Sunday, October 31, 2021

Random Threads # 40: Finding Fabric, new Patterns and sleeve doubts

What?? It's been a full year since I've written a Random Threads post! Looking back I see the last one was October of 2020 when I wrote about my opinions on magazines, podcasts and patterns that use a lot of fabric. Today I have thoughts on some new acquisitions, elusive fabrics, styles that don't appeal and my obsession with Russian patterns.

Why is it so difficult to find nice corduroy? I really like to wear corduroy jeans or pants in the fall and winter, especially in interesting colors. But while I can see a variety of shades in ready-to-wear it seems really challenging to find nice fabrics to sew. I've been looking for some interesting blue colors, not a muted shade but perhaps royal blue. You know how I like the jewel tones. Or a rich olive green, I think that would be a good neutral. I do prefer the stretch corduroy for pants or jeans, and around 14 wales per inch, not the pinwale type. I see some on a fabric website at $22/yard or so and my bargain hunting self thinks that is too much. Because of the fabric nap I do need around 2+ yards. So perhaps the availability is not the problem but my miserly tendencies :) 

All the pockets:  I bought the Anzu skirt from Waffle Patterns. I think it looks like the perfect travel skirt for the upcoming trips which look every more likely these days. Who dislikes carrying a purse or bag when doing some sightseeing - I certainly do and it would be great to have sunglasses, phone, wallet, etc. at hand and safely attached (or even hidden) on your person. Plus it's ideal for denim. I hope to get to this one after my current jacket class concludes. Until then I'm immersed in lapels, sleeves and all things blazer jacket. 

Anzu skirt3

How do you wear a jacket?  Every time I see a pattern with great big sleeves I think this. Don't those sleeves bunch up uncomfortable inside the arms of the coat or jacket?  And the fluttery ones, those would drive me crazy.  Once in a while I make something that has elastic at the wrist, with the bottom of the sleeve creating a ruffle and that also annoys me so I have learned not to make that, despite being a pretty shape. Perhaps I'm overly fussy - I feel the same way about labels in clothes, particularly ones at the center back neck - the worst! I always extract those from any t-shirts or fleece tops. 

Sleeve examples

Iron conundrums:  I have been a loyal Rowenta iron user, despite the leaking and other issues. I just like how they press, they are nice and large, the "platinium" sole plate (if you can find this model) is amazingly non-stick and easy to clean. I admire the marketing genius that came up with that word which means nothing and yet names their sole plate material. But earlier this year my shoulder was hurting, a combo of lots of pressing on my relatively high work surface which means I am lifting a heavy iron up near my shoulder, particularly when using a sleeve board or other pressing tool. 


So I decided to get a lighter weight iron. At the studio in Berkeley they had some of these Black and Decker Irons and they worked well so I ordered one. It's great! much lighter than my Rowenta and has really good steam. And the price is right. At the studio they also have these Oliso irons with the retractable feet which I actually despise - I just don't see the point and I can't get used to putting the iron in that flat position. If you love them then great - irons are like sewing machines, everyone has their specific preferences. 

VikiSews Patterns: these are my new obsession. I bought a couple of patterns via their English language Etsy shop and had them printed via PDF Plotting. I made the pants and ordering the size based on my hip measurement they were just about a perfect fit. Could this be my holy grail of pants patterns, I think so! The one I made is Lora, shown on the right in blue.  I made them as a test in some weird printed corduroy but now I think they might be wearable. To be determined, I will hem them and post. 
Vikisews pants image

So I then ordered a couple more patterns, from their actual Russian website. On their website that is English language they have a good selection of patterns but they actually have many more that they are working to translate. I don't really need the instructions so it doesn't matter to me, however their instructions are perhaps some of the best I have ever seen.  I will definitely do a post all about this pattern brand. Stefanie (whose style I admire very much) blogs and posts @seaofteal She has written about these patterns, she has made several and they look fantastic. 
I couldn't resist that blazer on the right shown in green, it's so sharp but actually I think I will make the Riana blazer first, it's a more casual look and simpler to fit. I'm also planning to make those Anne pants, maybe even in a ponte as I have a couple of pieces in my stash. 

Vikisews jackets image

Burda pattern magazine repeats:  I'm  not the only one who has noticed the repetitive nature of patterns in the Burda magazine this past year. I think this happens if you have been subscribing for a while. At first all the designer are new-to-you, but then as a couple of years roll by you see the same knit tops, the same pants, and variations on the same dress. I also wonder if just like the Big 4 pattern companies their output has slowed due to the effects of the pandemic, lockdown, etc.  I didn't see any interesting jackets in their fall issues which usually has some outstanding and interesting looks. Perhaps this explains my interest in the VikiSews (actually for that I credit Instagram).  Anyway, I have some faux suede fabric in a nice dark green and will probably reach back to a pattern from 2018 or 2018 to make a holiday dress this year. 

A new coat is not needed: but if I did have thoughts of making a new coat this one caught my eye. I'm not that wild about the front, I think it doesn't match the back but I really like that inset creating a full skirt effect. Actually looking at it more closely I think it would be nicer with set-in sleeves instead of the raglan. See - that's why we sew - we can pick and choose elements of design and come up with something interesting.  Anyway - I have hardly worn the last two coats I made. The other evening I met friends, sitting outside at a restaurant and I wore this plaid coat. It was almost too warm for it but sitting outside I thought it might be chilly. (if the temperature is below 70 Fº I am freezing!)
Actually I'm really looking forward to wearing this red coat which you will see me in all through December.  Also, this Vogue pattern takes between 3.5 and 5.5 yards of fabric, depending on length and size. That is a lot of fabric, both in expenditure and to tote around on your body. 

V1837 coat patterns

So that's the rundown of my opinions for this Random Threads, I didn't even mention my dislike of the trend of exaggerated collars with ruffles on the edge. They remind me of pilgrim costumes. Timely for November I guess.  
Up next, I am working on two blazers for my current online Jacket Making Class, which is heading into its 3rd (of 6) weeks. Back vent, and starting on the collars are on the sewing table now. I'm making the Jasika blazer and the Butterick 6862 with a lot of details and a bit of compare and contrast as I go along.
Perhaps we will run this class again in the spring if there is interest. 

Hello Stitch Studio:  very gratifying - all the in-person classes we've scheduled through the end of this year are sold out with waiting lists. I think people are thrilled to get back to doing things in person and also to learn to sew, something they may have tried during lockdown and are now ready to get some in-person instruction. We're just starting to plan for 2021 so if you are in the bay area and have a class suggestion let me know. 

Happy Halloween to all - my neighborhood is VERY popular with the trick or treaters, so I might have to rest up this afternoon as the evening will be busy! I think it will get started early and finish early as it's a school night - let's hope so.

Happy Sewing,

Today's garden photo is this beautiful Salvia Mexicana "Limelight" which I think I got at the local junior college horticulture department sale a few years ago. This weekend they are finally opening for a sale again in person, after almost 2 years so my calendar is marked!!!  This plant is so pretty and a late bloomer (October here) so a nice addition to the not so thrilling fall garden. Plus I took a cutting and made a second plant which makes me like it all the more.



  1. I have been eyeing the Viki Sews patterns as well (also due to Stefani’s posts) so I will be very happy to see how you make out with the Lora pants. I thought her Grasser trousers were gorgeous dress pants. Would like to give those a try as well.

  2. Thanks for posting, Beth! I am glad the classes are going well. It is fun to see new people pick up the sewing obsession. I started making a quilted jacket. I'm excited to see how it turns out. It's a simple pattern, which is what I need after making that button down for my son. I have heard nothing but good things about Vicki Sews patterns. I'll have to check them out. Happy sewing!

  3. I am new to Burda magazine, so I haven’t noticed repeats. In fact, I have bought only one issue off of the JoAnn magazine rack. It was a few months old (August, bought in October!), and I have been eyeing them for some time, so I finally treated myself. I can understand how and why they will repeat various ideas, treatments or even exact patterns over time, but with the limited number I intend to buy off of a magazine rack, it doesn’t concern me. I will only buy individual copies of what looks appealing, and only every now or then. I just enjoy reading a magazine that covers style, new fabrics, etc. AND includes actual patterns. but I wouldn’t have bought one at all were it not for your excellent tutorials! So, thank you. I am going to trace off my first one this month, and I am actually looking forward to it, though I typically dislike tracing. Burda mag is something I can really savor.

  4. Hello Beth! I just subscribed to Burda--I'm hoping to get some gems in a years' worth of magazines. The really good back issues are disappearing from Etsy quickly so I figured I would subscribe for a year and see what happens. I'm also (very patiently) waiting for the BurdaStyle Black Friday sale to purchase one dress pattern--the PDF is currently priced at $7.99! I have the same question as you do regarding sleeves...what about a jacket?! Hahaha. Happy sewing and hope you're having a lovely fall!

  5. Hi Beth, first time commenter here. Couldn't agree more with your take on tucking big sleeves into jackets and coats. As a statement sleeve lover, I am constantly torn between the beauty of all those poet sleeves, fluted sleeves and the struggle to get them into a slim outerwear sleeve. If the sleeve is made from a thin and wrinkle-resistant fabric this is not too much of a problem. I just awkwardly retract my arm so I can grab onto the end of the sleeve as I put my coat on. But if the big sleeve is structured or wrinkle prone, then it simply cannot be paired with normal outerwear. Perhaps a cape will do.

  6. I have the same thoughts about those sleeves. I suspect that the only thing you can wear over them is a cape and I hate capes. I did make a somewhat wider 7/8 sleeve that I copied from a Jil Sander blouse. It's not as big as most, it's just interesting with a crossed pleat at the hem where I used a bias binding to finish the hem. It's interesting, but narrow enough to wear under a jacket. Heavy irons. I have the same issue when I use a sleeve board or any tailoring implement. I have a gravity feed iron and I like the amount of steam and the fact that it holds a lot of water. But heavy it certainly is. Maybe I should get the black and decker for when my shoulder hurts. I really like the Viki sews patterns; really stylish. Have you made any yet?