Sewing Tidbits has moved to its new home: Just Patterns. All the past content was exported there.
This site is no longer updated with will be closed in a couple of months.
Sewing Tidbits has moved to its new home: Just Patterns. All the past content was exported there.
This site is no longer updated with will be closed in a couple of months.
There is a new post on the new blog! Click on the link on the picture to read all about my new dress and my experience testing a pattern for another indie company. Don’t forget to update the RSS feed or subscribe with the box on the sidebar at the new address to stay in touch!
See you there,
Happy new year! This a just a reminder that this blog has moved and that new posts are waiting for you at the new address! Click on the link on the picture to my latest random sewing thoughts don’t forget to update the rss feed or subscribe with the box on the sidebar of the new blog!
See you at my new blogging home!
I have a few blogposts waiting for you over at the new blog address! Click on the link below the picture to be directly directed to the post and don’t forget to update your bookmarks since this is one of my last times posting here before I do a permanent redirect… If you subscribe by Bloglovin or by email, the transfer should have been automatic but otherwise you may need to update the rss feed or subscribe with the box on the side bar of the new blog!
I hope to see you at my new blogging home!
I am not a particularly meticulous sewist. I do take my time but there is usually a moment when I start rushing. The context is almost always the same: I am in the “sewing zone“, everything is going well and I suddenly decide that I want to wear what I’m working on, THAT night! And instantly, things start going all wrong… I make mistakes I would normally never make, the machines act out, the little human wakes up, you name it… Of course, I never get to wear the garment that night and my next sewing session will be dedicated to fixing mistakes. Sounds familiar?
I don’t have a cure to offer but at least I’m convinced that it improves over time. I believe that the longer you have been sewing the more you realize that the pleasure is more in the making than the wearing. And you also learn the hard way that that taking your time pays off. Whenever I start a project now, I force myself to slow down, to select the best fabric I can get and apply the nicest finishings and techniques I can. I guess it sounds pretty much like trying to sew well, although in this Instagram-dominated world we would tag it as #slowsewing.
While the concept of slow has been trending for some time, starting with food and spilling into other categories, I find it interesting that sewing is almost always associated in the definition of slow fashion. Usually from the perspective of mending and altering, but also sometimes dressmaking (from scratch). It makes sense, the thoughtfulness, effort and time you put into sewing a garment is likely to change forever your relationship with clothes in general. Building a handmade wardrobe will always take more time than a store-bought one. And yet, as many members of the sewing community have started to point out, sewing and sustainability are far from being synonymous. My favorite sustainable sewing voice, Kate of Time to Sew, reminds us that if you are churning out garments at a rapid pace, your fashion is not much slower. It doesn’t impact your wallet, your closet or the environment as quickly as weekly hauls at the mall, but eventually you will end up with too much clothes, and for sure, with too much fabric!
Anyway, those were my thoughts when I decided to sew this outfit. I set out to replicate a pairing of the Sailor Pants by Jesse Kamm with the Georgia tee by Elizabeth Suzann I had seen online. Both garments are relatively pricey and that’s when sewing really comes in handy, as long you involve enough time to match the quality. This time I was successful in not rushing through the steps for either of those garments!
Sewing this top is very straightforward. I more or less ignored the instructions, sewed the shoulder and side seams with french seams and finished the neckline with bias binding (my favorite method). I widened and deepened the collar to look closer to the inspiration garment, but after wearing it, I think I might have over done it.
I love that this top is so easy to wear and launder. It’s a good alternative to tee-shirts on the weekend and to dress shirts in the office.Making
Fabric Stretch cotton poplin and striped double gauze Mood Fabrics in NYC
Notions Buttons for the pants fly all came from stash.
For the pants, I had to make some alterations. I have a bigger difference between my waist and my hips than the pattern is drafted for. I made the back darts deeper (and longer) and took in the center back seam. I think the pants still came out a little big, partly because I used stretch poplin but also because I think the smallest size is a little too big for me. Since the final pants are extremely comfortable, I will try another version without stretch before making more adjustments.
I’m not a fan of the button fly showing so I added some stitching to the concealed button fly to keep it flatter and I used a one piece pocket that you can find on the actual Jesse Kamm pants. Overall the pattern and the instructions are great. My only comments are minor: I would have appreciated the option of a layered pdf to print only the size I needed and I think the waistband would look better fully interfaced rather than only on one side.
In case you like this pants pattern and would like to do something a little different with it, I wrote an article for Sew News that was published in the October / November 2018 issue on how to turn it into a paper bag waist. Beth recently pointed out that those pants fit kind of funny on everybody so it leads to some “interesting” poses. It’s true that there are more wrinkles that I would ideally like, but honestly I like the final results so much that I don’t mind. Trust me, I’m the first one surprised to admit this…
I love this outfit so much and since I finished it I have been wearing it many many times. I also wear them as separates quite a lot, and I know it’s time to make another pair of Persephone because I’m constantly looking for them, even when they are in the wash. So I would say that taking my time really paid off this time and I hope that it will serve me as a lesson next time I want to rush like a mad seamstress! What about you? Are you immune to the desire of urgently finishing everything or do you manage to keep your pace?
Happy New Year dear readers!
Compared to previous years, 2018 was relatively calm for me. I didn’t move across any ocean and I didn’t birth any human! But I did experience significant changes, some that were to be expected and some that were completely unexpected. On the expected side, my quiet and smiling baby turned into a determined, not to say very stubborn, toddler committed to climbing onto everything (especially me). On the unexpected side, two major changes of responsibilities in my day job have have considerably increased my workload.
While I love the idea of a #slowlife and I enjoy tremendously the hours spent sewing on my own, I regularly over commit and end up with more than I can handle. I won’t recap my entire year but in January, I almost drove myself insane and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the year. I was working and adapting to my new job in Haiti, sewing for myself, sewing and writing for Sew News and then I decided to participate in a 10-day book proposal challenge. I didn’t even have intentions of submitting a proposal, even less to write a book right now, but I wanted to see what it would take to write a sewing book proposal (in case you are wondering, the answer is: a lot of work).
In 2019, I still have both the busy job and the toddler, so I probably won’t be able to regain control over my time. But what reassures me is that even if my ability to document on the blog and on instagram was reduced, I still managed to sew and to add clothes to my wardrobe that I love. The answer to the question in the title is no, it is 2019 is unlikely to be the year I slow things down. But I still want to try doing things slowly, or at least slower as I think that it has more to do with a state of mind than an actual pace.
Hopefully I will be able to spend some time reflecting on what slow sewing and slow fashion mean to me, and then share some of those thoughts with you. For me, it has to do with trying to produce your best sewing, pushing your skills and creating clothes that will have a special place in your closet for the years to come. The dress I’m showing you today is very far from perfect, but when making it, I did try to sew at my best. I sewed it in 2017 for an article in Sew News that was published last year.
Pattern – Just Patterns Linda Wrap Dress
Size – 34
The design is loosely inspired from the Christy dress by NYC label Khaite. There is also a version very close to the original dress that won a Pattern Review contest in 2017. I completely fell in love with the big buttons the moment I saw it, and we’ve seen big horn buttons every where since! I used our pattern for the Linda Wrap Dress as my starting point. I did the same modifications to make it sleeveless as my black linen version: remove 1” of shoulder length, raise the underarm by 1/2” and bring it in by 3/4” on both front and back bodice pieces. I omitted the collar and removed the extension of the waistband part. The bodice is fully lined in self fabric.
Fabric Mid-weight suiting of a mysterious blend from Mood Fabrics in NYC
Notions Buttons from Botani in NYC
For the full details of construction, you can check my article in the April/May 18 issue of Sew News. It includes instructions for an in-set buttonhole at the junction of the bodice and the waistband. The most important design aspect of the this dress is the size of the buttons and their placement. I’ve said it before, but I have a personal pet peeve with slightly off button placement on handmade garments, that makes the entire thing look awkward. For instance, I often see buttons too far away from the edges, or very small buttons with too much space between them. I find referring to RTW clothes, in my closet or using pictures online, helpful to figure out what combination is most pleasing to the eye.
I really like my final dress and it’s perfect for my formal work events in Haiti. In the pictures the bodice looks maybe a little too roomy, but I actually appreciate the comfort. Not all my work dresses are comfortable for a full day of work. My only issue with this dress is that I picked the fabric based on the look that I was going for. It has the right mix of body and drape, it was easy to work with, and is easy to launder. But I’m guessing that there it’s a blend of something artificial and I don’t love the feeling on my skin.
As you can see, I am kind of letting go of the expectations that I will blog everything that I make, or blog about previously sewn garments in any kind of structured way. I hope it does not make it hard to follow along and the positive aspect is that I already know how I really feel about the clothes I’m showing you since I’ve been wearing it already! As I start to draft my next post on what slow sewing mean to me, I would love to hear your views or your resolutions for the year!
One of the issues of blogging only sporadically is to remember to give some contexts to whatever I’m about to say. Over the last few months, I have mentally wrote several posts so I feel like you are up to date with my train of thoughts when in fact, not at all! So let’s recap a little.
Since moving back to Haiti exactly a year ago, I have moved from one challenging and time-consuming job to another even more challenging and time-consuming one. Who would have thought that was possible?? But possible it was, and this is the situation now… In parallel, I also found that if I thought that being the single working mom of an infant was not an easy job, being the single working mom of a toddler is a completely different game. Basically, I have two very tiring jobs….
So where has my sewing time gone? Well, it’s not entirely gone, the proof is that today I’m including in this post pictures of two of my personal samples for Just Patterns, the Kate Bias Top and the Yasmeen skirt. But my personal sewing time has also been diverted by the attempts to keep Just Patterns (barely) alive. I haven’t been able to do much more than responding to customer requests and some occasion Instagram posting so that people know that we are still active. I’m disappointed because I had basically two patterns to release since the beginning of the year, but it has not been possible and I don’t see how it will become easier in the coming months.
Amazingly, the patterns have continued to sell! Compared to last year, we did very little marketing effort, released no new pattern and yet we are on track to sell more patterns… This makes me so happy and proud. It also makes me realize the this little pattern project means a lot to me than I initially thought. I regularly day dreams of running away from my job. I can’t help but think that if I dedicated more time and effort to it, it could turn into something else. My job is stimulating and rewarding but it is also extremely stressful and it has me outside of the house/away from my daughter 12 hours per day. I’m definitely not ready to quit and start living the sewing life, but there are days when the temptation is real…
In the mean time, I need to re-assess how I commit my time and my energy. I’m starting to realize that the idea of maintaining two blogs, one here and one for Just Patterns is completely unrealistic. I don’t have time to produce enough content and I never got used to the more neutral tone for Just Patterns. The way I write on this blog feels much more like me. There are also other considerations, such as never really liking the interface of the Just Patterns site or the name of my own blog “Sewing Tidbits”. When we launched Just Patterns, I just used a standard wordpress website, which doesn’t allow us to host a proper e-shop. It was fine then but now it looks a bit sad.
Fabric – Raspberry silk from stash (bought years ago in the NY garment district) and blush linen twill from Mood Fabrics in NY.
Notions – Invisible zip and grosgrain waistband from stash
So I have been thinking about creating a new site for Just Patterns and moving my blog there too. That way I would only maintain one blog, with my rea “voice” but also the tutorials we do occasionally for Just Patterns… I still have a few technical and time management concerns, but mostly what I would like to hear is your opinion. Since Eira and I launched this project, I have tried to be as transparent as possible with you and listened to what readers and customers had to say. So I thought I would ask you, would it be weird to have it Sewing Tidbits and Just Patterns under one virtual roof?
I’m slowly climbing out of the overwhelmed single working mom hole although I have to acknowledge that I may fall right back into it at any time. Life has a thing for intently proving me wrong every time I start feeling like things are under control. But before that happens, I’m trying to get as much sewing and photographing done!
The skirt I am showing you today has been on my mind since November, I had just finished a grey wool and cashmere version of our Just Patterns Stephanie Skirt because I thought it would come in handy for the New York winter and then learned I would be relocating to Haiti within weeks. So in the midst of selling all my belongings, packing my things and my baby, I, of course, started thinking about new wardrobe options! I went on a last shopping spree at Mood, before leaving because fabric shopping in Port-au-Prince is limited. I wanted to find a cotton lace or Guipure that would enable an scalloped hem and some transparency, and I had an immediate crush on this particular fabric!
Pattern – Just Patterns Stephanie Skirt
Size – 34
I didn’t do any change to the pattern, except lengthening it by 3 inches for the lace layer and shortening the poplin underlining so that it’s a total 12″ long. I really wanted for the sheerness of the lace to show, so I kept the underlining as wanted the underlining to be as short as possible. One thing I would do differently in working with this kind of fabric would be to add wider seam allowances than just 1/2″ as it can get tricky for the “holes” part of the lace.
Fabric Lace and cotton poplin are both from Mood Fabrics in NYC
Notions The invisible zipper and hooks and eyes are from the stash.
The poplin is serged all around the edges of the lace. Although I am usually not a fan of overlocked edges, for this particular fabric it provides some needed stability the the seam allowances. Treating the poplin as an underlining rather than a lining also has the benefit of hiding the pocket bags. To create the scalloped hem, I carefully cut around the flower shapes, trying to respect the flare. Unlike some pleated skirt patterns or tutorials you sometimes find, the hem is curved because the pleats were added to a flared skirt and not to a rectangle.
What I like about this pattern (and I’m biased of course ;-)) and this particular combination with the lace is the wow effect of a relatively simple project otherwise. I’ve been thinking a lot these days about what constitutes “good sewing”, as in garments that you will enjoy wearing for the years to come. I hope to reflect and write more on this but I believe that it’s a combination of sewing things that reflect your “personal style” (although I’m getting a bit drained by all the content generated around this), good fit and good construction.
To improve our sewing skills, we automatically think about tackling more complex projects and the results can be less than great since we become overwhelmed and lack the practice. On the other hand, when tackling a less involved project, we are tempted not to dedicate as much time (in terms of seam finishes, unpicking and perfecting the topstitching, etc.) because “it’s just an everyday item”. So I decided to force myself to slow down as much as possible and try to do my best work for every garment so that my clothes stand the test of time!
The finished garment is very close to the one I had in mind so I’m very happy with the result! As you can see I played with two different styling options for the pictures. The first one with flats is a realistic version of how I wear it to the office and the second is my attempt to recreate a look worn by Ulyana Sergeenko as entry in the Pattern Review Bargainista Fashionista contest. I didn’t aim to recreate the skirt as exactly as possible but rather to transpose the feel of it into something I could wear in my everyday life. This contest has been happening for several years on Pattern Review and it’s my favorite one to enter, since copying RTW I couldn’t afford is the very reason why I started sewing. [EDIT: Unfortunately due to my terrible internet connection in Haiti, my entry did not make the deadline :-(]
Although I have been a member of Pattern Review for the last 13 years (!!), I don’t enter many contests except this one. I also have the feeling that sewing contests are not as popular as they once were. I could be only an impression though and it would be very interesting if PatternReview looked at the number of contestants over the years. What do you think? Do you participate in contests? Do you think they are still relevant?
It has only been a week since I last posted here, so this should give you an idea of how much I am boiling inside, waiting for my sewing machines! This year I sewed 23 items, which is a pretty good output for me:
For the sake of accountability, here are the garments I included in my #2017MakeNine post. I sewed 4 out of the 9 garments below:
I did finish the white Blazer (it’s the pattern mash-up mentioned above). I haven’t managed to blog about it but I have a few pictures I used for Instagram. The Balmain blazer on the other hand saw no progress. It’s in a box and well advanced. I hope to complete it in 2018.
I made 2 out of 3. The white pencil skirt was my submission for the first round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee Contest. I also finally got around sewing a Stella Jean inspired skirt from one of the pieces of African wax I have in stash since leaving in Zambia. This one is un-blogged, but you may have seen it on Instagram. I sewed 3 more skirts but not the one included in the Makenine.
I did sew my own sample of the Linda wrap dress. Actually I sewed 2 more variations. One sleeveless I posted on Instagram and one for Sew News that I will show you next year. I wasn’t sure about the Capital Chic sheath when I made my plan and I didn’t get even close to sewing it.
I sewed 4 tops and 2 Tshirts this year, but nothing I had mentioned in the 2017Makenine. Oops…
In my last post, I did mention that my realization that I wouldn’t be able to document all my sewing in blog posts but when I counted how many garments I blogged vs sewed, I realized that out of the 17 handmade garments for myself, I only blogged 5. That’s really low in my opinion. Even if 5 of the 12 un-blogged items are samples for Sew News that I cannot blog them before the issue they are featured gets published, that still leaves 7 garments that could have made it to the blog. I will try to post some of them in 2018 and I hope it won’t bother you. Let’s just pretend that I’m super professional and I plan my content in advance!
I will not be making a #2018Makenine plan for several reasons. First, i don’t think that the #2017Makenine helped me focus my sewing. I sewed what I already knew I would make and, unsurprisingly, didn’t sew the ones I wasn’t sure about. Just for the sake of making a plan, I tend to include clothes that I’m not 200% excited about. There is no value in doing that. Secondly, in my experience, when moving to a different country, it takes some time to reevaluate what you need and want to wear. So I’m going to take some time thinking and maybe doing some planning. Just like everyone else in the sewing world, I’ve been reading the Curated Closet, and I also did a round of the 10×10 Challenge (you can read about it here and I’ll post more in details about it later). I want explore the intersection personal style and a handmade wardrobe and I will try to document the process.
In order to plan be more mindful of what I sew and what I wear, I need to be realistic about my average sewing productivity. For 2018, my assumption is that I’ll sew between 15 and 20 garments for myself. 6 technically already decided on since I have a commitment with Sew News for 3 samples and we have already made plans for 3 pattern releases with Just Patterns. Ideally, everything I make this year will bring cohesion to my closet and contribute to a decrease in my fabric stash!
I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on a year of selling PDF sewing patterns but in the mean time I would love to hear your thoughts about wardrobe planning and sewing plans! Did you manage to follow-up on your 2017 plans? Are you taking part in the #2018MakeNine? Happy new year!
Greetings from France! Today’s post is my definition of an achievement. I’m showing you the blouse I made for round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee Contest. I’m calling this an achievement because not only am I terrible at sewing on a deadline, I’m even worse at taking pictures and posting them in a timely manner. And with this blouse I managed to make both happen! (smug face).
It’s not the first time that I pass round 1 in the Pattern Review Sewing Bee, but it’s the first time that I managed to complete the project on time for round 2. When I saw that the theme was sleeves I wasn’t terribly inspired. I’m not one to add frills or follow #sleevefest. But I did had a picture of this Chloe Blouse hanging in my sewing space and I figured I could make something wearable/I had exactly 2 days to buy fabric, prepare a pattern and finish my garment before flying out to France but it all worked out.
Pattern – self-drafted
I drafted the pattern using my TNT shirt as a starting point. You may remember that my TNT pattern started initially as a Grainline Studio Archer shirt but I’m not sure that any pattern piece would be recognizable by now. To create this pattern I joined the shoulder yoke to the back and omitted all waist darts. I created a simple front by removing all pockets, plackets, etc. and lowered the neckline by 2″ at Center Front, widening 1″ at the shoulder tapering to nothing at Center Back.
The sleeves are cut to reach the middle of my forearm. The flounce detail is very simple. I created it by using this technique, but it ends up being a half circle, so with a little bit of math you could draft it directly.
Fabric – Grey Silk Crepe de Chine from Mood NY, contrast ivory crepe de chine from stash.
Notions – Lingerie hook from stash
The construction is very straightfoward, but because the fabric is silk crepe de chine it takes a bit of time to complete each step with care. The fabric is cut on the open (I just learned that this was the proper wording, as opposing to “on the fold”), between 2 layers of paper. All seams are french, the neckline is bound using a strip of bias self fabric. The hem and the back opening are finished with a baby hem using ban-rol. I cannot repeat enough how much i love ban rol for those hems. It produces perfect tiny hems without any wrinkle or stretching.
To follow the Chloe blouse, I used a remnant from this slip dress to bind the inside of the sleeve flounce, but omitted the tying bow. To bind the inner corner neatly, I used something similar to this technique, doing a little bit of origami. When it comes to binding, quilters are the best! Cutting, sewing, folding, they have all the tricks!
I like my finished blouse and I have no doubt that I will wear it because I love the color and the comfortable fit. After checking out the other entries on Pattern Review, I realize that my little sleeves are WAY too understated for the challenge… But even with the sleeve detail being so small, it still somewhat feels outside of my comfort zone. What do you think readers? Are you pro or anti #sleevefest?