The Confident Stitch

  • Cashmerette Springfield Top in Make Closures Pewter

    Cashmerette Springfield Tank in Make Closures Pewter Cashmerette Springfield Tank in Make Closures Pewter

    Cashmerette Springfield Top Front Close up Cashmerette Springfield Top Front Close up

    Cashmerette Springfield Top Back Yoke Cashmerette Springfield Top Back Yoke

    Cashmerette Springfield Top Bottom Band Close Up Cashmerette Springfield Top Bottom Band Close Up

    I am crazy-excited about all the Cashmerette patterns, so when our shop seamstress and sample-maker, Bonnie, offered to make me a Cashmerette Springfield Top in Make Closures Pewter Voile with our Mottled Grey Rayon as a contrast, I said YESSSS!

    Pattern Description:

    The Springfield Top is a sleeveless tank top for wovens. It is loose-fitting with darts, a back yoke, and a bottom band.

     

    Pattern Sizing:

    Sizes 12-28, with cup sizes C-H. Bonnie made a size 12 G/H in the front, and a size 14 in the back.

     

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope?

    It was quite close, but the top is very full, so we shaped it a little bit.

     

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    Yes.

     

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    Bonnie thinks facings instead of bias bindings would have made the shirt easier to make and more finished-looking at the end. I love the cup sizes, and the contrasting yoke and band.

     

    Pattern alterations you made:

    Bonnie shortened the bodice by three inches because I wanted the top to work well with my two Selene skirts, which are high-waisted.

     

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes and yes. Bonnie suggested double checking the dart placement before adding the bias bindings. I wish I had let her increase the size of the front armholes (which she wanted to do), instead of insisting that they were “fine.”

     

    Conclusion:

    I love my top. Next time, I will increase the armhole openings on the size-12 front. I don’t want to go up to a size 14 in the front, because the size 12 neckline was already a little loose (which we fixed with a little pleat).

    BUY-THE-FABRIC BUY-THE-FABRIC

    BUY-THE-PATTERN

  • Fierce Protean Mini Quilt: Part 1

    The Fierce Protean small but mighty quilt pattern. The Fierce Protean small but mighty quilt pattern.

    I'm making a new mini quilt sample for the shop called Fierce Protean by Eye Candy Quilts. The finished size of the mini is 21-1/4" by 21-1/4", so it's a really great size if you want to get started in the world of mini quilts!

    This mini quilt is modern traditional because it uses a very familiar quilt shape, the triangle, but gives it a modern twist in the layout. The pattern actually contains 2 distinct blocks: one is a traditional pieced block using half-square triangles and the other uses foundation paper piecing, although the pattern does offer templates if paper piecing is outside of your comfort zone.

    How to choose fabrics? In the sample on the pattern cover, there are 2 colorways. The designer used various blues for the triangle shapes and white for the background. By limiting your palette to 2 colors, you get an interesting wave-like motion in your final quilt.

  • Style Arc Laura Cardi in Capri Linen Knit

    Style Arc Laura Cardi in Capri Linen Knit Style Arc Laura Cardi in Capri Linen Knit

    Close up of the side drape on the Laura Cardi Close up of the side drape on the Laura Cardi

    The wonky flat-felled seam on my Laura Cardi in Capri Linen Knit The wonky flat-felled seam on my Laura Cardi in Capri Linen Knit

    I wanted a simple knit cardigan with no shaping, so I dove into my pattern stash and decided to make the Style Arc Laura Cardi in Capri Linen Knit.

    Pattern sizing:

    Australian 4 – 30. I made a size 16, which fits great in the shoulders, but I would need to do a full-bust adjustment if it wasn’t an open cardigan.

    Did it look like the photo?

    Kind of. The cardigan has less shape than the photo implies. The shawl collar also has a vertical seam down the middle that shows on the wrong side.

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    I thought so, but, like all Style Arc patterns, they were sparse.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    I like the simplicity and the shape. I like that the front and the shawl are one piece. I like that the edges are just serged (win for the lazy sewer!). I don’t like the vertical seam down the shawl collar in the back. I also found sewing the shawl collar to the back neck a little tricky because it’s done after the shoulder seams are stitched, and calls for some deep snipping, which was scary with a loosely woven knit.

    Fabric used:

    I used our Capri Linen Knit in Charcoal. I loved it for this project because it is thin and drapey, but easy to sew (i.e., not slippery).  The fabric doesn’t contain Lycra, and it doesn’t stretch length-wise, so I used a straight stitch for all the seams. The flat-felled vertical seam between the left and right back shawl collar was tricky with a loosely woven knit. I worked hard to make it look good, (including hand-basting!), but it still turned out a little wobbly.

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

    I did not make any design changes or pattern alterations. Note that the length is good on me, and I’m 6-feet-tall, so others may want to shorten the sleeves and the overall length.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes, I’m sure I will sew it again. I recommend it to experienced sewers. It is a simple design, but the flat-felled seam and attaching the shawl to the neck back both make the Laura Cardi a little tricky. And the Style Arc instructions are sparse, of course.

    Conclusion:

    This is a great cardigan for an experienced sewer to make out of a light-weight fabric.

    Buy the fabric here

     

  • Guest Blogger: Modern Quilter Jennifer Ball

    Jennifer Ball, our new quilting blogger Jennifer Ball

    Hello, readers of the Confident Stitch blog!

    My name is Jennifer Ball, and I’ll be a regular guest blogger for The Confident Stitch. I hope to inspire and to encourage you with quilting related posts, from topics ranging from patterns to fabrics to techniques. I’ll show you modern quilting trends and new tools as well as give tips to help you along the way.

    I have a strong interest in modern traditional and contemporary art quilts and fabrics. My passion is foundation paper piecing, also known as FPP in quilting circles.

    More about Modern Quilting

    Modern traditional quilts are often quite familiar and comfortable to quilters. These quilts use traditional blocks or patterns, but update these styles through the use of bright, bold colors, more negative space, and less overall block repetition. Modern traditional quilts do not need to be stark or plain; rather, they give a fresh interpretation of the classics with a hint of the modern.

    By contrast, modern quilts tend to be more abstract, asymmetric, and minimalist. These quilts may have bold lines, solid colors, and larger amounts of negative space to feature quilting.

    Art quilts are smaller quilts, usually designed and created for the purpose of decoration rather than function. These quilts may feature landscapes, animals, people, or abstract designs and are often created without using a pattern. Art quilters use mixed media to create rich textures and to help convey emotion and sensory information.

    Coming up...

    In my next several posts, I’ll share a new mini quilt pattern from the modern traditional space. It features both traditional piecing and foundation paper piecing. I’ll talk about the fabrics selected by the shop to create the quilt so you can achieve the same look.

    If you have suggestions for future quilt related blog posts, please share them in the comments!

    Happy quilting,
    Jennifer
    @nwquiltedcat on Instagram

  • Grainline Scout Tee in Frida La Catrina

    Grainline Scout Tee in Frida la Catrina Grainline Scout Tee in Frida la Catrina

    Closeup of Grainline Scout Tee in Frida La Catrina Closeup of Grainline Scout Tee in Frida La Catrina

    Were the Instructions Easy to Follow?

    Yes. Jen uses clear language and great illustrations for this pattern. I think a complete novice could have great success with the Scout Tee, especially in quilting cotton. Jen also has a wonderful bias-neckline photo tutorial on the Grainline website. The photo tutorial has a lot of steps, but when you follow all of them, you get a great-looking neckline!

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    Because this pattern is so simple and doesn’t have front or back seams, it is a great blank canvas for beautiful fabrics, including quilting cottons. It also has a lot of ease, which makes it a great loose-fitting option for many body types.

    Fabric Used:

    Alexander Henry Frida La Catrina Quilting Cotton in Eggplant. Mairin and her best friend, Juliana, both wanted clothes out of the Frida La Catrina Quilting Cotton. I generally avoid making clothing out of quilting cottons because the fabric wrinkles and doesn’t drape. The Scout Tee is perfect for quilting cottons because it has short sleeves (no elbow wrinkles), it has a lot of ease (no waistline wrinkles), and it does not have many seams (great blank canvas). So, both Mairin and Juliana got a Scout Tee.

    Pattern alterations or design changes:

    I didn’t make any alterations or design changes. Mairin and Juliana are both athletic 22-year-olds, so they are easy to fit. I just made sure to center Frida on the front.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes and Yes. This pattern is a great basic with plenty of ease. Most people will be able to fit it without altering it. It will look great in a variety of fabrics. I’d like to make myself one in rayon for a little drape.

    Conclusion:

    I have already made Mairin many Scout Tees, and as more beautiful quilting cottons arrive at the shop, I’m sure I will make more! Or, maybe she’ll make some for herself (fingers crossed!)

    Frida La CatrinaGrainline Scout Tee Pattern

  • Small Business Learning, Volume 1

    Small Business Learning Small Business Learning

    I have been working on this small business called The Confident Stitch for more than three years. The physical shop has been open for a year and a half, and the virtual shop has been open for almost a year.

    I love it!

    The main lesson I have learned is  I LOVE owning a fabric store.

    But, it's scary!

    Everyone misquotes the adage from Field of Dreams: It isn’t “If you build it, THEY will come,” referring to an entire baseball team. It is “If you build it HE will come,” referring to Shoeless Joe Jackson.

     

    If you are reading this, you likely know I have built it.

    The Confident Stitch is a well-organized fabric shop and online store with personal service from friendly people who know a lot about fabric and sewing. I did market research before opening the shop to make sure TCS products and messages resonated with potential customers. Jane, Alyssa, and currently my daughter, Mairin, have done an amazing job helping me maintain the website, run the shop, write blog posts, keep the social media feed fresh, and help everyone who comes through the door and orders online. Bess, our amazing photographer, has made sure everything looks good on the website. And, Bonnie has been making tons of gorgeous samples for the shop and for blog posts.

     

    And….[S]he has come.

    Each ad I buy, blog post I sponsor, and email I send leads to a handful of new customers. I knew building the customer base in the brick-and-mortar shop would happen slowly, through word-of-mouth (the best way for a business to grow in Montana). I did not know that the online customer base would grow just as slowly and be just as dependent upon word-of-mouth. The best way for someone to discover the website is through what I call a “warm handoff” from a blogger. One blogger at a time. Luckily, I love building one-on-one relationships, so warm handoffs are one of the many fun parts of the job.

     

    Looking forward....

    I hope I have time to write another essay on lessons learned in a year. I really hope I am able to report turning a small profit through one relationship at a time!

  • The Mississippi Avenue Dress in Island Batik

    A cool and breezy Sew House 7 Mississippi Ave Dress in Island Batik

    Close-up of the shoulder tie

    Close-up of the front waist seam detailing

    The Mississippi Avenue Dress & Top from Sew House 7

    The Mississippi Avenue Dress & Top is the first pattern Peggy designed for her line when she started Sew House 7 in 2014, and it's already destined to be a classic. We love her designs that conjure up the feel and vibe of Portland, Oregon.

    Description:

    "This is a very simple yet beautiful dress or top. It features an elasticized waist that falls just above the natural waistline, spaghetti shoulder ties, a slimming center front panel, a V-neckline and bias facings on the neck and armholes."

    Sizing:

    0-20. Bonnie made hers in size 12.

    Fabric Used:

    Island Batik Rayon - Peridot Play in Blue/Green

    Review:

    Overall this was a great pattern. It was easy to follow, with one small exception: The directions for the front V could have been clearer or included a detailed illustration -- this could be challenging for a beginner sewer to get it right! But once you get the hang of it, the dress is fairly easy to sew up. The style is flattering and unique, and the shoulder ties are added after the bodice is pieced, which allows you to make them wide enough to wear a bra underneath.

    Bonnie found that the bias-cut arm and neck facings didn't need to be quite so long. This is good to note, because it uses up a lot of fabric to cut on the bias! There was a good 4" - 6" of extra fabric.

    What changes did you make to the pattern?

    Bonnie added 4" to length, and didn't make it quite as full as the pattern calls for because this fabric is narrow (44").  She also folded the elastic casing up instead of pressing down to the skirt, in order to shorten the bodice a little.  She used pre-made shoulder ties from our Frou Frou collection of trims.

    Overall, Bonnie would recommend this pattern it to others. If she made it again she would shorten the bodice about 1-1.5", but it is otherwise a good fit and great style!

    This is a great summer dress, and the different length options allow for lots of variety.

    Buy the Pattern Here

  • Tunic Bible Maxi Dress in St. James Knit

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Close-up of the Tunic Dress

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Have you heard about The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr? You may know Sarah from her Goodbye Valentino blog. The book comes with a basic tunic pattern, and some instructions for basic fit alterations. I’d suggest also using Fit for Real People to make sure the basic pattern really fits. After you achieve the perfect fit, the book explains how to create a million different tunics with the basic block. It contains tons of inspirational examples, and your imagination is the only limit.

    Were the Instructions Easy to Follow?

    The hardest part for Bonnie was choosing which design to use. She found the instructions clear, but would like to see some more detailed illustrations and photos.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    You need to trace the pattern pieces because they are separated in odd spots on the included pattern sheets. Bonnie found that mildly annoying. She was also a little confused by the many necklines included in the basic pattern. While the tracing took a little time, now she has a Swedish Tracing Paper pattern she can use many more times.

    Fabric Used:

    Bonnie used our St. James Striped Ponte in Navy and Kelly (one of Sarah Gunn’s favorite fabrics, by the way). The fabric is 70% Rayon, 20% Polyester, and 5% Spandex. It’s a great wash-and-wear double knit that doesn’t cling too much. Bonnie found it easy to sew with.

    Pattern alterations or design changes:

    For her Tunic Bible maxi dress in St. James Knit, Bonnie added ½-inch to the bust on the front and back pattern pieces (2 inches total). Because she used a knit, however, she didn’t need the extra room. The pattern calls for self-binding the neckline, which didn’t work for a thick knit, so Bonnie drafted a neckline facing. She applied interfacing to the front placket, but not the neckline facing. And, of course she lengthened the tunic to maxi length.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes and Yes! As I type this, Bonnie is in her workshop making another tunic out of two gauzy cottons. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Tunic Bible Maxi Dress in St. James Knit Conclusion:

    Bonnie will use this pattern again and again, and I am itching to make it as well!

  • Jalie Knit Dress (3024) in Art Gallery Knit

    Jalie Knit Dresses 3024 in Art Gallery Knit Bonnie is wearing the popular Jalie Knit Dresses pattern in a gorgeous Art Gallery knit.

    Jalie Knit Dress (3024) in Art Gallery Knit

    We love Jalie Patterns for their practical designs, accurate drafting, and good instructions. As a bonus, you get all sizes in one pattern, from little girls' size 2 to women's size 22! And did we mention that they're printed on real paper, so you don't have to wrestle with flimsy, easy-to-tear tissue?

    Of all our Jalie patterns, this Jalie Knit Dresses pattern has been the most popular, by a long shot. Last summer we couldn't keep them in stock, and even sold the store sample we made in this cool Buck Forest Knit.

    So this summer, we decided to make another one and to blog the results, so you can see for yourselves what makes the Jalie Knit Dresses such a great pattern!

    Pattern:

    Jalie Knit Dresses (3024)

    Pattern Description:

    "Fitted empire-waist knit dress with waist inset and choice of 3 upper bodices/necklines. View A has a boat neck with short kimono sleeve (with binding on wrong side of neckline); View B is sleeveless with a crossover neckline and visible binding; and View C is a sleeveless scoopneck with visible binding. The pattern also includes an optional flounce for the hem."

    Bonnie made View A, and included the hem flounce.

    A close-up of the bodice, and the sweet Magnolia pattern on the fabric. A close-up of the bodice, and the sweet Magnolia pattern on the fabric.

    Pattern Sizing:

    This pattern starts at girls' size 2 and goes up to women's 22. Bonnie made her version in a size 10, grading out to a 12 throughout the bust.

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    Yep! We tend to find that Jalie is good at representing their finished garments, and this was no exception.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    The pros: It fits great, has an easy design, and straightforward instructions. The con: The pattern is described as being "fitted," but it's hard to know exactly what that means without finished garment measurements. Unfortunately, this pattern doesn't give finished measurements (and only uses 1/4" seam allowances), so Bonnie initially cut out a size larger just to be on the safe side.

    Fabric used:

    This lovely soft Art Gallery Magnolia Knit in Nightfall. Art Gallery cotton knits are so soft, and contain 5% spandex for good recovery. They're easy to sew with, too, and come in lots of fun patterns!

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

    In order to get a good fit, Bonnie narrowed the neck opening at the shoulders by 1/2" on each side. She also lengthened the sleeve cap slightly, and as a height-challenged person shortened the overall length by 4".

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes! There's a reason this pattern is such a best-seller: it has a great design and fits well. It's easy to make and would be a good pattern (and fabric) for someone new to sewing with knits. The bodice and flounce variations make this a versatile pattern, and it's also a sweet dress for a little girl. Overall? We highly recommend it!

    Click here to buy the Jalie Knit Dresses patternClick here to buy the Art Gallery Magnolia Knit in Nightfall.

  • Jalie Vanessa Pants in Light Blue Tencel

    Mairin loves her new Jalie Vanessa Pants! Mairin loves her new Jalie Vanessa Pants!

    Jalie Vanessa Pants in Light Blue Tencel

    The Vanessa Pants are a relatively new pattern from Jalie, and we were so excited that they arrived in time for summer. When we saw the cover photo of the pants in the same light blue Tencel that we carry, we wanted to recreate them exactly! They're the perfect casual pants for this casual mountain town we live in -- nice enough to wear outside the house, comfortable enough to do all your usual activities and keep cool.

    Pattern:

    Jalie #3676, "Vanessa" Pants

    Continue reading

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