Saturday, December 17, 2016

Random Threads #25

Time for another Random Threads post as I have a lot of things scribbled in my notebook. Unfortunately some of my jottings are too cryptic to decipher. Bad habit I have - making a one or two word note which makes sense when I write it down but when I go back I have no idea what it is referring to. The one on the page this time is "velvet". So I must have had some idea about velvet for this post but not sure what I was thinking at the time.
However velvet is such a great fabric this time of year. I made a black velvet shift dress for a 10 year old girl a few years ago, and I think with absolutely no change in style the same dress and shape would look great on a woman Classics - they endure for a reason.

My favorite needle:
sewing needle

This one sounds like I might give some recommendation on sewing tools - but it is much simpler than that. I just have a favorite needle. This might sound kind of crazy but I have been using the same hand sewing needle for at least 2 years. Rarely using anything else. I can tell it is the same one because it is slightly bent. Which happens to other needles I use, maybe I have incredible hulk fingers! 
I don't really fuss about needles - and I'm sure there are some very high end ones you can buy, although I haven't. I do have a stash of unused needles, some quite old. Things that were in my great-aunt's sewing stuff and I was the one in the family that got that stash. Also people tend to think of me when they clean out a relative's house and I usually accept because who know what treasures might be found in the old cookie cans with buttons, scissors, etc. If I drop or somehow lose track of the needle then everything stops until I find it. Plus since I use those magnet pin cushions the needle sometimes ends up in them so then I have to take off all the pins onto a wooden surface, spread them out and find the needle. My one trick is to never put the needle into the pincushion without first putting a length of thread onto hit, tied in a knot. Have you ever "wrung out" your pincushion? Needles do tend to disappear into the tomato style pincushions but if you squeeze it then you can find them and force them back out. Weirdly enough that is a task I enjoy. Do you have any special needle wrangling tricks?   By the way - sneak peek of my latest project which is super soft fabric and those lovely in-seam buttonholes. 

McCalls videos: 
Do you look at the videos on the McCall pattern company blog? I love them! Particularly the ones with Carlos where he discusses a specific Vogue designer pattern are fantastic and he is so charming on them. Here's a link the one where he discusses the V1523 Rachel Comey jumpsuit. Check them out - to me it is really fun to see the clothes in action. The "what to sew next" videos are really good also. Plus they make me want to go back to New York. They also appear on their Facebook page. I don't have much patience for most videos about patterns but I guess since I am a big fan of Vogue designer patterns these hit my sweet spot. 

McCalls survey: 
Speaking of McCalls, did you get the on-line survey they did recently? Maybe last week or so. If you are on their email list you might have received it. It was really interesting, asking about pattern preferences, how people feel about paper vs. PDF, what one would want to pay for patterns, etc. I can't recall all the questions but there were quite a few about independent designers. No surprise that my responses indicated that I am a fan of Vogue patterns and particularly the designer patterns. Also tissue paper patterns!!! To me so much easier to use - but I expect this is just because I learned on these and thus seem like the right way (knowing that there is really no right or wrong way).  One question that I thought was interesting was about how we felt about a pattern that had multiple views. I think this is where McCalls/Vogue/Butterick beats all other pattern companies hands down. To buy a pattern that is several garments just gives more options and makes me feel like there is value for money, versus many indie patterns that are just for one item. Particularly if it is a simple item. I just don't get the popularity. But I could drone on about that for days. Anyway I hope that McVoguerick continues to last another 100+ years. (I'll include Simplicity/New Look also do a good job with multiple views and garments in one pattern envelope).

Pantone colors for 2017:

Pantone colors 2017

Since I am wild about color in all things I like to check out the Pantone colors for every new season. Possible to aggravate myself as I usually have a very dramatic dislike of at least two of them. But this time I really like only two, the Pink Yarrow (what a goofy name) and the Lapis blue. The yellow and orange are OK, not the shades I like in those colors, and then the greens look like 70's throwbacks. Actually I have an irrational hate of their color of the year, Greenery. Just a shade of green that is not my thing. In fact the whole collection looks a bit 70's. So we are approximately 40 years on from the 70's - give or take - and are they having a revival? Overalls, pale denim, high waist jeans, poly fabrics, pantsuits. Hmmm not my my favorite fashion decade but I suppose everything comes around again. As for the pale pink and the beige color - blah, not my thing but I'm sure they could look good and appeal to someone. In fact I find all the colors a bit muddy and less than vibrant.

Best pattern survey:
Another survey out now, this one is more of a vote, on to vote for the best patterns of the year. I never think there is anything best about it, as it looks like they chose the nominee patterns by the number of reviews? Not sure about that but I usually don't see many I have sewn, although this year there are one or two. But nothing I would call best. Do you look at or vote in this survey? I do think it is good to break out categories by garment type.

Mood Fabric store emails:
Now that I have actually been to the store in NY I am really a fan of Mood the store. Their emails -  not so much. I suppose I could change my email preferences but I figure oh well, they just get deleted. I find their website kind of difficult to use also. But recently I have looked a couple of things, and realized they are one of those companies that send you an email shortly after saying something to the effect of "hey you looked at this, buy it". If course using a better tone than my phrase but the meaning is the same. I just find it a bit creepy. It's one thing for the little ads for various things to follow you around your browsing but the direct follow up email bugs me. Even thought it makes good business sense for the company to use this technique. Probably like a lot of you I get regular emails for all the fabric sellers. Almost never click but instead go to the various sites when I am searching for something specific. I guess getting the emails keeps them in my mind for when I do need something.

# 1 fitting mistake:

Vogue pattern measure

Here is some unsolicited sewing advice - measure the pattern! I always feel bad when I see a garment somewhere and the sewer says "I really like it but it is just a bit too tight around the bust/hips/waist". Do you measure the pattern? I think this is an essential step, check the pattern circumferences and adjust if needed. My advice: take out "fit insurance" a lot of the time and always on a new pattern I add 3/8" to the existing seam allowance on all side seams, resulting in a 1" side seam. Which gives you a total circumference addition of 1.5" to play with. I often take most of it back out but but sometimes a garment feels better with a bit more room. Particularly with a woven fabric (no stretch) like silk duppioni or wool gabardine. Things with no give. I'm writing a blog post for Craftsy on how to choose the pattern size so I'll go into more detail there and post a link when that is up.

New patterns for Spring:
Already?  it seems we are just starting to wear winter clothes here so I'm not thinking about spring. But I am on the hunt for just the right pattern to use for the two-sided wool that I bought at Mood.

Here's the wool fabric (photographed with a piece of leather purchased as well) It looks black and blue in this pic but it is all shades of blue.

two sided wool

I saw two patterns recently, one in the new McCalls release. It's really cute but I do prefer a slightly longer jacket and collarless is not my favorite.

McCalls7549 quilted jacket pattern env

then I saw this one on Butterick. Which is good for two fabrics but also has a slightly geriatric vibe to me. Is that a weird thing to say? It has potential but some of the proportions look wrong. I might buy the pattern and play around with it.

B6421 pattern env

Lastly I saw this pattern for both a dress and a top. (multiple views in one envelope, woo hoo!). This one I will definitely try in the springtime.

McCall env template rev2
When I finish these Random Threads emails I read them through before publishing and think - wow I sound like a complete curmudgeon but hopefully not. Most of my friends don't sew - so I have to vent  or share somewhere, right? Also it amazes me that these are among my most popular posts, which tells me that a lot of people who occupy the online sewing world want to talk sewing stuff too!

That's all for now, time to evaluate my holiday sewing and make sure I am caught up on any gift sewing I need to do.  The sun is shining this afternoon after a glorious rainstorm earlier this week so I might just head out for a good walk now, with apologies to those of you feeling the polar vortex. Hang in there - spring is coming, the pattern companies say so!

Happy sewing, Beth

not much in the way of garden photos - this time of year I am happy I planted pansies and begonias for a little pop of bright color. 



  1. Have to say that I'm not thrilled with Pantone's Spring predictions either. I does look like the late 70s, but not the interesting or "sexy" colors, just the ones that seem to turn up in thrift stores. Pale Dogwood reminds me of that old style of nylon panties (sorry) that used to be common--not sure why. I generally like greens, but Kale reminds me of old-guy twill polyester jackets.

    As for needles, I bought a pack of Clover embroidery needles some years ago that I use for everything. The longer eyes are easier to thread and they are quite a bit sharper than the last ones that probably came from a 5 and Dime (do those still exist?)

    Thanks for sharing random thoughts!

  2. If what you're saying is curmudgeonly, please keep it up--I love it. You're saying things that need to be said.
    Can't wait to see more of that leather!

  3. Interesting post, Beth. I responded to the McCalls survey and expressed my love of Vogue designer patterns too. I thought I was the only one that constantly uses the same hand needle - lol! Thanks for your blog. Karen

  4. Very interesting and informative post!

  5. I didn't get that survey, Beth, so thanks for encouraging them to use more actual designers. I would have told them that.

    And I am totally with you on being creeped out by those Mood emails that say something like "Hey, saw you were here and didn't buy anything". Ack. It feels so Big Brother!

  6. Very interesting post, lots of good stuff to mull over. I found the survey from McCall's useful to fill out. It helped me realize how much I appreciate and prefer the tradtional tissue paper patterns from the Big Four over the so-called Indies. The novelty is attractive I have to admit, but after having sewn most of my life with the traditional tissue patterns I see them as the reliable norm. As for pricing, I found myself wondering if I've been spoiled by the frequent pattern sales at the box stores: why do I scoff at paying more than 4.99 for a Vogue pattern yet seriously consider paying several times more for an indie pattern with one view?

    As for needles, I've noticed that some of the packaged hand sewing needle are flimsy. Have they changed materials on us? I've had several actually break on me.

  7. The pale pink and lapis blue are my favorite. The green is puke-y :/

    I got the McCalls survey and am a Big4 sewer through and through. PDFs blergh.

    I did the PR Pattern of the Year. It was a horrible array of patterns. There was a Burda cape with a lot of reviews but all but 1 was by the same person (the illustrious Anne Whalley). How did that make it in? Do they really just take "most reviews"?? Do they not filter out some of the super old patterns that come up? Blahhhhhhhhh

  8. If you're concerned about being pursued by sites, you might try a browser app called Ghostery.

  9. Hi Beth, enjoyed this post a lot. Smiled about favorite needle(s)--yes I have mine in a little box and the needles are in a small scrap of wool so I know exactly where they are, along with thread wax, needle threaders just in case and thimbles. Pantone colors don't interest me as I have my color palette and work with that, or sometimes just branch out to other colors for a special project, but still mostly in warm tones. I'm a warm-tone person so stay away from white, but use ivory/beige instead. This post was very good all around so please keep these coming.

  10. I didn't see the McCalls survey either, wish I had because it occurred to me the other day...the big 4 wouldn't eventually stop carrying paper patterns would they??? I really struggle with PDFs and it seems they're rapidly gaining in popularity. Yikes!

    Love, love McCalls 7538, its on my wishlist now. And 7549 is really cute. I like the different textures. To gain some length I would elongate the middle section a bit while leaving the yoke and bottom band as is. I think the proportions would still work with a 2-3" lengthening on that middle piece. Hmmm, might just try It as jackets are my favorite thing to sew and wear.
    Always enjoy your randoms. Say what you want, we smile and nod. Merry Christmas.


  11. Merry Christmas Beth! I enjoy your posts so much. If you ever get that random thought on velvet back, I have a question about velvet, What are the differences between modern and vintage velvet (the only kind I knew). I refuse to touch it because it was so difficult to work with, every stitch showed. If things are easier now, I might revisit the velvet situation. Have a wonderful holiday season.