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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On fewer patterns, more sewing

The more I go to New York to see my son and his girlfriend the more I am acquiring good fabric of the kind that I don't want to mess up by cutting into it with an experimental pattern.

This is elevating the importance of the tried and true pattern for me.

Of course I am and will be using new patterns but I am getting choosier about them. When I have something I really like I am going back to the patterns I know will work.

In the last little while I have made a few things from old patterns and liked them, in fact they are part of my wear a lot roster in way that my "on trend" garments, after a short while, are not.

Here they are. 

The first was this plain T shirt made in a cotton single knit. Nothing exciting and if I make it again I might bring in the sleeve seam for an update, but easy to wear. I used this old but still available Burda pattern:

In addition to attached dog, note rumpled sewing shorts and jewelled flip flops from Florida (can't buy anything like that here) the old legs need no introduction or explanation

My point here is that sometimes a good old plain pattern is pretty handy.

Which brings me to my most useful garment of the season, particularly now back in the province where fall passes for summer.

The fabric came from Elliot Berman in NYC and is sort of a knit quilted cotton/poly. A sharp eyed blog reader sent me good advice on how to sew this and that really helped.

I used an old pattern Loes Hinse's Sweater Coat that like many of her patterns is somewhat dated now, bringing up the shoulder/armhole seam and bringing in the sides so it had a more current fit. Next time I will also draft a back neck facing or apply tape over the collar seam - Loes always has you just serge this but that shows when the jacket is open.

For closures I used big snaps I got at M&J Trimming and they turned out to be a really good idea because the weight of them helps the knit front hang better, sort of a vertical version of a Chanel chain at the bottom of a jacket.

My favourite part of this pattern is the shape of the collar, which is flattering but not too high around the neck so it lies nicely, and the patch pockets set into the side seam.

Such a nice pattern, now it has been updated, why not use it again and again?


Anonymous said...

Yes, TNTs are great. Especially because I really like plain and simple styles using gorgeous fabrics.
Your Lois Hinse jacket looks wonderful – chic and cozy all at the same time – that's hard to come by. Just saw something similar yesterday in the gleanings and it was about $1250. Yikes. Can you fill us in with the sewing tips given to you for that fabric.
Your snaps are impressive. Industrial jewellery! Are they easy to undo? I used a regular big snap – 1" I think – on a coat last year and I need pliers every time I try to open up. No, actually it's a screw driver to wedge between the top half and bottom to pry the darn thing open. Ridiculous.
Thanks also for your great writing/thinking/experience on life planning.
Dog photos are always welcome.
Vancouver Barbara

Nakisha said...

That coat is FANTASTIC and those snaps are downright amazing.

I love having TNTs for when I "just want to sew". But I can't give up the allure of a new pattern! :)

Linda T said...

I'm trying to get there myself - getting/using TNT patterns and just changing some of the details if I want. I have a couple more patterns I want to perfect to TNT. Hope I stick to my plan! So easy to see a new pattern and be "off to the races" with it.....

Mary said...

Yes, I agree with your approach on TNT. I love looking at new patterns, but have become much more selective about what I buy. I want my sewing time to contribute to building a wardrobe which will last longer than a season or two. I love these two pieces, and the snaps! oh, if only I had snaps like that.

Laceflower said...

Wowser, those are some snazzy snaps!

Nana said...

The jacket is fabulous. I agree with the request for sewing tips and more info on snaps. I too am beginning to build the TnT group hoping to have better fitting clothes that the RTW.

Patty said...

Looks like you hit the nail on the head for most of us these days! That is exactly where I am, perfecting the TNTs to make a more classic wardrobe. I have a ways to go, but it's all FUN! Love the jacket, totally want those snaps!

mrsmole said...

Great coat and great snaps!!!! Where did you get them? Ditto on using patterns that work...nice flat collar, nice pockets and good length...why buy new when this is classic enough to be made over and over in different fabrics.

Shirley Ann said...

What a great top! I am trying to control that urge to want to purchase the newest wave of patterns that cross the blog world. Staples are good.

Kathrynsb said...

thank you for taking the time to blog more
I so look forward to your blogs
your thoughts and musings on everything
I know it takes time but you are something of a lifeline. For me a grandma, full time professional, lifelong sewist ( as we are now called)
I feel like I'm connecting with a friends who has so many dimilsr interests

Barbara said...

Quick answers here. The big snaps are really smooth and unlike the large round ones I got from our local fabric store these from M&J Trimmings in NTC are easy to snap on and off - almost like they are magnets rather than snaps. For this fabric I sewed all the seams first with a slight zag zag for stretch and then serged them.

And I would mind writing a life planning book, so many opinions so few places to voice them.

Janine said...

I think I am old enough to see that most of the 'new' patterns are actually just tweaks of older styles. I love your cream cardigan. I always have one in my wardrobe since my 20s.

Lynn Barnes said...

A new pattern has to be really, really exciting to make me purchase it. A lifetime of collecting patterns -- my own, leftovers from my dear mother, thrift store finds, other people's dead mother's patterns, random boxes of patterns left out by the street for the junk man -- means that I can usually just shop from my own patterns for anything I want to sew. Or draft my own. Still, there is that box labelled "Favorite favorites" to which I can always turn for 5-10 TNT gems. (Oh, who am I kidding? 20-30 TNT, at least TNT to look at and dream about.) The other boxes of patterns are either one-offs or only dreamed about.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Okay you had me at tried and true! Love, love, love the Loes Hinse coat! Gonna have to venture over to M&J for some snaps. And I totally get letting the fabric speak!

Beckyiheart said...

Love the tried and true pattern! You look lovely and those snaps are the bomb. Must head to M&j !