DIY: Handmade + Built to Last

Today’s guest Blogger, Katie Allen, is part of the Sprout Patterns team.


Do you have a favorite craft that you do just because you love it, something that helps you recharge?  I’m one of the engineers here at Sprout, and while I have a lot of fun writing code all day, sometimes it’s nice to turn away from my computer screen and work on something handmade and tangible.  In the evenings, it’s really hard to decide whether to pull out my woodcarving tools or sit down at my sewing machine.

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I’ve loved making things all my life, but a pivotal moment in my development as an artist and maker was the summer I spent at the John C. Campbell Folk School in 2012.  When I first saw their course catalog, I wanted to take every class that they offered!  I was accepted for their work-study program: in exchange for several weeks of helping out on campus, I got to take three classes.

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It was tough to narrow down my choices to just three.  Enamel jewelry and leather shoemaking were incredible, but my favorite class was definitely marquetry.  I fell in love with the (rather involved) process of creating pictures from thin sheets of wood veneer.  For my first project, I made a portrait of one of my favorite baby goats.  This panel became the lid of my very first dovetail box.
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It can be tricky to get fine detail with the marquetry saw.  As my skills grew, I began creating special portraits for friends.  One photo I took of a piece in progress really grabbed my attention, so when I began working at Spoonflower, I created a fun repeat pattern from it. In the design, you can see the different wood grains used and the gap in the wood where I had just cut out a tiny silhouette.

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Beyond the skills learned from the classes, the Folk School is just a magical place.  The sense of community there is strong (like at Sprout and Spoonflower!) and everyone there appreciates fine craftsmanship and the time it takes to make something that will last.  When my favorite teacher announced that he was teaching a class in two weeks, I immediately planned my second trip to the mountains to attend!

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As I was gathering my favorite tools and packing my things for my weeklong adventure, I found the time to stitch up a Colette Patterns Laurel Blouse from Sprout with my marquetry design.  I knew that I’d be seeing a lot of old friends who would ask what I was up to these days, and I was excited to show off a Sprout pattern.  I always love wearing things that I’ve sewed myself, but what made this shirt extra special was the fact that it featured a design based on the skills I’d learned the first time I was there.

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When looking at the size chart, my measurements actually fit the size 6, but I chose a size 8 since the blouse does not have closures and I wanted it to be a little looser so it would easily pull over my head. (Also, I’d tried on a size 8 from our sample closet before, and I really liked the way it fit.)   A fun Sprout hack for the Laurel would be to create a split in the center back seam about 6 inches down from the top, and put a tiny button & loop at the neck…but that’s a project for another day.

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Since the trip was a couple days away at this point, I didn’t have as much time as usual to sew up my top. I probably wouldn’t have attempted to fit in a sewing project if it wasn’t a Sprout pattern, all ready to be cut out.  I realized at the last minute that I hadn’t printed out the PDF version for dart placement, so I improvised and created my darts by pinning them directly on my body. It turned out really well!

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I wore my Laurel at the Folk School on the second day of my woodworking class, when I was planing and scraping the top of the coffee table I was building.   My table began as a 10 foot long piece of cherry.  Using hand and power tools, we cut and shaped the wood into tables with mortise-and-tenon joinery.  It was amazing to go from a huge board to a piece of furniture in just a week.

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Throughout the week, I wore some of my other Sprout clothes, like my Hey June Handmade Sloan Leggings with a baby goat design.  Other students would comment on the interesting prints and were amazed that not only had I sewed the clothes myself, but I’d created the surface designs as well.

There were some late nights in the shop, but I ended the class with a beautiful table that will certainly be the centerpiece of my living room someday.  It is nice to have a piece that is not only of higher quality than something I could find or afford at a furniture store, but also has the memories of a magical week of fun and learning built right into it.


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Katie is an artist, an engineer for Sprout Patterns, and a developer at Spoonflower. Her latest adventure has been learning Ruby on Rails. With a background in sculpture and costuming, if she isn’t sewing, she’s building dovetail boxes in the wood shop. She also loves hiking, contra dancing, Iyengar yoga, and mindfulness meditation.

A Whale of a Good (Sewing) Time

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“To boldly go where no one has gone before”

Familiar words to fans of a certain iconic television show, and also my motto when venturing forth into my newest sewing project, the Moneta Dress from Sprout! I am somewhat new to the world of sewing, and by sewing, I mean sewing properly. Much to the chagrin of the professional costume designers who taught me to sew, I rarely measure, never use a pattern, and generally just plunge into a project while vaguely hoping for the best. It is safe to say that my creations often end up being garments strictly to wear inside the house with the blinds closed.

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When I first saw Colette Patterns Moneta Dress on the Sprout website, I knew this challenge was one worth undertaking. I immediately loved the fit-and-flare silhouette, the pockets, and the customizable aspect of the sleeves and collar. I chose our new Cotton-Spandex Jersey, but struggled to find a print I truly adored until I stumbled onto Galaxy Whales, by Wildnotions.

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Rich jewel tones are my favorites, and as a child I wanted to be (and this is completely true) an astronaut AND a whale surgeon. Eventually settling on the sleeveless option with the adorable crossover collar, I was ready to begin!

Much to my delight, the colors on the screen translated beautifully to fabric. No tracing patterns, no grain lines to wrangle, and I was pleased as punch to have it cut out and ready to go in less than 15 minutes. I chose a lightweight navy jersey for the bodice lining, and sewed the lining and bodice together using a standard zig-zag stitch to account for the stretch allowed by the Cotton Spandex Jersey.

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In the span of a couple hours, the dress was cut out and assembled, with only the collar left to attach. When I attached the bodice to the skirt, I ruched the skirt rather than inserting elastic to cinch the waist. Colette Patterns offers a free collar variation add-on to the Moneta Dress so that you can customize the dress even further! Scrolling through the designs, I chose the tie collar. Luckily for me, I was able to fashion my new collar then and there, as I had ample extra fabric from the Sprout design.

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Although the downloadable instructions from Colette specify that the collar should be lined with interfacing, I had to do without this time, but I think the results were definitely satisfactory!

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New collar vs old collar!

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As it was the first dress I had ever made completely on my own, I was definitely a little nervous to see how the finished project looked. With great trepidation, I squirmed into the finished dress. I was pleased to see that it was really quite lovely! This was a great starter project for someone like me who was a touch uncertain about undertaking a semi-complex garment, and I’m thrilled with how well it turned out! Thanks to Sprout, the ease of the entire process, and its delightful end product, was reassuring for this novice seamstress. My dress is completely custom, fits like a glove, and was simple to make. Emboldened with my success, I’ve already ordered another Sprout pattern!

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Claire.jpgClaire is one of Spoonflower’s warehouse operations specialists. Though she is a sociologist by schooling, her love of artistic creativity and environmental sustainability led her to Spoonflower, where she is surrounded by like-minded people. An exercise aficionado, she likes experimenting with Spoonflower’s stretchy fabrics, especially the sport lycra. When she’s not at the gym, you can find her playing video games, planning her next big trip, or trying to find her new favorite restaurant.

 

Interview with Adrianna of Hey June Handmade

Today’s interview is with the beautiful and very talented Adrianna—the owner and designer behind Hey June Handmade. She has three young daughters who were the inspiration for her to start sewing, co-writing a blog, and eventually venture into selling her own patterns. At Sprout  we carry the Biscyane Blouse, the Aurora Tee, the Lane Raglan and the oh-so-awesome Sloan Leggings and Paneled Sloan Leggings. She also has many more patterns on her site that you should definitely take a gander at. We love Adriana and are so happy she’s part of the Sprout Patterns Family!


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1. What led you to wanting to start designing your own patterns?

I think my original impetus was the fact that I was already making patterns for my own kids, and since I had three I only had to fill in a couple sizes to make a fully graded pattern. From day one when I started sewing I was always much more interested in the technical aspects of it and the patterns than the design/decorative side of things. I’m very left-brained and enjoy math and technical software, so this was a perfect fit.

This is why I love my customers and the sewing community, because I’ll make the most simple pattern and call it a day and then they will take it and make it into a creative art piece with their fabric pairings and decorative features like applique, stencil, iron-ons, trim, and pattern hacking. My brain doesn’t do that kind of thing naturally!

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Sloan Galaxy Leggings from Sprout Patterns

2. From your first inspiration for a new pattern to release how long does the process typically take?

That depends. My first pattern took 8 months because I was also teaching myself the software and I had a newborn. Lately it’s about 2 months. I could probably bring that down a little bit but I’m pretty anal about my patterns and I like to have a longer test period to really hash out the issues and allow for redrafts. Also I illustrate all my directions so that takes several days.

I hope to be able to produce patterns slightly quicker or at least with more regularity, but you’ll never see me push them out in a week or two.  Once you see the testing call for a new pattern, you can be assured that I’ve been working on it behind the scenes for at least 6 weeks.

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The new Charleston Dress pattern made with Sew Caroline’s Chalk and Paint fabric

3. Have you ever started creating a new pattern then just completely abandoned it?

Yes, absolutely. I have two even sitting on my cutting table right now. There have been many various reasons. One time another designer released an identical pattern at the same time (that was a very bitter pill to swallow as I was almost completely finished and planned to release that week. I morphed that design and it became the Edelweiss, which I love, so it’s ok. I won’t do that again though because I think there’s plenty of room on the market for similar designs!). I’ve quit work on two patterns because I’m too slow and the seasons changed, but I’ll probably revisit those.  I also stopped working on one because I didn’t think the style or fit were very universal – it would’ve only fit a fairly specific body shape.

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The simple to sew and awesome to wear Lane Raglan

4. How would one get into learning how to draft patterns?

I bought some pattern drafting books and some textbooks (the ones by Aldrich are decent and available on Amazon) and read them cover to cover several times.  I also spent hours on the internet researching before I even began.  I wasn’t actively working toward being a pattern designer at the time, but now I see that all of that research and trial and error made it much easier to naturally morph into this line of work.  Pattern drafting was always fascinating to me, so even if I wasn’t sewing anything at the time, I’d get on the computer and think, hm, I wonder how you would even make a collar like that!  Then I’d look it up and I’d compare it with my drafting books to figure it out.

Eventually, the math and physics behind drafting starts to make sense and you can predict what needs to be done to draft a garment or solve a fit issue.  I recommend something very simple to start with, like making your own perfect tee shirt pattern.  There are virtual classes for drafting on websites like Craftsy that you can take, and several local quilt shops also offer classes in beginning drafting.

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5. There seems to be a saturation of sewing bloggers (and really talented ones), pattern makers, fabric sellers, etc. How would someone enter the “sewing world” and differentiate? What is the sewing community lacking that it doesn’t have now?

Oooh that’s a good and very tough question. I don’t know if I can speak very much to the differentiation bit – I think you just need to let your true self shine through in your blog posts/designs. People (me included) really like transparency and feeling like they’re seeing the real person behind the brand. In terms of just getting started, I would do all the obvious things – join individual pattern designers’ groups and make their stuff and post like crazy in the group. Post finished projects from patterns on your blog and then blow up social media with links. Start doing hacks or tutorials for altering the patterns and then you can eventually approach bigger bloggers or designers to do guest posts or be a part of blog tours. In terms of what the sewing community is lacking…geez. that’s tough. If you find it, you’ll probably have success!

Allie is doing something amazing with IndieSew and providing a one stop shop for really quality indie sewing patterns for women. Before she did that, there were other reseller sites, but nothing quite the same. If there’s something in particular that really interests you, delve deep into that niche. A few that come to mind from the past that started out as fun ideas and turned into big events or even their own websites are Kids Clothes Week, Sew Geeky, Spring Top Week, Sew the Show, and Film Petit.

Madalynne’s Best Sewing Blogs of 2016

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One of the things I love most about being involved in the online sewing community is the support and enthusiasm fellow sewists have about me-made garments. Any time I have an issue with a pattern, especially with a pattern by an indie maker, I can just hop online and find help and examples from others around the world.

Here at Sprout, we are constantly adding new bloggers and makers to our follow lists. We love the level of participation the sewing community has on social media; the traditional art of making clothing and textiles is being joined beautifully with the power of social media. Process shots, reviews, fit issues and solutions, dancing around in brand new, inspiring creations is all part of the fun!

Last year, when I was really becoming interested in upping my home sewing game, I discovered the blog Madalynne and with it her awesome “Best Of” lists for sewing blogs. It’s a heavenly list of the best sewing blogs of the past year and is voted on by sewists. In fact, this past year over 2,000 people voted for their favorites. Through Madalynne’s collection of bloggers, I’ve discovered new favorites like House of Pinheiro, Cashmerette, and the hilarious Oonabaloona. And don’t forget about the indie pattern company category! Grainline Studio, one of our lovely partners, is a finalist and has received the honor for multiple years.

Looking for a new source of sewing inspiration? Check out Madalynne’s list or browse projects on Sprout!

Happy sewing – – – – – – –
Nicole


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Nicole heads up Product Development at Sprout Patterns. She has a background in fashion development and design and a passion for businesses that do good, which has taken her to places like Uganda, Pakistan, and now Durham, NC. In her spare time, you can either find Nicole in her home studio creating with her kitten by her side or exploring new places around town and abroad. She loves live music, Asian cuisine, and laughing.

BHL x Sprout Patterns: A print, cut & sew Anna Dress!

Today’s blog excerpt is from Elisalex de Castro Peake, co-founder and head of design at independent sewing pattern company By Hand London.  By Hand London celebrates making, individual style and creative women, designing for those who love to dress up, stand out and customise their own wardrobe.

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Believe it or not (but do, because it’s true), I made this Anna dress in under three hours. Start to finish, cutting and sewing: one evening’s work. Admittedly, that’s a full on machine stitched hem, but you get my drift. The secret to my swiftness? Sprout Patterns.

Sprout Patterns is basically the sewist little sister of US custom fabric printing giant, Spoonflower, and they’ve taken the concept of custom printing to the next level. With Sprout, you choose the sewing pattern you want to make, select your size and then you choose your fabric from Spoonflower’s vast library of designs (or upload your very own fabric design of course!), and hey presto – you get your pattern pieces printed directly onto your fabric and all that’s left for you to do is cut and sew. It’s that simple.

Psssst! The lovely team at Sprout HQ are offering you guys 20% off all By Hand London designs available on Sprout from today until Wednesday 16th March 2016. Simply enter the code BHLLOVE at checkout…

Read the rest of this blog post on the By Hand London site.

Moneta Madness is Here

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Moneta what? MONETA MADNESS! This year we’re hosting a special event for the entire month of March. Together with Colette Patterns we are offering  20% off any and all Moneta Dressess. Just use the discount code MONETAMADNESS as many times as you like.

To take part in the tournament, just share an image on Instagram with the hashtag #MonetaMadness. You may take a photo of either your printed Sprout Patterns project, or the sewn dress, but the Sprout tag must be visible in the photo. On March 31st we will choose 4 finalists who will each win a $100 Gift Certificate to Sprout!  Not too shabby!

Need some inspiration? Check out the amazing Moneta projects already created on Sprout, or design your own!

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