Thursday, January 14, 2016

Random Threads # 17, What is up with that?

Well that is kind of a random title, "What is up with that?"  But I keep a piece of paper on my desk and as the weeks go by I jot down topics that are bouncing around in my head or I come across in my sewing web surfing. And the page for this edition of Random Threads had a bunch of nouns with the words "What is up with that?" scrawled next to them. I guess I am in a questioning mood.

Randomly speaking of questioning - I happened to listen to a podcast where the author Gretchen Rubin was interviewed, she has a book out called "Better than Before" and her own podcast. Along with that there was a quiz you could take to determine your personality type (I defy you to resist those stupid quizzes when you are killing time or procrastinating)  So as I was standing at the stove, sautéing some onions I tap, tap, tapped on my phone and determined that I am a questioner. Which I could have told them from the get-go. The point of knowing your personality type is to better able to understand motivations, do things that you want and generally be happier. At least that is what I gathered from the brief listen while dinner was cooking. I think I will give her podcast a try, who isn't trying to create new habits when the calendar turns over a new year?

Also speaking of podcasts - I somehow came across a British podcast, Answer Me This. And have binged listened about a 1/3 of the episodes on iTunes, now pacing myself through the rest. So readers in the UK, are you a fan of this one? I find it hilarious. Silly, stupid, smart all rolled up in one.

Back to sewing.

Let's talk new patterns. For the most part I am ho hum on the new pattern releases and if past history is any guide then in about 3-4 months (when the weather matches the pattern release) I will find a few Vogue patterns that I simply must have. But for now the latest release was interesting but no show-stoppers. The one pattern that I really like is by my beloved Donna Karan for Vogue. However I fear it would be a doozy to alter to fit for my 5'3" frame. But I will probably give it a go when sleeveless dress weather is here. It RAINED today! yes we are getting storms, rain, wet weather. Hallelujah for us in drought stricken California. What does rain mean? weeds.......oh I am so fickle.

V1489 pattern

Also looking more at that dress above I think it depends heavily on standing at that nonchalant/slightly fierce pose. Maybe in real life it would look like a droopy mess.  But as I said, will probably give it a try.

Simplicity Pattern website - WHAT is up with that?  wow that is a mess. I cannot stand their website revamp or whatever the hell they have done with it. Tried to make it more e-commerce-y or Pinterest-y. So many websites revise and try to emulate the Pinterest look with lots of big photos that scroll past but then the actual utility has vanished. I typically went to their site to look for patterns, use the search functionality, and now the search is a jumbled mess.  So bad. Makes me not want to bother with their brands which is kind of a shame.

Sewing on TV:  do you ever watch sewing shows on TV? Does anyone watch broadcast TV? Here in the bay area we happened to have quite a few PBS stations and they often show many different sewing shows. I received a new TiVo Bolt for Christmas (Oh, Tivo** how I love you and have for many many years - can I say I was an early adopter, I have one old Tivo with lifetime service that is more than 12 years old. which is kind of like a 20 year old dog. As we have had the hard drive croak on other Tivo units but that original one keeps on working. I probably just jinxed it by writing this). Back to my new Tivo: using keyword search for sewing - so many shows and so set up recording on them. Nancy Ziemen, Sew It All TV, Fit to Stitch with Peggy Sagers. Kind of surprising how many there are. Some are useless but others are interesting and every once in a while I have learned some fantastic tip that was really useful.  I'm a big believer in taking in information from a lot of different sources, be it a book, podcast, blog, tv, video class. You just never know where the light bulb moment will be found.

The Fold Line:  a new community website for stitchers, with pattern reviews, forums, user profiles. I did sign up, looked around and have maybe been back once or twice. It seems like a good idea but perhaps not getting any traction? My impression is that people are too scattered to coalesce around a new site, so as much as sewers want a Ravelry for sewing, I don't think it has yet appeared. What do you think? I'm not really a participator when it comes to websites or forums. I do put up pattern reviews on, because I get a lot out of the reviews of others and it seems only fair to contribute my reviews. But as for forums, discussion board etc. I don't see how anyone finds the time.

Pantone Color(s) of the Year: in a word - blah.  so weird. Yes, it is a marketing gimmick but these are really goofy. In fact separately they are OK but when you look at them together they each make the other seem more bland. Ok to be fair, unless the color is turquoise or maybe coral I will always think it is a little bland. Are you going to run out and find some Rose Quartz fabric? Please tell me no.


Imminent demise of the Big 4 pattern companies? Did you read a blog post on SewMamaSew by Abby Glassenberg. She spoke about shifts in sewing industry trends. Most of it wasn't something I had an opinion one way or another, however she sort of predicted that the indie pattern share of sewing patterns will win out over the established traditional Big 4. I think she is out of her mind there. There is a market for certain independent patterns with the accompanying instructional tools and community, however my sense is that once you venture past beginning level or want to explore more complex garments, then the larger companies have the depth to product that product. Vogue, Burda, Marfy, these pattern companies by and large do a good job in producing patterns that a home sewer can use to recreate a runway look. I think her point of view is so far from garment sewing that the conclusions make no sense. Also there have always been independent pattern companies. Businesses come and go, some last for decades and some go out of business, some are absorbed by larger entities. The sewing pattern industry is no different.

A mystery to me: I love the look of this coat, Butterick 6244. Well actually, I love the the look of the coats made by these two. Lori of Girls in the Garden, her version here.  It looks so stylish on her and color is such a great choice for a neutral go with anything coat. The other is Margo, who made it in red. Scrumptious. They are both perfection. But there is no lining! how does that work? Isn't it itchy? and I think it would stick to whatever you are wearing under. I will admire from afar but know those things would drive me crazy if I had it.  Also both their versions are way better than the pattern envelope!

B6244 coat

Well that is about all for my Random Threads tonight. I didn't even get to my questions about "Tidying Up".  Have you Kondo-ized your fabric stash? or the sock drawer? what is it about the socks? It gives me joy to have my socks jumbled up in the drawer. I could care less about their organization. And don't throw away your old photos  - or your hammer. You might need it :)

Some sewing going on - as I might have mentioned I am trying to cut back for a while on sewing. With success, in that I have only made one item since Jan 1. Which is not this top, actually finished before Jan 1. It is a mostly McCalls 7046 t-shirt with the ruched sides, made smaller to fit better, and then the collar of the Sewaholic Renfrew top grafted on it (and adjusted to fit the neck opening. Super soft and cozy knit, in the fabric closet a good few years. Maybe I used to buy from them but have not in several years. Anyway - I actually have a hot pink cashmere cardigan that matches exactly, which I had not worn in ages. But presto - cozy winter outfit. Hmm. what else is in that fabric closet?

Pink striped top

Sneak peek - just finished a silk blouse - I mentioned it has a hidden buttonhole placket which is something I developed (copied from a RTW blouse) so I will do a how-to post. It is surprisingly easy!

coral silk blouse collar view

That's all for now. Happy almost weekend sewing, Beth

** TiVo - just in case, since I was blathering on about it and it is something you have never heard of. Do they have Tivo in Europe? Australia? not sure. It is maybe the original ? digital video recorder, basically a computer that records TV. What makes Tivo different is the interface - it is super easy to use, works really well, just a really well designed product that is often smarter than we are (ha ha)  and now this new version Tivo Bolt is very tiny - like the size of a hardback book, and record/finds both broadcast and streaming. and you can watch on your computer in other rooms. Basically I will be able to stay in and sew until I run out of fabric. JOKING!


  1. The rose quartz colour is certain to make me look ill, way too pastel. I never buy colours because they are "on trend" anyway.
    That hidden button placket looks interesting though, looking forward to seeing more on that!

  2. Great post. I'm with you on the Big 4, they're not going away at all. Indies come and go...and for more advanced sewists, they are really missing design elements that appeal. Also, I notice lots of releases of patterns that absolutely mimic something from the Big 4. Pantone colors - OMG, what a miss!! B6244 - Lori and Margo really did make beauties. And the pattern tugs at me - but I can't imagine a fabric that would work well. Visions of the back of the coat propped up on my backside :-)

  3. I listen to Gretchen's podcasts and have read Better Than Before. I suppose I am an obliger but couldn't answer the quiz as none of the answers were appropriate. Her podcasts are fun to listen to. Vogue 1490 IMHO is hideous. (sorry). And I have Kondo-ized my socks and undies and really should do the stash! It is amazing how much more you can fit in the drawer after folding the Kondo way. No Tivo in Australia. But most free to air TV have "catch up tv" via the internet. We have only just got Netflix here :) I quite like the Pantone pastels. I think they suit me more now that I am older. Your silk blouse looks lovely!

  4. I don't buy indie sewing patterns anymore because I've had no luck with these (with the exception of Colette's and Thread Theory). Nowadays I'm sewing more from magazines (Burdastyle and Ottobre women) an occasionally from the big 4. I don't have tivo but I own a vhs collection of Nancy Ziemann, Sandra Betzina and some quilting shows I taped back in the 80's. I converted them to dvd's and watch them from time to time, especially Sandr's show . Don't yell at me: I like the rose quartz hehehehehehe

  5. I normally just enjoy reading your posts and leave without commenting, but I have to chip in to agree with you on Abby's musings. The demise of the Big 4 sewing pattern companies? I think that's just wishful thinking on Abby's part. The Big 4 sell a product to a global market, they sell high volumes and I dare say their development and production processes have been refined over time and their margins trimmed, but their product is still of a pretty good and reliable quality. I really can't see the indies being a threat now or in the near future. My impression is that Abby views the Big 4 and indies as in competition with each other, but as you point out, they've coexisted for a long time and I think that coexistence is going to continue - though I suspect that when sewing loses its current hipness and the beginner market thins out, so too will the indie pattern makers.

    Oh and I really like Vogue 1489 (and I've already ordered it) but I worried it's going to need the kind of belt they used in that photo to stop it from looking too drapey - I hope I'm wrong though as I don't own any big belts!

    We don't have TiVo in Australia, and the only person in my house that watches free to air TV is my husband, who has to watch as much of the summer cricket (eg the 5 day test matches!) and current affairs shows as possible. He can catch up on the current affairs later through saved copies on the stations' websites, but the sport either has to be watched on air or recorded, and it's too much to record. My kids think TV is boring because the things they like to watch are never on exactly when they feel like watching them :).

    Your silk blouse looks lovely - I look forward to seeing more, including that hidden buttonhole placket!

  6. Great Post!
    No the Pantene colors. Blah indeed! I like color!
    No to Kondonizing too. I like my stuff. Organized maybe, but keeping. In fact, I wish I had not gotten rid of all my older patterns. I miss them so much.
    Indie patterns in my opinion will not replace the Big 4. I don't think they are as advanced many times and I have found it shows in how it sews up.

  7. I enjoyed this post. I love random thoughts.

    I think Abby should be careful what she wishes for. And I think she and many of the current Indie pattern sellers don't know what they don't know about the Big 4/5.

  8. As my friends would say, my "stfu" is broken.

    I haven't even been around long but that is complete nonsense about Indies overtaking the market. it was too annoying and silly to take seriously.

    Not into the Kondo-ing. Not into the current theme of "minimalism is next to godliness".

    Love that DK dress and am thinking it may be the perfect casual dress for a summer event.

    Lastly, I do not get what is so great about Ravelry. There. I said it!! I've been on there for years, maybe 5 or so?? It's fine but I don't get what is so super amazing that everyone is looking for in a sewing site.

  9. What a great post! I took today off from work to have my new hot water heater inspected. They said 10-3 but the guy was here at 10:05 and I had only gotten partway through your post! Great post to read on a day off. (and of course much excitement that the HWH passed inspection!)

    Soooo...Simplicity site. I have used their UK version of their site for some time now and have always found it easy to use.

    The Fold Line: I was wondering what exactly the site is and what its goal is?

    Pantone color of the year: Not excited.

    Wintery coats that don't button/zip/close in any way and are not thick and not lined: Those styles don't work in NJ--I need to have my chest and everything else covered but for those who live in warmer places then....go for it. My general default setting is that I am always cold generally so....

    Big 4 : I will have to go read that post.

    Kondo-izing: I have been purging my house off and on since Christmas Day, but I don't think I could go down the Kondo road. My goal is just to have everything fit in closets and drawers without avalanches and without having to shove drawers open and shut, and for it to be more organized so I know what I have and where everything is. Everything needs to have a place. The areas I have purged are a total joy to use now--that is what is bringing me joy! In a way I am grateful not to have a basement or garage because they would probably be full of stuff for me to purge. (Though I would still like to have a garage so as to not scrape the ice off the car in the mornings and not clear snow off my car too).

    Have a great day!

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  11. Fellow Californian here, and also glad for the rain! The pink Pantene made me immediately think of pink and navy together, a combination I love but have never really implemented, so to speak. I like both the "new" colors well enough, but they're nothing really new. Only really useful for baby clothes!

  12. I like the Pantone colors. I was just thinking that my wardrobe was too black/gray/navy; I resolved to it lighten up. Then the new colors were announced and that exact blue was on my cutting table (as new PJs).

  13. This was such a fun post. I did the Rubin quiz and the result is that I am also a "Questioner." I also could have said that before taking the quiz. Ha!
    The Simplicity website. I email them regularly about what needs to happen. They aren't listening. sigh
    I watch Broadcast TV with an antenna on my roof. No cable, no satellite, no TiVo. Love PBS. Not enough sewing shows.
    Pantone colors - I wear what I like. I am a "Questioner," remember?
    I don't think the Big4 pattern companies are going anywhere. Well, maybe Simplicity, see website comment above. Indies are nice, but too many issues.
    Looking forward to your hidden placket how-to. Always enjoy your blog. :)

  14. Definitely agree with you on the Pantone colours - sort of bleh on their own, but maybe it's just a case of the fact that they're more summery colours and it's far from summer at the moment - perhaps they'll seem more appealing when the warmer weather arrives!!

    Also agree wholeheartedly that the Big 4/5 are here to stay. Burda is my go-to for trousers, and the others carry a variety of fashion styles that just aren't always available in indie offerings. In addition, the Big 4/5 have resources available to them that many indies don't, meaning the drafting is often more reliable. There are a few REALLY good indies that I love and which draft well and have interesting styles and challenging design features, but way too many others that I've had no end of issues with and are stuck churning out basics which bore me to tears. Once they run out of beginners to cater to, they'll have to step up or move on.

  15. I think Abbey is nuts if she thinks the Big 4 are fading - it's the Indie patterns that come and go! Also agree that the Pantone colors are blah but I wear what colors flatter my coloring. Karen

  16. Great post! I also feel quite "blah" about the Pantone colors--they remind me too much of cliche nursery colors, unfortunately.

    And how relieved I am to see someone else echo my "WTF" sentiments after reading the Big 4 doom-and-gloom in that sewing industry article. (That is what compelled me to comment, actually.) It was so fantastical that I can scarcely find non-expletives to express how frustrating it was to read. Frankly, it read more like wishful thinking than data-based industry analysis and speculation. (And I say that as someone who works as an industry analyst!) The piece admits that there is no data which supports this "conclusion," but continues in spite of that fact! Ugh! Sorry--stepping off my soapbox and back into lurkdom. =) Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Beth, and for allowing us to share ours as well!
    -Abbey @

  17. Interesting read - thank you. I just love it when I make something and then discover that it goes with an existing garment that hasn't been worn for ages - revitalising the wardrobe. Big 4 (and Marfy) are the go-to companies for designer makes and that's just something indie companies can't compete with. I too have a hankering after that DK dress but I think if I make it it will look like I've just wrapped some fabric around me and didn't cut a wide enough piece! You make it first and I'll watch........

  18. Loved this post!!! So much. :) Your random thoughts are so pithy.

    I do agree the Big 4 sewing companies won't go anywhere, unless they do something to shoot themselves in the foot (*cough*Simplicitywebsite*cough*). Not only do they have the resources to persist, and to appeal to and serve a large market, but their sales ensure most sewers will have a glut of their patterns. And when you have a product from a company that you have lying around, you'll use it -- and when you need more of that product, you'll go back to that company first for it. Also, indies tend to appeal to niche demographics/body types. That's their strength, and their beauty. To take over the whole market, they'd have to become more general, thereby losing their indie-ness!

    Anyway, I could go on. I suspect it's because I'm still not sold on indies. Until there's a plus size, Vogue-level stylish, pear shaped indie. :-p

    I missed that you're cutting back on sewing; clearly I need to catch up on your posts. I'm bummed, but looking forward to whatever you feel like making and sharing!

  19. Nice post Beth and I can definitely understand the need to cut back sometimes. I find myself do that with social media (there's just so very many avenues to read and get caught up on!). I really love all the pieces you made and that "morphed" cowl neck sweater is an absolute gem!

    I'm not a big fan of indies, in fact, there's only been a few I've used. Actually, I've been a little disappointed with all pattern companies and looking more to create my own style by more drafting. Unfortunately, I have a lot to learn in this area and have started taking online courses and draping books. Good luck with your future sewing!

  20. OMG, What DID happen to the Simplicity site??? I had to check the URL because I thought I had accidentally logged on to something else. To say it's horrible doesn't really cover it. I emailed them, but haven't heard back yet. Glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't like-hates- it.
    Pantone colors--blah!
    Big 4 going away--not!
    Happy sewing, love your blog!