October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween 2015

Do you sew your own Halloween costumes? That's a trick question. Of course you do. Many of us got into sewing through costuming. 

But a funny thing happened once I started dabbling in the dark arts (aka tailoring and couture): I am less inclined to make costumes. Halloween's energy comes from slapping together a costume quickly. One night of fun! Exhibitionism! Caricature! Clever puns! No over-thinking it.

Tailored clothes, on the other hand, are all about time-suck and attention to detail. In a good way. But it seemed counterintuitive to labor over something that would be worn at a party where the guy next to me scrawls a face on a paper plate, tapes it to his stomach, and wears a name tag saying "Hi my name is KUATO." And these days, I am constitutionally unable to just slap something together. No hand stitching? No underlining? NO MUSLIN???? Boooo.

The compromise last year was to construct one keystone I could happily labor over, and wear in different ways year after year. Like a sofa: an "investment piece" that anchors a room.

Behold, the pattern: Butterick 4929, view D. It's fully lined, with fun details: mandarin collar, long pleated tails in the back, puffed shoulders, fully lined, princess seams.

And here she is, in a soft cotton flannel with wool/cotton twill contrast. Full disclosure: I made  this last year (2014), and dragged it out again for tonight's festivities. 

Butterick 4929, out of print but only recently.

October 29, 2015

Unexpected Essentials: Boning and Hymo

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a new series: unexpected essentials in the sewing nerd's supply bin. This is not a list of basics; you already have scissors, pins, thread, etc. Instead, I wanted to highlight some niche goodies for intermediate and advanced sewists -- the stuff you don't need to buy right away, but when you finally do, you'll wonder why you didn't earlier.

For our first sashay into the topic, let's yak about two extreme sewing-nerd essentials: boning and hymo canvas. Before I started tailoring, these were totally off my radar. Now I can't do without them. Boning and hymo both add structure, stability, and all-around classiness to the fit of a garment. They're lumped together in one post because they help make your garments un-lumpy.


Boning gives form to strapless dresses and corsets. If you have an inner 10-year-old, it's thinking, "hur-hur-hurrr, she said boning." I'm not here to talk about corsets. Many talented corset-makers have shared their knowledge with the world. In fact, let's pause to go down a mostwonderful. rat-hole. with. them.

I like to let my boning out into the backyard. It enjoys running around, curling up in the sun, and digging holes in the garden.