Archive for the ‘personal style’ 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.

– – –

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”

-

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.

– – –

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.

– – –

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.

– – –

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 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available November 2018

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Style elements

January 29, 2017

This is such a visual topic, but yet there are no images in this post as there’s no easy way of summarising 100s of style elements. So here are quick links to my pinterest boards :

Jackets / coats
Cardigans
Tops
Yokes / smocks
Pants / trousers
Skirts / dresses
Jumpsuits

– – –

I have a huge pattern collection – I’m a pattern nerd – and I enjoy them in their own right, as a treasure trove of style ideas, pattern making solutions and sewing instructions, rather than actually using them to make things ! I’m one of those people who reads the instructions and looks at the pattern pieces for fun 😀 (and gets upset with mistakes). I do know this is the opposite of many people.

The starting point I sew from is influenced by several factors.

I have a good collection of body shape features which are not ‘average’, so my personal fitting blocks are nothing like the base blocks used as starting points for commercial patterns. This makes it hard work to adapt commercial patterns to fit.
I find it much easier to start from my own personal blocks, and add style elements to them, often taking information about silhouettes / proportions / details from commercial patterns.

Admittedly it helps with this problem that I’m interested in pattern making, and have a good collection of books and on-line classes on it. As well as patterns to copy the style elements from. People who don’t enjoy pattern making would need to find a different solution for this situation.

So what style elements are there to choose from to make your own design ?
And what did I learn from collecting them together ?

Style elements and proportions

I’ve recently been using pinterest as a way of collecting information about style elements, very easy to do as several sites have done a good job of pulling them together.

I’ve made several pinterest boards of my own.
Of course these images only cover representative versions of each style, there are infinite possibilities for varying proportions and combining details.

Those boards show clearly different styles, such as high or scooped neckline, flat Peter Pan collar or high banded collar, dolman or fitted sleeves. Within these styles, quite small changes in the proportions of silhouette and style elements, and in the fabrics and support structures used, can make a big difference to the look of the final result.
For an example, see my post on my ideal shirt.

Which is why many of us prefer to use other people’s designs rather than make our own. We can see from their illustrations if the proportions they’ve chosen are the ones we’re looking for.
Usually photos give the most reliable information about proportions. Fashion drawings and line illustrations may be good for seeing style elements, but they’re sometimes quite mis-leading about the proportions used in a pattern.

Specific style elements

Jackets and coats

After I’d collected these together I realised several things.

These lists must be compiled by fashionistas, as there’s a distinct lack of basic formal classics like the French/‘Chanel’ jacket, or basic casual classics like the jeans jacket or the waterfall collar. So I added some images of my own.

These lists are about styles for woven fabric, I didn’t find any ready-made lists of casual knit cardigan styles, so I compiled my own. And some hoodies, as they’re also rarely included in the lists.
Another oddity, the only section of BMV that has many patterns for cardigans is McCall’s !

Cardigan styles

Tops, including blouses and shirts. Also knit tees and tops – it’s not so obvious that their features are included, but they are there :

Tops
Use these necklines and sleeves also for the bodice part of dresses and jumpsuits.

Again the fashionistas don’t pay much attention to a personal favourite, which is yokes. So I’ve added a board of patterns which show the variety of options.
Yoke styles

For bottoms I prefer wearing :

Pants / trousers

For completeness I’ve added :

Skirts / dresses
although I rarely wear them myself.

And I haven’t seen guides for fashion students about jumpsuits. So here’s a selection of patterns for them, though only ones with sleeves and waist seams.
Jumpsuits

What I’ve noticed about my own style

Once I had made these pinterest boards, I had several interesting realisations.

There are many styles missing from the stylists’ reference lists. Many of us feel most ourselves when we’re wearing styles which are ignored by the fashionistas and the sites which support fashion design students. It’s not surprising that some people feel un-recognised, even alienated, by ‘fashion’.

And I have realised there are very few of these silhouettes and proportions or details which I want to wear myself.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a classic dresser or a conservative dresser, as those words imply a particular type of style elements, which I don’t wear.
But I am a very ‘unvaried’ dresser, repeating the same proportions, silhouettes and details rather than exploring all the possibilities.
I’m the same about accessories, nearly always wearing the same shoe style, bag shape, necklace length. I get uncomfortable with too big a change. Though I do admit to a variety of scarves and brooches/pins !

Well, I could wear most of the yokes and many of the cardigan styles – some of the styles the fashionistas ignore. . . So perhaps I do like variety, it’s just within a smaller range than the fashionistas consider, and styles they don’t think of !
Have you got your own ‘signature’ style element ?
Have you made a pinterest board to celebrate it 😀

So there aren’t so many variations that I want to make. That’s another reason why it’s easier for me to start from my own blocks, rather than needing ever more patterns.
I’m a quiet person, and I like subtle variety. I get my interest from small changes in proportions, and subtle changes in fabric colour and texture.

Again I know that many people are the opposite of this – and want to explore all the possibilities and wear / make something different every time.

Where do you come on this ?
Do you find looking at these images and picking out the ones you like and enjoy wearing is a good guide to your personal style ?
Or is what you like to wear missing altogether from these images ?
Or is your style eclectic, and you like all of them 😀

– – –

Links available January 2017

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Combine fabrics, embellish

November 2, 2013

The first ‘avant garde’ post was about architectural shapes.
This post is about adding interesting and unique design elements using all the possibilities of textile surface art – combining fabrics and adding texture and embellishment.

There are so many options for creativity. This post has these sections :
– patterns with basic shapes for fabric combining and embellishment.
– embellishment techniques.
– multi-fabric combining :
. . . different main pattern pieces in different fabrics.
. . . fabric combining in patchwork and other shapes.
– high fashion in ‘artistic’ colours and prints.

There’s many exciting and inspiring ‘art to wear’ sites and blogs, this is just a short guide to a few starting points.
And sorry, just some suggested links. Lots of attractive images if you follow up the links, but I haven’t included many visuals here. I wouldn’t know where to stop 😀

– – –

Basic garments for embellishment

There are several patterns with simple shapes specifically for adding your own fabric combination or embellishment.

Fit for Art Tabula Rasa jacket (includes help with fit, other patterns for style changes)

Yvonne Porcella Jacket from The Sewing Workshop (simplest shape, terrible instructions) (gallery here).
There’s also a pdf guide to embellishment for it (not free).

Kayla Kennington has patterns built from rectangles. Her site is not active at present, but her patterns are available from sewingpatterns.com.

Or decorate the simple shapes of peasant workwear such as from Folkwear patterns.

If you just like doing the embellishment without doing the garment construction, use basic existing garments (such as from BlankApparel.com). Though that isn’t a way of getting interesting garment shapes.

– – –

Embellishment Techniques

Many many internet sources of advice on :
– fabric painting, dying, stencilling, stamping, foiling. . .
– hand and machine embroidery, appliqué, texturising, couching, beading, heirloom stitching . . .
– plus sources for delicious ribbons, motifs, trims. . .

And dozens of books too.
Sorry I’m not going to attempt to pick out the good ones !
Well, here’s one of them : Creating Couture Embellishmentby Ellen Miller.

Perhaps work through a CD by Marcy Tilton on Surface Design, or her many on-line tutorials.

Several Craftsy classes to try :
Decorative seams
Edge finishes
Creative closures
Sewn texture
Stupendous Stitching
Machine embroidery, hand-stitched looks
Hand embellishing knit fabric
Designing details – pockets

Several McCall’s patterns for making fabric flowers.

Here’s a pdf from Shirley Adams of Alternatives for making multiple different shells using different decorative techniques.

Multiple fabric combinations within one garment

This is the current ‘multi-media’ approach to clothes.

See the Style.com Fall 2013 trend reports Crazy Fur section (click on right centre photo) for designer inspiration on using fur, some in combinations.
and Style.com Spring 2013 trend reports Collage Degree section (click on left centre photo) for designer inspiration on combining patterned fabrics.

I love combining fabrics in a quilt, but find it much more difficult in clothes.
Easiest to use fabrics from quilt fabric designers, which are issued in groups of prints specifically designed to co-ordinate.

Whole pattern pieces

The most seen ‘high-street fashion’ multi-fabric look is to have whole pattern pieces in different fabrics, especially in princess seam styles. Many Big4 and Burda patterns in which this is done quite simply, with solids in ‘colour blocking’. ‘Texture blocking’ or ‘multi-media’ print combining are the newest idea.

At the extreme, if you add a CB seam and a waist seam to a princess seam jacket, you’ll have 16 different fabric areas to play with in the body alone. Then add on more fabrics for sleeves, collar, facings 😀

Try these sources for more casual patterns in this style :
Design and Planning Concepts
Indygo Junction
Serendipity Studio

Patchwork and other fabric shapes

If you love piecing and quilting, there’s plenty of fashion inspiration for using smaller areas of each fabric too.

There’s a Craftsy class on making a Quilted jacket

And there are many independent pattern designers who provide patterns for ‘wearable art’ pieced and quilted garments. These are just some of them.
Dana Marie
Grainline Gear
Lorraine Torrence Designs
Pavelka Design (sewing patterns link at bottom of page)
Rag Merchant
Taylor Made Designs

Here are a couple of examples.

Silhouette 4013 dress for knits.

”silhouette4013”

McCall’s 6712 top and circular skirt.

”m8712”

The king of print combination is Koos van den Akker at Vogue.
Here’s a slide show of his styles to click through.

And here’s a post by Rae Cumbie about ideas for fabric piecing, at Threads.

– – –

‘Artistic’ high fashion

There’s another route, for people who aren’t so interested in architectural shapes and embellishment.

And that is to wear high fashion shapes in strong prints and strong colours.
YouLookFab gives an example here, from one of those style bloggers who appears to have an unlimited clothing budget.

As in the combining of contrasting prints and textures (see my post with an example), this requires a gifted artistic eye.
There’s a good article on mixing prints and textures here. [Ignore their Style Personality quiz, which only has one style.]

Note there’s no combining of colours or prints within one garment. They’re dramatically combined from separate garments.
But it is a rather different approach to wardrobe building than wearing a couple of neutrals and one accent colour with one quiet print 😀

Lots of attractive and dramatic prints around. But take care if you have low contrast colouring or a quieter personality – perhaps these fabrics will swamp your own looks. It is possible to choose prints, textures, colours which ensure people look at you, not the fabric !

– – –

I grinned while pulling this list together. I delight in all clothes. But the styles I actually wear myself are a bit like this – though very quiet versions !

I’m definitely a follower not an innovator in this area, but I’m fascinated by all the possibilities.
I’m particularly entranced by an old embellishment set I have from Lois Ericson, which has stencils and machine embroidery software for the same shapes. Almost infinite potential.

– – –

If you love this sort of jacket, enjoy being at the forefront of fashion this season 😀

There’s so much rich creativity available for clothes making. If this is your style I’m sure you have your own sources of delight and inspiration.

Do you show your personal style in the jacket shapes you choose ? This season there are quiet or striking versions of :
– tailored blazer,
– drapey or curvy shapes,
– assertive edgy shapes of bomber/ biker/ military,
– architectural shapes.

Or do you prefer simple shapes but delight in the bold or subtle combination of colour, print, texture, embellishment ? There’s a huge range – from overwhelming, challenging, sublime through to modest in scope.

No end to the delicious possibilities 😀
Apart from the pleasures of looking at all this – when it comes to what you wear yourself, which makes you feel most happy, comfortable with and true to yourself 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available November 2013

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Stylish fleeces and hoodies

October 26, 2013

I seem to have been going through a phase where I disagree with everything said by stylists.
Ah well, perhaps it’s a test that I’m clear about my own style.

A style book I looked at recently (Wardrobe Secrets by Emily Neill) said there are no rules about what to wear, except you must never wear a turtle (polo) neck, and it’s good to wear a V-neck.
Oh dear, I feel the cold and with my long neck and long head, I think I look much better in a turtle neck. And I haven’t worn a classic V-neck since school uniform – with my face shape and flat chest they don’t look anywhere near the best I can be.

And Imogen Lamport of Inside-Out Style has a couple of recent posts in which she appears to be anti-fleece and anti-hoodie.

Oh. Hmm. No doubt I’m over-reacting, but there seem to be several sub-texts here :
– that it’s impossible to look stylish and trendy in a fleece or hoodie,
– that everyone wants to look stylish and trendy,
– and that it’s impossible to look stylish and trendy when wearing protective winter outerwear.
(The people who buy Chanel ski jackets would be surprised to hear that 😀 There’s even a Lands End ‘down to -40 degrees C’ padded jacket in the style worn by all the trendy girls round here.)

Well of course that set me off on a whole lot of trains of thought. Happily there are many recent patterns for ‘Easy Luxe’ elegant fleeces and hoodies.

– – –

Stylish hoodies

McCall’s 6444

”m6444”

Butterick 5791 (includes elastic waist pants)

”b5791”

Vogue 8854.

”v8854”

McCall’s 6603

”m6603”

McCall’s 6849 (slope up the corners so it doesn’t droop)

”m6849”

(Or shorten this dress, Vogue 8806.)

– – –

Stylish fleeces

Some new patterns could be cosy and comfortable in fleece, yet look ‘stylish’ rather than ‘sporty’ (Though why not look sporty-casual if you want to – there are plenty of new patterns. It’s a very popular look round here.)

McCall’s 6658

”m6658”

Vogue 8924

”v8924”

Butterick 5961 by Katherine Tilton

”b5961”

Simplicity 1543 by Patty Reed

”s1543”

Butterick 5816 is said to be for light fabrics. But it was a summer pattern issue, and I think it could work well in warm fabrics too. (Pattern info doesn’t mention using 2 fabrics, very trendy but not clear that there are instructions for it.)

”b5816”

– – –

Well, this is obviously a topic close to my heart, as I keep returning to it.
See my previous posts on
fleeces and hoodies
and on the vague borderline between ultra-casual and loungewear styles.

Hurrah, lots of options for those of us who love ‘Easy Luxe’ 😀

And here’s YouLookFab on wearing a hoodie with a blazer – she definitely doesn’t think a hoodies are not for the stylish 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2013

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