Introducing: Pillowcase Patterns Co!

I am so excited to finally be able to make this announcement! When you've been sewing for as long as I have, sometimes you have the creative itch to do something more. To share your ideas with the world. So it is with great excitement that I can finally share this super secret new project with you. I will be selling my patterns! I introduce to you the Pillowcase Patterns Co.



Pillowcase Patterns harken back to a simpler time. They are designed to help women craft their own bespoke clothes with beginner-friendly patterns. All you need is a pillowcase from your favorite vintage store, a sewing machine, and my patterns to get started. Sew beautiful custom dresses in an afternoon, make envy-worthy tops, and start crafting your own wardrobe.

View A of my first pattern is for a sun dress with ties. It looks super cute with a matching ribbon at the hem! View B is for a top-length version, and pairs well with your favorite jeans or a skirt!



The patterns will be available soon from Etsy for just $24, and include detailed instructions with full color photographs, beautiful packaging, and all the information you need to get started. There will also be a big blog tour so get ready!




Haha, OK if you've read this far I should probably tell you... APRIL FOOLS! I have no intention of foisting on you a hipster, beginner-friendly pattern company. I'm going to school for public policy not pattern drafting, after all!

The truth is, you all inspire me every day with beautiful, shapely, interesting designs. Thank you for being such an inspiring community full of talent and creativity! I have found so many unique, interesting patterns out there throughout the years, and even more amazing people sewing them up. You all rock!

Happy April Fools Day!

That Time I Was a Costume Designer

A couple of years ago, I helped my friend Joe Garrity, along with my boyfriend and more friends, make a short film. That film is called Twinsburg and it has finally been released on Video on Demand!

Here is a trailer and a short synopsis of the film (also available via the link above for those on mobile). 

In a Midwestern town founded by identical brothers, thousands convene for the world's largest gathering of twins. Jerry, sentimental about his fading twin identity, reunites with his reluctant brother Paul for a weekend of revelry and re-connection. At turns playful and painful, their childhood tradition strains to find a place in their newly changing lives.



The film won Best Narrative Short at Napa Valley and Yosemite film festivals, as well as Best Short Film, Best Comedy, and Industry Choice Award at other festivals throughout the US and beyond.

My contribution to the film was rather minor, but a fun way to be involved. As you might have guessed, I helped out as the costume designer! Being a costume designer, I discovered, has very little to do with sewing and much more to do with shopping, wrangling accessories, and ironing. Lots of ironing. In a movie about twins, it also involved buying multiples of everything. Old Navy, which is affordable for an indie film budget and has a very generous return policy, was my best friend.



Costume designing, I came to learn, is more about thinking about clothes and how they convey identity. Identity, as a twin and as an individual, was a big theme in Twinsburg, and so this was very important. I barely have my own wardrobe figured out, so it was a new challenge to think about the characters and what they might wear and what it said about them.

Jerry, the sentimental (and some might say co-dependent) twin wears blue throughout the film. His colors, like his personality, are melancholy and soft. His twin brother Paul, in contrast, wears a lot of red, which may hint at some of his repressed anger and frustrations at his inability to connect with others.



Of course, the show-stopper garment of the film was the twin's outfit for Twins Day. This is the costume I get the most questions about, and it really is suitably silly for this movie. It is the ridiculous costume that Jerry forces his brother to wear for the festival, which he says he got at an estate sale. In real life, the blazers are from H&M and the pants from Old Navy, embellished with red bias tape and ribbon to give them their distinctive look. The Colonel Sanders tie is my favorite part, and took a few YouTube videos to learn how to tie just right (and then re-tie every time we had a new day of shooting). While I'd like to say that lots of intricate sewing was involved, these were mostly the result of some machine stitching and glue. Like most things made for the movies, they are not particularly stunning up close, but they look great on film.





There were also a few costume-related jokes. My favorites has to be the Ms. Twinsburg Pageant winners. They only appear on screen for about three seconds, but they totally make me chuckle. On the front of their sashes it reads "Ms. Twinsburg," but on the back as they walk by one of them has "Runner up" written on it. As if one of the twins were somehow deemed lesser than the other. Ha! Ok maybe this is really just funny to me, but I laugh every time I see it.



I certainly won't be going into a career in show business after this (only two more months until I finish my masters in public policy!), but it was a fun and memorable event. If you do happen to watch it, you may also catch me as an extra in a scene or two. Mostly, however, I just sat and knit on set while they did all the work. You can rent the movie, which is sixteen minutes long, here





Men's Bomber Jacket

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Men's Quilted Jacket 12/2015 #125
Fabric: 2 yds 8.5 oz brushed canvas, 1/2 yd heavyweight rib knit, 2 yds kasha lining
Cost: $70


It's how it always happens. He saw a jacket online for $400. I proudly proclaim that I could make one even better for much less. I am forced to live up to that claim. I wait until his birthday, and then Christmas, and as the weather turned cold I was finally forced to live up to my claim...

In truth, I really like making stuff for the Mr. I like when he wears it out and gets to brag about who made it. But I have found it hard to make the time when there are so many fun things to sew for myself, and especially lately when I haven't even had the time for that. In January, however, I was finally forced to finish up this bomber jacket after gifting him the muslin for Christmas, and I'm so glad I did. 

In truth, I do think it is better than the original. It is cut to his size, has a flannel-backed satin kasha lining, and a zipper fly. He got to pick out the color, which is a nice greenish-gray. He's been wearing it a ton.



The pattern is BurdaStyle's Men's Quilted Jacket 12/2015 #125, which has really interesting princess-type seams in the front and back that end in a semi-raglan sleeve. I think this gives some nice visual interest to the jacket, but boy did those sleeves cause some fitting issues! For one, the pattern is drafted a bit boxy with semi-batwing sleeves (very low armhole). When I took in the jacket (he likes things more fitted), the low armholes significantly restricted movement. Luckily I had enough fabric to recut each sleeve and the front and back side panels (on the jacket and lining!) to fix this, but it was a lot of work. I had to redo every one of those corners on the jacket front and back and lining :( The result was totally worth it though. I ended up raising the armhole and sleeve edge by three inches, and probably could have done half an inch more. The jacket is now much more fitted and he is actually able to raise his arms.

Come to think of it, I've had a lot of patterns from BurdaStyle that feature this semi-batwing sleeve. I think it's a style choice, but it's not Mr. Made's style. It must be their European styling or something.


If I were to make this jacket again, the one thing I would do is a sloping shoulder adjustment. The jacket tends to wrinkle there at the shoulders, which is partly from shoulder shape and partly from the neckband gathering a bit too much. I looked at the pattern photo again and saw it had a similar, though less extreme, issue. Again, the half raglan half set-in shape of the sleeves makes it very difficult to do adjustments, but I'm sure it could be done with another muslin.



Overall though I'm happy to have this done and it has been getting a ton of wear. I think it's nice for him to have a jacket that finally fits his long arms, and for much less than $400! Now back to sewing girly things...

Overalls

Pattern: Thread Theory's Lazo Trousers with inspiration from McCall's 7062 and BurdaStyle's Overalls 07/2016 #109
Fabric: ~2 yds wool suiting
Cost: free from Bay Area Sewists fabric swap :)

While I probably have mounds of more practical sewing to do, I couldn't help myself. I made a pair of overalls...   In truth I think I've been lusting after a pair for a while. I love making pants, and overalls seemed like a good quirky alternative to try out. And ever since I'd sewn the Lazo Trousers, I knew they would make a good base for the style I was going for - relaxed but still fitted. 

Of course, I couldn't just use the Lazo Trousers pattern because, well, it's a pattern for pants, not overalls. So a pattern hack was in order. I had an old McCall's overalls pattern, but they were very 80s with a boxy fit and side tie closure that I didn't like. So for good measure I threw in a third pattern, BurdaStyle Overalls 07/2016 #109, which Pauline had sent me in a BurdaStyle magazine. I suppose I could have used this pattern alone, but I trust the fit of my Lazo Trousers so much more than a new pattern, and I also wanted straps that came all the way to the front instead of tying at the shoulder. I somehow managed to mash together all three, along with a some ninja drafting, and came up with this design. 


The hardest part for me was figuring out the side closures. I couldn't quite conceive how to get the sides to overlap at the front and not have wide seam allowances all the way down the leg. I think what I should have done was raise the top of the pants up several more inches instead of using the waistband, and drafted a sort of fly at both sides. As pictured above, though, I ended up sewing up the sides of the pants and then overlapping the waistband pieces, which had to extend at the sides to be large enough. It's not a very elegant solution, but as these are casual pants and a first go at it I'm not overly concerned.

The top also has a few issues - I think the neckline got a little stretched or else needs to be a little narrower. And after everything was sewn up and basted together I realized I needed bust darts, so those were thrown in there a little haphazardly Luckily they are covered up by the pocket, and in black you really can't see much. 

The fabric by the way came from a few yards of wool suiting I grabbed at the end of the last Bay Area Sewists fabric swap. It was sitting dejected on a table ready to go in the donation bag when I scooped it up. I knew I could always find a use for some plain black wool. It looked like it had already had another project cut from it, but with some creative layout I managed to cut all the pattern pieces I needed. 

 So far I've worn these out to drinks and taking the dog on walks and am very pleased with them. The wool isn't scratchy at all, and the color makes them a little more subtle than jeans overalls. I made need to make the back less fitted though as they are a little tight vertically when I am stretching down to get something. Overall though a fun go at something new.


Red and Pink and Magic

Pattern: Self-drafted from Pattern Magic 3's 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out'
Fabric: 3 1/2 yds woven cotton
Cost: $35

When I was very little and allowed to dress myself for the first time, one of my favorite color combinations was red and pink. "They don't go together!" my mother would say, but I would wear them anyway. There was just something so cheery and fun about those colors together. To this day red remains one of my favorite colors, so when I was looking for a contrast color for this audacious dress I thought, why not pink?

This is my second version of a dress using the Pattern Magic technique 'Pare down the roundness at the back and open out.' As you can tell from the name, it was meant for the back of the bodice, but I think it is much more fun in the front. Following the instructions in Pattern Magic 3, you close up the darts and draft all sorts of lines across the bodice. The result is an amazing structural piece that opens up to accommodate your curves and has a life of its own. 

My first version was very fun to make, but in the end turned out a little droopy. The triangle pieces just didn't stand up on their own, and the longest piece around the midsection sort of crumpled. For this version, I used a mid- to heavy-weight interfacing combined with a quilting-weight cotton to give the pieces some more structure. I did have some issues with the interfacing bubbling and the garment holding up under the weight of it all, but after the lining was sewn in and I gave it one final press it looked pretty good! Above is a close up detail, and you can see I lined the inside of the triangles with pink as well :)


The other decision I made for this version was to try a strapless style. I simply drew chalk lines on my first version to determine the neckline and drafted a new pattern piece. To make sure everything held up, I also inserted boning along the side seams of the lining. This was my first time using boning, and I was surprised just how easy it was. It gave great structure to the garment, and took some of the pressure off having to make it very tight to make it stay up. If I were doing another version of this dress, I could see using boning in the points of the triangles (especially the longest one) to give the garment even more structure and avoid some of the rumpling. However, the interfacing did a good job here instead.

I think this would be a great design for a silk with a stiff hand, and definitely take it up a notch from the quilting cotton I used. But this was fun to experiment with on a budget, and very wearable.


On my last version, I also spent a lot of time drafting a skirt with an angular opening to match the angles of the dress. On this version, I went with a simpler dirndl skirt with lots of gathers at the waist and an A-line shape. It is full enough to accommodate a very full petticoat, although that makes me look like a tomato. I think it works nicely with the shape, and was very easy to do. As a bonus, I added pockets, which I originally just thought I'd stick my hands in but really came in useful for carrying little bits and bobs, especially when you don't want to carry a purse.









So where do you wear a dress like this? I sewed mine up just in time for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event (!!). We took a note from our Australian peers and organized a night of cocktails and handmade frocks. It was so much fun to mix and mingle with everyone, and see some of the amazing work of other sewists. Chuleenan organized everything to perfection, with appetizers, a photo booth, and crafts. I hope we do this again next year!




A photo posted by Bay Area Sewists (@bayareasewists) on



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