Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ana Stepalica and Rhonda Buss

 This is my lucky week! Today I get attention from Ana of Stepalica Patterns; she has published an interview with me that we did some time ago, AND today, Rhonda begins her "hack" of the Myrtlewood pattern. Links following, but so as to not distract you just yet, let me tell you just a little about my experience with Ana.

For Sewing Indie, we all saw a list of participating designers and was asked to choose 3 or 4 companies that we wanted to work with. I did not know any of the designers personally, and some of them were so brand new they had just barely published their first pattern. We knew that we would not necessarily be paired with those on our list (they had to choose us too!), but lucky for me, the one designer that I chose that picked me also was Ana Stepalica of Stepalica patterns. Let me tell you why she was one of my picks.

Without knowing anything else, here is what this design (her first) told me about Ana:
  • Jumping right in to the advanced sewing market (which is a small sector), we know she is brave and has no fear. Even I was not willing to do that!
  • The complexity of the design tells us that she has skill and is detail oriented.
  • This fabric is not easy to work with. She is patient and careful- even exacting.
  • The tried and true classic silhouette is timeless and traditional yet...
  • not boring. She is cleaver, creative, and innovative.
  • The look is very international- it turns out she is from Serbia.
These are all the things that are important to me also, and immediately I feel a kinship with her. At that time, I did not know that she is also a writer for Sew News Magazine. She writes, she sews, she's creative. Sound like a winning combination for a pattern company to me! Now that I've had a chance to get to know Ana, I KNOW she is all of these things and so much more!

The prices of her downloadable patterns are very reasonable too. I love her Zlata skirt! Take a look at what Rhonda Buss of Rhonda's Creative Life did with this skirt:

Read more about her making of this skirt here:

This week Rhonda has begun her "hack" of the Myrtlewood pattern:
 It's proving to be VERY interesting. She's got my attention! 

And of course, you don't want to miss Ana's interview with me.
It's your reading list for the week.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sewing Indie with Craftsy: Flirty Meets Sassy, Part II

For Sewing Indie Month my assignment was to pair up with Christine Haynes (patterns) who is also a Craftsy class teacher...


So I decided that my tutorial would combine our projects into ONE adorable outfit that YOU can make for yourself!
Sew Chic Patterns Tia 1312

With a few quick pattern changes, I've turned Miss Sassy into a short jacket.

Sew Chic Patterns Tia 1312
And Miss Flirty got a make over too.

Sew Chic Patterns Tia 1312

I raised the neckline, changed the trim to mirror the collar on the jacket, added tucks down the front, highlighted by covered buttons.

Sew Chic Patterns Tia 1312

 I even added cross tucks to the pocket to continue the theme.

Sew Chic Patterns Tia 1312
You can find the jacket tutorial here:
Sewing Indie with Craftsy: Flirty Meets Sassy, Part I 
But stay right here for the Tia Dress tutorial, so here we go!

First we are going to raise the neckline. Whenever you want to make an alteration from the original pattern, I recommend that you first trace off the pattern piece in your size. If you make a mess of it, no problem. You can always come back to the original and try it again!

Here are my pieces traced off. Next, mark the seam allowances around the neckline. And pin them together as if sewn, leaving the bottom of the princess seam spread out.

Use a grid ruler to draw in a new cut line. I'm going to raise my neckline 5/8" and flattened that top curve just a little, raising the center to about 3/4".  For more modesty, you can raise the neck more, and flatten the curve or go straight across for a square neckline.

What was the cut line, now becomes the sewing or seam line (easy for me!). I've extended the pattern cut lines for all pieces and shortened the shoulder piece to match with my new seam line.
This is what my new pattern pieces look like. Be sure to make a notation on your pattern so that you will remember what you did when you find this pattern again years from now! Next, I want to add pleats down the front at the same interval and depth as my jacket pattern.

Rather than cut my pattern up to add the tucks permanently, I'm going to make the tucks first, then cut the pattern. This is a great way to add may kinds of details and get them positioned exactly. Using a small square of fabric large enough for my pattern and the wide enough for the tucks, I've marked the edges of my fabric with chalk so you can see it, but normally I would just make a clip with my scissors. These marks are 1 3/8" apart from each other. I've left about 1 1/2 to the selvage. Be sure that your tuck marks follow the grain!

Fold the pleats along the marks and press. Your grain will keep these perfectly straight. Now sew your tucks at 3/8" from the fold line.

To keep these tucks straight, use a guide, not your eye, or a piece of tape. Cutting 2, one set of tucks will be pressed to the right right, and the other to the left.

Place the center front with the cut line 1" from the first row of stitches, or 1 3/8" from the first fold. Once sewn, that will leave you with 3/8" to the center front seam line. Don't forget to add the interfacing after your fabric is cut, just as the pattern instructions direct.

 To add the trim, make yourself a pattern piece following the Craftsy class, or for those of you not in the class, here is what the pattern piece will look like with the measurements. Cut one, then cut in half, will be enough for both sides of the bodice.

Cut your trim, folded in half, and make sure that your end is square.
 Sew the end and trim. Fold right side out. the pin designates the pattern marking on the front.

 Matching the finished edge to that pin, pin, then baste into place.
Pin your center fronts together at the tuck seams so you know they will be the same distance from each other when sewn.

Also, before you sew, make sure that your trims match up perfectly at the beginning point. The X is where you'll put your needle down through all the layers.
Make your pocket in the same way, sewing the tucks first, then cutting the pattern. This one will be trickier than the bodice, because you'll be stitching those tucks on the bias. Be as careful as you can be!

Folding under your outside pocket seam will take some patience also. Use your bishops ruler to fold under and press, measuring from the pleat stitching, not necessarily from the pattern edge. No one will notice if your pockets are not exactly the same, but if your edge gets wide and narrow from your tuck, that will definitely be noticed!

Even if you aren't in the Miss Sassy class, I encourage you to read the part I tutorial anyway. I give you more tips for sewing perfectly aligned tucks!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sewing Indie: Sew Caroline tutorial for a Peter Pan Collar Necklace

I almost forgot to deliver this post to you! Today was my assigned day to share a post by Caroline Hulse, a very popular and incredibly cheerful blogger at Sew Caroline. She is a fabric designer and has recently begun designing PDF patterns too. I hope you enjoy her post: 

Hi Sew Chic readers! My name is Caroline and I write at the blog I am super excited to share a project with you all today. I love the vintage vibe of Laura's patterns and thought this Peter Pan Collar DIY would be the perfect addition to many of her beautiful patterns.

 Supplies you'll need for this project: -Peter Pan Collar pattern template, printed to 100% -Approximately 1/4 yard of fabric (woven works best!) -Coordinating and invisible thread -Necklace chain and findings to go along with it -Sewing machine + hand sewing supplies -Scissors OK, let's get started. Step One: First, print out the PDF file found HERE. You will need to print this at 100% and/or NO scaling. There is a 2"x2" square for your reference. Step Two: Cut your pattern pieces out using the instructions locating on the collar piece. Step Three: IMG_4074-610x406 Step Four: Take two pieces at a time, matching all the edges and sewing them together using a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave 1-2" open along the top edge for turning. Repeat this for the other set of collar pieces. Step Five: Before turning the right side out, clip around the curves of the collar pieces. IMG_4079-610x406 Step Six: Turn right sides out and top stitch right along the edge that you left open. Step Seven: Using the chain-links of the necklace chain as a guide, sew the necklace using invisible thread and a hand sewing needle on to the collar pieces. You'll start in the middle and work your way to the top. When that side is completely hand sewn to the necklace chain, repeat this process for the other half of the collar, being sure to match the points in the center. Be sure both collar pieces are securely sewn onto the necklace chain. IMG_4087-610x406IMG_4089-610x406 Step Eight: Add the findings to the top of the necklace chain and you are all set to wear your gorgeous new collar necklace! IMG_4093-610x406 Thanks for reading! I hope can connect elsewhere on the Internet! You can find me on my blog, Instagram, and Facebook. xoxoxo

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wedding Gown Redesign

I spent the day doing some minor redesigning of this dress for a bride getting married next week.

She wanted some sleeves added for modesty, a rip repaired in the back, and a bow added to the back. The problem with adding to a wedding gown is always the fabric. Matching the fabric and color is almost impossible. This bride is on a seriously small budget, so in my closet I had an old wedding gown from the '80's I was happy to cut into. This isn't a  tutorial, but I'll show you what I did.
This alteration took 4 panels of the dress. I kept the shape just as it came off the dress. The top part of the panel will become the "loops" and the bottom half will become the tie ends. I cut and sewed four triangular tops together with heavy interfacing and the bottom of two panels are sewn right sides together up the side. The bottom, which was the original hem, will remain open.

 Using my strapless sleeve pattern, I made sleeves. I always leave long ends about 2" longer than I think I need. I sew a basting stitch according the markings I did at the fitting and match this basting line to the top of the dress where I'll be sewing.
Here is what it looks like all pinned in place. I will sew the sleeves to the bodice by machine under the trim. No one will see it!
For some dumb reason, I couldn't get these to load right side up, but I gathered up all the ends for the bow parts and laid the "loops" on top of each other and baste all four layers together. I did the same with the ends. Then I laid all eight layers on top of each other.
I tacked them at the ends. It was thick, just like I wanted it to be. I made an interfaced band about 1" wide to go around the bow and cover up the raw edges and hand stitched on the wrong side.
Then I had to repair this tear, also by hand. There was no way to make this repair invisible, so part of the purpose of the bow was to make it less noticable.
I added the bow, hand stitching in place on the left side and snaps for the right. I think it turned out alright. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sewing Indie: Pauline Alice Patterns

Today I am interviewing Pauline of Pauline Alice Patterns. She has an easy sweet feminine style that is reflected in her clothing. I really enjoyed getting to know more about her and her line of patterns: 

 How did you go about learning to sew?
I learned sewing when I was a teenager on my grandmother’s Singer sewing machine from the 70's. My mom knew the basics and taught me how to thread the needle, how to use the straight and the zig-zag stitches (that's about all the machine could do, but it's such a strong machine, my mom still uses it when she needs to hem trousers or mend something). My first make was a tutu-like skirt made with old curtains, it was very arty, horrible, but I loved it! I didn't have any patterns but I loved to alter old clothes, like take a skirt and add another panel in a contrasting fabric, or make bell bottom pants from normal denim. Then in High School, I made the costumes for a theater company I was acting in. During university, I left it as I didn't have a sewing machine with me. But I was always creative with my clothes.
Up until the moment I arrived in Spain and decided it was time to go back to sewing for good.
Pauline Alice Retro Apron Tutorial
 Give us some insight into your personal life and what prompted you to develop a pattern line?
I'm French and I moved to Spain 4 years ago (for love!). The first thing I bought when I arrived was a sewing machine and that's when I started sewing seriously. I've always liked to come up with my own designs, even as little girl I was drawing fashion silhouette and clothes. Pattern designing (or any kind of designing) has always been a dream of mine so when my job contract ended, I thought it was the time, or never to try. I wanted to create a line of feminine patterns, with a retro feel but easy to wear on an everyday basis. 
Pauline Alice Carme Blouse Pattern

What kind of contract work did you do? Are you formally trained in any specific field?
I have an English literature and Edition [publishing] master. After university, I worked 2 years in Edition in Paris and when my contract ended, I decided to move to Spain where my boyfriend is from and was living. It was a big move as I didn't speak the language and didn't know anybody else but I like adventure.
I found work pretty easily, considering, but in a totally different field (administrative because of the languages). I learned Spanish quite fast but didn't enjoy my job. So I spent all my free time sewing and designing for myself. The idea was always present that I would love to work from that passion. At the beginning, I thought it could be selling handmade dresses so I started an Etsy shop. That's when I made my first designs and patterns. One dress, the Malvarosa, I used for my patterns as I loved the shape so much (and the others may pop up as patterns later, who knows). 
Pauline Alice Malvarosa Dress Pattern
 Tell us a little about how you got your pattern line started and your style development process, inspirations, etc.?
I'm self-taught. I've learned sewing by myself using the machine, reading sewing books, blogs, magazines, online classes... The same goes for pattern design: I've studied by myself reading about it, trying techniques, studying patterns... and with lots of mock-ups!
I usually think about a design for months before it's time to put it down on paper. It might be something I'd like to wear or a combination of details I've seen in old catalogs or on the street. I like to think about it a lot before drawing and when finally I put it to paper, the design is pretty final. All the details designing happen in my mind.
Pauline Alice Cami Dress Pattern

Once you draw the style, do you make the initial pattern yourself, or do you hire people to help you at certain stages?
I make the pattern myself as well. I start from a standard block (size 38 or 40) and trace the lines on my dressmaker. After various mock-ups, when the fit is correct, I make the paper pattern and manually grade the pattern.  I make a mock up for myself to check the smaller size. I send the pattern with the instructions to the testers (I try to get a range of different sizes and different languages). When everything is correct, it goes in PDF format or to the printer.
Pauline Alice Flamenca Dress Tutorial
Tell us about your customer, your pattern quality standards and the level of difficulty your patterns are written for.
Because the instructions are written in English, Spanish and French, I'm happy to have customers in a lot of different countries. That's amazing! I also have pattern testers from the 3 languages (and all continents) which helps me to write the clearest instructions possible for the different levels of seamstresses. About that, each pattern has its own level, from beginner to advanced level, and tutorials can be found on the blog for more support, so even the more advanced pattern like the Ninot jacket can be attempted by a more novice seamstress.
Pauline Alice Ninot Jacket Pattern
Many American's would love to travel Europe and shop for fashion and fabrics. Can you advise us on this? Are there some "do not miss" spots to shop?
I can only tell you about Paris and Valencia, where I've lived (but I guess the majority of Americans would go to Paris anyway ;). In Paris, I liked to go in the Marché Saint Pierre. You can see Montmartre and the Sacré Coeur from the same street so it's a great touristic stop as well. In the same street, you have 4 or 5 different fabric shops, le Marché Saint Pierre being the biggest one. They carry lots of fabric, some from french designers from the past seasons (I got some amazing hot pink Dior double face wool for a bargain some years ago) and the small shops offer "coupons" for fabric on sale (usually only 2 or 3 [meters long]).
In Valencia, my favourite fabric shop is Julián López. This is a family business based here but they have expanded and you can find them in the biggest cities of Spain now. They carry beautiful fabric, amazing quality and offer a very personal service. I love that when I go (which happens very often, maybe too often!). They immediately tell me when they have received a new fabric that they think I'm going to love (yes, I go too often). They also have a notions store on the upper floor and a whole floor dedicated to regional costume fabric (one of my couture goals for the next year is to make a Valencian regional gown, it's the most beautiful dress I've seen!

Pauline copied Scarlett's dress in Gone With the Wind
Are there other goals you are working toward?
Yes, my patterns will be available in print in May and it's been such a great adventure (and a lot of work). My plan is to keep designing nice patterns :)
Your styles are really adorable. My personal favorite is your Ninot Jacket. Where can we go to buy your patterns?
You can buy my patterns on and very soon in some pattern shops.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sewing Indie Month Begins!

At the beginning of the year I received an invitation from Mari Miller, the designer of Seamster Patterns, to participate in a blog event that would eventually include 21 indie designers. The goal was to learn more about each other, promote friendships, and give us an opportunity to share in our spirit of cooperation with the sewing community.

We have all conducted interviews and written tutorials for each other that will be posted every weekday throughout the month, including four sew-alongs in four different style categories. And just for you, we have collected over $1000 in prizes! This has turned out to be a block-buster event (thanks to Mari!!) so it's time to clear your calendar and get ready for  
Sewing Indie Month!  
Grab your very own blog button with the code below and let's get with the details.

First, let me direct you to the Sewing Indie button on the side bar. It will take you to Mari's blog post/sew along calendar for the month. Below is a quick list of participating designers that will take you to their blog page (or close to it). Be sure to "follow" so you don't miss anything!


sewing indie month sewalong rules



OVER $1000 IN PRIZES TO BE AWARDED each category, including a bonus winner chosen from among all categories. This is an approximate $200 value per winner. I am humbled by the generosity and such outstanding prizes! Please help us thank these wonderful sponsors!

....And winners also get a pattern pack from the Sponsoring Designers



Please visit the sew-along blogs to find out specific prizes awarded to each category. Doesn't it make you want to get behind your sewing machine?