Pattern Magic Challenge: the Reveal

So, Pattern Magicians, here we are: to display triumphs, maybe lick wounds and most definitely to give ourselves a pat on the back for having taken a bold leap forward with our pattern-drafting.

Back in August when I initiated the Pattern Magic Challenge, I had certain misgivings about the patterns being a bit too challenging for most amateur sewists (including myself).   The take-up was low.  So it cheered me up when Carolyn sent pictures of several of her favourite Pattern Magic makes (she’d been trying out the designs for a few years from the original books in Japanese).  It was most encouraging that she looked fabulous in each one:

(N.B.  Click on any image to view source or for more information.  This also applies to any text in bold.  All bloggers in the Reveal are also linked to in my Blogroll on the right).

Thanks Carolyn.  Your creations and beautiful photography deserve a book of their own!

Shortly after, this beach gem arrived: 

Do you recognize the Stingray from Pattern Magic Stretch?  It’s one of my favourites and I was hoping someone would make it – someone with a sense of fun and a more svelte figure than mine!  This skirt comes form Pella of Pattern Pandemonium.  Pella drafts most of her patterns – she has a half-scale mannequin on which to try out designs – and thinks that Pattern Magic should be approached with admiration but also caution!  Some of the designs are purely concepts which would take a lot of work to be made into wearable garments.  “There are two or three things in each of the books which aren’t too difficult to adapt though.”  Thanks, Pella!

The Bamboo Shoot Bodice from the first Pattern Magic was a design I particularly wanted to try out as it’s just so elegant.  Though busy, it seemed easier to tackle than a design such as the kakurenbo which projects forward and hides backward and seems a dimension too far for my “advanced beginner” brain to handle.  I had a go at transferring the design to a (flat) side of a bag which I was very pleased with:  

But this lady did one better and came up with a deliciously-hued Bamboo Shoot Bodice with Peplum (click for blog post with design tips and adjustment details). 

Thanks so much G, for finding the time to take part 🙂  Hope you get lots of compliments wearing it (send in a pic too please, if you get the chance!).

A word of warning to the uninitated: certain Pattern Magic projects take a lot of time, what Meggipeg called “a month of Sundays”.  Here is her kakurenbo (hide and seek) top:

Meggipeg’s post revealed a useful tip for dabbling in Pattern Magic: get yourself a stiff drink when the going gets tough.  So that’s how to tackle these seamlines…

Thanks very much for taking part, Megan!  (psst, I actually prefer your top to the Pattern Magic original…)

My own project, a dress of Gathered Holes, also took ages, interrupted largely by a half-term holiday in which the kids kept stealing my equipment and laughingly threw it back and forth over my head… ok, I exaggerrate but that’s how it seemed.  Carolyn had sent in her own version: this beatifully fitted and draped number.

So, no pressure then 😕   I finally made this:

That wrinkly plughole at the waist needs cutting out and I could put on some sexier boots, but overall I’m quite pleased with it.

I contacted Tracy, the Material Girl after finding her review of the Morley College Pattern Magic course and she joined the challenge with an idea for a Disappearing Scarf Top (from Pattern Magic 2).  It is now apparently somewhere near the bin!  The back view gives an idea of what might have been. 

The front….

I was hoping for glitzy – I ended up with tacky, creased and puckered.”  A combination of tricky fabric and not enough clear instruction.  If anyone else makes this successfully, please post us a tutorial for the next glitzy season!!

Unwilling to admit Pattern Magic defeat, Tracy then turned to page 40 of Pattern Magic Stretch and using a tube of fabric as well as a mere 20 minutes of her time, she made “The Magic’s in the Wearing”!

 Excellent!  Thanks Tracy.

Violette à Paris, a self-taught pattern maker, also picked one of the quicker projects: the Twist top.  She made it twice though!  The first one was made from cotton jersey.

For the second version, she used a striped material to emphasise the twist lines, changed the shoulder seam from the back to the front and added flourescent piping.

Merci beaucoup, Violette, for taking part!

Here’s another Twisted Top from Lisa of Only the Small (pattern makers: check out her drafting a folded mini tutorial). 

Lisa isn’t won over by the twist and thinks it looks like “a top sewn by someone who’s just seen a sewing machine for the first time”.  Hang on a minute!  That sounds suspiciously like the sort of comment a boyfriend would make…. Lisa, it’s great!  In fact the whole outfit is fantastic.  I’m jealous, but thanks!

New blogger Eszter of Creatuu had no previous drafting experience but very daringly wanted to join the challenge so she gave the Twist Top a try.

She seems to have done a fine job though apparently the top has a mind of its own and wants to “twist back” during movement…!

Sew Ruth is a blogger who sets herself ambitious projects almost weekly.  Leather, jackets, lingerie: hasn’t she heard of the comfort zone?!  Oh, hang on, she has!  A comfy yet glamorous nightdress and robe:

Reminds of something Greta Garbo would wear gliding through her mansion in an old black and white movie.  Here are the beginnings:

Thanks Ruth, I knew the challenge wouldn’t worry you!

Finally, let’s end with a clear triumph.  Here’s Sally of Charity Shop Chic:

This take on the Union Jack was inspired by “Like a Jungle” in Pattern Magic 2 and worn to a US/UK party (blogged here with tips on how to design).  Thanks Sally for making me realize that the Jungle isn’t as scary I’d thought.  And isn’t it magic that a thrift-store rescue could end up so dazzling?!

Pattern Magicians, thanks so much for taking part and for all the support you’ve thrown into the challenge through your links, buttons and encouraging comments on my own efforts.  I realize this was no ordinary sewing challenge: more like a sewing challenge combined with scary coursework/essay/half-marathon.  I look forward to following your progress  and if there’s anything you’d like me to add, remove or change here, let me know!

Marianna

Steampunk Dress

Why on earth am I hanging around these dummies, you may wonder.  In my Gathered Hole dress? 

Well, after adding the black lining to the shell of the dress, I thought the gathered holes had the appearance of apertures on old-fashioned cameras: the way they can be closed by pulling on the cords as well as those dark, dead interiors.  This, together with the raised, Victorian-ish sleeves, made me think that my new dress wouldn’t be out of place in the wardrobe of a Steampunk so I’ve come to Bromley High Street and the birthplace of H.G. Wells, the writer whose sci-fi machines have fuelled the Steampunk genre.

Wells is said to have been quite sneering of Bromley, calling it a “morbid sprawl”!  He may have had his reasons but it’s in the neighbourhood and I find the fabric and haby stalls at the Thursday market quite useful actually…

By the way, the site is currently a branch of the pile-’em-high clothing emporium that is Primark.  Oh, the irony!

The Design

Inspired by the Gathered Hole concept in the first of Tomoko Nakamichi’s Pattern Magic books, the dress is my contribution to the Pattern Magic Challenge.  I’d wanted an elegant daytime dress that I could wear with high-heeled boots and perhaps a scarf this autumn and winter.  It had to be:

  • Warm.  I have plenty of summer dresses and nowhere near enough summer.  This meant that the dress needed lining and sleeves.  The sleeves made it impossibe for the dress to have an opening tab at the shoulder as the one in the book did.
  • A-line.  The dress in the book is designed around a basic block and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stride about if it was narrow around the knees.  Normally, I’d put in a kick pleat around the centre back but the back is gathered and can’t accommodate a middle seam.  This meant that the zip had to be a side one.

I’m not sure if the project was a success or a failure. Here are a couple of good pics that might help you help me decide.  What do you think?

The kids like it.  My OH has reservations about the asymmetry, as I do too.  In wearing the dress, I’ll often have to check that the neckline is not pulling to the side of the waist hole.  He also said he’d prefer there not to be any lining, just flesh!  “What kind of blog do you think I’m running here?” I told him…

The Making of the Dress: a Gallery

The original concept:

My sketch:

A-Line Dress Muslin:

Some steps of the pattern-drafting process:

Another toile:

The paperwork involved (the dress isn’t as “green” as it looks):

Back View:

 Side view:

Just two more days till the Pattern Magic Reveal post.  Email me your entries, Pattern Magicians, however late, and I’ll add them to the updates!

 

Gathered Hole

If you‘re a Pattern Magician, how are you getting along?

When I initiated the Challenge, I expected to find the process of recreating one of Tomoko Nakamichi’s designs, er… challenging.  So you might be pleased to hear that halfway through the project that is the Gathered Hole Dress, I find myself tired, frustrated and wondering if it ain’t all going to hell in a handcart.  Here’s the Work in Progress: 

The dress has a gathered hole to one side of the waist and a gathered hole on each of the upper sleeves.  The sleeves worked out fine (below are some notes on creating Gathered Hole Sleeves if you’d like to see what I did).  The problem is in the hole at the waist, as modelled here by Anne Boleyn, my dummy.   

Anne isn’t a proper dressmaker’s mannequin but a display model with idealised, Miss World-like proportions.  According to my son, she looks nothing like me…  On my more substantial frame, the hole will reveal a more meaty side but don’t worry, I won’t be exposing my kidneys for all the world to see.  The dress is to have lining! 

If I can be bothered to finish it. 

When I try the dress on, it is much heavier on the gathered side that it feels weighed down and this even distorts the neckline.  Maybe the design is only meant for lighter fabrics… Any ideas for how to fix this?  I don’t like the idea of wearing clothes that feel asymmetrical: I’d be constantly tempted to tug at things in an attempt to restore balance!

 

Notes on Drafting the Gathered Hole Sleeve

I started off with a close-fiting sleeve block and added 4cm height to the sleeve cap.  I drew a 5cm diameter circle in the middle of the bicep (the centre of the circle exactly 5cm above the armhole line) and created 8 segments from the circle.  You can divide these further into 16 segments as in the book but make sure you number the pieces – it might help if there’s a gust of wind during “slash and spread”!  Click on the picture for a larger view.

Size of hole: If you’re thinking of creating a garment with a Gathered Hole, I recommend having some circles of various sizes and placing them against your body, or muslin, to see what size hole works best with your proportions.  My sleeve hole was 5cm across, the centre exactly 5 cm above the armhole line. 

Now, rather as in Matisse, “The Snail”, cut out and rearrange the sleeve segments spreading them slightly.  This will take a few goes.  Start from the middle if it helps.  Pin to another sheet of paper and draw around the new sleeve pattern.  You will need a very wide (though narrow) sheet of paper for this: mine was nearly 150cm.  Add seam allowances.  If, like me, you’re going to make the casing out of a separate piece of fabric, you’ll need to make a pattern piece for this too. 

Trace the edge of the hole and add seam allowances on all 4 sides to make the casing pattern piece:


Making up the Gathered Hole with Separate Casing Piece

Step 1 – Sew the seam up to the casing seam allowance.  I like to zigzag the edges first.

Step 2 – Press open, edge finish the hole.

Step 3 – Edge finish the casing (the 2 short ends and the longest side)

Step 4 – With right sides together, pin and sew the seam that will form the edge of the gathered hole.

Step 5 – I like to repeat and sew a second row (belt ‘n’ braces, me) then trim as close as possible to the seam.

Step 6 – Flip casing over and pin with the wrong sides together. 

Step 7 – Stitch, keeping close to the zigzaged edge-finish and ensuring that there’s a space of around 1cm in width for the insertion of tie into the casing.

Have you ever attempted the Gathered Hole?  Did it work in your fabric?   Did you decide to bare all with your garment or was there a modesty’s-sake base layer?!