Archive for the ‘my choices’ category

Warm vests

November 13, 2010

As well as oversized tops, the second foundation of my winter wardrobe is warm vests. And they don’t appear in most wardrobe plans either. (Hmm, for someone of my generation in the UK, growing up before central heating, a ‘warm vest‘ means an inmost layer. I admit I wear them too :D)

But here I mean the American visible upper layer vest. For winter warmth these are always my cosiest add-ons. There are several directions to go for patterns.

Happily some warm vest styles are also ‘current’. And there are many current vest styles not focussed on warmth. The section on those kept expanding, so I’ve made it a separate post.

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Classic padded vest

I live in these in winter. It would be good to make one, to get the right shape and length. Based on this outdoor survival Jalie 2450 pattern for women and girls, with an underarm side panel for shaping. (Jalie 2451 for men and boys.)


Jalie recommend 1 inch/ 2.5 cm thick batting/ wadding, of a make I can’t find in the UK. There is a thick quilt batting/ wadding called Dream Puff (1/3 inch/ 1 cm, part of the Quilter’s Dream range), which claims superior insulating properties. Perhaps we need to go to a more northern European country to get really warming fabrics. Fjoelner in Denmark has various weights of clothing insulation.

Make the vest lined with plaid flannel for extra fun. The ‘current’ version of this padded vest is a blouson : waist length and with ribbing at waist. Worn over a low hip length knit top. Not flattering to all body shapes.

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Classic quilted vest

There are probably hundreds of patterns for quilted vests : appliqué, patchwork, embellished, and usually v-necked. I’ve managed to stop collecting them. Pavelka has one of my favourites.


This sort of quilted vest is much loved as a canvas for individual creativity. So most people who wear them are not bothered if they aren’t ‘current’ 😀

I’m planning to try Thinsulate rather than classic quilt wadding/ batting. Available from outdoor fabric specialists. I haven’t sewn with it, but it must be good for clothes as I have some wonderfully warm gloves made from it.

I prefer a high necked vest for warmth, such as the new Butterick 5532.


Those instructions are for pre-quilted fabric, so adapt if you do your own layering.

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Interesting warm vests

Some interesting vest shapes to try, which look as if they could be made with an added quilting layer. Not surprisingly they come from Scandinavian countries – all with instructions in Danish.

Stof & Stil 25005


Stof & Stil 25006


Multisnit 3.43. Buy in English from Fjoelner.


These are one-piece wrap-vest styles. You need confident technique to use Multisnit patterns. They have a traceable pattern sheet without seam allowances, and brief instructions in Danish.

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Fur vests

I love fake fur vests. They have happy memories for me of a winter in Toronto. Many fur vests in the designer collections this season. The ‘current’ fur vest is v-necked, long and wide shouldered. A big look.

For a pattern there’s Butterick 5359 View E.


Though I prefer a jewel neckline for warmth. And preferably a raised neckline. And definitely made so the front opening has no gaps. I have an old pattern like that, but can’t find a current one. The nearest is Kwik Sew 3731 view B.


[P. S. The vest in new Simplicity 2285 is what I was looking for.]

There is Butterick 3311 for a zip-fronted fur hoodie.


Vests of long shaggy pile fur are made with the pile pointing downwards. But the usual advice for the direction of pile is to have it pointing upwards. And this is important if you’ll be wearing the pile garment under something else. With the pile pointing downwards, it may ‘walk up’ the garment outside it. My mother told a horror story of making a party dress in velvet with the pile pointing down. By the time she arrived at her destination it had worked itself up under her coat. . . to reveal all. . . A vest with the pile the wrong way could be uncomfortable rather than embarassing. But do make the pile pointing upwards, unless it’s so thick you’ll rarely wear something over it !

P.S. Karin’s comment about shearling reminded me of Kwik Sew 3172, a vest with the fur turned inwards.


For the current ‘aviator’ look, make this double-breasted with an asymmetrical front exposed zip closure.

P.P.S. I confess in winter the last thing I’m worrying about is whether I look fat, but Imogen Lamport has a post on wearing a fur vest and keeping stylish !

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P.S. For classic fleece vests see McCall’s 5991, 5252, 5402.

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So there is a rich selection of different, interesting, attractive, creative and even ‘current’ ways of getting added body warmth without encumbering your arms.

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Patterns and links available November 2010

Oversized tops

October 30, 2010

My big problem with most wardrobe schemes is they don’t fit my lifestyle. I rarely wear jackets or skirts or dresses. I feel the cold and need clothes for a casual active life. What I do wear is pants with many top layers including big shirts, tunics, and vests. My clothes are most like the Sewing Workshop layering wardrobe (my post) – very top-heavy as I need things in the proportions :  2 bottoms, 4 tops, 8 layers.

In mid-winter, I most need very loose fitting tunics/ big shirts that will go over the top when I’m wearing half a dozen sweaters. It must be possible to wear thermal long johns without looking like a bag lady. . .

These big tops do need to be in flattering colours and my style and with good length proportions, but with little reference to my body shape, which is deep beneath. There may be a waisted pear down there somewhere, but in mid-winter I look more like an apple 😀  

I’ve been thinking I ‘ought not’ to wear these ‘big’ styles because a slim fitted look is current. So wearing big garments would show my eye for style is stuck in the 80s to 90s.

But happily there are new oversized patterns. I did assume these proportions are intended for wear with leggings (the big top – narrow bottom proportion), but many of these patterns include straight legged pants. So perhaps I’m not the only person on the look out for this shape !

I’ve restricted this to patterns with more than 10 inches ease at bust level. There are many good tunic patterns (especially from independent pattern designers), but most of them are somewhat fitted at bust level then widen at hip level. Good for warmer weather, but not what I’m looking for here.

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There are a couple of older big top patterns in the BMV catalogues.

Butterick 5481 is for a big shirt-tunic.


Vogue 8525 is a cut-on sleeve Vogue Woman pattern that has been around for a while.


But otherwise, interestingly, most of the current Big 4 patterns with these proportions were issued in the last few months. So this is a good time to be looking.

What is more modern about these styles is that most of them have cut-on, or occasionally raglan, sleeves rather than dropped shoulders.

Simplicity 2289 is a new pattern by Patty Read.


While for a Very Easy sloppy tunic there’s Vogue 8698.


I don’t think I would wear this myself. I’m a practical person and don’t like big sleeves or cuffs that drape into everything I’m doing. . .

Butterick 5524 is one I’m thinking of making. This would work for me better as those sleeves are not full length.


For knits there’s McCall’s 6205.


And McCall’s 6242 is a new ‘smock’ style for knits. I would definitely leave off the tight hip band !


There are many other new patterns which are generous in the upper body but tight on the hips. . . especially patterns with deep dolman/ batwing sleeves. So not for me ! In fact there are probably more new patterns for people who are larger above than below the waist. Sorry I haven’t picked them out 😀

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There are also many suitable ‘ethnic’ styles.

Butterick 5494 is a new caftan pattern that looks fun.


I might make this ‘circular’ caftan as it makes me laugh, even though sadly it looks rather droopy made up. In fact it looks as if it’s as impractical to wear as floaty style kaftans. A new version of this type is McCall’s 6125.


I think I would constantly worry about knocking things over with all that extra fabric below my arms. Though I can see it as a fun beach or pool-side cover-up, made in a sheer fabric.

Most of the older patterns for generous sized tops are ‘ethnic’ in character.

Such as the classic caftan in McCall’s 4002.


Or a smock as in Stof & Stil 22013.


I love this type of smock style for warmer weather, but am not sure it would look good layered over thick sweaters.

Following on from that, there are many suitable styles among Folkwear patterns, particularly in the Caravan section.

And there’s Sewing Workshop’s Hudson top.


The related Shapes pattern line has several possibilities. Though I might have to fiddle with some of those to get them to look good on my sloping shoulders.

And there are half a dozen classic fleece top unisex patterns from McCall’s (see the end of the men’s section), as well as from Green Pepper and other companies that specialise in casual patterns.

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So there’s no shortage of pattern possibilities for making this sort of cover-up style. As each of the Big 4 has issued a ‘big top’ pattern this summer, it even looks as if they might be coming back as a ‘current’ though minority taste for proportions.

Well, I haven’t actually seen anyone round here wearing one of these, let alone in Elle or In Style. Hmm. . . But this is a big gap in my wardrobe, whatever the fashionistas may say.

UK Elle this month is all about flared coats and military styling. While it’s the In Style party issue. If you really can’t manage a skin tight lace sheath or being covered in grecian draping – how about a Chanel styled vest over a sheer blouse worn with pants (limit the sheer to the sleeves if you like). A much easier and warmer option 😀

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Patterns and links available October 2010

Beyond the classics : Vogue patterns issued September 2010

October 9, 2010

What if the classics don’t nurture your soul ? The September 2010 issue of Vogue patterns shows there’s a lot more going on in fashion. Some of these are patterns to set my heart racing with my love of interesting cuts.

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A classic with added seam interest and many places for adjusting the fit. A pattern for lovers of the pencil shape, Vogue 8697.


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No need to wear an LBD

Several simple sheath dresses in this pattern group, but my attention is grabbed by a lovely collection of designer cocktail dresses, all the way from the beautiful minimalist bias cut of Tom and Linda Platt Vogue 1208


to pretty gathers and flounces from Rachel Comey Vogue 1209.


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Blouse/ shirt

Another classic pattern with many places to adjust fit. It fills a gap in the Vogue basics, a yoked style with princess seam shaping, multi-cup sizes, 2 collars and 3 sleeves, Vogue 8689.


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Tunics, big shirts and knit tops

These didn’t appear in a classic work wardrobe, but happily there are some here, as many of us wear them.

A magnificent subtly sculptural big shirt from Chado Ralph Rucci. (with pants) Vogue 1215.


A couple of interesting ’boutique’ styles from Katherine Tilton, a loose tunic, Vogue 8690


and a waist fitting style, Vogue 8691.


Vogue say this will work for a triangle shape, but I think it’s definitely one for the slim of hip !

While for a Very Easy sloppy tunic there’s Vogue 8698,


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Yes there is a vest, paired with leggings, by Alice + Olivia, Vogue 1214.


Again, I think this would enhance a small butt better than it would conceal a large one. . .

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Well, if ‘boyfriend’ jackets don’t go far enough for you in the direction of drama, how about this stunning one from Laroche, which might possibly be described as a blazer ! Vogue 1211


There’s also a boxy shape blazer as part of Claire Shaeffer’s Couture series, Vogue 8692, an unusual shape for her.


As I’m not a blazer person, I’m more interested in the non-classic styles.

There’s a shawl collar flared shape with an interesting cut from Marcy Tilton, Vogue 8693.


I’m not at all sure how this would work for the pear shaped. I think for myself I would level the hem. I don’t need fabric arrows pointing to my thighs. . .

And a Very Easy generous cascade collar jacket for knits, Vogue 8696.


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If the thought of a camel hair classic coat makes you shudder, have a look at these possibilities.

A complex cut for a flared shape from one of my favourite designers, Lynn Mizono, Vogue 1216 .


(She also has a pattern for boxy shape hats ! Vogue 8704.)

A flare shape with funnel collar and interesting princess bodice seaming from Sandra Betzina, Vogue 1212.


But do level the hem so it doesn’t look droopy. . .

And one from the designer with a gift for unusual coats, an embellished multi-fabric coat with scalloped detail from Koos, Vogue 1213.


This makes me think of both inner cities and frivolous fun in the snow.
Vogue seem to be saying all these patterns are right for all body shapes. I’m not convinced this coat would be flattering on very unbalanced triangle or inverted triangle.

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Some evening wraps from Elizabeth Gillett NYC which, as usual for her, look more interesting than most, Vogue 8694.


Plus a pattern for scarves and a frilly version of this season’s ubiquitous neck ring, also wearable as a bolero, Vogue 8702.


Easy to copy ? Make you own fancy neck ring. The measurements given are 15” x 29”. 29” must be the flat measure, not around the ring, so you need at least 58” length of fabric. The fabric quantity given is 3/4 yd (27 in.)/ 0.70 m, so presumably it’s cut across 60 in./ 150 cm fabric, and not double thickness. Do some experimenting.

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Tempting though it would have been, I’ve nowhere near mentioned all the patterns in this issue.

And for wardrobe patterns, there’s the famous Miyake pattern Vogue 1476, which has been available for nearly 20 years, with its interesting rectangle pattern piece coat, excellent big shirt, and peg top pants (omit the huge pockets!). It’s at last going out of print. So grab it while you can.


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What about a wardrobe from these patterns ? There’s not a full wardrobe that would work for my casual life or my pear shape, but I can see a small but effective grouping for someone more elegant than me :

For Dress to Impress, there’s the Platt dress, Laroche jacket (worn with a camisole), pencil skirt, Alice + Olivia vest, Chado Ralph Rucci shirt and pants.


I think the Koos coat could make a good addition to this group 😀

For a more casual and layerable look, how about the knit jacket, one of the classic blouses, a Katherine Tilton tunic and some Lynn Mizono pants. (I could wear these.)


That would make :
1 dress
2 jackets, 1 vest/ top
3 tops
1 skirt, 2 pants

Definitely only a dream plan !

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Patterns and links available October 2010

Which are your favourite early winter 2010 patterns ?

August 21, 2010

I’m going to take the easiest approach to being current in the coming winter, and just pick the early season BMV patterns I like.

Which of this new season’s patterns (Butterick, McCall’s, Simplicity, Vogue) would make you feel and look happy, comfortable, and at your best ?

If you were allowed to pick only one pattern for a jacket, one for a dress, one for a blouse/ top, etc., from these pattern collections, irrespective of what anyone else might think or say, which would it be ?
If it wouldn’t flatter your body shape or fit into your lifestyle or your sewing skills :
– what would be similar that would be possible ?
– are there some details that you could use ?
– what is it about the style that you especially like ?
Keep your choice a secret if you want to 😀

I’m picking from the early season patterns issued June-July. There has already been an August issue from Butterick, and more patterns are due from McCall’s on Monday !

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My choices include Butterick 5498 for a vest.


I might round off the corners of the front shapes. Lots of potential in this pattern, sleeveless or sleeved, a choice of collars and lapels.

For my one choice for a knit jacket, there’s McCall’s 6168.


Another pattern with several choices. The wrap style suits my need to keep my upper chest warm, better than the V-neck cardigan styles.

And the McCall’s 6167 shirt.


I think the dropped corners would be alright alone or under a classic vest. But to my taste a straight hemmed version would be better under the jacket or this vest.

For a bag, I choose Butterick 5505, which has some backpacks that are more interesting than usual.


When shopping I usually carry a basket. But a backpack is useful when I’m on a bike.

If I was allowed to choose only one pattern, a wardrobe, it would be new Burda 7453 (sorry I can’t get a link to work).


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My choices from the early season BMV patterns don’t make a complete wardrobe, so here are some others to fill the gaps.

My preferred pants are always the same style – faced waist, back zip, tapered leg. That suits my shape, so I won’t be changing. An absolute basic, like the narrower pants in Vogue 2779.


But there are several current pant styles, which I’m planning a post on.

My outerwear is nearly always a hooded parka, waterproof for summer, padded for winter. Happily parkas are in style this season. However there aren’t many fashion parka patterns available.

Of course it’s easy to find patterns for true protective gear parkas, see Jalie especially 2108, 2008, and the Green Pepper Oregon jacket,

It’s patterns for fashion parkas that are missing at the moment. Probably there are some in preparation. Burda is usually good for them. I have old favourites from Burda magazines (January 2008 and 2009). But even Burda haven’t got parkas currently in their main catalogue.

I like Burda 7750, discontinued but available for download.


I very rarely have reason to wear a skirt or dress, and don’t need to add to my old standbys.

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Add my favourite thick big sweaters when they’re needed for warmth. This is a quiet version of what magazine editors call the ‘country’ or ‘layered’ look for this winter 2010 season.

Not what I would have chosen if I was still working. Not work/ party/ impress people clothes. But these suit me now. I would like wearing them, and they would fit in right well round here.

That’s only 4 out of nearly 70 new patterns, so your choices are probably very different from mine.

Have fun with the possibilities.
Did you get any surprises 😀

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Patterns and links available August 2010