September 29, 2012

End (or beginning) of Summer Giveaway!

*giveaway closed*
Summer is slowly coming to an end in Texas. In fact I think today we didn't even reach 90*F, hooray!

But if you live south of the equator you'll be breaking out the sunblock, shades and swimsuit soon.

So in honor of summer I'm having a giveaway!


The winner will receive the awesome Ginger bodysuit and separates PDF pattern from Ohhh Lulu with which you can make an awesome and flattering swimsuit along with one yard of floral swim fabric!


For most people one yard will be enough for a one piece but you could also mix it up with a solid for a color block effect.
And how freakin' cute is this pattern? You can use techniques from my Swim Suit Sew-along but even better, Ohh Lulu did a whole sew-along especially for this pattern!

If you live in the southern hemisphere this is the perfect time to make a swim suit. If you live farther north you can make an adorable lingerie set and then make a swim suit for next year.



This giveaway is open to anyone all over the world! To enter just leave a comment and tell me if you've ever sewn your own swimsuit.

If I can't easily see your email address from your profile or blog leave it in the comment so I can find you.

And be sure to check out Ohhh Lulu's lovely shop of beautiful lingerie. They have a couple other cool patterns to check out, too.

I'll pick a winner on Saturday, October 6th!

September 23, 2012

Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe: Vintage 70s McCalls 5526

McCalls 5526 (1977)

I just got back from visiting family. My boyfriend's sister just moved into a new house. Their neighbor has this cool weeping willow tree that extends over to their backyard.

McCalls 5526 (1977)

The Goal: This is one of the shirts I panned to make (only one more shirt left!) for my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe. I had been putting it off because I couldn't find just the right fabric and I also didn't want to deal with the hassle of grading.

McCalls 5526 (1977)

The Pattern: It's an old McCalls from 1977. Part of the Marlo's Corner collection. Marlo Thomas was the star of the late 60s sitcom, That Girl. And no, I've never seen it, but the theme song is pretty cute. It was sort of a more fun version of the Mary Tyler Moore show, you know, less work, more shenanigans. She sort of reminds me of a 60s Zooey Dechanel.

Marlo joined forces with McCalls in the 70s to produce something like 30 patterns. This pattern is a sportswear set with two top versions, shorts, culottes (how 70s!) and wide leg pants with side pockets. I reeeaaaaalllllllyyy liked version C of the top and was on the hunt for this pattern for months.

Unfortunately the pattern was in a size 8 and I needed a 12. I used the slash and spread method (Elegant Musings has a tutorial) because I figured that would be the easiest way to work with the yokes and I wanted to keep the center front piece unchanged. One thing I forgot, though, was to lengthen it. I only needed to lengthen the yokes because the sleeve openings are a little tight. I narrowed my seam allowances and it worked out ok.

McCalls 5526 (1977)

The Fabric: Some unknown (possibly poly/rayon) twill I got in Dallas. One thing that's bad about this fabric is that it wrinkles easily but it holds its shape well.

McCalls 5526 (1977)

The Changes: Other than sizing, not much. I twin needle top stitched almost ever seam. Also the front slit was a little low so I slip stitched the slit back up a couple inches.

McCalls 5526 (1977)

The Results: It's cute! I got lots of compliments on it already and best of all - it's useful! It's off-white so it goes with most everything which is something I really need with shirts. And I'm almost done with my main goals in my Shorts and Shirts Summer Wardrobe - just in time for fa--more summer. It's 93 degrees today.

September 20, 2012

Pattern Making FAQ


I read an article in the most recent issue of Threads (I don't think the article is available on their site) about how to start your own pattern company, which as an extremely minor player in the pattern company game, I was interested in reading it. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed. The article covered basic concepts no real concrete steps to making your pattern making dreams come true.

The article could be summed up like this - appeal to a niche, provide some "extras," find a mentor. What? That's it? The most practical advise was to use one of the big pattern company's to print your patterns. No info on where to get patterns graded or how to do it yourself, no marketing, no printing information or electronic delivery.

I think when people get the idea to start an indie pattern company they already know their "niche" and how to appeal to them. I guess for me I want to provide easy to make, comfy and quick patterns that are fun and can be downloaded from anywhere - kind of immediate gratification sewing.

I've gotten a lot of emails over the months on how I make my patterns and how I started, basically, a no-budget pattern company.

I was seriously disappointed with the lack of information provided in the Threads article so I thought I'd open up this blog as a conversation on pattern making.

So, if you have any questions at all about designing/sizing/production/selling patterns here's the place to ask. You can also email me if you want (dixiedavis {at} gmail dot com). I'll answer every question that I can and make a big FAQ post about my experience and how I do it.

Obviously I run a small operation - I don't make print patterns (and I'll explain why) and I don't release big collections.

So ask away! Even if you don't want to make your own patterns to share online but you still wonder how I do it, please, ask!

I'll collect questions for a few days and write up a big post because here's the thing - when it comes to indie pattern companies, the more, the merrier! I feel that the sewing community only benefits from more design options from around the world. This is a creative hobby and we're always looking for new ways to express ourselves and challenge ourselves. If you're thinking about launching your own pattern empire I'd love to share my experience.



BTW, speaking of new indie pattern companies - the amazing Elisalex and friends just announced their new line of patterns, By Hand London. Their printed patterns will be available for sale in October and I can't wait!

September 17, 2012

Colette Juniper trousers

Colette Juniper denim trousers

So, uh, yeah, when I saw the new Colette offerings I just about screamed. I don't always love the Colette designs. Some don't appeal to me although I can appreciate the quality and style of the patterns. But these two new patterns, the Juniper pants and the Anise jacket, are to die for.

Colette Juniper denim trousers

I own the Clover pattern but I was worried about the crotch not fitting me well because the shape looked so foreign compared to other patterns I've used. I haven't made those pants yet.

These Juniper pants are wide leg with deep, slash pockets and a front fly. I bought the download PDF three days ago, printed it out two days ago and muslined it and finished the final version yesterday.

I should say right off the bat that other than the pockets I changed nothing about this pattern. That's how well it fit right away!

Let's get down to the nitty gritty...


Colette Juniper denim trousers

The Goal: I don't have any pants. Ok, that's an exaggeration. I don't have any pants that fit. I've thrown out all but three pairs of jeans. One is made of some nasty synthetic that itches if I wear it for more than an hour. I only keep them because they're black. The other is wide leg, flare that is supposed to be high waist-ed but it's too big and now it's more like a mid rise. The third are skinnies that I can pull on and off without unzipping/buttoning. Yeah. That ain't working. No pants is ok for summer but occasionally the temp goes below 85 degrees and I'd like some pants. Need new pants STAT.

Colette Juniper denim 
trousers
(darn, I realized I only took two back photos. trust me, even though it looks like there are diagonal lines going down the back, that's just the way i was standing. the fit in the bum looks really good!)


The Pattern: The new Juniper. I cut a size 4. As for the PDF versus the printed paper pattern, here are my thoughts. Instruction layout is good. All the necessary bits are there just like in the paper pattern booklet.

Colette Juniper denim trousers

The pattern pieces were good but my printer would cut off the very top and very bottom of each page which made it hard to match up (which may have made my pant legs ever so slightly wider or narrower when I taped the pieces together). Every printer is different so you may not necessarily have that problem. But because of that issue I didn't like that the test square was spread across four pages. If my printer couldn't print all the lines it makes it hard to tell if the test square is the right size.

It's about 30 pages total just for the pattern pieces. The total document is 59 pages long.


Colette Juniper denim trousers

The Fabric: Some plain 100% cotton denim from Joann(no stretch, all my past pants made from stretch fabrics have stretched out way too much. I wanted to try no-stretch this time. I might have picked a denim that's too thick, the waistband gets bulky at the front. Pockets were leftover cotton voile.

Colette Juniper denim trousers

The Changes: I made a muslin first for these puppies in which I changed the back crotch curve. When I tried it on I discovered it was a little tight so I went back to the original pattern line. Worked just fine. In the muslin I narrowed the back inner edge just slightly because these wide leg pants are really wide but I nixed that idea in the final version, also turned out fine. Seems like I didn't need to make a muslin after all!

I hemmed them to wear with flats but made a big hem in case I want to let them out later. The basic inseam is long to allow you to hem as much as you need. I cut off about 4

So basically, these things fit just right straight out of the box. Sweet!

Colette Juniper denim trousers

I did change the pocket openings to a scallop shape and angled them farther down the side of the leg. It was pretty easy, I just altered the pocket pattern pieces and the front two pieces by tracing my magnetic pincushion to create scallops.

Colette Juniper denim trousers

The Results: This is a really nice pattern and would be easy to make lots of aesthetic changes. I like the wide leg look. I think because my legs are so much narrower compared to my hips these trousers look extra wide on me. It would be easy for me to get nit-picky about the leg fit but I'm probably the only one who would ever really notice. Next time I might lengthen the front crotch curve ever so slightly but it's not that big of a deal. I'm so glad I have a pair of pants now that feels snug in the waist and hips and not saggy! I feel like I need a choir of angels behind me singing "hallelujah!"

Colette Juniper denim trousers

September 16, 2012

Library Love: Sewing books

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen 

I don't often buy books because it just creates more clutter in my house. However, I do abuse my library priviledges when it comes to sewing books.

My most recent trip I got a few gems, including two from the 70s which are amazing (in both a useful and a hilarious manner).

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

I got two lingerie sewing books, a draping book and a pattern alteration book but the real fun items were these two: The Undies Book (1976) by Nanette Rothacker, with 25 patterns (and over 10 that I'd actually use!) and Making Leather Clothes (1972) by Kirsten Jorgensen with styling straight out of my mom's old photo albums. That leather pants with crochet bell bottoms and matching crop top ensemble on the cover, yeah, my mom would have totally worn that!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

There's some questionable Beiber hair going on in this book but some of the women's looks are surprisingly hip.

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

High waist leather shorts with boots and a boat neck top with leather loop fringe? Count me in!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

Leather jacket with knitted sleeves and collar. Totally could wear that today!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

Patchwork midi-length a-line skirt? I want to go to there!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

Button up shorts with lace-up sides? Yes please!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

Fur-trimmed zip up leather boots? Inuit chic!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

Fox fur trimmed leather snuggie? Uh, wait... nevermind. Hey, I didn't say they were all winners!

Making Leather Clothes by Kirsten Jorgensen

The patterns are all only in one size which is lame. They're printed to scale so you're supposed to blow them up to size yourself on gridded paper. Both books are like this.

The Undies Book (can I just say thanks to the 1970s lady who used Undies rather than Panties) is even more awesome, without all those weird fringed vests. What I like most about it (besides the fact that patterns come in three sizes, the bras come in even more sizes) is that most of the designs are so modern you'd think this book was printed yesterday. Sure, some of the info on finding fabrics is out of date and the book doesn't even mention sergers at all, but the book has lots of illustrations and information.

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker
 The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

Variations on the basic brief include hip huggers, bikini, french cut and string.

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

There's some pettiepants and pants liner patterns that I'd probably never use (I've never even heard of a slip for pants, hmm... must be a 70s thing).

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker
The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

Then we get to the good stuff - a great non-wired, contour bra in several sizes, a basic triangle cup bra,  a convertible bandeau bra and a lounge bra that looks super cool and fun to make!

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

There's a couple shapewear style patterns and a bodysuit that could be easily made into a swimsuit.

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

Then we get into useful slips including half-slips in different lengths.

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker
The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

A bias-cut full slip, a straight chemise slip and similar camisoles. There's another bodysuit, a little petticoat and a weird peasant style cami.

The Undies Book by Nanette Rothacker

In the end you can crochet your own undies or knits a set of long underwear for skiing. You know, if you're into that sort of thing...

Anyway, most of these undies patterns look awesome and since they're so small they won't be hard to blow up to the correct size. I have a feeling this book is going to be extra useful. If you're interested in lingerie sewing you can find this book for the cheap on Amazon and eBay (Maddie, I'm lookin' at you!). If you want to check out some more pics go to my flickr page or click on the images for bigger versions.

Have you ever found cool old sewing books at the library??

September 13, 2012

Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

I swear that no less than 4 authors of blogs on my blog reader have announced pregnancies in the last couple weeks. I imagine an influx of baby clothes sewing on the blogosphere in about 6 months.

No, I'm not preggers but a cousin of mine just had a little baby boy so I made this tiny top as a gift for him.
 
Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

The Fabric: Some plaid quilting cotton from The Common Thread (look at that awesome front pattern matching!!). I don't remember the brand or designer. The piping was leftover from another project. I liked the color combo.

Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

The pearl snaps came from a mixed set from Snap Source. I only had 5 red ones so this tiny project worked well for a tiny amount of snaps.

The Pattern: I've used this pattern (Kwik Sew 3730) once before for a friend who was having a baby.


The 1/4" seam allowances amke it easy to sew the tight armhole curves and it's quick to sew with a serger.

Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

The Changes: Like last time I cut the back yoke and front pocket on the bias and I also cut a size M which is for 3-6 months. This baby is only 1 month old but I figure people always give parents newborn-size onesies and tiny baby clothes. He can grow into this shirt and wear it for a few months.

Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

The Results: Baby clothes are really satisfying to sew. I used less than half a yard for this shirt and I whipped it out in a couple hours!

Baby Shirt v2, Kwik Sew 3730

Question for those of you who don't have kids - do you ever sew kids clothes for other people's kids, like nieces and nephews and cousins? Or quilts or toys or anything else?