Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Random Threads # 26 - seasons, shapes and thimble questions

What? This is the first Random Threads post for 2017? Time to expand on the scribbles in my notebook and discuss.

Seasonal wardrobe

Since it is timely - at least here in alternately sunny and rainy California its timely - when do you change over from winter clothes to summer? Or do you even do that? It's commonly said that here in the bay area we don't really have seasons, but I beg to differ. As long as you are not near the often foggy coast, the summer days can be absolutely lovely or even stinking hot. So I had a childhood of switching out the winter clothes, boxing them up and placing on the high shelves of the closet, with the accompanying exchange of shorts and swimwear that had been tucked away for the winter. I love that moment when it is warm enough to wear shorts and sandals, walk barefoot on the grass and enjoy the warm evenings outdoors. We're not quite there yet - as it has been off and on rain for the last week or so but we had a spell of warm weather and I am ready for more. So I did put away some wool sweaters and cleaned up the t-shirt drawer. Bring on Spring! Do you pack away your winter clothes or have a multi-season wardrobe?

Trying new shapes and styles

I can be kind of stubborn when it comes to sewing up a new shape or style, sticking to what I like. But at the same time I am always on the lookout for something new that will still make me feel good about wearing it. Here's a dress I sewed last year that was a bit of an experiment, summer ended so I didn't wear it but I will try it this year. Recently I did some sewing for someone else and she brought me a pattern that I would never have chosen myself.

Butterick 5861 envelope

Butterick 5861 gold blouse

I sewed this version for her, and while it is not a color I would choose the shape and style of the pattern I really like. I sewed View D shown in red on the pattern envelope. This is the only pattern I have ever seen that specifies using elastic thread to create that small gathered section in the center back - a nice detail. Anyway, I reserve the right to slip on things I am making for others (for educational purposes :) and I thought the shape of this top is lovely. So I traced off the pattern pieces and will try to make one for myself later this spring. If I find a nice silk it would be really pretty. I can tell you that this one was kind of a test - and then I made another version for her in silk chiffon. eeeeeekkkkk!. All those little tucks down the front. whew. I don't know the pattern rating but I would not call it easy. I must really like it to do those tucks again!  Anyway the whole exercise proved to me that I need to try on stuff that I think I won't like, just to see. Although I did that with a cold shoulder top in a department store and almost fell down laughing as I thought it looked ridiculous - on me. Some versions look great on others. That's just the reason to try various things out.

Lining or no?

I just saw a new trench coat pattern (Deer & Doe I think) and it has no lining, just taped seams. There are a lot of jacket and coat patterns with no lining, or not even an option of lining. This is something I just don't get. I put linings in everything and the thought of doing every seam with bias tape would make me scream. Yes - sometimes it looks nice and works, mostly on casual jackets but I wouldn't wear a coat or layering piece that didn't have a lining. Mostly I like linings because then your jacket or coat wears better, less wrinkling, slips easily on over your shirt or dress. I have a Lisette jacket pattern that is really cute but I suspect it has no lining - so I'll have to give that some more thought.

European patterns

Even though I rarely buy them I like to look at the European indie sewing patterns. My pal Sewing Tidbits just did a round-up of French sewing pattern companies with lot of links. And she is starting to create her own patterns, exciting!  Pauline Alice patterns are my favorite so far, perhaps because she does unique things (not another basic top but instead very distinctive styles) I sewed her Quart coat, Saler blazer, and Alameda dress and loved them all.  Named Clothing from Finland have a lot of interesting styles - but nothing that has grabbed me. For the most part if I see an interesting detail, either in ready-to-wear or in a pattern, and if I don't already have the pattern or one that could be adapted, then I look at the BurdaStyle website and usually find something similar. For some reason putting together a $ 6 PDF pattern is way less annoying than putting together a $ 20 PDF. But they are all still annoying. Anyway I am always on the lookout for some interesting and more advanced patterns so let me know if you discover anything.

Thimble news


Were you sad to hear that the Monopoly game is discontinuing the thimble as a playing piece? I was. That was always my choice when playing Monopoly. Do you use a thimble? I certainly do for certain tasks. Sometimes it is the only way to prevent puncturing your finger when hand sewing through very thick fabric. The metal one above is great for that. The pink one is a sort of soft plastic, with a slight grippy texture and it makes sewing quicker, at least for me. The ceramic one someone gave me, I suppose you could use it but I keep it around because it's pretty. Using a thimble does take a bit of practice but once you get the hang of it then it really helps.

Sewing Lace Fabrics

I see a lot of great garments made with lace fabric and it has been really popular on the runways for the last few years. But it's just one of those fabrics that I have no interest in sewing with, or making a garment for myself to wear. Along with scuba. Scuba fabric to me feels like wearing 7 layers of polyester fused together - not an appealing idea. But maybe I'm wrong about that. In any case, if you touch a fabric in the store and it gives makes you shudder but not in a good way then I imagine sewing with and/or wearing would be no different. Is there a fabric that is just not for you?

Not really improved

Did you take a look at the Colette Patterns reissue of their free Sorbetto top pattern? They have been revising their design work, I believe revamping their blocks and sizing. So they revised their Sorbetto tank top pattern. And it looks.....not good. I can't stand the way they do bust darts, always too long so they are too visible from the front. They seem to choose fabrics that don't match up well for what they are showing, and they never fail to have the examples fit poorly on the models. For the same $18 the patterns from Named (mentioned above) seem a lot more sophisticated.

New Fabrics

Nothing much since my trip to NY last October, and I am making progress on a few of those fabrics. But I did pick up a couple of things recently.

new fabrics stripe and metallic

On the left a couple of jersey knits, I have a this McCalls pattern which is calling my name for spring. Not sure if I will make the top or the dress, or both. And which color. But the past few years I have been sewing a lot of stripes which I find very fun. But the real treasure is the fabric on the right which is a cotton chambray with metallic silver threads. Unfortunately in this picture you can't really see the metallic and the color is slightly more blue than it appears. I didn't buy much, maybe 1 yard but that is plenty for a little sleeveless top for summer. I knew I had to buy it because I looked at it on 3 separate occasions at Stone Mountain. 😊

That's all for today. Up next, another version of Vogue 9205. my current fav t-shirt pattern. (so fickle, always a new fav which is usually the last thing I sewed).
And some work in the garden, replacing some fences, removing the ivy which I can't stand, and hopefully creating more sunny spots, for more plants! But in the meanwhile its a disaster zone.

Happy sewing and Happy Spring!

today's garden photo, more tulips.

purple tulips



  1. Lovely tulips! It's a rollercoaster with the season in the NE right now. 60 degrees and then a few days later, it's 35 and extremely windy. So the wool has not yet been stored.

    As for scuba, I made a pair pants with it a few years ago. Wore them once and that was enough. It WAS like wearing 7 layers of polyester! And the old, unbreathable type of poly at that. There are some fun scuba prints out there now, but for me, never again!

  2. I do not box up my clothes in LA, but do so in CO. Actually, I bring a lot of my lighter clothes to LA for the winter season in CO. We have very mild seasons in coastal LA. In fact, summer fog means that summer is cooler than spring or autumn.

  3. I wear most clothes year round. I have some really hot weather clothes and some really cold weather but most are transeasonal. I suppose Melbourne's weather is not much different to yours.

    I'm not going to succumb to the lace trend. At least not couture sewing lace. Haven't got time for that! But I do have a metre remnant of scuba (or is it neoprene??) that may or may not make it into a skirt.

  4. Fun! No lace, scuba, techno-knit, brushed poly, or liverpool for me! In fact, poly makes me shudder. I've tried all my life to use a thimble (particularly on hand-quilted quilts!) but fail every time and settle for a callous. I do have a nice little collection though. It's fun to collect sewing things, my box of empty thread spools is FULL, one day I'll do an outrageous mobile with them. Or bowl full of spoolies. Enjoy pulling that ivy - my daily summer chore as a young girl was weeding Mom's periwinkle, the small vining type, and I hated it!! Ivy and creeping fig are just as bad...

  5. Love these posts, always an interesting read.
    I have two very distinct style: very relaxed casual wear & very fitted and corporate work wear. I don't tend to sew work wear - so my sewing blog is pretty much a tribute to my non-work life I guess.
    I agree, I favour linings, things wear & last better.

  6. Totally agree with your comments about indie patterns, there seem to be many out there that don't offer anything innovative. Named are one of the truly exciting ones for me, and I like that they offer a mini collection.

  7. Thanks for your comments on the new Sorbetto. I thought the same thing just so glad someone else thinks it too! My challenge with most indies (besides the printing & taping) is sizing. Going up to a size 20 does not really reach out to plus size curvy sewists, so while I am aware of them, I discount a lot of them for that reason. Loved this post!

  8. Scuba? Even when I just think about it, I get HOT; reminds me of the original double knit of the 60's. YUK. Totally agree on the Sorbeto. None of the versions I have seen look good. I have that butterick pattern. Intended to make it up last year and the tucks kept getting in the way. I watched a Craftsy class on sheers--Sarah Alm I think. She used a water soluble "paper" from Pellon I think to help sew the tucks evenly and pretty--so bought some and will give the pattern a try. The version you made for your friend is lovely!

  9. Since I live along the northern gulf coast of Florida, we don't have much of a winter. Maybe a couple of months with some cooler weather. I do box up my corduroys, the few sweaters, and such. I pull them out in October through February, but I must say mostly those are worn from December to February. I also put away my white pants and seersucker items since I am old old school and only wear them from Easter until Labor Day. The years Easter is late that is hard, but I adhere strictly to the rule:)
    I always love your posts. Love to see your sewing and hear your random thoughts. Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. I love your posts. Thank you so much for taking the time to do these.
    I live in AZ so I pretty much have one wardrobe . The few winter items I have are used mainly for travel .
    Thanks for your thoughts on the Sorbetto tee. I was planning to try , but didn't have good luck with the Scout tee so I was hesitant .

  11. I was interested to read your take on unlined trench coats. I agree about that particular type of coat. However, I am going to make myself an unlined, billowy rain coat out of a lightweight fabric (like "rain wear" taffeta) to put on over the bulky layers of sweaters that I might wear, just as a waterproof layer. Just yesterday I wished I had one already made--thunderstorms were forecast but I didn't want to wear my raincoat, it was too warm out, and it's bulky to carry around and not wear. (And the thunderstorms did appear!)

  12. Your garden sounds like mine, only I know for a fact it looks a lot better! My neighbor's ivy (I never knew I could hate a plant this much) and the storms have finally caused the back fence to come down. It's not all the way yet, but it's the next big house project. Sigh. Interesting about unlined coats, as I'm thinking of making one! I probably have not found the right lining, but even rayon can feel hot and sticky to me. It's often foggy, chilly, and wet here in the summer, but it's not all that cold and any exertion at all, like walking downhill to the bus stop, gets me pretty hot. I'm envisioning a cotton bottom weight, treated for water resistance, just below hip. We'll see if I ever make it :)

  13. I enjoy reading all your comments. I have had good luck with the Indie patterns except for the Colette patterns. I have made a couple of different patterns and I don't love the results. I did sew lace one time, a Mood challenge and I didn't enjoy the process.

    I am ready to get to work in the garden, spring just can't decide if it wants to stay around!! Also, beautiful blouse.

  14. I made that pattern up in some flowy vintage linen that was from my Mother's stash. I edged the button placket with some of her vintage crochet trim and old ivory buttons from her button box. The back has darts instead of the elastic. I can't remember if I used a different view or did that on my own. It was wonderful in the heat when I traveled to Florida, easy to wear, and is a nice memory of Mother all at the same time. Mine was a blue ribbon winner at the Alaska State Fair!

  15. I definitely switch out my wardrobe twice a year - I live in Alaska. We usually get pretty nice summers, but we have had some where shorts are pretty "iffy". I've discovered white pants look very summery without feeling chilly. Thanks to everyone who confirmed my feelings about scuba knits! Now I KNOW I don't need to waste my money on it.

  16. The only scuba knit I have worked on have been the perforated ones so at least they give some ventilation! Yes, we swap our clothes once a year as we have snow in winter with 20 degrees and 100+ degrees in summer. I always have to give the plants credit for being able to withstand the 80 degrees shift and still remain alive. That Butterick 5861 pattern reminds me of the popular style of RTW on Zulily. I have bought quite a few of those tops in soft poly and rayon knits and the work great with cropped leggings. That back treatment to snug in the excess fabric would really make them way more flattering and less maternity...remember back in the 60's and 70's when women wore loose tops while pregnant? My view on coats and jackets without linings...they are just big blouses.

  17. I liked your mentioning the thimble, as this is the name for my blog eldidalaldit/the thimble on my finger
    Haven't worked with scuba knit but I do agree about indie patterns, most of what they offer you can easily find in Burda.
    Oh, and I do swithc my wardrobe twice a year, I live in Catalonia, we have real summers and not-so-real winters!

  18. I love Random Threads!
    I try to keep the size of my closet in check so that I don't have to pack/unpack at the change of season, although New York weather would justify it. But the weather has been so crazy that I find useful to have lighter weight options in winter. I also travel regularly to locations where seasons are different, so it's easier for me to have everything available. I'm doing fine with maintaining a wardrobe that fits my closet, but not so good with the shoes. So I guess I have to say I do a seasonal shoe rack...

    I love the elasticated gathering on the Butterick Blouse, I find it very flattering. I also completely agree with you on unlined outerwear. It's a major turn-off. I can draft my own lining but if I'm going to spend 15-20 dollars on a pattern I'd rather not!

    I'm glad you found the post on free patterns useful and as usual I'm in total agreement with everything you write on European patterns and the "improved" sorbetto (not). I also admire Named and I made their knit skirt. My main issue with them is that they draft for a very tall figure, so it requires a lot of alterations. I keep being tempted to sew the Inari Dress but the comments I've read about the armhole issues is putting me off. On a related note, I thought you would find it funny one of the main comment I got on my pattern project is that they are too cheap, which people could associate with low quality. I'm very confused by that and what to do. I can't believe that all the 15$ pdf knit shirts patterns made people forget that you can get a Burda Magazine with at least 20 styles, some of them being quite complex.

    Finally, I keep meaning to learn how to use a thimble properly, but never get around it. One day...

    That's it for my own (looooong) random threads!!

  19. Loved your thoughts. I'm with you on the lining especially in coats and jackets. I do like deer and doe patterns and also republique du chiffon. I've even made some from French instructions.... lots of guessing!

  20. The Butterick blouse is so pretty. I live in the Northeast and we have been having yo-yo weather. One day it is 60 degrees and the next day it is 32 degrees. I usually pack my Winter clothes away toward the end of May when I am sure the warm weather will stay.

  21. Scuba? Nope. A big sweaty bag full of nopes. Everyone else can have the scuba fabric. Lace? mmmmmmmm. I have only sewn with it a little, as accents. But I do want a lace skirt.

    I think you're referring to that Lisette wardrobe pattern with the cute short trench-style jacket?? Being a tundra dweller, I can take that sort of casual part-of-an-outfit jacket unlined but outerwear, like the Deer and Doe pattern, I prefer lined. That's why I never bought the popular Sewaholic one (the name escapes me).

    That new Sorbetto is just as sad in the neck/shoulder/armholes as the old one. I have no clue how they maintain their customer base.

    That chambray is GORGEOUS.

  22. I love thimble and can't live without it! Although, I've never managed to get used to the metal once, the one I owe is made of leather and allows me to feel the needle.

    In Ireland, there is no such a thing as seasonal wardrobe and the expression "Four seasons in one day" is real here. For instance, last summer here was pretty much like winter. So I keep everything in my wardrobe available for layering.

    Same as you, I find the lining crucial in garments, especial in outerwear. In sake of the experiment, I checked the Burberry web-shop and a few other fancy brands, and it turns out all of their trench coats are lined. Just saying.

    No to scuba, yes to lace, even though I've never sewn anything with lace so far. Without being too prudish or anything I can't imagine wearing a garment made 100% of lace, but the idea of inserting or combining lace with other fabrics does excite me.

    I love your knit fabric: those stipe combos are my favourite by far. Looking forward to seeing your new tops pop up on the blog soon!

  23. Just found your blog - I think from Communing with Fabric - but am enjoying reading it. I will head out tomorrow to get Vogue 9205 -LOVE that T! Random Threads comment about the Sorbetto top - I have made that in its original form and yes, even with that one, the dart is way too long, made another much shorter and like it better. Good use of a small amount of fabric for a summer top though.