Tag Archives: drafting

Me-Made-May ’15: Week Four

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Welcome to Week Four of Me-Made-May ’15!  This was another good week with fewer repeats than I had expected.  Let’s get straight to the pictures!

Friday’s theme was “animals”.  I dug out this t-shirt that I self-drafted (with the help of Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch).  I had planned to make some changes to it, but after putting it on, I decided it still worked.  Another point for immediate gratification!

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt (detail) #mmmay15

You’ve seen this one before!  This was another wear of my pink Summer Blouse (but this time with new boots–major thrifting score!!).

MMM'15 Day 23 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 23: Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

Note the lovely clip-on earrings scored at Brimfield.

MMM'15 Day 23 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 23: Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, made from a vintage sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

Now for one that long-time readers will recognize.  This dress was in my first post for this blog.  It was a pairing of Alabama Chanin reverse applique and beading with a pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams.  It was beyond my skill level at the time, but it was so worth it, imperfections and all.

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

The bodice actually has three layers of fabric for the reverse applique.  I was hoping the extra layers would also provide stability to the top, which they do.  (Yea!)

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets (detail) #mmmay15

My photographer (my daughter) told me we absolutely HAD to have a twirling shot.  This circle skirt is pretty awesome.

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

Next is this Alabama Chanin corset from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin.  This is such a great tank.  It has fit me at various sizes and has such interesting lines.

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt #mmmay15

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

It’s also reversible!  I usually wear it like you see it above because I like to see the seam allowances, but you can also wear it as below for a more subtle effect.

Check out the starfish we found!  (Don’t worry, we put it back.)

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt; reversible #mmmay15

These shorts are a free pattern from Anna Maria Horner.  I really needed some shorts a few summers ago, so I made these from some Amy Butler Nigella fabric that was a home décor cotton.  At that point, I just used pinking shears on all my seam allowances after sewing, so I always have little frays and strings hanging down inside, but the fact that I am starting to think about finishing my seams on a regular basis shows me how far I’ve come.  Maybe someday I’ll be a patient sewer…or maybe I’ll be so fast and AWESOME, I won’t have to be patient!  Even better.  😉

MMM'15 Day 26 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 26: Pleasant Pathways Shorts by Anna Maria Horner for Janome (free pattern) using Amy Butler Nigella home décor weight fabric #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 26 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 26: Pleasant Pathways Shorts by Anna Maria Horner for Janome (free pattern) using Amy Butler Nigella home décor weight fabric (close-up) #mmmay15

You will probably not be surprised to see yet another Alabama Chanin make.  These are a summer staple for me.  This is the Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin.

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

It’s also reversible.

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt; reversible #mmmay15

Try not to be shocked.  This one’s from Alabama Chanin, too.  This is the Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  Maybe you can tell that the top in the above picture is really just the top part of this dress.  You might also recognize the fabric from Day 21.  I got a lot of mileage out of this sheet and the t-shirt I cut up for neck and armhole binding.

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) #mmmay15

The dress has a small train, which I love.  Yes, it means you have to hold your dress up a like a lady of the olden days, but that’s kind of fun.  I could have cut it off, but I kept it.  It makes me feel fancy.  😉

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) #mmmay15

I like to wear this one with the seam allowances showing, too, but you could easily turn them to the inside.

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) (details) #mmmay15

Most of these makes are from pre-blogging days, so it’s fun to get them out.

Next week’s Me-Made-May post will cover the last three days of May.  Three more to go!  I can’t believe it.  See you then, if not before!

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Hits and Misses: T-Shirts, Exercise Top, Exercise Leggings

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I think it’s time for a little catch-up around here.  I took a break from sewing bathing suits after making my tests runs to try a few pattern alterations and to begin exploring exercise clothing.  My goals were to give my basic Alabama Chanin long-sleeved t-shirt pattern tapered sleeves and a boat neck, to turn a New Look dress pattern into a t-shirt with a curved hem, to make an exercise shirt, and to make some exercise leggings.

During the winter I had wanted a long-sleeved boat (bateau) neck shirt pattern.  I had some fabric in mind for it and I thought it would be a useful addition to my pattern library since it’s a style that is versatile enough to work in casual and more dressed up settings.  I took the basic t-shirt pattern with long, fluted sleeves from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and, using the directions in Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, tried to create a boat neck that would not be so wide as to show undergarments, but would still have that classic look.  I also decided to taper the sleeves so they would no longer flare out at the bottom.  I think the sleeve alteration went well, but the neckline needs to come together in a point at the sides rather than being a flattened oval.  Here is my test garment, made from knit sheets and sewn with yellow thread for contrast.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

I’d call this a partial win because even though it doesn’t fit my entire vision, the sleeves are good, and my wardrobe desperately needed some brightly colored t-shirts for spring.  I can always come back and work on the neckline later.

Next is my alteration of New Look 0595 from dress to t-shirt.  I love raglan sleeve t-shirts and have been looking for just the right pattern, so I decided to experiment with altering this one.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Because it has a lot of ease, and I would be making it with a knit fabric, I sized way down and made the 10 (going by my measurements, I should have made a 14/16).  I traced the curved hem of a button down shirt that I like to get the hem shape, and decided to bind the bottom edge a la Alabama Chanin by simply covering it with a folded piece of jersey cut on the cross-grain and stitching with a stretch stitch (in this case, a zig-zag).  Here is version one:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Version one turned out shorter than I had planned and anticipated, so I added a few inches and came up with version two.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Just right!

My too-short shirt and the sleeves of version two were made from some clearance fabric (probably poly/spandex).  I’m hoping it doesn’t pill too badly and get gross, but we’ll see.  Remember these leggings?  The fabric on them is pretty pilled/nasty now, so they don’t make it out of the house any more.  For the front and back of the second shirt I used some skirts from Old Navy that I don’t wear anymore and, by a happy accident, I cut an extra front and back, so I dug out the knit sheets again to add sleeves and got this second just-right shirt:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

You can’t see it very well in these shots, but the skirts had some seaming on them that adds to the interest of these shirts and also makes me look like I did more work than I actually did.  Nice!

Version Two:  a hit!

Next up is my first try at an exercise shirt.  I was intrigued by PatternReview’s Activewear Contest (although I didn’t enter) and I love looking through the clothing and patterns on Melissa Fehr’s website, FehrTrade.  So, thanks to some wicking fabric and poly/spandex from Joann Fabrics and McCall’s 6848, I ventured forth.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

This McCall’s pattern is one you may remember from when I made these shorts in a wax resist/Ankara fabric.  The pattern is actually for pajamas, but the shirt was perfect for the gym.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

This was really fast and easy to sew.  Even though this pattern is for wovens rather than knits, I went with my measurements and made a medium.  I like workout tops that are a little loose for airflow.  This one feels great.  For the edges, I hemmed the bottom by folding the fabric up and sewing with a zig-zag stitch, and for the arm and neck edges, I cut strips of my back fabric cross-grain, folded them over the raw edges, and zig-zagged them on.  Since the knit fabric won’t fray, you don’t have to fold the edges of the binding under or double fold it at the hem (or finish any edges on the inside).  I love knits!

When I went to they gym to test it out, I felt like the coolest person there.  I would definitely make this one again (and probably will).

Workout shirt:  a hit!

Lastly, I made myself some leggings using the same wicking fabric I used for the front of my shirt (above) and a self-drafted pattern (you can see a post on that here).  This was a bit of a learning experience.  The pants came together quickly and easily and, while not as stretchy as the fabric I used the first time I sewed this pattern, I could get them on fine.  Here’s what they look like:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Not too bad.  Maybe the fabric is a little thin, but it was a start.  I took them to the gym to test them out just by shooting some baskets–nothing too strenuous.

First, I realized this:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Oops.  The waistband’s a little loose.  OK.  I could fix that.  I folded it over for the time being, and kept shooting baskets.  It was winter.  I was cranky.  I needed some form of exercise.

Then, I had this problem.  Can you see what it is?

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Hm.  My pants started to slide down a bit.  The crotch was getting lower and lower as I hopped around and chased the basketball.  Nothing indecent, but not what you want out of the pants you wear to exercise in.  Good thing I wasn’t on a treadmill!  I had to go through this sort of thing a few times:

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Pull up one side.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Pull up the other side.

Hits and Misses (Pattern and Branch)

Make sure the front is pulled up and fold that waistband over again.

Hm.  Maybe this was more than an elastic problem.  Luckily, no one is really looking at you as much as you think they are, so it wasn’t like I was a spectacle or anything.  However, I started to think that maybe this problem had something to do with my inexperience and, um, my fabric choice.  I went back to Joann’s and looked.  This fabric only has about 8% spandex and definitely stretches more in one direction than the other.  So, these leggings got chalked up to “a learning experience” and they are going back with the other fabric to be reused in another garment.  I also bought myself the FehrTrade PB Jam Leggings Pattern to one day try exercise pants again.

Exercise Leggings:  a miss and a craft fail (but a good learning experience).

I’m hoping to finish one last project and then get back to bathing suits (and more!).  I really, really want to try adding underwires to the Soma Swimsuit while simultaneously turning Bikini Variation 2 into a tankini.  Even after plenty of online research, I’m not confident I know what to do as far as adding the support I want.  Any advice?  I think I’ve been avoiding it.  It could bomb or it could BE the bomb!  Stay tuned!!!

 

Using the Patterns in Your Closet: Copying a Dress

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could make a copy of your favorite dress, t-shirt, or pair of jeans?  I know there are people who can, and it’s a skill I’ve always wanted to learn.  Awhile ago, I posted about Cal Patch’s book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes.

Design-It-Yourself Clothes, Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch via Pattern and Branch

Since I never went to any sort of fashion design school, this has been a great beginner book for me as I’ve begun to explore pattern drafting.  Toward the back of the book, she has a little section on copying existing clothing.  She doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but gives you enough information to try it out.

A few years ago, I bought this strange but cool dress (or shirt or kimono-esque beach cover-up or…????) at an antiques flea market.  The tag says Sun Island, but I couldn’t find out much about the dress or the company via the all-powerful interweb…just a few similar items on eBay.

One of the great things about this dress is that it is made of two nearly identical pieces (front and back), plus some facings inside the collar.  There are no darts, nothing tricky.

Sun Island vintage dress via Pattern and Branch

Well, this seemed like the perfect piece of clothing to try to copy.  Over the summer, I followed the instructions and tried to make a pattern of the back, and then one of the front and the facings.  I found a sheet I liked at the thrift store to be my muslin fabric, and *cleverly* timed my construction attempt for when I would be visiting my parents, since I figured being able to ask my Mom questions in person about any problems might save me some time.

In the end, I got it constructed, and she suggested ditching the facings for bias tape, which was much easier to use and turned out nicer than my first attempt, if a little different from the original garment.

Copying an existing garment via Pattern and Branch

This has a fit similar to the original and turned out well.

For the final garment, I had some fabric that I think is silk, although I’m not sure.  I don’t have much experience with silk, so I was all set to go until I read that silk is hard to cut….then I chickened out and started dragging my feet on getting it done.  Then, again while reading, I came across the very wise thought that something isn’t necessarily hard until we hear that it is.  Does that make sense?  Cutting silk wasn’t hard in my perception until I  read that it was.  So, I finally got over it and just cut it out.  It was fine.  (Who knows?  Maybe this isn’t even silk, but that’s sort of beside the point.  We’re learning life lessons here! 😉 )

Here is my final version:

Copying an existing garment via Pattern and Branch

The amazing thing was, the fabric was exactly the width of the pattern, so I didn’t finish the sleeves in the end.  The selvages looked perfectly finished for my taste.  It made me wonder, was it silk and was it the width for a kimono?  Has anyone made one that can shed light on that?  If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.  I’d also love to hear from anyone else who has tried copying an existing piece of clothing.  I know there is a lot more to learn, but I’m happy with my first attempt.  Now I just have to figure out how to style it…especially for winter.  Maybe the new pink suede shoes I got at the thrift store would work…    😉

Project Day!

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Today was project day.

Drinking coffee and getting to work!

Drinking coffee and getting to work!

I usually reserve Monday mornings for blogging and for projects, but often it’s just the blogging and maybe some photography that happens.  When I planned out my time to start this blog, I found little pockets where I could write posts, but still haven’t found my rhythm for continuing to make new work, write posts, and take care of my family.  This year is for attempting to figure some of that out.

I realized that I was sort of stuck with my creative projects.  There was one that had me stumped, and when that happens I tend to avoid working on things.  It sort of feels like a roadblock to getting anything done.  My roadblock was some vintage pants I was altering.  So, after gathering advice and thinking about the problem for a long time, I decided to take the easy way out so I could get them done and move on.

Vintage wool pants

The pants in question

I got these pants pre-kids and, even then, they were snug.  In fact, they met their demise when I wore them one day, sat down, and split the butt seam.  (Luckily, I was on my way home, so I didn’t have to figure out a creative fix at work.)  Anyway, in the end, I decided to let out the seams, but that meant that my waistband was now too short.  I tried adding an extension to it, but it wasn’t quite long enough, and there were some other reassembly problems that I ran into.  That was when I decided that the most important thing was being able to wear them again.  So, I finished the top edge with single-fold bias tape that I already had, which also makes the waist less high and more comfortable for me.

Here they are!

Wearable again!

Wearable again!

Vintage pants

It’s so nice to have these wearable again, just in time for the colder side of fall and the coming of winter.  They were, I think, originally meant to be ski pants, so they are made of handwoven wool from Ireland, and are lined inside.  I won’t say they are the most slenderizing pants out there, but I love that blue on blue check, and that they are warm and cozy.  I also think fashion is more fun if it’s just a little bit weird.  🙂

The pants were the only project that got finished (well, I fixed a hole in a jacket, so I guess that got finished, too).  The other two projects are in-progress.

I have a little bit of a long-sleeved shirt shortage, so I’m trying to alter some shirts I got last winter to fit better.  These two are going to be sewn together and then reverse appliqued a la Alabama Chanin.

Shirts soon to be sewn together

You can see the other shirt where I folded up one of the sleeves.  Both shirts came from Lands’ End.  They are basic t-shirts and are the same style.  Both are inside out and safety pinned to one another so they can be sewn together.

Two shirt sewn together

Here is a detail after sewing.  I used the t-shirt/bolero back pattern piece from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin as my guide for the side seams.  I laid it over the pinned shirts and used chalk to trace around it.  Where the side seam touched the armhole, I tapered to the wrist opening (you can sort of see that above).  Once the two shirts were sewn together, I cut off the excess fabric.  Next, I’ll work on doing the reverse applique.  I’ve made a lot of the patterns from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design as basics in only one layer of fabric to test them out (although I have been using my machine, rather than hand-sewing them….I hope Natalie wouldn’t be disappointed 🙂  ).  I’ve really come to love and trust her patterns and working with knits, which I was always afraid to do before I discovered the Alabama Chanin books.

The other project I worked on was a muslin (test garment) for a shirt pattern I’m developing.  I mentioned before that I had gone through Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch.  While I’m starting to get the basic ideas, I still need a lot of practice.  I’ve made a button down shirt pattern before, but wanted to make another pattern and then make some variations from there.  This is the test garment for the initial pattern.  Here it is so far:

Muslin for a button down shirt pattern

I found a cute sheet to use as my muslin fabric at the thrift store, so I’m hoping that even if this isn’t perfect, it will still be wearable and I’ll get two shirts out of the process.  Once I put the cuffs on, I think I can try it out.  I’m not great at fitting and transferring my corrections to my pattern, but I’ve been reading up on it, so I need to give it another try.  I loved the first shirt that I made, but it wasn’t fitted as well as it could have been.  It’s all progress, right?

Hopefully I’ll make some good headway on these projects sooner rather than later so I can share them with you as they get finished.  I’m looking forward to showing you how they turn out!

You CAN make your own leggings!

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You CAN make your own leggings!

Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch

When I was growing up and had just enough sewing skills to be dangerous (read:  knotting up my mother’s machine and messing up projects that I then begged her to fix for me), I always wanted to sew without a pattern.  You hear stories about people who can do that (my great-grandmother, for one), but if you are a basic, everyday American sewer, you don’t see it a lot.  Any time I would sew from a commercial pattern, I would mess something up (actually, that still happens, but it’s happening less as I practice more).  Then I started to read the blogs of people who made their own patterns.  MAGIC!  How does this happen?!  That’s when I discovered Cal Patch’s book Design-It-Yourself Clothes:  Patternmaking Simplified.

This is a great beginner book for learning to draft patterns.  It completely changed the way I went into Anthropologie (just as an example).  Instead of lamenting the fact that I didn’t have an endless amount of money to buy whatever I wanted, I started to study silhouettes and shapes of clothing and think, “I could make that!”  (By the way, this is a really useful phrase if you want to buy a lot of stuff, but can’t.  If you COULD make it, you don’t have to buy it.  It doesn’t mean you ever WILL make it, but once you feel like you COULD, it gets you off the hook and you can walk AWAY from the leather leggings or the hot pink cuckoo clock–that WAS what you were after, right?)

When I finally decided to go through the book, I made a comment on Cal’s blog, and she e-mailed and told me about a few draft-alongs happening on other blogs.  A little accountability and someone else working through the glitches can really help when you are in new creative territory, so I followed along and did the projects.  It completely changed sewing for me.  Now the sun was starting to shine into the “black box” of patternmaking and I could begin to see how things worked.

Imagine my excitement, then, when I found that Cal had written a tutorial on how to draft your own leggings on the etsy blog about a year ago.  I found some clearance fabric at Joann Fabric, and gave it a try.  My first attempt was definitely off.  The back was low and I had a few extra inches of fabric, so I went back a few more times and kept working on it, until I got a pattern that I thought would work.  And finally…SUCCESS!

Self-drafted leggings

In order to get things just right, I went to a few other resources.  Because the drafting instructions are for beginners, they don’t have a lot of confusing information on fine-tuning, which is great.  However, if you need to fine-tune, you’ll have to look in a few other places.  My main sewing reference is Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing circa 1976/1978.  I found this used online for a couple of dollars.  I think I got the recommendation from Cal’s book.  I also bought the Spring 2013 issue of Threads magazine, which was a best of Threads issue specifically covering fitting.  In the end, after some chopping and taping, my pattern looked like this:

Leggings pattern

Once I was pretty sure I had it right, I recut my leggings and tried them on…and they fit!  It was so exciting!

From my extremely limited drafting experience, I’ve found it easier to sew from the patterns I’ve drafted than from commercial patterns.  My trouble with commercial patterns, I chalk up to my own inexperience, but it really is easy to sew from the patterns you make.  Three seams, and these are assembled.  Add a waistband and maybe hem the bottoms, and you are done!

Self-drafted leggings

leggings: drafted and sewn by me; tuxedo shirt: Pierre Cardin, thrifted; jacket: Original Alphorn Trachten, gift/thrifted

If you are interested in sewing and learning to make your own patterns, here are a few blogs with lots of exciting projects, some that you can try, and some that will inspire you:

  • Sew Country Chick  Justine’s blog is the one I followed as I went through Cal’s book.  She has designed costumes, kids’ clothes, and adult clothing.  She also covers crafts, decorating, and more.
  • Esther-fromthesticks  This blog is beautiful and inspiring.  Esther is a young designer studying at Savannah College of Art and Design.  Check out her prom dress and bathing suit drafts to see what you can aspire to.
  • Male Pattern Boldness  Peter Lappin is constantly sewing and trying new things, which he shows you step by step.  His blog is funny and thought-provoking.
  • The Selfish Seamstress Elaine only wants to sew if she gets to keep the finished product, something I can totally relate to.  She does her own versions of designer pieces and, while she is selfish, she occasionally throws out a free pattern.
  • Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing  Gretchen Hirst is an amazing seamstress and pattern designer with a vintage flair.  She’s also the author of Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing.  She’s a great resource if you want to learn to take your sewing up a notch or if you just like to look at vintage-inspired designs.

This ought to get you started.  If you are feeling intimidated, you should know that at one time, these people didn’t know how to do this either.  If they can learn, you can, too!  If you run across any other amazing and interesting resources, let me know!