Row by Row Quilt Kit June 21, 2016
We are super excited to be launching our Row by Row Quilt Pattern Kit today!
This is our first year participating in the Row by Row Experience shop hop that takes place across North America all summer long.
This year's theme is Home Sweet Home. We were delighted to have a chance to use Lunenburg's nautical heritage and historic architecture as inspiration. Our row, Lunenburg on the Water designed by Kat Frick Miller, includes the classic 'Lunenburg Bump' home and The Dory Shop with dories in tow on the waterfront. Our row is assembled using foundation paper piecing techniques. Pop in on June 25th for a foundation paper piecing demo to see how it works!
The Lunenburg on the Water quilt row kit is available for sale in our Lincoln Street shop for $15 each. It includes all of the fabric, patterns and our custom Dory Shop sign applique! The pattern and kit are only available in person in our shop until September 6th. Check back after October 31st to find the kit available for sale online.
For those new to Row by Row, it works like this: quilt shops throughout North America each design their own quilt row fitting with the year's theme. Shops have their row pattern available in store all summer long, June 21 - September 6 for free! Quilters can complete a quilt using at least eight rows and if they are the first to bring it into a participating shop to receive a bundle of twenty-five fat quarters. Check out the Row by Row Experience site for all of the details.
Etsy: Made in Canada Market in Halifax September 21, 2015
Find us in Halifax this coming Saturday, September 26 as part of the Nationwide Etsy: Made in Canada pop up market! We'll be taking part, for the second year in a row, leading crafty workshops throughout the day. The event is made up of over 70 makers, collectors and artisans from across Nova Scotia.
Stop by to see us in the Workshop tent, # 61 indicated in orange, from 10am - 7pm this Saturday to get in on the crafty fun.
Paper Collage Workshop with Susan Black May 05, 2015
We're excited to be pairing up with Lunenburg's newest artist, Susan Black. Susan has recently transplanted her textural and vibrant collage art and illustration studio from Pugwash to our lovely town and we're feeling pretty lucky for it.
On Saturday May 23, Susan is offering her first Makery workshop, Illustrated Floral Paper Collage. Susan will share her favourite tools and techniques she uses to create her striking collaged illustrations.
Susan brings with her years of professional experience working with companies like American Greetings, Cloth/Paper/Scissors, P&B Textiles and many more. This workshop will be an incredible opportunity to learn from a pro while having fun with collage and sharing in the joy of art making.
Sewing Notions – Wovens, Knits and Spandex April 30, 2015
You have your pattern picked out and you are on the way to the fabric store. Depending on what you're planning to sew, your pattern should tell you whether you need a woven fabric, a knit fabric or a stretch fabric. Each of these has its own set of qualities and properties. Understanding these differences and matching them to the kind of garment you want to make is important for sewing a successful project.
Straight of Grain Bias
A woven fabric has fibres running parallel to the selvedge (the finished sides of the fabric). These are called the Lengthwise Grain or the Straight of Grain. The fibres running perpendicular to the selvedge are called the Crosswise Grain. The fabric is held together by weaving the crosswise fibres over and under the lengthwise fibres. When the fabric is pulled in the direction of the lengthwise grain or the crosswise grain it stays quite firm without much distortion or stretch. When you cut fabric on the lengthwise grain it is an excellent choice for garments with structure. Things like button-down shirts, pencil skirts, A-line skirts, jackets, coats, trousers, etc.
When a woven fabric is rotated 45˚ it is called the Bias. The bias has quite a bit of natural stretch which encourages a lot of movement in the fabric and makes it a softer, flowing fabric when it hangs. Cutting fabric on the bias makes it a perfect candidate for more flowing, feminine silhouettes. Things like slips, camisoles, blouses and long skirts. It can also be used to change the orientation of a pattern. This technique is often used on the back yoke of plaid shirts. The bias is also used to make bias binding because it can easily be manipulated around curves and corners.
Knit fabric in a relaxed state Knit fabric being stretched
Knit fabric is created by continuously linking loops of fibre together. Because each strand in a knit fabric travels in a wavy line from side to side it has the ability to stretch quite far and then bounce back to its original shape. There are many ways that knit fabrics can be created. Sometimes the fabric can only stretch from side to side. This is usually called two-way stretch. Others can stretch both up and down and from side to side. This is usually called four-way stretch. If your pattern calls for a knit fabric there will usually be chart indicating how much your fabric should stretch. It's always a good idea to check and make sure yours is similar if you want to achieve the best results. Patterns designed for knits will often include a grainline. In the case of a jersey (a t-shirt fabric) you can see vertical ridges formed by the loops of the fabric. These lines indicate the grainline. Other patterns refer to the Degree of Greatest Stretch (DOGS). You can determine the DOGS by stretching the fabric in both directions and making note of the direction that stretches the most. If you were making a t-shirt you would want the DOGS to go around your body. It will stretch over the bigger spots and relax in the smaller spots. If you were to cut it in the other direction, the fabric would pull when it tried to fit around your body and it would stretch out lengthwise because of gravity. Knits are excellent for a somewhat relaxed, form fitting silhouette. Things like t-shirts, leggings, pencil skirts, sportswear, lingerie, etc.
Spandex (Lycra®, elastane) is a very elastic fibre. It can be used when making a woven or a knit fabric. A woven fabric with spandex in it will still behave like a woven fabric except the fibres themselves will stretch. A great example of this is stretch denim jeans. Often times stretch denim only has spandex in the crosswise grain. This helps the denim to stretch around the body, making movement and fit more comfortable. Keeping the lengthwise grain free of spandex helps the jeans retain their vertical shape. Knit fabric already allows for quite a bit of stretch. Adding spandex to a knit just make the fibres themselves stretchy as well.
Picking the right fabric goes a long way toward a successful garment. Hopefully this information helps you to decide what you need for your next project and why.
We've been talking a lot about prep work here on Sewing Notions but next time we'll be getting into the good stuff. It's time to lay out our fabric and start cutting it up.
Altered Cinderella Window Display April 15, 2015 1 Comment
Spring is the time when people tend to think of robins, putting away the big coats and getting the gardens primed. Here at The Makery it's also the time of year when we start seeing prom and wedding garments coming in for alterations. Micheline and Johanna are kept busy upstairs in Altered sewing under layers and layers of shimmering tulle, beaded bodices and tailored tuxedo jackets. With this in mind it seemed only fitting to make a classic Cinderella-themed window display to promote our services!
We had been searching local thrift shops for weeks looking for the perfect dress. It had to posess a bit of timeless elegance and look beautiful in the window (but not be so precious that we couldn't bring ourselves to cut into it).
This baby mouse was the perfect size to crawl up the front of the dress to finish the detailed sequins!
In order to make the mice as life-like as possible we used a wire armature base (like a skeleton) and needle felted around it.
All of our little characters can posed in any position we want, making it much easier for them to happily work away using scissors, needles and thread to make Cinderella's dress perfect for the ball!
Adding details like soft suede leather ears and tails as well as sewing in shiny beads for eyes and filament whiskers truly gave made the mice more "life". What tailor mouse would be complete without glasses?
Wire was also sewn into fabic to act as undulating ribbon that the blue birds (which we also needle felted over wire) are in the process of wrapping around the dress.
So far the display has been a huge hit and has put such smiles on people's faces (including our own). We're offering a workshop on how to make these mice which can read more about in the Workshop section of our website, or check out our Intro to Needle Felting kits to get started with the basic skills.
Keep watching for more of our shop projects and displays coming up!
Sewing Notions – PDF Patterns March 27, 2015
PDF patterns are a modern convenience. I've also heard them called a modern nuisance. A lot has happened in the world of PDF patterns since those early days and I think PDF patterns have a lot to offer.
PDF patterns are fast. Almost as soon as you pay for them they are sitting in your inbox ready to go. There are no shipping costs or shipping delays to deal with. PDF patterns can also be printed multiple times. If you cut the wrong size or your pet chews the living daylights out of the centre back panel you can just hit print again. And being printed on printer paper they're not nearly as delicate as their tissue paper counterparts.
Printing PDF patterns out at home is easy. Some cutting and taping is required but putting on a good TV show for company can make that task pretty enjoyable. For those of you that have travelled the cutting and taping route and despite the excellent TV accompaniment have sworn them off for good, there is a new option. Most PDF patterns now come with a large-format file. This is a file that can be taken to a local copy centre where they will print the entire file on one large sheet of paper for you. These kinds of printouts aren't too expensive but they do add to the cost of the pattern. It's just something to consider. Large format PDFs are great for large patterns that have a lot of pieces. Some of the larger print-at-home patterns can span 75 pages or more. That's a lot of cutting and taping.
Some patterns, like lingerie patterns, have pieces that are small enough to fit on individual pieces of paper with no taping required. There aren't many patterns like this but they do exist.
Most patterns fit somewhere in the middle. There is still a lot of cutting and taping but it shouldn't take all three seasons of The Great British Sewing Bee to get it done (not that we would mind watching all three seasons).
When printing a PDF pattern, the first thing to check is how it's layed out. Sometimes there is only one option. You just send that one file to print. Some patterns allow you to print different versions separately. This can really save on paper. Some patterns allow you to print different sizes separately. This works really well if you fit into one size but can be tricky if you transition between different sizes.
Once you've determined what you need to print, it's time to locate the test square. It's usually on the first page of the PDF.
Before you print it, make sure that your Page Setup is at 100%.
In the print menu, be sure that you are only printing the page with the test square on it. Check that your Page Scaling is set to None. And check that the Auto-rotate and Centre button is checked. By checking this box your file won't drift into the unprintable zone on the paper.
Double-check that the square on the printout matches the dimensions given. If you accidentally printed your file at 95% and you didn't know it, a lot of time and effort would be spent on making a scaled model of the garment you were hoping to make.
Once your square is printing accurately, It's time to send the rest of the file to the printer. Double-check that you are now printing all of the pages.
Rather than cutting off all four sides of the paper, just cut off two. Always cut the same long side and the same short side from each piece. It allows for overlapping, easy taping and it cuts the trimming time in half.
Once they're all cut out, they can be arranged by matching up the number/letter combinations on each side.
With the arrows and lines matched up you can start taping the pieces together. I'm pretty frugal with the tape and not because I use fancy washi tape for my PDF patterns. I'm just using it in the example so you can see what I'm talking about. I put a good sized piece where the four pages come together. I put a small piece in the middle of a long span. And I put a piece where the edge of the pattern travels from one page to the next.
Just be sure to cover both sides of the size you're cutting. Once you have it all taped together it's just like a big tissue paper pattern. Get out the scissors, The Great British Sewing Bee and start cutting.
Next time on Sewing Notions we'll be talking about knit fabric vs. woven fabric.
Sewing Notions – Tissue Paper Patterns March 11, 2015
I like to imagine the intricate robots with their delicate fingers, that must work on the principles of static electricity, folding tissue paper patterns with absolute precision. This origami magic is clearly not the work of human beings. I have to imagine it that way so that my self-esteem doesn't plummet and take my sewing mojo with it.
Tissue paper patterns are a pain. A sort of necessary evil. I haven't met anyone who admits to liking them. There are a few people that I've met who actually refuse to sew based solely on their hatred for the stuff. Sewing is way too much fun to give it all up because of a frail piece of paper. You just have to find a way to manage it that works for you. I have tips and ideas. Some of these are strategies that I use. They are by no means a definitive list but they might help you find a way to tackle that tissue.
The very first thing you should do when working with tissue patterns is to unfold them and iron them flat. Use a low setting without steam. Moisture can make the tissue soft and cause distortions or rips. Any folds or wrinkles in the paper can significantly affect the fit of the final project. It's best to get rid of them before you even start.
There are a lot of reasons to trace a pattern. Most patterns require some form of alteration to get it to fit just right. By making a copy that you can alter you preserve the original in case you need to go backwards. It could be that you want to preserve the pattern so that future sewists can benefit from it. This is often the case with vintage patterns. But even contemporary patterns will one day be vintage. Tracing your pattern can also be a way to avoid working with the tissue. There are a lot of options where substrates are concerned. There's tissue paper, tracing paper, medical exam paper, parchment, etc. I like to use tracing paper on a roll. I like the transparency and the rigidity, and I rarely have to tape pieces together to accommodate a pattern piece. It's not necessary to trace off your patterns. Sometimes it's easier or makes more sense to use them just as they are. Tracing patterns can take time and it might make more sense to buy another one if the need arises.
Whether you traced off your pattern or cut it out, the tissue will likely have to make it back into that envelope one more time. The best advice that I can give about this is to find the lines. There is always a dominant fold. It travels from one side of the paper to the other without a change of direction. This is the first fold. If there are several parallel folds matching this description then it's an accordion fold. If you keep at it this way, the paper should fold back into the human version of the robot fold: tidy and small but perhaps not impossibly accurate.
I seem to keep my patterns separate from the pattern envelopes and instructions. I like to browse through the original envelopes for inspiration but getting the pattern pieces out is a different step in the sewing process. I don't mind if they're in a different place as long as they're clearly marked.
Sometimes the frustration stems from trying to get the paper to fold into such a small rectangle. Folding them to fit into a larger envelope could be the answer. Colour coding them, in this case by pattern company, makes it easy to sort through the pile.
Maybe you just don't want to fold them at all. Rolling the patterns into tubes could rid you of ever having to fold tissue again. Keeping all of the information on the tag makes it a snap to find the one you're looking for. If you have a spot to store them this way, this could be the ticket.
My favourite way to store patterns is to store them flat. After tracing them off and marking them well, I clip the pieces together. I have a large drawer that I can store them in. The pile is getting pretty deep and a little harder to sort through. I've decided to keep my current pattern and the more frequently used ones on hangers.
This is an easy storage method if you have the room. Even a spare corner of your closet could work. I simply tied a ribbon to the bulldog clip that was already in place from storing them flat and hung them up. You can buy hooks especially for hanging patterns but I had this on hand so it was easy and inexpensive.
Hopefully this gives you some strategies for handling all that tissue or at least sparks some ideas for how you could create a system that works for you. Next time we'll be tackling PDF patterns.
Until then, happy sewing,
Sewing Notions – The Pattern Instructions February 27, 2015
I sometimes think about how wonderful it would be to have the pattern designer sitting next to me when I open up a pattern and start to sew. We would chat about the inspiration for the design and I would get all of the dirt on design changes. There would be a lot of sewing talk as pattern pieces were nudged into place on the fabric. And when I started to sew she would gently stop me and explain that she much prefers 1/2" seam allowance. She proceeds to tell me the story of how she once had an instructor that carried on and on about the excessive nature of the 5/8" seam allowance and that's why she uses 1/2" seam allowance in all of her patterns. It's fun to think about it but I'm not likely to have the luxury of a sewing date with a pattern designer. At least it hasn't happened yet. That's why pattern designers put so much effort into the pattern instructions. It's their way of holding our hands while we sew our projects.
When I first started sewing I would always skip over the first section and head straight to the step-by-step instructions. I couldn't figure out how to read all that stuff and I didn't want to waste valuable sewing time trying to figure it out. No wonder so many of those early projects didn't turn out quite right. It's equally amazing how many turned out right enough. But there's no need for you to suffer through like I did. We're going to go through all of the ins and outs of the pattern instructions.
Different companies handle this information in slightly different ways. It can be in the form of a tidy little booklet like Colette Patterns. If you're using a pattern book like Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, there's usually a page or two containing this information preceding the patterns themselves. If you've downloaded a pdf pattern then this information is usually on the first few pages. We're going to be using a traditional fold-out version with the help of the Thurlow Trouser pattern from Sewaholic.
This can be found on the front or the back or both. Technical drawings are an excellent way to see the bones of a pattern that can be hard to determine otherwise. They show seam placement, dart placement, pocket styles, length variations, etc.
Pattern Piece Inventory
Once you've decided on the version you want to make you can find the pattern pieces you'll need to finish the project. This example list the parts for each view separately but often times there will be a single list of parts and beside each part it will name the view it applies to. I always like to write these numbers down. The back of the Makery's Project Planner would be a great spot. When all of the pattern pieces are flying around the room, it's great to cross-reference the list so nothing gets missed.
Now that you've identified which pattern pieces you'll be using, this section will tell you how to lay them out to make the most of your fabric. There are a number of different layouts for each pattern. Circling or marking the ones you need is a good way to keep track of which ones apply to your project.
To find the version(s) you need it's good to go through the following list in order for all fabrics that apply (the main fabric, the contrasting fabric, the lining and the interfacing):
a Find the view you need.
b Find the layout for your size.
c Find the layout that matches the width of your fabric.
d Find the layout that matches your nap requirement (with or without nap)
If I want to make a pair of trousers in size 6 and I buy a 60" wide fabric, I would need the layouts marked above.
Reading the Fabric Layouts
In this example, the fabric is folded with the right sides together (refer to The Key in #5). The selvedge isn't marked on this example but the grainline, which runs parallel to the selvedge, is shown on each piece with a straight line. So in this example the selvedge is the long side. You can sometimes move the pieces around a little bit but following the layout is the best place to start.
Any pieces or parts of pieces that extend beyond the fabric require you to open the fabric and cut it in a single layer. In this example, piece 2 is off of the fabric. Piece one and piece two are similar but have different fly requirements. We would trace all of the pieces as shown in the layout. Then out of the two layers we would cut all of the pieces except for piece 1. We would then open up the fabric, trace piece two in the empty space beside piece one and cut them both from a single layer.
The Fabric Key shows how to read the illustrations in comparison to the actual fabric and pattern pieces. This is a common code across many pattern companies but it's always a good idea to double-check before cutting into your fabric.
There are other symbols that get explained in this area. Some examples are darts, notches, buttonholes, body measurement markings, etc. Our example only includes the grainline.
Not all patterns include a glossary but it's a good idea to check through it and see if there are any new or unfamiliar terms or techniques before you begin to sew.
Always check for this information before you begin to sew. Different pattern companies use different seam allowances. Traditional pattern companies usually use 5/8" (1.5 cm) Some of the independent pattern companies use 5/8" (1.5 cm) but others use 1/2" (1.25 cm). A lot of patterns designed for sergers will use 3/8" (1 cm). Most lingerie patterns use 1/4" (0.6 cm). Using the wrong size seam allowance on a project creates a large ripple effect that rarely ends well. Take the time to make sure you have the right one.
These are the heart of the pattern instruction sheet. I haven't shown a picture of it but it's on the reverse side of the paper that I've been highlighting throughout this post. Start by finding the view that applies to you. Refer to the Fabric Key to make sure you are interpreting the illustrations correctly. Now it's time to finally start sewing. Sometimes the instructions can be hard to follow. Take your time. If I find myself really stumped by something I can be my own worst enemy. In my attempt to interpret what they were trying to say, I fill in the blanks incorrectly. If I take the time to go back to the beginning of the step, match up what's in front of me with the illustration and then reread the instructions slowly visualizing what I'm reading with the piece in front of me I can usually solve the problem. If things are really getting out of hand, I take a break. Sewing should be fun. Challenging, sure. But still fun. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need.
Next time we're going to be discussing tissue paper patterns and how to handle (or wrestle) them. If you want to see the other articles we've posted in Sewing Notions just click here.
Sewing Notions – Project Planner February 18, 2015
There are times throughout most sewing projects when things can feel overwhelming. None more so than at the very beginning. The choices seem endless: style, fabric, buttons, snaps, sleeve lengths, skirt lengths, welt pockets, patch pockets, bold patterns, plain colours, to have contrasting fabric, to not have contrasting fabric. But being able to sort through all of these things and pick exactly what we want is also where the fun lies. Striking a balance between the two is the key.
Picking out a pattern is usually the first step when starting a project. Once it's picked, I like to take it home and really let things simmer. I find I make poor choices if I pick up the pattern, the fabric and all of the extras at the same time. In the excitement of starting a new project I tend to make impulsive buys that don't always reflect what I was aiming for in the first place. It really helps to break the process down into manageable pieces.
Taking time to gather inspiration is an excellent place to start. Image searches for the pattern reveal how different fabrics, colours and styling can affect the garment. Searching for similar styles online, finding examples in magazines or noticing them on people in the street are all equally helpful. Finding inspiration can really define what I am looking for and make the next step that much easier.
Once I know what I want to sew and how I want it to look it's time to pull out the pattern envelope. We talked at length about the anatomy of a pattern envelope in the last edition of Sewing Notions. There is a lot of information to take in and make sense of. I like to sit down and create a comprehensive list of what I need to complete the project. It makes the daunting nature of the fabric store a little more manageable. There is still room to change my mind, consider a different colour or a different fabric type but if I do change my mind at least my decisions will be better informed andmore likely to succeed. My fabric lengths are also clearly marked so at least I won't mistakenly buy the wrong amount while I'm being distracted by all the pretty fabric.
In the spirit of staying organized, we've put together a Project Planner that you can download, print and fill out. There are two on each page and once they're trimmed down they should fit inside the pattern envelope for easy reference. There is a spot for a description or a drawing, fabric requirements, notions and even fabric swatches. And since these are one-sided there is plenty of room for extra notes on the back.
After all of this planning you'll be ready for the next installment when we discuss the pattern instructions inside the envelope.
Until then, happy sewing,
Rita's Peony Dress February 13, 2015
I had been making Colette's Peony dress (in my head) for months prior to even choosing my fabric, attracted to it's clean silhouette, fitted bodice and sleeves and the oh-so-perfect boatneck neckline. It was no surprise to anyone around me that I also chose a boldly-patterned ankara wax-print cotton, as I'm obsessed with African textiles and adornment. I've always been drawn to statement pieces of clothing and accessories - I tried subtle once but it didn't take.
Cutting Out & Adjustments
As this was my first full, fitted garment I traced the pattern pieces onto tissue paper in the sizes closest to mine. For my shape that meant my bodice pieces were nearly two full sizes smaller than the skirt. What I hadn't predicted was that I would also need to make an SBA, or Small Bust Adjustment. Every pattern company uses a different proportioned model as their standard, and there's no way to make ALL the shape variations possible on a single pattern. It was admittedly frustrating at first, however, two paper patterns and three test voiles later I now have a bodice pattern custom-cut to my measurements and ready to be used again in the future.
Making a test version (muslin or voile) from inexpensive fabric (like old sheeting) is truly indispensible, especially when it's the first time you're tackling a pattern. It takes much of the pressure off of making mistakes (which always happens) and fear of wasting more expensive fabric.
Another "challenge" I made for myself involved pattern-matching. The swallow motif is all moving in one direction, and the print shows as strong on the backside of the fabric as it does on the front. I had to be very careful laying out my pattern pieces, ensuring that they were all arranged in such a way that the print would run the same way all around. There was only one slip-up with this just before sewing the zipper in where I realized the birds on the back of the skirt were flying in the opposite direction of all the rest. It was fixable, but was also admittedly a "just walk away" moment when I needed to put the dress down so I could return to it with a clearer head. :)
The Peony dress is so popular due to the simplicity of the pattern pieces and the absolute clarity of the instructions provided in the Colette booklet. The sleeves fit in without fuss, the facing on the neckline lays nicely, and what is a daydress without pockets?!? Love the size of these pockets and I got them to align perfectly. The pattern also includes a wide belt which I didn't make make for this version but will do on the next one.
Now that I've gone through all the work to customize the pattern and understand the assembly I'm feeling really motivated to make another one. Getting to practise darts was a great benefit to me and a technique that I'll be continuing to refine on future pieces. We just got in some of the newest collection from Cotton+Steel in the shop so this will give me just the "excuse" I need to buy more fabric. The Peony dress pattern is also availble now in both our online and Lincoln St. shops - come in for yours and we'll plan our dresses together!
I love this photo. It is pure happiness. It is everything that a wedding photo should be. Liz and Nick got married on New Year's Eve. It seems incredibly romantic to start your married life on the very first day of the new year.
I had the absolute pleasure of working with Liz to create her wedding skirt. She came to me with some ideas and some photographic inspiration. Her ideal dress was made with an Orenburg lace overlay. Orenburg lace is a traditional form of Russian lacework. The dress was stunningly simple, elegant and perfect for the occasion. Liz managed to find Galina, a woman living in Colorado, who hand-knits the most exquisite Orenburg lace panels out of 100% handspun cashmere. The effect is light, airy, sophisticated and so luxurious. The fibres of the cashmere give the lace a bit of a halo. The resulting garment is perfect for a winter wedding.
The lace is the star of this piece so to keep all of the attention focused there we decided on a very simple, ankle-length, A-line shape for the underskirt and the lining. We were lucky to be able use a 36" square panel of lace for the overlay without making any adjustments to it. We just left the back seam open to allow for movement. The underskirt, silk crepe de chine, and the lining, silk satin, were all sewn on the machine. After attaching the lace between those two layers the finishing work was all done by hand. I really enjoy doing handwork but knowing it was for a wedding made it an extra special experience.
Working on this skirt with Liz was such a privilege and I enjoyed every minute of it.
I'm wishing Liz and Nick many years of joy and happiness,
Sewing Notions – Pattern Envelopes February 04, 2015
The pattern envelope is the gateway to a successful sewing project. Pattern designers include all the information you need to know to get started which is why it can be a little confusing or overwhelming at first. In this post we're going to break down the anatomy of pattern envelopes and give a little insight on how to interpret them. After reading this you should have complete confidence to head to the fabric store and get all of the supplies you need to get your project off on the right foot. This is an information-heavy post but it will always be available for quick reference whenever you need it. It will be filed under Sewing Notions.
We are really lucky to have obtained permission from both Colette Patterns and Sewaholic Patterns to feature a couple of their envelopes in this and the next contribution to Sewing Notions. This is really wonderful because you'll be able to see how different companies handle and present the same information.
A. The Pattern Company
B. Pattern Name or Number
Some patterns only have a name, some only have a number and some have both. Using this information to do image searches is a great way to gather inspiration for your project. It's also essential in communicating which pattern you are using with the company or other sewists.
C. Pattern Size
This indicates what size or sizes are included in the envelope.
D. The Pattern Visual
This is the section that likely drew you to the pattern in the first place. The first thing to notice are the different views or versions. It's important to decide which one you want to make since it will effect the amount of fabric or notions needed. Each view or version is labelled to help you figure out what you need when you look at the back of the envelope. These can be photographs, illustrations or technical drawings (Colette and Sewaholic have each included technical drawings and Colette has complimented theirs with a photograph. Illustrations are artist representations of what the garment will look like sewn up and on a person). Photographs and illustrations can give you hints about pattern selection. It can be hard to know when bold patterns like plaids or stripes would be a good choice. If there is a bold stripe represented on the envelope then it's an excellent candidate for bold stripes. The Colette Ginger is an excellent example of this. Doing image searches is also a great way to see how different patterns will look on your garment.
Some patterns include this information while others don't. There are a lot of reasons for rating a pattern as beginner, intermediate or advanced. Some of these include fabric choice, number of techniques used, number of pattern pieces, etc. Reading the description can give insight into the reasoning behind the level choice so you can decide if you're ready for the challenge.
1. Pattern Name or Number
This sometimes appears on the back as well as the front for easy reference.
2. Technical Drawing
This can be found on the front or the back or both. Technical drawings are an excellent way to see the bones of a pattern that can be hard to determine otherwise. They show seam placement, dart placement, pocket styles, length variations, etc.
This can appear on the front or the back depending on the company. It's important to read through this section because it gives clarity to the visual. It will give information about fit, detailing, techniques or skills used and sometimes it will explain which patterns (stripes, plaids, etc.) will or won't work. If there is no level indication on the envelope, this can also help you decide if it's the right pattern for your skill set.
4. Notions and Supplies
This is where everything else needed to complete the project, besides fabric, will be listed. Things like thread, buttons, zippers, snaps and trim including quantities and lengths will be included. This can sometimes be broken down into views or versions so it's handy to remember which one you're referencing.
This is a list of fabrics that are suitable for the pattern. These suggestions are usually broken down into main fabric and lining fabric (if there is a lining) since they often require different types of fabric. This is not a definitive list. If you choose a fabric with similar properties to the suggestions it will go a long way to a successful project.
These can be represented in Metric or Imperial or both. Sewaholic has recently added Metric to the back of their envelopes although our example just includes the Imperial measurements. This information is easy to find on some patterns but is tucked away on the envelope flap of others. These are the measurements that correspond to your body. It's not unusual to fit into different sizes in different areas. When referencing your pattern size to the amount of fabric you need, always consider what kind of garment you are making. For example, let's say your bust measurement is a size 6 and your hip measurement is a size 10. If you are making a shirt then your hip measurement isn't really a factor and you would reference the size 6. If you are making a skirt then the bust measurement isn't a factor and you would just reference the size 10 requirements. If you were making a dress you would need to take both of these measurements into account so you would reference the size 10 requirements since that would be the bigger of the two.
7. Fabric Requirements
Based on the version or view you've picked and your body measurements you can use this chart to figure out how much fabric you need. The chart will show the main fabric and any linings or interfacing not included under Notions and Supplies for each of the versions or views. Fabric usually comes in widths of either 45" (1.14m) or 60" (1.52m) and since the fabric requirements will usually differ for each of these, they are listed separately. Sometimes the amounts are indicated with nap or without. If your fabric has a clear direction in pattern or pile (like velvet that brushes in one direction) you will need to reference the section marked with nap since all of your pattern pieces will have to be layed out in the same direction which requires more fabric.
8. Finished Measurements
These are the measurements of the finished garment. Comparing these measurements to the body measurements can give you insight into the amount of ease in the design. Sometimes this information can influence the size of garment you want to make. For example, if you are making a T-shirt out of knit fabric and you want it to fit snugly, the finished measurement should be slightly smaller than your body measurement (negative ease). If you were making that same shirt but you wanted it to be loose fitting you would pick a finished measurement slightly larger than your body measurement (positive ease) and find your fabric requirement accordingly.
There is a lot of information here but in the next installment of Sewing Notions we'll have some tips on how to get the most out of it all. We'll be including a downloadable pdf to help keep you organized.
Sewing Notions January 26, 2015
We, at the Makery, love a good pun. It only seems fitting (See what I did there?) that our new blog series should be called Sewing Notions. It's a series that will cover a lot of basic information about sewing as well as some tips, some tricks and, yes, even some actual sewing notions.
When we teach classes on sewing it can be hard to cover all of the basics and still get down to the business of sewing. We wanted to put all of this information down in one place where you could access it easily before coming to a class. That's how this series came to be. We have a wonderful lineup of sewing classes planned for the spring and we wanted to make sure that any information you might need is here on the blog, that it's easy to find (all of these posts will be tagged as "Sewing Notions") and comprehensive enough to help you feel prepared before even coming to the class.
We will start by covering things like how to read a pattern and a pattern envelope, knit fabrics vs. woven fabrics, how to cut your pattern out, etc. Once all the basics are covered we'll start to include techniques that we find useful or hope to be inspiring, we'll share some of the tools we like to use and why and for good measure we'll throw in some of our thoughts on sewing and why we still love it. We will continue to add to Sewing Notions all of the time. With each new addition we will be working to build an excellent resource for sewists of all levels.
Whether you're entertaining the idea of sewing for the first time or you just want a quick refresher you should check back here often. The next few weeks are going to be busy on the blog and there's sure to be something for everyone.
Kat's Moneta January 20, 2015
I tackled knits and came out on top. I'm super happy with this dress.
Before the holidays I bought the Makery's last Colette Moneta pattern with grand plans. I hustled my way down to Patch in Halifax for a couple of yards of Chris' beautiful bamboo jersey. I've not had much experience with knits so I set myself up with both the pattern and the Colette sew along as a guide. More advice is better, right?
Cutting out + pattern matching
As I haven't really used knits much before I was nervous about cutting it out. Add on top of that the stripe and I nearly had a meltdown. Luckily, Micheline suggested tracing the pattern so I could cut it out as one layer, as opposed to cutting it on the fold. So simple! That made it super easy to make sure that my stripes weren't running off in the wrong direction on me.
I used the medium top and large waist measurement. An easy adjustment to make which they describe simply in the instructions. I added length to the hem but ended up cutting most of it off as the weight and stretch of the knit lengthens the skirt more than I imagined.
I didn't follow the waistband instructions as guided. I followed Make Something's tip and basted and gathered the skirt first, basted the clear tape on and then attached the two layers. This was still finicky, and I'm not entirely satisfied with it in the end. I'm not sure that the elastic made it into the waist seam all of the way around, defeating the purpose of using it. The elastic also gets annoying and sticky when I'm wearing the dress, so I may try a different tactic next time (I'll fill you in).
The back neckline is a beautiful shape. I love it!
While I had okay success sewing the arm hem and neckline with the twin-needle, things got away from me on the bottom hem. I had a hard time stopping it from stretching out and bubbling. It doesn't look awful and it did flatten out a fair bit after washing, but next time I will be sure to use a hem stabilizer to stop this from being an issue.
The Moneta is a pretty swell pattern that, aside from the waist, is easy to follow and sew. I went shopping for more of the lovely bamboo knit to make a second before I had even worn the first one out of the sewing studio. That has to be a good sign.
Makery Staff Makes - Kat's 2014 Projects January 06, 2015
With the arrival of Cotton + Steel fabrics to the Makery, I quickly jumped in whipping up not one, but two Wiksten tank dresses in a week. This continues to be a favourite pattern of mine as it is a quick, easy and satisfying sew I can complete in an afternoon.
I used a contrasting solid cotton for the bias facing which allowed me to cut down on the required main fabric to 1.5 metres for the dress as opposed to the 2.75 metres the pattern called for. Even though these dresses are both navy, the xo and arrow patterns give them each a very different feel so I don't feel like I'm wearing the same outfit all time.
I made a few alterations to the pattern, raising the front neckline an inch and lengthening the skirt by two inches so I could wear it belted without it being too short. The shirt tail hem is a little finicky at first but I wouldn't change it as it is a lovely detail on this simple dress.
I got into the holidays very early this year and started this wire-frame Père Noël in October. After putting together our new needle felting kit I was on a felting kick for a good while. I felted his body and face over a bosic wire frame and constructed his festive suit with our wool felt.
I loved adding the scandinavian inspired embroidered details and collar. Knowing that I will pull this guy out every year made it worth while to spend time on the little details. I quickly whipped up an evergreen tree to keep him company and I imagine I'll add more pieces for next year.
That's all for our 2014 staff projects. We're making the most of 2015 already so keep an eye out for more projects soon.
Makery Staff Makes - Micheline's 2014 Projects January 05, 2015
While the rest of us at the Makery were whipping up quick creations for holiday gift giving, Micheline pushed out the boat making beautiful handmade pieces for the whole family.
Working in the Altered studio until late in the evening just a few days before Christmas, Micheline crafted three very sturdy duffle-style overnight bags to put under her tree. She made good use of our trusty industrial machine to sew through the six layers of fabric at the seams. Made with cotton canvas, warm and natural cotton batting and lined with Cotton + Steel coordinates these totes will be sure to last her kids years.
We've all been waiting for someone to bring these mustangs to their full potential and Micheline came through. What lucky girl doesn't want to snuggle up in a pair of horse pjs?
Makery Staff Makes - Rita's 2014 Projects January 03, 2015
Us ladies at the Makery are an industrious type with lives full of making in our off-makery hours. We are lucky enough to make some of our favourite projects at work, but often we take that inspiration home.
We're compiling a few of our favourite staff makes of the year. Some you may recognize as variations from workshops while other ideas may be making their way into the Makery line up in the near future.
Having only joined the Makery in May, Rita was not short on inspiration this year, churning out one great sew after another.
We're all in love with this skirt of Rita's. She drafted the custom pattern after exploring a few different construction details from vintage sewing patterns. This skirt looks like it has a lot of weight and bulk but the waxed print cotton is so light and airy it's like wearing a cloud.
I think it was Rita's 2014 goal to cozy everything she could. She started the fall teaching a quick fabric bucket course designed to snug chilly house plants adjusting to the colder season. Come the holidays, Rita stitched up enough potted aloe fabric snugs for every member of the Makery family. Her favourite African waxed print cotton is the perfect match for this simple sew adding a stunning bit of colour to our homes.
Not far from the snuggly plant-cozy is the newly discovered bento bag. The Makery was full of bento bag variations this holiday season. Rita sewed a lovely selection of lined bags to bundle up her gifts in using our Cotton and Steel fabrics. Sadly she dispatched them in the mail too quickly to grab photos. Hers were patterned and beautifully crafted, you'll just have to take our word for it. We're loving these bags so much we're offering a workshop on January 8th to spread the love. Check it out.
Stay tuned to see our other favourite projects next week.
Eco Parent + The Makery November 12, 2014
Late this past August a flurry of holiday crafting descended on the Makery and we've been keeping our crafts under our hats since then. We're happy now to announce that we are contributing crafters to Eco Parent magazine and are selling it in store.
The newest edition is The Winter Wonderland Issue, so we put together three fun and easy holiday craft how-tos: cute embroidered Pocket Mitten Ornaments, Button Holiday Trees and oh-so-easy String Felt Wreaths.
This coming Saturday we'll be putting these crafts to work as we launch our Handmade Holiday workshop series with a drop-in Holiday Craft Party. We'll be crafting felt ornaments, decorations and sharing some festive cheer. For more info, check out our workshop page.
We hope to see you this weekend, but if you're too far afield to join us in person, grab an Eco Parent Magazine and craft along in spirit.
Keep an eye out for more Makery contributions in future Eco Parent Issues.
Kat + Rita
Kat's Poppy Quilt November 07, 2014
Every year we try to do something special in honour of Remembrance Day for our window. For the past few years we've played with felt poppies and wreaths so this year we decided to try something completely different, a quilt panel.
It has been a little while (three years?) since I tackled a quilting project. It requires me to access the part of my brain that can figure out math equations and pay attention to grainlines. Needless to say, it doesn't happen often.
I sketched out a few ideas, taking some inspiration from the British Poppy pin, but in the end I decided a traditional look was probably best and I chose this classic pattern called the Frying Pan Poppy.
As I didn't have a physical pattern to follow I pulled out the graph paper to break up the design into pieces.
My strip widths were 2.5" and 4.5" leaving 1/4" for seam allowance around all edges. Once into a project, I just love the practice of quilting, rotating in rounds of cutting, sewing and ironing open seams like clockwork.
I left the binding open along one edge to allow for a hanging dowel to slip in. Now our quilt will hang proudly in our window until November 12th. Stay posted for when I share a few more of the tricks I used along the way.