Upcoming Fall 2011 sewing – the patterns

It’ll be no surprise to you that I’ve already started on my Fall sewing, since you’ve just heard all about my upcoming trench jacket, but I’ve been thinking about the rest of my Fall sewing ambitions over the last few weeks. Having August temperatures mostly in the 50sF (16-20C) meant that I was mentally ready for cooler weather a long time ago!

I’ve got the fabric for all (but two) of these already, too, so I’m sure to get through a lot of my stash this way, too… Though I did just buy some new fabric in order to make four of these, oops. More on the matching fabric later.

Revisiting pattern drafting and the vintage tab dress muslin

Remember the vintage dress pattern I graded down to my size a few weeks ago?

Well, I made up a muslin with my grading changes in place, and though I didn’t get any photos of it on me, I did get some on Susan. I realise that diagnosing fit issues on a dressmaker’s dummy is particularly futile, though, so you’ll just need to take my word for it!

On first glance, the worst issue is that there is way too much fabric in the upper back, but also I think I may need to raise the waist seam by an inch, and narrow the shoulders by an inch or so, too.

The skirt length is d-o-w-d-y so I’ll need to shorten all those panels, too (happily I’ve got a “lengthen or shorten here” line on both the bodice and skirt pieces).

While the sleeves themselves fit nicely, there is an unholy amount of excess ease in those sleeve caps, omg. So I’ll need to shave down those caps to take a good few inches out of there.

It wasn’t necessarily the list above that made me lose enthusiasm for this dress, but I can’t really put my finger on what it was. But it turned out that doing all the boring grading reawakened in me a desire to conquer pattern drafting, which I dabbled in when I received “Metric Pattern Cutting” by Winifred Aldrich last year, but didn’t get far.

Grading down the vintage tab dress pattern

One of my big tasks this weekend was to finally get cracking on my upcoming vintage tab dress, Style Print 1543. It doesn’t have a copyright date, but was estimated to be from the late 1950s/early 1960s by the vintage gurus on Pattern Review. I’ll be making the button-tab view in blue, but since this pattern is for a 42” bust, I’ve got to grade down the pattern to be closer to my 38-39” (depending on the bra!) bust.

My first step was to trace the pattern pieces (read more about my pattern tracing method here) so I wouldn’t have to cut or damage the vintage tissue. Those blue enamel coasters from my mom are the most perfect pattern weights! They’ve even got a nice felt bottom to them.

This pattern has seam allowances (called “turning” here!) included, but they also mark all the seam lines! Heaven! Since I’m going to be altering the pattern anyway, I just traced on the seam lines to make life simpler.

Surely this is the best of both worlds, right? You can choose to use the seam allowances or not (though I understand how this would be impractical on multi-size patterns!)

As I was unfolding all the pattern pieces, I found it really interesting to see the fit alterations the previous seamstress had made. She:

Which Sewing Pattern Magazine?

There have been quite a lot of people wondering about the various sewing pattern magazines out there and which they should buy or subscribe to. Since I’ve been primarily sewing with pattern magazines over the last few years, I thought some of you might appreciate my opinions on the major pattern magazines (and no, I’m not getting any kickbacks or referral money from any of these links, if it wasn’t obvious!).

For all of these magazines, you receive a glossy magazine with lots of nice photos of models wearing the various designs, and there will be a section containing the technical drawings, instructions, and fabric layout for each design. Patterns are included in a special folded bunch of papers (usually stapled in the centre so you can pull them out easily without damaging the rest of the magazine). The patterns come in a variety of sizes, but none of these contain seam allowances and you need to trace them off the sheets provided.

I trace my patterns using a serrated tracing wheel and brown kraft paper, but many others prefer to use tracing paper and pencils. I add my seam allowances when I cut out my fabric by simply cutting 5/8”/1.5cm away from the edge of my paper pattern, but there are double tracing wheels available to do this for you.

Pattern matching

I should have some photos for you very soon of my beautiful silk blouse, but in the meantime, I’ve started thinking about sewing up my next pair of jeans, using some brand name Levis 3% lycra denim from Crybaby’s Boutique (though it appears to be sold out now!). It’s all washed and dried (in my neighbour’s tumble dryer) and pressed and ready to go, but now I have to decide whether I’ll stick with my tried and true jeans pattern, Burda World of Fashion 08/2006 #109, or whether I should a new pattern, BurdaStyle’s Anita skinny jeans pattern.

So my first thought was to compare the two patterns to see exactly how different Anita is from my usual pattern. It fits me like a glove, but has back darts rather than a yoke, which is my only aesthetic issue with it. Now, the BWOF pattern (in brown paper) does not have seam allowances and Anita (in white paper) does, so if the two patterns were exactly the same there should be 5/8 inch of white showing all the way around the edges.

Here’s the waistband pieces:

Book review: The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric

This is not an unbiased review – if you recall, I worked behind the scenes on the production of the third series of The Great British Sewing Bee tv show, then again on the Children in Need specials (which were actually recorded after the main series, despite airing first), and right after that was done, I started work on the book which accompanies the series, The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric, under the amazing, dedicated, and super talented Claire-Louise Hardie (aka “the thriftystitcher”).

But even though I spent several months as part of the sewing team who developed, adapted, sewed, illustrated, and assisted with the patterns in this book, I have zero financial stake in the sales of this book – I’ve already been paid for my work, regardless if there are zero sales or several million. So this review is unbiased in that regard anyway.

But really, I mostly want to show you all what’s in this book, because a) myself and the team worked really freaking hard to deliver a book chock full of quality patterns, and b) because it really is the perfect book that intermediate/advanced sewists have been craving for a long, long, time. Don’t get me wrong – there are some easy, beginner styles in here, too, but there are loads of projects that are more advanced and have really interesting shapes and design lines.

It should really say something that I spent months of my life sewing up these patterns (both the ones you see as samples in the book, but many, many test versions you don’t see) and I still want to make a ton more. Seriously.

But let’s start with the patterns, shall we?

It’s a great sign that the pattern sheet stack is nearly as thick as the book itself, and each sheet is labelled on the upper right corner so you can see which patterns are printed on that sheet as you flip through the stack. The patterns need to be traced (here’s how I trace a pattern, btw), but they’re colour coded and really nicely spaced out – waaaaaay easier on the eyes than Burda’s pattern sheets, for example, and the sheets themselves are printed on hefty paper, a bit like the old KwikSew patterns. And the sheets aren’t freaking enormous like Vogue’s ones that cover my entire lounge!

Here’s the size chart, which ranges from size 8 (B32.5/W25.5/H36in) to 20 (B45.5/W38.5/H49.5in). Since there are also kids and mens patterns, too, there are (obviously!) different size charts for them. But there are also a few garments in the book which you draft from your own measurements, so if you’re outside the size range you can still make a few things (like Lorna’s curtain skirt from episode three!).

There’s the obligitary section at the start of any sewing book explaining about the supplies you need, how to trace a pattern, sew hand stitches, etc. To be honest, I always just skip past these since I know what I’m doing. But there’s also a section on common fit alterations like an FBA or trouser fitting alterations, too.

But onto the patterns themselves! I haven’t highlighted every single one, but rather pulled out my favourites (or ones where I’ve sewn the sample you see in the book!). For each pattern, you also get a “hack” variation which re-uses the same basic pattern pieces but in a new way to get a totally different look. IMHO, Claire-Louise did a great job in putting new twists on these patterns and showing how you can really make them your own.

In the Cottons section, you get a pattern for capri trousers, which you may recognise from the first episode!

A chambray Luova tunic dress

I will readily admit that I don’t pre-order many books. But I absolutely pre-ordered the Named Patterns new “Building the Pattern” book as soon as I could! I mean, why wouldn’t I after making so many patterns from their first book (and a few more planned, too!)?! The focus on this book is fitting alterations so there are TONS of diagrams and instructions and advice on getting a great fit even before you get to the patterns in the book (which can either be traced from the sheets in the book, or downloaded in A4/AO formats from their website).

The Luova pattern comes in three styles: a blouse, tunic, or dress, with two different collars and three different sleeves to choose from. The tunic (a short dress, really) stood out to me and I thought that perhaps I’d be able to make it from a 1.5m remnant of stonewashed denim from Fabrics Galore I’d recently bought. I got it thinking I’d use it to make another pair of jeans but it’s in no way what I’d consider a “denim”, btw – it’s far lighter than jeans and what I’d call a chambray, suitable for shirts or dresses. So it seemed perfect for this tunic!

The perfect pandemic trousers – for him!

I was encouraged by the effect that sewing for my mom had had on my own sewing mojo, so I decided to stick with the theme of sewing for others and I turned my attention to my husband instead.

I’d bought La Maison Victor‘s special Menswear issue back in 2018 (which I bought first in French when it was originally released, and then, later, again when it was finally released in English). There were so many good menswear patterns in this issue – lots of interesting and different (but still wearable!) designs, but I thought that the “Jeff Trousers” in particular would be perfect for J’s new work from home lifestyle.

A leopard print Wink Top

A month or two ago my mom sent me a surprise gift in the form of the dP Studio book “Fashion Couture”, which had been on my Amazon Wish List since it was released, while I secretly hoped it might get translated into English at some point.

For some reason the dP Studio standalone patterns never really grabbed me, but I LOVE so many of the tops in this book (and they’re all tops, yay!!). The book is only available in French but the instructions are fully illustrated and should be totally fine for any intermediate sewist with google translate to hand.

I’ve gotten loads of Pattern Magic vibes off several of the designs, and there are about five I really want to make! So I started with Le 516 “Wink Top”, but the Slash Top is also very high on my list (and that sweatshirt, yessss!). You can swoon over a bunch of the designs from the book here.

Burda rose jumpsuit

In the May issue of Burda magazine, there was a behind-the-scenes feature into how they design and develop their sewing patterns and the example they used was an amazing wrap-front jumpsuit, which I immediately wanted to sew! But I found out that the jumpsuit would be in the next issue, so I had to wait a whole month before I could get started.

It ended up actually being the cover star of the June 2020 issue, and even better – it also has the fully illustrated instructions for the issue, too! If you missed this issue, it’s also available to purchase as a pdf pattern from the (otherwise awful) English Burda site.