Self-drafted maxi dress - compilation image

It seems like I’ve been sewing nothing but muslin around here lately!  After my failed attempt at getting the Simone dress to fit properly, I decided to put my newly-drafted sloper into action and draft the dress of my dreams from scratch.  Well, since it’s my very first self-drafted garment, I think “dress of my dreams” might be pushing it.  But you get the idea.  : )  I’m excited!

Self-drafted maxi dress - sketches

I even made sketches and everything.  You know, like a real designer.  Ha!  I wanted a simple summer maxi dress with a fitted bodice and a hi-lo hem, similar to the design of the Simone dress that I liked so much (in theory).  I envisioned using a contrast fabric panel in the center front and center back to add a bit of interest.  I even thought about doing the panel in a solid color with some hand embroidery.  So many possibilities!

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5 Simple Photography Tips For Sewing Bloggers

When it comes to taking great blog photos, I think there are 2 main areas to work on: the “how” and the “what”.  Here’s what I mean:

The “how”

A professional photographer knows how to take amazing photographs: clear, sun-filled images with perfectly balanced color and an interesting backdrop.

For an amateur sewing blogger to accomplish this, you typically need time (availability during daylight hours, traveling to and from a good outdoor photo-taking location), money (equipment), skill/expertise (lighting setup, camera settings, photo editing), and let’s face it, another person to take the pictures of you wearing your finished garments.

I don’t have any of these things!  Therefore, I do the best with what I do have: a decent camera with a self-timer, a few boxes to prop it up on, and sunny weekend mornings in my apartment.

The “what”

How to take great photographs is tough, but what to take photos of is a lot easier to work on.  The photos I share on this blog aren’t great (maybe one day!), but I do make a conscious effort to take specific shots of my finished garments that I think add value to my posts.  If you have limited resources but want to make the most of your blog photos, I hope you can benefit from my very unsophisticated tips.  : )

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Victory Simone pattern and muslin - close up

It’s been a busy weekend!  I had hoped to get enough sewing done to share a meatier blog post with you today, but alas, I didn’t quite get there.  Oh well!  For now, I’ll give you a quick update with the promise of more to come in the next few days.  : )

Yesterday I went on a little sewing outing and picked up the Simone dress by Victory Patterns at Gather Here.  It was totally an impulse buy, but since I had been eyeing this pattern since last summer, I figured a spontaneous purchase was justified.  I spent most of my sewing time this weekend making a muslin, and although there are a handful of minor adjustments to make, I think a real Simone is indeed in my future.

Victory Simone pattern and muslinI also picked up a huge roll of tracing paper at Artist & Craftsman Supply, which felt like hitting the jackpot.  I’ve been buying my tracing paper there forever and never noticed the big rolls all the way in the back corner of the store.  Who knew??  Now I do, apparently.  : )  Thankfully, I found it just in time to trace the huge Simone skirt pieces.

Now, about this pattern.  I’m sure I’ll have much more to say about it as I work my way through the dress, but I do have a few initial comments.  This is my first time using Victory Patterns, and so far I’m really not impressed.  The instructions are shockingly bad.  Like, embarrassingly bad.  A large part of my job for the past 10 years has been publishing written documents, and this kind of work would easily get me fired.  It seems like the instructions were (a) poorly translated from another language and (b) not proofread at all.  Considering the steep price of this pattern ($20 US), I’m really disappointed in the quality.

I’m also not impressed with the pattern drafting.  I’ll have more to say about this later, but again, for the price of the pattern, I expect a well-drafted dress.  It doesn’t even seem to fit right on the model!

With that said, I do really like the design of the dress, which is why I bought it in the first place.  I think the cut will be flattering on me, and I think I have enough sewing experience at this point to get past the poor instructions and not-so-great drafting.

I’ve got a first draft of a muslin already, which you can see above, and I’ll plan to take some photos of me wearing it in the next few days, once I finish tweaking it.

Have you ever tried Victory Patterns?  What did you think of them?


Skirt sloper version 1 - front

My adventures in pattern drafting are in full swing over here!  This weekend I drafted an initial skirt sloper using the same book I used for my bodice sloper, and you can see the results above.  I can’t say that I’m happy with the current state of the sloper, but it’s really not all that bad for a first attempt.  Take a look at the photos and let me know what you think.  : )

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Jack Handford patternmaking book - binding

Over the past week, I’ve been diving head first into the glorious and puzzling world of pattern drafting.  YOU GUYS.  This is seriously the most fascinating, most fun, and most confusing sewing I’ve ever done.  I LOVE IT.  Sorry for the caps, but come on people!  This is really exciting stuff.  : )  There is a ton to say about this type of work, but I’ll try to keep this post as brief as possible.  Let’s dive in!

The book pictured above is my Christmas present from John (which I totally asked for): Professional Patternmaking for Designers of Women’s Wear by Jack Handford, published in 1974.  I had checked it out of the library earlier in December and decided that I needed a copy of my very own – it was that awesome.  The book walks you thorough drafting slopers (also knowns as blocks, fitting shells, etc.) and how to then alter them to make any garment your little mind can conceive.  Let’s just say my mind was blown.  The possibilities are endless.

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Liebster blog award

Breaking blog news: I was recently honored with a Liebster Award by the lovely Tutti, and it was such a wonderful surprise!  Tutti, thank you so much for stopping by, reading about my crafty adventures, and taking the time to nominate me for the award.  It made my day!  : )

I hope Tutti doesn’t mind, but I’m going to break protocol, not follow any of the rules for the award, and make up my own instead.

Share your small sewing blog

In the spirit of the award, “Discover new blogs,” I’d like to invite you to share your small sewing blog with us in the comments of this post.  That way, we can all discover each other!  You can define “small” however you’d like.  Feel free to leave a link to your blog’s homepage and/or a post about one of your favorite sewing projects.  The more commenters, the more blog love we all get to share!

I don’t know about you, but the majority of my sewing blog reading tends to focus on larger, more popular blogs, simply because they’re easy to find since everyone is talking about them, linking to them, buying new patterns from them, etc.  While I enjoy reading big/professional blogs and learn so much from these sewing experts, I also really love reading smaller/personal blogs.  There’s something about small blogs that harks back to the original blogs of the early 2000s, when sponsorships were rare and bathroom mirror shots were the norm.  They always feel so personal and inviting, as if I’m chatting with a friend in their living room about our shared passion for craft.  What’s not to love about that?

So, if you have a small sewing blog or know someone who does, please chime in below!  It’s my hope that we can all make some new friends and pull up a comfy chair in our virtual living rooms… perhaps with a cocktail in hand.  : )  And if there’s enough interest, I’d consider doing a round-up post so we can all see each other’s beautiful faces.

P.S. – Extra bonus points go to any male sewing bloggers – we really want to meet you!

Spring Grainline Archer - finished

My Spring Archer is complete, and isn’t it so cheerful?  : )  I had such a great time sewing this shirt, really taking my time with each step to make sure everything came out as well as I could make it.  The finished garment is extremely comfortable, casual but still crisp, and just bright and pink enough to tide me over until this never-ending winter is finally behind us.

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Spring Archer in progress - until next time

I’ve got another Grainline Archer on my sewing table, this time in cheery spring colors.  Just looking at these fabrics makes me happy!  Although it’s far from spring here in Boston, my mind has undoubtedly shifted toward warm-weather sewing.  I’ve been enjoying wearing my first Archer so much that I figured another one was in order, especially after all those alterations I had made the first time around.  Now I can just crank out the second one with no worries about fit.  And hello, did I mention the spring color palette?  Yay!  : )

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