Pantone and the UFOs*

Haha sounds like the name of a music group….

(*Un-Finished Objects: sewing projects set aside and hanging over your head whispering “Finish me!”)

The Pantone color-forecasting service Spring 2017 color chart has been out for a month, have you seen it?  I was too busy finishing Halloween costumes to even take a peek.  Truth is, as much as I’d love to “Think Spring!”,  I have customer orders due by Thanksgiving (next week?!) and then Christmas is another busy sewing season for online orders.


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Revised Pattern: VFT “Matilda”

Previously I blogged about Alpha-testing of sewing patterns, using the Violette Fields Threads “Matilda” pattern as an example.  I’m genuinely happy to  update that information today. Matilda  has been revised!  The raglan armscye has been trued at the neckline (original pattern at left, revised at right):


…..and has been French-curved at the underarm (again, original on the left, revised on the right):


If you have already purchased this pattern you will receive an email with a link to down load the revision. The revised pattern does not include size 12 months, presumably because a new pattern is being released today with infant sizes.

This is a very cute and versatile design.  I still suggest adjusting the width of fabric in the skirt, but I can now confidently recommend this pattern.


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Sewing Halloween Costumes

Tis the season! Costume season, that is. In the fabric stores, the waiting line at the cutting-table is backed up with moms and their kids, planning Halloween costumes. I love this….there are many great reasons to sew (rather than purchase) a costume. How else are you going to get “one-of-a-kind” like this lil’ winged dragon? (from a dozen years ago….my “baby” is 20 now!):


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Dyeing Fabric and Trims: some tips

Do you ever color-dye your sewing materials?  It’s quite helpful if you cannot find the exact shade that you want at retail, and especially useful if you need trims to match your fabric. But I never see dye products marketed for this purpose….maybe I’m the only person who does this?

“Rit” brand home dye products have been around for a long time….I’ve come across vintage magazine ads from the ’30’s and 40’s at the flea market.  The promotional theme was generally about updating worn apparel, which is a valid  reflection of the times (the Depression and wars):


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Sewing with Whites

Do you like sewing solid white garments? Many people tell me they don’t like to sew with white fabric, usually for one of two reasons:

  1. It’s boring (“How can I walk past all of the gorgeous prints and lovely plaids and brilliant colors that are out there in fabric-land?”)
  2. It’s scary (“Every speck of dirt will show!”)

The boring part I can’t help you with, except to say that someday you may want to make a crisp classic white shirt, or a family-heirloom baptism gown, and suddenly white won’t seem so blah. The scary part?  “White clothes get dirty  faster”.  Logically, white fabric doesn’t get any more dirty than any other fabric, it’s just that stains show. But white clothes can be scrubbed and bleached much more easily than colors .

I used to have “fear of sewing with whites” too, but if you take a peek at my Etsy shop you’ll see I’ve overcome that. Probably half of my sewing is with white fabrics. Here is the secret to sewing with white: it’s all about the prep work.  Once everything is set up correctly, the stitching is a breeze (far easier than sewing black thread on black fabric, now that is an eye-strain!). It’s kind of like cooking stir-fry: most of the effort is in the prep-work.


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Respect the Grainline

Paying close attention to the grain of fabric is something I was taught to do at a young age. When fabric-shopping, my mom would unwrap a large swath of goods and see how the material would hang, on straight-grain and on bias, and maybe scrunch it up to see the effect of it when gathered.   She showed me warp versus weft yarns, the difference between one-way and two-way prints (and border prints), and explained that you could choose to cut velvet with the nap going down for a frosted effect, or the nap going up for the deepest, richest color….but if you cut the front going “up” and back going “down” it would be a disaster.  At home she used the dining room table  to carefully place pattern pieces in the most efficient layout, evaluating the “with nap” and “without nap” guides in the instructions, and measuring the pattern grainline guides to the selvedge of the fabric, making sure every piece was parallel to the grain.

She also taught me that you don’t need to be a “slave” to the pattern instructions: deliberately changing the grain can be used to great effect. My mom loved to play with stripes:


However, just as in the fine arts or cooking, you must understand the rules in order to break them: she didn’t place ANY pattern pieces willy-nilly.  Every step was thoughtful and deliberate.

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Mini Review: “Sew By Pattern Pieces” #15000 Leggings

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I blogged about a free kids’ knit shorts pattern that is cut on-the-fold (mirrored front/back) with instructions on how to correct the drafting.

Today in a Facebook group there was a discussion about favorite well-drafted patterns, and blogger Tibeca Yao ( mentioned a designer I was unfamiliar with: Lauren Wernli for  Sew by Pattern Pieces.  Intrigued, I took a look at her shop, and  of all coincidences, she has a kids’ knit legging pdf pattern. Based on Ti’s endorsement, I bought it:


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How to Correct a Mirrored Knit Shorts Pattern

Here’s a quick review of a new free pattern that was released today, the Tupelo knit shorts from SewLikeMyMom.  Like several other pdf kids’ knit pant/legging patterns, it has a mirrored front/back rise, with instructions to adjust the rise height by trimming off the waist at an angle (photo shown under Fair Use doctrine for the purpose of product review):


I will show you  how to adjust this pattern (and others like it) for a better fit.  Because this is in stretch knit, you can get away with sewing this pattern “as is”, however it will cause great fabric strain at the center-back seam, due to the lack of length and coverage of the back rise.

  • Woven patterns that rely on excess fabric will provide coverage but not good fit.
  • Knit  patterns that rely on excess stretch will provide coverage but not good fit.

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Adding “Pouf” with Horsehair Braid

Previously I blogged about my recent haul from Wawak Sewing supply company, including a pair of 144-yard spools of horsehair braid, one white and one black. Then a friend asked me “Why do you need so much?  What do you do with it?” Fair enough, since most people buy it by the 3-yard package…..


I make a lot of costumes,  and horsehair is great for adding body to necklines and princess seams….plus of course hemming. I love it for hemming, to add “pouf”.  Actually I use it 2 ways for hemming, the “typical” way, and another way that I made up.

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Product Review: Wawak Sewing Supplies

Well not exactly a “product review”, more of a “resource review”.   Wawak Sewing is an online retailer that I’ve used for several years. No, I don’t have any affiliation here, just want to pass along some useful info for my fellow sewists!


I keep going back to Wawak Sewing because:

  • They carry products not available locally….things that I could purchase on my way home from work when I lived in Manhattan, but out here in the suburbs?  Not so much.
  • Delivery is super-fast, shipping is a very reasonable $5 flat fee (and free shipping with purchase over $100).
  • Prices are very reasonable.

Now I’m a real sucker for “free” shipping (I know, it’s totally illogical) so I tend to make 2 or 3 larger purchases a year from Wawak, to take advantage. Want to see what I just received? (I’m such a sewing geek….pretend this is a “Sephora haul” or something more glamorous).

First up: a 36″ bolt of dotted pattern paper (they also carry 48″ and 60″):


Ahhhh this gives me that “Back-to-School” feeling of getting fresh supplies! I use this daily for drafting my own patterns as well as tracing pdf’s.  One roll (500′) costs about $50….this is a great item to split with a sewing friend.

Everything else came in one small box:


The rolls on the left are horsehair braid:


This is 1/2″ (they also carry 1″ and 2″ widths), 144 yards for $28, and it’s something that I use all the time because I make petticoats. Most people wouldn’t ever need that much, but the price is so much more reasonable when bought in bulk, this could be another item you might want to split with a friend.

See? I was almost out of black horsehair braid:



The final items I received were simple white 2-hole buttons, in 3 sizes:


These were under $8 per gross (1 gross = a dozen dozen, or 12 x 12 = 144), so we’re talking six cents a button. That’s around the top price most mass-manufacturers use.  But most home-sewers have little choice except to buy buttons at  MUCH higher prices, because at retail you buy buttons on the card, a few at a time.  The cost involved in selling  this way is enormous because of the work involved in wiring buttons onto cards, designing and printing the cards, keeping inventory.  And it’s great to have that choice of sizes, colors, and styles…..but if you can use larger quantities of simple styles, it saves money to buy in wholesale quantities.  Again, a great item to split with a friend.

Here’s what I’m using these buttons for:


(This is my simplified “Dorothy” costume for Halloween).


So that was my “$100 with free shipping” purchase.   Here are some other products that you might be interested in (you can order a catalog here):

Thread!  Many varieties, lots of colors:


Rulers, and French curves (yes you need one!):


Scissors! Maybe gifts for your family so they don’t “borrow” your fabric scissors?


One last word: once (ONCE!) I received a Wawak delivery that was missing one teeny tiny item.  When I let them know about it, they sent it right away…..WITH A COOKIE.  I kid you not, a wrapped up chocolate chip cookie. Talk about amazing customer service! I posted a photo of it on Instagram.

(Did I tell you I have an Instagram page?  It’s where I post what I’m working on: @7pinedesign)


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