Saturday, January 24, 2015

Random Threads # 10

My last Random Threads post was in October, whew!  So my notebook page has quite a few entries. I jot down things that come to mind because they are likely to be forgotten in no time. I think the Pattern Whisperer took up some of my focus in the fall, has anyone made anything based on reading those recommendations? I would love to hear it. I am trying to get another one of those posts before winter starts to subside, on coats but I have a few ideas bubbling around regarding maxi-dresses. Which sounds way more appealing to me - like something you can wear lounging around with a tropical drink. That is my type of fashion!

Speaking of coats, here is something that is going to get my attention for the next week or so. I love this pattern, the style has interesting and unique details. Pauline Alice is making some very nice patterns and including some designs that are beyond the basics, in a good way. This will be for a friend of mine as I am still planning on making the Burda coat for myself. I have to! that muslin looks so good so I better hurry up. Maybe I will have both these coats going at once.

quart pattern and fabric

Ok, let me just say it. The latest Vogue release was a great big letdown to me. Not one pattern that I wanted. I think at this point I see the style lines and drawings and know I have virtually the same pattern or close enough already, that goes for most of the staple items. No interesting dresses from Donna Karan, while I generally love her stuff the last two releases didn't interest me. Including the Donna K jacket/pants pattern which seems popular, that waterfall front doesn't  appeal to me, just too much fabric, I feel like I am swimming in those type of styles. A lot of people really are making positive comments about this collection, and I think that is a very good thing! If everything Vogue release appealed to me then that would mean there were a whole lot of people who don't - as they say constantly on Project Runway - "have my aesthetic". So that it appeals to a broad range of sewers is good for sewing and pattern makers. And I have plenty of not yet sewn patterns to console myself with :)  Although that Sandra Betzina dress - it looks bad even on the model. And after the success of that other interesting dress, the "shingle" dress Vogue 8904. Her patterns to me are either quite good or totally wacky.

And now I mentioned Project Runway. Is anyone else still watching?  I will never not watch a show that features sewing. But it is not very good, and if they would give them more than one day I think the result would be much better, they would have time to think a bit instead of frantically making drapey and cut-out looks. Do you ever see any civilians wearing dresses with the back cut out? I don't think so. Yet they all do it time and time again. So tedious.

Labels in clothes - I see that some pattern designers sell labels which can be cute but I am so anti-label. They just drive me crazy and if I buy anything - which yes, I do buy plenty of stuff - I immediately get out my tiny scissors and painstakingly extract that label. The ones in the center back of a neckline are the worst offenders. Silk blouses, cashmere sweaters, these are delicate operations but I do it or I can't wear the thing. And how about labels that show through because the item is light colored or sheer. Labels should be banned. I think the undies/t-shirts with the screen print labeling is such a great innovation.

Here's something that has been bouncing around in my head for a long time. Do you call your sewing projects "makes" ? I know it's becoming common usage and if you use this term it's certainly fine, that is how language evolves, but I sounds very odd to me. Recently I saw this post on Ann of Gorgeous Fabric's blog, and saw that there are some strong opinions on this one. One person even mentioned something that also occurred to me when I was watching the British Baking Show on PBS, on that show they refer to their "bakes" so maybe this verb usage is starting in the UK and will catch on everywhere? A lot of other comments there had to do with "sewer" and "me-mades" which are two other words that I haven't started to use either. But whatever words you choose, as long as you can write about sewing and patterns I will probably read your blog or pattern reviews. 

Lastly, I have made a few Lekala patterns and a few patterns from a newish but similar company, Bootstrap Fashion and have seen a lot of comments with questions on the sameness or differences between these two pattern lines. Lekala has been around a while- not sure how long. They were first available via their Russian website but upgraded their web presence a few years ago and have a very easy to use site, you can pay via paypal and they are super quick. Offering custom sized pdf patterns with slightly awkward sewing instructions. You input your measurements for a custom fit. Everything I  have made with their patterns has been good, I found the fit to be very close. 
Bootstrap Fashion is another company offering a similar service, an array of patterns, you input your measurements and get a custom pdf pattern. Also slightly minimal instructions. When I was contacted by Bootstrap to try a pattern, they told me they purchased the same software package as Lekala uses, thus the similarities or exact same styles. They do use slightly different measurement adjustments - Bootstrap has a tummy adjustment that I think is very useful.  Pricing is slight different but in the same ballpark.  I know some people have had very weird results using these patterns but if you are having trouble with fit it might be a place to start.
Having said that I am working on some posts for Craftsy on fitting adjustment examples. Never can get enough info on fitting, right? And I learn something new every time I try a little experimentation so it is rewarding for me also.

that's it for now, I will save some more of my thoughts for another time (like what is up with the plaid  matching on that new Grainline coat - the sleeves look all kinds of wrong to me......and blog ads, the weird Wordpress ones, does anyone ever click on them?)

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

and because this might have been a post lacking in pictures, I will include this bloom which is on a Vinca? I think. There is tons of this growing along a public walking path and some of this may or may not have come home with me continuously for a period of many weeks last winter. It survived and multiplied over the year and now filled up the dull retaining wall with lots of greenery and nice purple flowers. 

Vinca jan 15


  1. How exciting that you're making the Quart coat - I look forward to seeing it. (And the Burda coat (no slacking!) - I just love coats in general).

    I don't say "make" or "me-mades", but I have always said "sewer". I think people are being too precious when they say "but it has another meaning!"


  2. I've just had a major failure with a coat (entirely my own fault) so I'm off coats for the moment, but the Quart looks lovely.

    I have to say I hate it when bloggers refer to their finished projects as a "make". Make is a verb, not a noun! Although I do call myself a sewer. It's what I am, I'm not a "sewist", whatever that is. I think the dislike of the term sewer comes from the fact that the same spelling is also used to describe underground drains to dispose of sewage!

    I've tried a couple of Lekala patterns and I really like them. I had to do far fewer adjustments than I normally would, and you can't beat the prices.

  3. I think that labels have their uses- in a very limited fashion. Only in suit jackets and coats, so that you have something to hang them on a hook with. Other than that they're itchy! I don't refer to my me-made clothing as makes, but use the word me-made as an adjective (never a noun). There has been much debate about the correct term for people who sew as a hobby- sewer, sewist, sewista, seamstress, etch. I don't ever call myself a seamstress as it has professional connotations, much like ballerina is meant for a professional ballet dancer. While talking, I'll use sewist or sewer, but in writing I'm more likely to use sewist, as I don't want to be confused with something that disposes of waste. I really like the Pauline Alice coat, but I'm on a pattern fast, so I don't see myself buying it. I liked that fact that the Vogue line had more jackets, but nothing cool enough to break my pattern fast. Have a great weekend!

  4. I am still watching Project Runway and wish they would harken back to the olden days of more than one day per challenge. Like their separates challenge this week--4 pieces in 1 day--two pencil skirts and two tube tops coming right up!

    I like the term seamster though it was pointed out to me that that word is masculine....well, I have a masculine name, what can I say? Pretty flower! It snowed overnight here so it is nice to see some color!

    Are you going to PR weekend, it's in LA this year.

  5. Just point of order on make, it is both a noun and a verb (for example, make of car). While this is an evolving use of the word, it's not that significant a shift and truly I would suggest that the home of garbled grammar and meaning is sports commentary, not sewing blogs :)

    I tend not to use a noun to refer to my sewing, I either say 'I enjoy sewing' or 'sewing is my hobby'. Where I live people refer to me as a sew-er (hyphen added to avoid the inevitable mental image).

    I'm not fussed either way with clothing labels, but my husband insists they be in his clothes (so he gets loops of heart covered ribbon) and any of our children's clothes where there could be ambiguity about from and back, which seems fair to me!

    1. Exactly. Make can be used - correctly - as a noun.

      To the other points; I like makes and despise sewist. I typically say "I sew".

      I still love PR and will continue to watch it. Felt mostly blah about the Vogue release. Don't care one way or another about labels but my son HATES them and wishes everything had screen printed labels too :)

  6. Btw - I think the shingle dress is Marcy Tilton's

  7. I must admit to being a Runway watcher- I love to see their takes on fabric choices. We need another word besides 'makes'..I use it but it feels grammatically is nicer that 'here's my latest ill-fitting folly' and faster to type!

  8. Quart coat is awesome! Great features, love the pleats and the zip sleeves.

    Labels are required by law to be in garments, screen print labels are more comfy, but sew-in labels might be easier for clothing manufacturers to use.

    I do call my sewing projects makes, because other people were! I thought it was the cool thing to do. I also call them garments, and projects ... whichever one works best in the moment. What is the correct term, if not 'sewer'? Is anyone who sews at all automatically a seamstress? I thought seamstress was reserved for working professionals.

  9. I enjoy watching Project Runway, especially when I've thought something in the workroom is going to be a hot mess but on the runway it looks wonderful, and vice versa. I hate, hate the tight deadlines; they do nothing good to promote fashion talent.

  10. I still watch Project Runway, partly because my husband will never stop watching (but I really don't like the All-Stars as much). I've lost interest in it over time's just become too dramatized. Sometimes I tape the episodes and then just fast-forward to the runway and reviews!

    I like labels in clothes! Well, I miss having them in me-made garments because sometimes I can't tell the difference between front and back lol. And I intentionally including me-made above. I like that phrase. I'm sure I've used 'make' as a noun before but it sounds so grammatically wrong (and it is). I use sewer sometimes too...mostly because I don't know what else to call myself? Seamstress? No. Seamster? Too masculine as Kyle mentioned. Sewist? I don't know, sounds weird to me.

  11. I agree with you with respect to the Vogue collection! I didn't particularly care for the new garments and I didn't really see any must-haves. Oh well!

    I have definitely never called anything I've made a "make". I call it "my garment" or "my most recent project" or occasionally "my baby" if I get really attached ;) As for myself, I prefer the good old-fashioned "seamstress". It just sounds so professional! Maybe I'm just old-fashioned in my language?

  12. I would NEVER use "make" as an objective noun. Sewists create "projects" , "items", or "garments". When showing someone something hand made, it sounds much better and more accurate to say "This is the shirt I made." rather than "This is my make." I prefer the term "self-made" to "me-made" as a description . Would most of us say this: "Me made this"?

  13. I think language evolves, so while there are debates right now about the use of certain terms, just give it some time and they'll all be accepted as common usage! I don't watch PR anymore -- too much drama -- for me, the only interesting part is the end when you see the clothes on the runway. I met a pattern maker recently, who showed me a project he's working on for a young designer -- a backless jumpsuit. When I saw the sketch, I almost died at how impractical it looked, but I'm sure there is a market for that somewhere!

  14. Yep, that's a Vinca/periwinkle. I used to have them at a former house, about the only thing my black thumb can grow since they pretty much take care of themselves. I've already weighed in on "make" on Ann's blog but I'm in the camp of enjoying how language evolves. I know my parents' knickers were in knots when "bad" started meaning good, "man" being used in every sentence in the 70s (It's cool man, relax), etc. And I'm sure you remember "groovy." Now THAT's a weird word when you get right down to it.

    I've been thinking about trying a Lekela but forgot about Bootstrap so thanks for the reminder. I think. :-)

  15. I actually like and use make as a noun. In part because I can't get myself to use me-made. I really don't care what other people use - live and let live - but I just can't type that phrase! No problem with make, though, and I definitely use it in situations like, "this is my favorite make so far," instead of, "of those I've made so far, this is favorite garment," or my personal impossibility of, "this is my favorite me-made (garment) so far." "This is my favorite hand/homemade garment so far" would work too, but I feel both "homemade" and "handmade" have negative and positive connotation that don't quite fit with me (I hope my clothes don't look homemade, but I'm not skilled enough to dare use handmade!). Of course, I think those terms are evolving too as more people write about their home sewing experiences and can't quite find the right words. I actually love watching language evolve as the world changes and language as it was cannot quite express reality as it is in a straightforward way!

  16. Thank you for the thought-provoking discussion. I was actually very excited about several patterns in the latest Vogue release. My favorite is the Donna Karan blouse (V1440), and I already bought the pattern. I plan to try the jacket, but frankly do not like it with the blouse. I bought the tunic (V9085), because I like the sleeves and shirttail hemline. As a relative beginner, I don't feel comfortable adapting patterns for features, such as these. I also bought V9092 to make a matching blouse and pants set. The top has the interest of a peplum, without the flounce and added volume. There are several other patterns that I may buy when the next sale comes, especially the Mandarin collar jacket (V1443), as I have some porcelain Japanese buttons that would look great on it, and I find the little jag in the sleeve interesting. I confess to buying too many patterns, and have at least 3 uncut ones for every one I have made. However, I suspect I am not alone in this frenzy to collect patterns (and fabric).

    I watch Project Runway, and have been enjoying the All Stars. I also watched Threads, which was Project Runway for children between about 7 and 14 years old. I found it amazing and enlightening.

    I, too, made the shingle dress, and it was designed by Marcy Tilton, so Sandra B. may be more consistent than you supposed! I wanted to take her Craftsy class on bias sewing, but the pattern was hers, and it was so unappealing that I decided against the class.

  17. I often like to put "labels" in clothes, but that is because I use them for temporary hanging, i.e., the hooks on the back of the bathroom door. The problem with pre-made labels are that the cute stitched ones are often made with scratchy polyester ribbon. My solution is to just use soft coordinating ribbon, which is blank. So maybe it's not a true label, but I can still use it as quick hanger. As for RTW, I remove them if they show at all...

  18. I have just ordered 2 blouse patterns from bootstrap after your post as I have a quirky set if top half measurements. They look great on paper. I'll let you know how they turn out.

  19. I loved Project Runway before it moved to Lifetime. The quality was so much better How does one make a couture garment in one day? Kind of absurd. They also don't have as much time for the collection and it shows.
    I agree with you about the latest patterns from Vogue. Mostly pretty boring. I hate Sandra Betzina's latest patterns. This one is terrible; you're right it doesn't even look good on the model.
    I was really considering ordering from Lekala until I read Sham's review on how bad they fit her large bust. Mine is pretty big too and this really discouraged me from trying them.

  20. Regarding Lekala; I have a feeling I read somewhere, that the Lekala site you linked to, is not actually the same as the parent company, but rather, a franchise/subsidiary, the same as Bootstrap. If you visit the original Russian site, you will find that they have a far more comprehensive measuring system than either, or Bootstrap.

    I personally prefer the original Russian site, because it has the better measurement system, and is cheaper. Takes a bit of getting used to, but now that I have Google translate automatically translating the pages, and now I have nutted out the payment system, I rather prefer it.

  21. Oh, I so wish we got project runway over here! sounds so intriguing and I know I'd be sitting in front of every episode too!
    Regarding the etymology of sewing words: I think I used to write "me-made" about things I had made a few years ago, when the term first kicked in; but I avoid it now, because it did always feel a bit "trendy" and not a term used outside of the sewing blogging world. I mean, if I said it to my mum for example, she would think it very weird; and I prefer to talk/write in a way that is more conventional, that everyone and not just sewing bloggers use. The only exception is when I'm referring to Me-Made May.
    I avoid "make" for the same reason,and I prefer seamster or seamstress over sewer any day! I know seamster is masculine but I kind of still like using it as a general unisex term, even though technically it is not!

  22. I dislike the terms makes, sewer in print media, and me mades. Yes, language evolves, but it sometimes slinks back to its original usage as well. Time will tell if what appear as words birthed in the British blogging press will stick. I prefer the term garment instead of makes or memades. I worked in a clothing factory years ago and the clothing was always called a garment throughout the process and the fabric was always called piece goods. Took me years to stop calling my fabric piece goods, but garment sticks because the alternatives just don't sound right to me.

  23. I first started hearing the term "makes" in the Mollie Makes magazine and on British sewing blogs. I assumed it was some sort of British slang. But now everyone is using it and it annoys me for some unexplained reason. I also found the Vogue offerings out of touch this season. I wish they had more fashionably relevant patterns instead of all those "artsy fartsy" abominations.

  24. I like the term 'sewist' as used by Carolyn of 'sewing fanatic' fame. Much nicer than 'sewer' (i don't know if you use this term in the US, but in the UK, a sewer is an underground tunnel for taking waste and dirty water etc away from a house. Definately prefer the term 'sewist'.
    I've never seen Project Runway, but am desperately waiting for the next series of Great British Sewing Bee. Is that similar?

  25. I'm so excited to see your Quart coat! It's such a cute pattern! I'm out of room in my coat closet with a duffle coat in the works or I'd make it, too. I'm going to have to live vicariously through you! I don't mind volume in my clothes, but I'd rather wear just about anything than a waterfall cardigan. I hate them! So I completely understand you not liking them. :)

  26. I am not a native English speaker, but still the term "make" does not sound right to me. There are other worlds used in the sewing blogosphere, which I find annoying, and "sewist" is one of them. Maybe that's how a language evolves? Maybe in 10 years we'll use these words without a second thought?

    Regarding labels, I am like you: I cut them off as soon as I buy a garment. So I see no point in adding them to the garments I make. On the other hand, if I become famous one day, I may revisit the label question :)

  27. I am sewing a Renfrew cowl and did exactly as you describe - folded differently and also pieced the cowl.

    I, too, thought the plaid was strange on the sleeves of the Grainline coat (the red one, correct?). I thought the black and white one was OK, with the dominant stripe lining up across the sleeves and torso.

    As a professional medical editor, I will stay out of the "make" and "me-made" discussion. ;)

  28. Project Runway is still to come to Australia. Well it might be here on pay TV but I refuse to get that connected, why should I pay to have rubbish beamed into my lounge room when there is enough rubbish on free-to-air? But I would watch it, I think it would annoy me but I will watch pretty much anything with a fashion slant, and even more so with a sewing slant.

    Modern patterns. Sigh. I am very lucky to have an enormous pattern collection covering six decades from the 1940s to 1990s so I see very little new in the recent offerings. I haven't bought a Big 4 pattern in 15 (maybe 20?) years but I have acquired a few indi ones that I couldn't resist only to find OF COURSE I already had something close enough that I could have used instead. But I see that as a community service to support the indis so we have diversity.

    Makes and me-made are not terms I use, couldn't really care less if others use them. I will often refer to garments as pieces but that is a left over from when I operated a real fashion label. When someone asks about a piece (garment) that I am wearing I will say that "I made it" which often leads to lots of great conversations about fashion and sewing.

    A non-sewing friend refers to me as The Sewist because she saw the name on the internet and thought it suited me. I say "sewing is my hobby", very quickly followed by "and-I-am-a-very-selfish-sewer-and-only-make-things-for-me-and-I-don't-do-alterations"!

    Thank you for your flypaper thoughts, they are very entertaining.


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