Archive for the ‘style and planning’ category

My sewing style is One Pattern Many Looks

November 10, 2018

The Sewing With A Plan rules for the contest at Stitcher’s Guild (January to April 2019) have been posted.
And to my surprise they suit my style of sewing.  

I have several sides to my sewing personality.
The theory side : I’m a pattern nerd and love knowing how patterns work and how garments are constructed. I read pattern making and sewing instructions for fun (yes, not many people do that 😀 ) I also love sewing videos for how clear they make technique, but don’t binge watch them as I tend to want to make the item and I have a big enough pile of half-finished projects without their help !
The newbie side : When I’m learning something I love detailed instructions and get stressed if I have to ‘wing it’. But once I know what to do, I can merrily ‘think outside the box’.
The planning side : I’m a ‘more ideas than stitches’ person. I can come up with innumerable ideas for a wardrobe plan or changes to a specific pattern, but I make very little. I’m much better at pulling these ideas together into blog posts than at actually making them all 😀
The practical side : My wearing and sewing are simple and easy :
– I wear a ‘uniform’ and mainly one silhouette – frilled blouse, slim pants, layer (some variety here), padded vest in deep winter.
– my sewing style is ‘one pattern many looks’. I have such trouble getting things to fit, it’s easier for me to start from a basic pattern and add variants, rather than exploring all the shapes and styles that professional pattern designers offer us.

The ‘One pattern many looks’ contest is also coming up at Pattern Review, starting November 15. I allow myself more freedom with pattern hacks than they do, especially adding/removing closures.

There are 3 sections to this post :
– my simplest SWAP plan,
– links to guides on simple pattern changes,
– suggestions for simple starting point patterns.

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My SWAP for 2019

1 RTW blouse
1 pair of pants
9 variants of a TNT layer.

The SWAP Rules work equally well for someone who loves to make each garment from a different pattern, or even all 11 items as different types of garment. What freedom !
The main limits this year are in number of colours and prints. I wear mainly quiet neutral colours and prefer texture to print, so that’s no problem for me, but some people have difficulty with these limits.

My specific SWAP plan could use only 2 patterns :

1 RTW blouse
similar to the Liesl & Co Recital blouse.

”recital

1 pair of pants
such as the slim version of the Merchant & Mills 101 trouser.

”mm-pants”

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9 Layers
based on the 100 Acts of Sewing Tunic No.1

”100acts-tunic”

This very simple shape has almost infinite potential for variations : every type of fabric, embellishment, simple pattern hacks including sleeveless and open front.

The paper pattern for this tunic comes in 2 size groups.
The pdf pattern with Sonya Philips’ Creative Bug tunic class has all 8 sizes.

Well, what’s important is the simple general concept of this tunic pattern rather than the specifics. The pdf pattern has some fitting oddities. Supposed to have 2″ underarm ease, but be sure to check the finished width and length before cutting.

There are many simple patterns like this, but most are rectangles and as I’m very pear shaped I like one with sloping sides. This one is quite flared.

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Ideas and how-tos for variations on a basic

Look at your favourite stores and designers for ideas about style elements, silhouettes, proportions. But I find it easier to start with sources that tell you how to make the changes to a pattern.

My posts with ideas and links

I’ve written several posts about simple variants of a basic style.
You haven’t got to do a formal pattern making course, or work through one of those daunting college textbook pattern making tomes, to do these.

‘Pattern hacking’ posts.

Simple pattern altering, July 2017

What you can make from one top pattern, October 2009

Make everything from one pattern, November 2016

The next posts show many variations but don’t include pattern change specifics.

Workwear, simple style changes, July 2011

Autumn casuals, July 2011

Combine fabrics, embellish, November 2011

And scroll down my pinterest boards for style elements.

Out of print books

People write whole books on simple changes to basic patterns.
Some books from the 80s-90s :
Rusty Bensussen – Making a complete wardrobe from 4 basic patterns (patterns to scale up included, see later).
Borrow & Rosenberg – Hassle-free make your own clothes book (make your own patterns). Also ‘Son of hassle-free clothes’ with more advanced techniques.
Bottom & Chaney – Make it your own (no base patterns in this one).
The specific suggestions in these books do look ‘over the top’ to modern taste, but great fun and full of ideas.  Many of the styles make us laugh now, but most general pattern making and sewing techniques are still the same.

15 years after the Bensussen book, the book Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way had many variations on slightly more complex patterns (full size traceable paper patterns included) : a shirt-blouse, elastic waist bottoms (2 skirts and pants), plus a knit tee.

Modern books and videos starting from classic shapes

Most book writers and video presenters make their changes to intermediate level patterns – shirts, fly front pants, sheath dresses. . .

Some modern books and videos about simple pattern changes are linked in my post about simple pattern altering mentioned before.

There’s a new book, The Savvy Seamstress by Nicole Mallalieu.
This does not include base patterns, but is full of instructions for pattern making and sewing to change the style elements of existing patterns.

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Simplest base patterns

Here are some ideas for very simple starting point patterns, with an emphasis on pattern lines and books that help with variations.
These ultra-simple patterns have no darts for shaping, no buttons or zips for getting into a close fit, and the sleeve can be sewn flat. Simple silhouettes with few style elements, so you’re free to add your own.

These are Rusty Bensussen’s 4 starting-point patterns :

”rusty-diags”

Bensussen gives measurements for drawing the patterns on a 1″ grid. The basic top pattern is very loose fitting, so your body shape doesn’t much matter (54-56″/c140cm at underarm).

The ready-made patterns from 100 Acts of Sewing have the same spirit with modern proportions – Tunic No.1, bias Skirt, Pants No.1. Tunic good for the pear shaped.

”100

Paper patterns from Sonya Philip’s on-line shop.
Pdf patterns for tunic and pants included in her Creative Bug classes.
Those classes include videos about making variations for each pattern.
There are photo tutorials for more variations on her site.
She also has base patterns for tee and leggings.

If you’re inverted triangle body shape, perhaps use some of the free downloads from Tessuti. These top patterns are simple shapes and makes, but have no help for beginners or guides for variations. One example, the Mandy Tee.

”Tessuti.

For rectangle body shapes there are several options, here are some.

The master patterns for top and pants from FitNice have the same simplicity, and with a big focus on pdf and video instructions for variations.

Fit For Art have master patterns for jacket, tee, pants, and many supplementary patterns with pattern pieces for other styles.

If you prefer Big 4 patterns, a couple of basics are Butterick 5948 and McCall’s 6465. Many views in one easy top/dress pattern. Add elastic waist skirt and pants, such as Butterick 3460.

Those patterns are all a simple fit and simple sew because they are ‘dartless’ and loose fitting. Getting a good close fit is not a quick and easy process for many of us, and moves sewing up to a different level involving darts, set-in sleeves, and closures such as zips or buttonholes.

People who are hour-glass body shape can of course do pattern alterations too, but a flattering base pattern might be more shaped than the ultra-simple patterns.
Perhaps start from one of the basic dress fitting shell patterns such as Butterick 5627, sizes 6-22, or Butterick 5628, sizes 16W-32W. (Single sizes. View A is the fitting shell, with zip at CF. View B is a dress, with fewer darts and zip at CB.)

Sure Fit Designs master patterns help with some fitting issues, and have detailed pattern making instructions for variations.

For other intermediate patterns, see the section above this on modern books and videos.

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I’m better at ideas than getting things done 😀
And writing this has reminded me of 100s of options.
Once you’ve got a basic pattern to fit there are so many enticing possibilities for what to do with it, it’s difficult to know where to start – but it is fun 😀

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Patterns and links available November 2018

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Relaxed but with more style than pyjamas

December 18, 2017

Christmas holiday (vacation) time, so how to dress slouchy but not slobby ?

Classy yet Trendy has a post on a loungewear capsule, what to wear round the house that’s one-up from pjs :
1 knit open front cardigan
6 short and long sleeved tees / 2 sweatshirts
4 leggings / 2 joggers

Many patterns for copying these knit styles. Here are some examples :
For a similar classic cardigan, tees and leggings, see Pamela’s Patterns, or Nancy Zieman’s wardrobe patterns for knits McCall’s 7548 and McCall’s 7331. Perhaps made in a larger size to get the extra ease of loungewear.
For a little more ‘artistic’, there are no leggings but a tee and more varied layers from Sewing Workshop e-pattern downloads.
For ‘athleisure’ style sweatshirts and joggers there’s a wardrobe of sweats from Jalie. (Add an open ended zip for a jacket, and make these look more everydaywear by omitting the bands at wrists, hips, ankles).

But this capsule plan would not work for me.

1. I don’t wear knits – they make it obvious I have no lumps and bumps where there should be, and many lumps and bumps where there shouldn’t be.

2. I need many layers, and layers that close up to the neck for warmth. My distribution of 15 items might be :
5 layers
6 tops
4 pants

3. I prefer more interesting style elements, rather than adding interest with prints or accessories.

With so many reasons that capsule is not right for me, it’s fortunate there are many other ways of dressing ultra-casual.

My preference for style that’s one-up from pjs would be clothes made in flannel or fleece. Here are a couple of easy ideas.

Butterick 6273, a sleepwear pattern made in soft but daywear fabrics.

”b4406”

Even easier : the 100 Acts of Sewing pattern group in my 2018 SWAP plan.

”100acts4”

My slouching-around outfits often include a vest. So make sleeveless versions of those ‘jackets’, perhaps in pre-quilted fabric. While writing this I’m wearing a padded vest, a cowl necked fleece top with blouse under, and flannel pj pants (in a Christmas print 😀 ). Change the flannel pants for slim cords to go outside, it’s not quite freezing here.

The Butterick and 100 Acts patterns are two easy choices. There are many other ultra-casual patterns with more interest.
StyleARC have some good layer-top-pants pattern bundles for outfits with a slouchy look.

I wrote several posts some years ago which expand the possibilities for meeting this style challenge, and I find I haven’t changed my ideas. Some of the patterns in these posts are no longer available, but a surprising number of these easy sew – easy wear styles are still in print.

Loungewear
Basic comfort styles – pyjamas for loungewear
Casual chic festive wear – tops, pants – copy Eileen Fisher by using simple shapes made in high quality fabrics.

Have a lovely Happy relaxed Christmas holiday everyone,
and Best Wishes for the New Year.

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

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Patterns and links available December 2017

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Pattern books for wardrobe building

October 25, 2017

Few indie pattern designers offer patterns which make a complete outfit, let alone a wardrobe.
What some of them do is produce a book with several patterns. Many of these books are not oriented to wardrobe building – individual patterns which aren’t specifically designed to co-ordinate, or no jacket included. For example the marvellous Japanese pattern books, some of them now in English. But there are some pattern books which do include at least a ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants.

I’ve written about pattern books before. Here are some of the posts :
Wardrobe pattern books : casuals
Wardrobe pattern books : dresses
Wardrobe pattern books : other possibilities

Publishers are usually unhelpful about these books. In most cases the information about what is included has been collated by other people after the book was published, it isn’t in the book publicity. So before the book was published there was no way of knowing what’s in it. There are so many pattern books now, I want to know more than the designer’s name and enthusiastic reviews of the photos, before I decide to buy.

Here are some of the ‘Core 4’ books which have appeared since my earlier posts. Print books unless mentioned. No ‘instant use’ patterns. Some have traceable pattern sheets, some have download pdf patterns. These books don’t focus on wardrobe building, but do provide the patterns for it.

The first 4 have good sewing instructions intended to teach, but none of these books are for early beginners without help.

Sew Over It’s City Break capsule has 5 download patterns in an e-book with good photo instructions, sized for bust 33″-45″.
Jacket, 2 tops/ dresses, skirt, pants. Make all the variations and you would be well supplied with clothes for a weekend away.
Line drawings in this post, which has suggestions for extending these patterns to a wardrobe, and adding more jackets.

Merchant & Mills Workbook
Patterns for jacket, 3 tops/dresses, skirt, pants.
Photos on this pinterest page (except shawl which is in the Sewing Book).
Patterns don’t overlap on paper pattern sheets, but are printed on both sides so you do have to trace them, sized for bust 32” – 42”.
Line diagram instructions, intended to teach sewing skills beyond the ones in their Sewing Book.

I’ve already written a post on Alison Smith’s big Dressmaking book.
That post shows line diagrams of the 12 base patterns for jackets, tops, dresses, skirts, pants. There are 32 variations (clear instructions for pattern altering). Re-scale or individual download patterns, sized for bust 32” – 46”.
Patterns are fitted classics which look very drab in the fabrics chosen, but the photo instructions are excellent if you can get past that and use your favourite fabrics. If you made them all I think you would have good intermediate level sewing skills. You would also learn some simple pattern altering by making the variations. And this is the only one of these books which has a section on fit.

There is now a shorter version, Dressmaking step by step – the same 12 patterns and 19 of the variations, suitable for advanced beginners.
The focus of these books is on good sewing skills and simple pattern alterations.

2018 – Named Clothing now have a wardrobe pattern book, Breaking the Pattern, which also claims to teach sewing. Gets good reviews, if you wear their chic modern minimalism. This page shows all the styles included.

Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction patterns.
Print and Kindle. 6 base patterns, line diagrams on front cover of book : 2 jacket/coats, 2 tops/dresses, skirt, accessories. 6 variations of each. Finished garment measures given, which vary with garment.
Add RTW jeans and leggings, there’s no pattern for pants – none by Indygo Junction either.
Patterns on CD with the print book, download with the Kindle version, both print-at-home pdfs. Separate pattern for each variation, no pattern making needed.

The first 15% of the book is an intro for beginners. Adequate instructions with a few diagrams.
The focus of the book is on showing how you can vary a pattern to make other styles.

The Maker’s Atelier by Frances Tobin
a gifted marketer with an expensive line of minimalist patterns.
Photos of book pattern styles in this review.
Paper patterns printed on both sides, so tracing needed, bust 32- 46.
Modern classics – have you already got patterns for notch collar jacket, big tee, cowl drape top, bow neck top, wrap skirt, slim skirt, slim pants, and tote? Though there are many ideas here for variations.
People who have made them say the instructions are good. Probably usable with help by early beginners.
General opinion from reviewers – these garments are so simple they need to be made in quality fabrics to look good.

The next pattern books have minimal instructions – tell you what to do, but little about how to do it. Unless you’ve made these style elements before, you need a good reference tome for help.

Lotta Jansdotter Everyday style
5 clothes patterns – for jacket, 2 tops/dresses, skirt, pants. Plus 4 bags. Length variations only.
Paper pattern sheets with overlapping patterns need tracing. Helpful diagrams of where to find the pieces needed. Sized for bust 32” – 43”.

Line diagrams are just outlines, no style elements represented on them, so it’s no help to show them here. The garments are :
Jacket / coat : raglan sleeve, edge-to-edge front opening, cut-on front facing, side-seam pockets, unlined.
Sleeveless top / dress : gathers at centre front, bias binding finish to neck and armhole edges.
Sleeved top / tunic / kaftan : front darts, fitted sleeves or cap sleeves (1/8” hem round armhole opening), neckline facings, optional front neckline slit, optional square patch pockets.
Skirt : bias cut, ribbon waist support, side seam invisible zip, optional square patch pockets.
Pants / shorts : tapered, cropped, cut-on waistband – flat at front, elastic at back, optional belt loops.
(I only discovered the style elements by puzzling through the instructions.)

These are simple styles, and the sewing section is only about 20% of the book. Minimal instructions – not for beginners. The other 80% is style photos. This is a style book not a sewing book. It is good for showing how you can make very different-looking garments just by changing lengths and fabrics.

Burda Wardrobe Essentials
Not sure who these are essential for, an inner city high flyer perhaps – no tee, jeans, cardigan.
Photos and line diagrams of the 20 patterns on this pinterest board.
That board has the individual pattern numbers. If you like any of the styles, I suggest buying the individual download pattern from burdastyle.com.
Different patterns have different size ranges, mostly for bust 30” – 40”.

Print and Kindle. I’m not rushing to recommend this book. Traceable very overlapping paper pattern sheets with the print book. Add seam allowances.
Avoid the Kindle version in which the patterns are next to unusable – you just get downloads of the traceable sheets. For several styles you have to assemble 3 of the 16-page pattern sheets and then find and trace the pattern pieces.
”burda-450”
Hmm do you want this garment so much. . .
5 levels of sewing difficulty. Instructions a little fuller than Burda Style magazine, but not as good as Burda tissue patterns, not enough to learn the skills needed. And no index or cross-referencing. Leading up to a double welt pocket in an inset corner with minimal instructions – eek.
Not much thought given to the needs of the reader. Can you tell I was rather peeved with the Kindle version !

I’d better end on a positive note about Burda Style. They have several pattern books which I haven’t felt kindly towards.
But what they do have is download pattern collections, and most include at least a Core 4. These patterns have appeared in Burda Style magazine and have the usual minimal sewing instructions, so you need to know what you are doing. But a collection has a generous number of patterns with individual downloads. I mentioned them in my post about wardrobe patterns. Current collections here.

P.S. November – If you read French, that opens up many other possibilities, but I haven’t seen these so can’t comment.
Dressing idéal , from I Am patterns.
Ma garde-robe a coudre pour toute l’année by Charlotte Auzou.
Ma Garde-Robe chic et intemporelle from Pauline Alice patterns. Hurrah, line diagrams on front cover.
Vestiaire scandinave by Annabel Benilan.

I’m a pattern nerd who loves reading pattern instructions and I like real books for reference (prefer to use Kindle only for fiction), so pattern books are one of my favourite items 😀

Books and links available October 2017

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Supplement on wardrobe patterns

October 21, 2017

Last week I wrote about building a wardrobe using patterns for single items (that’s here).

But surely a good wardrobe pattern should cover the full ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants, and so meet all your pattern needs. With no need to worry about co-ordination of style elements, as that’s all done for you.

Here are a few snippets on sources of wardrobe patterns. Plus the simplest ways to use a ‘Core 4’ pattern in wardrobe planning.

Core 4 wardrobe patterns

Sadly, in these days of reducing costs many ‘co-ordinates’ patterns are rather skimpy in content – only 2 pieces, an outfit not a wardrobe.

And nearly all wardrobe patterns include only a sleeveless top with a jacket. There are very few woven-fabric wardrobe patterns with an overlayer sized to wear over an underlayer with long sleeves. But I almost always wear a long sleeved blouse, so I do keep going on about this.
I need to increase jacket armhole and sleeve size to allow for under-layers. Use the sleeve from a larger size – at least 1″/3cm larger at biceps. And trace the armhole to match. (Best of course to make a muslin to try this out !) This adaptation also makes the jacket more flexible for wearing with clothes not made from the same pattern.

These are all tissue patterns :
Simplicity/New Look is a good source of Core 4 wardrobe patterns in a range of styles.
Butterick Lifestyle Wardrobes also has a generous selection.
Vogue Five Easy Pieces offer a few casual options.
Vogue Wardrobe patterns need a bit more difficult sewing skills.
McCall’s Coordinates include a few wardrobes.

For more options, you can expand wardrobe patterns which include fewer items, so they provide all 4 core garments (jacket, top, pants, skirt) – if you’re willing to make a top or skirt from a dress pattern by adding cutting lines, or add on the simplest of patternless elastic-waist skirts.

Burda Style download patterns take a different approach. But most of their pattern collections could be called wardrobe patterns. These are collections of patterns in the same style, and many include a Core 4.
The usual Burda magazine minimal sewing instructions, so you do need to know what you are doing. But a collection has a generous number of patterns, each with individual download. Good value if you want to make several in a collection. Otherwise, the links are provided for individual patterns. Here are the current collections.

There used to be marvellous ‘casual chic’ wardrobe patterns from Adri at Vogue patterns. Many still wearable today. Most are not easy makes – they use sophisticated techniques for getting a good finish on single-layer garments. For pattern numbers to search for, see this pinterest board (click on the image if the number is not clear).

Another famous line of wardrobe patterns was published by McCall’s and called New York New York. Very trendy at the time. Here’s a good pinterest board for them. Mostly less wearable now, to my eye, but worth looking at for ideas. I still have quite a good collection of them 😀

Indie pattern designers don’t offer wardrobe patterns, from what I’ve seen.
A few of them have 2-3 item patterns for making an outfit but not a wardrobe, such as : Cutting Line, Dana Marie, Folkwear, How to do fashion,
Sewing Workshop, Simple Sew, Style Arc.
Wardrobe by Me has a post on making a casual wardrobe using 5 of her patterns (a Core 4 and cami).
Some indie designers do publish pattern books – post on them planned.
I devise my own ‘indie wardrobe patterns’ by combining 4 – 6 single-garment patterns from one designer on a pinterest board.

Painless wardrobe planning ?

What’s the easiest way to build a complete wardrobe using one Core 4 pattern ?

For a 12-item wardrobe like those suggested by Nancy Nix-Rice, make :
– a Core 4 in a dark neutral.
– a second Core 4 in a light neutral.
– a couple of tops (the same pattern) in an accent colour.
– top and skirt in a print combining all 3 colours.

If you love colour, then remember that ‘neutral’ doesn’t necessarily mean drab, it just means a colour that you can wear with everything. If it would make you happy, you can have a Core 4 in shocking pink, a Core 4 in chartreuse, and more tops in gold or purple 😀

Use different fabrics, textures and trims to add variety.
Some wardrobe planners suggest making a whole Core 4 from the same fabric. Yes that makes things even easier, but I would not be at all happy wearing them. I prefer variations in tone and texture.
If you do like this idea of a “6 yard wardrobe” from the same fabric, see this post on Kate Mathew’s travel wardrobes for some suggestions.

Of course if you know enough simple pattern altering to change lengths or neckline shapes, or add seams for colour blocking, then you can increase the variety you get out of your base patterns.
Here’s a video from Sew Over It with many ideas people have had for re-styling the patterns in their City-Break e-book with download patterns. They now have a second e-book, Work to Weekend, with simple variations included.
The ideas in that video can be used on other similar patterns.
Or explore Diane Ericson’s pattern for 60 pockets.
But such additions may move the project away from the painless !

For a painless-planning weekend 6-pack, use the core pattern and choose your most flattering colours to make :
– a Core 4 in a neutral.
– a couple more tops in accent colours : one in casual fabric, one in dressy fabric.

Good Luck with progress on wardrobe co-ordination !

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Originally written October 2017, links updated October 2018.

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