The Confident Stitch
After all my October 9 hype, The Confident Stitch is actually opening on November 6. I have enough fabric, patterns and notions to open in two days, but The Confident Stitch website and point-of-sale system are going to be very robust and searchable. Guess how inventory systems become robust and searchable? Someone writes the text and enters the details! In this case, that someone is moi, and I am not done.
I had a lot of help getting the physical shop ready – the fixtures are up, beautiful, and ready to display inventory – I just need to finish getting the virtual shop ready. I have been collecting fabrics for the past year, so I will have some lines that are getting hard to find (like Cloud 9 Bark Cloth, and the original Cotton + Steel lines).
To thank you for your patience, I will be rolling out specials and coupons to you, my loyal blog readers, over the next few weeks!
Don’t worry, The Confident Stitch is not going to become a body- conscious blog. But….we are all conscious of our bodies, and many of us sew in order to fit and flatter our bodies. So, I’m going to share my recent epiphany about my body.
I love yoga. I love the strength and the stretch and the concentration involved. I’m sure it will become an even more important part of my regime after I open the store and stand and lift and twist all day. In Helena, I went to a yoga class I loved. In Missoula, there are many yoga studios, and I have felt a little bit like Goldilocks searching for the right one. The first two yoga studios I tried were not quite right. They were both too loosey-goosey.
The third studio fits me quite well. The teachers are professional yet fun. The yoga is very challenging. The studio space is clean and lovely. The post-workout popsicles are only $1.00.
But…the third studio is the Bikram Hot Yoga Studio of Missoula. It is the first place I have taken yoga that has mirrors, and it is the first place that is HOT yoga. In case you have never taken hot yoga — the room is 110+ degrees with lots of humidity piped in. Some days it feels bearable. Other days it feels impossibly stifling. Every day, I want to be wearing as little as possible.
So, I find myself in front of a mirror, with other people, wearing tiny spandex shorts, and twisting my top into my bra. During the first class, I was struck by two things — I am indeed very good at yoga, and my tummy is embarrassingly huge. After that first class, I wanted to apologize to the other women in the changing room for baring my big white belly.
I’m glad I did not apologize, however. As I further master the 26 Bikram positions I have been reflecting on what my body is for and how I should feel about it. Does my body exist to look absolutely perfect? Or, does it exist to stretch and balance and walk and sew? Why should I feel bad about a body that can balance on one leg while holding the other leg straight out in front of it at a 90-degree angle for a whole minute? What more do I want from my body?
The answer is, nothing. Each day, as I watch myself in the mirror bending, twisting and balancing a little better that the day before, I feel thankful for my body just the way it is.
I have a new front-runner in my never-ending search for a flattering t-shirt pattern. What am I looking for in a t-shirt pattern? I'm looking for a top that minimizes my bust, and makes me look slim without clinging. Welcome to my life, Jalie 2682.
I'll be carrying Jalie patterns on The Confident Stitch website SOON! As I mentioned in my yoga pant post, Jalie is a Canadian company that makes great patterns for regular clothes. I love them, my 20-something daughters love them, and they come in small children's sizes, too.
I have made two versions of this V-Neck top. The first version was crafted out of an awesome soy knit. Soy knits feel like bamboo, but they don't pill as much. Yes, they'll be available in the shop! I can't show you the first version, because my 23-year-old daughter snagged it on her last visit home: "Oooh, Mom, this shirt is so flattering on me. Can I have it? Thanks." In case you're not the mother of girls, the previous quote can be interpreted as HIGH PRAISE.
This second version is made of an Art Gallery cotton/spandex knit. The fabric, and many more Art Gallery cotton knits will be available in the shop. The only alteration I made was to lower the underbust seam by one inch so that it would actually go under my bust, and not across the apex. I wish I had done a more traditional full-bust-adjustment because there is some pulling at the front underarm seam. Next time, I will do a complete FBA and show you how I did it. The v-neck and shawl collar are created ingeneously, so the FBA will be a little tricky.
In addition to constantly searching for the perfect t-shirt, I am always looking for the best way to hem clothes. There are so many options! This top called for simple, single-turned hems for the bottom and the armholes. I decided to use 1/2" SewkeysE double-sided fusible stay tape to hold the hems in place before I stitched them. The tape is extremely fine and pliable. I pressed one side of the tape to the edges of the hems, turned and pressed the hems, removed the paper backing on the stay tape, and re-pressed the hems. (notice the all-important hyphen. No one wants a "repressed" hem.) The stay tape held the hems perfectly in place for stitching -- no bubbling or shifting.
I also used my new seam allowance guide that screws onto my sewing machine. Pushing the fabric against the blade of the guide ensured the zigzag stitching was even on the right side of the garment, and the stitches caught the fold on the wrong side of the fabric. The stay tape and the guide made the hems so nice and easy. Double score -- great t-shirt pattern + great hemming method!
October 9 is an AUSPICIOUS day. How auspicious? John Lennon was born on October 9, as were his son Sean, and Tony Shalhoub! And....my new "baby" will also be "born" on October 9. The Confident Stitch will open a brick-and-mortar store in Missoula, Montana, and simultaneously launch a web store in seven short weeks!
Both in Missoula and online, the shops will be welcoming places to feel inspired, supported and uplifted. The website will have beautiful photographs and detailed, fun descriptions of everything for sale. My website designers are making the site looks gorgeous and is easy to search.
The hands-on shop, formerly an art gallery, will be appointed with beautiful fixtures, inspiring samples, and knowledgeable staff members.
I have spent the past year traveling to trade shows in search of the best fabrics, tools, notions and indie patterns from around the world. Many of the voiles, denims, linens, knits wools and sateens I have found are one-of-a-kind. Others are the best from major fabric manufacturers like Robert Kaufman.
The Confident Stitch will also carry modern quilting cottons from great young designers like Cotton + Steel and Alison Glass, and from all-time favorite artists, such as Amy Butler, Kaffe Fasset, and Charley Harper.
Most exciting for me is the back room of the store, which will be a classroom that opens onto a deck overlooking the Clark Fork River. I have taken many classes from Pati Palmer and Marta Alto at the Palmer/Pletsch School of Sewing in Portland, Oregon. I can't wait to teach Pati and Marta's methods and help people make beautiful, well-fitted clothes that will last forever. I will also teach beginning sewing classes. And, as soon as I find a great quilting teacher, he or she will be teaching quilting classes.
If you were to open your dream fabric shop and sewing school, what would you be sure to carry? what would you be sure to teach?
Do you know about Jalie patterns yet? Jalie is an independent Canadian pattern company with a great variety of patterns. They are well-drafted and each envelope contains 27 sizes. Jalie carries patterns for what I consider 'regular clothes' -- Polo shirts, dolman-sleeved tees, easy knit dresses. I have made a Jalie swimsuit, which I like, but you will never see. I am brave enough to show you these yoga pants, however. I love this pattern because it has a center back seam. The seam improves the fit in general, and allows for extra tweaking (no, I did not say twerking). The waistband is also two pieces, allowing for tweaking and interesting design elements.
This is my first version of these pants. I unintentionally treat the first version of anything I make like a muslin. I should make actual muslins, but I'm too antsy and hopeful. I promise myself I will pay attention to all the details and make sure everything is perfect, and then I jump in with both feet. Unfortunately, I am always too distracted by finding the correct fit and learning how the pattern goes together. Although I like this finished product, I put the waistband on backwards, I completely forgot to match the pattern on the waistband, I cover-stitched with blue thread instead of black....
I made these pants with a super-strong polyester-spandex from Rose City Textiles. The fabric is from a famous bike-short company, and the pants are thick and WARM. I think the fabric is better suited for shorts. These pants will definitely keep me cozy through the Montana winter!. The waistband is a fun cotton-lycra jersey from Art Gallery. Both will be available in my shop and online (soon!).
I chose a size based on my hip measurements, and made no changes to the pattern except lengthening (my inseam is 36 inches). The waistband is held up by half-inch elastic cut to fit your waist and sewn on the inside. I can't wait to make more pairs!
I have a few "tried and true" (TNT) patterns, and The Sewing Workshop's Liberty Shirt is one of them. Not only is the shirt well drafted with interesting details, but Linda Lee also guides us through its construction in her Sewing with Silks Craftsy class, a GREAT class. I have made this shirt in a stiff silk from China, and in a lightweight rayon. Today's version is made of Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer Linen in yarn-dyed red. Brussels Washer is 55 percent linen and 45 percent rayon. It's washable and dry-able, but it does shrink. My Merchant and Mills Factory Girl Dress is also made with Brussels Washer Linen, and I have washed and dried it many many times. I wish I could claim that the rayon keeps the fabric from wrinkling, but you can tell from the photos that it does not.
The only alteration I made to this pattern was lengthening the sleeves. Looking at the photo below, I think I should do a small Full Bust Adjustment. The buttons across my bust are gaping a little. Or, perhaps I just need to make sure a button is located at my bust point (much easier!).
Because this was the third time I made this shirt, it came together quickly and smoothly. I cut and mostly sewed it at the sewing retreat I attended in March. It was a great antidote to my struggles with fitting the J Jeans.
I don't consciously put patterns on my TNT list, or plan to make multiples of them, it just happens. I'm sure it will happen again with this one. I think my next Liberty Shirt will be a lightweight, drapey fabric. Perhaps even silk!
Do you have TNT patterns? Do you love how quickly the go together?
As you know, I'm a big fan of Jennifer Stern's pattern line. I wrote about my first pair of her Misses Jeans here. I have made many versions of The Tee for myself. I have taught two classes using The Tee pattern, and my students love it. Now Jennifer has a jeans pattern for women whose hips are relatively straight, called J Jeans. The side of the pants is perfectly straight, making the pattern great for uber-cool Japanese selvedge denim. I have now made two pairs of J Jeans. Both out of Montauk Twill (which I will soon be selling on-line and in my store!). Robert Kaufman's Montauk Twill is beefy, but becomes very soft after one washing.
In case you don't know about Jennifer or her patterns, you can scroll through her blog here. She has classes on Pattern Review, and a brand-new jeans class on Craftsy (25 percent off during Memorial Day Weekend). In addition, she videos a Quick Tip every week on her blog, and a few months ago, she used my baggy-knee issue with these pants as her tip. You can see the knees bagging in the photo above. I had done a flat derriere adjustment using Fit for Real People, which helped a lot, but did not fix all the issues. I sent Jennifer a photo, and she posted her great video here. Did I mention she is awesome?
I made my first pair of these jeans at a quilt retreat without making any alterations to the pattern. I hoped they would be a wearable muslin, but no. I tweaked and tweaked, but I couldn't get them to fit well enough for public viewing.
Back to this basic blue version. I made a few alterations to the paper pattern. First, I lengthened the legs (but not enough!) Second, I did a Fit for Real People flat derriere adjustment, which for me involves folding out one inch of width in the back. I made a long vertical fold all the way down the leg in the back, including the yoke. Third, I pinched half an inch of length out of the front by folding the tissue horizontally between the waistband and the crotch because the front of my first pair was quite roomy. Fourth, the shape of the back crotch was similar to mine, but I lowered it by about an inch (I turn 51 next week -- and all that wisdom comes with some southward migration).
I do love this twill, so my next pair may be out of the same fabric in a different color, but I am tempted by the challenge of Japanese selvedge denim. I have some for the shop, and I'll need to be able to tell my patrons how to sew with it, right?
I had so much fun making my first Sewing Workshop Ivy Top, I whipped up a second one. The Sewing Workshop patterns are perfect candidates for playing with fabric. They are all impeccably drafted, and they aren't overly fitted, so you don't need to fuss with tweaking the fit. With three different knits, the fabric combination options for this top are endless.
One of the many highlights of my trip to Quilt Market in Seattle was seeing Linda Lee, owner of The Sewing Workshop, wearing her Ivy Tunic both days. She looked so chic and slim. I had to buy the pattern and make one (okay, two) as soon as I got home. This is version #1.
The Ivy can be made with three different knits, but this time I decided to use just two. Both fabrics are bamboo knits (purchased at Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon). The black and gray stripe is a ponte-weight super stable fabric. The teal and gray stripe is much lighter weight. You can see that I struggled a bit to make it lie nicely at the bottom hem.
I love this tunic. Like all Sewing Workshop patterns, I didn't need to make any alterations to the main bodice. I wish I had lengthened it for my six-feet-tall frame, though. It looked more like a dress on Linda. A friend at work made herself one, and felt it was too long....You may want to make a quick muslin to check the length on your frame...
One sleeve has a cool inset at the bottom, and the other just has a contrasting cuff.
One of Linda Lee's many specialties is the mitered corner. She has a great method that works every time, even on non-traditional angles and fabrics. She includes the instructions in all of her patterns, and demonstrates them in her Craftsy classes. I would never have tried a mitered corner in a thin, drapey knit like this bamboo without Linda's guidance. You can leave the bottom hems raw on this tunic, but nice miters were so tempting, I had to try them. I can't wait to dream up more fun fabric combos for my new friend Ivy!
I am excited to announce I have purchased a building in lovely downtown Missoula, Montana. The building is currently Monte Dolack's art gallery. Monte is a beloved Montana artist who has painted most of Montana's beautiful places. The space is wonderful, and Monte will remain in the lower level of the building with some gallery space on the main floor. Double-win! I think the art of sewing will go hand-in-hand with Monte's artwork.
The building is on Front Street, one block from Higgins Avenue, Missoula's main street. The parallel parking in front tends to be crowded (by Montana standards), but there is a public parking lot in the back, and four private parking spaces next to the back of the building for sewing machine drop-offs. The front room is a large art gallery, and the back has perfect space for a classroom. I plan to open in October. Please come visit!