I am aware of how indecisive I am, and I’m aware it’s not a good thing. I’m so indecisive that I usually shop (fabric, fashion, shoes) alone, because I know how annoying my deliberations can be to others. I thought I had settled on Butterick 5485 for my floral poplin, but now I’m thinking of Burdastyle 07/2011 #110. It’s an edgier pattern, I think…
The other contender:
B5485 (above) is more classically pretty dress, and I do like it, even though I need to figure out how to to halve that midriff band. I haven’t worked it out yet because the narrowest part of the waist is at the bottom of the band. Do I take the extra length off the top, and lengthen the bodice piece accordingly? Or take it off the bottom, and re-draw the side seams so that they hit their narrowest point an inch or so higher?
The advantage of the Burdastyle pattern, beyond its more obvious edginess is that i have it pegged for an autumn wool crepe dress. It’d be nice to get any pattern issues out of the way on a less expensive fabric (and one that I don’t love as much) before making the wool crepe version. This is also one of the Burda patterns where they show you how to make it. And use complete, grammatically correct sentences. (unlike that last one.)
Of course, it’s just a piece of fabric and I know I should just make a decision and cut it already. After I finish the two jackets I’m working on…
(In my defense, there are some things I’m not indecisive about. Linings, for instance. Bemberg or nothing. My god I love that stuff!)
Unrelatedly, I am so lucky – I may seldom win things, but it seems that when I do, I win pretty big. I am the lucky winner of a copy of Susan Khalje’s Bridal Couture – a book I have been coveting for some time. Hugest thanks to Elle. Elle’s giveaway was a paying-it-forward giveaway, so at some point in the future, I will host a giveaway. While there is no way I can match or top this incredible win, I’ll put my thinking cap on.
I was out shoe shopping today, and I always feel badly for the clerks in the shoe stores I go to. I shop for shoes like some women shop for wedding dresses. I’m picky – mainly because I can only afford a couple of pairs of decent shoes. I’ll try on every last pair in the city before finally making a decision.
I realized that I’m much the same way when putting fabric and patterns together. For instance, I was at my local Fabricland a couple of weeks ago to take advantage of a notions sale, and picked up 1.6 m (1 3/4 yards) of this light-medium weight floral poplin:
I like it. I love the colours – particularly the coral elements set against the black background. I prefer this graphic floral to the pretty, dainty florals in soft colours that I usually find. But when it comes to making something with this print – most prints – I hesitate to commit. Much like buying shoes, or a wedding dress.
I had a few ideas. I was first thinking of doing a 2nd colette peony dress (I have a first in wool crepe that I never blogged), but I’m unsure of having so much print all over the bodice. I considered a 2nd colette macaron, using a black dotted swiss as a contrast. However, when I paired them together, I wasn’t sure if it looked fashion or crafty.
I was excited about making it into the popular twist-dress from Burdastyle’s 03/2012 issue, until I realized that one takes 2.1 or 2.2 metres of fabric. Looking at the pieces, I just can’t squeeze it out of 1.6 m (and I hesitate to buy more).
(but it would be so perfect, wouldn’t it. sadly, the pieces are so large, I’d have to get an extra 1.something metres – not just the difference between what the pattern calls for and what i have).
Then I remembered, I have this now out-of-print near-gem in my pattern stash – Butterick 5485. It’s been wonderfully reviewed over on PR. View C (the longest) is, I think, perfect for a summer dress.
Am I ready to say yes? wellllll yes, but the midriff piece. Doesn’t it look big? I measured it. 3.5 inches. That’s a wide midriff.
I think I’m going to go with the pattern, but I have to deal with that midriff band. I think I’ll narrow it by an inch or 1 1/4 inches, but given how it narrows from the underbust to the waist, I think I might have to muslin it to get the fit right.
I was so thrilled this past week to discover two brand new sewing pattern companies from my home province of British Columbia! Thread Theory, out of Victoria, focuses exclusively on patterns for menswear. YES! Fine Motor Skills offers (genuinely) fashionable, casual separates for women.
I’m all for indie pattern companies, though I don’t sew from them exclusively. If they release something that I really like, and that I think I’ll sew soon, then I’ll definitely grab their pattern. But I also sew from Burda as well as the Big 4.
Thread Theory and Fine Motor Skills are both releasing patterns that fill major holes in my pattern collection – patterns I’ve been looking for for ages.
I cannot tell you how happy I am about this pattern (to be released in June 2013). Ever since I started sewing three years ago, my wonderful bf has wanted me to make him a peacoat. I have hunted everywhere for a man’s peacoat pattern. Contemporary, Vintage… no luck. It’s amazing to me how ubiquitous peacoats are in men’s ready to wear, and how uncommon they are in sewing patterns. Thank you, Thread Theory!
Same thing with breezy fashion forward knit tops.
I expect that there are a few tops kind of similar to this in back issues of Burdastyle, but I’ve had too much on my plate to hunt through their archive. I suppose you can sometimes find something similar in Big 4 ‘coordinates’ pattern collections, but not really. They’re more fitted. This looks like something I’d buy (and own) from Aritzia, and is perfect for a loose gauzy just-the-right-shade-of-turquoise knit I’ve got stashed away. I’m looking forward to giving this a quick sew – plus it’s free! woo! Thank you Thank you Fine Motor Skills!
And as a last word – the women starting these companies have both gone through fashion school, which we can’t say for all indie pattern company designers. It gives me a lot of confidence that their patterns are well drafted.
I’ve been into fashion for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been into fashion history for just about as long. While I’ve always thought of fashion history as being about the influential design houses, I’m hugely enjoying looking at changes in fashion trends through the lens of vintage sewing patterns. I’ve been going through them year by year on the Vintage Pattern Wiki, which is an amazingly comprehensive resource.
I’ve loved 1965-1967, and I was expecting to love 1968, which I went through last night. While I didn’t love ’68, it’s amazing to see the change between ’67 and ’68 through sewing patterns. 1967 was still fairly trim and proper: Jackie Kennedy meets Mod. 1968 is immediately groovier. I was surprised to see bellbottoms, but I guess the hippie influence was already at work.
One of the biggest changes is found in the shift dress patterns. In my post from a week or so ago, I was noticing that the ’65-67 shift dress patterns consistently featured long french darts. By ’68, the french darts are, for the most part, gone. In many cases, they’ve been replaced by bust darts coming from the armhole (see above). The shifts are far less shapely – even sack like. The example at the top of this post is typical of the ’68 shifts in depicting a (tie) belt. The raglan sleeves are atypical. A number of examples feature the patch pockets.
Here’s another Simplicity from 1968. Belted View? Check. Patch Pockets? Check. No French Dart? Check. Instead, we have a Dior Dart from a side panel.
I thought this one looked particularly tenty, but then I noticed it’s a Maternity pattern. Still, I think it counts as a shift, and it has the armhole darts. McCall’s 9571, still 1968. More armhole darts, patch pockets (here on a jaunty slant), and a belted view. I do quite like the gap between the collar, which I often see on 60s patterns. One of my favourite looks ever.
McCall’s 9327 is reasonably shapely with its princess seams:
The “Quickie” 9792 isn’t (again, belts…)
I wonder how McCall’s 9385’s stark a-line reads on a body, rather than a fashion drawing.
Right around the time of the Laurel pattern’s release, I started spending some time exploring Vintage Patterns Wiki. I love to explore the patterns year by year. It’s remarkable to really see what was trendy – and when.
I couldn’t help but look at the shift dress patterns. In the years I’ve browsed through, 1965 through 1967, there are plenty of shifts. In general, I’m really surprised by how much repetition there was in pattern offerings (my vintage pattern pinterest board has a wealth of jacket w/dress patterns). New Look’s current wealth of shift dress patterns pales in comparison.
I was also really struck by the dart placement. While the bust darts on contemporary patterns often come in horizontally from the side seam, in the examples below, you’ll see that the bust darts are French darts, coming up diagonally from nearer the waist. According to Gertie, French darts are a little trickier to sew. I wonder if they are more flattering, as they would seem to take volume out from the waist.
What I really wonder is why and when we see this change from French to horizontal bust dart.
With Lilly Pulitzer’s recentpassing, and all of the hubbub around the release of Colette’s Laurel pattern, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about shifts.
I’ll admit I was a bit consternated when Laurel, a shift dress, was released. Colette built up so much anticipation in the days prior to the release, and it turned out to be the simplest design imaginable. A step up from a sloper. I thought to myself, uh, not buying it for $18 and moved along.
The comments both on Colette’s site, and around the blogosphere brought me back in. I read a lot of them as enthusiastic to the point of hyperbole. How many times did I read ‘this is the pattern I’ve been waiting for?’ (I’m not keen to negatively draw attention to anyone’s particular comment… read the comments on Colette’s blog posts on Laurel to see what I mean).
I wish I could say I was introspective a la Carrie Bradshaw (what a now fabulously old reference…), and not help but wonder, how come I just don’t see it? But no, I indignantly thought, what do you mean, the pattern you’ve been waiting for? Have you not seen New Look’s entire catalogue!?
Let’s get to the nitty gritty – by which I mean the line drawings. Here’s Colette’s:
Here’s a small selection from New Look. I don’t recall much enthusiasm around these releases – though it would seem shifts sell for them, given that they release so many!
Simplicity’s also releasing shifts – though not as many as NL.
Simplicity 1609 is a retro re-issue of a 1960s Jiffy pattern. Note the darts – there is ample intake for shaping.
Burda (patterns – not magazine) also has a few similar patterns…
Of course, much of the reason for the overwhelming excitement around Colette is that it’s Colette. Newbies find her patterns exceptionally easy to follow; yes, the technical writing is as awesome as Big4’s is terrible.
That I totally get. If a beginner wanted to make a shift dress, and asked me for advice, I’d probably steer them to Laurel (and, if i’m being honest, advise them to throw a belt on it).
From looking at the pattern reviews of Colette patterns, it seems that total beginners make up a huge part of her core audience. Her last two releases – Juniper and Anise, both more difficult patterns – haven’t been reviewed nearly as many times as her “beginner” releases (peony, hazel). That I get too.
But the “omg this pattern is amazeballs” stuff? That, I feel, is uncritical indielove – in this case, love of a particular indie brand – and I find it as irksome as I find any brandlove.
A word on my hiatus…
I’ve been away for several months, and haven’t intended to be away for any. I’m thinking hard about what’s preventing me from blogging my progress and finished objects…
1) My camera’s crappy (and lost…) and I have sporadic access to my boyfriend’s.
2) My apartment’s usually too messy for decent looking pics. Plus, my sewing table is beige. It’s arborite, which I love, and my late grandma’s, which I also love, but it’s not a photogenic backdrop for works in progress.
3) I don’t like my blog theme. I’m learning to code so that i can design/create my own theme, and hopefully my design will be up and running sooner than later. It’s not fun to write content for a site you don’t like the look of. (I’m not super keen on other WP (free) themes either. And I’m so not paying for a theme when I’m so close to coding my own).
I’m looking towards resolving these things, because I do like sharing my work with others and contributing to the global dialogue. Plus, I gain so much from others’ blogs, and it’s nice to pay it forward.
Truth be told, I sometimes peruse the celeb weeklies online, and this morning I happened on a People story about how Prince Charles pays for his daughter in law’s wardrobe.
(Yes, I am rather embarrassed that I know much more about such things than about, say, the Turkey/Syrian conflict.)
That aside, I’ve always felt indifferent about the royals to somewhat annoyed with the press that they receive, particularly around W&K’s marriage, and the Diamond Jubilee.
Fans of the royals tend to be fans of Will and Kate, I think, in part because they seem so darn respectable. I have to say, I tend to like my royals scandalous (though not necessarily in the Harry-in-Nazi-costume way). If they’re going to be needlessly prominent, at least let them be amusing. I have high hopes for Fergie’s children, based on headwear alone.
I will finally admit, though, I am in many ways a fan of Kate’s clothing (minus the wedding dress. unpopular opinion, I know). And in the above-mentioned People article, I couldn’t help but notice that the drawstring dress she’s wearing is very much like a couple of sewing patterns I’ve looked at lately, Burdastyle’s Anda Dress, and Salme Patterns’ Kimono Dress.
Of course, K.Mid’s has a different arm treatment – you can see that it is gently scalloped, not unlike the Colette Macaron’s sleeve.
I had never thought much of the Burdastyle Anda dress before making the connection to K.Mid’s drawstring dream. Perhaps the difference is in the fabric. Quite rarely for Burdastyle’s own creations (which typically make their patterns look incredibly chic), the copper dress they use for Anda looks quite home ec. I’m guessing that K.Mid’s dress is a knit – likely a silk jersey – although I think it could also be a gorgeous drapey silk crepe.
A word about Salme Patterns… there are a lot of small independent pattern companies popping up and while I want to love their clothes, I often, well, don’t. I’m just not that into vintage 50s style (the wasp waist/full skirt) that I understand to be a major indie inspiration. Out of the independents, Style Arc is a major exception, and Salme, out of London (UK, not Ontario!) is too. ‘Cept Salme is soooo unsung, as far as I can tell.
What I love about Salme – they don’t look homesewn, vintage-ey, or even close to costumey. They just look like beautiful, simple garments in exquisite fabrics – they look like the garments I covet at Aritzia and don’t want to pay for – and I’m stoked to order some patterns, grab some beautiful silks, and sew them up.
Two completely different blog posts arrived in my google reader today – one having to do Halston and almost-Halston sewing patterns from the 70s, and the other having to do with the 80/20 rule that motivational and self-help types like to talk about. I think it was Woody Allen who said that 80% of success is just showing up (20% effort)? The way I understand the 80/20 rule is that 80% of your efforts are your solid bedrock, and 20% are the flourish that give you your creative and competitive edge. I’ve also read a variation that 80% of your returns come from that 20% of your efforts. Kind of like a cake… you can have a delicious cake base (the 80%) but it’s the frosting (20%) that’s the make or break between a sale or not, or how much people anticipate and enjoy it. So, the 20% is an intensely valuable little zone.
Anyway, the juxtaposition of these two posts, side by side in my reader, was interesting to me. Peter of Male Pattern Boldness was asking, just what is the difference between a Halston pattern from the 70s, and a nearly identical pattern from the same period? I’m a regular in the high end department store in town (not like I buy there… ha! I’m pawing clothes for inspiration!), and I sometimes ask myself, what exactly is the difference between a $600 dress here, and a $120 dress elsewhere?
I know that some… well, many… cynically disparage high-end fashion as being ‘just a label.’ A top is a top is a top. I wonder how many of them have really paid attention to the elements of garment production. Probably very few; I’ve known a number of people who confess to being intimidated by high end fashion. Which I kind of get – my SO was suit shopping a few weeks ago, and doesn’t have a lot of options outside of Big and Tall stores, which he really doesn’t like for good reason. Their stuff tends towards the horribly unfashionable. I agreed to scout out some places for him to see what they have in his size, and when I came up to the super high end menswear shop in Vancouver (Harry Rosen), I paused. I didn’t go in. I was intimidated.
While a top is a top, and a jacket is a jacket, I’m starting to appreciate that it is the 20% that makes so much of the difference. So much of it is about the subtleties in cut, never mind the flattering placement of prints, and plaids that match. I once saw a D&G shirt with narrow pinstripes – which formed perfect chevrons at the darts. That kind of precision sewing is the difference maker. It’s the chains used in jacket hems, and the petersham ribbon used to cover a zipper. It’s the use of decent lining – not acetate – and knits that recover their stretch.
I now think maybe it’s that 20% that makes people what to throw up their hands while shopping. We can see the effects of the 20% in the different ways that jeans fit, but I think the frustration is that we generally don’t understand why there’s such difference. (sheesh, who outside of pants makers understands the subtleties of crotch curves and rises!?) Why does one dress look so much better on than another that, on the rack, would seem to be its twin?
All of this is useful to keep in mind as I’m marketing myself… I’m on the job hunt. Good times. 80% of us have roughly the same qualifications. We can all plan projects, use excel, be nice. I’ll have to pay attention to that 20%, and keep asking myself – what does my 20% say about me?
The release of new Simplicity patterns never gets as much attention as the Vogue pattern releases, but maybe it should. Of course, Simplicity’s offerings never get quite as ridiculous as Vogue’s. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of good stuff to note. Simplicity may well be my favourite of the Big 4… I’d own and sew more of their patterns, if only their international shipping wasn’t so crap, and if my nearest source wasn’t a solid half hour away by bus. It’s just so much easier to mail order Vogues and McCalls the every so often that they go on sale.
Anyway, there’s a lot to like in the Spring 2012 release. Like the two Cynthia Rowley patterns. The featured dress is super pretty – but maybe a little too ruffly for me. I’m digging 1872 as a top – and especially love those ties on the sleeves, though I would maybe take away a bit of the flounce on the bottom.
Rarely do I insta-love a pattern like 1873, also Cynthia Rowley. View C (featured in the photo) is fantastic – and almost identical to a Milly dress I was just coveting yesterday at Holt’s. Definitely a must-buy. Soon. Just imagine it in a silk twill!And while we’re talking about the fabulous patterns, I’m calling 1882 for the Best of 2012 list on Pattern Review. I’m loving that curved midriff and the collar. It’s going to be a hit. I want to sew this, though when I do, I’m going to chop a few inches off of that length. S’nice on a model, but on the rest of us, I’m thinking it could go a little matronly.
Have to admit, I’m really liking View B from S1897, a SuedeSays patterns (though View A… yikes…). I’m seldom keen on ruffles, but these are subdued enough to be pretty, but not prissy.
The Project Runway line has a really versatile dress pattern (1880, for wovens) that includes both shirtwaist and faux wrap versions. Maybe I’d sew it up if I took some of that fullness out of the skirts (things I’ve learned about myself… generally not into the full skirts). For faux wraps, I prefer New Look’s 6097 for knits – other than Rowley’s 1883 (above), it’s probably my favourite pattern of 2012.
1881, also Project Runway, would be just smashing for summer in a slinky knit… maybe a silk jersey. I love the short versions, and that nice defined midriff section.
I’m *also* loving options A and B from the 1884 sportswear collection. And I’m going to lay it out… I think that top is going to be one of the most under-the-radar patterns this year, and I think that if a company like Colette put it out (it looks like a Jasmine Sorbetto hybrid*), it’d be sewn up everywhere.
And lastly, I don’t think it’s a pattern collection if we can’t poke a little fun at something, right? I had to giggle at S 1889 Babies’ Sportswear.
I know… in the American fashion tradition, sportswear is more about coordinated separates than, well, sports. Still, seeing “Baby Sportswear,” I couldn’t but think – for what sport? Crawling!?
*speaking of which, I do love to make ice creams and sorbettos in the summertime, and a delicately flavoured Jasmine sorbetto sounds pretty delish…
New Vogues are out! And surely I’m not the only who noticed that Vogue conveniently sent out the mailer the day after the sale ended… even though the patterns were on the website during the sale…
I don’t know what’s up with Butterick/McCall’s/Vogue. Simplicity and Burda both have perfectly good models, but BMV’s? They’re consistently over-dramatic. Usually you can get a good view of the garments, but with this collection, that isn’t always the case. Take these for example…
I have to admit, I’m glad that there’s not much in the new collection that I’m into… Lord knows I have enough sewing projects on my plate at the moment. Speaking of which, I sewed up Vogue 1247 in my Xmas rayon challis last week… I’m just waiting to get some cute pics from the boyfriend before posting them up.
Anyway, let’s start with the good!
Vogue 1289 by Pamella Roland. I’d say this is probably the best – or at least the most interesting – of the bunch. Though, as always, I look at that hair (and makeup) and wonder who is the art director on these shoots!? I’m really digging the asymmetrical pleating at the waist but am caught by the spaghetti strap… would it look better just a little thicker? Or the thicker strap just a little thinner?
Vogue 8787 – easy options. No comment on the model! I really like a lot of the views for this dress – particularly the ones with the draped neckline. If I only buy one pattern from this collection, it’s this one.
Vogue 1296 by Bellville Sassoon – and another side pose! The top is the most difficult part of the pattern, and while it looks very nice, I’m not sure – for me – that the results would be worth the tremendous effort that is surely involved. I’m fond of the skirt – it has a lovely little flounce at the back (which you can see best on the technical drawing). Looks a lot like the flounces at the back of three of Rachel Comey’s patterns, and since I have all of hers, I think I’ll give this one a pass. Or maybe not… the length is definitely more work appropriate than RC’s.
Vogue 8784 Very Easy Vogue. I’m down with a wrap dress with a not full skirt, and I like that it can be made with wovens – unlike the renowned 8379 wrap dress that I’ve never found the right almost 3 yards of knit for. But check out the modeling… bad modeling or bad art direction ?
On to the decent…
Vogue 1285 by Tracy Reese. Again, model, please let me see the garment! The most distinguishing feature is the neckline, which she’s covering! I like this faux wrap dress – I just think that, for me, the little v cutouts at the neckline probably wouldn’t be worth the effort that would go into making them. Getting the points really sharp? Having the V’s come in at exactly the same space on either side? There’s some serious precision sewing there.
The … uhmmm…:
Vogue 1280 Donna Karan (top); Vogue 1286 Tracy Reese (bottom). Love that Vogue is trying to appeal to a younger non-Marcy Tilton-wearing group of sewers. Or maybe they’re going after the Marcy Tilton crew’s daughters. But these patterns… well… I pair them because both have these repeated thick strappy elements that I guess I just find a little dated. They remind me – a lot – of the Herve Leger Bandeau dresses that I associate with starlets from The Hills
And my favourite category, the things that make you go hmmmmm…
Vogue 8793 by Katherine Tilton. Ok, I’m going to write this pretending Katherine Tilton, her family, friends, and biggest fans are reading.
I’ve seen her work in Threads, I know that she’s a tremendous seamstress and sewing educator. She has a mastery of sewing and garment construction technique that I expect I’ll never have.
And this pattern is perfectly fine – it’s a long sleeved knit top with a slightly drapey neckline.
However, I’m not sure that the single sleeve contrast fabric is, well, doing KT’s expertise justice. It seems to me to read more “quirky creative” than fashion. Not sure it makes the wearer look sophisticated or sexy, or well dressed. I had to look down at the line drawings to notice that this is a pattern I might want to buy.
But maybe my comments are baseless. I imagine KT’s market base is simply a completely different demographic than mine.
Vogue 1284 by Guy Laroche. There is just no two ways about it. This is an ugly pattern. What was the Laroche design team thinking – and what was Vogue Patterns thinking in developing it? This will be one of those patterns dredged up by sewers 10-15 years from now who will write blog posts about patterns from the 2010s and ask… who in god’s name wore that?
And saving the best for last…
For two collections in a row, now, Vogue has released men’s patterns! As someone who loves to sew for her man, I love this! But my god, what the hell is going on with the modeling!?