Join the Moneta Sewalong!

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A quick announcement today: we’re going to be starting the Moneta Sewalong soon, so head over now and sign up! It’s a totally free class that you can get delivered right to your inbox.

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Yes, we’re still in the midst of the Mabel Sewalong right now, but that will be completely finished by Friday, and we wanted to give you some time to start gathering your fabric and supplies for the next project.

I also wanted you to meet Devon, who will be teaching this sewalong. Devon is an experienced sewing teacher whom I had the pleasure of meeting when she taught at Sew LA (and made delicious treats for our party there). Devon has also taught at The Fabric Studio and the Craftcation Conference, and has recently relocated to Nashville. You can read more on her blog, Miss Make.

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I’m so excited to be collaborating with a fantastic teacher like Devon on this, so please be sure to pop over to the sewalong and say hello to this lovely lady (and sign up for the class while you’re at it).

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Weekend Reading: Tim Gunn, writer’s block, and what to do when you’re sad

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I’m super excited for our party this weekend! If you’re in Portland, please do stop by to hang out with Alyson and me, both at Modern Domestic and for sewing-theme cocktails and chit chat at Radio Room. Modern Domestic is also having a sale on sergers and knit fabrics to celebrate.

RSVP here.

The gorgeous lace above is what I’m using to make a Moneta for the party.

Here are a few good links for the weekend:

Enter the Knitcation contest & build your own travel wardrobe!

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Recently, I took a trip to Austin. On the plane, I wore my white Mabel pencil skirt, a simple black t-shirt from Everlane, and a scarf.

When I posted the photo to Instagram for Me Made May, I got a comment from Denise saying

I wore my #moneta on the plane today–it’s the perfect travel dress!

Knits are pretty much the ideal thing to travel in, no matter what the season.

  1. They’re comfortable.
  2. They’re easy to pack.
  3. They don’t wrinkle much.
  4. They’re easy to layer.
  5. They can be dressed up or down.

That’s why Kristen had the brilliant idea of doing a travel-themed contest. We’re calling it Knitcation, and we’ve got some fabulous prizes courtesy of Grey’s Fabric, Hart’s Fabric, and Brooklyn General Store.

How it works

The basic idea is this: Use the Mabel and Moneta patterns to create a 7-day wardrobe for a (real or imagined) trip.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Decide where to go. Pick a fantasy destination, or plan for a real upcoming trip you might be taking.
  2. Create at least one Mabel and one Moneta. You can create more if you want, but there should be at least one of each.
  3. Photograph your makes. You can photograph them on yourself, on a hanger, on the floor, on a dress form if you have one… however you want.
  4. Create 7 days of outfits. Combine your Mabels and Monetas with other pieces to create 7 outifts for your trip. You can use photos from around the web, inspiration images of your destination, photos of other clothing you have or have made, or actually wear the outfits and photograph them. Do whatever will tell the story best. Make it inspiring and fun!
  5. Post your outfits online. You can post them to your blog, instagram, Flickr, a polyvore account, anywhere that they are public.
  6. Fill out an entry form. Click here for the form and tell us where we can see your entry. All entries must be submitted by the end of June (the 30th at midnight Pacific time).

How winners will be chosen

Winners will be chosen by the Colette Patterns team based on creativity, originality, and how well your finished images tell the story of your knitcation.

The prizes

A grand prize and second prize winner will be chosen, along with a bonus Instagram prize.

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Grand prize:

You’ll receive a gift basket of fabric and goodies courtesy of Grey’s Fabric and Colette Patterns, along with a $200 gift certificate to Brooklyn General for fabric, tools, yarn, and more! This grand prize is worth over $400. You’ll get:

From Grey’s Fabric:

  • 1 handmade toadstool pincushion
  • 3 sublime stitching embroidery patterns
  • 2 yards orange double knit
  • 1.5 yards red rayon/spandex knit
  • 2 yards aqua cotton/spandex knit
  • 2 yards pink cotton/spandex knit
  • 3 yards thistle slub rayon knit
  • 3 yards neon stripe rayon knit
  • 5 yards white rayon sweater knit (to be dyed using included dyes)
  • 3 packets of dylon dye
  • 1 ruler set
  • 1 pin set
  • 2 ballpoint needle sets
  • 1 retractable tape measure
  • 1 twin stretch needle
  • 1 packet clear elastic
  • 1 vintage dress pouch

From Brooklyn General:

  • 1 $200 gift certificate!

Second Prize:

Second prize is a $200 gift certificate to the wonderful Hart’s Fabric, who has an amazing selection of quality fabric.

Bonus Prize:

Post one of your outfits (whether a photo of you or moodboard style image) to Instagram with the hashtag #knitcation and mention @colettepatterns. One instagram entry will be chosen at random for a bonus prize of a $100 Colette Pattern gift certificate. You can post just one, or your entire travel wardrobe.

In addition to these prizes, we’ll round up some of our favorites here on the blog.

Example entries

Here are some example entries that Kristen and I created using versions of Mabel and Moneta we’ve made.

Sarai’s trip to Mexico

I decided that my trip would be back to Mexico City.

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I used 2 Mabels and 2 Monetas for my wardrobe. To see credits for other items, see my Mexico City collection on polyvore.

Kristen’s trip to Alaska

Kristen’s knitcation is to Alaska.

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Kristen used 1 Mabel and 2 Monetas for her travel wardrobe.

We both used Polyvore to create these images. You can use polyvore, photoshop, or free software such as Gimp or Picasa. There are even apps that make it easy to create collage images on your phone, like Fuzel.

If you want to use Polyvore like we did, we found the easiest thing to do was (1) take pictures of our garments, (2) upload them to Pinterest, (3) Clip the photos of the garments from Pinterest to Polyvore.

So start making your travel plans! We’re all going on knitcation.

Enter your finished outfits here

How to organize a mountain of sewing patterns with your phone

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I used to have a manageable stash of vintage patterns.

I’d collected them over many years, and only really bought ones that I absolutely loved. I used nearly all of them, and kept them in four small Ikea boxes, labeled by time period. Life was simple.

But when people find out you are in the sewing pattern business, something funny happens. They start giving you their old patterns.

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Being a lover of all things vintage and sewing related, I treasured these gifts. Even though I know I’ll never make them all, I love the artwork and the inspiration. I’m not usually a hoarder, but I don’t mind saying that this is the one exception.

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However, the collection soon numbered in the hundreds. I still wanted to use them occasionally, or at least be able to look through them easily.

This is what the pattern surplus looked like before I started organizing. Piled up in a “Head Man Cabbage” box.

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I needed to get organized.

Step one: Dividing the patterns

The first problem was actually physically storing the patterns.

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I liked having them separated by decade, since I often want to look through details or ideas for a particular time period.

I also find it helpful to separate them by type of garment to a certain extent. Some types of garments also don’t vary as much by decade, and made sense as smaller mini collections.

So I decided to create two collections per decade, one for dresses and one for separates. I also created separate collections for more specialty garments, such as lingerie. So, I have one box for lingerie, one box for 1940s dresses, one box for 1940s separates, etc.

Step two: Physical storage

Physically storing the patterns was another issue. I’d never been satisfied with my little ikea boxes. The patterns never exactly fit right, and would often fall down and get crushed on the bottom.

Plus, many old patterns had torn envelopes that patterns would spill out of, creating a huge mess and lots of tearing.

I hit upon a great solution: comic book storage!

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I bought bundles of comic book protection sleeves, backing boards, storage boxes, and dividers. I got mine from Bags Unlimited online, but your local comic shop may have some or all of these supplies.

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The great thing is that the boxes are the exact right size to accommodate the sleeves and backing boards, creating an instant filing system that’s easy to flip through. The sleeves hold all the standard size sewing patterns, with room to spare in case you have trouble getting all the pattern pieces back into the envelope.

Pretty neat, huh?

The boxes are simple white cardboard, nothing flashy or beautiful. You can surely jazz them up with paint or even perhaps cover them with fabric, but I’ve left mine plain for now.

If anyone has ideas about labeling them or making them look pretty, I’m all ears! I ran out of steam after organizing and haven’t prettified the boxes yet.

Step Three: Cataloging with my phone

I could have stopped there. The comic book filing system meets about 75% of my needs, and really would be good enough for most people’s collections.

But I wanted a little more than that. I wanted:

  1. Search. When I had the thought that I wanted a 1970s shirtdress, I wanted to be able to do a quick search and know exactly what I had and where to find it.
  2. Access. When I’m at the fabric store and see the perfect pale pink silk, I wanted to be able to instantly find out if I had a 1930s tap pant pattern I could use it for. I had to be able to access the collection from anywhere.

Both of these pointed me towards some sort of mobile app. But I didn’t know of anything specifically for sewing patterns (which is a pretty niche use case, I must admit).

But I thought there certainly must be people who organize other types of collections on their phones, such as DVDs, games, or even comics! So I started looking into database apps.

I found an app called Tap Forms that pretty much fit the bill.

ETA: Read the comments below for more suggestions. Android users might try Memento Database.

In Tap Forms, you can create any sort of database you require. You could create one for your DVDs, and a separate one for your sewing patterns. They call these databases “forms.”

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In each database, you can set the fields you want for each item. For example, for my sewing pattern collection, I set fields for decade, garment type, and other attributes. You can then search by these later on.

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After you search, you can view a particular pattern and see all the detail you entered.

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I also included a field for location, so I can note which box it’s in and where to find the pattern. This is perfect, because I never have to worry about overlap in my filing system. If I have a 1950s pattern that includes both a jacket and a dress, I don’t have to worry that much about whether I should file it in the 1950s separates box, or the 1950s dresses box. Either box I put it in, I’ll have the location in my phone when I look it up.

It also means I can easily find the oversize patterns that don’t fit in the boxes, such as the old vogue designer patterns, or some of the indie patterns I have.

You can even take a picture with your phone and add it to the database. I included a photo of the front and back cover for each pattern.

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This means that when I’m at the fabric store and find that perfect piece of silk, with a tap of my phone I can look at the back of the pattern and find out exactly how much of it I need. Isn’t technology incredible?

You can even mark certain patterns as favorites, making them even easier to find.

Of course, all this organizing did take quite some time. I’d estimate I spent my evenings for about a week tagging, labeling, and filing the hundreds of patterns I have in my collection.

But once the initial work is done, adding a new pattern to the collection is dead simple. I just open up the app, create an entry, snap a couple photos with my phone, and file it away.

Much better than wads of crumpled tissue and patterns going unused.

What do you think about this system? If you have any questions, just let me know! I’m happy to answer them if I can.

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Weekend Reading: “Perfect” wardrobes, creative block, and vintage sustainability

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Portland is known as The City of Roses and at this time of year, it’s clear why. They’ve burst forth everywhere.

I took this photo Wednesday in a local rose garden on my lunch break. It’s been a tiring week, but there’s really nothing to remind you to stop and smell the proverbial roses than actually stopping to smell the literal ones.

Have a rejuvenating weekend, friends. Here’s some reading for you:

  • I found this post on perfectionism and wardrobes illuminating. She talks about looking for “adequacy” rather than perfection. The notion of satisficing as a key to being happier (link to PDF paper) has been on my mind a lot lately.
  • It’s possible to replace fast fashion with fast sewing.
  • Karen is running a Sporty Summer Sewathon. Can’t wait!
  • Loving Margaret Howell’s Spring collection. I like a wee bit more sex appeal in my warm weather clothes, but I really dig MH’s gamine vibe.
  • I’m interested to check out this book on ideas for getting over creative block. I’ve been focusing on the creative process a lot this year and maintaining my own sense of fun and adventure and interest in all that I do.
  • Could the clothes on your back halt global warming? This is an incredibly detailed (and sprawling) look at sustainable clothing, particularly vintage shopping. “For items to be used over and over again, of course, they have to last. But making and buying better-made garments is not completely the solution, as those manufacturers also need to make clothing people will want to keep.”

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