Friday, January 13, 2012

No Stash Fail: Books, Pattern, Magazine, Notion AND Fabric Acquisition

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress and Family Reunion Dress-v2

It doesn't count as stashing when you're supporting independent pattern companies and your local independent yarn/quilting shop... RIGHT?

Since all my projects -- my wide-legged trousers (now cut in fashion fabric), Z's corduroy overalls (pattern traced) and striped sweater (past the armpits now!), my Franken-Colette-dress (pattern alterations in progess), my wardrobe domination -- were proceeding along just fine this week (albeit at a SNAIL's pace since Z is on a no-sleep strike)... I decided to throw a wrench in the works and completely fail at my "no stashing" New Year's resolution.

But ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't help it!

I mean, is it my fault that Z's FAVORITE playground is just a few (well... ten) blocks from Brooklyn General? And is it my fault that they sell Oliver + S and Colette patterns and vintage buttons and super-cute Japanese cottons? Image of the patterns and buttons is above--here's a poor-quality fluorescent-lit inaccurate photo of the beautiful soft Kokka Trefle floral I bought to make the Family Reunion Dress for Z:

Kokka Trefle Japanese Purple Floral Cotton

And is it my fault that the internet sells sewing-related books that can be purchased by me with my debit card? I told you all before how much I loved Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby, but now that Z has outgrown those patterns I told myself I just HAD to get the toddler version...

Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby/Toddlers Cover

Which was a big disappointment. Sewing for Baby is full of versatile timeless baby classics--rompers, dresses, bloomers, shorts, sleepers, pants, onesies, T-shirts, etc--and all kinds of wonderful advice on how to play with those patterns (add puff sleeves, trims, ribbing, hoods, snaps, etc.). Here's the basic pattern overview, with the Polka Dot Seal of Sewing Approval:

Kwik-Sew's Sewing for Baby Pattern Reference-v2

Sewing for Toddlers on the other hand... well, it's basically a bunch of oversized 80s drop-shouldered color-blocked T-shirt and sweatshirt variations. The instructions and tips are excellent as in all Kwik-Sew books, but I just can't see myself making anything based on those master patterns for Z, with the possible exception of the hooded raglan sweatshirt.

Kwik-Sew's Sewing for Toddlers Pattern Reference v2

Even the dress pattern is just instructions for a lengthened T-shirt:

Kwik-Sew's Sewing for Toddlers Spread Example

Overall, it's the toddler equivalent of the Kwik-Sew Sweatshirts Unlimited book. So I had no choice but to wash away the disappointment with this:

Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear Cover

Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear and Babywear by Winifred Aldrich (found via this helpful children's pattern book roundup)--a black & white pattern drafting textbook with clear instructions and line drawings on how to draft flat (simplified and somewhat loose-fitting) and form (more fitted) pattern blocks for children from birth to 14 years. It is AWESOME and has basic blocks and variations for knits, wovens, bodices, pants, outerwear, you name it. A sample spread:

Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear Sample Spread

Seriously, it's really hard to find cute basic toddler patterns (Oliver + S being the exception). The big 4 pattern companies have very limited selection--mostly just fancy dresses. Ottobre Design magazine is awesome and inspiring, but I have a very specific idea in mind of some of the fun things I'd like to make for Z, and they're not all represented in the six or so issues I have. Plus I think I'll feel like a superstar designing and drafting some of her clothes from scratch, no? I should be able to do it in Adobe Illustrator easily enough.

And while we're talking books, here are some of the other books that jumped off various bookshelves in the Garment District into my arms back in 2010, right before my blogging/sewing hiatus... I'm excited to try them out now!


I bought Grading Techniques for Fashion Design to get some tips for grading my vintage patterns, and Draping for Fashion Design because I am deluded--I don't even have a proper dress form to drape on (more on that later).


Making Beautiful Bras and Making Beautiful Swimwear I ordered from author Lee Ann Burgess in Australia, along with the accompanying DVD at the same time as I ordered a Pin-Up Girls bra pattern and a host of supplies from Bra-Makers Supply. I had had some encouraging success making soft nursing bras and wanted to get to the underwire level of serious bra-chitecture.

Which reminds me--is it my fault the new issue of Threads had an article on bra-making and insisted on coming home with me while I was buying petersham, elastic, zippers, buttons and other notions at Pacific Trimming during my lunch break?

Almost finally, another drafting book acquisition from 2010 at some Garment District shop or other:


Patternmaking for Fashion Design, a huge and quite comprehensive pattern drafting textbook for women, men, children and teens (but not for toddlers or babies). This thing is huge and full of detailed instructions, illustrations, ideas and exercises to make every possible type of garment... but I will warn you that some of it is quite offensive from a body-image perspective--particularly the section on figure analysis, which pits the "ideal," "perfect," and "pleasing" model-type figures against the rest of us in a pretty ridiculous and judgmental way--Fit for Real People or Fantastic Fit for Everybody this is not!:


Maybe I'll just tear those pages out? It is coil-bound...

Don't you just love reading sewing books and imagining all the amazing things you'll do with all those ideas? It's half the fun of sewing itself without any of the actual work. And I do think it really helps inspire me and help me better understand garment design and construction, though it's no substitute for actually MAKING things.

And yes, I have a book problem. My husband and I have over 4,000 books in our little apartment--several walls are just floor-to-ceiling shelves with books stacked two or three deep.

Finally, is it my fault that TEN Simplicity patterns jumped into my online shopping cart during the 99 cents Simplicity sale? They haven't actually arrived yet so I'll share my shame assessment later.

So... what sewing books have you been digging lately? (Besides the Colette book that we ALL seem to have now!)


  1. I think you NEED to add a subscription to Ottobre to your list of splurges. Otto patterns + a little girl to sew for is a match made in heaven!

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly that Kwik Sew's Sewing for Toddlers is a disappointment compared to the Kwik Sew's Sewing for baby. I have both, and have found the baby version much more to my liking.

    When it comes to sewing for my children, I have to say I have not found anything that compares to Ottobre design. It is my holy grail of sewing patterns! And the fit is fabulous! I have yet to try Oliver + S, but have heard really good things about her patterns as well. But I tend to stay away from the big 4 if I can.

    If you are looking for a particular style, you can always order back issues of Ottobre via Ebay or Other than that, I'm sure you will come up with some great drafts of garments for little Z, you are very talented.

  3. Thanks for the post-I have this issue too! My book stash is multiplying. At last count I had 151 sewing/fabric books. And unlike my other things,I have a hard time giving any of my books up! I thought about a resolution to limit my book stash but thought better of it and changed it to use the patterns in the books this year. I can do that!

  4. I have several sewing books also,I found one the other day at a second hand shop for $2.00 it is Designing Dress Patterns by Helen Nicol Tanous. It is a really great book, has so many ideas for different types of darts besides the normal ones we all know.

  5. So many great books! So little time! I'd love to hear more on Making Beautiful Bras once you've read it.

  6. Karen and Vanessa, I keep forcing myself to not resubscribe to Ottobre because magazines are such a clutter problem, but I am very tempted... we shall see.

    Clio, I think Making Beautiful Bras is a great book with lots of details as is the companion DVD video, but my one concern is it mainly suggests starting by disassembling a RTW bra... I'll post more thoughts once I've actually used it.

  7. Metric pattern cutting is AWESOME! I totally agree. I drafted my baby robe pattern from it. I learned more reading just the introduction. I really want to buy the women's wear version but haven't yet. Maybe I'll just click on over to Amazon...

  8. I'm curious how you like Making Beautiful Swimwear. Underwire swimsuits are so hard to find, and if strapless is a 4 letter word in my vocabulary, I shudder to think what words come to mind with the whole braless swimwear bit...I saw someone on PR say that that book had directions for sewing support into a swimsuit.

  9. I'll add that a subscription to Otto is probably not a bad investment. I'm really happy with the 1 issue that I have, but then, boy clothes are pretty standard (possibly boring), so their patterns are a breath of fresh air.

  10. Ooh, I have been soooo lusting after that metric pattern cutting one! Not that I have time for drafting these days... I've been frankenpatterning fairly successfully for most of my kids' stuff (they are not toddlers, though) but they do have some very particular ideas that can throw me for a loop.

    Jealous. :)

  11. I have a version of that Patternmaking for Fashion Designers I think, but it was super overwhelming trying to read it!

  12. I have tried just about every pattern line for children (my DD Gracie is 4.5 with one heck of a sewn wardrobe). Ottobre is my go-to. I love Farbenmix as well, but Ottobre has a lot of bang for the buck and it's fun to revisit issues when your child changes size. Plus, if you ever need to sew for a boy, Ottobre is the only really good source for anything beyond the most basic stuff offered by the big 4 (which is minimal). Even my 11 year old sew lets me sew for him out of Ottobre.


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