Archive for the ‘specific capsules’ category

Choosing core pattern blocks

May 22, 2022

How to choose a small basic set of patterns to use as the starting point for your hacking adventures ?

I’m surprised that I have at last got my own group of core patterns. I recognise that I have got to this point because I now feel relaxed about it. It must have been a concern for years, as I’ve written many posts about it, which I’ve pulled together here. I have written so much on this, it’s obviously not a topic for which there is an instant, or single, solution.

There are three main sections of this post :
– my own core patterns, as an example.
– I wrote many past posts about the possible choice of a small group of patterns to make a capsule, which I have brought together here.
– as most of those posts are a decade old the pattern links no longer work, so I have added links to some current indie pattern companies which offer stylish casual patterns.

– – –

My own core patterns

As in most aspects of sewing, there are so many pattern choices it can rapidly get overwhelming. So it’s well worth being secure about your own style, the clothes that you love to wear. Notice what it is that you always reach for, or that you regret being in the laundry.

The best patterns to use as a base for pattern hacking are very simple, they have few or no style elements. Those elements are added by the pattern hacking.

The following posts are about my own core patterns, the basic shapes I need for ‘stylish casuals’ :
cut-on sleeve top,
drop shoulder casual sleeved top (also basis for shirts),
on-shoulder casual sleeved top,
basic slim leg pants fit (scroll down).
I also have a well-fitting pattern for a raglan sleeve top, though that’s not a key shape for me, I need more shoulder definition.

The pullover tops can all easily be developed to other garment types :
– open the front : here’s my series of posts on doing that.
– enlarge to a layering jacket/ vest/ coat : I refer to Don McCunn p.154.

All the tops can very easily be lengthened into simple dresses (basically just extend the side seams, some notes on this process from Paper Theory).

I also have core patterns for, but rarely use as I’m not a dress and skirt wearer :
– fitted bodice,
– pencil skirt,
– a-line skirt (without darts).
For my body shape, I would do best with an a-line dress shape, neatly fitted at the shoulders and armholes with generous ease at the hips.
If I was a dress wearer with a more average body shape I would also have a core :
– sheath dress (fitted dress without a waist seam),
but my small busted wide hipped body would just look silly in such a style.

Once your core patterns are developed to fit well, then you can look at the pattern companies for style element ideas 😀 to add to the basics by pattern hacking (see the first post in this pair).

– – –

Past posts on small groups of patterns
I’ve written many posts which suggest a group of patterns for a core wardrobe. They were originally written as comments on wardrobe planning, so don’t include much guidance on hacking them to make different styles, such as :
Pattern books for wardrobe building
A core wardrobe from Sew Over It patterns

A wardrobe pattern might be simple solution to the issue of finding a basic set of patterns that co-ordinate, but they’re no longer available, just not economic I suppose. Some indie pattern designers have ‘pattern bundles’. I was fond of the long out-of-print 6-item Central Park pattern from Park Bench patterns, very easy to copy, either literally or in spirit.

”central-park”

Most of my posts about small groups of co-ordinating patterns refer to the work of 5 people who advise using a small capsule of key pieces as a basis for wardrobe choices : Eileen Fisher, Nancy Nix-Rice, Judith Rasband, The Vivienne Files, and Linda Lee of Sewing Workshop patterns.

Most of these posts on patterns for capsules were written around a decade ago, so many of the specific pattern suggestions are out of print. Though many of the ideas still apply. Although ‘fashion’ changes in detail every season, the basic styles which most of us wear are fairly constant.

These posts refer mainly Big 4 patterns, as they were easy to find out about at the time. Sadly those sites have changed, so most of the links in the posts do not work.
So these posts now mainly provide food for thought rather than usable links.

Eileen Fisher
here’s the 2022 version of her basics.

basic capsule.
revise the basics.
personalisation.
spring suggestions.
first part of Eileen Fisher’s holiday wear capsule, tops.
holiday wear dresses

Nancy Nix-Rice
Her set of posts referred to in my posts are no longer available. Her book has brief sections on all wardrobing topics and could be a good replacement, or she has a Craftsy class if you prefer video. She more recently emphasises that the styles in her core wardrobe diagrams are just indications, not required, such as : you need some sort of front-opening layer to wear in more serious situations, but it need not be a blazer !

NNR capsules
Some of Nancy’s capsule suggestions : 3 jackets, 4 tops, 2 skirts, 3 pants

first 8 items, there are 12 items in her core wardrobe, starting with a ‘Core 4’. The first 8 items are in dark and light core neutrals.
final 4 items, adding colour and print.
additions, the best items to add when you want more than 12. ‘Best’ defined as those items which instantly add outfits for many more situations, such as leisure if you’ve focussed your 12 on professional/ serious, or vice versa.
more comments.
accessories, no patterns.

Judith Rasband
author of college text Wardrobe Strategies for Women [terrible cover, rich content],
and the fitting bible.
While Nancy Nix-Rice uses similar shapes for the same type of garment, to make co-ordination easy, Judith Rasband deliberately makes several of the same type of garment as different as possible, to make different styles of outfit.
She has retired and her site is discontinued.

general capsule, she uses a ‘Core 5’ with 2 skirts.
summer capsule, this is 6 items with 3 tops.
variations for summer.

Vivienne Files
Janice has many bases for organising your wardrobe choices, see the Articles tab here.

wardrobe of relaxed basics [this post was written at the time of the Queen’s Diamond jubilee, in June we will be celebrating her Platinum jubilee – 70 years as Queen – amazing, good for her].
variations on relaxed wardrobe.
starting with smaller groups.

Sewing Workshop patterns
layering wardrobe.
Currently Linda Lee sews a new capsule each year, in the Sew Confident series.

other posts :
Holiday wardrobe plans, only 2 patterns suggested : classic tailored and casual wardrobe patterns.

suggestions for 3-item groups, each item claimed to be makable in less than 3 hours.

An early piece on my own minimal basics.

Fall season 2012.

More sources suggesting small groups of garments, not many pattern suggestions.

Wardrobe patterns 2012, there were more wardrobe patterns then.

– – –

Indie pattern companies

The basic options for a casual wardrobe keep repeating. Nearly every company has patterns for a tee, tank, sweatshirt/ hoodie, cardigan, casual pants.
And the number of indie pattern companies has greatly expanded since the above posts were written (new ones daily). So there are many other sources of good casual patterns. It’s just a matter of finding ones that are right for you.

Here is a small selection of current companies mainly oriented to stylish casuals rather than activewear or dresses – my choice, other people could come up with a completely different list :

The Assembly Line.

BMann by Bridget – lagenlook.

Closet Core – famous for their jeans.

Friday Pattern Company.

Grainline Studio.

Helmersson – zero waste.

In the Folds – ‘Curated by In the Folds’ is a series of detailed written tutorials on intermediate level techniques for sewing, fitting, hacking.

Megan Nielsen.

Muna & Broad – will draft larger if you need it.

Paper Theory.

Rebecca Page.

Sew House Seven.

Sew Liberated.

Twig and Tale.

Wardrobe By Me.

mainly knits :

Christine Jonson.

Pamela’s Patterns.

There are many many more indie companies. The list of companies at Pattern Review goes into the 100s. As there are also many small companies which don’t appear in the Pattern Review list, there may be as many as 150,000 patterns, more if we’re interested in vintage patterns.

No wonder we get overwhelmed !! So it’s important to have a strategy for limiting the options.
What are the basic 3-4 garment types that you absolutely have to have in your closet ?

Are there one or two pattern companies you feel especially in tune with ? For me, if I was restricted to using only patterns from one company I might choose the relaxed styles at Paper Theory or Sew House Seven, or the crisper styles at The Assembly Line if I was still working, with Birgitta Helmersson for when I’m feeling especially planet-conscious. While when I’m going more ‘cottage core’/ sprite I choose Twig and Tale.
But I’m a pattern nerd, expecting me to reduce my patterns is unrealistic 😀
Okay, if you don’t keep up with all the other pattern lines you might miss something good, but that way madness lies ! I’m on many e-mail lists, but I keep away from all the aggressive marketing on Instagram.

Which would be your favourite pattern for each of your essential garment types ?

– – –

There are two aims to finding these small groups of co-ordinating patterns :
– simplifying your wardrobe planning and co-ordination,
– providing the starting points for your pattern hacking, as summarised in the first post of this pair.

Best Wishes and Good Luck for finding and fitting your own top ranking patterns, which you can use as a starting point for hacking to add your own favourite style elements. These can be your TNTs – Tried aNd True patterns – those shapes which are key in building your personal wardrobe.

♥️ 👍 ♥️ 👍 ♥️

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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 – blouse with frills at collar and cuffs (see Liesl Recital shirt), slim pants, over-sized 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 knit 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.

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.)

Pattern lines which focus on variations

The master patterns for top and pants from FitNice are simple shape, 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.

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.

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

Another option is that Simplicity have a series of ‘hacking’ patterns, in which the pattern altering is done for you, making it obvious that hacking can be quite easy.
You can also learn from Burda Style magazine, which usually has a few base patterns, made in such different fabrics and with different style elements that the variations at first glance look unrelated. Here’s a browse through video (magazine is available in English !)

– – –

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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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.

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available December 2017

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A capsule for Earth Day

April 27, 2013

Judith Rasband tells us to cut down on our clothes buying, to celebrate Earth Day (which was Monday 22 April).

Here’s the basic capsule of classics she thinks we should be choosing instead of high fashion.

”earth-day-capsule”
image from Conselle blog

Re-cycling

Oddly, Judith Rasband doesn’t mention making new clothes from old ones.
Much done by all the people who love turning pre-owned clothes into something else.

The goddess of this is Marisa of New dress a day, and her book with the same name. Or see Cloth magazine. Or here are more book suggestions from an enthusiast.

As I was a small child in WWII, when children’s clothes were made out of the not-too-badly-worn sections of adult clothes, this is the first thing that comes to mind for me when re-cycling clothes is mentioned. Sweaters were knitted in stripes from still usable yarn unpicked from adult ones. Just what was available, colour irrelevant. So I have difficulty with thinking re-cycled clothes can be attractive 😀

As Judith Rasband’s choices are classics, there are dozens of possible patterns. Here are some easy makes for beginners, and supremely elegant designer versions needing advanced skills.

– – –

Safari jacket

Go for high quality and use Claire Shaeffer Vogue 8732.

”v8732”

For a much simpler make, there’s Kwik Sew 3534.

”k3534”

Also see my post on jackets with many pockets.

Choose your pocket locations with care ! If your upper-lower body proportions are not balanced, you may look better in a 2-pocket style – on your hips if you’re upper body dominant, above your waist if you’re a pear shape.

A safari jacket is the casual jacket Judith Rasband tends to go for. If you like something a bit softer, I think a drape front jacket is now a casual classic. Imogen Lamport has a post on choosing your cardigan jacket to flatter your body shape. For other casual possibilities, see my post on choices for the jacket in a basic casual capsule.

– – –

Camp shirt and straight leg pants

Let’s go simple rather than designer, for ease of making, and choose Kwik Sew Kwik Start beginner patterns.

Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3475 is a basic camp shirt.

”ks3475”

Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3314 straight leg pants have an elastic waist.

”ks3314”

If you’d prefer elegant designer versions, how about a couple of patterns by Chado Ralph Rucci.
Vogue 1215

”v1215”

and Vogue 1054.

”v1054”

Change the length a bit to layer under Claire Shaeffer’s safari jacket.

Or use Chado Ralph Rucci’s Vogue 1347 shirt jacket.

”v1347”

(Sadly the beautiful Chado Ralph Rucci Vogue 1144 safari jacket pattern is out of print.)

– – –

Straight and flared skirts

Kwik Sew Kwik Start patterns for speed and simplicity again.

Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3765 is a straight skirt with elastic waist.

”ks3765”

Kwik Sew Kwik Start 2806 is a flared skirt with elastic waist.

”ks2805”

If you prefer a fitted waist, Kwik Sew Kwik Start 3877 is an a-line skirt with darts, zip, waistband.

”ks3877”

The basic classic patterns for these styles are
McCall’s 3830 for a straight skirt,

”m3830”

and McCall’s 3341 for an a-line skirt.

”m3341”

The flared skirt illustrated by Judith Rasband is a designer skirt with horizontal pin tuck detail round the hem.
No need to go for the detailing, but if you’d like some designer elegance for your skirts, there are plenty of straight skirts among the designer co-ordinates at Vogue patterns.

Currently only one flared skirt designer pattern – lengthen the skirt from Rachel Comey in Vogue 1247.

”v1247”

From Chado Ralph Rucci there’s a bias cut straight skirt, Vogue 1310. And some dresses it’s possible to take a flared skirt pattern from – Chado Ralph Rucci at Vogue.

– – –

Intermediate patterns

I’ve chosen specific patterns needing easy and couture sewing skills. Of course there are many other ways of picking the styles for a basic group of jacket/ top/ pants/ straight and full skirts.

How about the wardrobe pattern book ‘Dressmaking’ by Alison Smith for intermediate sewing skills (making ultra-conservative styles). Then the wardrobe pattern Vogue 6701 has a jacket a bit more advanced than Alison Smith’s (separate the dress into peplum top and flared skirt).

Many pattern companies have basic camp shirt, skirt and pants patterns. They don’t all have a safari jacket style, but if they go for basic classics they usually have a shirt jacket pattern which you could add pockets to. These are just a few of the possibilities :
Cutting Line Designs (click on Store tab)
Loes Hinse (Textile Studio for her easiest patterns)
Palmer-Pletsch at McCall’s (with fitting advice)
styleARC (what they call a safari jacket doesn’t have the 4-pocket style).

– – –

Judith Rasband suggested a simple 5-item capsule which can be business/ casual/ dressy, depending on colour, fabric, accessories. Though I would want more than one top. I’d make several shirts, other people might prefer knits !

She says – for a wardrobe that only needs to be replaced when it wears out, not because it’s gone out of fashion : “make classic pieces the bulk of your wardrobe, with a few trendy items to update and add some fun.”

Well, I’m not sure we would all be at our happiest when wearing ultra-classic styles.
And I don’t agree that it’s only ultra-classic styles that are wearable for many seasons. Fortunately, we haven’t got to choose between either ultra-classics or new-each-week ultra-fashion. There are many other styles which last for more than one season.
Even ultra-classics can’t always be worn for many decades, as proportions and details change.

Here’s YouLookFab on using a few classic items with others.

Make several versions of this capsule while working your way from an easy starter-wardrobe to a big challenge !

– – –

Patterns and links available April 2013

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