July 2009 Archives

Kristl interviews Trudy Hanson of Hot Patterns

July 23, 2009

If you don't know already, Trudy Hanson has a fantastic fashion-forward line of patterns called Hot Patterns. She is one of my favorite pattern designers and definitely my favorite Brit (she's right up there with the Beatles for me!) Her patterns are right on time for style, and yet she's translated the look for a real woman. I know you will enjoy getting to know her better.

What did you do in your former life to bring you to the world of sewing patterns for the home sewer?
Well I actually started sewing at about the age of 14...I was (still am!) fashion obsessed, and I started off, as most of us do, with a few Big 4 patterns. But I'm afraid that my fashion obsession soon outgrew what was on offer, and so I started to draft my own patterns, and make my own clothes. I wasn't always very good at it, but I kept on learning and improving. And quite honestly, I couldn't imagine doing anything else career-wise. After Fashion college, I had various design jobs in the UK rag trade. I ended up with my own couture bridalwear business in London, but throughout it all I kept on sewing and making my own clothing. When we emigrated to the USA we decided that the time was right for us to launch our own pattern business...and we did! And I'll admit, I'm pretty self-indulgent...I do patterns for all the fabulous clothes I see (but can't afford or fit into!) and I'm so lucky to have such an enjoyable job. So it's really come full circle for me, from sewing patterns to sewing patterns.

Where does your inspiration for the smokin' hot pattern styles come from?
Truthfully, inspiration for our pattern styles comes from everywhere. Obviously I do a lot of trends research and I'm constantly looking at fashion mags, but I also love to check out what people are wearing on the street, the beach or out at night. But I have to say, the internet is a constant source of inspiration...as well as the obvious runway collections, I love to check out street-style, crafting and off-the-wall lifestyle blogs. I think the day you stop being excited by fashion, clothing and style, or you're no longer inspired by anything and everything, you may as well hang up your designing shoes for good...but I don't see that happening anytime soon!

Do you sew for yourself? If so, what do you like to sew the most?
I sew for myself all the time-I'd say that I make about 85% of my everyday clothing, which is a good thing as I'm very very greedy for new clothes! If I bought the same amount of clothes that I make I'd be bankrupt in a very short space of time.

I make all sorts of things, and I do tend to make lots of knit tops and T-shirts...with 2 small children in the house I go through those very quickly!...but I also like to make pants and skirts, because that's the only way I can make them fit. It's true, I'm blessed with some major fitting issues, but rather than sit in the corner and cry about them I prefer to just make myself something fabulous that fits and looks great.

And frankly making new clothes is waaaaay more fun than doing laundry.

What is your favorite Hot Pattern and why?
Oooooh, do I have to pick just one? Well I can tell you what I make over and over and over again...Weekender Sunshine Tops and Deco Vibe Cigarette Pants. I love these because they just work on me so well, worn together as an outfit or mixed with other pieces. But my new favorite is the Wong-Singh-Jones Shangri-La Jacket, especially the shirt-jacket version we did for our YouTube clips....that one is going to get used a lot in the next few months!

Tell us about the You Tube videos. What will we see and learn?
We started doing little clips on YouTube to show details of our new patterns...sewers are visual people and our customers have really found it helpful to watch a clip that, say, shows how to do a particular trim or fit a certain garment. Usually, we make a sample 'as is' straight out of the envelope, then we have some fun making different variations. It's amazing how totally different the same pattern can look just by changing the fabric or the print or by adding a few trims! If you want to check out our YouTube clips, here's the link...


What is the number one question your receive most often about Hot Patterns, and what is your answer?
The number one question would be...what styles to choose for a particular body shape. And this is a little complex to give a straight answer to...partly because the person isn't standing in front of you, partly because what you may think is a problem area may not be such a problem, and partly because there's no real formula! I will say, though, that we do have some pattern styles that suit pretty much every body shape and size. If you're stuck, or just a little unsure, choose any of these because they will work for you.

What is the number one figure issue most of your customers seem to work through?
It's not so much a figure issue as a fitting issue, and it's dealing with...pants! From my own experience I know that finding off-the-rack pants that fit well-actually, that even just fit OK-is really really tricky for a lot of women. So we do get lots of emails asking, how do I make this pants pattern fit my body? How do I make this pants style work on my physique? And quite honestly, I'd love to be able to answer all the queries we get in-depth, but until there's another 24 hours in the day that won't happen. But we are working on a Pants-fitting DVD, because then we can go into greater detail, with visuals, than we ever could via emails.

What are your favorite fabrics and why?
I do try not to be a fabric snob but honestly, I really do prefer natural fibers, and living in hot-and-steamy Florida means that most man-made fabrics are a bad choice for me anyway. I love-love-love linen, sheer cottons, drapey knits and good denim, and I have a real thing for cotton sateen and tencel...especially jaquard tencel.

Do you have a favorite color or motif that you favor?
Much as I do try to use different colors and palettes, I always seem to end up choosing green...anything clean and yellow-toned like cilantro, chartreuse or leaf. Which is a huge step for me as, being a total child of the 80's and working in fashion for so long, I've always worn black, teamed with black and accessorised with black. My new black, however, is white...more specifically, just off-white. So, green! and white! And anything sparkly, especially silver tones and anything with square sequins.

As for motifs, I do have my favorites...paisley, big splashy roses, toile du joie, Chinese-style dragons...honestly, I have many many favorites, my problem is always editing out what doesn't work for that particular garment!

What's your favorite British phrase (translate for the Yanks if necessary)?
"Blimey!"...which, roughly translated, sort-of, kind-of means 'good grief" or "oh my" or something similar!

Do you have a favorite American phrase or word?
Hmmm, good question! I think what I really find hilarious is the disparity between 'English' English and 'American' English, especially when it comes to clothing terms. I'm juvenile enough to find the terms 'Pants' to be amusing when referring to 'Trousers'...in the UK, 'pants' are underwear, or even a kind of slang insult, like saying, "that restaurant was awful, the
food was total pants".

Now that you know Trudy better, get to know her patterns!


Adventures With Knits and Pattern Mods

July 22, 2009

I will preface this post by whole-heartedly admitting that I am not the greatest seamstress in the world.  My education, while superb, happened while I was young and too stupid to absorb as much of it as I could.  I am just your Average Joe (Jane?) who loves to get creative, was moderately good in math class, and says all too often, "$100!? I could make that in an hour!"  I am the sewing equivalent of the phrases "Jack of all trades, master of none" and "only human."


A few months back I was perusing a designer discount boutique and saw a lovely raglan top with a ribbon-supported neckline and keyholes at all four shoulder seams.  At around $100, I couldn't fathom paying that much for a slightly glammed-up t-shirt that even my mediocre sewing skills could handle.  My only apprehension was my lack of experience with sewing knits, but you never learn unless you try, right?


TSP-013.jpgAccepting my own challenge, I took up the hunt for the right raglan-sleeved t-shirt pattern (not too sporty, seams in the right place, simple neck line), which was surprisingly hard to find.  After weeks of judging the merits of this pattern over that, the wonderful ladies in merchandising told me about the new line of Textile Studios Patterns we now carry, including the Santa Monica Tee.  Even nicer, I discovered a small stash of remnants of some knits we just put in the store and took a gamble that I would have enough to at least practice on.


On that note, I would like to take a moment to wax poetic about my wonderful little find.  I know that it's hard to truly judge a fabric over the Internet, and 10 different collections of solid stretch knits tend to all look the same.  Unfortunately, this means some collections just aren't done justice, and such is the case with the Premium Brushed Micropoly Stretch Knits.  This collection is buttery soft, with vivid colors and fantastic stretch.  It's slightly thicker and sturdier than a lot of the knits you find in stores lately, and a million times more luxurious.  It's a breeze to work with and has possibly dethroned Dupioni silk as my new favorite fabric to work with.


Back to my story, the pattern choice was far better than I could have imagined.  The Santa Monica Tee only has three pattern pieces: front, back, and sleeve, which can be made three ways (long sleeve, short sleeve and ¾ length).  To make the casing at the neck, I traced out the top 1 3/8" from all three pattern pieces onto parchment paper (3/8" for the seam allowance, 1/8" to close it up, leaving me an almost 1" casing).  After cutting all of my pieces out but before unfolding everything, I marked the front and back bodice pieces 4" from the top on the edges where the sleeves would be joined.  This mark is where I would stop sewing the sleeves and bodice together to create the key-holes at the front and back shoulder seams.


I followed the pattern's instructions for construction and seam allowances except where modifications were necessary to make my changes work.  First, I sewed my casing pieces to the tops of each of the sleeves and bodice pieces by placing the shirt_front.jpgfabric right-sides together and stitching along the top.  Next, I sewed the sleeves to the front bodice, stopping at the 4" mark I made earlier.  At the point where I stopped stitching, I folded the seam allowance back and top stitched from the casing on the sleeve, down to the seam where the sleeve and bodice were joined, and back up to the top of the bodice casing (making a big "V").  This step finished off the edges and made the key-hole clean and pronounced.  After finishing the top stitching on both sides of the front bodice, I then repeated the whole process to join the back bodice piece to the sleeves.



With the sleeves attached and the key-holes finished, I pressed and folded the casing pieces down to the inside of the shirt (wrong-sides together) and stitched shirt_back.jpgthem shut about 1/8" from the edge, creating that rod pocket affect.  From there, I finished the sleeves and bottom hem by following the pattern instructions.  I used brown satin ribbon at the neckline and tied it in a bow, but since it is not attached I can change it out whenever I want.  After all was said and done, I would say the top took me less than 2 hours (not including time I spent goofing off with my stretch stitches).  The pattern was simple and easy to follow, which makes it perfect for both a quick top or as a jumping-off point for some creative license.

Some quick notes about changes I would consider on my next go - I think I would shirt_closeup.jpgprobably make the casing larger by about a half to a full inch.  This would give more room to add a sturdier ribbon or bulkier sash.  Also, my husband gravely expressed his disdain for the bow at the shoulder (many, many times).  I might play around with some buttons, buckles or brooches to secure the ribbon and add a decorative touch.


Happy stitching!


The Fabric Maverick asks... Am I Shabby Chic or just shabby???

July 21, 2009

What is Shabby Chic? According to various sources I have read, it's a comfortable, casual decorating style. Okay, so far, that sounds like me. The elements of the Shabby Chic style are:

1. Dreamy, soft floral fabrics. Large roses especially seem to predominate this style.

2. Vintage fabrics

3. Shiny silver accessories

4. Painted furniture, well worn furniture

5. Pastel colors

6. Iron curtain rods

7 Candles

8. Mixing patterns such as stripes, florals, plaids etc. The trick is to use the same background color such as ivory or white to make mixing patterns work.

In other words, if all of your furniture matches, you like bold, primary colors and ruffles make you cringe, you are not shabby chic.

Well, my furniture is well worn; I do like comfortable, soft furnishings. I like mixing patterns. Of course, my daughter does not always like what I mix. I keep any ruffles contained in the bedroom. My colors tend to be in the medium range. The one thing about shabby chic is that it does not have one style. Maybe I have just created American Shabby Chic.

 I will say that after looking at the Shabby Chic collection we have, I feel some compulsion to make bed linens so I am providing a link to directions on making your own sheets. I never thought I would want to make sheets.

What style are you? Let me know.

Kitty Gum Drop Pillow

July 16, 2009

"Fat Cat" is a footstool hog, and he is always lazing around on my wicker footstool. He barely fits onto it but  it seems to be a favorite spot none the less, especially when it's time for me to sit and max1.jpgwatch a favorite show! That's when I came up with an idea - Nancy, the Gum Drop Pillow queen, always has a pillow or two in the works, and I thought they were really cute. I decided to make the large size - partly because it was about the same height as the footstool and partly to fit "Fat Cat." I also thought it would be cute to put his picture on top.

Well, the first attempt was just a little too rolly poly for him since I used the stuffing the pattern calls for, which made it too firm for him. That's when I got the idea of stuffing it with bean bag pellets. The most economical way to accomplish this was to purchase an inexpensive bean bag and take out the pellets, which is easier said than done.  You gotta love your pets when you have static cling and hundreds of pellets sticking to your body! I ended up pouring the pellets into a box and using a funnel made from lightweight cardboard to pour them directly into the gumdrop pillow form. When it seemed to be firm, yet squishy enough to spread out and fit a "Fat Cat," it was complete. He loves it!


max2.jpgThen came the real time test. After a few sniffs
and sideways glances he decided to give it a try.



Seems squishy enough for some kneading!


  Thumbnail image for max4.jpg

Ahh- settled in for a nap!
"Fat Cat" style!





Fabric used:

Anna's Drawing Room Shadow/Ivory

P. Kaufman Mambo Jungle Brown (out of stock)

Inkjet Computer Fabric/ White

Mitten Ornaments

Here's a cute little mitten pattern from Oliver + s that could be used as an ornament or package mittens_lg.jpgtopper. It's a good way to use up scraps of holiday fabric and odd buttons and to practice those embroidery skills. If you go to the "distressed" link you can go to Liesl's Flicker page and see lots of examples. The pattern is smaller than some of the pictures look- so you could enlarge the pattern if you want.

I'll admit I didn't follow the tutorial to the letter. I was a little lazy and just went ahead and blanket stitched the two mitten pieces together and then embroidered through both layers. I wasn't going to use them as gift tags, and the knots on the back should not be visible when they are hung on the tree. I also used ½" ribbon to make the hanging loop, but now I think a ¼" ribbon would have been better in proportion to the small size of the mitten. They turned out very cute, though, and everybody loves them. The fabric I used on the cuff is Laurel Burch's Bountiful Blessings with our white felt used on the mitten.

Laurie in marketing had a great idea - she is going to trace her three sons' hands onto the felt and then trim them out like the mittens. You could embroider their names or initials along with the year. This would make a fun annual family project and a great way to watch those little hands grow and change from year to year!

Advent Calendar Mini-Stockings

Well it's that time already - Christmas in July! It's a good time to get a jump on things and have some fun. I recently found a tutorial here for making mini-stockings and creating an advent calendar, and I thought the mini-stockings were way cute. We like to decorate our tree here at Fabric.com with a homemade touch, so these will be perfect! I only made twelve, which seems like a lot when you're making the same thing over and over. I thought about numbering them for the twelve days of Christmas. This project is great as a jumping-off point for adding our own personal touches, and would give me a good excuse to try out one of our new embroidery machines we now carry. I will probably embroider some felt and cut out an oval shape and glue them to the stocking cuffs. Monogramming them would also make a nice touch for both your own tree and to give as gifts.   

I did notice that the tutorial photograph of the finished stockings looked a little longer in the toe than the pattern pieces supplied. I liked the longer-toed look (it reminded me of elf shoes) so I made some adjustments to the pattern to make the finished product look more like the stockings in the images.

The fabric I used for the main stocking is Have a Sheri Berry Holiday. I liked the vintage look and colors of this new fabric. To finish my stockings off I tried out one of our mini irons to press out the seams. What a great little tool! I will definitely use this again; it was so much easier to iron something this small using the mini iron than it would have been using a regular iron. I also stuffed my stockings with some batting to show off the shape better.

Hope you enjoy making these as much as I did. Have fun!


The Fabric Maverick says: July is my 2nd favorite time of the year!

July 14, 2009

Yes, it is time for our annual Christmas in July sale! Nothing puts you in a holiday mood than looking at fabulous Christmas fabric. We have beautiful fabrics from everywhere we could find it. You will see the rich, elegant metallics from Hoffman Fabrics and Robert Kaufman Fabrics. What can one say about Moda. The designers from 3 Sisters to BasicGrey have created some fabulous collections. Looking for a Retro-Mod, whimsical Christmas! Michael Miller and Alexander Henry cannot be beat! There is also a very hip group from Studio E Fabrics- Merrytown. Every year I look for a collection from Debbie Taylor-Kerman (Henry Glass & Co.). I am never disappointed in her collections. Winter Wonderland is no exception.

This is the time to lay out your master plan so it will all come together at Christmas as if you have done this with no effort. Now if you are planning to do a Christmas quilt, you need to start now. By the way, have you noticed the wonderful free downloads that are available. I cannot decide between Moda's Figgy Pudding or Wintergraphix ii. My fingere are itching to sew.

If you are looking for more "free" projects- Moda Bake Shop has a great tutorial for a Christmas topper made from 2 charm packs. Moda Bake Shop Christmas.jpg

There is even a recipe for "Whoopee Pie". Which should I do first?/

Maywood Studio has some great Christmas Stocking pattern downloads. By the way, we will soon be carrying Maywood Studio and Avlyn Fabrics. Stocking_F_Starflakes.jpgI am currently working on Thimbleberries Santa Town Treeshirt. It is so easy to assemble and looks fabulous. I'll post a picture when I'm finished.

Make your list and shop before it is all gone!

Start the countdown for Christmas now!

The Fabric Maverick chats with Jennifer Paganelli...

July 9, 2009

jennifer.jpgIt will come as no surprise that I love to talk to designers. I stand in awe of their ability to translate their visions into fabric! It was a great treat to catch up with Jennifer Paganelli. I have always loved her fabric and I especially love "Dance With Me".

Fabric Maverick: "Have you always wanted to design fabric? How did you get started?

Jennifer: "I believe that I was destined to do this, it just makes sense. Everything in my life seemed to prepare me for this moment. Since very young I loved paper dolls and their clothing- how paper mimicked fabric. I'm an avid collector and I wound up in an industry selling woven fabrics to architects and designers. I was learning the trade and wanted so much to be a part of it all."

Fabric Maverick: "I think all of our customers can relate to collecting fabric.  Jennifer, how did Sis Boom come about? Is this only on the Internet or is this a brick and mortar store?"

Jennifer: "Sis Boom came about from a love of fabric, a collector for many years I just can't get enough. Recently while in Paris I was relieved that the dollar was somewhat worthless because I would have bought so much. I never saw anything quite like it. A guide took us to Tete, a place for everything fabric.. home dec, apparel.... I was in heaven! I've always loved color and I love how it works together. Mine is a very eclectic mix because I'm influenced in a very global way having grown up in the Virgin Islands with so much rich history- German, Dutch, French, Spanish all represented there. Sis Boom is located at 40 E. Meadow Rd, Wilton, CT 06897.

 Fabric Maverick: "That sounds so exciting. You have lived in so many different places. How has this influenced your work?"

Jennifer: "Yes, I have lived in different places and probably New York City with its cultural mixes from street markets to different spots in the city to buy fabric. From the D and D to Orchard Street to 38th Street to Broadway and So Ho, of course, where I rattled through so many archives of fabric."

Fabric Maverick: "It seems all that experience has paid off for you! Your designs translate into apparel as well as quilting. Do you plan on having a pattern line?"

Jennifer: "Yes, I have partnered with Carla Crim-The Scientific Seamtress-a very renowned and experienced pattern maker who is doing the patterns. We sell them on You Can Make This.com. We just launched the Women's and Children's Tunic pattern. Both are a big hit!!

Patricia Tunic.jpg Patricia II.jpgFabric Maverick: " Jennifer, this must be very exciting for you. Fabric.com wishes you a lot of luck.  Several designers have created a home dec weight fabric from some of their designs in twill or canvas. I have seen some of your fabrics used in chairs! Do you plan on doing that someday?"

Jennifer: "Home Dec weight is something I am interested in but I love how these lifestyle cottons make great clothing and I am pursuing that right now!  I like to call my upholstered pieces "eye candy". You are right they are not durable for high pedestrian areas but for a bedroom they work really well."

Fabric Maverick: "I haven't mentioned your family. How does your family influence your work? "

Jennifer: "My family supports me and over the years that's the one ingredient that has never failed. What I do is a passion and can sometimes take over the house, but they have always been so there for me!"

Fabric Maverick: " I know that I would like to see more of your designs in magazines! Is there anything in the works that I might see soon?"

Jennifer: "There's talks of some of these things being in magazines, but nothing has been finalized. I promise to announce things in my blog as they come up!"

Fabric Maverick: "That's great. I love reading your blog. By the way, I read recently that you backed into your husband's car. I must confess that I backed into my daughter's friend's car also. I was really embarassed. Fortunately there was no damage at all. It has taken me years to confess. You are not the only one!" I will be keeping up with your blogs. I would love to see more of your designs in print. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us."

 Here are some great pictures from Jennifer's website:

Jennifer Bedroon.jpg Jennifer chair.jpg

Jennifer horseblanket.jpgFor other lovers of Jennifer's look, we are currently carrying : Dance With Me, Pretty Please and Sis Boom Basics.

Fabric.com Welcomes The Vera Lavender Collection

July 7, 2009

Here at Fabric.com we are growing by leaps and bounds.  Everyday new fabric, patterns and notions are added to the Fabric.com website.   But one section in particular on the Fabric.com website that is growing at the speed of light is our Designer Fashion Fabric section.  In that section you will find exclusive designer and designer style fabrics at a fraction of the designer price.  

     The newest fabric additions to the Designer Fashion Fabric section are the gorgeous fabrics of the Vera Lavender Collection.  Now you may ask who is this Vera lady?  Vera Wang of course, is there really any other?   And if you have no idea who Vera Wang is than you must seriously be living under a rock!  Vera Wang is most known for her fabulous wedding gowns and celebrity red carpet formal wear.  She was also voted Womenswear  Designer of The Year in 2005 by the Council of the Fashion Designers of America.

    The Lavender Label is Vera Wang's ready to wear line that retails between $200-800 in retail stores.  It has been carried in Neiman Marcus, Saks and Bergdorf.  These fabrics are modern, rich and full of texture.  And feature a color palette of deep blues, golds, rich browns, reds and yellow.  At these great prices, these fabrics are guaranteed to go fast, so be sure to check out The Vera Lavender collection!

Handbag Notions Update

July 2, 2009

Thumbnail image for NR-911.JPGI have been on a buying spree on your behalf! We have added many types of notions and supplies recently, and we will continue to add new categories of items this year. Recently, I added notions and supplies for making purses and handbags. You will find two sizes and three colors of feet for the reinforced bottom of a handbag. We have four styles of metal purse frames with ''kiss'' clasps. They look Victorian or early 20th century to me. We have faux croc purse straps and the little metal purse handle hooks that elegantly connect your straps to the handbag. We have also added lots of different styles of handbag handles - plastic, suede, wooden and rattan.

We have a fantastic selection of pattern for purses and handbags, too. Amy Butler tops the list for great designs in whimsical purses. Indygo Junction has some wonderful bags that embellish with wool needlefelting. Serendipity Studios just added two new purse patterns. Speaking of embellishing, take your favorite cotton print and create a new bag with some BLING! The Kandi Kane Hot fix crystals and metal studs are easy to apply and do not come off! You can apply them with the special applicator, or and iron without steam holes. We used the Clover mini iron on Bling Day here at the office last week, too.

MPR-047.jpgI will continue to update you on the new notions and pattern we add. Next time I will show off a creation I made from The Sewing Workshop line of pattern. It's got some needlefelting embellishment, too!

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