Monday, October 11, 2010

DECADES OF STYLE Trunk Show Party!

Thanks to everyone who attended, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

We especially would like to thank everyone who drove from quite far away (by L.A. standards), the Project Runway designers who stopped in, new & old friends, students, longtime & brand new customers... You all made it our best opening party yet!

Now it's time to get working on those lovely patterns, and we look forward to seeing your wonderful new 'vintage' garments next time!

Saturday Oct. 16th, 6pm - 9pm - FREE!

Join us for our annual trunk show opening party!

Once a year, the lovely Janet from Decades of Style Pattern Company sends us BOXES and BOXES of her lovely vintage reproduction patterns made up in GORGEOUS fabrics for us to oooh and aaah over.

Decades of Style 1930's Butterfly Blouse

They will be hanging artistically all over the shop from the 16th till the 24th of October, but only at our party will the patterns be 20% off so it's worth it to stop in!

We'll have drinks and nibbles, and of course we encourage you to dress up in your vintage finery, and I heard a rumor that there may even be some patterns to give away...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall 2010 International Textiles Expo

Due to travel and trade shows and summer and family, there will be no pattern of the month for September. Aww, shucks you say! What I can give you instead is a preview of some fabric that will be delivered in October & November...

Josh and I drove up to Las Vegas this past Sunday to attend the Fall International Textile Expo at Bally's on the strip. It's always a trip to go to Vegas and see all the people and look at the crazy hotels & shops. We walked around for a bit, had some dinner & headed back to Bally's to rest up for the show on Monday morning.

First stop, Alexander Henry and the lovely Miho! She pulled out the newest prints that will be at the Fall Quilt Market and of course we ordered a bunch ("Bone Bling", anyone?). I can only show you guys pictures of what is already on their website, not the very newest stuff. So here are a few prints we'll be carrying from the Matisse collection that will be shipping soon!

Next on the list is Robert Kaufman, where everyone will be happy to know that we were able to re-order most of our lovely chambray colors. This will probably be the last time, so we'll let you all know when it comes in! We grabbed almost all of the colors of a gorgeous new canvas, some velveteen (so soft..) in black, white, camel and a lovely deep forest green and YES BETH I did order some corduroy - jewel tones and neutrals. All of our basics should be shipping within the next month or so, along with some beautiful vintage style prints from a group called 'Betty Dear':

And these to be delivered in October: Halloween hearses and MONSTERS!

And lastly, this super-cute print with tiny bunnies, spaceships and macaroni...

So that takes care of our regular vendors, now the exploration begins! One of the reasons I love this particular trade show is that it is smaller and more specific than many of the other ones we attend. Most of the vendors and attendees are family operated businesses that have been around for years, so we get to see people we know and there are ALWAYS good stories at lunch... plus some dubious green cheesecake:

We stopped in at Renaissance / Blue Moon Buttons to replenish our stock and chatted for a bit about their move back to Santa Fe. They had some CRAZY beautiful vintage buttons and we grabbed as much as we could. New metal & glass buttons on their way along with a bunch of buttons with eyelets because they are so cool! Looking around at some new fabric vendors that specialize in designer bolt ends, we found some great french linens, silks & woolens (three words: Lady Grey class!):

And this crazy Marc Jacobs canvas print!

I was totally distracted by a company that I hadn't seen before called Art Gallery Fabrics - they had some beautiful prints, and we spent some time talking with the designer's husband, who was happy to get some garment sewer feedback. Wait till you feel these fabrics! They have a luxuriously soft hand.

We spotted an anonymous attendee with Alexander Henry's new "Mirage" print - the one we were wondering if it was a little too racy for people to wear out of their house - question answered!

The last new fabrics that caught my eye were a bunch of yarn dyes from Diamond Textiles. You can see how much I love this stuff already by looking at my shop! Well, the collection is growing just in time for the Button Down Shirt class...

By 6pm, the show was winding down and we had to get on the road back to L.A. A quick stop to grab some gas, water & caffeine then back through the desert. It was a lovely drive with the sun setting and the moon rising - here's a rest stop shot of the moon to wrap it all up. Tune in at the end of the month when I promise I'll do a fantastic pattern for the Pattern of the Month!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pattern of the Month - August 2010

Hello all! Boy, that was one busy July. We had some Kids Camps and then there was the Renegade Craft Fair - which was awesome - and of course all our classes and people who wanted to buy some fabric. August is shaping up to be a bit more mellow, so we'll get a little R & R before September hits. And since Sew Liberated just released a brand new pattern - the Sunday Picnic Blouse - we can be cute, comfortable and stylish while relaxing!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Contains a Disclaimer

Next month Sew L.A. will be three years old. Since then we've taught at least one Machine Intro class per week, and with 8 people per class that's roughly 32 people a month, times 36, which according to my sloppy math means we're looking at 384+ beginners that have taken this introductory class. Probably more, but it doesn't matter for my intended purposes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

FINISHED! - We have a winner -A DOUBLE giveaway for you!

Thank you all for entering! Congrats RETRO-Fabulous!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pattern of the Month - July 2010

Recently, I have taught a couple of our Tote Bag classes, and some of the students were asking if there were any reversible bag patterns that we recommended. I didn't know of any off the cuff, but I did some research and found this one - Amy Butler's Swing Bag. It's a great size for running around town with a bit of a different shape and a cute little detail to the handles.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pattern of the Month - June 2010

In the modern spirit of a 'staycation', my darling dearest and I recently used some of of our traveling savings to get a small grill and two chairs for our patio. Hooray for summer! I realized quickly that I did not have any appropriate lounging garments for relaxing on said patio, hence the June 2010 pattern of the month - comfy summer PJ's from KWIK Sew 3595!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring 2010 Quilt Market

Quilt Market is the largest trade show for people who own sewing, fabric and/or quilting shops in the US of A. It happens twice a year - Fall Market is in Houston and Spring Market travels around - this year it was in Minneapolis!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pattern of the Month - May 2010

I love this bag! I made it for the Pattern of the Month and was going to put it on display at the shop, but it seems that I have kidnapped it and it's now my everyday bag. I can't tell you how much stuff I can cram in it - and that for me is a good bag. I even decided to make it into a kit to make it easier for everyone to get online (and we have them at the shop too)!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Adding to an Existing Dart

Part Deux of our Full Bust Adjustment festival, this tutorial will show you how to increase the size of an existing dart. I'll be using our Party Dress pattern (Kwik Sew #3521) as an example.

Most commercial patterns draft for a B cup, so many people have to alter up or down accordingly. On some patterns, you can fudge it a bit, or just get by - this is one of those patterns for me. It has always been a bit snug in the bust - but workable - now it's noticeably tight. My weight goes up and down a lot, and of course it all settles in the bust which means I have to alter almost everything I own. Hooray! Plenty of practice... Here's a picture where you can see that the existing dress squishes the bust a bit:

So, we'll be using the same slash-and-spread technique as we used previously in the Full Bust Adjustment aka FBA post along with the same supply list and cup size measurement chart. It might be a good idea to read through that post to refresh your memory - you can refer to it for all the step-by-step pictures I'll talk about below.

Here we go!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Full Bust Adjustment, aka FBA

Welcome to the second part of our Bust Adjustment extravaganza, a companion to the 3/22 Petite Bust Adjustment (sometimes called an SBA) where we featured the lovely Parfait Dress by Colette Patterns. Most commercial pattern companies out there draft for a B cup, so if you are not a B cup you'll need to make some changes in the pattern for it to fit your body better. This is really the essence of making your own clothes - you can be technically proficient but if things don't fit right it's not going to look good!

There are a couple of things you can do to make the bust area fit better - you can add a dart where there isn't one, you can increase an existing dart, or you can add more fabric to the gathers, tucks or pleats that shape the fabric like a dart. I'll be going through the steps to add a dart in this tutorial and follow up shortly with the other two methods. For the third method - gathers, pleats or tucks - I'll use the Parfait Dress again cause it's so pretty!

We'll start out using the same method for figuring out your cup size as we did previously - remember that your cup size for a pattern might be different from your bra cup size. First, measure around the fullest part of your bust:

Then measure your high bust - under the arms and over the bust across the ribcage:

The difference is what makes your cup size:

  • 1" or less: A cup
  • around 2": B cup
  • around 3": C cup
  • around 4": D cup
  • around 5": DD cup
  • etcetera!

I wear a DD bra but make a pattern adjustment for a D cup because I have a 4" difference.

We'll need the same patternmaking supplies:

  • Extra paper - pattern paper or copy/printer paper
  • a sharp pencil - a mechanical pencil is best
  • 2 x 18" clear ruler
  • clear tape - the matte kind you can write on
  • push-pin type thumbtacks
  • a vary form curve or hip curve ruler

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pattern of the Month - April 2010

There are so many great sewing patterns out there that we here at Sew L.A. have decided to highlight one pattern a month right here in our blog so everyone can share in the fun! We'll talk about why we picked the pattern, show you some pictures and talk about anything we did differently from the instructions, plus share any helpful hints we might have regarding fitting and construction.

We just got a bunch of incredible rayon prints in at the shop from the Van Gogh collection by Free Spirit, and I was itching to make something out of it. I was looking for something quick and easy as I had a dreaded tax deadline hanging over my head, and this is what I came up with - our first Pattern of the Month - KWIK Sew 3242
This is one of those patterns where you can't see how great a design it is till you make it in fabric that you like! I was thinking breezy and easy, because it was hot here for about two minutes last week, so I made View B, the shorter skirt. It's definitely a beginner level pattern: two pattern pieces, a couple of seams and an elastic waist. The hem is easy - there's just a lot of it - so that's the only thing that took a little time. The pattern says to overcast the edge then turn it in for a hem, but I did a double fold hem because you can see the hem as you wear the skirt. First, I made it in one of our solid bamboo rayons because I love the color - 'moss':

Now I'm making it in this fabric!

I love that it looks like a bias cut skirt but it's really cut on the straight of grain. If you have taken Pajamarama, the Wrap Skirt or the Tess' Dress class, you can make this no problem! Use more pins when pinning because rayon is slipperier than cotton (this would look fine in cotton as well, but it wouldn't be as slinky looking).

Sizing is something you'll need to pay attention to. Here's a picture of the finished measurement where the skirt meets the yoke:

You'll want the skirt measurement to be at least 1" larger than your body measurement. If you'll wear the waist of the skirt right at your natural waist, this measurement will fall an inch or so under your hip bones, so you can measure around there. I like to wear this with the waist more AT my hip bones (I have a lot of tunic length tops) so I used my hip measurement at 9" from my natural waist to choose the size. My measurement is 41", so I chose the large which will give me one inch of ease. If you are unsure, erring on the side of a little more room is always a good policy. Pattern bonus: a cute cap-sleeve tee shirt! Super easy and quick if you have already worked with knits a bit (like in our Basic Tee class). Enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A or B Cup Alterations for Colette's Parfait Dress

Hello all! Shaerie here, with the first in a series of posts designed to take some of the mystery out of fitting your body correctly when using commercial patterns. We teach a class here at Sew L.A. using Colette's awesome Parfait Dress pattern, which is drafted for ladies with a C cup. Most commercial patterns are drafted for B cup ladies, so while this is a boon for some of us it ends up looking too baggy in the bust for many petite ladies.

The technique illustrated herein is sometimes called a small bust adjustment and can be used on almost any pattern. You can also use this technique to remove a bust dart on any pattern that has one, like our Best Party Dress (Kwik Sew #3521) or our 1950's Dress (McCall's #4769). This tutorial may look long, but it really doesn't take a long time to do. We just have so many pictures! Shortly, I'll be posting the opposite technique - a large bust adjustment or how to add or enlarge a dart if needed.

How do I know what my cup size is? you may ask yourself. Don't listen to what those ladies at Victoria's Secret tell you! They are helping you find a bra that fits, not a pattern size. For pattern sizes you need two measurements: the fullest part of the bust and also what is called your high bust measurement - this goes under your armpits and over your bust. The difference between the two is what determines your cup size.

1" or less: A cup
around 2": B cup
around 3": C cup
around 4": D cup
around 5": DD cup

Supplies needed:
Extra paper - pattern paper or copy/printer paper
a sharp pencil - a mechanical pencil is best
2 x 18" clear ruler
clear tape - the matte kind you can write on
push-pin type thumbtacks
a small Vary form curve or french curve ruler

The Parfait Dress pattern has only two inches of ease at the bust - we can tell that by comparing the bust measurement on the size chart with the finished garment bust measurement on the back of the pattern. We measured the bust and came up with 35", so we started with the pattern size 4. On this specific pattern, check the waist measurement as well - there is only 1/2" of ease per size!

1. Choose size by full bust measurement
2. Cut out pieces A and C: bodice front and midriff front
3. Draw in 5/8" seam allowance on the bottom of A and the top of C

Thursday, March 18, 2010


It's finally happened. We have a SIGN!

It's been sitting in the back room for quite some time begging to be put on the building and today it happened. Now when people call and ask where we are I can tell them to look for our SIGN!

Oh happy day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Holy post-impressionist fabric!

Sitting in the shop minding my own business when the UPS man walks in the door carrying the biggest box I've seen walk through our doors in quite some time. I knew what it was immediately; it was the Van Gogh collection. 

We ordered some really amazing rayon prints in October and were completely convinced that they were never printed, and I never thought I would be so happy to be wrong. You really have to see them to understand, but they look like paintings and have the most amazing hand. Anyhow, here's a sample of all of them all in a gorgeous row. Enjoy, try not to drool, and check out the prints individually on the fabric store website.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hooray for new Echino fabric!

Etsuko Furuya's most recent collection is from her Nico line, which focuses more on technology and pop art than on her other collections which have nature and animals highlighted. We ordered a whole bunch and now comes the hard part - waiting for it to arrive! It will be here in about 7 weeks and we'll be sure to let everyone know. We also ordered a bunch of new Nani Iro fabric from designer Naomi Ito, and will be posting pictures of that soon...

Friday, February 19, 2010


This is one for all the lovebirds out there who put any stock whatsoever in Valentine’s Day. First of all, you’re all fools. Fools I say. Perhaps this is harsh of me, or perhaps it is not completely unfair of me to loathe any holiday completely over-taken by greeting card companies. Don’t get me wrong, the idea behind the holiday is still a very nice one, but sappy greeting cards, tacky flower arrangements, and chocolates in heart shaped boxes don’t really say that you care. Unfortunately, the commercialization of this holiday is almost exclusively American. There are still plenty of places around the world with the right idea. Take Finland for example; instead of a holiday for lovers, they celebrate a day of friends. Or the Slovenians, who believe it to be a day that birds are married, which is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. Or the Brazilians perhaps, who skip the holiday altogether and celebrate Carnival, a whole week of celebration in honor of sex and debauchery. Yes please! Don’t think me to be a poor, single, bleeding heart. Quite the contrary in fact, but I still believe in the power of a hand-made gift, and I sincerely believe that any gift worth giving is worth putting a little effort into. That being said, nothing says Valentines Day, other than a Christian martyr, like matching handmade underwear.

At first glance, the pattern piece for a pair of briefs is an extremely odd one, but once they are put together it makes perfect sense. Let me start by saying that making men’s briefs are not in the least bit difficult or even very time consuming. I would urge those who wish to make their own, however, to start with a pair you like the fit of and make a pattern from there. I ended up using Kwik Sew pattern number 2334 and they were more or less the male equivalent to granny panties. Once I made the first pair, I made a couple of changes to the pattern and it made all the difference, but were I to make them again I would certainly be making even further changes. The other major thing that I gleaned from this project is that the ideal fabric is very specific. I chose to make mine of a basic cotton knit because I really liked the colors, but it ended up being far too thick and completely lacking in the necessary spring-back quality. This resulted in lettuce-edged leg bindings and saggy, non-supportive crotches. I assure you, these qualities aren’t in the least bit sexy. The pattern used ¼” seam allowances and was completely stitched together using a narrow zigzag.

The first step is to attach the bindings for the fly openings. Simply pin and stitch with right sides facing.