Adventures in Patterns

May 24, 2012

I’ve only just started venturing into independent modern pattern companies.  I’d seen the Colette patterns at the local fabric shop but wasn’t sure how good they’d look from looking at the illustrations.  Then I saw some pictures online and decided to give them a go.  I even found some perfect fabric (on sale!) to do a Rooibos, but I when went to to the shop the only dress pattern they had was Ceylon.  I decided to try it anyway, which was possibly not the best idea, given how many pieces it has – it probably wasn’t going to be that quick to whip up just to see how I like the pattern company.

Ceylon by Colette Patterns

However! All went well.  I love the cute booklet and the clear instructions. The slightly unusual construction of the yoke went together beautifully and the finished product is comfortable and flattering.  I now know which sizes fit me and that I can probably get away with less fabric than the pattern says.

So now I want more! But where to start?

  • I already have the fabric for Rooibos
  • Macaron looks really  sweet, though it seems like finding a perfect mix of fabrics is hard
  • The Beignet skirt looks really versatile and a good change from dresses
  • I want some high-waisted shorts like Iris (though I don’t need them, having bought 3 pairs of shorts last summer…)

I wasn’t that inspired by the Sewaholic patterns – Lonsdale is a bit angular for me, and I’m not that enthused by sewing tops.  But the other day I saw the Cambie dress and I LOVE it, so I’m very willing to be converted.

And on top of those…

I want some lightweight pants for our trip to Turkey, so I should start that.

I also have some Liberty fabric to do a skirt, plus a couple more pieces I haven’t decided what to do with.

Plus I love this patttern.

And this dress, which could work with the Burda pattern I’ve used a few times.

Oh, and this dress.

Not enough time! So many patterns to buy, and make!

Making it Work: Fabric

May 23, 2012

I was taught to sew by my mother and grandmother, who, to varying degrees, belong to a generation for whom sewing your own clothes was cheaper than buying them.  That has certainly never been the case for me, though the two are becoming more comparable thanks to the advent of internet shopping.  Still, their thrifty habits taught me a couple of things:

  1. You never need as much fabric as the pattern says
  2. If you don’t have quite as much fabric as you need, or it’s not quite right, you can always make it work.

Working in a fabric shop, I always find it hilarious when people say “The patterns says I need 1.5m.  I’ll get 2.5m just in case”.  I guess it’s good if you’re not confident – I’m so paranoid cutting things out I rarely get it wrong.

This attitude has certainly saved me money, but it’s also got me into some tricky situations. Usually I’d get 0.1 or 0.2m less than the pattern says.  But on one occasion a couple of years ago, I went a bit overboard with a Regency day dress. The pattern said something like 4.5m, I decided 4 was OK (having used the pattern before), then they unrolled the fabric I chose… and there was only 3m left.  So I said “we can make it work!”.  And, eventually, we did, after a lot of fiddling.  Of course, I’d also managed to chose a fabric with stripes.

But the fabric was so pretty…

When I decided to try out Colette’s Ceylon pattern, I couldn’t find any fabric I was happy with in the shop and I couldn’t quite believe I needed 3.5m.  Although, not having used Colette before, I didn’t know how much leeway I had.  In the end, I dug out a piece of cotton poplin I’d got from work which had come out OK after a turn in the washing machine.  So it turned out I had 2.6m of 115cm wide fabric and it had some holes along one side where it had been stapled to a table, just to make things more interesting.

In the end, it worked.  I avoided the holes and the only pieces I had to put across- rather than length-wise were the front facings.  The moral of the story is: you can make a Ceylon from 2.6m of fabric, but only if you want to muck around for hours and cut it out piece by piece.  I think I’ll be getting at least 3m for my next Ceylon!