, frogs, ties, cord loops instead of buttonholes. Often with cut-on sleeves. Or made from rectangles with square armholes. Sometimes raglan sleeves. There are patterns for these from many companies. Here’s my post from 2011 listing quick jackets from independent designers – most are still available.

MacPhee Workshop It’s Magic and World’s Easiest are ingenious simple casual patterns, though for my taste the techniques are sometimes over simplified. As they’re in Canada, there are many warm jackets and coats – not usual in quick pattern collections.

For a slight increase in skills and time needed, there’s a large range of Fast and Easy patterns from Butterick.

Very easy wardrobe patterns

Make the co-ordination decisions quick and easy by using a wardrobe pattern. Many easy New Look patterns for 2 or 3 items (most both tissue and printable on-line, see size menu), such as :

for knits :
New Look 6762, New Look 6735 (‘core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants), New Look 6730, New Look 6461, New Look 6458, New Look 6420, New Look 6403, New Look 6402, New Look 6384, New Look 6216.

for wovens :
New Look 6428, New Look 6292.
This one isn’t labelled ‘easy’ (skirt and pants have darts and zips), but is nearly and has a ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants : New Look 6217.

‘Learn to Sew’ pattern ranges

If you’re an experienced sewer, then you’ll probably find these patterns easy to make.

Kwik Sew Kwik Start
Simplicity Learn to sew
McCall’s Learn to sew (avoid the camp shirt 6972, or add a neck facing so you can sew the collar quickly and easily – video on facing pattern here from Louise Cutting)

Although these are ‘Learn to Sew’ patterns, many of them would be challenging as a first project for most complete beginners. But they do usually use simple techniques and clear instructions. I think the Simplicity and Kwik Start instructions are better for beginners, but that won’t matter so much for an experienced sewer.

Beware patterns labelled Easy or Beginner by many of the pattern companies, which may not be at all quick or even simple. Assess these patterns carefully for whether they use techniques that are trouble free and quick for you.

– – –

Lots of good options. But we do need to allow for our own way of working. People who often sew quickly will go “oh good, 1 hour. . . whizz. . .done”. Meanwhile I’m saying “hmm, I do need to make samples of that stitch on my new machine. . . hmm, I need to adapt that pattern for my x, y, z fitting issues. . . hmm, that style element may be quick to sew but often doesn’t work well on me, I’d better make a test garment. . .”. I can take months to make a 1-hour pattern 😀 I can’t happily sew quickly a pattern that’s new to me. If I want some quick sewing, it has to be a Tried ‘N True pattern, one on which all the testing and development work has already been done.

But the quick pattern choices are wide. These days the need for speed doesn’t restrict you to making very plain classics. There are several designers who make very simple shapes in very special fabrics.

Good Luck with finding some speedy patterns which suit your clothing and sewing style. Then you can happily build a wardrobe with minimum effort 😀

– – –

First published March 2016, links and patterns updated November 2016 (how quickly things change on the web. . .)

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