Friday, April 29, 2011

The Right Stuff

Wasn't that a lovely wedding? The bride was radiant, the groom was blushing, everyone looked happy (except for that one bridesmaid) and now we're all off to search for a pattern for Pippa's dress. Having got up at 4am this morning, I can't be trusted to do anything more complex than load patterns on my website. I may have loaded several thousand vintage patterns in the last few years, and I think that there might be two kinds of Pattern People: the Stuffers and the Folders.
The Stuffers take their used pattern pieces and without regard to envelope size or shape, wad them up into a vague rectangular blob and jam them into the poor envelope, shoving the instructions in along side the wad of pattern. Witness the photo above.
Whereas those of the Folding School of Pattern Care gently fold their ironed pattern pieces, softly and reverently slide them inside the instruction sheets and close the envelope. The Stuffers sometimes can't close their envelopes, so they frequently resort to staples! (Oh the horror!) Those of the Stuffing persuasion may be closely related to those sadly misguided souls who cut out their patterns with Pinking Shears. My Junior High School sewing teacher felt that this behavior was just one step on the road to perdition, and I can't help but feel that she may have been right. How can one line up the pieces accurately if they're cut with pinked edges? I do not approve.
Of course I feel that my way is the only correct way: when the garment is sewn and the pattern is no longer needed, gently fold the pieces, making sure that all of them are together with the instructions and place them back in the original envelope.
I am always shocked to hear of people who cut up their envelopes, tape them to manila folders, and shove the pieces into ziplock bags. Or they tell me that the have all of their patterns sorted by number. (This is OCD madness, and I hear that there is medication that can help.)
I have mine sorted by pattern company, and then by type of pattern, because when I want to make a skirt, I am not going to remember the number. I just keep all the skirts together.
But there are people with complex systems who scan the patterns and have whole galleries on Flickr. I suppose I could do that, but I like to look though them.
I never cut up the envelopes and I never mangle the patterns. (What would Mrs. Funk say?)
What say you - are you a Folder, or a Stuffer?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Search Me

It is my morning amuse-bouche to read the daily search terms that people use to find my blog and website.
This morning the terms used were: hunting baby quilt, Hunting dress pattern, hunting paint. This left Mr. Hunting Creek and me scratching our heads. What on earth would a hunting baby quilt look like? Babies with camo and shotguns? Babies in duck blinds? Babies out with Springer Spaniel puppies, looking for ducks? (I hope they didn't mean that they were hunting for babies...what kind of creepy person would do that? And combined with quilting? It boggles the imagination.)
We're also uncertain as to what a hunting dress pattern might be, but I like to think it looks like an English Riding Habit from a romantic novel. Maybe Hunter Green and velveteen. With a hat that has a long black feather.
And as for the person who was looking for a pattern for a curling holder...I think that they are just making stuff up. Unless it's for a curling stone for curling the sport, which would also be weird. In that case, they are on their own.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fire-Breathing Sewing

We all have our weaknesses. There are certain descriptive words that draw me in and snag me: Italian silk, for example, or Japanese cotton, or Dragon Pattern. I have a weakness for small, realistic-looking (if you can use that word about a dragon) patterns for animals. Like all addictions, it starts when you're young. I remember making stuffed turtles, whales and dinosaurs for my baby brother (He is now in his 30's). I made them for my high school classmates. Even though my co-workers tease me about being pragmatic and practical, they don't know that my evil dark secret is that I like making teeny stuffed animals. I like to make them small and not too precious-looking (not that there's anything wrong with that). The quirkier the better.
I have two of these dragon patterns, if that's your weakness too. I know other people collect Issey Miyake patterns, or doll patterns, or YSL. I'd love to pretend to be to be so chic, but that would be a lie. It's little wild animals for me. What's your pattern weakness?

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Name is Diego Montoya...

A perfect costume shirt for swashbuckling lords, repeat after me, "My name is Diego Montoya..."

How is this shirt different from the McCall's shirt?

What separates "costume" from "Fashion"? The worst insult the designers hear on Project Runway is that something is "costumey", but where is the line? Is it that famous line for pornography, that you know it when you see it? My Simplicity blouse is a whole lotta look, but no one has yet challenged me to a duel while I have worn it. The new fashion for long ruffled skirts has a Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves look to me, but I was around the first time girls wore floaty skirts. And circle skirts always have a fifties vibe, because my mother wore those as a teen.
How do you know if what you are making is too costumey? Where do you draw the line?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easy is as Easy Does

Most experienced sewistas would agree that this pattern is EASY. But are all easy patterns equally easy?

Wouldn't you agree that collars, lapels and set in sleeves are slightly less easy than the peasant style blouse above?
Would a beginner find sewing this knit top easy? Or that skirt in the recommended charmeuse?
I very much doubt it. There needs to be a better way to indicate difficulty to the sewing public. My grandmother always told me that nothing was difficult; there were only different levels of attention required. Some patterns are labeled Advanced.
Ralph Rucci, for example, or Koos. But if you read their instructions, you'd see that nothing is that difficult; they just have extra steps to get precise results. Go slow, take your time, you'll be fine.
Instead I propose that they scrap all this EASY/INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED nonsense and give patterns ratings that mean something.For example:
Instead of easy, how about DISTRACTED you can assemble this with child interruptions, while on the phone.
Or PANIC Suitable for last minute sewing before formal occasions.
Instead of INTERMEDIATE, they would instead say: RELAXED Relax and take your time, because this ain't gonna be finished tonight anyway.
And as for the advanced patterns, when you try to add them to your cart, the website will ask - Are you sure? This has buttonholes, set in sleeves and gathering - don't say we didn't warn you! So maybe we'd call those FEELING LUCKY. wait, we'd call them DIRTY HARRY's, in honor of Harry saying, "Do you feel lucky, punk?"

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Even though my new sewing studio is not yet completed - I need some new blinds for my window to block the afternoon sun, and a new desk and a pattern storage solution- I can't stand not sewing anymore, and decide to make a simple quilt. This suddenly presented almost insurmountable difficulties. Mr. Hunting Creek had "put away" my rotary cutter, and finding it required a good 45 minutes of searching. Had he put it with the scissors? No.(That would be too easy) I had to channel my testosterone brain, and finally found it in a drawer in my office that held my steam a seam and some traced Burda Patterns. I only found it there because I was looking for a pencil. Then I looked for my 24" x6" ruler - which I discovered had been broken by the movers (Mr. Hunting Creek)! Sigh. So I had to get a new one, but it didn't have the sticky stuff on that kept it from sliding on the fabric. Mr. Hunting Creek had peeled that off the broken ruler and KEPT THE BROKEN RULER instead of my vinyl strip. SIGH. I had no idea where he put the rest of the roll of the sticky vinyl stuff. Anyone who is married can imagine the exasperated conversation that happened next. The Little Hunting Creek Company will now be selling that stuff by the roll. Maybe by the truckload. And those little dots of sandpaper. (Why would you keep a broken ruler? Why would you store it but carefully peel of the intact backing and throw that away? I ask you.)
I decided to make the Sidelines Quilt by Maple Island Quilts.
My son and I liked the lattice pattern. He picked out the fabrics for me. They look very cool and summery. The quilt has partial seams, but don't let that intimidate you - it's really a modified log cabin design and isn't really very difficult at all.
When I make a quilt from a pattern (I usually make up my own patterns, but this one looked fun) I don't cut out all of the fabric at once. I cut out some of it and make a couple blocks and see how I like the fabrics combined. That way if I change my mind I haven't done all of that work and have homeless pieces. I have enough of those already.
I had to find a solution to the new ruler sliding on the fabric (until my new rolls of Invisigrip arrive) and I discovered after experimenting that half inch strips of steam a seam on the ruler provide enough stickiness to keep it stable while I cut the strips. I don't know how long it will stay sticky, but it only has to last a couple days. Which is fortunate for both the fabric cutting and Mr. Hunting Creek.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scary Patterns VI: The Faceless Ones

Whatever you do, don't make these faceless dolls and sneak them into my sewing room, because we all know what would happen next.