Thursday, February 21, 2013

When is a pattern not a pattern?

I've hit a small bump in February's project: I just discovered that I don't have an invisible zipper foot. Not that I mind getting one - I'm sure I'll use it lots, especially since it seems to be the preferred zipper for Colette and Sewaholic patterns - but I'm not totally sure where to buy one. I'll have to look into that this weekend - this is my last weekend to get this skirt done and keep on track!

Meanwhile, a peek at what I've done so far.

In my sewing classes, and what I remember from watching my mom sew, cutting a pattern is pretty simple. You pin the pattern to the fabric, and then cut it out with scissors. Which is what I did for my first few projects. But then I started reading (there it is again, reading above my level), and there was a lot of "no! don't cut the TISSUE! what if you want to make a different size? and think of the future!" Instead there was talk of pattern weights, and rotary cutters, and tracing, and templates. Too much.

But, I thought, if all the cool kids are doing it, I should see what it's all about. So I bought some "pattern weights" (washers, because there's a Home Depot right near me) and some posterboard (because there's a Staples right near me) and got to tracing.

The tracing was easy, if time consuming. I simply put the tissue pattern on the posterboard, held it in place with the washers, and drew over my size with a thin felt, which bled through to the posterboard. As a bonus, I didn't have to do this part on the floor! Score.
See the pink line?

And here it is after the tissue is gone
Then once I'd traced out all the patterns and copied all the markings, I cut out the posterboard and ended up with a bunch of templates.
Sadly, then I had to get back down on the floor, to lay out my fabric and the pattern pieces.
Look Ma, no pins! This part makes me really happy - I always find it kind of painful, getting the pins in. I have delicate princess hands, clearly. And an amazing ability to instinctively avoid using whichever finger has the thimble. It's uncanny.

Finally, I traced my template pattern pieces with tailor's chalk, and cut the fabric. It occured to me after that if I were very careful, I might be able to moved the chalked fabric onto the table to cut it out. My knees would certainly thank me for that.

So, was it worth it? I guess that depends on whether I end up liking the pattern. If I do, I've got this great, sturdy set of pattern pieces that can be used over and over again. The tissue patterns are definitely not long-lasting - I've used the men's shirt pattern twice and it's looking a little ragged. But it's a process and it takes time away from actually sewing, which is the part I like. So I guess we'll see!


  1. Well, I can see the reasons, but I never would have thought to preserve the patterns! Wow. Can't wait to see what the pattern turns into; I can't see it in the shapes. :)

    1. They are pretty silly looking, aren't they? I hope the final result is less arts & crafts. :)

  2. Just found your blog through the Sewintists map....I look forward to reading about your sewing journey

    1. Thanks! I just started working my way through the other blogs on the map. It's great to meet another Ontario sewer!

  3. Wow Rachel, it's all coming full circle- just wait, in a year or two you'll be designing patterns and pretty soon opening a boutique, and selling dresses to movie stars! Great read and nice work!