Sewing a Lapped Zipper

As I find myself in the throws of working on a new pattern, I am brimming with excitement and anticipation. However, at this stage, that means lots of days on the computer. Unfortunately, the blog and instagram have been feeling a bit empty and that excitement doesn't really show. I didn't want to leave you hanging in February, so I thought a nice tutorial might be in order.

Last night, I taught a zipper & buttonhole class and while preparing some web resources for my students today, I was unable to find a tutorial that uses the zipper insertion method I teach. I thought, why not put together a lapped zipper tutorial? The lapped zipper is used on my A-Frame pattern and is my go-to zipper finish. I love its ease of insertion and vintage look. I took lots of photographs during A-Frame sample construction to aid in illustrating, but I know that some folks do better with photo tutorials. So without further ado...


To start, press the seam where your zipper will go open. Press the open end of the seam as well, folding back the seam allowance.

With the zipper partially unzipped, align the left side of your zipper teeth with the folded edge of the fabric. There should be a small gap between the zipper teeth and the fabric edge. This will help keep the zipper from getting caught on the fabric. Pin or baste the zipper to the fabric along this edge.

Ever wonder why your zip has extra, toothless tape at the top? This is to give you a bit of room for seam allowance, if your zippers end is being sewn into something else. That way, you don't have to sew over teeth. Align the edge of this tape with the edge of your fabric, or align it so that the zipper head is 1/2" or 5/8" (or whatever your seam allowance is) from the edge of the fabric.

The other side of the opening will become the 'lap'. It often helps to mark this stitching line with chalk. For most zippers, you'll want the stitching to be 3/8"-1/2" away from the opening. You want to be sure that wherever your stitching line is, it must catch both the seam allowance and the zipper tape. Since those two factors are variable, try pinning or basting along this guideline, then checking the back to be sure you've gone through all layers.

Basting is a fantastic technique to have in your arsenal. If you have the patience for it, baste your zipper onto the fabric by hand, instead of using pins. This will help keep things aligned and predictable during each step of the process.

Set up your zipper foot with the needle coming down on the right side of the foot. Starting at the top of your zipper, sew along the folded fabric edge. Try to keep your fabric aligned with the side of the foot, making sure your stitching catches this fold. It's better to be a little further from the fabric edge than miss it entirely while sewing (which results in a zipper that is not attached)

When you've sewn about halfway down your zipper, sink the needle into the fabric and lift the presser foot.

Zip your zipper back up to the top, past the presser foot. You'll almost always have to have the presser foot up in order to squeeze the zipper past it. Before you continue sewing, lower the presser foot.

Continue sewing until you reach the end of the left side of the zipper opening. You'll want to stop sewing just at the end or a little bit past the end of the zipper opening (I'm stopped a bit short in the picture). If your zipper stopper- the metal bit at the end of the zipper - is in the way of where you're about to sew, you can sew a few stitches past it. Since we'll be sewing over the zipper next, you want to make sure the stopper is out of the way.

In this picture, I've attached a ribbon to my zipper seam allowance to give me both a clean finish inside and to add extra width to my seam allowance to be sure that I catch it while sewing the lapped part of the zipper. You can also cut your seam allowance at the zipper a bit wider, a technique included in the A-Frame pattern.

In this picture, I've attached a ribbon to my zipper seam allowance to give me both a clean finish inside and to add extra width to my seam allowance to be sure that I catch it while sewing the lapped part of the zipper. You can also cut your seam allowance at the zipper a bit wider, a technique included in the A-Frame pattern.

With the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, turn your fabric 90* clockwise, then lower the presser foot. We'll now be sewing across the bottom of your zipper. Most often, the best way to do this is by advancing the machine by hand. This way, you have more control.

Once you've sewn across the zipper 3/8"-1/2" from the opening, with the needle in the fabric, lift your presser foot, turn the fabric 90* once more, and lower the presser foot.

Now, without tugging on the fabric, align your 2nd fabric edge with the opening, covering the zipper teeth. If you like, you can even overlap your first line of stitching slightly. You can pin your fabric in place if you like.

Sew along your guideline, until you are about an inch or two from the end of your zipper.

With the fabric overlapping the zipper head, pin the end of the zipper tape in place (if you've basted your zipper in, no need to pin). We'll want to zip the zipper head out of the way, like we did in the beginning. Make sure you lift the presser foot only with the needle in the fabric.

Finally, sew until you reach the end of your zipper opening.

When you're finished, give your zipper a light press (no hot iron on the teeth, they might melt!)

The great #hashtagathon: Help me get organized and win a fabulous prize

I'm not exactly what you'd call a 'neat' person. Until I met my current partner (who is a total minimalist) I was what one might describe as a 'clutterer', amassing art/craft supplies and kitschy antiques.

These days, I'm definitely more discriminating in my collecting tendencies and I've also developed quite a healthy habit of getting rid of unnecessary stuff. However, I tend to always have a bit of clutter in my life, which makes it important to periodically tidy and organize.

I think artists inherantly collect and clutter (but also organize!) This photograph of the studio of Ray Eames is a great example.

I think artists inherantly collect and clutter (but also organize!) This photograph of the studio of Ray Eames is a great example.

Strangely enough, I'm also a lover of organization systems and efficiency. I make endless lists and categorize things. I love sorting and titling all of my computer folders. I organize my vintage buttons by colors, size, and material. Is this a particular personality type? Is this contradictory behavior typical of creatives? I'm always thinking of ways to organize, plan, and sort and when I follow through with said ways I am often a happy camper.

This is the long way of telling you that I've come up with a better plan for, you guessed it, hashtags.

I love that people can share their me-made brilliance over platforms like Instagram. The hashtag has given us a brand new way to organize content.

However, I'll be real and say that lack of organization in the Blueprints hashtag department is making me crazy. Now, I surely (unconsciously) set myself up for this. One can't simply tag their Cabin dress #Cabin and be cataloged amongst an array of shift dresses. There will be log cabins, airplane cabins, and other cabiny things.

Originally, I suggested the #blueprintsmakes hashtag. While it contains a great spread of beautiful makes, it doesn't specify which pattern the project is made from, so people had to come up with their own project-specific tags. I've seen #cabinshift #cabindress #cabintop, all of which make perfect sense and include some lovely projects, but also lots of unrelated content. And it made compiling all these projects a bit complicated on my end. I take full blame for this tagging confusion and today I intend to make things right.

The trick with hashtags is to assign a unique identifier that will categorize only what you want and not what you don't.

Two rows of the tag #Cabintop on Instagram   1st row: Grace of  Beyond Measure 's lovely Cabin and a few in-process shots of Cabin projects.  2nd row: A boat, a flight attendant, and a lady doing yoga?

Two rows of the tag #Cabintop on Instagram

1st row: Grace of Beyond Measure's lovely Cabin and a few in-process shots of Cabin projects.

2nd row: A boat, a flight attendant, and a lady doing yoga?

I needed to come up with some unique hashtags and make it easier for y'all to share your projects.

So, behold, the new hashtags!

#BlueprintsCabin

#BlueprintsAframe

#BlueprintsSaltbox

Re-tagging Blueprints projects with these hashtags will make sharing and searching for Blueprints garments easy and streamlined. Eventually, I'll re-vamp the project gallery concept to be part of each pattern's description page.

So I'm asking you, amazing sewists, a huge favor. Would you consider going back to your instagram posts and popping the corresponding hashtag into the comments? You can tag all past, current, and future Blueprints projects with #BlueprintsCabin, #BlueprintsAframe, and #BlueprintsSaltbox.

I know it's a lot to ask, so to sweeten the deal and encourage y'all to tag your makes, I'm throwing a little incentive into the mix.

If you tag all of your past (or current) Blueprints projects during the month of September, you'll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to one of my favorite fabric stores:

On October 5th, I'll draw a winner at random from all the folks who've tagged their Blueprints projects.

This giveaway contest is open to all past, current, and even future Blueprints projects, as long as they're tagged before the 5th. Just hashtag your projects with #BlueprintsCabin, #BlueprintsAframe, and #BlueprintsSaltbox and you'll be entered to win!

And don't forget...

There's only a few more days left of the 2nd Sewing Indie Month Bundle Sale!

Pick up all these fantastic patterns for a song and support Women For Women. The sale ends Thursday, Sept 10th!

The little blouse that could.

One of the patterns available as part of the 1st Sewing Indie Month bundle is the Sutton Blouse by True Bias. I've seen this blouse around a lot on the 'gram as well as the web. At first I thought, "This is cute and my style! It's a bit like the Cabin top...I'll just make another Cabin."

But upon closer inspection it had some details that were quite different. These differences became even more pronounced as I began to sew. Perhaps Sutton is similar to Cabin in style, but the construction is very different and I like it. Opportunity for french seams? Awesome. Center front seam? Not usually my thing...but boy does it make for a lovely & easy neckline finish! I love a side vent and the extra deep hem helps the fluid fabric hang nicely.

This top almost didn't happen, as I'll explain below, but I'm so glad it did! I love both the muslin (wore it yesterday) and the altered version (wore it today). But getting to this point was quite the process!

Part I: Pattern printing problems

We've all done it. Without thinking, I printed the pattern 'sized to fit page' instead of at 100%. I had been printing non-pattern things earlier and had wanted something resized to fit the page. Then when I went to print the pattern, it was still on that setting. After printing, I noticed that the top seemed awfully big and I was right. When I went back to the computer to check, it appeared I had printed the pattern at 107%. This doesn't sound like much, but it made a big difference.

I managed to re-draw the pattern to scale by choosing a reference point and plotting new points after calculating where they would be at 100% scale. Sound confusing? It took me a while to figure it out, but I think I did it. I'm thinking about posting a tutorial for this in the future...though arguably it's easier to just re-print and assemble the pattern :)

Part II: Not enough fabric

I picked out a beautiful polka dot rayon crepe from my stash that I bought at Stounemountain & Daughter. But I ran into a problem: I only bought a yard of this fabric! And from a store in CA no less, so no opportunity to run over and pick up some extra. Why?

Now, I wouldn't call myself cheap per say, but when it comes to 'stashing' fabrics - aka fabrics that aren't purchased for a specific project - I tend to be pretty frugal. Super fancy fabrics I sometimes only buy 1/2 a yard! What could I make with that? Most fabrics I purchase a full yard, but still...there are seriously very few garments to be made with 1 yard of fabric. I may have to up my minimum to 1 1/2.

After wrestling with layout after layout, I decided it would help to squeeze a bit out of this top. From looking at the flat pattern, it appeared some length/width alterations might be necessary anyway. I really really really wanted to use this fabric. I had to make it work.

So I decided to make a wearable muslin. I used a mystery fabric from my stash that had languished unused and could either be awesome or hideous as a final garment. I had originally planned to give the fabric away, so I decided to give it a go. The fabric was very stiff...felt like it had starch in it. You'd think it would make for easy sewing but it was quite shifty! Think like a loosely woven cotton organza.

Here's me snuggling Pin outside in the grass in my muslin.

Here's me snuggling Pin outside in the grass in my muslin.

Anyway, the finished muslin turned out great, but it does give a bit of a 'wings' effect as the sleeves stick straight out rather than drape. Though with my body shape, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. (I've been working on a cool wardrobe planning project which I hope to share soon...very helpful for visualizing silhouettes on the body).

Ready for the serious version, I laid out the fabric in a single layer and wracked my brain for possibilities. I ended up just squeezing all the pieces in there by:

  • Cutting the yoke as two pieces (adding a center seam)
  • Cutting front & yoke on the lengthwise grain and the back on the cross grain
  • Shortening the final pattern by 1" and taking 1" from the center front of both front pieces (basically, a poor man's SBA), redrawing the neckline.
  • Shortening the yoke/sleeve by about 1/2"

And you know what? With all those changes, I think the fit is perfect! I'll be sure to carry those on to the next version. There will definitely be a next version!

This crepe is beautiful but shifty as all get out... did a lot of rotary cutting on this one! Sewing it was a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of french seams, both in how they're sewn and the way they look in a sheer fabric. I really took my time sewing due to the tricky fabric and am happy to report that I only made 1 really silly mistake: sewing the CF french seam backwards. Luckily this fabric was very easy to unpick. Shifty fabrics are usually also a pain to pick. Perhaps I picked just the right stitch length!

Fabric choice is key for this pattern. Though I like the way the stiff linen mystery floral version turned out, I definitely prefer the drape and flow of the rayon crepe for this pattern. I think it's just the right fabric for this pattern!

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The skirt, by the way, is A-Frame! It's made up in some Robert Kaufman Essex Linen. I made a size bigger than usual for a more relaxed fit...nice for summer. More of a straight skirt than a pencil fit. After looking at the pictures, I think I might forgo the high-low hem on the next one. But there will definitely be a next one!

The Sutton Blouse, as well as my new pattern Saltbox, are available as part of the Sewing Indie Month August Bundle.

Click here to check out this awesome bundle!

Have you ever pulled a serious craft 'MacGuyver' to save a project? How'd it turn out?

A-Frame Renovation: Flex-fit waistband for A-Frame

Want a comfier high waisted skirt? Add an elastic waist to your A-Frame!

A-Frame skirt Version 2 here in a fine pinstripe linen from my stash, nice and drapey. Shown with an  Aster blouse by Colette Patterns  in some Anna Maria Horner "Loominous"

A-Frame skirt Version 2 here in a fine pinstripe linen from my stash, nice and drapey. Shown with an Aster blouse by Colette Patterns in some Anna Maria Horner "Loominous"

I love a high-waisted skirt. There was a time in my life where the more fitted at the waist something was, the more I liked it. I liked being squeezed a bit around the natural waist. (This was, not coincidentally, the time in my life where I wore the most vintage clothing, which is notorious for waist-squeezing)

There came a point where this changed, perhaps when I re-discovered pants and wore them a lot for the first time since I was 13. Or maybe when I started to move away from vintage and towards more abstract and "body unconscious"* silhouettes. I think this time had reached its pinacle when I released Cabin, and A-Frame is definitely a swing in the opposite direction in terms of waistlines. And who doesn't like being comfortable?

*this term came from a great interview with Sonya Philip on the While She Naps Podcast, which I highly recommend

Something I often do with my high-waisted, waistband having skirts is to add a bit of elastic. Not enough to created a pronounced gather at the waistline, but just enough to give you that extra inch you might need while sitting for long periods of time or after an awesome meal.

The nice thing about this technique is it also adds some structure to the waistband without using interfacing.

Start with a slightly larger pattern size

If you're making A-Frame V1 (the pencil skirt), you'll want to follow the instructions for blending between two sizes and go one size up at the waistline only. If you like a more relaxed, less wiggly pencil skirt, you could go one straight size up. If your measurements are different than the pattern (aka, your waist is smaller than the pattern for the size that fits your hips) then lucky you, you don't have to do a thing. In fact, this alteration came about as a way for me to work with patterns & even RTW skirts where I had this same problem.

If you're making A-Frame V2 (the a-line), simply go a size up. Already cut out your size and don't fancy tracing/printing/cutting again? Just add 1/4" to the waistband and skirt side seams as you cut your fabric. Definitely works in a pinch.

Gather Supplies

The waistband itself is 1 1/8" tall. For this tutorial, you'll want to use 3/4" non-roll waistband elastic. This gives the elastic a bit of breathing room in your waistband. Some of the difference is eaten up by the thickness of the elastic as well. And it makes it easier to sew down your waistband without elastic  getting in the way (and for this tutorial, you don't want to sew down your elastic as you sew the waistband).

Skip the interfacing. Since there will be a nice piece of elastic in that waistband, it wont collapse. You may want to fuse a small square of interfacing under the spot where your buttonhole goes if your fabric is thin or loosely woven.

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Assemble your skirt

Sew your skirt following the pattern direction until you reach the waistband steps. Sew on the first part of your waistband and press, but leave the 2nd part unsewn.

1. Cut a piece of elastic equal to your waist measurement - 2". I like my waist elastic to be essentially unstretched until I need it to stretch, but if you like your waistband a bit more snug all the time, subtract 3".

2. Pin one end of the elastic into your waistband, lining up the top of the elastic right below the fold on the waistline piece and 1" away from your center back seam (where the circle mark on your waistband pattern piece is).

  

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3. Wrap the elastic around the waistband to the other side. It should be smaller than the waistband itself. Be sure not to twist the elastic! Pin the opposite side in place as you did for the first.

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4. About 1/4" in from the edge of the elastic, sew it to the waistband. I started at one end, sewed to the other end and reversed stitched back to my starting point. The elastic should be positioned close to the waistband fold, not where the waistband is sewn on.

Repeat this step for the other side of the elastic.

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5. Sew your waistband closed as shown in the instructions. Slide the elastic up against the waistband fold so that you don't sew through it.

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When you approach the end of your waistband seam, give the elastic a bit of a tug, scrunching up the fabric past the sewing machine foot, so that you can lay the waistband flat to sew.

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Once you'd sewn your waistband shut, you can redistribute those gathers around the waistline. Since you're only really reducing the waistline by 1-2", you might not even see an obvious scrunch. When the skirt is on, it is barely noticeable...very different looking than an actual elastic waist skirt (which is why you still need the zipper!

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Be careful when you sew your buttonhole. The extra raised elastic might throw off your groove. It certainly did for me. Check out the first time I did the buttonhole. Yikes! I'll give myself a little credit...I was definitely rushing. The 2nd time, the buttonhole was great (see the image on the right for evidence!)

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If you're somebody who likes being comfy, but it looking for a "gateway" high waisted skirt, this could be a very nice option.

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How do you all feel about elastic waists? Do they remind you of toddler clothes, 7th grade math teacher pants, or bad 80's dresses? Or do you relish in the opportunity for something cute that fits without cutting off your circulation?

More Cutting Layouts for A-Frame

One of my favorite things about the A-Frame skirt is the many opportunities for color blocking, print mixing and other ways of playing with fabric. I've provided some ideas and additional cutting layouts below, including some fabric suggestions from some awesome independent fabric retailers!

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There are many variations on A-frame that call for the same yardage and layout given in the pattern, but create visual interest by using both sides of the fabric. The sample version of the pencil skirt shown on the shop page uses an amazing double sided cotton. Since each skirt section is cut in pairs, you can simply flip over any pair of pieces to create contrast. Many double sided fabrics are available as lightweight upholstery fabric, which would work great for the pencil skirt. You could also use both right and wrong side of a fabric for a little interest. Fabrics like satin & sateen often have a crepe or plain weave back, allowing you to mix and match shiny & matte panels.

Here are some additional ideas that require special cutting layouts:

Version 1 - The Pencil Skirt

One way to play with the A-frame panels is to use both directions of a directional fabric, like stripes.

You can use striped fabric in coordinating colors, or simply re-orient your pattern pieces to create interest with horizontal & vertical stripes.

I love this woven stripe viscose silk from  Blackbird Fabrics . It comes in two colors ways and would be perfect for an A-frame pencil skirt.

I love this woven stripe viscose silk from Blackbird Fabrics. It comes in two colors ways and would be perfect for an A-frame pencil skirt.

This Cotton + Steel cotton linen canvas from  Grey's Fabrics  is another great choice for playing with directional print.

This Cotton + Steel cotton linen canvas from Grey's Fabrics is another great choice for playing with directional print.

You can also play with coordinating colors in either solid or print fabrics to get some awesome results.

Essex Yarn Dye in  Chambray  and  Indigo  from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

Essex Yarn Dye in Chambray and Indigo from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

Here's another variation where the whole side panel is a contrast color

Neon Clouds by Hokkoh from  Miss Matatabi

Neon Clouds by Hokkoh from Miss Matatabi

Pair with a complementary plain linen/cotton solid like Robert Kaufman Essex from  Purl Soho

Pair with a complementary plain linen/cotton solid like Robert Kaufman Essex from Purl Soho

Version 2 - The A-line Skirt

Using the original cutting layout from the pattern can produce some cool results when using fabrics with symmetrical geometric prints like checks or plaids. Be sure to use plaids that are balanced, so that the bias cut front panel will look balanced too. Check out this video from A Fashionable Stitch about balanced vs. unbalanced plaids.

A bold ikat grid cotton from  Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

A bold ikat grid cotton from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Anna Maria Horner 'Loominous' check from  Fancy Tiger Crafts

Anna Maria Horner 'Loominous' check from Fancy Tiger Crafts

Here's a way to combine fabrics in Version 2.

Try combining colors in dreamy Bespoke double gauze by Cotton + Steel (In Aqua & Natural) from  Sew Biased Fabrics

Try combining colors in dreamy Bespoke double gauze by Cotton + Steel (In Aqua & Natural) from Sew Biased Fabrics

For a variation with the top half of the side panel is the same color as the main skirt, the pieces can fit into the same layout as above.

Above all, have fun! You could even go patchwork style and make every panel a different print in the same color.

Introducing: A-Frame

I'd like to introduce you to the 2nd ever Blueprints For Sewing pattern: A-frame

The A-frame pattern includes two styles: A pencil skirt and an A-line. Both feature pockets as well as A shaped seaming, a great way to showcase coordinating fabrics (like the double sided cotton above). The pencil skirt also features a back kick pleat.

Development

When I originally started working on Blueprints For Sewing, I had devised a few garments with the plan to release them all at once. After scaling back to one pattern for the initial release, the A-frame skirt was on hold.

It started as a skirt that had the fullness of an a-line skirt, but fit more like a straight skirt. The idea was that it would be easier to ride a bike in, but still have a fairly straight silhouette. Eventually after some fine tuning, it became more of a traditional a-line skirt, but with a bias cut front panel to create more volume without too pronounced of an A shape.

I tend to be a pencil skirt kinda gal style-wise, so as a result I played around with taking the A-Frame concept and turning it into a straighter cut. I was very happy with the result and pursued the two skirt plan. It reminded me of those fantastic vintage patterns that featured multiple garments in the same envelope.

A traditional thatched a-frame in Portugal

A traditional thatched a-frame in Portugal

If you'd like to read a great book all about A-Frames, check out  A-frame  by  Chad Randl

If you'd like to read a great book all about A-Frames, check out A-frame by Chad Randl

The design itself was inspired by the A-frame house and its striking angular lines, not to mention its amazing marriage of leisure and style. The A-frame was easy to build and affordable too, a key player in the history of DIY culture. I feel like this skirt is similar in spirit: Fairly economical fabric-wise, easy to put together, unique and stylized while still being very wearable. I took inspiration from vintage patterns and clothing from the 1930's - 1960's and settled on two iconic silhouettes that span the time period. And of course, in the spirit of stylish utility, both styles include pockets. Read more about the A-frame's history in the story included with the pattern.

Fit

A-Frame can be a great wardrobe staple. The pencil skirt features a snug fit, but not too snug. A common misconception about pencil skirts is that they should be super tight. If you've ever had big horizontal wrinkles on your skirt or had it ride up to your waist while you walk, you've been wearing a too-tight skirt. (However, stretch fabric skirts can fit tightly without these problems). So this pencil skirt is more of a straight skirt and while snug fitting is not skin tight. Stay tuned for some tutorials to further 'pencil' your skirt.

The a-line skirt really only relies on one measurement: Your waist. The a-line shape will fit a variety of hip sizes, locations, and proportions nicely (there's a reason the a-line skirt is considered the most flattering skirt style.) The a-line A-Frame grazes your hips and continues to flare outward, but doesn't have an overly pronounced shape.

The pattern includes instructions for proportion alterations as well as length adjustment. Along with cutting layouts, detailed sewing instructions, and tips, it includes instructions for sewing a lapped zipper. Lapped zippers are often seen in vintage clothing, have a great look, and are often easier to install than invisible zippers.

The pattern cover illustration was created by Andrea Sherrill Evans, who will be featured later in the week in an interview. Stay tuned for that later this week!

To celebrate, from now until midnight EST Friday June 12th, A-Frame and Cabin will be 20% off! Use the coupon code NEWPATTERN15 at checkout.



A Week of Peeks

The launch day of the latest BFS patterns is drawing closer! I'll be in California visiting family and have decided to use to the week to share more and more details about the new patterns until their launch the 2nd week of June!

This old drive in theater is somewhere on the coast between San Fransisco and Santa Barbara, though I can't remember where.

This old drive in theater is somewhere on the coast between San Fransisco and Santa Barbara, though I can't remember where.

I'll be spending a lot of time along the CA coast which seemed like a fun place to take some photographs of the new patterns! I grew up in California and I can't deny that it is quite beautiful. I take most of my photos in the New England country, so I'm keen on the idea of a 'location' for photographing the new pattern. I may have to wait until returning to Boston for the Saltbox photos - not a lot of colonial houses in the bay area...at least I don't think so. Too bad the next pattern isn't a Victorian!

Today I'll start by sharing some small changes I've made to the new pattern that I hope you all will appreciate!

One thing that I kept noticing when I visited shops that carried Cabin was that the tab closure didn't hold up well to the rough retail life of a sewing pattern. Nearly every 'display' copy had suffered some damage. Investigating other patterns showed that nearly all tabs tended to suffer the same fate. I like a nice neat little package, so some sort of closure was a must.

My printer suggested a low profile velcro - they have a lot of sample booklets using the same cover stock that close with velcro and they hold up quite well. I've seen some other patterns that include velcro in the past, so I know it's not a new idea. I also thought of having a sticker to close the folder that was resealable...like what you use on a bag of rice.

In the end, after testing both I decided that the velcro would be the way to go. It held up to 50+ openings and closings.  I'm sure it will be a drag to individually put velcro onto each envelope but I'm prepared to make it happen. My own labor is free, right? ;)

I also used a new method to create the illustrations for this pattern. I love the look of hand drawn, but I also feel like more technical or line-based illustrations don't communicate dimension, making certain instructions hard to understand. I used real construction photographs as a base, but drew the images by hand. Hopefully it achieves a nice balance.

The overall cover design - blue monochromatic - will be the same, but I'm looking forward to showing you the illustration for this cover. It feels kindred to the Cabin cover, but in a completely different style. Later in the week I'll be sharing an interview with the illustrator.

Last but not least, one of the major changes will be to my pattern production. I am a firm believer in the value of paper in hand, but at the same time creating printed patterns involved a lot of up front costs that can be tough on a small business.

I will still be creating printed patterns but I will also be releasing a PDF only companion pattern with each printed release as a way to keep my business more sustainable and balance out the printed pattern costs. Obviously with time, if a demand arises for printed versions of these patterns I'll do my best to make them happen. But for now I like the idea of a digital complement piece to my main pattern, and that where Saltbox was born.

I can't wait to show you these patterns during the week! They should be ready to ship by the week of June 8th and I'm beyond excited!

Be sure to follow @blueprintsforsewing on Instagram to see daily reveals of the new patterns! (and join our mailing list to get the scoop on upcoming sales *wink wink*)