Saturday, October 1, 2022

Random Threads #41: patterns, magazines and a couple of new tops

Time for another Random Threads post, which is where I get to comment, observe and possibly rant on things I've come across in the sewing internet world. My last Random Threads was Oct. of 2021 so it's about time. And a couple of the topics touched on in the previous Random Threads are still relevant. 

A quick detour to mention that my online Blazer class is starting next week on Tuesday Oct. 4. This is a 6-week course, we meet online at 6pm PST and I show how to make a lined blazer from start to finish. It's a mix of live discussion and video with plenty of time to ask questions. As you might guess this is my favorite class to teach and people have made fantastic items. Here is the link to the class on the Hello Stitch website:  Blazer class.  Note that you don't have to make a blazer or sew along during the class. Some people do and others follow along and learn for when they have time and materials to make one. 

Burda repeats:  Now that I have subscribed to BurdaStyle pattern magazine for what will be 5 years in November, I can see that they definitely do have a number of pattern repeats. Or they have a pattern in an issue that is basically the same as a previous one, with a slightly different detail, such as the sleeve, collar, pockets etc. I don't mind them so much but I can see that people who have a big stockpile of these magazines might be annoyed. I'm actually more annoyed by the shapeless sack patterns, those are a waste of space in my opinion. But on the whole I find at least one and often 2 or 3 interesting patterns in each issue so for me the value is very high. I think during the pandemic they did have more very similar styles but I am willing to cut anyone some slack during that period and just be glad they are consistently publishing. This all goes to reinforce my view that there are no new patterns! everything is a riff on a bunch of components. It would be fun to do a blog post with comparison of the same pattern in different decades just to show it.

New Look Patterns:  more pattern talk. I really like New Look patterns, over the past 10-15 years I've made some great dresses and tops from their patterns. I'm a bit sad to see the brand dwindling, they are putting out very few interesting ones. I happened to fit in their size range well (with admittedly was not as wide a size range as many other brands). They often had several completely different items in one envelope, the price was $3.99, and they printed many of the components like facings etc in each size so you didn't have to deal with the multi-size lines on those once you determined your size for the garment body pieces. This tunic top pattern is one of my go-to choices, I think I've made it at least 6 times. 

Speaking of Tunic tops, here is some unselfish sewing I did recently. I made this tunic top for my mom as she casually mentioned I hadn't made her anything in a while.  I used a different New Look pattern for this. 

Turquoise tunic top

Coat season:  do you every look at a pattern and think "well that one is going to be trouble?" I saw a new coat pattern from Style Arc, the Ormond coat (go search their website to see) and I thought it looked bulky and bathrobe-y with maybe just a few too many details. What do you think?

Videos and Reels: here is where I say that along with many I can't stand Reels on IG and actively try to avoid. I said to a friend the other day that my eyes can read faster than anyone can say or do anything in a video. I prefer print, I like to read about things and so short bursts of video, especially combined with the music are just annoying. Ok that's my rant, and I know I'm not alone in this one. 

Here's another top I recently made. I had a dress that I made as a display item for Hello Stitch, it was a nice but just not something I would ever wear. So I looked at it one day and thought there was plenty of fabric in the skirt to make a top.  

Blue top 3 views

I saw that pattern in the April Burda and wanted to make the dress but figured it would make a nice top as well. It's an ideal pattern for cotton lawn or silk so I'm sure I will revisit this next year. This dress was really popular and I saw lots of versions online as well. 

Sewing Magazines:  do you subscribe to any sewing magazines? I renew my Threads magazine year after year and they are kind of piling up. I know you can access a lot of the info online so perhaps one of these days I will go through them and just keep articles of interest. I think I will always subscribe as at least a few times a year reading the articles I have learned something that was a game changer. I had a subscription to Sew News but I don't find it very informative and the projects are on the simple side. 

Well that's the latest for Random Threads. As I mentioned next week I start my Blazer class online via Hello Stitch, and also I will start making a couple of tailored items for my friend Heather, using very beautiful and luxe fabrics from Britex. That should be fun - although I confess I am always a little scared to make that first cut into the fancy fabrics!

Happy Sewing and beware of all those first time costume stitchers at the fabric store 🎃.


today's garden photo - my never ending garden remodel project is actually nearing the end. Here's a nice foxglove that was a seedling volunteer in my yard. My favorite type of plant - free!

White foxglove


  1. I think you are right, the Ormond does have a strong bathrobe vibe, especially in a heavier fabric.

    1. I totally agree with your opinion on the videos. I live in a rural area, and downloading videos can be very time consuming due to the lack of good Internet in this area. Even at work, many of our instructions on the e-learning classes that I teach come in the form of video. As you said, I could look up a command or an instruction much more quickly then I could find the video, play it, and extract needed information from an 8 to 10 minute video. I will retire soon, and I hope to begin blogging about quilting and sewing. I have read your blog and enjoyed it for many years.

  2. Well I don't know about reels as I don't do instagram and I miss all the bloggers that aren't blogging anymore. I subscribe to Ottobre as I can get the Burda at the library. I haven't made a lot from Ottobre but I like what I have made. I was given a large pile of Burda and there are many repeats from the ones a few years ago and I agree there are no new patterns just variations. I looked at the Style Arc coat and it's ok but I just can't see how anyone would pay $28. One reason I never buy indie.... all the popular ones I've got 80's patterns that are the same. I mean how many peasant blouse patterns have there been - some are so boring and been done to death a million years... my rant is over.

  3. I can't comment about Reels, I don't do IG. Or FB, or Twitter, or...whatever is out there now. I far prefer blogs, especially since I know how much work they are. Writing something coherent, remembering to take photos, etc. And yes, the presumption that everyone everywhere has high speed internet for videos is frustrating.

    I subscribe to Threads, since issue 35-40 time frame. I also hunted ebay and found the ones I missed. I do have an archive DVD, but far prefer to read the magazines themselves. Yes, the magazines are available on-line, but quite a bit is hidden behind the Insiders paywall. I can' t figure out why they offer me Insider access for additional cost, at the same time keep sending Insider offers include the print magazine. Anyway, I suspect they'll be going all on-line at some point. I'll be sad when that happens, not sure I'll keep subscribing then.

    My pattern buying fell off a cliff about 5 years ago. Sewing so few of what I bought, retirement changing my clothing needs, pattern companies not offering much of interest to me - so many repeats across brands, things I remember wearing long ago, turning Kwik Sew into cutsie crafty crap patterns then killing it off, etc. all combined to make me hit the brakes. And I admit I've been spoiled rotten by Joann sale prices on patterns, I can't get myself to pay indie prices even though a few of them have much better drafted patterns than the Big-4 according to reviews.

    Thanks for the warning about non-sewers at the fabric counters this month. And it probably won't get any better until they're done with their "quick and easy" Christmas present sewing either.

  4. I’ve love Burda mag after reading your two-parter overview, which really got me over my inertia. I get a kick out of having so few instructions that I have to puzzle them out. No subscription though, as I have read many comments, mostly on Pattern Review, with complaints about the repetitions. I buy each magazine individually at JoAnn when I see them on the rack and only if I see several attractive, new-to-me, interesting garments.

    I wish I owned more of the older New Look patterns. They were excellent.

    No social media for me. While I appreciate the occasionally well produced video on a process I don’t do often, such as an invisible zipper, I don’t have any patience for bad music, unfocused narrative, and anything of unnecessary length, overly cutesy or unprofessional. I click on many recommended links, but usually only use a video about every six months or so when I just can’t work through it on my own or as quickly as I need to. I love to read, and have several books on sewing that are informative, well written and every bit as inspirational as visual media.