The contemporary fabric scene has become increasingly more substrate friendly over time, and as someone who predominately sews garments, that's wonderful news. Quilt weight cotton is great for quilts of course, and for learning to sew clothing on, but most of the time I prefer rayon, cotton lawn, wool, or knits. When Cotton + Steel branched out into rayon, I was super excited, because it's by far my favorite fabric to wear. It flows beautifully, but is so much easier to wear and live in than silk. Sometimes people think I'm crazy for thinking so, but there's no silk I would ever prefer over a quality rayon. It has more crossgrain stretch than silk, breathes better, and is easier to care for. All wins in my book.
I know I wasn't the only person that was elated to hear that the ladies at Cotton + Steel had paired up with Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co. to do a collection of fabric. Due to my close friendship with the C+S ladies, I was able to see it all very early on, and they kindly let me pick out a bunch of it to sew with for myself. I immediately picked the navy floral rayon to make something from, but not the red floral. I was viewing the fabric on my computer and not in real life, and red just isn't something I typically wear. Fast forward to the fabric being available, and I uncharacteristically flipped out over the red floral. I really don't wear red hardly ever, at least not out of the house anyway. I think it's flattering on me, but I guess I'm just not quite that flashy to wear red floral out of the house.
I've had this fabric in my stash for some time because it's taken me a long while to decide what to do with it. (Of course, I haven't cut the navy yardage either. The pressure!!!) I basically wanted to drape it on my body all the time, because the rayon feels amazing. The red floral feels a little exotic and naughty, so I decided to sew up myself a saucy lounge robe. No, not many people will get to see it in real life, but I will get to put it on and feel beautiful everyday.
I searched high and low for a basic robe pattern, and dear lord, how hard was that to find?! I didn't want a shall collar, or a hood, or lace detail, or fancy intricate seaming, or anything else on it. I just wanted a simple robe with a band along the front and a waist tie. While digging through everything in my studio for my massive studio sale next weekend in Los Angeles (PLEASE COME!!!) I came across this pattern in my stash, Simplicity 5685 from 1973. Perfect!!! It's a men's medium, and after measuring a white cotton robe I wear often at home, it turned out the size was nearly identical to the pattern. Hallelujah!
Though the pattern was nearly perfect, I still changed it up a bit to fit all the things I want in a robe. I used nearly every inch of the fabric I had in my stash and cut all the pieces in the floral and skipped the contrasting band and belt. I made the size as is with only two exceptions: I tapered the sleeves from the armscye to the hem to trim off about 3" of circumference around the sleeve hem, and I cut the length to be between the maxi and the midi lengths. Actually, the previous user had cut it to this length, and it matched my current white cotton robe exactly. So I went with that length too. Seriously, it was meant to be!
The only other changes I made were to add champagne colored silk piping between the band and the body of the robe; inserting the waist belt loops into the seam instead of sewing them on top after the fact; sewing all the seams with French seams; sewing in a loop at the base of the neck to hang up the robe on a hook; and adding in interior ties to hold the robe closed from within (pictured above). This is something my current robe has and I love it. I like my robe to remain closed, or at least loosely closed, and I find that without this interior tie, my robe is either sliding open, or cinched super tight to prevent that from happening. That happy loose medium seems to only happen when the inside is attached in some way. This is entirely personal preference, but since I knew I was going to want to lounge in this robe a lot, I knew it was something I wanted to add in. With the French seams, piping, and inserting the belt loops, the interior ties, and the hang loop into the seams, it was still a super easy make, but it did require a tiny bit of planning to make sure each seam had all the parts in place before I started the French seams. But it all went together perfectly.
The rayon itself is a dream to sew with and wear. As previously mentioned, I love rayon and I wear it all the time, but not all rayons are created equal. This is not my friendship with Cotton + Steel talking when I say that their rayon is by far and away my favorite on the market. I absolutely love it. It's fluid and has great drape, but is still substantial and thick for rayon. It's also smooth and soft and has no crepe texture. It really is pure heaven. I will say that it absolutely shrinks though, so despite all recommendations, I wash it in warm and dry it in a hot dryer twice before cutting. That way it has gone through the full cycle two times to get all the shrinking out. I find that there is still some shrinkage on the second wash and dry, which is why I do that. But I know many people who don't and are just fine. So take all of the above as my practice and not as gospel.
I'm super happy with this robe and can't wait to spend each evening lounging in it. Now what to do with the navy colorway I have of this print in my stash...
I am so excited to announce that I will be back in New York in May to teach a two-day intensive class for our Ellsworth Coat pattern! The lovely Jennifer from Workroom Social will be hosting me for this jacketmaking intensive and I'm thrilled to return to her lovely workshop space in Brooklyn.
The class will take place on Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 5 from 10am-6pm each day. Spaces are very limited, so don't wait to sign up!
For this class, I will teach you every step of the Ellsworth Coat, which is full of skills that you can take to your next coat or jacket project, including how to sew a fully bagged lining, topstitching, collar construction and so much more! The Ellsworth Coat is not an advanced coat, so even if you've never made a coat or jacket before, this is a great first project to tackle all those skills with. Nothing but straight stitch required! And the entire bagged lining is completely machine sewn, so there's no hand sewing!
As you might have already heard, I am in the process of moving from Los Angeles to New York City this year! After all the drama and sadness of the last year and a half, I'm so excited to move on with my life and am thrilled to call New York my future home!
But, if you know anything about New York, you might suspect that my square footage is likely going to be really tiny! After 13 years in LA, I have built a rather sizable studio space, but most of it must go! So I'm teaming up with my friend Robert Mahar, and we are hosting a joint studio sale! It will take place on Saturday, March 4 from 3–7pm at The Party Gallery, 5522 West Pico Boulevard.
I have sorted through all my studio supplies, which includes tons of sewing things, but also a lot of other art making and knitting supplies too! Everything will be priced TO GO (cash & credit will be accepted), and here's a sampling of what will be for sale:
- TONS of patterns! - vintage, new, big 4, & indie patterns too!
- TONS of fabric! - lots of quilting fabrics, garment weight fabrics, some vintage, & some designer!
- Sewing machines - a lovely vintage Bernina, a Viking, and possibly others
- Gocco Printing Set! - complete, still in the box, original Gocco with bulbs, ink, & more
- Camera equipment - a few vintage Polaroid cameras and camera accessories
- A table top light box - great for looking at slides or tracing patterns
- Cutting mats - big and small!
- TONS of notions, both new & vintage! - buttons, hooks & eyes, thread, trims, ribbons, zippers, and so much more!
- Sewing tools - scissors, rotary cutters, rulers, and tons more!
- TONS of art & crafting supplies! - beads, sequins, glue, styrofoam balls, colored pencils, screenprinting ink, lino cutting tools & supplies, xacto knives, vintage fabric flowers, paper crafting supplies, vintage postcards, photo corners, embroidery hoops, embroidery floss, and so so much more!
- Studio furniture & storage - small storage cabinets, lights, folding industrial garment rack, & thread storage bins
- Knitting supplies - yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, & vintage knitting patterns
- TONS of books! - patternmaking, fashion, sewing, & knitting books!
- Samples! - nearly all the samples from our website, plus others in a range of sizes, will be available to buy!
- Plus, all of Robert's crafting supplies and goodies!!!
Also, I have a case of my first book, Chic & Simple Sewing (that is currently out of print) to sell. These are all a tiny bit scratched and dented, so I don't feel great selling them on my site at full price, but if you'd like to pick this book up at a crazy cheap price, this is probably the last chance to pick it up anywhere. I'll even sign it for you if you like!
And lastly, I have a big box of screenprinted totes that I had made for a craft fair ages ago that I'll be giving away with purchases! Buy anything and I'll give it to you in one of these totes that will never be made again.
So, join us to help me empty the studio and pick up something for yourself! I'm not sure how many future LA events/classes I'll be hosting, so even if you just want to come by and say hi, please do! I hope to see lots of you there!!!
One of the perks of my job is being part of the most amazing community of fellow professional ladies - teachers, patternmakers, fabric designers, authors, quilters, etc. I am honored that so many of the incredible women I meet through my job have gone from being colleagues to friends. Deborah Moebes is such a lady. We met ages ago at a Quilt Market, and it was clear to me that, A) she was quite possibly the funniest person I'd ever met in my life, and B) that we were destined to be friends.
Deborah ran a shop in Atlanta for a number of years, called Whipstitch. She has since closed the shop, but luckily for us, she is still designing patterns, teaching, writing sewing books, and blogging. She also has started a few sewing groups. One of these is The League of Adventurous Dressmakers. Come on, best name ever, right? In this group, she helps sewers master skills each month, assisting them with various projects and techniques, all the while taking the students to a professional level with their sewing.
This group is an annual paid membership, but is a total steal at $15 a month, for direct access to all Deborah has to offer, including direct communication with Deborah herself. She's 100% hands on and genuinely cares about her students achieving their goals.
Just for all of you, Deborah is offering my readers a discount code! Yay! Use the code CITYSTITCHING2017 and get $3 off your monthly cost, making it $12 a month! You can sign up here and learn lots more about the League as well.
I had a chat with Deborah below about all things related to the group, so read on to learn a lot more about what she offers!
First, can you give us a little background history on the League of Adventurous Dressmakers and how it came to be?
I had this vision for a group where everyone was looking to make better clothing, and all of us could work together to hone our craft. I envisioned it as a club where we could dig into a single sewing topic each month, and then share ideas and inspiration and motivation--not a formal class, but a laboratory of ideas with curated guidance and an open forum to explore sewing techniques in depth. It launched last year, and I can honestly say that working with this group has re-invigorated and renewed my passion for garment sewing, in a way I could never have predicted--it's amazing!
I hear from a lot of my students that they hit a bit of a plateau after figuring out some of the basics, like assembling simple garments. How is the League of Adventurous Dressmakers helping take them to the next level?
I think the real strength of the League is the combination of up-close video that's archived and can be viewed forever, and real-time interaction through the private Facebook group and the monthly live chats. We get an unrivaled chance to share questions and then discuss the answers and options with lots of voices and levels of experience joining the conversation. So for any member who has hit a wall in one area of garment sewing, there is someone else with an insight or a link or an observation that can help. And when we're able to point to the video or the PDF guide for the month and use that as a road map for our discussions, we are able to make such productive use or our time--and then everyone sees that their skills and their results leap forward in ways they never would if we were all working alone!
I have spent a great deal of time over the last year working through the Wardrobe Architect project originally organized by Colette Patterns. How are you helping your students build wardrobes for themselves?
Most of the members come in with no lack of ideas and vision--most of them get stuck when it comes to fit issues and personalizing the wide range of great patterns that are out there. This year, we're addressing that directly, because all of us would love to increase the percentage of our wardrobes that are hand-sewn. So we're discussing fitting the bust, and how to adjust patterns to get a better fit; we're taking a virtual fabric shopping trip to work through pairing the right pattern with the right fabric; and we're discussion long-range planning for filling in gaps in our wardrobes intentionally. And any member can share ideas or questions about their wardrobe at any time, which leads to great conversations that come organically from the group!
I love that every month is a different garment related skill. What are some of the skills on tap for this year?
In addition to fitting and selecting fabrics, which are more about concepts, we'll be working with bias tape and French binding; making a range of pocket styles; discussing specialty hems; and making a functional fly, all specific techniques that can be applied to a wide range of patterns.
Without giving all the secrets you have planned for this year, what is one of your favorite tips or tricks that the students will learn more about?
I really get excited when I can share tips for the details that make a garment really look professional, but that seem to always get skipped in patterns and even on blogs: where to put buttons based on the button size, how to plan out the perfect placement of your buttonholes without a pattern to guide you, and how to use topstitching to maximize the visual impact. That, and the virtual fabric shopping trip--I'm SUPER excited about that one.
What are some of the patterns will the League be working with this year?
We started with a flat-front, elastic waist skirt this month while we discuss PDF patterns and how to get the most out of them. We'll also make a maxi dress with a drawstring waist, and a woven top with sleeve variations. And along the way there are some smaller patterns as treats to keep it fun!
Why do you feel it is important to form a community of sewers?
I think sewing can be a solitary activity, and for some of us that can be isolating. Part of the joy of being a maker is sharing our finishes, and building a community of folks to share them with can help with that sense of being solitary. But having a community of empathetic folks who totally get what we're trying to do can go even further to prevent that sense of isolation. I love that the League can really do that, and that it has become a place where we can share our frustrations at mistakes or failures and can share our excitement at breakthroughs with others who are supportive and enthusiastic about the highs and lows of making garments. It makes the reward of a project even greater when we can share the steps as we go along, and celebrate when we master a skill we've been struggling with!
What’s your least favorite thing to do while sewing? I always love hearing what professionals do because they have to, not because they enjoy doing it!
Haha! Ugh, I don't know if I have a good answer for that. I hate ripping out seams, just like everyone else. I think the most honest answer to this question would be HEMMING. I can't tell you how many projects I've had sitting around at any given time that were finished-but-for-the-hem. I know for a fact that you've seen me in person wearing a pair of linen pants that I literally NEVER bothered to hem and had clearly been wearing for years that way! And the worst part is that when I finally get around to sewing a hem, it takes NO time, and I always wonder: why did I wait so long? Ha!
Thanks Deborah for the chat and for offering my readers a discount to your awesome group! The League of Adventurous Dressmakers is ideal for all of you that read my blog and use my patterns! It's 100% about garment construction and taking your sewing to the next level. I hope many of you take advantage of this deal and sign up! Deborah is an amazing sewer and teacher, and will be there to guide you along the way. So sign up today!