A freshly rebuilt Cabin

Today, I'm happy to announce that the Cabin pattern is back! I would say that it is 'New and Improved' but that saying always seemed a little contradictory to me. I suppose in this case, it's somewhat accurate.

I released Cabin in 2014. It was my first pattern and, admittedly, I was still figuring this whole pattern thing out. Not only has my vision for the pattern company evolved, but so have my design, drafting, grading, and illustration skills! I've always loved Cabin and it remains one of my most popular patterns to this day. So when the time came to have Cabin reprinted, I decided it was time to give her a bit of a reno. I've included some photos of my lovely pattern testers so you can see the new Cabin pattern in action.

Accacia (owner of  Make It Sew  in Lexington, VA) in Cabin V2

Accacia (owner of Make It Sew in Lexington, VA) in Cabin V2

Here's what you'll find in the 'new and improved' Cabin

I'm going to be real here and say that the drafting on the original Cabin was far from perfect. At the time, I didn't have a very wide pool of testers and missed a few key fit issues that might have been resolved through testing. The good news is, with a very relaxed cut, the style proved totally wearable and many people loved it just as it was.

However, from pretty early on I definitely realized a few improvements I could make to the fit and decided that when I reprinted the patterns, I'd make these adjustments. Though I've trained myself to be more relaxed in other parts of my life (like implementing the 3 foot rule), when it comes to my products, I'm a textbook over-thinker and very detail obsessed. So, of course, a few updates turned into a complete overhaul.

I assume that many other pattern designers run into the same issues and problems with their patterns after release. I figure, for the sake of science, I will forgo my professional secrecy here and share the nitty gritty with you all, especially for those of you who might be budding pattern designers (or just like nerd out on pattern drafting and fit!)

Fit updates

Bérangère (  @louetlette  ) in V2

Bérangère ( @louetlette ) in V2

Bérangère (  @louetlette  ) in V1

Bérangère ( @louetlette ) in V1

When I originally created Cabin, I included instructions for an FBA. While this proved helpful for bigger busted sewists, the traditional FBA messed with the overall silhouette a bit. Following in suit with Moderne, I decided to include two bust size options in the new Cabin. The pattern piece for Bust Size 2 includes a slightly larger dart but keeps the overall proportions of the rest of the garment the same.

Tessa (  @the_fabricker )  made her Cabin V3 using bust size 2

Tessa ( @the_fabricker ) made her Cabin V3 using bust size 2

The original Cabin sleeves were quite snug. I've always had pretty shrimpy arms (and my dress form has none!) so this was an easy oversight with a limited tester pool. Cabin 2.0 has much roomier sleeves. The yoke is also wider so you see more of it, which is great when using a contrast print.

Daniela's (  @danicreates  ) Cabin V1

Daniela's ( @danicreates ) Cabin V1

The pattern was originally envisioned as a sort of shift or short dress, most likely to be worn over leggings. However, I found that for many people, the length was neither here nor there: a touch too long for a tunic and a bit too short for a dress. I added a dress length option, and shortened the original length slightly to create a tunic length.

Daniela's ( @danicreates )dress V3

Daniela's (@danicreates)dress V3

Chinelo (  @sewwow  ) in V3

Chinelo ( @sewwow ) in V3

While I love the swingyness of the boxy back pleat shift, I found that some folks were interested in the idea of a more fitted Cabin and it peaked my interest as well. So as an experiment, I played around with switching the back pleat to darts and loved the fit, so I thought I'd include it in the new Cabin for more versatility!

Anna (  @freshslicedpeaches  ) in Cabin V2 w/ back darts.

Anna ( @freshslicedpeaches ) in Cabin V2 w/ back darts.

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Extended sizing! Starting with Geodesic, I extended my size range to go up to a 50" bust. The new Cabin includes this extended sizing.

Other pattern updates

Product design is involved. There are all sorts of elements you can only prototype so far before you produce 1000+ copies. It took me a while to refine the envelope design for my patterns and I think I finally nailed it when Geodesic was printed. As each pattern gets reprinted, It uses this new cover design and includes large instruction sheets as well as patterns printed on tissue paper rather than copy paper.

With Geodesic, I also decided to retire the artist cover series. While I loved the concept in theory, the covers weren't always able to clearly convey the garment. I decided to switch over to illustrating the covers myself and trying to show the clear lines of the garment on a variety of body types while still retaining some fun, hand drawn character.

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In case you're curious, my cover designs are based on vintage photographs. I love fashion history and find candid images of women in clothing through history to be absolutely wonderful. I keep an eye out for vintage photographs where the subjects look like somebody I'd want to be friends with (and their clothing, if you squint, perhaps looks like the garment in the pattern. I take some creative liberties 😉).

Also included in Cabin 2.0 are updated instructions with clearer illustrations and descriptions of tricky techniques. I also decided to free up some real estate in the instructions for a section about making your own bias tape by removing the seam finish instructions. Instead, I'll be creating a thorough seam finish resource on my website in the upcoming weeks.

The original Cabin instructions were hand-drawn on paper, scanned, cleaned up, etc.

The original Cabin instructions were hand-drawn on paper, scanned, cleaned up, etc.

Starting with A-frame, I switched to creating much clearer and more consistent illustration digitally.

Starting with A-frame, I switched to creating much clearer and more consistent illustration digitally.

While I think I might have gone a bit overboard on a pattern that many of you already loved, I feel like the changes are the kind you don't always see but appreciate (like those structural repairs and little functional updates you make on a house that nobody will likely ever notice. Can't skip a house metaphor!)

Most importantly...

If you've already bought Cabin (especially the paper version) I want to share the bounty of her updated-ness with you for a little while without you having the buy the pattern again. For the first week (7/19/- 7/26) I'll be offering a free PDF update to anybody who has purchased a PDF or paper copy of Cabin. To get your update, visit this page and follow the instructions!

 

Overdue

Wow. This blog is overdue for an update.

I apologize, blog, for leaving you neglected. My other social media outlets have been sustaining my online presence while you were left in the dust. I promise it's for a good reason. I've never been much of a blogger the way other people excel at it. To me it always hovers somewhere weird in between journal and editorial, and I haven't quite found the cozy spot where I want to sit.

I thought, in lieu of blogging for blogs sake, I'd give a bit of an update as to what's going on in the Blueprints world as I transition into Fall. A Note: I started out thinking this would be a light and fluffy blog post with fun updates but then, apparently, I wanted to dive into some real business and personal talk. So maybe blogs are a valuable part of my practice after all...

All the planties at the beginning of summer. I try to make gardening part of my practice when the weather is good because being outside around plants makes me a better human.

All the planties at the beginning of summer. I try to make gardening part of my practice when the weather is good because being outside around plants makes me a better human.

1. I've been re-prioritizing how I spend my time

I love teaching. I love designing patterns too. Though, in many ways, I have always wanted the patterns to be a vehicle for teaching and enabling people to sew (from afar rather than in person). I had the realization big time over the summer that I needed rethink the way I was looking at my business. I wanted to devote more of my energy into teaching and developing classes. At times I felt twinges of guilt for scaling back my pattern making goals because I was lagging behind.

But I decided: It's better for me and for you if I slow down and really take the time to develop patterns that I love (and hopefully you will too), packed full of cool information and back story. And a major part of the slow down has been allowing myself to focus more on teaching, an area that really inspires a lot of what I put into my patterns. I plan to keep making patterns, but I've come to terms with the fact that I don't need to keep up with fashion seasons and I'm not obligated to produce a certain number of patterns each year just because everyone else does. I prefer to think of each pattern as an artwork, an experience. That was my original intention and I've made my way back to that place after a few years spent growing my business.

Having this new outlook feels right for Blueprints and I'm excited to see what I come up with in the space freed up by letting go of what Blueprints 'should be' and instead focusing on what I want it to be.

2. I'm teaching. A lot.

Last year I started teaching in the fashion department of a local college. I love it. I've always wanted to teach college and I sort of can't believe I finally made it here. I've been expanding my range to teach classes I am interested in and have experience behind but had never taught before (history of fashion and graphic design to name a few). I've also been trying to develop new classes and workshop ideas with the hopes of traveling outside New England to teach. I'm not a half way in kinda person. I spend a lot of time developing assignments and lectures and activities and workshops. And this takes time.

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3. I've been changing and improving my workflow

Real talk time: I don't talk about it much publicly, but I struggle with anxiety and what I'm realizing for the first time in my life could probably best be described as adult ADD. I've spent the last year or so really working on how to create a workflow that makes me feel productive and helps me stay focused without feeling disorganized, stressed or depressed. Part of this means I've tried to prioritize creating a better, more manageable workflow for my business (new, streamlined pattern development processes and biweekly newsletter) and holding off on other areas (I'm lookin' at you, blog!) until I have the bandwidth for them. This is as an alternative to trying to juggle a million things, falling behind, not meeting expectations, and then panicking or crashing. Life's too short for that.

Some of you may remember a certain pattern inspired by Southern Italian folk houses that was meant to come out in the spring. After running into unexpected issues - on top of struggling to balance a small business / job /personal life - it seemed impossible to have it ready on time. So I pivoted, shifted focus to my fall pattern, and tabled it for next spring/summer.

I'll admit that my fall pattern is not quite where I hoped it would be around this time (AKA, done and printed and in shops!) but I'm trying to channel my inner turtle and remember that slow (well, maybe a brisk walking pace) and steady works best for me.

However, I put a ton of work into creating an organized system for pattern development and I am already feeling it in action with my fall pattern. When you're playing all the roles (designer, digitizer, grader, illustrator, marketer, graphic designer) having systems helps tremendously in keeping organized. I've started using a system called Asana to keep projects organized.

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4. I've been focusing on building a great newsletter

If y'all aren't signed up for my bi-monthly newsletter, check it out! It's sort of become my defacto blog, with a personal 'letter from the editor' in the beginning and special features like sewing tips, features showcasing your awesome blueprints makes, links to cool stuff around the web, etc. I was very inspired by other designers/bloggers newsletters and have found that it's a platform I enjoy. Plus something about the bi-weekly accountability is awesome. I love accountability (so much that I co-founded a business accountability group with some friends a year ago... there's a blog post about that in the works too, as promised.)

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5. I've become involved in extracurricular activities!

Some of these fall on the self care spectrum: Yoga, Gardening, Cookbook Potluck Club, etc. But I've also become involved in local town groups and issues. I co-chair my local cultural council and organize/participate in regional arts advocacy groups and programs. I've continued to work with the craftivist art collective I've been part of since 2010.

Now that I've got it all out on paper, I don't feel so bad about things like the blog falling behind. I'm hoping that as I work on my systems that I can carve out time and space for more blogging (and hopefully weaving? Basket making? Making shoes? Basically, all the crafts...)

How do you juggle multiple jobs/roles? Do you have good systems for yourself that work or have you only figured out what doesn't work? Do you try to make time for non work things?