Another Archer and #SewingCommunityGives

Grainline Archer

Another day, another Archer.

Grainline Archer

I’ve now made Grainline’s Archer shirt more than any other pattern. What can I say, I love this pattern! A classic button-down shirt with an easy fit and no darts? Sign me up!

Grainline Archer

This pink and blue cotton is from The Cloth Pocket (where these photos were taken and where I’m teaching some classes this month) and these perfect pink buttons are from a defunct local store.

Grainline Archer

For this Archer, I cut pockets, placket, yoke, cuffs, and collar on the bias. This plaid isn’t perfectly square which made it difficult to get the angle of the lines perfect, but I like the result.

Grainline Archer

Instead of pleating the center back under the yoke, I gathered the fabric.

Grainline Archer

Now onto something a little more serious…

Sewing Community Gives

Ya’ll know I don’t often get personal on this blog but today I’m making an exception. A few weeks ago, Erin over at Seamstress Erin messaged some pattern designers, bouncing around this idea to harness the power of the online sewing-sphere to give back to our communities.

I think Erin was expressing a desire that many of us share: a growing need to contribute, to share, to show love and compassion in the wake of an election season that, no matter who you supported, weighed heavily on all of us and capped out a year that for many was filled with struggle and mourning.

This sentiment struck a chord with me as lately, I have been challenging myself to do more. After the election, many probably feel like I do, that I didn’t do “enough.”

Enough of what and how much that means, I’m not exactly sure. But I do know that I can no longer be content with a kind of passive activism, expecting those impacted by bad policy to fight for change while I sit on the sidelines being “supportive” but not doing the work. I can no longer use shyness or anxiety as an excuse for not putting myself out there and making a difference. I can no longer dismiss my own implicit biases but instead must educate myself about other people’s experiences.

I am in a unique position. With no kids or a typical job, I have plenty of more time to devote to causes and because of that, I have a responsibility to do more. For me, 2016 was a tremendous year of personal growth and I feel I can take that energy I’ve accumulated and put it to use in 2017.

So what have I done to get off the couch/facebook and do the work? Well, in just the past few months I was a poll worker for two elections. I’ve joined organizations that share my values, including the League of Women Voters. I’ve donated money and volunteered to lobby for legislation I believe in. I’ve marched. I’ve attended meetings. I’ve called my senators and representatives (and it gets less scary each time I do it). I’ve visited my state legislators’ offices and met my new state rep – twice! I’ve met my city council member and visited one of my US Senator’s office. I’ve read memoirs by Supreme Court Justices, histories of segregation and the Civil War, and biographies of suffragists.

Sewing Community Gives

If you, too, are feeling inspired to do more (or to continue the good work you’ve been doing), join us for #SewingCommunityGives!

With #SewingCommunityGives, Erin is inviting sewists to pledge their time, energy and/or funds to help their local and global community this week January 16-22.

To celebrate, you can fill out this survey to tally everyone’s collective contribution and enter to win one of five fantastic pattern prize packs (including one of my patterns)!

If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few local Austin charities that I’ve volunteered for/supported in the past:

  • GirlStart educates young girls in STEM fields through camps and after school programs.
  • SafePlace is a shelter for victims of domestic violence and also runs Eloise House, one of the only places in Central Texas where sexual assault survivors can get a rape kit done.
  • Casa Marianella is an emergency homeless shelter for recently immigrated families, refugees, and asylum seekers.
  • OutYouth provides programs, services, and counseling to LBGT+ young people.

I can’t wait to see how much we can accomplish together!!

2015 Re-Cap

 

Happy 2016! I only barely made it home in time for New Year. Our flights were delayed coming back from Ohio for three whole days because of bad weather (thanks, climate change…).

Now is the time when most people reflect on the previous year and as sewists we usually look at what we’ve made: the hits and misses and the goals for next year. Keeping with that tradition, here are mine.

Most Worn:

Honestly, this was a pretty good year in terms of quality makes. Nearly everything got worn often but these are some of my favorites.

Side Cut Out Dress Version 2 Side Cut Out Dress version 3

My two favorite Bonnell Dress samples have been my go-to party dresses for this year. I especially love that silk/cottom geometric print fabric.

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My makes for the Blank Slate Sewing Team were pretty good this year. I’ve got plenty of wears out of my rose printed Tulip Top and my Favorite Purse is living up to its name – currently it is the only purse I carry (and I finally switched my strap to a cotton belting).

Circle Skirt and Cropped Sweatshirt

This whole outfit is just adorable. I get lots of compliments on it and I drafted both pieces myself.

Rayon Scout Tee Knit Scout Tee

When in doubt, make a Scout. Or two. Grainline’s Scout Tees are always in heavy rotation.

Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt Hack

My Onyx hack is a surprise favorite. I love the fabric and the lace at the bottom makes it more than just a plain woven tee.

 

Well, those are some highlights. It would take too long to write about everything so here are the rest:

107 Sparkly Morris Blazer Sleeveless Popover Archer Sparkly Box Pleat Skirt The Refashioners 2015 The Refashioners 2015 Papercut Patterns Clover Dress  Blank Slate Patterns Oceanside Shorts Blank Slate Patterns Juniper Jersey

 

Least Worn:

Sew Liberated Esme Top

 

My Sew Liberated Esme Top was just too big. I liked the fabric and the look of the pattern design but the fit made me feel like I was drowning in it even after I made a tuck in the back. Other things I didn’t like: The cuffs hit right at my elbow so they would get all scrunched up as I bent my arm throughout the day. Too long, but that’s a relatively easy fix, but with the other issues I didn’t feel it was worth making the effort to change it.

Beach Cover Up

For Melly Sews’ 30 Days of Sundresses, I hand dyed a beach cover-up but a sad accident meant I’ve never worn it since I made it. While on summer vacation that June we had a fire in the garage. It could have been a lot worse but we’re ok now.

When I returned home I dyed the dress in the back yard then went to wash the fabric in the washing machine in the garage. After washing, I found the fabric covered in gray splotches everywhere that wouldn’t come out no matter what.

Turns out that while the firefighters were here they must have shut the door to the washer so I thought it had been closed the entire time. It wasn’t. During the fire the door was open and soot and debris coated the barrel of the washer and I hadn’t noticed. It completely stained the fabric (luckily it was the only thing in the washer at the time).

Since I didn’t have any more dye or fabric I just had to work with what I had so I sewed up the fabric and took pics anyway. You can’t tell in the pics but I think it’s very obvious in real life. I loved the dyed fabric so this was quite a disappointing turn of events.

Sew Liberated Myla Tank

This tank was originally a sample for a class so it’s currently hanging up at Me and Ewe.

Side Cutout Dress Version 1

The first incarnation of my soon-to-be Bonnell Dress was just too big in the bodice. I had to go re-adjust my block for my next versions.

Costumes:

 

When I look at individual posts on finished projects, this year seems a bit sparse, but that’s probably because so much of my time was spent on costumes and to complete a costume I often need to sew upwards of half a dozen pieces.

Here’s what I’ve shared on the blog in the costuming category which doesn’t include several other pieces in progress…

Elizabeth Cosplay 18th Century Underthings Regency Era Costume 108 1780s Robe en Chemise

My Bioshock Infinite video game cosplay from January, 18th century undergarments, my completed Regency era outfit, mid-Victorian undergarments and petticoats (so many petticoats!), and my 1780s Robe en Chemise outfit.

All together those costumes contain about 19 separate garment pieces that I had made (not counting some small accessories, and not all were completed this year). That’s huge! And I’ve already agreed to go to another costuming event in February which I’m now committed to making six more pieces! Including a hat! And a metal bustle! What have I gotten myself into!?!?

Other Accomplishments:

I had one major pattern release this year. The Bonnell Dress. It’s my new favorite and I want to thank everyone who helped make it a success!

I wore my costumes (more than one!) in public, around other people, in daylight, which is pretty scary for me so I’d say that’s something to be proud of.

Unrelated to sewing, I had a New Years Resolution last year to send out birthday cards to family members. I made limits for myself, I only sent them to the younger generation and only on the side of the family that was included in the big family calendar (which made it easy to track to the dates). I probably sent out over 45 cards last year. As someone who comes from a very small family, it was a bit overwhelming. People need to stop having so many dang kids! I can’t keep up! Needless to say, I ain’t sending no more cards this year. Just facebook posts if I remember. But at least I stuck with it for the whole year!

Goals for 2016:

Finish my in-progress costumes and find a place to store them. They take the longest to complete and they also take up the most room.

On that note, keep my sewing room cleaner in general. That place is a constant wreck.

Sell/give away some patterns and fabric I know I’m never going to use. No need to waste more space on them.

Release another pattern, or two, maybe, maybe not? I love seeing all the new pattern companies pop up these past few years. It’s inspiring, but it also reminds me of the aspects I don’t love about pattern designing. I generally don’t like sewing sample after sample of the same thing as I tweak a pattern. I don’t like that my whole time for a good few months is spent on the same long project. I don’t like that because of that I have little to show on the blog until the pattern is finished. Pattern design can be fun but because I do everything myself it gets to be a burden. I’d much rather sew for fun.

So, if I manage to release another pattern or two this year I’ll consider that a success, if not, that’s ok, too. I’ve been doing the pattern thing for several years now and I think it might be time for me to get back into the working game again. I miss working with and around other people. I do teach sewing classes occasionally. Maybe I’ll do more of that, or maybe I’ll find a totally different job. Who knows. Anybody have any suggestions?

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Lastly, as a goodbye to 2015 I thought I’d share a fun photo I took for my grandmother-in-law’s 80th birthday celebration (her b-day is NYE). I was given her mother’s 100-year-old swimsuit from 1915(!!) and told to take a picture with it. So, of course, if I’m gonna do this I’m going to go all the way. We did a whole little photo shoot a la the 1920s – hair, makeup, accessories, everything. Then I photoshopped a background and “colorized” it like an old post card.

1915bathingsuit

The swimsuit itself is pretty wild if you’ve never seen one before. It’s a one-piece, all wool knit, with a button on the right shoulder. There’ are shorts underneath  an attached skirt and there’s absolutely no bust support at all, I can’t imagine how some curvier ladies could have worn something like this but compared to swimsuits worn just 20 years earlier this thing must have felt like a string bikini. If you want to check out some authentic old swimsuit pictures I made a pinterest board.

Sewing Indie Month Interview with Soma Patterns

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Well, Sewing Indie Month is finally here and I have the pleasure of having the first post of the month!

Today I’m sharing my interview with designer Sylvie Privat of Soma Patterns. Sylvie has created a line of “zero-waste” patterns – eco-friendly designs that leave no scraps! It’s a design idea I had never seen offered by any other company. She has also started releasing updated versions of vintage 50s and 60s patterns after her mother gave her some old French sewing magazines.

Sylvie

First of all, what’s your background in sewing? How did you learn to sew? Why did you want to pursue it as a career?

I have been sewing since I was about 10 years old, creating my own patterns by 15. My mother and my grandmother taught me how to sew, and self taught myself before I took formal classes and graduated from Canada College and Apparel-Arts in San Francisco.

I pursued that career among others because I just love to make pattern and sew.

abby

(The Abby Jacket)

Your work has brought you from France to California. What made you decide to settle in San Francisco and how has the city inspired you?

I moved to San Francisco from France to take a business course (now I know what I do not like in the business field) and I met a guy who became my husband… I am still in SF almost many years later.

What is a typical work day like for you?

My day of work is very variable and I do not have a typical day! I love that, too.

dorianne

(The Dorianne Dress)

What’s your process for designing zero-waste patterns? Is it difficult grading a zero-waste design to smaller or larger sizes?

Creating zero-waste pattern is not that easy. The first pattern I made was the Abby jacket and I created it mostly from pattern drafting, and multiple muslin. The tops and skirts have been created with a draping approach. The Dorianne dress was truly a combination of both.

Brunelle

(The Brunelle Top)

The grading was more tricky. I really wanted to have several sizes so the tops were graded at the same time than drafted, to be sure the different sizes could work.

What are some ways home sewists can creatively use their fabric to produce less waste?

There are many ways to use scraps of fabric, but if the home sewists are like me, I have too many boxes of scraps and no time to get through them to really use them all. I embrace the idea of not generating scraps from the start. Plus I like the puzzle challenge the zero-waste provide.

You’ve been focusing on vintage patterns lately – had you sewn much vintage before?

I have sewn few vintage garments before getting really into it. Vintage garments are always interesting – whether it is the design detail or the pattern and construction.

scarfblouse

(The Scarf Blouse)

How have you adapted the vintage styles to fit modern figures and updated the instructions to make it easier for sewists?

The adaptations depend on the garment. On the blouse 1954, I had to change the darts position and add on the length to make it more like today’s fit. I added also a back facing. Today the edges are not finished the same way, with hand slip stitches at the collar.

On the 1962 coat, I made it for a jacket or a coat and added pockets and lining.

Some other patterns I am working on right now, will need more adaption, like the length of the torso or transforming the front so it can have a front closure. I also try to simplify the construction. Some vintage patterns require a lot of hand sewing which is not always welcome in today’s patterns.

o-retro1962coat

(The new 1962 Coat)

What new vintage designs are working on right now and when will they be released?

The Coat-Jacket April 1962 is a brand new pattern, and is release for the first time as part of Bundle #2, and on my site mid-September. I am working on a dress which go with the coat and this pattern should be release by the end of the year. I have a couple of dress patterns which will be offered as a dress and a tunic/top.

Sewing-Indie-Month-Bundle-2-Patterns

Thanks so much to Sylvie for talking with me. You can purchase Soma Patterns’ brand new 1962 coat pattern in the Sewing Indie Month Bundle #2 from now until September 10th.

This bundle features patterns from 10 designers! It’s pay what you want but the more you pay the more patterns you’ll receive.

And 20% of bundle proceeds will be donated to Women for Women, an organization which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict.

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As for the rest of Sewing Indie Month, stay tuned for more interviews and some great tutorials from some of your favorite pattern designers and hopefully some new companies you haven’t heard about before!

Sewing Indie Month Pattern Bundle and the Refashioners!

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Hey all you lovely sewists! Today is the final day of the first (of 2) Sewing Indie Month pattern bundle sales!

You probably know how these bundles work at this point – a group of patterns is offered for sale at a heavily discounted price (so it’s still a good deal even if you already own a couple of these patterns) and 20% of the proceeds go to charity.

So, what does it cost?

Spend $25 or more and get the following patterns:

  • Sutton Blouse by True Bias
  • Cressida Skirt by Jennifer Lauren Vintage Patterns
  • Sugar Plum Dress by Lolita Patterns
  • Mississippi Ave Dress & Top by Sew House Seven
  • Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It

Spend $32 or more and get these bonus patterns:

  • Cookie Blouson by Waffle Patterns
  • Bonnell Dress by Dixie DIY (that’s mine! you know you want this pattern!)

And if you spend $38 or more you’ll get all of the above patterns plus the:

  • Melissa Dress, Blouse & Skirt by Muse Patterns
  • the brand new, never before available Saltbox Top by Blueprints for Sewing
  • the brand new, never before available Sorrel Dress & Top by Seamster Sewing Patterns

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Next month there’s going to be another bundle featuring more knit patterns so stay tuned for that one.

You’ve got until tomorrow August 13 to snatch up this bundle so go check it out at SewIndependent.com.

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In other news – the Refashioners has begun! Hop on over to Portia’s great blog every weekday this month and get inspired.

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Then make your own refashion and share it on social media with #therefashioners2015 and you could win an incredible prize pack (including my Bonnell Dress pattern).

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In the meantimen though, I’m on vacation for the rest of the week. If you have questions about patterns or anything else you can always email me or leave a comment, but response time might be a little slower with my infrequent Internet connection. However when I get back I’ll have fun new projects to share!