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Palmer/Pletsch

  • No-Side-Seam Pants

    No-side-seam pants are great for summer. They work best in lightweight fabrics, and are fabulous for pulling on over a swim suit when it's time for drinks on the lanai. I am wearing my no-side-seam rayon pants and dreaming of drinks on the lanai. We are still drinking hot toddies here in Montana, but we are dreaming of hot days. Today's high was 44 degrees. Yes, today is June 17. Yes, I choose to live in Montana.

    The lack of seams makes these particular pants super quick to sew, but a little tricky to fit. You can't tweak much with only a crotch seam and an inseam. I had Pati Palmer fit McCall's 6571 to me during one of the two pants workshops I have taken in Portland. I started with a very large size (22 is just a number, right?). The crotch seam fit me well, so Pati had me make a vertical fold in the tissue where the side seam would be -- narrowing the hip and leg without affecting the crotch seam. I had a length of elastic around my waist, and Pati pulled and tugged the waistline of the tissue until it laid smoothly. She then marked where my waistline should be.

    Here is the front in a gorgeous blue and black rayon batik. Photo by Andrea Jones Here is the front in a gorgeous blue and black rayon batik. Photo by Andrea Jones

    This is my second pair of no-side-seam pants. I made them both in a rayon batik. I made the first pair without pre-washing the batik. They are now capris. Rayon batik really shrinks! I pre washed and dried the fabric for this pair, and the first couple of times I washed them, I remembered to not put them in the dryer. I accidentally put them in the dryer the last time, and now they are too short! These photos were taken before any washings. I don't think I'll make any more pants in rayon batik. It does not stop shrinking! This lovely fabric is from SewBatik.  I bought it while I was at the American Sewing Expo in Detroit. I also purchased some border print batik, which I plan to use for a skirt or dress.

    The side. I may fold out a little more width in tissue next time. Photo by Andrea Jones. The side. I may fold out a little more width in tissue next time. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The back. Photo by Andrea Jones. The back. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Wrap Top 2 Ways

    What did we do before "What Not to Wear"? When the original What Not to Wear book by Trinny and Susannah first came out 10 years ago, I gobbled it up. I loved learning why things looked good (or bad) on me. If you also gobbled up the book, you know what kind of top minimizes a big bust: something that either "wraps" or "vees." I immediately gave away all of my high-necked tops to smaller-busted friends and began my quest for V-Neck and wrap tops that work for me.

    My shopping quest has morphed into a sewing quest. My most recent attempt is McCall's 6513, a Palmer/Pletsch design with alteration lines included. The pattern pieces are strange looking, so the lines are particularly helpful. 

    Wrap top version 1 in an ITY knit from Mill End in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones. Wrap top version 1 in an ITY knit from Mill End in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    I did a 1.5" full-bust adjustment, and added darts, which I think made the shirt too roomy. I'm tempted to try sewing up a straight size 16 and see what it looks like. I have some great white modal knit from Dharma Trading Company. I think I'll sew up the top in the modal and dye it if it fits. Stay tuned.

    The top in stretch linen from The Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones. The top in stretch linen from The Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    My rather large full-bust adjustment on the rather strange front pattern piece. My rather large full-bust adjustment on the rather strange front pattern piece.

    McCall's 6513 is a well-drafted pattern with great instructions written by Pati Palmer. There are some tricky bits, so I don't recommend it as a first knit top. It's a wonderful second or third knit project, though. What do you think, should I try it without an FBA?

  • More Gray

    May in Montana is the hardest month of the year for me. I grew up in California, where May was bright green hills and perfect 70-degree days. Shoes were optional in May. End-of-the-school-year pool parties abounded. In Montana, where I have lived my entire adult life, wool hats and mittens are starting to be optional in May. The weather can be best described as "iffy". Today, the sky is gray, and if it rains in town, the nearby hills will certainly get snow.

    So...don't judge me for displaying a gray wool dress today. With a jacket, it is perfect May attire here in the North. This dress is a McCall's 5716, altered by Vanna DiAmicus during one of my Palmer/Pletsch trainings. It's a great, simple dress that I will make many more times.

    Closeup of the front bodice. The dress is fully lined with Ambiance Rayon. Photo by Andrea Jones. Closeup of the front bodice. The dress is fully lined with Ambiance Rayon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Full front. Nothing like a professional photo to highlight the wrong color of nylons. :) Photo by Andrea Jones. Full front. Nothing like a professional photo to highlight the wrong color of nylons. :) Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Side view. Photo by Andrea Jones. Side view. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    And the back. I will definitely be making this dress out of springier fabric soon. Photo by Andrea Jones. And the back. I will definitely be making this dress out of springier fabric soon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Thanks for visiting. I hope summer has arrived for you!

  • Pattern Matching for a Princess

    Princess fabric and princess nails for a princess top! Princess fabric and princess nails for a princess top!

    I recently stitched a McCall's 2818 princess-seamed top in a princess-y pink fabric. It's the top I wanted to teach as a class, but no one signed up. I carefully altered and fitted the tissue:

    Tissue fit is good... Tissue fit is good...

    ....And matched the pattern. I find cutting out in a single layer the best way to match a pattern perfectly.

    I flipped one center back piece and laid it on top of the fabric to match the pattern exactly before cutting the second side back. I flipped one center back piece and laid it on top of the fabric to match the pattern exactly before cutting the second side back.

    I have a beautifully matched pattern, but the top turned out too big. Easy to fix by deepening the side seams, but, whoops! Although I did try the top on repeatedly during the sewing process, I had trouble gauging the fit because the top closed in the back. Next time, I will ask Fred to pin the back closed each time I check the fit. The fabric has some stretch to it.

    Check out the pattern matching in the front....Photo by Andrea Jones. Check out the pattern matching in the front....Photo by Andrea Jones.

    And the matching in the back. Photo by Andrea Jones. And the matching in the back. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    McCall's 2818 is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, and I could tell Pati Palmer worked hard on the drafting and the instructions. The process felt more like sewing up a Colette Pattern than sewing up a Big 4 pattern. In other words, everything fit together perfectly, and the sewing order and "Pro Tips" made me feel like a star seamstress. I definitely recommend this pattern. You will see more versions if springtime ever comes to the Rockies.

  • The Agony of Defeat

    I hate to buy clothes, and I rarely do any more. But, I really need new pants, and every pair I tried to make in the past few weeks has been a complete fail!  So, this morning I went online and ordered two new pairs from J Crew. They are "Talls" and on sale, but still, I feel defeated.

    In case you think I don't need pants at this time of year because spring is In case you think I don't need pants at this time of year because spring is "just around the corner," take a look at my driveway this morning....

    Here is my tale of woe: I was finishing up some gorgeous black wool crepe pants this morning....almost done...they fit great....just serging the edges....and, I accidentally swerved and serged diagonally through one leg. Don't ask me how I did it. I don't know. But, I can admit defeat.  I am not going to try to make any of the pants in my queue for awhile. Must take a break!

    Nice and neat napkins! Nice and neat napkins!

     

    While I recovered from my serger fiasco, I perused the blog posts I "hearted" last week. One was from Madalynne, called Grain Perfection. She tells the story of Edna Bishop, a famous sewing figure of the 1950's, requiring her students to "cut out" a garment by only ripping the fabric to make sure it was on-grain. This gorgeous quilting cotton with a William Morris-type print was a perfect candidate for the ripping method of "grain perfection." After a few purposeful rips, I felt much better, and I had "cut out" six napkins. I hemmed the edges, mitered the corners, and felt my sewing mojo return. Phew. 

    Proof that I can still sew. I will be teaching a class on sewing this McCall's 6513 in Missoula in April. The fabric is a tissue-weight stretch wool from Selvedge Studio.  I can only show it to you on the hanger because it's a size 6, and I'm not. :) Proof that I can still sew. I will be teaching a class on sewing this McCall's 6513 in Missoula in April. The fabric is a tissue-weight stretch wool from Selvedge Studio.  I can only show it to you on the hanger because it's a size 6, and I'm not. :)

  • Gray Jacket

    McCall's 6172 in Gray Flannel. Photo by Andrea Jones. McCall's 6172 in Gray Flannel. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Interior welt pocket! Interior welt pocket!

    I now have some great pictures of the gray jacket I made during Marta Alto's last jacket class in Portland, Oregon, this fall. I discussed the learning process in a previous post. My jacket turned out to be more of a coat (not that I'm complaining). I think I will make a shorter version next time. I always forget that my torso is not "tall" even though the rest of me is.

    The construction went so smoothly, thanks to Marta's guidance. I am looking forward to my next jacket project! I have a great blue/brown/black boucle from Portland. 

    And we're walking......Photo by Andrea Jones And we're walking......Photo by Andrea Jones

    And the back fits, too. Photo by Andrea Jones. And the back fits, too. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Palmer/Pletsch Pants

    Palmer/Pletsch pants. Wool crepe from A Fashionable Stitch fabric store in Salt Lake City. Photo by Andrea Jones. Palmer/Pletsch pants. Wool crepe from A Fashionable Stitch fabric store in Salt Lake City. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    I now have photos of the wool pants I made during my Palmer/Pletsch Pants fitting class in Portland this fall. The pattern is McCall's 5239 -- the basic Palmer/Pletsch pants pattern. I bought the wool crepe a couple of years ago when I took a business trip to Salt Lake City and had a pants drafting lesson from Sunni at Yellow Bird Fabrics before she bought the store and renamed it A Fashionable Stitch. The fabric was wonderful to work with, and I love the fit of the pants, thanks to Pati Palmer. 

     

    The back of the pants. The invisible zipper is pretty hard to see. I love an invisible zipper foot! Photo by Andrea Jones. The back of the pants. The invisible zipper is pretty hard to see. I love an invisible zipper foot! Photo by Andrea Jones.

    I always learn a ton of lessons during my time in Portland at the Palmer/Pletsch School of Sewing. During this most recent pants class, I learned that I love Palmer/Pletsch's Perfect Waistband interfacing. When I took my first P/P pants class the previous fall, I was not sold on the interfacing. Frankly, I thought it was a little old-fashioned.  I wanted to make pants with "cool" contour waistbands. As my daughters will attest, "cool" is my middle name. I never wear anything that isn't cool.

    But, during this year's class, I made a pair of contour-waist pants (which will not see the light of day without a TON of tweaking), and a pair with a straight, one-inch wide waistband formed with Marta and Pati's perfect interfacing. The interfacing is strong and stiff and a perfect one-inch wide. It does not roll. It does not stretch. It does not budge. I could eat three Thanksgiving dinners and my waistband would stay in place and remain the same size (which could be painful). 

    Next up for McCall's 5239: a black pair with side pockets, a fly-front zipper, and a "Perfect" waistband. My style icon, Katharine Hepburn, would approve.

    How about you? Do you have a favorite way to stabilize your waistband?

  • Pants in Portland

    During my second week in Portland, I took the Palmer/Pletsch Pants Class for the second time.

    Maria from the Bahamas wanted her pants TIGHT. Marta swoops in to tighten. Maria from the Bahamas wanted her pants TIGHT. Marta swoops in to tighten.

    Rebekah works at Fabric Depot and wrote about our class on the store's blog. Rebekah works at Fabric Depot and wrote about our class on the store's blog.

    The School of Sewing is at Fabric Depot, and the store sent its young blogger, Rebekah, to take the class with us. Because a video speaks even more words than a picture, follow this link to Rebekah’s video of the class.

    Straightening the crotch seam Straightening the crotch seam

    I  learned a lot, but I still have so much to learn about pants. If the words “crotch” and “rear” make you giggle, this post will be a hoot for you.

    Have you heard that crotch curves are like darts? Have you been told to “straighten out your back crotch?” I have heard those plenty of times, but I never understood what they meant. A crotch curve is a dart? What? Straighten the crotch curve? Compared to what?

    My rear has always been flatter than my belly, even when I was running track in my teens. That means I have to straighten my crotch curve in the back because the crotch curve is like a dart. Huh? Here is a photo of how I straightened my crotch curve to make a smaller dart – Finally, I get it! 

    Accepting my pants certificate from Pati. No, she is not a midget, I'm 6 feet tall. Accepting my pants certificate from Pati. No, she is not a midget, I'm 6 feet tall.

    As always, we carpooled to Pati’s house for graduation dinner and the distribution of certificates. We not only got to eat great food prepared by Pati’s husband, but we also got to tour Pati’s sewing room and office. Rebekah and I lingered around the office, and we got to see Pati’s collection of all the patterns she has designed: 229 at last count!

    After Pati and Marta handed out the certificates, Maria gave a tearful tribute to them. Maria's mother traveled all the way from the Bahamas to Oregon with her. While Maria was sewing up a storm in Fit, Jackets, and Pants classes, her mother wove beautiful baskets for her teachers by hand. Wow.

  • Marta's Last Jacket Class

    I had yet another wonderful trip to Portland this fall – two weeks at the Palmer/Pletsch School of Sewing! Palmer/Pletsch is the brainchild of Pati Palmer, Susan Pletsch, and Marta Alto. They aptly call themselves “the fashion sewing authorities.” They have devised their own method of fitting commercial patterns, and they have perfected all aspects of sewing garments at home.  I have a large library of their books and DVDs at home, and I am always referring to them.

    Marta wields her magic wand while Maria looks on, wearing her almost-finished jacket Marta wields her magic wand while Maria looks on, wearing her almost-finished jacket

    I took a jacket tailoring class the first week. It was Marta Alto’s last jackets class ever! I feel lucky and honored to have been a part of it. I don’t have a ton of photos or stories about the class or my classmates. We were all concentrating so hard that we barely spoke.  The classroom was strangely silent.

    Marta demonstrating how to press interfacing to fabric. Marta demonstrating how to press interfacing to fabric.

    The Palmer/Pletsch Fit class was a prerequisite for the Jackets class, so we had all taken at least one class from Pati and Marta. We were expected to arrive with our tissue pattern altered to fit. Both Marta and Pati were on hand the first day to check the fit of our tissues and give us tweaking advice.  After the first morning, Marta taught all of us herself. Since we weren’t a rowdy bunch, she seemed to handle it with ease.

    The jacket class was full of strong women -- a doctor, a casino dealer, home ec teachers, a college guidance counselor -- from all over the world. The jacket class was full of strong women -- a doctor, a casino dealer, home ec teachers, a college guidance counselor -- from all over the world.

     

    Every morning, Marta would demonstrate the steps we should complete that day. She sewed her own jacket while helping all of us with ours.  Many of us (like me) sewed up the basic McCall’s 6172, but others challenged themselves with interesting patterns, such as Vogue 1320.

    We learned a ton about interfacing, pressing, linings, turn-of-cloth, collars, and welt pockets. We all left with new skills and new friends. I can’t wait to sew my next jacket! I will hear Marta reminding me to sew each seam perfectly.

    Graduation with Pati and Marta Graduation with Pati and Marta

      

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