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T.G.I.F + Foreign Language Blogs

6 Jan

And what a Friday it has been! I’ve spent a lovely day on Goldhawk Road with Handmade Jane, Su-Sews-So-So and Myfabrication and as per usual I forgot to bring a camera. Question: if there are no images of the purchases made, do they really count?

Meanwhile, here’s another question for you:

Do you read sewing blogs in  languages you don’t speak?

It may just be my Fear of Missing Out (FOMO if you will) talking but I feel like there’s a whole lot of sewing action I’m missing out on. Plus, when you use Google Translate to decipher them, it has it’s own entertainment value ( no really, try reading the garment descriptions on

Here are some that I have stumbled across: Lesno Marchewkowej in Polish

Can you believe this is the same coat as the one on the cover of the December Burda Magazine?

pachi-pachi in French.

Madame Palagie in Greek.

And finally, because I am un-employed, I have time to scour the internet just for you*. Here are my favourite things this week.

"Make it work!* (*After you have lost an arbitrary amount of weight.)" - Caption from Lesley @

  • “Criticizing Tim Gunn is like calling Kermit the Frog an asshole: Not only is nobody going to take your side, the odds are good that many people will be actively offended by your sharing this minority opinion.” From My Big Fat Problem with Tim Gunn on xoJane. Keep reading down to the comments because there’s some interesting discussions going on.
  • “There were all sorts of choices, of course. I could buy thongs, hipsters, bikinis, and even something called a cheeky panty. (That last, I can only guess is some sort of insolent, but loveable, undergarment. Perhaps it has Oscar Wilde quotes on the tag?)” From The Case of the Tiny Knickers on A Confederacy of Spinsters.
  • “I was pondering why an old story about a delicate, emotional, drug addled actress from the 50s is so much more romantic than hearing about a supermodel hitting the runway with half a bag of coke littered around her nose. Easy. Photographic evidence. “ From How the Internet Has Taken the Glamour Out of Behaving Badly on Smaggle.
  •  “Resist the urge to over-design: Chevron squiggles and textures and shadowed fonts, oh my!  Once you discover the wonderful world of templates and photo editing it can be a slippery slope down to this.  Resist the urge, my friends!  You are stronger than the gif!” From Making Your Blog Look Like A Million Bucks on Yes and Yes. Guilty as charged, especially while I’m working on the move to my .com address. I need this tattooed on my hand.

*No way near as glamorous as it sounds. 

Pattern Purchase Decision-making for Nerds

29 Dec

It’s just too easy to get caught up in the razzle-dazzle excitement of pattern shopping in a sale. So, in an effort to keep myself on track whilst narrowing down my choices in the big 4 sales today I found myself running through the same questions over and over.

Being the nerd that I am, here they are on a flow chart:

Here’s how it works for me.

  • It supports my sewing goals for the year (more on that tomorrow)
  • It keeps me focussed on what I need
  • Helps avoid those impulse purchases

And here’s some examples in action:

McCall’s 6519: This one ticked all the boxes and was first in the cart.

McCall’s 6511: This is an example of where I got distracted by the fabric. Realistically, just trying to find that many different types of jersey would drive me nuts so this was a no buy.

McCall’s 6506: I love this dress but realistically I think I’d enjoy the challenge of trying to draft this myself.

Gertie’s Bombshell Dress: Craftsy had the course on sale, I didn’t have a similar pattern, Gertie’s fabric choices were stunning but that wasn’t the main draw. I don’t really have anywhere to wear a bombshell dress, but, I know I’ll learn so much from making the dress and Gertie’s tutorials so I bought it.

How do you decide?

If you’re nerdy like me you can get a pdf of the flow chart here.

FYI: The Big Four on Sale

29 Dec

Just a heads up if you’re looking for some 2012 sewing inspiration there are some g00d pattern deals to be had right now.

  • All Simplicity patterns are US 99c each (limit 10).
  • International shipping is US$7.25 for the first pattern then $2.25 for each additional one. – Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue

  • All Butterick patterns US$1.99 each.
  • All McCall’s (including these new ones) US$1.99 each.
  • All Vogues US$3.99 each.
  • BMV international shipping is astronomical but it could still be worth it. 1-3 patterns: $15, 4-7 patterns: $25, 8-15 patterns: $55, 16-20 patterns: $100. I find to make it worthwhile I usually order 7 patterns or 15 patterns (shipping averages $3-4 per pattern still cheaper than purchasing from a store).
  • Sale ends January 2, end of day CDT.

New McCall’s: (finally a collection not on crack)

21 Dec

I say it with love I promise. I have some perfectly wonderful McCall’s patterns it’s just sometimes they take their brand position of being the younger, funkier of the BMV (Butterick/McCall’s/Vogue) collective a little too seriously.

The collection released today, however, has lowered the wtf value considerably. Here are the ones on my wishlist for the next sale.

M6519: I would make and wear all of these drapey separates. I love it as a wardrobe collection.

M6505: I love the lace overly and the V at the back.

M6503: Nice and simple and would work in lots of different fabrics.

M6511: Interesting piecing and for once I really like the fabrics they’ve used.

M6504: Simple but with a lovely drape to the skirt.

M6518: Like an asymmetrical Coffee Date Dress.

M6507/M6506: These are two lovely dress patterns by Tracy Reese who usually does Vogue releases.

M6517: Finally a decent raincoat pattern, perfect for laminated cottons.

M6515/M6514: Okay, so these two pants patterns are a little cracked out but I can’t resist wide legged trousers.

All images via

Independent Pattern Designers: Victory Patterns

18 Dec

Something pretty for your Sunday.

I remember stumbling across the Colette Sewing Handbook on Amazon before Sarai had announced it on her blog, and the feeling of this is way too good to be real that came across me. This newly launched pattern line gave me that same exact feeling. It’s like Colette Patterns had a sassy little sister and is a great way to get you through the time between Colette’s releases.

Victory Patterns is the baby of Toronto designer and sewing/drafting teacher Kristiann Boos.

My intent is to produce fashionable and unique sewing patterns for various skill levels, that will inspire people to continue learning the craft. I wanted to design the patterns with a mix of vintage and modern styling and to create pieces that could be dressed up or down. The awesome thing about patterns is that they’re so interpretive, and when garments are made from them, no two are alike. I love the ability to inject your own personality into it, and i’m really excited to see what beautiful things you end up making from them!

– Kristiann  Boos

I think it’s a lovely approach to have and the designs really live up to it.

This one I purchased immediately. It’s so simple but effective and works well with the solid colours I always seem to choose. It sent me straight to Walthamstow market to choose some fabric and I can’t wait to get started.

The details make these patterns so interesting to me. Check out the way the seams intersect in the Lola  dress, the optional pleating on the Ava, and the chevrons, yoke, and pintucks of the Anouk.

The patterns are all download and print versions and retail on the Victory Patterns site for CAD$10.00 which feels like a pretty good bargain for the quality. The instructions are beautifully  clear and designed, incorporating both diagrams and photos to illustrate the steps. The sizes are similar to independent pattern designers like Colette and Sewaholic ranging from 2-16.

Finding new pattern designers emerging online is one of the coolest aspects of this digital sewing community and being able to support independent retailers who have put so much effort into actually going for it makes me happy.

Here are some other inspiring independent pattern makers I’ve come across:

  • GRAINLINE STUDIOS Jen is currently working flat tack not just on her fashion label HOUND but also expanding her pattern range.
  • MEGAN NEILSEN Megan is one of the few people out there offering a range of maternity patterns and is also launching regular patterns from her eponymous clothing line.
  • PATTERN RUNWAY Their classic kimono sleeved dress and scalloped shorts have been popping up across the blogsphere.
  • SALME PATTERNS Deceptively simple classic designs.

Feel free to add your favourites in the comments too.

I’ll be back tomorrow hopefully with my new Hazel dress.

Images all via

Photographer: Celine Kim

A Small Obsession

16 Nov

There is , oh, about a million things I should be doing right now but instead I am obsessing about…

this bag!

Mod Cloth Holding Pattern Makeup Bag (US$23.99) found via Making it Lovely.

And now I’m going to drop subtle hints about christmas presents to my family.

Sew-free Sunday + Walthamstow Market

6 Nov

Hey guys,

I’ve decided to start collecting all the random things I come across when I’m procrastinating instead of sewing in a weekly post. Some are sewing related and some are just random.

Welcome to Sew-free Sunday.

This week:

  • I have three works in progress but I wasn’t feeling inspired by any of them this week so I thought I’d just pop up toWalthamstow Market for a little inspiration.

General malaise + fantastic deals = a whopping shoppers high.

When I eventually came to on the Victoria Line train, I was swamped by 26 metres of fabric and only a hazy recollection of parting with £60. I may have needed a very strong cup of tea and a lie down when I got home.

Don’t get me wrong the deals are unbelievable, it’s just that I forgot for a moment I’m unemployed and as such should be much better behaved.

Please make me feel better and tell me I’m not the only one this happens to.

  • If you’re ever having a bad-body image day, the ladies over at never fail to cheer me up and put things in perspective with their frankness and complete lack of boundaries. Sample writing: “Most shirts give the general appearance that my back mounds are being lovingly cradled by the fabric, like a very low and unsexy pair of back breasts.” (P.s. the lovely Mena from sew weekly sometimes pops up as a contributor, too).
  • Other things that make me happy… Babies! A second cousin came over yesterday and much time was spend baby cuddling. Biological programming or no, holding a baby makes my soul feel good.
  • On body image, this one is for anyone who thinks losing weight will be the answer to happiness (hint: that used to be me). I was looking through some old photos on Mum’s computer and I found this one from 2004.

This is at my smallest adult weight but to my eyes I look awful. I see the blankness and exhaustion around my eyes and the tension in my body and when I see photos from this period I just remember how unhappy I was. The pounds don’t take your problems with them.

Heavier, but happier two years later in Tonga, although to be fair, it’s scientifically impossible to be unhappy whilst drinking a cocktail from a coconut. Laborious research has proven it.

  • Neither can one be unhappy whilst watching jello jiggle.

Get your jelly on – LADY IN RED from Billy Law on Vimeo.

Billy Law made 30 desserts in a cone shaped jello mold in October for Breast Cancer awareness and each was put to the jiggle test.

  • Lastly I’ve been feeling a little homesick, so this slice of kiwi humour (albeit addressing a serious topic) and accents hit just the right spot.

So there you have it. My advice this week: shop mindfully, give yourself a break, drink cocktails from tropical fruit, hold babies, make jello + don’t drive drunk.

xo Alana.

McCall’s Winter Wishlist

27 Aug

Egads! McCall’s are already releasing their winter collection… in August! Okay, so it’s the end of August but still?!

(ETA: have these new release patterns on sale for USD$2.99 right now)

I’m on a limited budget so my spending’s on hold but here are the ones I found interesting:

McCall’s 6433: I admit I’m swayed by that lovely red wine colour of the photo but still it has some nice details.

Maybe over a long-sleeved tee and tights. Plus it’s a Palmer/Pletsch pattern so it’s guaranteed to have good fitting instructions.

McCall’s 6435: I like this look but I think I can make do with So Zo’s cute tutorial.

McCall’s 6439: This skirt has some interesting design elements but I think they would be a little bulky on my hips.

McCall’s 6446: Cute little capes for winter although I have had my eye on Papercut Pattern’s delish Milano Cape (below) and I’d prefer to support an independent designer, especially a Kiwi.

Fall Simplicity Release

13 Aug

It seems that Simplicity released most of their Misses patterns in their Early Autumn Release because I’ve just had a look at Fall and for the most part it’s children’s and halloween costumes. Fine if you like that sort of thing – but personally I don’t think i can walk around all Autumn dressed as the Black Swan.

Of the rest, these ones caught my eye –

Could make for a nice long-sleeved fall dress. I’m thinking a solid double knit?

One half of me likes this (and the stylish Jessica at Green Apples has bought it too) because it’s simple but interesting. The other half says it’s just along tee shirt shaped with a purchased belt. What do you reckon?

I really like the amazing fit patterns and again a long skirt could work going into winter.

Love the collar and top stitching on the purple and red versions to the left.

There are a couple of new Lisette patterns which were so popular in Spring. Unfortunately they’d be a little boxy on me, sigh.

And they’ve added a new line called Sew Simple which include just one simple pattern.

What are your picks?

Sewing in a New Country – British Buys

13 Aug

In addition to what was packed in my suitcase, I thought I’d share what I’ve bought since arriving.

Ray Stitch is the brand new bricks and mortar version of the online store. Happily they are located on Essex Road just around the corner from my parents place in Islington, the store is gorgeous, warm and inviting. I stopped by for a coffee and walked out with new pins, denim machine needles and some gorgeous cotton for the pockets of the denim shorts I’m making.

Pattern making supplies: Brown paper and 40cm ruler from Ryman Stationers. Pattern Cutting Board (I swear these are almost impossible to find at home!) from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. Also at Ditto I found a couple of lovely remnants.

A floral cotton sateen for Simplicity 2512.

Stripey knit for a scoop necked tank top.

I really couldn’t afford much when I visited the famous Liberty, certainly not fabrics at £19/m, however they too have a remnants table, with 1 meter cuts of cotton for £12. I picked a soft blue ditzy floral and whilst I was a little apprehensive that Liberty have been hyped so much that I would be disappointed once I got it home, I must so the quality of the printing is insane. See if you can tell the right side from the wrong below.

Whilst were talking London landmarks for fabric, I made a far too brief visit to Goldhawk road to grab some fabric for a couple of muslins. In particular I was looking for 6mm woven gingham to make McCall’s fitting shell (2718).

The pattern was one of four I bought online when the McCall’s patterns were on sale. You can see from the envelope illustration that it’s pretty dated but the instructions are from Fit for Real People‘s Palmer/Pletsch so I’m looking forward to playing around with fitting.

(Two more Palmer/Pletsch – McCall’s: 5974, 6331, and Vogue: 8491)

Another online purchase – twin ballpoint needles to sew that stripey knit above!

One of the first UK purchases was from another local – the Make Lounge on Barnsbury St – where I picked up a bias binding maker for all those Sorbetto Tops planned and another tricky find in New Zealand – dressmakers carbon paper.

I picked up a tracing wheel for the carbon at Goldhawke Road, along with a fly zipper and some piping cord for the Rooibos sewalong.

And that friends, is how you blink and find yourself with a sewing stash.