Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sew Chic HAT Sewing and Design Contest

To celebrate 1000 Facebook "likes" I wanted to share the love and to do something special for you. My requirements were:
  • NO COST: something free and available to everyone everywhere
  • DOWNLOADABLE: Small enough to fit on a few pages
  • EASY TO MAKE: something a beginner could do, so more instruction is included.
  • OPEN TO CREATIVITY: Lend's itself to embellishment.
  • UNIQUE: Something you won't see everyday!
  • USEFUL: I love hats, and wear them often on dress up days. Many of you said you like them as well.
Inspired by the stylishness of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" I designed this hat to go with the Phantom Pattern photo shoot several years ago, so I thought- why not make that into a PDF?


Let the Giveaway Begin!

To create some enthusiasm (Halloween is coming too!) I've decided to do a giveaway with nice gifts that included more than just patterns. This pattern is an EASY project, and can be made as simple or elaborate as you care to make it. We have decided upon 4 categories, and a prize for each. We thought it best that you should be able to choose the category based on the prize you wanted to win. There is no judging criteria, so you need not worry about that. JUST make a hat that YOU love and submit it to the category of your choice by emailing to me, and posting a photo on the Company facebook page at:
so I can SHARE. Winners will be determined totally and completely by public vote.

Here are the categories:

Highly whimsical – Make a hat with the quality of being playful or fanciful!
#LN103 Abby Apron pattern.
2 yds of Momentum Voile by Heather Bailey, Dot Voile in pink.
2 packages of Wrights Double Fold Bias Binding
RECIPES from the DEPRESSION ERA Cook Booklet


Most Creative – Make a hat with uniqueness and imagination!
Pieced skirt kit includes:
 #LN1000 Starter Skirt pattern
 Written instructions for pieced design and sewing assembly
 16 oz. bottle of bubble jet to treat your fabric. 
Vintage pattern CD includes:
Two print ready images you see used in this skirt
340 digital images of vintage fabrics divided by era. 
13 page step by step "Beginners Guide to creating Digital Fabrics" tutorial using Adobe Photoshop.


Best Craftsmanship – Make a hat of high quality in decoration and workmanship!
Valentine Slip kit in your choice of black OR white.
#LN1207 Valentine slip Pattern
Written instructions for assembly
6 ¼ yds of 1” flat lace
Pre-cut strips for ruching 2 - 2 ½ strips and 2 – 5” strips of 15 denier sheer
1 yds of 15 denier tricot
1 yds of 40 denier  tricot


Classic Vintage –  Make a hat that is historically memorable to any time period!
Craftsy Sewing Vintage: The Flirty Day dress Class with Laura Nash
#LN1312 Tia dress pattern
8 HD video lessons with anytime anywhere access
3 hours of close up sewing instruction
Extra garment details include:
Make your own bias trim
Lapped zipper with a zipper facing
Waist stay
Vintage seam finishes
Easing a wide hem, using hem tape and hand stitching
Make your own petticoat without a pattern


SEWING DATES: Sewing begins now, and runs through Oct. 27th 2014
VOTING DATES: Oct 29, 2014- Nov. 7 2014
ELIGIBILITY: Everyone! National, International, Adults or Kids

  1. Go to Click on the “free patterns” link. Download and print the Funnel Hat Pattern (make sure printer setting is set to “actual size”).

  1. Choose a category and make your hat to fit the chosen theme. Finish and photograph your hat before October 27th, 2014.

  1. Once your hat is complete, go to the company facebook page at and click “like.” You are now able to share a photo to this wall.

  1. Post a photo of your Funnel Hat by October 27th to the company facebook page.  In the comments add the hash tags #sewchicpatterns and #------- (the category of your choice) ie: #highlywhimsical, #mostcreative, #bestcraftsmanship, #classicvintage.

  1. Send a photo to us by email to  with the category name in the subject line. Facebook prohibits prize winner notifications, so we will need your email.

  1. We encourage MORE photos posted to your own facebook page using the same hashtags. These hashtags become a clickable link where we can see all photos in one place. Do inform your followers to click “like” and vote!

7.      After the deadline, on or before Oct 30th we will collect photos into 4 category albums and post a link with a URL to collect public votes. The public will decide the winner of each group based on number of votes.

  1. Voting begins on October 29th and will close on November 7, 2014.
  1. The winners will be announced publicly and privately through email on the company facebook page by November 10, 2014.

  1. Who is eligible? EVERYONE. And that includes kids!


Thank you in advance for your participation!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sewing Mistakes and Seam Line Accuracy

Which is more important: Fit or Quality? Personally, I like both, but if I can only choose one- fit gets my vote every time. When you and I choose a size from the back of the envelope, we trust that it will fit those measurements reasonably well.  

Getting the intended fit also depends upon our ability to cut the pattern with accuracy. The goal is to to have the fabric to match the paper shape as exact as is possibly. With multi- sized patterns, lines go this way and that and it's easy to get tangled up in them.  I promise, checking the size marks and using a highlighter to carefully follow the cut line before it ever touches fabric or scissors can really  avoid trouble, but I know you get in a hurry like I do and this ONE time you decide to take a short cut... and then cut along the wrong size line.
Since we use the cut line to find the sewing line, we've got a problem. See that solid line (our cut line type) to the right along the pencil points? Yup, that's the one. The numbers at the end indicate the progression in size...and we are now shy about 1/4", and that's 1/2" we've just shaved off our waist and hip. Not only that, but it won't properly fit together with the other pattern pieces either. Luckily, we still  have a little bit of seam allowance to work with.
With fabrics wrong sides together, put two pieces of dressmakers carbon, color side to fabric, between your pieces along that wavering line.
Use a ruler or a gauge to mark the sewing line with a tracing wheel 5/8" to the inside of the cut line.
 Yup! The line tapers a little, but I have about 3/8" left right here.

Now I need to match that mark to the seam line of the corresponding pattern piece and I'm ready to sew along that mark. Whew! So glad I caught that now because I know how much trouble it will save me down the road. AND I know I'm going to like the fit.! Happy Sewing!

Friday, August 8, 2014

HOW TO: Sewing for Competition

I thought it a good time to follow up my sewing for competition series with a final post about how to prepare for, and plan a project that will be judged. I began my career in design by sewing for competition, and having also helped judge, I can speak from experience on both sides of the table.

It can be really fun and rewarding to sew for completion, and there bounteous prizes out there ready for the taking, but you should plan your project thoughtfully in order to bring home the booty. Here some of the things to consider:

Meet and Exceed the Requirements

When learning about a competition, the first thing we do is assess the rules, requirements and deadlines. Very quickly we must decide if we can meet the deadline, have the tools or materials, the means, and ability to meet the minimum requirements. The competition rules will ask us to DO something such as use a certain fabric, theme, or pattern, but this is only the minimum requirement.  Meeting the rule minimums will very often get you in the door, but if winning is the goal, then you must employ every way you can think of to go beyond this mark. Don't just meet the requirements- exceed them. 
I was not particularly competitive when I began sewing for competition, as I was just excited to be accepted and to see my designs on professional models and on the runway. I learned a lot by watching others, reviewing what they were doing, seeing the winning designs and trying to better myself. It wasn't too long before I decided I was in it to win it!

Originality Counts 

You are in this to impress someone! I believe we call it the WOW factor. Get ideas from where ever you can, but in this realm, originality counts. If we've seen it too many times, or it looks like something everyone else is doing then you might want to experiment a bit more. Everyone loves a new idea, new technique, or an unfamiliar silhouette. Take the time to come up with an unusual twist like using an old idea in a new way.  Sewing for competition is a license to be clever!
This bias dress was designed specifically for an ITAA competition, draping to fit the body in geometric shapes I used insets and godets throughout, and large swaths of cloth, piecing where ever necessary. The beaded accents have a purpose, as the sleeves are filled with layers of net, all held in place with beads to help keep its shape.

Keep the Judges, Competition, and Audience in Mind

In choosing your project, think about who the people or group or audience is that will be judging your garment. What might be the goal of the competition, or the sponsors? What can you make that will best represent this sponsor in meeting their purpose? Are they selling a product? Are they interested in unique or technical design? Are they looking to encourage the young, mature, or art and design oriented? Will your garment be judged by many or a few people? Take all of these things into consideration and try to get inside the mind of your audience.

One competition required that I submit photos of three different designs to show my capability. Once accepted, I could model only ONE of the submitted designs. I sent a survey to all my friends and family, then made arrangements with a model to wear the gown with the most votes. I had this feeling that my judges/audience would be a sophisticated group, and that this dress my friends had picked would be the wrong one to show. At the last minute I changed my plan and showed a cocktail style instead. Taking home the title that day helped me know that being mindful of the audience is key.

Provide a Top Notch Presentation

Most rules will ask for a minimum of one or two photos as an initial round of judging. Provide your judges with the best possible photos to avoid being eliminated in this earliest phase!  If not specifically prohibited, ALWAYS provide a minimum of three photos- front, back, and a detail. Provide others only if it's relevant and necessary to show the fabric, design, or quality of workmanship. Don't overwhelm judges either. Some competitions will require professional photography, and serious competitors will definitely be paying for photos. If this is your first time, be aware that not all photographers know how to shoot clothing appropriately. Ask around for referrals, and ask the photographer for a quick practice run. If photographing DIY, always shoot in natural, but not direct light, high resolution without a flash. Give your garment a back drop using a bed sheet in gray if you have it- cream (white is usually too harsh- avoid it if you can) or some other complimentary (to the garment) pale color can work also. Thumb tack it to the side of your house to block out distracting lines and scenery. One back drop color from top to bottom, and under the garment is great. A hanger is not the best presentation. Put your garment on a dress form or on a body to show the shape. Cropping outlying areas and heads are just fine.  If your photos are in focus and high quality, three will be enough to convince the judges that your garment is worthy of a second look!
Showing your workmanship with a plain background in a beautiful and artful way will definitely catch the eye of your judges.

Give it your Best Workmanship

Now that you've planned your project in a purposeful way; it's designed to meet the needs of your competition sponsors, and you've reeled them in with the best photos possible, this is where the rubber hits the pavement. IF this is a photos only competition, then workmanship isn't going to be the biggest factor because no one can see your workmanship. If this is a garment-in-hand competition, your workmanship should be as flawless as you can get it. No raw edges. No sloppy hand stitching. No shortcuts. Add in linings, structure, seam finishes, and high quality garment details to give your garment that something special. Keep in mind your skill level when choosing an embellishment. Hand painting with dye is going to win over stencil and paint, and embroidery is generally the better option compared to fabric markers, but I can make no rules here. I have seen some marvelous things happen with nothing but a sharpie!  Suffice it to say that if your workmanship is beyond average, it will set your garment at least equal to, if not above, anyone else in the competition. It's the workmanship that will ultimately get you across the finish line.

Does this mean that you must sew couture or give up? No. BUT if your competitors are sewing couture, and you did not....well, I think you get the picture.

What are you making for competition? Send us links!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sewing for Competiton: Kathy Knapp

Today will be my last post about the IPCA PLARS competitors,  the "People's Choice" winner by Facebook "likes" Kathy Knapp. Kathy's entry went on to compete against other IPCA member companies, coming in second. Kathy received $100 in product from my company, and as 2nd place grand prize winner, she took home a brand new fabulous iron from the Reliable company too.

Like Eve Kovaks, whom I posted about last week, Kathy has sewn for. and won many, many competitions. But unlike Eve, who employs a versatile range in competition styles, Kathy stays with a consistent method that identifies her work where ever she goes. Some of her other garments for competition are below:

 And a close up of that jacket shows how she sculptures and highly embellishes the fabric: 

Here is what Kathy had to say about her PLARS entry:

"As a collector of vintage clothing and accessories, I wanted to enter the challenge to try to put my own spin a vintage dress.  My aesthetic as a wearable art designer is to elevate traditional quilting techniques to a high art form.  As a rule I study historical garments and use them as a starting point to transform these ideas into a more wearable product with a modern edge.  I generally like to create structured pieces as a rule; the challenge pushed me beyond my limits to create a flowing garment. 
My inspiration in this case came from enjoyment of the vintage inspired garments worn by Katy Perry and the attention to detail in her early music videos.   The resulting “Party Dress” would be appropriate for the various music award after parties.
As an artist, I love to create intricate surface designs using unusual and vintage embellishments, if possible.  Beaded yo-yos and jewelry making beads along with accent pieces obtained from recycled costume jewelry; all hand sewn onto a quilted background comprise the surface design.  The bodice of the dress is constructed using free-motion quilting, boning, hand beading and non-traditional quilting of raw edge two inch squares.  The oval accent piece on the back uses hand applique.  Hand beaded and crystalized covered buttons are used as an unique closure.  A rare vintage French trim serves as a border on several pieces.  I used Hoffman fabrics of California for the dress purchased from Hancock’s of  Jewelry end cap beads can be purchased from Fire Mountain as they have a huge selection.  Look in your unused jewelry box or even thrift stores for elements which can add that extra twist to your design.
I encourage others to try and go out of their comfort zones of creativity – you may be amazed at the results!"

Kathy's entry as shown below shows the exquisite interior workmanship too:

Stay tuned! Next week I'm going to talk about how to plan for, sew for, and present your garment when Sewing for Competition.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sewing for Competition, Semi-Finalist: Eve Kovacs

This week's post will continue with the IPCA PLARS contest, and semi-finalist, Eve Kovacs.  First, you should know that Eve is no beginner when it comes to sewing for competition.

 She was a finalist in the 2011 Passion for Fashion design contest hosted by the American Sewing Expo (above).

This design with embroidery was created for the Bernina Fashion Show, one of the world's premiere wearable art shows. Eve titled it “Belladonna.”

 A quick "google" of her name, and you will come up with quite a design variety in competition creations

and incredible works of art.

Of course, many carry ribbons. She calls this one “Thai Tutti Frutti”

Her favorite things to sew are jackets, coats, and ensembles, so it's not a surprise that she did just that with the Sew Chic Beatrice pattern, #1310. As is common with wearable art, Eve added seams and plenty of details, mixing several fabric types for a successful "Rock and Roll" edgy and feminine look.

 Here is the pattern she used:
You can get yours here: