About me

My photo
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


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Linden sweatshirt, new sewers and new sewing spaces

In November I am doing a two night workshop on the Linden sweatshirt and on sewing knits. Almost certainly the students will be new sewers or sewers who have not sewn knit fabrics before.

The Linden is a simple pattern for a raglan sleeved relaxed fit sweatshirt - like I have made over the years a thousand times before.

I say this because it requires a bit of a rewind of my head to realize that such a classic pattern has new life as an "Indie" and fairly pricey pattern.

Like its sister knit tops the Renfrew or Frazer sweatshirt from Sewaholic  the bands at the sleeves and bottom, which in all cases are more one-to-one than the gathered in bands of traditional sweatshirts, get around the issue of hemming in knits for new sewers. As a result these patterns tend to produce garments that work first time out.

The raglan sleeves are also nice. 

Not sure if we all remember it but a raglan is the easiest top to put on. That's why it my favourite when sewing for small children, seniors, or those with mobility issues. 

I also feel the raglan seams really suit the sloped shoulders many women have and are natural for adjusting the computer body - you know bent shoulders that mean a pull across the back and a narrow chest - just add more to the back/sleeve seam and take in the front/sleeve seam.

It is always easiest to adjust a pattern that has seams exactly where you need to make the adjustment.

The neckband on the Linden is the standard ring stretched to fit. 

I must say though that this band, although it looks very nice done, is fairly narrow and with 1/4" seam allowances, as are used throughout this shirt, may have the potential to be tricky for a new sewer struggling to get the hang of holding onto one layer of knit while stretching it, and being careful not to stretch the bottom layer.

In class I think I might suggest students cut the band wider.

The cult like status of many indie patterns among new sewers is interesting. In so many cases there are scads of similar patterns available for so much less cash from established pattern companies. So why do new sewers go for the indies first? I am sure there are some heads shaking in corporate offices wondering the same thing.

Here are my thoughts.

First off so much of sewing is about community and connection. It is also, for a generation of new sewers who did not grow up in homes with a sewing machine in the back of every hall closet, about education just as much as about instruction. Education and instruction are different.

The Linden comes not with an instruction sheet but with a nice little book that explains every little thing in great detail in a really human and conversational tone. 

Patterns like this - small business products generated by a designer/blogger/real person who writes about themselves and is totally relatable - are invitations into a shared culture as much as they are about making a garment.

I am aware that this too is part of my job in my workshop - we are going to have two 3 hour sessions to make this top -  my dialogue about sewing and my sewing habits and my sewing stories are what the students seem to enjoy most.

So the indie pattern movement isn't about making something to wear as much as is about finding the creative person inside and joining the community of sewing. Classes like mine, taught in a beautiful small sewing shop/studio/lounge, are part of the same impetus.

And of course the Linden is a pretty well drafted pattern too.

This old hat sewer will be making more of these in future.


Anonymous said...

As an older 'returning' sewer, the aspect of 'community' is not quite as important to me: most of the indie designers are much younger than me and I feel more like a supportive observer than a member of the community around them. However, the quality of the instructions is the reason I buy indie patterns. The good indies give very detailed, clear, hand-holding instructions (often accompanied by sewalongs and/or tutorials) and as a not entirely new, but rather unconfident sewer, I really appreciate those instructions. I'll take 'Tessuti' over BurdaStyle any time. The 'indies' I've appreciated include: Tessuti, April Rhodes, Colette, Liesl Gibson, Merchant & Mills (maybe not quite so comprehensive - but good and clear). So far I've avoided Style Arc because of its notoriously sparse instructions. I haven't tried Grainline yet - but think I will eventually buy the Archer. Mary

theresa said...

And you have explained why, even though I am fairly advanced, I keep taking classes, - no place else is there the sewing community. And thanks for the fitting tip on raglan sleeves. That's not a sleeve I generally use so I may have to try one for my sloping and forward shoulders.

Theresa in Tucson

Paola said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head with your take on popularity of Indie patterns. It's more about the total experience of being part of a tribe, even if it's just a virtual tribe. The Big 4 produce sewing products. Indies are more about belonging.

Elle said...

Love the way an "old hat" sewer understands the newbies--

SewRuthie said...

Thanks for that insight.
I see these new Indie patterns and think "£12 for that! I have a pattern just like it already" so I don't buy them.
I have a coverhem machine so use that for hemming things. It works on almost everything except poor recovery rib knit.

sewingkm said...

I think your insite to newbie sewists is interesting. They are so connected to the internet. I'm hooked into all it offers but have the background of my age group where grandma made my clothes and taught me the love of this craft. I'd like to take your class just to hear your funny stories! Karen

Anonymous said...

Simplicity, Style and Community draw me towards Indie pattern designers despite being a older experienced sewer. I can easily see the circus associated with the Big Four and their accompanying Big Box fabric/ craft/ home decor labyrinths being overwhelming for the younger sewer. I Googled "sweatshirt Pattern" just now to see what came up, it no surprise that Linden was first (after One RTW and images). So if that is what one wanted,a sweatshirt, it is a style that looks spot on and I get to feel I'm kinda friends with the designer why not. A couple of clicks and one is proud owner of a pattern that fits more like RTW. In comparison one could go to a Big box store look through several large books at artist drawings, trying to decide on the best adaptation. After making ones choice ( s) One would then navigate the filing system with fingers crossed that pattern is still in stock. The Big Four patterns are only a lot cheaper if one takes advantage of the dreaded three for one sales. ( I personally have many patterns unopened , my third of three choice). One then might find that their pattern is based on a "Block" as foreign as phones tied to walls, resulting in a Sweatshirt with enough ease to include a friend.
My favourite Indie Companies are Jalie. ( how I wish I had found them years ago, when I sewed for three daughters), Thread Theory ( there is such a lack of good menswear patterns in Big Four) Grainline ( nice casual, classic basics) True a Bias and Closet Case Files. I am intrigued by Merchant Mills, have a few of their tools but haven't tried their patterns.
Many of the Indie designers, along with Indie Fabric Shops offer a complete service. Hard to source findings, high end fabrics, RTW features and tutorials/ classes to put together a polished garment. The big company's try to sell cheap and fast in a dumbed down package , one has to hunt for the gems. My husband once while traversing the local Big Fabric Store, to buy me horsehair braid for a daughters Graduation dress hem ( needed that night, 8 inches short ) was laughed at and told it did not exist. The girls went so far as to share with each other and chuckle at this" man." It was not his " first rodeo" so he preceded on his mission and then explained how it was used to the shocked and somewhat embarrassed staff. How wonderful it is to enter a store where the really want your business, stock everything required for you project, usually have sewn that item and can help you with any problems. I do like having patterns on heavy paper that I trace off with the option of retracing lost pieces. I don't like taping together patterns but I really don't like ironing out tissue pieces. I really like being able to download a pattern on a whim when the mood strikes. I do appreciate my local Big Fabric Store and my Big Four Patterns, they do fill a need but not an experience. So this" old "sewer will support the Indies and if traveling to Halifax will find herself heading down Robie Street to the little independent instead of the Bigger ( than at home ) fabric store.

Mary said...

I have the linden pattern and another sweatshirt pattern from a big 4. The big 4 pattern has too much ease and too big of a neckline for my liking. I got it before the linden pattern came out. I have the skills to fix the pattern to be more to my liking. But why should I if the linden is perfect for me. I don't live near a store that sells patterns. It is a one hour drive. If I order on sale big 4 patterns it still costs to ship it to me. So the $ 3.99 pattern is now $10 and still requires my time to adjust the pattern. I will spend the extra $2 to have a pattern that fits me and is the exact style I am looking for. So no, big 4 patterns are not really cheaper for everyone. I think people forget that not every sewer lives in a city nor live in the US. I buy grain line patterns and Jalie because they fit me with very little adjustments , fit my lifestyle and the patterns are well drafted.