Good Books

I went to see when I last posted a book post on here, thinking I haven’t been reading much, but actually I have quite a few books to talk about! Chris and I have started watching Scrubs from the beginning (we finished Ted Lasso and needed more funny, sweet stories in our lives!) and it’s taken up some of my reading time. Still managed to have four very very different books to share with you if you need something to add to your list!

Hamnet by Maggi O’Farrell This was a beautiful historical fiction to get lost in when it was grey and dreary outside. The story of Shakespeare’s family and an imagining of what his marriage might have been like. Beautiful descriptions of motherhood and I loved this fictionalized version of his wife. I connected with the boy/girl twins, but maybe too much so as this one did make me very sad by the end.

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams I loved this beautiful memoir. Contemplations on love, grief, faith, and writing in a journalistic style that left me feeling inspired and thoughtful every time I put it down. I am getting where I really appreciate a good memoir and this was exactly that.

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson I saw this recommended on some list and put it on hold at the library and just happened to check it out the week the Mars rover landed. A memoir interlaced with the history of studying Mars, I found this one pretty fascinating. Not something I usually pick out and I’m glad I did!

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro I finished this one last week and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. It was so weird and intriguing and so much was left unexplained or just sprinkled in, which I was loving, until the end. When it just ended? I felt so lost and sad about a character that was not even human and it was kind of unsatisfying. Which when I shared that online multiple people said, yea I feel that way every time I read that author, so maybe this is their thing. Anyway. If you like sci fi I would think this would be a cool one to try!

Me Made May 2021/// My Pledge!

Happy first of May! If you’ve been paying attention to the online sewing world for any amount of time, then you probably know all about this fun challenge. Basically people make pledges- either to wear/make/document their handmade clothing. You don’t have to share, but a lot of people do. It’s fun to see a month of outfits and really helpful in analyzing your wardrobe. It’s also inspiring to follow the hashtag and see what patterns people are sewing and how they are wearing their handmade clothes. You can also participate and just keep it to yourself. There are no rules! Here are all my posts from last May!

Here is my pledge for May! I will be wearing and documenting my spring capsule everyday. I’ll round up ever week here and my hope is at the end I have a better sense as to if this whole capsule thing is actually something I want to continue as well as see a full picture of my closet. This means everything won’t be handmade, but a lot will!

I also pledge to not shop any sewing related things this month- except for the thread or random notion I may need to finish a project! But no patterns, no fabrics. I have plenty of projects to work on and keep me busy and that is what I intend to focus on. I would also love to have a stretch of time to really think about summer sewing and give myself some time to plan.

Are you participating in Me Made May? I’d love to hear what you’re planning on doing and if you will be documenting it anywhere. More than anything I’m looking forward to a month of sunshine, family, a couple of birthdays, and the promise of summer (my favorite!).

Whit Reviews/// Just Patterns

I’m here today with my monthly pattern review! Every month I send an indie sewing pattern company a list of questions my readers helped me come up with and if they agree to answer, I buy a pattern and sew it up to share the whole process with you! Check out past reviews here!

This month I’m looking at Just Patterns. This French company makes chic but wearable clothes and I first learned about them when their newest pattern, the Claudia tank, was released fairly recently. Delphine is the owner of the company and she was delightful to interact with! Here are her answers to our questions!

What is your design background? When and why did you start making your own patterns?

I started sewing when I was in my teens. I was obsessed with the idea of recreating the garments that I couldn’t afford. However, unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t have the skills or access to the resources that would have allowed me to make my dream wardrobe come true. I realized that the resources that would enable me to create the garments I was dreaming of, were not commonly available to home sewers. For the next 20 years, in parallel to studying and working at my day job, I read books, took pattern making and draping classes at fashion schools in New York and Paris, participated in the online sewing community and sewed a lot.

In 2013, I started a sewing blog (sewing tidbits) and I launched Just Patterns in 2017 during my maternity leave. It was initially launched with a friend working in the fashion industry but we split and I now continue on my own. The reason I sew and release patterns (to create my dream wardrobe) never changed, although the actual clothes have changed a lot since I was 14!

Who do you design for? Who is your Target Audience?

My sewing patterns are meant for dressmakers who are passionate about fashion, luxury ready-to-wear, and love detail-oriented sewing projects.

What level of sewer do you design for?

I design patterns for sewists who already know the basics of sewing. While it was not the case initially (and I’m still in the process of updating 2 older patterns), I now provide detailed and illustrated step-by-step instructions.

I do believe in empowering makers to up their skills and that each project is an opportunity to improve one’s skills. All patterns have a Resource Page, where I curate a list of tutorials and resources from the online sewing community. I also add specific tutorials and blog posts for inspiration and complex steps.

What is your price point and why?
My price point has evolved a lot since I launched in 2017. My initial idea was releasing patterns with minimal instructions at a cheaper price than most indie patterns (between 3$ and 7$ US). But, I quickly realized that not that many people had time or interest to sew with minimal instructions and that they didn’t mind higher prices if it meant detailed instructions. My new patterns (and the older ones I updated) are translated in French and in English, they have step-by-step instructions, an improved size range, pattern testers and editors are compensated. They are currently priced between 10$ and 14$ depending on the complexity.

I write an annual report of my sales and the expenditures since year 1, so the evolution in my thinking and strategy are well documented. You can read the  2020 report here.

What is your size range? Why did you pick this range? What is the size, cupsize, and height that you design your block on?

My current size range is French 34 to 56 (bust 31 1/2 to 52 3/4 – 80cm to 134cm). The range is broken up into 2: size range 34-46 drafted for B/C cup and size range 46-56 for a DD cup. Both are drafted for a height of 5’5/1m65.

I’m French and I initially did not pay enough attention to the size range so I established 34-46 as it was the “standard”. That was a mistake and I started improving the size range in 2019. All my new patterns (3 in 2020) are published in the new size range. An older one was already updated (the Stephanie Skirt), one is completing its second round of testing (the Linda Wrap Dress) and my objective is to update the last one also in 2021.

Ideally I would like to go up to a size 60 (bust 57 1/2/ 146cm). But my development/fit size is a 50 and I do not have access to a fit model in the higher sizes, so I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to guarantee the quality of the drafting. I do grade up at the request of customers.

Do you support Black Lives Matter? What are some ways that you are anti racist and inclusive in your company on a day to day basis?

I do support Black Lives Matter. I published a diversity commitment in June 2020 and I updated it recently to include elements on racism towards Asian people and cultural appropriation. It’s visible on my website and social media. This commitment includes ongoing and future actions in issues like representation, marketing, cultural appropriation and transparency. I report on it annually as part of my income report.

Is there anything else you would like people just discovering your company to know?

I love sewing and can talk about it for hours. I actually just launched a sewing column where people can submit their questions and I have a lot of fun answering them! 

But I’m also managing Just Patterns alone, doing everything from drafting, grading, photography, to updating the website and doing the accounting. In addition, I still freelance in my day job field and I raise a 4 year old. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and might not be able to respond to customers on time. Sorry!

I appreciate Delphine’s thoughts and all the time she took in letting us get to know her. I purchased two patterns from her and sewed them up as part of my Spring Capsule!

First, I wanted to try the Claudia Tank. Now I knew going in that this pattern might not be for me, I wasn’t sure about this shoulder pad trend! I made the straight size 38 out of this cotton jersey knit and the fit is great. I appreciate the finishings and details that are in such a simple pattern but I quickly learned, shoulder pads are not my thing. I already have broad shoulders and this silhouette draws a lot of attention to them! I removed them and am wearing it as a tank, but I don’t know that I would make this pattern again. I am glad I tried something a little trendier though and appreciate that it was an affordable pattern that made the risk really low and worth taking!

The second pattern I made was the Tyra Tank and I was confident that no matter what, I liked this style of oversized t-shirt. I used the same cotton jersey but in a different color and again made a straight size 38. Both of these patterns suggest ribbing for the neck band but I just used self fabric and they turned out great. I did change up the neck of the Tyra because after sewing it I wished it was a little lower. Not a big deal and I would absolutely make this again. I’ve even seen people on Instagram talking about turning it into a dress and I think that would be an easy and fantastic hack!

I really enjoyed working with these patterns. There are detailed instructions for every step, the prices are incredibly reasonable considering all the extra resources provided, and I love clothes that are simple and beautiful with wonderful extra details added in!

Just to Make You Laugh

In case you need a laugh this Wednesday, here is the note posted on my daughter’s door. Anyone need Morse Code lessons?

Sewing My Spring Capsule/// M8085

Moving right along in making my Spring Capsule using the guide from Everyday Style! Today I have my first dress to show you and I have to say that initially I was not too sure about this one. However I wore it Sunday and I like it so much more! So maybe not my favorite thing every, but incredibly comfortable and easy to wear.

The Capsule Piece: The guide calls for an easy day dress and I immediately thought of a t-shirt dress. Something that looks put together but is comfortable and covered up enough that I can chase a toddler on the playground. I love easy dresses when the weather gets warmer and they really become staples in my wardrobe.

The Pattern and Fabric: This pattern is M8085 and I made version B. There are a few options with length and sleeves but it is a pretty basic pattern. The fabric is a Double Brushed Poly knit. I don’t wear a lot of prints but I thought this might be one that would get worn since it’s a color I love and the floral print is a little more abstract.

Details: This is version B in the size medium with the bodice lengthened one inch. I ended up taking in quite a bit in the bodice and really wish I had just made the small. This came together really quickly and honestly I think you could sew up something similar without a pattern at all. Find a tank or t-shirt you like and attach a few rectangles to it.

The pattern does call for stay tape in the shoulder seams and next time I would probably add something to the waist band too as that is a heavy seam and it pulls quite a bit.

I was a little underwhelmed with the details of this pattern. With such a simple make I was hoping for a bit more effort in the finishings, but the hems are just turned under and there’s nothing super special about it. I would never pay full price for this one, there’s just not a lot to it?

How I plan to wear it: This is going to be a throw on with white sneakers kind of dress! I could also layer it up with my denim jacket. This will never be a fashion forward type of garment, but it will absolutely get worn and I think it turned out pretty cute!

My Top 5 McCall’s Spring/Summer Patterns

McCall’s released their new spring/summer collection over the weekend and I had fun on Instagram talking about it with people. There were 40 patterns and a nice variety in my opinion. I feel like McCall’s has decided who their demographic is and since leaning into the ‘younger’ ‘trendier’ vibe, I feel like the styling and patterns are all much more cohesive. Even if some aren’t something I want to make, I can appreciate what they were trying to do.

It’s interesting to me that they have changed the branding yet again. The packaging is different and they’ve done away with the hashtag names for patterns (which hurray, I couldn’t keep track of those and prefer the numbers!). I would love to know the thoughts behind that. I noticed Simplicity’s spring release had a new look to it as well!

There were also more misses patterns and in more varied silhouettes, which is nice!, but I still don’t know why the whole collection can’t be more size inclusive? They also had quite a few costumes, which is not something I make, but I feel like it’s a great idea to grab onto all the new sewists out there that learned to sew during the pandemic. I know there are a lot of people that love costumes and having a wide variety to make your own is pretty cool.

Here are my five favorite patterns in no particular order!

M8202

There were a lot of square necklines in this collection and I’m loving it! This little blouse looks really wearable and I liked the different sleeve options. It’s one to me that could read a little young, but in the right fabric could become a go to blouse in the hotter months. Friday Pattern Company does have the square neck top that gives me similar vibes and would be easy to hack with some ruffles if you liked that more.

M8199

I think I owned this cami version in several forms during my college days, but you know what? This style of bodice looks good on my smaller chest and I could absolutely see myself making a couple of these versions. I might leave off the little ruffle for the cami, but I love the big sleeves on version B too!

M8194

Yes I will be making version C in a rib knit. Love it. End of story.

M8197

Ok, look past the weird minnie mouse styling on this one, and just appreciate it for the little baby doll dress that it is. I love the sleeveless version especially for summer. Again this bodice is one that is flattering on my smaller chest and I think in the right fabric could look much less juvenile than it does styled up here.

M8192

I think this is my favorite of the bunch! I love all the sleeve options and that open back is just beautiful. A great throw on dress but could also be dressed up a little.

What did you think of the collection? I would love to hear your thoughts or what were your favorites. You can browse them all here!

Sewing My Spring Capsule///Pietra Pants

I have my second piece of my Spring Capsule Wardrobe to share with you today!! I’ve already started wearing these on the regular and I love how they turned out. Here’s a look at the second bottom in my capsule.

The Capsule Piece: The spring capsule from Everyday Style comes with a color palatte, but if you don’t like it she offers some great tips on how to change it up. Since I am pretty clear in what my colors are, this was an easy one to do. I swapped out the color navy for this rust/cinnamon/terracotta color that I love and have been wearing as a neutral. The capsule called for a pair of navy pants so I made these instead!

The Pattern and Fabric: This pattern is one I have made before and I wear all the time. These are the Pietra Pants by Closet Core patterns and I made them with this lovely lyocell twill from Melanated Fabrics. I love tencel and lyocell twills (essentially the same thing, different brands) for drapey pants. They are heavy enough to wear well and hold any details like pockets, but have a beautiful drape and easy feel.

Details: I made version B, the tapered leg, in a straight size 8. I wanted this version because I thought it would be easier to swap out shoes- booties, flats, sneakers even- and wear into the summer. I made one stupid error where I put the pockets on the wrong way, but I don’t know if it will matter to anyone but me.

How I plan to wear it: With all the shoes! I experimented a bit and I think I love these pants with a lot of different shoes. I also loved playing with this color and lightening it up with my springy palatte. These pants have been on heavy rotation! I love the flat front with elastic back, the perfect pant for easing back into the real world…

Week in the Sewing Life No. 11

Happy Friday everyone!! I did zero sewing this week, but I did prep a few things and film/photograph quite a few others. I just wasn’t in the mood I guess and that’s just fine.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a pair of pants for my capsule and next week I have my monthly pattern review as well as an easy, comfy dress I made over the weekend.

This weekend we are going skiing for the last time of the season and we are all very excited. We’ve gotten quite a bit of snow and it has been really cold here this week so we’re just going to embrace the winter vibe and enjoy it. Soon I hope to be digging in the dirt and soaking up some sun though!

Here are some good things I found around the internet this week!

Go Fug Yourself is looking at Classic Oscars gowns and I loved this post on Audrey Hepburn.

Deer and Doe has some new patterns out and I really love the Coquelicot Dress. That square neckline with the ruffle is so beautiful!

Martha at Buried Diamond always has great posts. I love her use of prints and color and how she translates vintage patterns into her style. This shirred dress has me dreaming of summer.

Over on Instagram, @duana_m_chandler had me gasping over this dress. I bought this pattern and seeing her version has moved it to the top of my make list for summer!

I would love to try @contour_affair ‘s tutorial for this dress.

And if you are looking for food inspiration, go check out @aprilisforarabfood and get inspired to make something delicious for supper.

Sewing My Spring Capsule///M7981

Today I have the first piece to share in my Spring Capsule wardrobe! I’ve purchased and am using this guide from Everyday Style and if you know me in real life you are probably tired of me talking about it. I love it so much!

The Capsule Piece: I’m talking about a skirt I made today to fill the spot of a daytime to dressy skirt. I love wearing skirts when the weather gets warmer and I’ve been wanting a flowing button front skirt for awhile. I wanted to keep it a little more neutral so I could wear it with a lot of the tops I’ve pulled or am planning on making.

The pattern and fabric: This pattern is McCalls 7981 and it’s a pretty classic skirt with the waist band, gathers, and front button placket. There are two panels on the side that are kind of interesting and make for a little something different. There are pockets and I chose version B with the gathers and midi length. There are different length options as well as a tie version and a more a-line version.

This fabric is a gorgeous lightweight washed linen in the color ‘powder blue’ that I picked up from Blackbird Fabrics. I love that there is a bit of a gray undertone to the color. It is rumply and soft and I think a great weight for this skirt. It can hold the waistband shape but still is soft and drapey for those gathers.

I also ordered these Pigeon Wishes Stripe Mosaic Buttons from Stylemaker fabric and I love the detail they add to a pretty basic skirt. Sometimes I get so caught up in ordering fabric that I miss the opportunity to really think about these kinds of details, so I was proud of myself for taking the time to order these.

Details on the Make: I made the straight size medium with no alterations. I contemplated shortening the skirt but in the end decided that midi length is really what I was going for. I interfaced my waistband and button placket with self fabric and finished all my seams with a zig zag stitch.

This was a pretty simple make, straightforward from the fitting to the sewing, and I think this is a nice staple pattern to keep in my stash for awhile. If I have one nit pick it’s that I wish the waistband were a little wider.

How I plan to wear it: I’ve pulled some other pieces from my capsule to show you how I plan on wearing this skirt.

Look one is with a white t-shirt, booties, and my Evans blazer.

Look two is with a new tank you’ll see soon and my new purple flats.

And look three is with a graphic t-shirt and my olive anorak jacket (it’s still snowing here so I can’t pretend I’m not layering!) and my white sneakers.

I’m really happy to add another skirt to my closet and am loving this make!

Around Here

I think the big news around here right now is that Chris and I got our first vaccine!! I was overwhelmed with emotion when I got mine. Seeing all the people there, both getting vaccinated and volunteering to help vaccinate others, filled me with so much hope and love for humanity. It was so dramatic but also felt just about right after such a horrible year.

The kids are really into all things King Kong and Godzilla so we’ve been spending our movie nights watching all those movies. They are also very keen to ‘make money’ so chores have been done daily without much coercing on my part.

Sam is walking/climbing/clamoring on any and everything. He’s still not talking, but don’t you worry, he is very good at communicating his wants and he is very clear in exactly what he wants. Ah… two year olds.

It’s snowy here this week with promises of warm weather this weekend. It’s been nice to play outside when it’s warmer and Chris and I are making plans on updating our outdoor spaces a bit.

I also can’t wait to start in on my garden! Hopefully in a month or so I will be updating on that! In the meantime we’re having fun watching the wildlife walk by. Elk, deer, a beautiful red fox, some wild turkeys, and a bobcat I finally got a good picture of that you can see above!