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Exclusive Interview with Janet Pray from Islander Sewing SystemsBy AlexisW on 12/24/14 12:18 PM

Sewing educator, pattern designer, and entrepreneur, Janet Pray is the multi-talented owner of Islander Sewing Systems. We chatted with Janet to get a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s in the works.

How did your sewing journey begin?

“At age 5 when I watched my grandmother make a doll dress to my specifications. I remember thinking it was like magic.”


You've been in the sewing business for many years. In that time, how has the sewing world evolved?

“Wow, a lot. When I was in Jr High all girls took home economics and learned a little about sewing. I was in high school in the 60’s and made all my clothes. I had a few friends who sewed but not many. There were several quality fabric stores to shop at in town. When I started my first sewing business in the 80’s even less people were sewing fashion but quilting had become the sewing craft of choice. Quilt shops popped up all over the country selling only quilting fabrics and supplies. In the early 90’s when I started my sewing expo, sewers were so hungry for products and education we were nearly shut down by the Fire Marshall for all the people who showed up. Right around the turn of the century 2000, fashion sewing started to make a resurgence. Young women who had never had any opportunity to learn to sew were now interested. With the internet options they began to learn and share their experiences as well as inspire each other to move forward. Long gone are the days of teaching sewing is a systematic fashion, i.e. first you make an apron, then an A-line skirt and progress from there as the teacher determined each project.”

What's the most rewarding part of being a sewing educator?

“When a student's face lights up with excitement at what I have just shown them. When online students write me explaining how happy they are to now know how to sew efficiently, faster and with better results. I really feel I have added value to their life as it pertains to sewing! That’s a fabulous feeling!!”


Pioneered by Margaret Islander, Islander Sewing Systems teaches industry methods for the home sewer. In a nutshell, could you describe this for us?

“Garment factory workers turn out excellent garments every day and they never use a pin. When Margaret, a home sewer at the time, saw the factory techniques she knew she would one day take the information to home sewers. I am proud to continue her work by teaching sewers techniques that take them to a whole new experience of sewing faster and better with superior results compared to basic home sewing taught by most professional sewing teachers still today.”


What are your favorite fabrics to work with?

“I am partial to natural fibers, often referred to as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’. Silk, wool and linen for most of my sewing and fine shirting cottons for shirts of course.”


You are the founder of the American Sewing Expo, the largest independent sewing expo in the country. For those interested in attending, what can we expect for 2015?

“One full day of all day hands-on workshops and 3 days of sewing classes, vendors, contests, make & take, demonstration stages and fabulous fashion shows including McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick and Simplicity. Often the pattern companies bring celebrity pattern designers to the expo. Celebrity teachers like Kenneth King are often on our schedule. We produce multiple contests and several are entered before the expo and then on exhibit. Contests are all listed on the ASE website.”


Over the years, what have been the accomplishments you are most proud of?

“Being one of the only successful independent sewing expo producers. The only company to teach industrial sewing techniques to home sewers that makes sewing even more fun. I always say, if you like to sew, after you learn Islander Sewing Systems, you will LOVE to sew!”


Do you have any upcoming patterns or projects in the works that you can share with us?

“My newest pattern is the MotorCity Express, inspired by the motor cycle jacket. It can be a blazer or a sports jacket or an evening jacket. The pattern guides I produce now are small booklets that are easy to read and manage. Every step is illustrated and any pattern designated ‘express’ is designed for the most efficient approach to sewing. The project goes faster and easier with directions that give you the most amount of sewing steps possible before going to the iron and then the most amount of pressing steps before returning to the sewing machine. Again this makes sewing faster and more fun! This pattern is available in tissue or as a download and will be launched as a Craftsy class late in January."


"I have a free pdf titled Sewing Myth Busters. As home sewers ask questions concerning the dos and don’ts of sewing that they were taught by other home sewers, I have felt compelled to debunk those that are myths. Currently I have 8 and there are more to come. The PDF is free and I will continue to add as more home sewing myths are uncovered.”


When you have a spare moment from sewing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

“Music and travel are my secondary hobbies, but sewing is my LOVE!”


Any final thoughts you'd like to share with the PatternReview community?

“As a teenager I was told that a sewing business would never pay off. I have now owned 3 successful sewing businesses. Pursue what you love and the rest will works itself out for the better!”


Thanks for chatting with us, Janet!

Browse the Islander Sewing Systems collection on PR.



As a special surprise, we're giving away a copy of Islander Sewing Systems' new MotorCity Express pattern to one lucky PR member!

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment below and you will be entered into our random drawing.

Giveaway ends Midnight EST on Sunday, December 28th.


Happy holidays, everyone!

Filed Under: Interview  
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Highlights of 2014 - Part 2By AlexisW on 12/23/14 1:38 PM

Here at PatternReview we love everything about contests. We love how they inspire us, make us think outside the box, and encourage us to step out of our comfort zone. All of this in the good company of our PatternReview friends. Before we announce the new contests for next year, we thought we’d show you the amazing creations you made for 2014!

From left to right: Mollymax,  Coucou,  dollston,  MrsCharisma,  acmena,  clothingengineer,  Jstarr4250,  Alpine Queen,  Chococat,  bstar,  ColeenS,  beanchor,  annie11,  HRigg,  ToileAndTrouble,  divas11,  mangoflavor,  trishapatk,  speekna,  detroy,  unfinishedprojects,  Helenabee, and cabinbaby.


We’d also like to give you a little insight into how the contests are run on PR. At the end of each year, we compile a list of contest ideas into a survey, and ask our members to pick a few contests they’d like to participate in. When the results come in, the contest committee carefully reviews it and selects the final list. Once the contests have been set up, we find sponsors and request volunteer managers. When the contest begins, the contest manager starts the discussion on the forums, and supports the participants throughout the duration of the contest. At the conclusion of the contest, voting (in most cases) begins, and winners are announced based on member votes.


Our enthusiastic volunteers go above and beyond to make PatternReview the vibrant sewing community that it is today. We couldn’t do it without you! Meet the lovely ladies who are instrumental in making the contests happen. Our Contest Managers are...


From left to right: Jacqui315,  AnneM,  Sew Whatever,  jannw,  michellep74,  SheBear0320,  MrsCharisma,  UrbanFool,  Aroura,  crazygrad,   Sigrid,  Sewmaris,  KathleenS,  arianamaniacs,  froggiegirl,  lyndle,  HDWen,  ClareeW, and SuzanneSewsRVA.


Collectively known as the Contest Committee, members include ClioBkln,  Bonnie O,  ConnieBJ, and AnneM. Thanks for all that you do!



And of course, we’d like to thank our Sponsors for their generous prizes and participation.


Elliott Berman Textiles


Fabric Place Basement

Mood Fabrics


Patterns from the Past

Reliable Corporation

Roost Books

Sawyer Brook Fabrics

Schmetz Needles

So Vintage Patterns

Stitch Magazine

Style Arc

The Smuggler's Daughter

The Wooly Thread


What a fantastic year it's been for contests! Can't wait to see what surprises 2015 brings...


Highlights of 2014 - Part 1

7 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
madbadger said...
I'm really hoping I'll be able to participate in more contests this year than last year!!! Regardless, I love looking at the entries!
12/27/14 6:25 PM
ASiverson said...
and onto 2015!
12/24/14 9:57 AM
Danvillegirl said...
Great year! Wishing all Happy Holidays and a Happy Healthy New Year!
12/24/14 8:42 AM
arianamaniacs said...
Nice summary!
12/24/14 3:29 AM
marec said...
NIce to see the year summarized so well.
12/23/14 5:47 PM
sewcrazee said...
A great year and such great contests. Thanks!
12/23/14 3:11 PM
MrsCharisma said...
What a great year!
12/23/14 2:17 PM
Member in Focus: MrsCharismaBy AlexisW on 12/22/14 2:32 PM

Member Since: 2013

PR Name: MrsCharisma

Name: Nakisha Smith

Birthday: July 6th


How did you learn to sew?

“I 'taught myself' -aka- the internet! :)”

What aspect of sewing do you find most challenging?

“I would say that fit is the most challenging aspect of sewing. Not just the technical aspect, but understanding what good fit actually means.”

What are your sewing goals for this year?

“The past two years I've sewn a ton. I am still very excited about sewing, however analyzing my 2014 makes showed me that I have a really poor ratio of tops sewn that remain part of my wardrobe. So my biggest goal is to figure out my upper body fit issues and get a sloper made. Other than that, same as usual - to just have fun!”

Which sewing book do you refer to most often?

“I normally use Google to answer questions on fit or technique.”

What are you sewing right now?

“I am currently working on a mini wardrobe and then moving on to a coat that will work for the transition into early spring (because 'spring' doesn't mean the same thing in the upper midwest as it does in other places!)”

What’s your favorite pattern?

“ONE favorite?! McCall's 6844. When that pattern was released I knew it was going to be a winner.”

What you love most about PatternReview?

“It is just a cool place to be. I love seeing everyone's projects and seeing how people put their own spin on a pattern. I have also met some really great people here!”


Any other favorite hobbies?

“I knit and crochet but am on hiatus as I cope with severe tendinitis/carpal tunnel problems.”


Tell us a little more about you – profession, where you live, etc.

“I am a forensic chemist at a consulting firm in Minneapolis (industrial forensics, not criminal) and absolutely love what I do. I am married with 2 teens and am allergic to sitting still. I'm such a busybody and am not happy unless I am up doing something*! *except cleaning. I can totally skip cleaning :)”

Thanks for sharing with us, MrsCharisma!


Want to see more from MrsCharisma? Check out her Gallery for over 160 reviews!

43 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
ak21 said...
Nakisha you are most deserving of all the lovely comments. Ive never known anyone to be as fearless as you are with learning to sew. You get right in there & try try try until you perfect it. Soooo inspiring. Love watching your talent grow - all the very best for 2015 hun xx
12/29/14 at 4:16 AM
lollypopsmom said...
I admire your talent! Whenever I go to SR Harris, I think I may see you...
12/28/14 3:18 PM
BlueSkysAhead said...
You are such an inspiration on this web site. You are the cheerleader and motivator for sewing. Thanks for all you do.
12/28/14 11:25 AM
atymonw said...
Such an inspiration! And I also love that you've done it without the latest and greatest (most expensive) items. Good tools are important, but the most important part is the person behind the machine:)
12/26/14 4:32 PM
GoSewGirl said...
I love seeing your reviews and comments here. Your enthusiasm for sewing is always inspiring!
12/26/14 0:03 AM
BrendaR said...
'Bout time Nakisha is "Member in Focus." Love all that you do. Keep up the good work and Happy 2015! 1 1
12/25/14 11:22 PM
travel4fabric said...
I just love your style, personality, good taste and sewing ability. Don't know how you find all of that time to sew?? You're an inspiration!
12/24/14 10:34 PM
Mufffet said...
SO good to see you featured! Your sewing is so great to see and you seem to make the airwaves vibrate with your enthusiasm. :)
12/24/14 3:38 PM
persevering said...
Oh yes, I appreciate reading your interview too. Thanks again!
12/24/14 2:36 PM
persevering said...
Yes, I agree ... I enjoy seeing your creations and reading your reviews. I especially appreciate your generosity of also sharing your measurements, adjustments, and size of the patterns used. This really helps me to understand better what size pattern would be right for me and how suitable the pattern is for me. You are truly inspirational! Thank you!
12/24/14 2:33 PM
annie11 said...
Mrs. Charisma is the perfect name for you, as your enthusiasm for sewing is so infectious! I always enjoy reading about your creations.
12/23/14 6:21 PM
CSM--Carla said...
Love seeing your reviews and comments on PR! Thanks for letting us in on your life. Carla
12/23/14 3:47 PM
Grandmomof7boys said...
Looks as if I'm not the only one who always looks for your reviews! Beautiful clothes! Love that purple dress.
12/23/14 3:29 PM
JOshiro said...
What a nice feature! From one Minnesotan to another - stay warm! :)
12/23/14 11:49 AM
LisaInAlabama said...
Wonderful spotlight on one of my favorite PR people!
12/23/14 11:38 AM
MrsCharisma said...
Aww! Thanks PR friends! I've totally got the 'warm fuzzies' now!
12/23/14 9:09 AM
Sew WYO said...
So great to know more about you! I always look forward to your reviews and your enthusiasm!
12/23/14 8:59 AM
Sue Parrott said...
Nakisha, you are darling! I love every thing you make and congrats on being a member in focus! I love how you are allergic to sitting still--I think I have that issue as well!
12/23/14 8:59 AM
betty bushwacker said...
Great to meet you Nakisha! Looking forward to seeing what you're working on in the coming year. Thanks for sharing with everyone
12/23/14 8:52 AM
Kathhhhhy said...
Who doesn't love Nakisha!? I enjoy her blog and sewing conversations so much. Love that she's a brainy scientist by day!
12/23/14 8:47 AM
Danmar said...
You are one of my favorites <3 Thanks for sharing!
12/23/14 7:47 AM
Danvillegirl said...
I enjoy reading your post here and your blog. You have come a long way with your sewing and doing very well with it! It was nice to see all your sewn garments in this article.
12/23/14 7:30 AM
VivianZ said...
Thanks for letting us get to know you better. I enjoyed the interview and always enjoy reading your reviews and comments in the conversations. Congratulations.
12/23/14 7:01 AM
ASiverson said...
Congrats, Mrs C! Terrific bio above! And keep up the great work! Annette
12/23/14 6:33 AM
goosegreen said...
I love reading your blog and find it so inspiring. Keep sewing!
12/23/14 0:19 AM
carolynw said...
Nakisha you look beautiful in every photo - your outfits are an inspiration to me. I love that you are self taught "Google taught" :) Hoping your tendinitis/carpal tunnel problems will get better in 2015! Great to see you as Member in Focus!
12/22/14 11:19 PM
LlanoGirl said...
I am always happy to see a review from you! I am amazed that you taught yourself to sew!
12/22/14 10:27 PM
MrsCharisma said...
THANK YOU!!! What a fun feature! I always enjoy reading these and was pretty giddy to be featured :) Rhonda both jackets are black. The first one (worn with the beige outfit) is Vogue 8932. The other "jacket" is the M6844 cardigan.
12/22/14 10:27 PM
GloGlo said...
I enjoyed your interview and your clothing line is simply gorgeous. The fit does make a difference.
12/22/14 9:23 PM
Rhoda K said...
Nice to meet you but have to ask what pattern you used for the navy blue jacket above? I like the style. I always enjoy your reviews and wish you continued sewing fun and success!
12/22/14 9:21 PM
JetSetSewing said...
You're a busy gal! Here, there, InstaGram... great job on all of your makes.
12/22/14 8:16 PM
1SewSweet said...
Lovely interview! I too enjoy your reviews. Congratulations on being "Member in Focus"!
12/22/14 8:13 PM
Annie- oh said...
Really neat, gal!
12/22/14 7:45 PM
Pj3g said...
Mrs C. -- you Rock! Go girl go!
12/22/14 7:24 PM
Natasha Joyner said...
Lovely interview! It's great to see you as the Member in Focus.
12/22/14 6:16 PM
marec said...
Nice interview-congrats on being featured :-)
12/22/14 5:18 PM
Quickie said...
you have indeed sewn a ton last years, and with success! Congrats
12/22/14 4:30 PM
paloverde said...
You are so inspirational. I've loved watching your absolutely fearless sewing over the past two years. I also love reading your blog!
12/22/14 4:19 PM
hibihai said...
Love your style, your reviews, and the happiness you seem to project - thank you for sharing so generously!
12/22/14 4:13 PM
BirdyBooo said...
I love you reviews too!
12/22/14 4:09 PM
LizJ58 said...
Nice to get to know the lady behind the screen name! And I can skip the cleaning too!
12/22/14 3:48 PM
biochemistress said...
Hi, Mrs. Charisma! I love reading all your reviews!
12/22/14 3:11 PM
canei said...
12/22/14 3:07 PM
Highlights of 2014 - Part 1By AlexisW on 12/19/14 3:21 PM

Wow, what a year it’s been! Before we say goodbye to 2014, let's reminisce about some of our favorite moments we've had this year...


New Site Launched

In June, the new re-design of was made live. The main focus of this change was to make the site design easier to navigate, while keeping the functionality primarily the same. We would like to thank all of you for your valuable feedback and suggestions. Without your help and support this would not have been possible.


Sewing Spaces

Thinking about sprucing up your sewing space? For some creative suggestions, we thought it would be fun to take a peek into our members' unique sewing rooms. These practical design ideas may be just the inspiration you need! From de-cluttering to DIY, there are lots of resourceful storage and decor ideas to give you that light bulb 'why didn't I think of that?' moment.

Giving us the decor tour are Deb ThompsonColeenSMelelizairmartinSugar Pie ChicSew PassionistaKathi R, and j Renee Design.


My Daily & My Dearest

For the My Daily & My Dearest series, members share with us two of their most precious pieces. One everyday outfit that you’ll love until it’s in tatters, and one special garment that's dear to your heart (and took forever to sew!)

Jennifer Stern, Kenneth King, DeepikaAaltje, and Sarah Veblen share with us their Daily & Dearest.


New PR Exclusive Patterns

When Deepika spotted a skirt she fell in love with, she asked for your help to make it! In this collaborative spirit, Catina explained that the "secret sauce" of the inspiration skirt was the shape of the godets, which cleverly followed the stripes in the fabric, making it look like no other skirt we'd seen. Catina suggested, "would you like me to post some instructions on how to tweak a pattern or I can even draft a pattern for it". Make a pattern? Of course! So from design to conception to testing, the Ina Maxi Skirt was created right here on PatternReview.

Ina Maxi Skirt and Winter Street Dress - PatternReview exclusives. See more PR Patterns


Members in Focus

We love getting to learn more about our members and we know you do too! For our Member in Focus series, we featured a wonderfully talented bunch from across the globe. 

PR Members from left to right: 

Mauude,  crisford,  twinset,  3kids1036,  BarbaraV,  carrie18584,  GeoP,  LoriV,  CarmencitaB,  tiadia,  mnitts,  BeckiP,  rosiewednesday,  sunnysewer,  mangoflavor,  beanchor,  cweetgal,  Quickie,  Natasha Joyner,  and  suzybee.



Pattern Hacks

Deepika made a Fit & Flare Lace Dress using the Winter Street Dress pattern, froggiegirl hacked Deer & Doe's Plantain Tee by Adding a Contrast Yoke, and for Frozen fans - an Easy Elsa Dress in a Knit Fabric.


Me-Made-Mondays #mmmpr

Sunday night blues, Monday morning blahs? No more! We asked you to show us a photo of you in your lovely me-made every Monday until the end of December. Whether you're wearing handmade separates, accessories or a full outfit, you tagged it #mmmpr for a chance to win some fab prizes. Your Me-Made-Mondays have all been posted to our Pinterest board to end the year in style!


Celebrate Indie Patterns

Last November, we began a new series - PatternReview Celebrates Indie Pattern Designers. Each month we featured a new indie pattern company on our blog. You celebrated with us by sewing their patterns for a chance to win prizes straight from the designer. Thanks for supporting indie pattern companies!

We celebrated Liesl + Co.Christine JonsonMaria DenmarkSewaholic Patterns, Colette PatternsAngela WolfGrainline Studio, and By Hand London.



We chatted with a few of our featured indie pattern designers to get the behind-the-scenes lowdown. A huge inspiration for others turning their passion into a profession, we can't wait to see what's next from these impressive entrepreneurs.

Exclusive interviews with By Hand London, Sewn Square One, Tilly and the Buttons, and Sew Over It.


Book Reviews & Giveaways

You may have seen these new book releases floating around blogspace, and for good reason! Chock full of beautifully photographed tutorials and interesting tidbits, we just can't our hands off a good book.

Read more about Love at First StitchLittle One-Yard WondersThe Sewtionary, and Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction.


PR Meetups

PR meetups are filled with sewing, friends and creativity. Not to mention good food! Our 12th annual PR Weekend was held on May 2nd in Austin, Texas. And this year we glammed it up! Don't get me wrong. PR members are usually the best dressed bunch wherever they go but this year, we really kicked it up with gorgeous leather jackets, beautiful vintage inspired dresses, flowy chiffons, tulle, lace, dots, stripes and sheers.. you name it, we had 'em all.

This year we celebrated with you in Austin, New York, and Boston.


But we're not finished with 2014 yet! There's more on the way, stay tuned...


Highlights of 2014 - Part 2

1 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
arianamaniacs said...
cant believe all this happened in one year!
12/24/14 3:34 AM
Simplicity Patterns $2.99 SaleBy AlexisW on 12/17/14 1:58 PM

Beginning today through tomorrow, all Simplicity Patterns are on sale for just $2.99!
If you're looking for last minute holiday projects, now's the time to stock up!
Comfy and casual Simplicity 1317 Misses’ Pullover Knit Top is great for beginner sewers or as a quick gift for your loved ones.
You'll also receive amazing deals on the new Simplicity Winter/Holiday Collection for a limited time only.
And don't forget - there's free domestic shipping for pattern orders of $25 or more for Friends of PR members!
Simplicity 2-Day Sale ends Midnight EST Thursday, December 18th.

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Exclusive Interview with Lisa Comfort from Sew Over ItBy AlexisW on 12/15/14 2:25 PM

We're so thrilled to now have Sew Over It Patterns available for PR members! In preparation for the launch, we chatted with founder and owner, Lisa Comfort.


Welcome to PatternReview Lisa. For those new to Sew Over It, can you tell us a little about yourself?

“Sure! I set Sew Over It up in May 2011. I was worried that sewing was become a lost skill so I wanted to teach as many people as possible how to sew and how amazing it can be. All our classes are based around our own patterns that I design. The pattern range is a selection of the patterns we teach with. Each year we release more. The next one we are working on is our Vintage Shirt Dress.”


What made you decide to release your first pattern?

“We had a lot of requests from people outside London who said they loved our patterns and wanted to get hold of them. I thought it was a good idea to offer something that anyone anywhere can get hold of.”

What’s the most rewarding part of being a sewing instructor? 

“I love teaching beginners because they often are so amazed and what they can achieve. They surprise themselves and it is great seeing someone discover sewing for the first time. I love it!”


How would you describe your personal style? 

“I love the 50s and 60s so my style definitely has a nod to those decades. I would say I am quite classic and feminine as well.”

We love those decades too!

Can you share with us more about your book, Sew It, Wear It, Love It! 

"Yes my book has 25 projects for the beginner sewer. It has ideas to customize clothes, make accessories and how to alter clothes. There is also a section at the back with some clothes projects like a Tulle Skirt based on the one worn by Carrie Bradshaw in the last season of Sex and the City. I have just finished writing my second book: Sew Over It Vintage - this is more an intermediate sewing book with projects for the home as well as pattern cutting and garment projects - all with a vintage twist! It is out 2015."

That’s so exciting Lisa. Good luck on the launch and please keep us updated on the progress. 


Are you a digital or paper pattern person?

“I am a paper pattern person, mainly because I don’t have a lot of time to sew at the moment so I need the process to as quick as possible! But I also love the fact that if I really wanted to I could get a pattern instantly so I don’t want PDF patterns to go away! They are my back up. :-)”

Deepika adds: I personally love the digital patterns because they allow me to print and sew right away and I love the taping process. In fact I am looking forward to making a Silk Cami soon.

Do you have any advice for those turning their passion into a profession?

“Make sure your idea can make you money if you scale it up. I meet a lot of designer makers who love what they do but they don’t charge enough so if they want to start doing wholesale or making bigger quantities they can’t. Remember your time is money so don’t sell yourself for free!”

Excellent advice Lisa. How much to charge is a common question we hear in our Sewing as a Business forum (SaaB).


What’s next for Sew Over It? Any new patterns or projects on the horizon?

“Yes the Vintage Shirt Dress and in January we are releasing our Ultimate Pencil Skirt as a kit!! (We promise to release it as a PDF soon after!)”

Exciting! We’re looking forward to it.

When you have a spare moment from sewing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

“I love films. I am big fan of going to the cinema - it is such a great escape. I also love travelling. Give me a city break in Europe any day!”


Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the PatternReview community?

“Check out our website and see the classes we currently are running. If there is one that you are desperate to be released as a pattern then let us know - if there is enough of you then we will bump it up our list!!”


Thanks for spending time with us Lisa! We're very excited to offer your PDF patterns here on PatternReview.

See the entire Sew Over It catalog.

Filed Under: Interview  
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Member in Focus: tiadiaBy AlexisW on 12/11/14 4:21 PM

Member Since: 2008

PR Name: tiadia

Birthday: December 4th


How did you learn to sew?

“I learned to sew by watching my mom sew. She used to sew everything when I was small, and she took some courses with a French couturier while we lived in Vancouver. When I was about 9, I was given an old Singer treadle, and she taught me how to use it, cut out patterns for my dolls and to follow the directions of a pattern. From there, I grew up fascinated with Vogue patterns (she told me never to use anything else!) and diligently followed the directions. By the time I was in high school, I was forbidden the Home Economics courses because I was sewing my own wardrobe. Of course, I was over-dressed because I sewed every Vogue Designer pattern I could get my hands on.”

What are you sewing right now?

“I'm working on a Harris Tweed hat (Vogue 8440), jeans (Burda 1/2010 #136), a red silk dress for DD1 (Burda 2/2013 #122), a new Christmas dress for DD3 (Sewaholic's Cambie), and a wool crepe skirt for myself (Burda 9/2013 #130).”

What aspect of sewing do you find most challenging?

“Fitting a garment perfectly. This has always been my greatest challenge, and looking back to the first garments I made during the 80's, it was hidden from me because of the loose silhouettes that were in style back then.”

Which sewing book do you refer to most often?

“Vogue's Sewing Book and, more recently, a large red tome called Fitting & Pattern Alteration.”

What are your sewing goals for this year?

“I would like to perfect the discipline of making a toile FIRST. And I would like to make several jackets with the emphasis on FIT, because I only have one in my closet!”

What’s your favorite pattern?

“ONLY ONE!?!?! Ok, ok. Vogue 1259. It hugs my shape, I feel good every time I put it on, and it's unusual. Won't meet myself wearing it!”


What do you love most about PatternReview?

“I love that I get to see so many iterations of each pattern. It's such a great reference for garments that I'm interested in making, and the reviews are so helpful. It's a great community!”

Any other favorite hobbies?

“I love to cook.”

Tell us a little more about you – profession, where you live, etc.

“I'm a mom to three girls, and I've chosen to stay home until they are well established and on their way. In my prior life, I was a professional singer, but I haven't sung a note in over a decade!”

Great to learn more about you, tiadia!


tiadia has a whopping 125 reviews on PR! See them all in the gallery.

Filed Under: Member in Focus  
14 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
helenkosings said...
You're a wonderful sewist! But i hope you sing at HOME at least.... :)
12/19/14 0:15 AM
bdizzine said...
Thanks so much for the interview. I love how your clothes fit, encouraging.
12/17/14 7:11 PM
Ashford said...
Tiadia, you are the Vogue Woman. You could be a model for them. You wear the styles with panache and elegance. My favorite outfit is the brown pant set with the silver belt. It is wonderful that you and your mother could share an experience as a child that you continued to enjoy through adulthood.
12/17/14 2:35 PM
tiadia said...
Thank you all so much for your encouraging comments! The PR community is such a wonderful place to hang out and learn.
12/16/14 11:36 AM
annie11 said...
I love everything you make! Your projects always inspire me.
12/15/14 6:57 PM
Bongoramsey said...
You have a great personal style, tiadia!
12/15/14 8:50 AM
Barbara V said...
How nice to read your interview, tiadia and learn more about you. Your creations are beautiful and you wear them well!
12/14/14 7:01 PM
Kemish said...
Always love your blog to see what you've sewn. And, you and I share the same birthday :-)
12/14/14 3:21 PM
ConnieBJ said...
Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed learning more about your life - and OH! those gorgeous creations!
12/13/14 9:10 PM
atymonw said...
A pleasure to read more about you:)
12/12/14 4:26 PM
Connie Turner said...
Very nice sewing and styling of these beautiful clothes. I am very glad to get to know you.
12/12/14 2:59 PM
ASiverson said...
What a lovely story and person. Congratulations Tiadia, and TFS, Annette PS You know how to style, girl! You look fabulous in each and every outfit!
12/12/14 11:04 AM
rtrittel said...
Lovely,lovely,lovely! Thanks so much for sharing a bit about you and your interests.
12/12/14 8:33 AM
ehashley said...
What a gorgeous collection of handmade clothes! Thanks for sharing your inspiring makes.
12/11/14 8:42 PM
1-Day Sale! All Digital PatternsBy AlexisW on 12/10/14 12:52 PM

'Tis the season of giving!

Just until midnight tonight, ALL PDF Patterns are now on sale for 20% off (retail price)!

To receive this fab deal, simply enter the coupon code MERRY while checking out your shopping bag.

If you're new to digital patterns, now's the time to try it out! We have a handy-dandy tutorial on how to assemble PDF patterns at home.


Skip the shipping and get your favorite digital patterns instantly!

Hurry, this sale lasts only through Wednesday, December 10th.


2 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
csbaker said...

12/11/14 9:11 PM
OceanSew said...
Aww, coupon is only good for one use. This evening I found some more that I wanted to purchase on sale.
12/10/14 10:18 PM
The Handbag Contest WinnersBy AlexisW on 12/9/14 4:14 PM

Who doesn’t love a great handbag? The Handbag Contest challenged participants to sew a structured purse in any personal style. Contestants made satchels, messenger bags and clutches, all with unique zippers and hardware. The more creative the embellishments, the better! As long as the handbag was lined and had closures, members could use self-drafted or even previously used patterns. Backpacks, luggage and grocery bags were excluded from this contest. Entries were judged based on the fabric choices, originality, and complexity of the project. Over the month of November, participants created some beautiful arm candy! Check out all of the submissions for the Handbag Contest in the Gallery.

You voted! Time to meet the winners...


First Prize Winner: Speekna for Self Drafted Pattern (Small Messenger Bag)

Speekna says, "I retired in 2008 & am having a ball sewing all kinds of stuff - but I've run out of stuff I NEED! I have more jackets, jeans, bags, hats, than I'll ever be able to use!! But there's still room for lots of improvement. Some day I'll conquer the stiff interfacing problem! Meanwhile I love this bag."


Second Prize Winner: Goosegreen for Vogue Patterns 8867 (Bags)

Goosegreen says, "This pattern caused me some angst at first but after I worked out how to modify it for my fabric, it all came together quite well. If I hadn't done a leather class previously, there is no way I could've made this bag so I'm very happy with it."


As a special surprise, we're also giving the winner a copy of Anna Maia Mazur's Handbag Workshop: Design and Sew the Perfect Bag.

Congrats, Speekna!


And congratulations to everyone who participated in this contest!

Special thanks to the Contest Manager, HDWen.

PatternReview is the proud sponsor of the Handbag Contest.

Read the Rules and Report.

Follow the lively Contestant Chat.

Browse all of the submissions in the Gallery.


What contests would you like to see for 2015? Don't forget to take our survey to let us know!

Filed Under: Contests  
6 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
hopflower said...
What fun! These are gorgeous; and worthy winners. Congrats to you both.
12/21/14 3:15 PM
Ashford said...
Oh, my. All I have ever done is a small fabric clutch or hobo bag. Goosegreen and Speekna, your results are magnificent. Design, color, shape, and function -you hit all the high points we all look for in bags.
12/17/14 2:25 PM
StudioCherie said...
Congratulations, ladies. Great work
12/17/14 11:26 AM
Bongoramsey said...
Lovely bags, great use of color!
12/17/14 8:46 AM
Tee Jones Actie said...
Congratulations!!! Lovely bags!!!!
12/17/14 7:24 AM
61sew4fun said...
Beautiful handbags and congratulations, very stylish and functional, way to sew!
12/10/14 10:13 AM
Winner of The Great PatternReview Sewing Bee ContestBy Deepika on 12/8/14 11:28 PM

The thing about surprises is that some love them some hate them. But the GREAT thing about PatternReview is that you ALL love to play! And that's why the last month has been so much fun and so exciting, exhilarating and also VERY VERY tiring for some of you. The good news is that it is over and you can now RELAX and the really AWESOME news is that you now have fabulous clothes to wear this holiday season.

In the first ever Surprise Sewing Bee Contest on PatternReview we asked you to create 4 different garments in less than 6 days each without giving you any advance notice and you wowed us with your creativity and beautiful presentation. Even though this is an online contest, we felt that you took us with you into your sewing room and for that we are grateful.

Please read our thoughts here

In the first round we asked you to sew an A-Line Skirt which incidentally also happens to be right on trend! 140 of you entered and the appliqued ALine skirt by detroy was the winner. 

56 of you then participated in the men’s shirt challenge in which unfinishedobjects corset emerged as the winner! 

In the third round we gave you our very own Winter Street Dress digital pattern to make a knit skirt using two fabrics. You gave us so many ideas and helenabee's green and leopard WSD won our hearts. 

And in the final round, we asked the 11 finalists to sew adult pants from NON-STRETCH woven fabrics.

We asked Carmen (Winner of Cousu Main - The French Sewing Bee) to join the rest of the judges (Contest Committee and Deepika) to help us determine the winner of the Sewing Bee Contest. And without further ado, we give you..


of The Great PatternReview Sewing Bee Contest


The use of bias in the back was brilliant! And here are her entries from the previous rounds.

Round 1 - A Line Skirt 

Round 2 - Dress from Mens Shirts 

Round 3 - Winter Street Dress 

Congratulations Cabinbaby you win the fabulous Bernina 800DL Serger, sponsored by Bernina


But wait... we just had to have another winner because detroy's pants are just outstanding. They are whimsical, fit well and are completely HER! And so are the rest of her entries. A-Line Skirt, Men's Shirt Jacket, Winter Street Dress

Deb, you win a 3 Piece Kai scissor Gift Set from Kai Scissors as a special prize for this contest. Congratulations!

Curious to see what others made? Check it out



We obviously had no idea if this contest will be successful or not but we're thrilled to see how great it all worked out. We thank Clare for managing and mentoring ALL of the rounds of this contest, which was not an easy task but she was there for all the contestants, inspiring them and motivating them to finish.


We also thank the guest judges Tilly Walnes , Peter Lappin , Julia Diamente and Carmen Bouchard Salvan for being a part of this very special contest. 

A HUGE Thank you to all our sponsors for donating prizes for this contest.

Roost Books  
Elliott Berman Textiles 
Reliable Corporation 

And my partners in crime, these lovely ladies of The Contest Committee who probably spent more time going over the details and then carefully reviewing and re-reviewing the entries of this contest than we ever imagined, but from what I hear, they had a blast! Thank you Connie, Anne, Bonnie and Clio!

Thank you to all the participants for inspiring everyone with their creations and big shout out to their families who also supported them in this.

What a great way to end the year! Help us plan for next year's contest by taking this survey.

27 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
MaryMacTree said...
Congratulating everyone. So loved all entries
12/10/14 10:35 PM
madbadger said...
Congratulations Cabinbaby! Loved all your entries - sophisticated & fashionable!
12/10/14 9:42 PM
Sue Parrott said...
What a great contest and awesome garments everyone!
12/10/14 5:54 PM
Jacqui315 said...
Great team work by Clare and all the judges. Congratulations to Dawn and all the participants!
12/10/14 5:29 PM
ggf2005 said...
Congratulations Cabinbaby! Thank you judges! Congrats to all who participated because it's all of us that make this a great website to share and connect. Deepika thank you for your vision!
12/10/14 2:50 PM
Janet Wallace said...
Congrats, Cabinbaby! Not everyone can wear a bias plaid on their fanny!
12/10/14 10:33 AM
KathySews said...
What a fun contest. Congratulations to everyone who completed the challenge. I am inspired by all the projects
12/10/14 8:01 AM
sandysewin said...
Congrats to the winners! All of you who finished this challenge deserve a round of applause as well. :-)
12/9/14 9:25 PM
SandraB said...
Congrats Cabinbaby and Detroy! Very well deserved!
12/9/14 6:13 PM
JetSetSewing said...
What a lot of fab makes, and a great group of judges, too! Good work all around.
12/9/14 4:13 PM
Arted said...
Congratulations to all the winners. Cabinbaby the pant was beautiful. I as well enjoyed following along with the contest. Such a great creative forum.
12/9/14 3:33 PM
Levone said...
Congratulations Cabinbaby and Detroy! I loved following along with this contest. All of the participants did a fantastic job as there is no way I can sew under that much pressure, LOL.
12/9/14 1:20 PM
dinagideon said...
It was awesome watching the rounds unfold. Very inspiring pieces throughout. Cabinbaby, those pants are just amazing! :)
12/9/14 12:42 PM
chenille said...
Congrats to Cabinbaby, Detroy and all the contestants! This has been so much fun to follow the progress - hope you will do this again sometime!
12/9/14 12:29 PM
Erin Sooit said...
Congratulations Cabinbaby and Detroy! And all the other partiipants were simply amazing as well. It was really wonderful to see the garments you all created, and really inspiring. I think the judges deserve a round of applause too.
12/9/14 10:48 AM
sewin said...
Loved watching the contest. Thanks for all your work judges and Congratulations to cabinbaby and detroy!
12/9/14 10:34 AM
MrsCharisma said...
fun! Congrats!!!
12/9/14 10:18 AM
ASiverson said...
Congratulations to cabinbaby and detroy! Way to go, or way to sew! And to all the other participants. Loved each and every entry, and am very glad I was not a judge. I would not have been able to pick!
12/9/14 9:52 AM
Scrnme007 said...
Congratulations cabinbaby and destroy- and to all the participants who are such an inspiration.
12/9/14 9:43 AM
minggiddylooloo said...
Way to go, Cabinbaby and detroy!! It has been an amazing ride and it has been such a thrill to sew along with the two of you. Big thanks to all of the judges and Clare for running this contest so smoothly from behind the scenes. This was my first time participating in a PR contest and it was a thrilling experience. I feel so refreshed to pick up sewing again on a daily basis, thank you for lighting that fire! Happy holidays, everybody!!
12/9/14 7:06 AM
sewcrazee said...
Congratulations cabinbaby!!!!!! Thanks to Deepika and everyone involved with the contest though I didnt get past round 2 I had so much fun and hope you will have another one in the future as it was just like having a project runway for us regular sewing folk. Once again congrats to all the contestants.
12/9/14 7:02 AM
Kristine Kay said...
Congratulations to all the round winners and to Cabinbaby for the grand prize! Thank you to Deepika, all the judges, and the prize sponsors for making this so much fun (and I was only watching from the sidelines)! Thanks to all the participants for the constant flow of inspiration over the last month! I'm looking forward to the next time, I wanna play, too!
12/9/14 5:50 AM
Danvillegirl said...
Congratulations to Cabinbaby and detroy! I agree with EleanorSews that the level of creativity was inspiring.
12/9/14 5:17 AM
jjosiejo said...
Congratulations to Cabinbaby and detroy, fantastic! And huge congratulations to all the finalists in this demanding and inspiring contest!
12/9/14 4:55 AM
EleanorSews said...
This has been a remarkable experience. The level of creativity and comaraderie has been delightful and inspiring. Congratulations to the PR Contest Committee and to the participants. The winners were outstanding. But, in reality, everyone who was a part of the Bee was a winner. Let's please do it again!
12/9/14 0:49 AM
EleanorSews said...
This has been a remarkable experience. The level of creativity and comaraderie has been delightful and inspiring. Congratulations to the PR Contest Committee and to the participants. The winners were outstanding. But, in reality, everyone who was a part of the Bee was a winner. Let's please do it again!
12/9/14 0:48 AM
Judy Kski said...

12/9/14 0:15 AM
Sewing Spaces - j Renee Design ToursBy AlexisW on 12/5/14 11:21 AM

For a little extra holiday cheer, we’d thought we’d take you along for a tour of j Renee Design’s beautiful sewing room! We simply love these helpful organizational tips and thoughtful little details, all with a good dose of humor. What a great space to get inspired for the upcoming gift giving season. Let’s begin!

j Renee Design says, "First up, the Expedit. Ikea no longer makes the Expedit series; it has been replaced by the Kallax series.  The difference?  The Kallax has thinner outer walls, and is slightly cheaper (less materials needed = less cost).  The disadvantage?  Ikea no longer sells the 5×5 monster you see before you.  The biggest Kallax available is the 4×4 shelf.  It’s unfortunate.  I use my Expedit mainly for fabric, pattern, and yarn storage.  Let’s start from the top down and then head on over to Ironland."

"Most of my patterns are stored in these 5 boxes, arranged by company from left to right:  Indies, McCall’s, Butterick, Simplicity, Vogue.  The rest of my envelope patterns are in the center cube of my Expedit (Jalie, Hot Patterns, Style Arc). While we’re up here, let’s talk about those lights."

"They look cool, right?  That’s where it begins and ends.  The only time I have ever turned them on is to take a photo.  Waste of money.  As for the Expedit itself, it’s got fabric storage along the perimeter with the inner cubes stuffed with other crafty goods.  Here’s a handy dandy guide to what’s inside."

"The 8 plastic boxes are the Ikea Lekman... I could probably use a bit more organization, but I’m happy with the way it is.  For the woven fabrics on the top shelf, and the home decor fabrics, I used comic book backing boards (gold size, I believe: they come in different sizes!) as a mini bolt to wrap the fabric around.  They fit really well into the Expedit and are a great organizational solution.

The other thing I do with comic book boards is use them (and the sleeves you can buy for them) to store my used/altered patterns.  This way if I want to pull out the same thing and make it again, there everything is altogether and no trying to shove everything back into the envelope!"

"Anywho, onto more pressing matters..."

"I have my ironing board hung up neatly with a bracket (added since 2011) you can find at nearly any store, and I set it up in front of the Expedit when in use.  This is one of those fancy super wide ironing boards... Also, I haven’t decided yet if the extra wide surface is helpful or a hindrance to garment sewing, but I may end up putting this one in the basement and bringing my old regulation size ironing board back upstairs.

As for ironing implements, we have a steamer, which was a gift I gave to John (so romantic of me!) while we were dating.  It’s a Sunbeam, and it works quite well!  My iron is a Rowenta that my sister gave to me for Christmas almost 6 years ago.  I keep eyeing new irons, because this one spits a bit, but it has been great overall!"

"And here we finally are: the place where the magic happens!"

"OK, maybe it’s more like cheap slight of hand.  This Ikea Jonas desk has served me well.  I love that if I don’t want to have my serger out, I can just roll the extension under the desk.  I’ve never done that, though.  This Jonas desk is no longer being sold, but the Ikea Malm is functionally identical."

"I’ve had my thread rack screwed to the wall for a while, but had been keeping my serger thread rack on my desk.  Why?  Laziness.  I had the electric screwdriver out working on other things, so I finally got around to attaching that puppy to the wall.  While I was at it, I also added a second Bygel rail (and I STILL have one more hanging out in my closet – I bought a ton of them apparently!).  On the new (upper) rail I’ve put pins, sewing machine needles, and other handy notions.  The bottom rail has clips to hold pattern instruction sheets.  Huzzah!

And now, I think it’s time to introduce you to my sewing team… First up, my sewing machine, the Babylock Decorator’s Choice!"

"It’s shameful, but I can’t remember when I bought her.  I’m going to say I got her in 2009, because I was living in my last apartment at the time.  I love the auto threading and thread cutting on this sewing machine and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new machine.  It’s a discontinued model now, but it’s replacement is the Babylock Melody.  Second but not least, my awesome serger, the Babylock Imagine!"

"The ease of threading and use in Babylock sergers is amazing.  Push a button to thread the lower loopers (AKA the scary hard-to-thread looper in other sergers) and it automatically adjusts tension for you while sewing.  It was a bit of sticker shock when I found out how much these things cost, but it’s worth every penny for a machine that works and works without frustration.  I’ve had this pretty little thing for 6-7 years and am still happy as a clam.  There are also a couple of machine accessories that I couldn’t live without now.  One being the thread catcher that’s under my serger.  So awesome for containing all of that those serged off bits.  The second is these pedal stay pads."

"They aren’t as effective on my hard floors as they would be on carpet, but they still stop my pedals from creeping too far away from me.  Back down again, we find my Ikea Alex drawer unit and Samsung printer.  Love the former, not a big fan of the latter."

"I keep office supplies, paper, writing utensils, self drafted patterns, knitting and papercrafting notions in the Alex.  Next to it is a basket full of fabrics that are only worthy for muslins and some T shirts of Mr. 5’s that I plan to re-purpose next month.  And just peeking into the corner there, what do you see?  Mooooore Ikea Bygel rails."

"This set of three rails are the first Bygels that were installed in our house.  I have 6 in total in use (5 in my sewing room and one in the bathroom) and they are really great.  

Next to the closet is this darling little Ikea cabinet, whose name I don’t know and who was discontinued."

"I keep my sewing box and an awesome basket a friend gave us on top of it.  There’s more fabric in the basket, and as you can see, there’s more fabric IN the cabinet..."

"I keep my foldover elastic in the glass container in the back (I went crazy and bought a bunch off of eBay a couple of years ago), and most of my ribbon and lace in the wicker sewing basket... On the shelf below, I have all of my quilting fabrics.  Have I finished a quilt in the last 18 years?  No.  So, why do I have so much quilting fabric, then?  It’s pretty..."

"On the lower two shelves I have fabric remnants and sewing, knitting, and art books and magazines.  The last of my recent Ikea purchases is the white Kasset magazine holder on the bottom right.

And the last thing to show you is where I keep my cutting mats. I have 4 of them: one is in the basement, one is under my Alex drawer unit and the other two are... behind the door!"

Republished with permission from j Renee Design.

Thank you for the décor tour, j Renee Design!

If you’d like to see even more of j Renee Design’s sewing room, pop on over to her blog, The Sometimes Sewist.


Get this look!

Images top row: Ikea KassettIkea KallaxIkea Lekman

Images bottom row: Ikea MalmIkea FintorpIkea Alex


Join the sewing spaces conversation!

Filed Under: Sewing Spaces  
14 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
KJudit said...
Love your space, great ideas, thank you for sharing! How do you you keep the cutting mats on the wall?
12/12/14 7:30 AM
NevadaGrace said...
Love the space! IKEA does have a website for those who don't have a nearby store. The only thing I would do differently is keep the thread in a closed container--to keep the dust out. I guess if you sew all the time, it won't have time to get dusty! :) Thanks for sharing.
12/10/14 1:14 PM
GoSewGirl said...
What a nice sewing space! Lucky you to have what looks like some nice natural light. My space is in our basement, so that is the one thing I wish I had more of. I love how organized you are and thanks for sharing the details of how you use all your storage. Love IKEA for this. Wish our nearest one was closer.
12/10/14 10:33 AM
Murphyallen said...
Loved the tour and all the great ideas!! Also loved your candid share about whether certain expensive items were worth it for you. Lovely! Thanks.
12/10/14 7:09 AM
minggiddylooloo said...
This is such a gorgeous sewing space! You are very organized and clever at implementing the cutest ideas for storing all those sewing tools.
12/8/14 10:50 AM
LaMadalena said...
What a clean an organised sewing room! I love it. Thank you for sharing it with us. You've created a beautiful sewing room.
12/7/14 2:58 PM
artysam said...
love your room, mine is no where near as organised as yours, thanks for the tips and ideas!!
12/7/14 4:36 AM
splainer said...
What an enjoyable read, and so inspirational.
12/6/14 8:08 AM
VivianZ said...
Wow, I love Ikea, but don't have one within 300 miles!
12/6/14 7:55 AM
sharon2013 said...
Great space, very well organized and I like how you explained how you use your cabinets, racks, buckets...
12/6/14 6:31 AM
madbadger said...
I think I have the same desk or one similar - in black. The thing I love the most about it is that it's super stable. Love your sewing room!
12/5/14 9:50 PM
hibihai said...
Oh my gosh, this is so fabulously organized and neat! What a great space you've created. Thanks for such a fun tour, your comments made me laugh!
12/5/14 8:19 PM
lylagus said...
Beautiful space! I really appreciate your explanations and showing us where to find your structures. You have made an amazing, beautiful and functional space.
12/5/14 4:21 PM
MrsCharisma said...
DROOL!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautifully done!!!
12/5/14 4:10 PM
My Daily & My Dearest - Sarah VeblenBy AlexisW on 12/3/14 12:09 PM

Sewing instructor Sarah Veblen shares with us her two most treasured outfits for her daily and dearest. Sarah first shows us a comfy go-to garment that gets worn almost everywhere. And then, Sarah tells us more about a special piece that's near and dear to her heart.


My Daily

"That garment I reach for first and want to wear more than anything else. This is a hard choice! It depends on what the weather is. But I’ll show you the garment that always makes me happy when I’m wearing it and that works for me from mid-spring through the whole summer and into the early fall.

Some of you might recognize it, because I made it for my chapter “Secrets for Sewing Knits” in Pattern Review’s 1,000 Clever Shortcuts & Tips. And the irony to me is that when I made it, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like wearing it. Just goes to show that you never know!

Both fabrics in my hoodie dress are jersey/single knits. I was worried when I was making the dress that the solid blue fabric wasn’t quite thick enough for a dress. But when I was selecting the fabric, I had to work within the constraints of the color palette I’d been given for the book. The blue and white striped fabric simply made me smile, so I had to use it! The fabrics turned out to work just fine. And in case you’re wondering, I developed the pattern by lengthening a T-shirt pattern that I’d developed for myself years ago, and then I drafted the hood and flounces.

The striped hood is a stylistic element as far as I’m concerned – I never wear it up. I repeated the stripes at the cuff. And the stripes were perfect for the lettuce-leafed flounces, which gives a “girly” attitude to the otherwise sporty dress.

After I made the dress, I didn’t wear it for quite a number of months, until I figured out what it needed: white knit capris pants. I’m ready for a picnic, for a hot summer day when I want to look cool and fresh (which to me is half the battle of not feeling hot), for a full day of teaching, for a walk on the beach, for supper on the patio, or for a long day of sewing. It’s such a comfortable dress! It packs like a charm, and I always feel happy when I’m wearing it."




My Dearest

"Now this was an easy choice, because this French-style jacket was a labor of love to make, and it’s one of the first jackets I reach for because it is oh-so-comfortable to wear."

"The pattern evolved over many years of perfecting the fit and introducing new style lines on two different commercial patterns (New Look 6619 and McCalls 5007). Instead of a traditional shoulder princess line placement, my princess lines go to the neck, which makes more sense with the wider neckline."

"I used traditional French-style jacket construction techniques, with the lining machine quilted to the fashion fabric. And I used a lightweight chain at the back hem to counterbalance the weight of the trim on the front of the jacket."

"The only interlining is silk organza in the shoulder/armscye area. And as you might know, there is a lot of hand stitching involved in making a French-style jacket.

Stepping away from the classic French-style jacket look with braid, buttons, and pocket flaps, I chose white guipure lace to trim my jacket. I love the process of getting a trim to look just right and set the mood I want, and for this jacket, I cut the directional (non-symmetric) lace trim apart, experimented with the placement, and then hand sewed it in place."

"You can see that around the neck and down the center front, I wove a narrow dark dusty pink ribbon through the lace, which helped to define the trim and make the statement I desired."

"However, I wanted the trim appear to “peter out” as it curved onto the hem, so the lace is less dense there and I omitted the ribbon. I also wanted the bell sleeve to make a delicate statement, so I used the lace with restraint."

"Although you might imagine that a French-style jacket would be saved for special occasions, this is a work-horse garment for me. I love wearing it, and I reach for it frequently. Not only does the construction stand up to the test of time, but also the journey of creating it was wonderful!"


Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

If you want to see more from Sarah, check out her class Fun with Fitting – Bodice with Darts (now on sale for $25!) Learn how to fit a bodice to your figure and identify fitting issues. Or, browse more classes from Sarah here.

Filed Under: Daily and Dearest  
10 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
Ashford said...
This article will influence the 2015 Every Day Wear plan that I want to sew. I will think more about Personal Style and that even the every day wear should be expressive of who you are. I will include a focal point garment with the basic garments in my sewing plan.
12/10/14 8:41 AM
Nittywitter said...
Like others have said, both garments are lovely and inspiring! Just what I need to boost me off the sofa and into my sewing studio!
12/5/14 9:30 AM
Erin Sooit said...
I love both of your garments, they're so feminine albeit in entirely different ways. Very inspiring! Thank you for the post.
12/4/14 10:48 AM
mutters said...
Absolutely love the hoodie dress, what a great idea.
12/4/14 10:06 AM
JOshiro said...
Both are so lovely! Brava! I am really enjoying this series.
12/4/14 8:45 AM
ASiverson said...
I love both of these pieces. You did a fabulous job, and thank you for sharing so very much! Annette PS and Congratulations for being the subject of this interview!
12/4/14 8:12 AM
VivianZ said...
Wow! Both pieces are an inspiration. The knit top gives me ideas for fabric in my stash, and the jacket in motivation to remake a wool boucle I have into a vest.
12/4/14 7:36 AM
TinaLea said...
I fell in love with that blue striped dress when I saw it in the PR Tips book!
12/3/14 11:51 PM
LlanoGirl said...
Your jacket is beautiful and unique, your labor of love is very evident!
12/3/14 8:25 PM
dianelwilson said...
Both are lovely garments! I love the feeling of opening my closet and singing Hallelujah with successful me-made garments!
12/3/14 7:57 PM
Vote in the Handbag ContestBy AlexisW on 12/2/14 12:03 PM

Voting for the Handbag Contest has begun! Over the course of the month of November, participants of the Handbag Contest were asked to sew a lined purse with any choice of closures, including zippers and magnetic snaps. For more of a challenge, interfacing was also required to make the bag structured. Contestants added stylish hardware and straps for additional creativity points. From cross body bags to clutches, members have made up some fabulous purses!

While reviewing the entries, consider the complexity of the project (based on the skill level of the participant), fabric choices, and overall creativity. Head over to the Contest Gallery to see all of the participant submissions and vote now!

Voting for the Handbag Contest will be open until Monday, December 8th.


1 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
HDWen said...
These beautiful entries make me want to sew handbag. Great job everyone
12/2/14 9:56 PM
Winner of The Sewing Bee Round #3By Deepika on 12/1/14 12:16 PM

If you are just joining us, in the 3rd round of the Surprise Sewing Bee we asked 25 contestants to make their own versions of the PR Exclusive Winter Street Dress which they could download for free for this contest. We asked them to use two knit fabrics and gave them less than a week to sew and review.

The contestants WOWed us AGAIN! Such pretty dresses, in such a short time. I knew that the Winter Street Dress is a great pattern to tweak but never had I imagined such amazing renditions. From lace underlays to clever nursing hacks to beautiful cowls and hoodie variations we saw so many versions and I can't wait to "steal" some of these ideas for my own WSDs. 

In this round we invited Julia (JuliaBobbin) to be our guest judge along with AnneBonnieClioConnie and myself. 

"Wow judging for round three was fun and hard! I can’t get over the level of amazingness these seamstress have. And isn’t it amazing how you can start with one pattern but come up with completely different looks?!! There wasn’t one dress there that looked like another. Inspiring!"

 - Julia

Lets meet the winner, shall we? 

Helenabee for green and leopard print winter street dress.

Congratulations Helena, you win the fabulous V200 Sensor Velocity Iron from our sponsor Reliable Corporation.



And now for the most difficult part of this contest, where we move some of you to the final round. We absolutely loved each and every one of your dresses and want to express how difficult judging this was.  

Here are the names of 11 members who will be advancing to the final round of The Surprise Bee which has already begun.  

aaltje, detroy,minggiddylooloo, sugarduck, unfinishedprojects, Annette Wright ,Helenabee , cabinbaby , arianamaniacs, MVi14 and rjmudge

A Surprise Prize!

Even though we wanted to advance all of you to the final round, because its a contest, we couldn't.  We decided to pick an entry (randomly) to receive a Teach Yourself to Sew complete DVD bundle seasons 1-5 (Thank you Threads Magazine!) 

carrie18584, Congratulations!      


Thanks to Clare for mentoring the bee stitchers and to everyone who entered. You are ALL winners. 

Check out the contest gallery to see all the beautiful winter street dresses. 


Related: The Great PatternReview Surprise Sewing Bee Contest

Results of Round #1

Results of Round #2

Grand Prize Winner!

5 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
ASiverson said...
Congratulations to all, especially those moving forward, I wouldn't have been able to choose! But everyone won something!
12/2/14 2:21 PM
ASiverson said...
Congratulations to all, especially those moving forward, I wouldn't have been able to choose! But everyone won something!
12/2/14 2:21 PM
chenille said...
Congrats to all the participants and especially those moving forward. Woven pants - Yikes!!!!!
12/1/14 9:33 PM
Rhoda K said...
Congratulations to the winner and all who entered! Such nice dresses and creative ideas! Good luck next go round!
12/1/14 2:35 PM
carrie18584 said...
Yahoo! What a nice surprise to win the DVD set! Thanks Deepika and the Contest Committee for arranging such a fun contest! And all the contestants - you guys made it worth the stress :)
12/1/14 12:54 PM

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