January 31, 2013

Channeling my inner Elisalex

Elisalex Dress

The Goal: I've been eager to sew this dress ever since I got the pattern in the mail (all the way from England!) and I also wanted to do some stash busting. I don't have a huge stash but I do have some fabric that's been sitting around forever yearning to be made into a super cool garment.

The Pattern: By Hand London is a new indie pattern company! Right now they have the Elisalex Dress and the Charlotte Skirt pattern out, both named after some of the ladies who founded BHL.


The packaging is pretty cool - the pattern comes with a cover with a cutout to reveal the design illustration. The inner envelop has pattern info, more images, instruction booklet (with lots of graphics, yay!) and the pattern itself.

What's nice is that they list each size in typical US and UK sizing and the instructions are thorough and detailed. Luckily this dress is pretty self explanatory so I didn't even need to reference the instructions that much. The whole dress came together surprisingly quick!

Elisalex Dress

The Fabric: This geometric print was bought locally at The Common Thread about two years ago. I originally intended to make a strapless Vogue cocktail dress with it but let's face it - if I haven't made it in two years it ain't ever gonna get made. Might as well use the fabric for something useful.

I don't remember exactly how much fabric I had bought but it wasn't enough to make the long sleeve version but I managed to get the shorter sleeves out of this fabric.

Elisalex Dress

The fabric is quite stiff. The pattern calls for almost upholstery weight fabric to get that crisp look from the skirt pleats and I think this fabric holds its shape well.

Elisalex Dress

The black is some cotton sateen leftover from former projects which I used for the sides of the bodice 'cause I couldn't squeeze out any more space from the geometric print. I think it's a happy accident!

The Changes: Because of my fabric limits I had to cut the skirt shorter (by about 7"). The original length is quite long but the pattern allows you to make any size hem you want so it's nice to have the pieces longer just in case.

Elisalex Dress

I also made a neckline facing rather than lining the bodice. The only lining fabric I had was a poly which gets hot, yuck, so I made a facing by tracing the neckline pieces. I managed to piece together the facing out of scraps, interfaced it, stitched it on and understitched to keep it from rolling out.

Elisalex Dress

I used an invisible zip because I couldn't find a long enough zipper locally for that cool exposed zipper look. If you're in the US and take the time to plan, unlike me, you can order super long metal zippers from WAWAK (the #5's for jackets are probably your best best, they come in several colors, thanks Susan!)

One thing that helped though - making a muslin. The bodice is very fitted (they even tell you that on the envelope!) and while it fit great on my b-cup frame, ladies with more generous busts might need adjustment (but princess seams are pretty easy to alter, the pattern even suggests sewing smaller seam allowances at the bust apex area for more room for the girls, great idea!).

Elisalex Dress

I made a partial muslin first and discovered that the size 6US was too tight so for my real version I made a size 8US and the fit in the bust and waist is perfect. I'm 5'6" and the waistline hits right at my natural waist.

Elisalex Dress

I had some issues with the sleeve cap, though, like the cap part itself was too wide for my arm. I shaved off a little on the back side but I think I need to do more. The fabric keeps wanting to fold in on itself around the armhole. I think with this busy print it's not that noticable, though, so I won't bother with it.

Elisalex Dress

The only other thing I might change next time is adjusting the shoulder angle, my outer shoulders are pretty square.

The Results: This design is super cute and very "me". Elisalex and I must be kindred style spirits because this dress has lots of features I like in a dress - a cinched in natural waist, wide scoop neck, a skirt that's flared at the hips, and sleeves! They should have called it the Dixielex dress (btw, yay for girls with X's in their names, it is the most badass letter of our alphabet afterall...)

Elisalex Dress

January 25, 2013

Sewing with less stress...


I didn't do a big sewing resolutions post this year. I felt that my resolutions last year really helped guide me last year so much so that I don't need new general resolutions this year. Sure I want to do specific things like sew a coat and use my stash but I don't have enough of those things to make a full list.

However I do have one thing I genuinely want to work on this year regarding sewing and I want to know if anyone else has this problem, too...

While a lot of sewists make resolutions to sew more in the coming year I think I'm going in the opposite direction. In the last two years I've made a boat load of garments. Not all have been winners but many have and now a majority of my everyday wardrobe is handmade. I don't do a "Me-Made-May" or a "Self-Stitched-September" - I do a "Self-Stitched-Life!" I feel a big sense of pride that most of my clothes are me-made. I love getting compliments from friends and family in real life and I like showing off my projects on the blog.

But it's gotten to the point that I feel disappointment in myself if I go out and I'm not wearing a single me-made garment. Or even worse if someone asked me if I made something I'm wearing and I have to say "no." I feel like I am pressuring myself to sew all my clothes. Maybe this me-made pride is getting a little out of hand? I even feel guilty if I have to go buy clothes in a store because I just don't have the time to make something or do a lot of fitting. And those damn Gap jeans fit so well, too! I just can't compete! (Breathe, Dixie, breathe!) This is a legitimate problem, I'm telling you! It's like, "sewist's guilt" or something!

This manifests in other ways, too. I am constantly inspired by new styles but heaven forbid I buy a trendy garment from a store like a normal person. I can make that myself, goshdarnit! So then in my quest to make every idea that pops into my brain I get distracted and the projects that take a long time to develop, like designing my own patterns, take a back seat to the quick and dirty "fashion fix", the instant gratification I can get from sewing with pre-made patterns. Sure, I can crank out several garments a month but my pattern development schedule suffers.

Perhaps giving in and buying the occasional piece will free up some time for me to make more patterns or work on more complex projects?

So this year I resolve to chill out when it comes to buying clothes vs. making them. It is just impossible for me to make all the clothes I ever have an idea for and sometimes there are clothes that I like and would be great in my wardrobe but I just don't have the desire or excitement to sew them (which is perhaps why I have one button down top that I've been working on for months 'cause I'm a little bored with sewing it even though I know I'll like it when it's done).

Plus, I already know that I can make jeans or coats or bras or some other difficult item but that doesn't mean I have to make them. I should sew what I like making! I'm going to try to focus on  enjoying sewing and not feel pressured to fill every corner of my closet with stuff I've made.

But I will try to at least buy clothes that are decent quality and buy from designers I admire like what I've decided to do since reading Overdressed.

Phew, ok, I'm glad I got that out of my system. It's going to be a hard resolution to keep - not necessarily buying clothes but not feeling bad about doing so. Does anyone else have this problem or am I just crazy???? I think I'm a little crazy...

January 23, 2013

Self Drafted Cut-out dress

Self Drafted Back Cut-out dress

I feel like I've been slacking a bit with this blog the past couple weeks. Sorry peeps! But I've been busy with other stuff - painting my house, building nightstands, cleaning up post Christmas and sewing!

Self Drafted Back Cut-out dress

This is my first draft of a dress that you may have seen my sketch for. It needs some tweaks but other than that it's not so bad for a first try.

Self Drafted Back Cut-out dress

Let's talk features! This dress has:
  • a boat neck
  • angled side parts
  • short sleeves with a notch on the side
  • a side invisible zip
  • a 6 panel gored skirt that basically makes a half-circle skirt
  • a cut-out in the back with a button placket (non functional) holding the two back sides together
  • grosgrain ribbon to stabilize the back waist
  • bra-strap holders at the shoulders
  • and it's fully lined!

Self Drafted Back Cut-out dress

Overall it fits great but the back needs adjusting, which I'm not surprised with, it's the most detailed part of the dress. I was making the back cut out to be just high enough that I can wear a regular bra under it. As it is right now the highest part of the cutout comes right below the back of my bra so I'll need to adjust by making that part lower and making the button placket a little longer.

Also since there are no darts in the back the lower back at the sides gaped so I adjusted by shaving off a bit from the sides of the back pieces. I'll transfer that adjustment back to my pattern, too.

Self Drafted Back Cut-out dress

All in all I'm going to make the back cutout smaller. It's one of those things where you can't tell if you like it until you try it, ya know? In this case I think less is more but you get the idea of how it will look in later versions.

I think I'll also make the neckline a little less wide.

Self Drafted Back Cut-out dress

Sorry about the kind of crappy pics. It's cold-ish outside so I settled for indoor pics and I realized I should have ironed the dress a little bit. I even noticed one thing I hadn't seen before taking pics - this is a yarn dyed ikat so it natually has some variation in it. It seems that I cut out my bodice pieces with a darker area running horizontally right across my bust and mid back. Hmm, kind of annoying. Oh well, it's just a trial dress anyway!

So what do you think? Should I add any more changes other than the adjustments I'm already going to make? I already bought the fabric I'm going to use for the 2nd draft!

January 17, 2013

Starting an Indie Pattern Company Pt. 3

Whoa, Part 2 of this series was a little wild, right? Lots of heavy hitting stuff on grading. Now, I think this part is more fun. We'll be talking about the "packaging" and selling of the patterns.

If you're just joining us be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

If you are planning on making printed patterns rather than PDFs some of this info won't apply to you, but that's ok, other stuff will.

Since giving away my first patterns I've learned a lot about what needs to be included in a pattern you intend to share or sell. Some of these points seem obvious but in the beginning I didn't always think to do all of these things (maybe I though "hey, it's a free pattern, don't complain!" not the best approach...).


What You Need to Include with you Pattern Pieces:
 
(gainlines, size designation, pattern piece labels, page match lines)
  • Grainlines, center front and back markings if needed.
  • All necessary darts, notches, gather points, pleat lines, buttonholes, zipper markings, arrows, etc.
  • Label every pattern piece with the company name, pattern name or number, pattern piece designation, and how many pieces to cut of what fabric. If you don't include seam allowance elsewhere in your packaging or if a certain piece has a special seam allowance list it on the pattern piece. (I used to not include all of this in my very early patterns until I realized how easy it is for pattern pieces to get lost in my sewing room and it's hard to match up pieces if I don't know what pattern or company it belongs to!)
  • Clear size markings. I like to make each size cutting line be a different dash pattern. Makes it easy to find your size on every piece.
  • Extras, if needed, like lengthen/shorten lines or even finished measurements for pattern pieces.

What you need to include with your pattern packaging:

 
(line drawings, description, seam allowance, materials and fabric recommendation)
  • A Size Chart for all your sizes, finished garment measurements are great, too
  • Yardage needed in standard fabric widths
  • Materials needed and recommended fabrics
  • Seam and hem allowance
  • A description of the design
  • Line drawing of front and back
  • Cutting layout
  • Pattern piece inventory (I like to combine this with cutting/printing layout to save space)
  • If you need to you can include a glossary of terms or symbols. I usually like to explain terms in the instructions to avoid needing a separate glossary.
  • If you don't have sample photographs in the pattern itself at least have them available to view where a customer buys the pattern like your blog or the site you use to sell patterns.
  • Copyright and licensing info

Tips on how to write instructions:
  • Go in a logical order. You can even divide instructions into sections like bodice, skirt, collar, etc.
  • Be thorough, it's good to remind users to finish their seams if you don't tell them to do it from the beginning. It's also nice to suggest techniques like understitching or how exactly to sew that baby hem. Try to think like a beginner, don't assume a user knows what you're talking about. It doesn't hurt to tell people how to put in a zipper...
(example illustration of a gathered tulip sleeve)
  • Include clear illustrations or photos. Sometimes good pictures are better than any text instruction. I don't think you need pictures for every step but it always helps!
    • With illustration be sure to designate right and wrong side of fabric/pattern. 
    • If it helps you can have arrows pointing out specific parts of the illustrations. 
(can you guess what the above illustration is?)
    • If you don't know how to make good illustrations it helps reference other patterns, most companies have similar pictures for common techniques. Better yet, ask a friend who sews (don't ask your boyfriend, he won't know what a gathered sleeve cap looks like) to view at the image without the text and ask if she can figure out what the picture is.
    • I make my instruction illustrations in Illustrator and just scale my pattern pieces down way smaller and use them to make graphics where I can.
  • Your writing "voice" is up to you. You can be formal or casual so long as your instructions are clear.

Design and Layout:

Since I design for downloadable, print at home PDFs efficiency is important to me because I want to have the fewest number of pages as possible for the instructions and the pattern pieces. If you make pre-printed patterns this isn't as much of an issue.

I lay all my pieces out on a template that is then divided into individual printer paper sizes. A 7" by 9.5" page template will fit on both A4 and letter size paper. Many home printers cannot print all the way to the edge. Some can't even get close to the edge. You have to make sure your pages can work with a variety of printers and standard paper sizes.

You also have to remind users to print with "no scaling" or 100% scaling. Some PDF readers like to "fill out" the whole page and blow the image up bigger. Bad!

Each of my template pages has a solid border and numbered and lettered notches so the whole grid can be matched up once it is printed out. Every pattern company is different, some have gridded pages, some have numbers in each corner. Just so long as each page connects logically in an order of assembly and the pages can be easily lined up on each side then you're good to go. It's a puzzle but you don't want it to be a difficult puzzle.

I always include a 4" test square completely contained on one sheet of paper. If the test square spans multiple pages it defeats the purpose of being a good size reference! Sometimes home printers will want to print your PDF out in all different sizes. The test square allows users to make sure their pages are printing at 100% scale and 4" makes it easy for metric users 'cause it equals a nice even 10cm.


I also include a printing layout so users can make sure they've got all their pieces together and in the right order.

This is just a personal preference but I don't like to have slivers or edges of pattern pieces printed on one page if I can avoid it. When you tape the skinny edge to the other pages it's floppy and I think those tiny pieces can easily be lost or accidentally discarded when cutting.

I also like to have all my pattern piece labels contained on one sheet rather than spanning sheets. This isn't always possible, though, but I try. Again, it's just me being finicky about details.

I don't like to have a lot of different colors in my PDFs. People like to save ink and I know I always print patterns in B&W. You should at least make sure it looks legible in black and white if you have many colors in your pattern or instructions.

Distribution:

Here's a good question: one PDF document or two? Some companies have the instructions and pattern pieces in separate documents (Victory, Grainline). I do it all in one because of how I sell my patterns. On Craftsy, last I checked, they can only support one PDF for patterns. Maybe you can do a zip file with two documents but I'm not sure. Burdastyle's free patterns only have one document upload and they ask you to add instructions directly to their website. I find that users get confused by that system so I include the instruction with the pieces.


Finally, the website I use for instant downloads through Big Cartel is called Pulley and they only accept one document per product.

Which brings me to the topic of where to sell the patterns - the most obvious choice would be Etsy but I don't use it because it doesn't have an affordable (for me) option for instant downloads. I just don't have enough time to be checking my email every day to email out orders and I don't want my customers to wait. There is a new third-party website that works through Etsy for instant downloads called crafthub.me but their pricing is by number of transactions while Pulley's pricing is by storage (PDFs are very small files) and number of products. One may work better for you than another. Update: Etsy now supports instant downloads! Yay!



Craftsy offers a free service for selling (or giving away for free) your patterns and Burdastyle is a good place to post free patterns. PatternReview.com has a few companies listed for download patterns for sale. You could email them to see if you could be included.

Does anyone else know of a good place to buy or sell PDF patterns?


***Ok, well that's about it. There's obviously more details you can include in your pattern if you do choose but I think what I covered is the most important.

If I work my bum off I can make an average level pattern in about a month. But of course, I'm kind of lazy so it takes me a lot longer. The longest part is grading and creating all the packaging and instructions.

If you've got any questions or want more explanation on any part of this process leave me a comment or email me and I'll try to get you an answer ASAP! Thanks for reading!

January 15, 2013

Starting an Indie Pattern Company Pt. 2

(my finished hot cocoa sweater pattern as it looks in Adobe Illustrator)

Ok ladies and gents, get ready to roll up your sleeves and dig in. We're getting deep into the seething underbelly of this pattern drafting thing. First we're gonna get that sucker on the computer then we're gonna draw up some charts and graphs and after that we'll gonna slice 'er open and check out all those crazy mathematical insides. It's gonna get messy up in here!


Vague references to hog butchery aside, this is the tricky bit in the pattern company process and requires some attention. If you need to catch up be sure to read Pt 1 on the How I Started and Indie Pattern Company!

I'm assuming most of you know some basics about pattern making and terminology. You may or may not know about the software I'm using and there's a chance you'll need to remember your high school geometry class. However, if there's anything you don't fully understand, leave a comment and I'll try my best to clarify.


The software I am using is Adobe Illustrator CS6 on a Mac.

Getting the base paper pattern on to the computer

There are two ways (maybe there's more but I'm only writing about two) to digitize a pattern. The first method is one I don't use because I think it takes too long - it's the scanner method. Basically, you cut up all your pieces to fit on individual printer sheets of paper then scan each page in to Photoshop or Illustrator. This method works best with single size pattern or if you make multi-size patterns you will be better off doing all your grading by hand and scanning all the sizes nested together. Otherwise you'd need to reassemble all your pattern pieces, re-trace the lines and then grade from there in your image editing program.

Here's an explanation of how to do the scanner method.

The method I use is this:

(a bodice piece that I'm going to digitize)

I tape each piece on to my big grid cutting mat. I use another ruler and protractor and I measure all my lines and points and recreate the pattern outline on a gridded Illustrator document. I do this for each piece. Rectangular pieces like collars or cuffs or some waistbands are easy, you just need two measurements. Since I grade digitally this takes me much less time than scanning.


(on the left, all my reference line measurements help to make the final pattern piece, on the right, in Illustrator)

From there I remove seam allowances if the paper pieces had them. If my paper pieces didn't have SA then I'm good to go. Your pieces need to be SA-free in order to properly grade them.

Here is a helpful video of how I add/remove seam allowances in Illustrator.


Creating a standard size chart and how grading works

In order to grade a pattern up or down multiple sizes you'll need to create your own size chart. The key here is proportional consistency between sizes.

Above are size charts from several pattern companies: Grainline Studio, By Hand London, Victory and Colette. You'll notice that their sizing differs from each company but in each chart their sizes change proportionally. Colette's size 6 is 36"/28"/38" which has an 8" difference between bust and waist and a 10" difference between waist and hip. Colette's size 8 is 37"/29"/39", a 1" increase overall from size 6 but the bust-waist-hip ratio is the same. It is proportional.

If the size 6 was 36/28/38 and size 8 was 38/29/40 that would not be a proportional grade. If you wanted to do a disproportional size grade you'd have to draft two completely different master patterns.

This proportion idea is why cup sizes in pattern pieces always stay the same throughout sizes rather than a size 4 having and A cup and a size 14 having a DD. It just doesn't work like that. That's why those "pick your own cup-size" style patterns from the big 4 companies have separate pattern pieces for each size and cup size.

You can go though any pattern company's size chart and do the math. If ever the bust-waist-hip ratios change from one size to another then you know the makers drafted a whole new pattern for that other set of sizes.

Typically you draft a middle size and then grade up and down from there. The trick is that you can only safely grade up or down two or three sizes before you start to warp the edges of the pattern and lines get wonky and skewed. That's why companies often draft two sizes like a 6 which can be graded up to an 8 and 10 and down to a 4 and 2, and also draft a 14 and grade up to a 16 and 18 and down to a size 12, or something like that. If you fit one of your own "middle sizes" in your size chart then great! If not, find a buddy to do test fittings and pattern tweaking.

If you are making children's patterns you'll probably have to draft an infant size, toddler size, child and tween size (or something like that) because children's' body proportions change so much between development stages. In fact, this post from Sew Mama Sew has a lot of good info on kid pattern drafting and also general pattern selling info. Definitely worth reading!

Grading methods for a program that's not meant to grade

CAD (Computer Aided Drafting or Computer Aided Design) programs like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw are not designed to be pattern drafting software. Real pattern drafting and grading software that isn't for personal use only is extremely costly and you'd still have to convert the pattern pieces from the specialty software into something like Illustrator for home sewing use. Maybe one day I'll buy software for drafting but I in no way have the budget right now.

Obviously you could hire someone to do this for you but if you did that you wouldn't need to read this post so I'll just show you what I do.

The two manual methods of pattern grading are the slash and spread (where you cut up a pattern into sections and spread each section apart from the other) and the shift method (where you shift the whole piece outward at specific points). Here's a tutorial on shifting and Elegant Musings has a great tutorial for slash and spread.

With these methods you determine how much to increase your pieces horizontally based on your overall garment measurement (say, a 2" increase) and divide by how many sections your pattern is (one half piece for the back and one half piece for the front makes four "fourths" so you divide your overall increase by four, or 1/2" on the front and the back piece). You do the same vertically as well.

In Illustrator you'd use the shift because the program makes it simple to select lines and move them vertically and horizontally by specific measurements. After all your points are shifted you still have to go back and reconnect all your lines. It's a little time consuming but pretty accurate.

Here's a very simple video to show you what I mean with the shift method in Illustrator.


Another non-kosher method, and I'll explain why, is what I like to call the "percentage" method. This is something I totally made up so don't take this as gospel.

Essentially, you find the percentage increased vertically and horizontally between each size based on the most important pattern measurement (hips for pants, bust for a top or dress, etc).

(scaling in Illustrator)

Take this bodice piece above for example. My size 4 has a bust size of 34" and my size 6 is 35". The bust measurement is the most important measurement of this pattern I'm designing. The increase from 34" to 35" is ~2.941%. That's my horizontal increase. Let's just say my vertical increase is 2.2%. I copy my entire pattern piece and scale it up by these percentages.

I like this method for a couple reasons. In many cases it works very well. I think it even creates nicer armhole curves than the manual shift method. Unlike the other grading methods I don't have to divide some overall measurement by half or fourths depending on my number of pattern sections. The same percentage works for everything.


In the image above you can see lines from a bodice piece (side seam is on the bottom left) that I graded up one size. The black lines were manually graded by shifting points and then adjusting all the points back together. The pink lines were "percentage" graded. In this case I think the percentage grade is nicer than my (sloppy, in this case) hand grading.

Both of these methods have the problem that if you grade up or down more than two or three times you run the risk of lines getting skewed.

The percentage method has more problems, however. It works best when the pieces run the full length and width of a body section, meaning a bodice piece should go from shoulder tip to waist and side seam to center front. If you're grading a bustier type bodice piece that doesn't extend to the shoulder and you try to increase it by a vertical percent that piece won't lengthen as much as a full shoulder to waist piece because you don't have as much length to lengthen to begin with. Make sense? Ok, maybe not, I'll give some more examples.

A shirt piece like this won't take too kindly to the percentage method either. When grading horizontally you are increasing around the body from side seam to center front (if you are using a 1/4th section bodice piece). In a kimono/batwing sleeve like this the computer wants to increase from the far end point, which in this case is the wrist of the sleeve, not the side seam. You're better off grading manually or breaking the pattern piece down into two sections (basically, cutting off the sleeve part) and percentage grading separately.


Here's another example - set in sleeves. The percentage method works well with set in sleeves (that are positioned upright, like the pic above). You increase using the same amounts that you used for the other pieces (based on the most important measurement, like the bust, be consistent!).

But for a gathered tulip sleeve like the pic above the standard percentage method won't work because this pattern piece is oddly wide.


What I did instead was overlap the pattern piece like a regular set in sleeve would look like with side seams on the left and right and graded from there then reassembled the pieces back like a tulip pattern piece.

What about a front bodice piece that isn't on on the fold but rather has an extension past the center front for a button placket? You need to grade based on the side seam to center front so you'd have to chop off that extension and add it back after you've graded. Odds are that the placket would probably be the same dimensions no matter what the size so you wouldn't have wanted to grade that bit anyway. Gotta think about these things!

The percentage method works ok with pants and skirts (use the hip measurements) sometimes. I don't always use this method because it doesn't work in every situation but even if I do use this method I always need to double check my work. I'll usually check by shifting specific points on my pieces up two sizes at a time to make sure everything matches up.


Yeah, grading sucks. It's time consuming, is uses a boat load of math and it makes me wish I had 10 grand to drop on some sub-par poorly designed software made specifically for grading but I don't so I'm just going to complain about it instead.


The more you practice the quicker it gets. I make up plenty of charts denoting increase percentages for every size to reference.

After you finish grading you can add back your seam allowances. The reason why you have to grade sans-SA is because your SA always have to be consistent. You can't be slowly increasing your 5/8" SA by 2-4% each time you grade up or by the time you get 6 sizes larger you'll have 1" SA rather than 5/8". No bueno!

***Phew, that was a lot to take in at once! But you made it out alive and now we forge onward deeper into the abyss (wow, I started out with some weird surgery metaphor and now I think I'm referencing Heart of Darkness, see what a mess pattern drafting makes of me!!?!?).

Next time we'll talk about easier, but still important topics like pattern piece labeling, printing layouts, instructions, line drawings, graphics, and selling. So go grab a snack and we'll meet back here later. Remember to stay hydrated!

January 11, 2013

Software for Patternmaking (sort of...)

Update: Hmm, perhaps there is a catch to this, if anyone looks into this, let me know. I keep reading that you may or may not need a CS2 license. Still, it might be worth looking into it if you're interested in Illustrator.

Hey readers, I'm popping in real quick between sewing projects to tell all you budding pattern makers something you may find useful...

I don't use software specifically designed for pattern making to create my patterns. I mainly use Adobe Illustrator along with Adobe Photoshop for graphics and supplemental things.

The current versions of those programs are very expensive (unless you can get a student discount) but right now Adobe seems to be offering the CS2 version (the current is CS6, CS2 is about 8 years old but it is still totally functional and contains most of the features I use in my version of the programs) free for download on both Mac and PC.

There's some confusion about why Adobe is doing this but from what I gather Adobe doesn't want to keep running servers for old software support. Basically you can download it for free and get a free serial number but don't expect any updates or support or cloud services or anything.

I'm not sure how long Adobe will do this but if you want an opportunity to try out Illustrator or Photoshop or InDesign (another program some indie pattern developers use, I don't have it, though) go ahead to the Adobe site and download it for free!

I haven't downloaded any of this CS2 software so I can't guarantee anything or vouch that it will work on your computer. If you do download it let me know how it goes! From what I read it's legit and may be worth it to you if you're interested in learning a program like this for pattern drafting.

You can google "Adobe CS2 free" and find more info on what the deal is and if you might have any issues with loading old software on more recent operating systems.

January 4, 2013

Dixie DIY's Year in Review 2012

I love the new year! New start, new goals, new memories but first I want to review everything that I did sewing-wise in the last twelve months.

2012 Was a pretty big year for me, I dyed my hair purple, sewed a bunch of swimsuits for my summer vacation, I released 3 new patterns (one of which was free), and made about 50 garments and accessories. Not too bad! Let's break it down now -
  • Garments Sewn for Myself: 34
  • Dresses: 10
  • Shirts: 19
  • Skirts: 1
  • Pants/Shorts: 6
  • Underwear and Swimsuits: 2 bras, 1 undies, 7 swimsuits
  • Accessories: 1 wallet, 1 handbag, 1 make up case
  • Sewn For Others: 3 dresses for cousins, 1 baby shirt, 1 shirt for my man, 1 monster quilt
  • Other crafts: 1 failed kite, 1 travel neck pillow, 1 holiday wreath, 1 state shape string art
Now, let's discuss the value of all those me-made items, not monetarily but in terms of wear-ability and how well they met my sewing goals from last year.

To recap, some of my goals were: to make "church appropriate" dresses (ie: cute party dresses that don't look trashy), solid color tops, tops and dresses with sleeves, good everyday dresses, pants/shorts, blazers and solid color coats. On the flip side I was refraining from sewing skirts (already have to many that I don't often wear) and anything without sleeves or clothes that need to be worn with other clothes to feel comfortable.

Colette Macaron with Fabricker FabricsDrape Drape book no. 3
(these two dresses are both "church appropriate" and good for everyday wear, double check!!)

So I didn't sew a single coat or blazer(well, maybe a sweatshirt/blazer hybrid thing). But I did ok in most other areas.
  • Shorts: 3
  • Pants: 3
  • Church Appropriate Dresses: 2, but only one really fits
  • Solid Color Tops: 8
  • Everyday Dresses: 7
  • Stuff with long sleeves/three-quarter sleeves: 7

McCalls 6331Bow BlouseSimplicity 2512

I broke a few of my rules (they're more like guidelines anyway), I made one sleeveless dress, several printed tops and one skirt (but that was a UFO so I'm letting it slide).


Jeans from HellSimplicity 3850
(pants that don't fit anymore)

But here's a big problem - A lot of the clothes I made don't fit. Some didn't really fit from the get-go like my first two pants from the year. The first pair of jeans from January stretched out way too much, those got donated. The second pair of pants from February also seemed to stretch out but were also a little big to begin with.

Victory Patterns Anouk DressRed LolaDarling Ranges Dress
(these dresses don't fit anymore *sadface*)

But then I lost some weight last winter and slowly but surely a lot of my fitted garments got too big, like my first Colette Macaron dress from 2011 and my Victory Anouk dress from January. Both of these dresses are so big in the bust and shoulders now it's not really worth trying to fix. That cutout on the Anouk dress used to show a little bit of skin, now it show half my bra!

My first Darling Ranges dress from March is too big and now gapes in front and is too low, not really fixable. My Victory Lola dress is like a giant sack now.

Most of my shirts fit ok but it's such a bummer about the others. I'm seriously considering doing a giveaway on the blog for those dresses rather than donating them to Goodwill. I'd like to know they're going to good homes. What do all of you think about that?


Pattern Runway Sweet ShortsTulip Sleeve Knit Dress - self-draftedHighly Modified RenfrewBurdastyle Handbook BlouseBurdaStyle Handbook BlouseScout TeeVelvet Scout TeeMovies in the Park ShortsDarling Ranges Version 2.0Raglan Sleeve Knit Dress w/ Crochet BackPecan Street Art Fest Dress
(my most worn me-made garments)

But there's good news! Of the things that do fit I've gotten a lot of wear out of them. My most worn items would be my Pattern Runway Sweet Shorts, my self drafted tulip sleeve knit dress, my short sleeve Renfrew, my two Burda Book blouses (always in heavy rotation!), both Scout Tees, my Movies in the Park Shorts, the 2nd Darling Ranges dress and my black dress and floral dress from April and May.

One Week, One Pattern 3.0Sewaholic RenfrewColette Juniper denim trousersTaffy Blouse
(what doesn't get worn: bad fabrics, bad fit and not so good styles)

What I don't wear as much of - my early versions of my Summer Concert Tee, the rayon fabrics have just fallen to pieces, things snag on the fabric all the time and there are even little holes in the shirt. The fabric was just crap. Thanks a lot fabric.com.

Also my first cowl neck Renfrew is just too tight in the bust to really be comfortable. I like looser knits like my Hot Cocoa Sweater. It's a shame 'cause I loved that honey color!

Also, I thought I'd enjoy the wide leg look of the Juniper trousers but I just never wear them. I think they make me look like I'm drowning in pants. I'm a little upset but hey, you live, you learn.

And alas, those giant sleeves on the Colette Handbook Taffy Blouse have kept me from wearing the top. I feel that with all the billowy fullness at the shoulders I have to balance it out at the bottom but I'm just not sure how to style this top.

***I'm really into making lists and assessments to turn them into new goals so I love making posts like this and reading other bloggers' recap posts. If you've done a "year in review" post leave me the link in the comments so I can check it out. Maybe I'll even find some new blogs to read this year. ;)