Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Studio Report

It is that time of year, making the switcheroo from warm to cool weather.  
This morning we are having our first big rain after a long hot summer
In the studio I am finishing up 2 patterns to send off to Vogue for Summer '15, have been working on these for 6 weeks and it is a beautiful moment when the instructions and pattern work are all done and the garments are packed up and ready to ship.
3 Dresses +
One pattern will have a dress + under layer T + leggings
The other pattern has 2 tunic dresses.
For a change, I rendered all in prints.
Will be released March 27, 2015, and we'll have a preview at the Puyallup Expo Fashion Show. 
Each garment has a bazillion decision about fabric, techniques & fit.  The right fabric for the garment, how the different fabrics will photograph and look on the pattern envelope, how the garment will look on different figures.  We make prototypes in different sizes, then try on many different people and I gauge the success if they beg for a copy of the prototype pattern.  
Katherine has been going through the same process in her studio and is sending off 2 new patterns to Butterick this week.

Coming next week:  
3 new Marcy patterns in the upcoming Vogue release slated to hit the internet on October 1
Pattern #1:  A raincoat/trenchcoat
Pattern #2 A skirt that is super flattering, works under the coat and is so easy to fit/make that I call it the 'morning skirt' because I can whip one up in a morning.
Pattern #3 A series of Tunics + T-shirt for knits, 3 different styles in one pattern that are designed to layer over and under each other, and all use the same basic block from armhole to neck, so you can interchange neck treatments and all use the same, there is a sleeveless variation too. One of the tunics works as a top with the skirt.  

Gearing up for Paris
Katherine and I had our ritual trying on and sorting of what to wear, (and what to sew) for our upcoming Paris trip.  We go back and forth trying things on and editing ruthlessly.  Some of the things I loved last year look tired or not quite right...which opens up the possibility of what to sew in the short time before leaving on October 14.  In between now and then, we go to Las Vegas on a fabric buying trip and Katherine leaves directly from there to meet friends in Amsterdam, then we all meet up in Paris.  The itineraries for our 2 tours is blocked out, and there is a small window of time for sewing a few things.  I'll be blogging from Paris and will continue to post fabrics throughout the time I'm traveling....doing lots of photography and prepping for that. 

Our wonderful ArtBarn staff will be on hand to ship your orders and take care of daily business. 
On the left, swatches of fabrics I'm auditioning to sew, on the right scarves and handbags.
The rack
 is a work in progress and gets edited up until the last minute when things go in the suitcase.
Yes, it is a sea of black and gray with hints of purple....keeps getting dressed easier.

Everything has to be comfortable, have a Paris twist and layer under the jackets, vests and raincoat.
The black raincoat is made using the new pattern, will post a photo and blog once the pattern is out.
The shoe basket
holds shoes that are being auditioned. 
Shoes are my downfall...can never seem to haul less than 5 pair.
What to sew?
After editing and culling, I have a short list, will use tried and true patterns.  On the list:  2-3 pair skinny pants in black and gray.  2-3 layering tunics in black, purple, gray.  Will use the upcoming tunic pattern and post in a future blog.
Skinny pants
Vogue 8859 is my go-to skinny pant pattern, I could wear these every day, must have a dozen pair.  I make in a stretch woven or stable knit like ponte.  
The Fabrics
I went out to the ArtBarn and came in with swatches, finally settled on these 3 which I tossed in the washer dryer and are now ready to cut.

 is a cotton/nylon blend and is very smooth and a soft black.  I love the presence of nylon in any fabric, it can add texture and or smoothness and is an indication of quality.  I chose this out of our many blacks because it worked well with the tops I have and with the fabrics chose to make tunics.  I like the smoothness of this fabric because other layers will slide over it easily.  It is a good weight, on the light weight side and will be good if the weather is warm.
Boss Velvety Houndstooth is a beefy ponte that lost a bit of its crispness when laundered.  I'm loving checks, plaids and houndstooth this season, this is a fun spin on a black pant and works with my tops and vest.  
Charcoal Stretch Bengaline is smooth with just a bit of heathered texture and is part of a collection of bengaline in dark colors that are ideal for pants.  Italian, so the quality is top notch too.  The stretch on this fabric runs lengthwise, so I'll cut on the cross grain so the stretch goes around the body.
My plan is to cut all 3 pair at once and sew simultaneously.  Stay tuned!
Other recommended fabrics:
Black Stretch Bengaline:  on BUY OF THE WEEK UNTIL OCT 1

Katherine's beautifully stacked firewood
another sign of fall, ready for the first fire of the season!
Katherine takes on the task of stacking firewood throughout the late summer.  

Katherine will be teaching and in the McCall/Butterick/Vogue booth at the American Sewing Expo this weekend in Novi Michigan.  
If you are attending, do stop by and say hello.  

Happy Fall From my studio to yours!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guest Post with Mary Glenn: Kicked Back Bling

Thanks to my friend, colleague and sew-ist extraordinaire, Mary Glenn, for putting together this blog.    
Mary is one of the finest (and fastest) sew-ists I know.  We met at a Design Outside the Lines retreat many years ago.  After experiencing Mary's expertise, Diane Ericson and I invited her to come to the retreats as our assistant where she is a whiz at solving sewing and fitting problems and keeps everyone laughing with her Irish charm and humor.
In her own work life, Mary can whip up a bridal gown and dresses for the bridesmaids or invent window treatments or make her own line of handbags....all true.  Last spring Mary came to Oregon to  assist with Diane Ericson's Design Outside the Lines retreat in Ashland and afterwards she came over to visit the ArtBarn.  In spite of the fact that she has very little time to sew for herself, Mary took a cut of our Obsidion Sequin Knit.    

In Mary's words:

While visiting Marcy in June I kidnapped some of her black sequin knit and made a great addition to my wardrobe.  I love that it's possible to to use fabrics usually used in formal wear and use them in casual clothes as well.  This fabric is beautiful, easy to sew and comfortable to wear.  
I decided to use Vogue 8839 as it was a simple design without too many fitting issues.  The fabric has a wide knit border on both sides and I took advantage of this and used it in the design.   

Vogue 8839

Obsidion Sequin Knit
I taped the two front pattern pieces, #11 and #12 to eliminate the seam and it worked fine.

Cutting & Sewing Tips
  •  Sequins have a nap, so place all the pattern pieces in the same direction.
  • This fabric sheds as you cut, so a little clean-up is required.
  • Use a not too perfect scissors as the sequins can dull your blade.
  • After cutting out, you can remove the sequins from the seam allowance before sewing, however it is not absolutely necessary and you can flatten any annoying ones with a press cloth and a dry iron.
  • Choose a needle to match the knit base fabric, although I used a regular #12/80 needle with no problems.
  • Sew slowly and use a longer stitch.
  • It is well worth sewing a sample before you start
I followed pattern directions for the body of the top, sewed the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the top to just above the bust.  This hid the seam allowance and also made a comfortable neck edge.  I reversed the seam allowance below that point.

Marcy's black sequin sweater using Vogue 8975

Mary found these examples of dressed down sequins in current ready to wear.

Sequin Knits on Buy of the Week through September 20

Mary Glenn
'I lived in Ireland for the first half of my life and Philadelphia for the second far!
I have always loved sewing and all things creative.  I have started an Inspired Sewing and Design Blog to connect with like minded friends.

Thanks to Mary for her inspiration.
We'd love to hear your ideas for these knits and see photos of your projects.  
e-mail photos to me:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Visiting Vogue/Butterick/McCall

I was delighted to learn that Vogue 9035, which I call 'the intentionally un-matched suit' is the #2 best seller right now.
Vist to Vogue Patterns
On our NYC trip, Katherine and I spent an afternoon visiting the offices of Vogue/McCall/Butterick.  The magic happens here...everything except the printing which takes place in Kansas.
It was my first visit to the latest location near Wall Street, high in a historical building just steps from the new World Trade Center Memorial and high in the sky with majestic views of water and skyscrapers. 
Thanks to Carolyne Cafaro and Kathy Marrone who gave us the grand tour.
Thanks too, to Frank Rizzo, the CEO who is a world class listener and is committed to hearing his customers and giving them better service and products.
I could feel the sense of pride in everyone I met....and nearly all of them sew! (but not Frank)
In the library where the pattern books date back to the 1800's.

The Walls Are Lined With Art
The first thing I noticed as we swept along was the fabulous collection of artwork assembled over the years. 

Charming Vignettes
This shadow box uses an in-house illustration and then renders the garment in miniature,
Story board from showing photos sent in by customers all over the world.
A customer's rendition of a recent pattern.

Fabric Library
The fabric library's walls are lined with current fabric offerings, some used in the patterns, some for ideas and inspiration.

Everything organized and categorized.

Katherine and Carolyne looking at color boards and trend prediction boards on display.
See examples below.

Craft Room
The Craft/Accessories has its own department.  
A friendly wave from the craft room.
This sample maker is working on the doll in her hand.
Pattern & Sample Making Room
Set up with design tables, sewing machines, mannequins and computers, this is where patterns are tested and fine tuned.
The head pattern maker supervises this department.

Patterns are tested in muslin or in a test fabric that replicates the recommended weight used in the design. 
This garment is being tested in muslin.
Katherine discovered that this woman was working on the computer in a CAD program and it was one of her upcoming patterns.
Guide Sheet Room
Buzzing with quiet energy and beautiful light (great views out the windows), this room is full of people working at computers, while others work at design tables.  This is the place where the instruction sheets are written and illustrations are made.  The team meets on every pattern to determine the best way to show how to construct the garment.

Pattern pieces for the pattern she is working on are bundled together and close at had.
A coat pattern is put together in miniature.

Everyone was so friendly.  She is working on grading a pattern.
Pattern grading in process
She is working on creating the illustration.

It happened to be for one of Katherine's new patterns.

As we left the room, several of the women said, 'Thank you for making patterns for us, we love to sew them!"
The view out the window
 Pattern Library
Past pattern catalogs, publications and books are cataloged and stored in the library.
I could spend hours here!

I wanted to pore through these vintage pattern books!
The very earliest pattern books were called Delineators.

Vintage sewing books
I covet this one.....
Customer Service
Current patterns from the past 2 years are kept here on record for office use and customer service reference.
Customer communications are directed here.

Katherine immediately rummaged looking for one of her patterns to discuss.
No...she did not take it!
Photo Studio
All photography for the pattern envelopes, catalogs and magazines is done in house.
It was a quiet day, so we took a few snapshots.

Make up area
Basic shoes
A rainbow of basic background garments.
With Kathy Marrone, editor of Vogue Pattern Magazine....yes, she sews!
Scout, office mascot in Carolyne Cafaro's office.
She rescued him from a giveaway box, now he has his own bed and place of honor.
When we arrive, he was looking out the window, here he is having an iced coffee...

I've been working with Vogue for at least 15 years, me in my Oregon studio, them in Manhattan.  I almost always have a future Vogue pattern in the works.  It was so gratifying to meet the people who bring my patterns to life.  After weeks of work and trial and error I ship off my size 10 pattern, sample garments for photography and instructions.  Six months or so later this new pattern is released.  It was marvelous to see how the next steps proceed at Vogue and to meet the people who bring together such diverse skills to make it happen.