Introducing Moderne!

Around last fall I started scheming about my ideal co pattern. I wanted something that was unique but subtle, simple but with all the necessities. After months of development, a fit party to see how the style worked on a variety of bodies, an intrepid group of pattern testers and months of editing and refining, I bring you:

The Moderne Coat

Version 1

Version 1

I wanted something that I could make up in lighter fabric for the spring and fall or heavier fabric for the winter. Pockets were of course a must. I'd been thinking about my favorite coats in the past, the way they fit, the kinds of finishes they had. After playing around with several cuts I decided upon the basic shape you see here and dug deep into studying a style of architecture that had intrigued me for years. I knew the style lines of this architectural language would translate perfectly to a coat. (The building that was perhaps the spark for this whole project was the Butler House in Des Moines, Iowa)

Version 2

Version 2

I've always been a big fan of design from the 1920's-40's. I love the geometry and futuristic qualities of the early 20th century's romance with modernism. I am fascinated by the art created by forward thinking artists and designers of the period, from the Gesamtkunstwerk of the Bauhaus, to the utopian problem-solving of Buckminster Fuller (who's geodesic dome inspired the Geodesic Sweatshirt.)

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Version 1, which I've dubbed 'sport', featured rib knit cuffs and collar in the style of a bomber jacket. This detail makes the jacket cozy and relaxed while still feeling put together. You can even knit your own cuffs and collar! It also features piping at the seam lines. The pattern includes instructions for making your own piping and tips for sewing it in. Version 1 is unlined, but I'll be sharing a tutorial for adding a lining to this version in the weeks ahead. For the sample, I chose to finish my seams with bias binding made from muslin scraps. (The piping is made from muslin too!)

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Version 2 is a more 'chic' take on the cut, swapping casual ribbed cuff and collar for a flat band collar. The piping is omitted and optional top stitching emphasizes the seams. It also features a 3/4 length sleeve with a decorative notch. This detail is also echoed at the side of the coat in the form of a curved vent.

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Version 2 is also fully lined! It includes a shaped hem facing. For my sample here, I decided to quilt the lining (tutorial forthcoming). With the un-quilted 3/4 sleeves, this coat functions more like a puffy vest in the winter which I've actually found incredibly useful. I hate having bulky arms (due to many layers of coat and sweater) so this keeps me super warm without the bulk. In a cotton with a lightweight lining I can see this being a perfect transitional piece. You can also omit the lining entirely with a few extra steps. For my lining, I used a cherished vintage silk/cotton blend I'd had in my stash for years.

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Closures are optional on this coat (in fact, many of my testers decided they liked the look of the coat without them) but instructions are given for adding snaps or buttons. I'll be sharing a tutorial for two ways to add a zipper to this coat in the upcoming weeks as well.

One very intentional detail for both versions of this coat was the style of collar. For those of us who spend the better portion of November through March bundled up in outerwear, the opportunities to decorate our appearance beyond the winter coat are often limited. Even if you want to keep your coat neutral, Moderne allows of all kinds of accessorizing. The minimal neckline allows you to showcase your favorite hand knit scarf or the beautiful wrap you picked up in a special boutique, without the layers getting bulky and putting a crick in your neck (does anybody besides me struggle with this?)

I've also been a big fan of wearing my Version 2 sample with 3/4 sleeves over a long sleeve sweater, allowing more opportunities for layering and adding a little flair to otherwise repetitive winter fashion.

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The design lines of this coat are inspired by Art Moderne, a style of design prevalent in the 1930's and 40's. It was a descendant of Art Deco, swapping the exotic wood and elaborate ornamentation for simpler, more aerodynamic forms. You may be familiar with Art Moderne (also called Streamline Moderne) in the form of your favorite roadside diner.

Modern Diner, Pawtucket RI

Modern Diner, Pawtucket RI

From the pattern story included in the Moderne PDF:

Art Moderne ... developed in tandem with industrial design, mirroring the streamlined elements of trains, airplanes, and ships.
This fascination with “tomorrow” made its way into the domestic space as well, in the form of Moderne homes filled with items in harmonious style: clocks, radios, lamps, vacuum cleaners were all designed to outfit the home’s inhabitants on their journey into the future. Many of these thoughtfully designed articles were even considered works of art. Architect and Designer Norman Bel Geddes prophesied a future in which the design of everyday objects would necessitate a marriage of function and style. He wrote that, “art in the coming generations will have less to do with frames, pedestals, museums, books, and concert halls and more to do with people and their life.”
A Moderne home via  roadarch.com

A Moderne home via roadarch.com

A streamline locamotive from 1938

A streamline locamotive from 1938

Art Moderne clock via  Collectorsweekly.com

Art Moderne clock via Collectorsweekly.com

Moderne is now available as a PDF pattern! Since the print version won't be ready for a few weeks, I've made the PDF version as user friendly as possible. The download includes a layered multi page PDF (so you can print only the sizes you need using Adobe Acrobat) as well as both a 36" wide copyshop and A0 copyshop version.

Free Pattern Friday: the Townhouse Bag

After the dust of Black Friday has settled, I'm super psyched to reclaim this Friday as Free Pattern Friday! That has a much better ring to it, huh?

I've been wanting to release a free pattern for a while (and plan to release more in the future) and decided sooner was better than later. I wanted to give something to you all for the holidays. So without further ado, a fun little free project just in time for holiday gift giving: The Townhouse Bag

Townhouse is a bag in two sizes. Originally, I designed it to be a reusable gift bag, but after making up samples I found myself wanting to add a shoulder strap or store my yarn inside. It closes with a drawstring to keep contents hidden and provide a handy way to carry it (though you can add a handle if you like)

Make it up in fun holiday prints or textured solids. The drawstring is a great excuse to use up all that colorful ribbon you've been stashing. For a bit of whimsy, add the door and windows applique and maybe even some house number embroidery. The doors & windows can be left open at the top to house small presents, gift cards, notes, and more.

In the same way that a handmade gift conveys to its recipient the amount of work and skill involved in its making, perhaps this handmade bag to house a gift will encourage us to think about the idea of gifting and how to give more thoughtfully. Plus, instead of throwing away loads of paper and plastic, they'll have a beautiful bag to re-use for all sorts of things.

And just because I'm sharing this pattern with you as a gift bag, doesn't mean it wouldn't be a great way to house non-gift things like knitting projects, toys, lingerie, shoes, produce, whatever. Fill it with fabric scraps and use as a stuffed toy or pillow. Enjoy it!

To download this pattern, click here!

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.



Introducing: Cabin!

I'm so excited to introduce you to the first Blueprints For Sewing pattern: Cabin.

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Cabin is a kimono sleeve top or shift dress that can be finished with bias binding or facing. It features a back yoke with a large box pleat. The shirt hits just above the hip and the shift - perfect for pairing with tights, leggings, or even jeans - hits just below the knee. Did I mention that the shift dress has really cool pockets? And the pocket pattern can be used with other patterns if you so desire!

When I started dreaming up designs for Blueprints, I made a big list of architectural styles that inspired me. I also though about shapes that I have loved wearing over the years and began to make connections. Once I started to pair up ideas, they evolved simultaneously. Cabin was the first to move into full scale development.

Early sketches of the Cabin shirt.

Early sketches of the Cabin shirt.

A drawing I made (on an old library catalog card-my favorite note taking supply) of a cabin when conceptualizing this pattern.

A drawing I made (on an old library catalog card-my favorite note taking supply) of a cabin when conceptualizing this pattern.

For my first pattern, I wanted to create something that offered up a little bit of everything I hope makes Blueprints patterns special.

The Fit

Cabin is intended to be basic. That way, it can allow for the unique point of view of the sewist to shine, through fabric choice, embellishments, or even alterations and pattern hacks! There's many ways to make this pattern yours and I hope its versatility helps it become a staple in your wardrobe. It sure has in mine!

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The cut is a variation on a shape I have been making for myself for years. I've always loved swingy tops and dresses, specifically those with a bit of dart shaping and a lot of flattering fullness that can be worn loose and easy, something a Danish art gallery director or Japanese boutique owner might wear. It can also be belted and cardigan'd for a more uptown look...the shape is timeless and comfortable.

The Pattern

I spent a great deal of time not only on the pattern itself, but also the instructions and packaging. I wanted to create a pattern 'folder', rather than an envelope, that made packing up and storing your pattern a bit easier. I've always disliked cramming pattern tissue back into an envelope.

A pattern folder prototype. The real thing will be pretty close, but have a few changes!

A pattern folder prototype. The real thing will be pretty close, but have a few changes!

I believe in investing in good things and hanging onto them. I've designed this pattern to be an item you use frequently and holds up over time.

Since the pattern cover is a folder, rather than an envelope, there's room inside for more fun information. I've included a short piece of writing about cabins in history, as well as a space to think about design and make notes about fabric and pattern changes.

I'm very excited about the cover, illustrated by Rebecca Wallach. As an artist myself, I'm looking forward to featuring the work of other artists on all future Blueprints covers (and other material as well, possibly).

Keep an eye out for a forthcoming interview with Rebecca during the week! I also plan to feature some of the fine folks who tested the pattern's lovely makes. You can see them on the blog or follow us on instagram and pinterest!

Our printers have been given the go ahead and patterns will be ready by the end of the month. You can pre-order your pattern here or keep a look out at your local sewing shop! See our list of stockists to see who carries this pattern.