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May 30, 2016

Welome to the Upton Dress Sewalong!

UptonSewalongFinal

Welcome to the Upton Dress sewalong! I’ll be taking you through the construction of both views of the Upton Dress – though of course you can mix and match the bodice fronts, backs and skirts to your heart’s desire. Here’s what the schedule will look like:

31 May: Inspiration & styling suggestions

2 June: Cutting, marking and prepping the bodice

4 June: Sew bodice shell and lining

6 June: Attaching bodice shell and lining

8 June: Sewing the skirt

10 June: Sew pockets, skirt side seams, and attach bodice

12 June: Insert zip and finish back seam

14 June: Finish lining and hem

Then at the end, we’re going to have an Upton Party! To participate, take a photo of your Upton (bonus points for party poses) and then tag it with #UptonParty on Instagram or Twitter, add it to our Flickr group, or email it to hello@cashmerette.com. The deadline to enter is 14 July and then we’ll do a fun round up post.

 

UptonDressTrio


Cashmerette
May 23, 2016

Introducing the Upton Dress, a woven fit and flare dress

Drumroll please… the latest Cashmerette Pattern is the Upton Dress, a woven fit and flare dress with lots of variations!

While I wear a lot of knits, I knew when I started Cashmerette Patterns that the holy grail would be woven patterns that fit well through the bust, eliminating endless FBAs and gaping armholes. It took a lot of development and testing but today I’m super thrilled to share with you the first woven pattern, the Upton Dress.

Upton Dress

Upton Dress

The Upton Dress has two views, but you can mix and match each part to your heart’s desire, for lots of different looks.

  • Two bodice fronts: scoop neck and V neck
  • Two bodice backs: high and V neck
  • Two skirts: deep box pleats and swooshy gores
  • A separate waistband that hits at the high waist
  • Pockets!

 

Upton Dress

Upton Dress

Beyond the design variations, the Upton Dress can be made into totally different looks depending on which type of fabric you choose. Want an easy breezy day dress for the summer? Use a double gauze, linen or cotton and you’ll be stylish and casual. Want a more formal dress for a wedding, party or night out on the town? Try silk or firmer fabrics like upholstery weight or jacquard.

Upton Dress

In terms of construction, the bodice is fully lined for a really professional neckline and armhole finish, and the instructions show you how to sew in an invisible zipper entirely by machine – no hand-stitching the lining required. Each step is explained in detail, so it’s classified as an “Advanced Beginner” pattern, though given a little patience I’m sure true beginners could give it a go, too.

Upton Dress Upton Dress

As with all Cashmerette Patterns, it comes in sizes 12 – 28, and cup sizes C – H. Use your body measurements to pick your size, and refer to the finished garment measurements to see the amount of ease. As there are different underlying blocks for the knit and woven patterns, I recommend using the charts to pick your size rather than using the size you’ve used before, as you might find there’s a difference in which you prefer. The pattern is drafted for a height of 5’6″, and there are lengthen/shorten lines on the pieces if you need to adjust.

Upton Dress

From left to right: Melissa is 5’2″, wearing the size 24 C/D in black pique from Mood, Syreeta is 5’11”, wearing the size 16 G/H in gold silk-cotton from Mood, I’m 5’6″, wearing the 18 G/H in Nani Iro double gauze from Miss Matatabi.

The pattern is available now, as a beautifully printed paper pattern or an instant downloadable PDF with print and home and copyshop versions.



And as if that’s not enough, we have some limited edition kits for you too!

The first is a kit with a gorgeous olive crepe with a cream and dark brown pattern – I think that this Upton is probably my favourite to date. The Upton kits also come with the co-ordinating cotton voile lining, and a matching zip so you don’t have to scurry to the store trying to find one. Check out the olive crepe kit here.

GreenUptonKitCollage

The second is a multi-coloured (and gold) printed navy vintage tencel.  Unbelievably, this actually sold out during the pre-sale to newsletter subscribers yesterday! If you’re not already on the newsletter list, there’s a reason to sign up 😀

NavyUptonKitCollage-2

I hope you love the pattern as much as I do and I can’t wait to see your versions – be sure to tag them with #UptonDress on social media so we can all see your awesome dresses! What variations and fabrics will you be trying?

PinterestUptonImage-3

Cashmerette
May 16, 2016

4 Genius T-Shirt Pattern Hacks

One of the great things about t-shirt patterns like the Concord T-Shirt are that they’re totally hackable! If you’re a beginner, you can quickly and easily discover how fantastic it is to be able to adapt patterns to create exactly what you want – and if you’re a bit more advanced, they can be a great palate cleanser (I’ve been sewing with chiffon recently… yeah.). I already shared my Concord T-Shirt Dress hack, and today I’m going to share four more fantastic t-shirt pattern hacks from my pattern testers and friends!

  1. T-Shirt ruffle dress

Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow re-invented her t-shirt into a 90s inspired ruffle dress with just a few gathered rectangles! Check out her post – and awesome posing.

TShirtPatternHack1

2. Bow-back t-shirt

Steffi of 81 gradnord wrote a tutorial on how to make this really cute bow-back hack for the Concord T-Shirt (which would also work with other patterns). There are so many possibilities when you start thinking about ribbon types, colours, lengths…. I’m going to have to whip a few of these up for summer.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt

3. Sheer back yoke t-shirt

Steffi’s at it again with another t-shirt pattern hack! This time, she cut the back piece into two to create a yoke, and used chiffon on the bias for the top part. I love this! You could also use stretch lace, or a contrasting jersey.

Concord T-Shirt Pattern Hack

4. Patchwork back t-shirt 

I met Mariska at Craftcation 2016, and was immediately transfixed with her t-shirt… what a beauty! Mariska hand-sewed the hexie quilt pieces together (here’s a tutorial on how to do that), and then sewed around the edge of the patchwork to attach it to the t-shirt. Simple and oh-so-impactful.

TShirtPatternHack4

Are you inspired to do some t-shirt pattern hacks of your own? Do you have other creative ways you’ve adapted t-shirt patterns? I’d love to see them!

Four great t-shirt pattern hacks that anyone can make!

Cashmerette
May 9, 2016

The Curvy Confidence Interviews: Monserratt of Mexican Pink

Welcome to a new series on Cashmerette: the Curvy Confidence Interviews. I’ve spoken before about how sewing helped to radically improve my body image, and from conversations I’ve had with fellow curvy sewists, I know I’m not the only one. It isn’t always easy finding yourself not conforming to society’s ideas of beauty, but learning to sew your own clothing can be a huge boost in becoming more body positive. I’m fascinated by how other women have experienced this kind of journey, so I decided to start up a new series that I’m calling the Curvy Confidence Interviews.

The Curvy Confidence Interviews: introducing Monserratt Lopez

For the first installment, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Monserratt Lopez of Mexican Pink. Monserratt’s blog fills me with joy. Every photo of her shows a glowing, gorgeous, incredibly happy and positive woman, wearing funky clothes that express her personality and suit her perfectly – she’s so inspiring! (And as if that’s not enough, she’s also a brilliant scientist). I wanted to learn more about how she became this fantastic person, so here is the inaugural Curvy Confidence Interview. Over to you, Mons!

Monserratt Lopez

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I would like to first of all thank Jenny for asking me to share my journey to self-acceptance. It has truly been an eye-opener to think about my self-acceptance issues and how I have been able to overcome them. Thanks for the opportunity to share my experience of how sewing has transformed my life.

Let’s start at the beginning! What was your body image like as a child and teenager? 

Ahhh, well… This is a story that happened over most of my life and likely through the lives of the generations before me. My story is the story of what most of my family finds, and found, wrong about me and about each one of themselves.

The fact is, my genes are ’big’

Pic 1

I come from a maternal family (mom and siblings above), in which people take pictures cropped just below the neck so as to show the face, but not the size of their belly. My mom was very frustrated with her body when she was a kid and as a teenager, she decided to lose weight and stay active. I still remember that as a mom, she used to go out for a jog every morning. By staying active, she was able to stay off of diets, and give into her cravings for sweets. Diets, frankly, affected her mood quite dramatically.

Pic 2 (1)

As for my dad, well… he was never too fussed about showing the size of his belly in full body pictures, but he is a tall, robust and sturdy man with Spanish genes who loves sausages and pâté.

Pic 3 (1)

This genetic blend naturally resulted in non-petite offspring, my sister and I.MonserrattLopez2Although we grew up happy and mostly well fed (as per current standards), we were constantly reminded that we were a little chubby and overall bigger than the average. Mom tried to instill in us a sense of limits, sports and good eating habits, however, she would often buy and hide cookies and chocolates, to share them with us later. After my parents divorced (when I was 6 years old and my sister 4), our mom started working hard most days until late. As a result, my sister and I found ourselves with lots of time at home alone, and we got into the habit of meticulously looking for the boxes of cookies, chocolate and candies everywhere in the house.

Once I became a teenager, my mom kept on reminding me that I was reaching the age at which I had to lose weight if I wanted to be happy and find someone to share my life with…

Since I wasn’t losing weight, I was not able to comfortably fit into girls clothes normally sold at stores for average sized people in Mexico, and therefore, I started to develop a sense of comfort in wearing boys’ clothes. For most of my teenage and young adult life I exclusively wore t-shirts, mens’ shirts (that I would get as hand me downs from my dad) and jeans.

Monerratt3

Along with the teenage years, my body started to develop, and with it my breasts bloomed. It consequently became harder and harder to find bras my size, and the ones I did find were quite uncomfortable; the wires poked through the cups all the time.

Our weight was under constant criticism in our family. Every time we lost weight, we were congratulated for it.

Our body image was pretty distorted by this point. In retrospect, it is interesting to think about how the environment affected my body image. I learnt to look at myself and recognize most of the defects that my family and others saw in me. I became the defects, which in turn affected my self-esteem. It’s quite irrational!

Tell us about your journey to body positivity: did you have an “eureka!” moment that changed your self-perception, or was it a more gradual process? 

My journey to body positivity slowly started when I learnt how to sew in 2011, almost 3 years after I left Mexico to pursue a graduate degree in science in Canada. I took a class at the community center, in which I learned to use a sewing machine, and I made a cushion cover and learned to use a pattern. I afterwards registered to a more advanced sewing class, but again, most people in the class were average sized women, and the teacher wasn’t quite sure how the patterns had to be modified to fit my body. I, however, managed to make my first dress, which I wore to a friend’s wedding.

Pic 6 (2)

With this new skill, I suddenly often caught myself thinking about the possibilities. However, in order to fit comfortably in the new clothes I made, I quickly realized that I needed to learn how to modify commercially available patterns for plus sized bodies, and so, I enrolled in my first Craftsy class with Barbara Deckert – “Plus Size Pattern Fitting & Design”. I learnt about different body types and how different styles could accentuate certain features of my body. The journey was fantastic and I learnt a ton about my body as I discovered some of its qualities. I even had David help me make a dress form of myself using duct tape!

But I wasn’t quite confident yet, part of me still thought of myself the same way I had been taught to during my childhood and early adulthood. It wasn’t really until I felt capable and encouraged to start my blog early in 2015 that I then discovered that my body wasn’t quite as bad as they (me and my family) thought. I came to this realization when started to look at the pictures David took of me wearing the new garments I had made. I looked at myself and understood that I was beautiful. This body had worth, I started to love it, I accepted it, and I felt happy and pretty for the first time in many years. IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING!!

Pic 7 (11)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Of course, none of this would have been possible without the constant support of my photographer and ever loving partner and husband David.

My next realization along this path of self-confidence was learning to sew bras for myself. I enrolled in Beverly Johnson’s first bra making Craftsy class, “Sewing bras, construction and fit”, and I was a sudden convert. It has been fascinating and really exciting to play with bras and learning how to fit them properly to my changing body. Who would have ever thought I would publish pictures of my bras on the internet? Isn’t that like… suicidal??!! Although I was hesitant at the beginning, David encouraged me a little and said something along the lines of: “You should be proud of what you made! These bras are great, they look great on you and you should share them! ” I did actually feel great in bras that I had made for myself that fitted much better than any RTW bra I had ever tried before.

MonserrattBrasI am now able to look back at pictures from my childhood and teenage years, and I’m able to recognize my beauty as well as the beauty of people around me. It’s truly comforting and forgiving to finally have all that preconception crap gone – it’s like a veil removed from my eyes. I can’t help but recognize at this point the beauty inside and out of one of the humans who has shared most of this journey with me: my sister. I love her and admire her. Here are some pictures of her so you meet her as well (BTW, she learnt before me how to use the sewing machine). Isn’t she just gorgeous?

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Pic 10 (2)

I now understand the importance of having people who love you, inspire you and encourage you in your life.

What do you say to people who criticize curvy women for being unhealthy? 

I no longer feel criticized by people around me, probably because I try to live with more acceptance and I am more confident in myself, I know I am so much more than my body and I surround myself by people who love me and accept me the way I am.

Every now and then, however, I see a curvy woman who struggles with her body image, and I share my story with them and tell them about how sewing drove this change in my life.

What do you find are the biggest challenges to your body confidence today? How do you overcome them? 

For the last 8-9 months, my body has been experiencing extreme changes because I’m pregnant. One of the biggest challenges has been to find clothes that make me feel the way I like to feel. Between the reduced energy that comes with the pregnancy, working a day job, baby preparations, and the very limited RTW options available on the market for sizes like mine, it has become almost impossible to feel the way I am used to feeling about myself. So I’ve struggled a little. Lately, however, I’ve found the energy to sew and test one of the pieces of my wardrobe that will be the most important and critical: nursing bras. I am hoping that by the time the baby comes, I will have a well fitted, well-constructed and comfortable nursing bra to wear for the months to come.

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What advice would you have for other women who would like to find a peace with their body and self-image, but are struggling?

 To all curvy women along the same path I send this message: Don’t care so much about what others say, don’t let them define you. They are probably struggling with body image and other serious issues themselves. Don’t judge them.

It is most important that you learn to accept, appreciate and love yourself, feel good with yourself and surround yourself with people who love you beyond what your body looks like. Treat yourself and others with compassion, love and respect. Be happy to have the body and health that you currently have, be confident that you deserve and can have all you want, walk with a good posture, believe in yourself, smile, and take care. I stumbled upon this little piece on how to talk to your daughter about her body. I found it interesting, and I wanted to share it with you.

And… If you manage to get the hang of sewing for yourself, then have fun! Try new styles, colors and silhouettes! Rediscover, redefine and enjoy yourself!

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<3 Monserratt

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Thanks so much, Monserratt! I loved hearing your story, and I’m only more in awe than I was before.

Let me know what you think of the Curvy Confidence Interviews – and who you’d like to see interviewed next!


Cashmerette
May 4, 2016

New jerseys in the store – and a sale!

When I was in LA recently I picked up some fantastic new fabrics for the Cashmerette store. I find that nice printed jerseys are generally the hardest to find, so that’s what I went on the hunt for – and luckily I managed to find quite a few! These jerseys are great for the Appleton Dress, and the stripes would make an awesome Concord T-Shirt – they’re available as kits with or without a pattern, and some of them are also available by the yard.

And, as a special treat, you can get 10% off with the code FABRICSALE.

Let’s kick it off with this stonking large-scale abstract painterly jersey

Buy here:

Jersey from Cashmerette

There’s a very limited number of Appleton kits left of this sophisticated black and white jersey

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

This blue floral on a black background is such a classic. Great for any knit dress!

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

This is So. Much. Fun. Coral jersey with blue palm leaves! Your next favourite summer dress, for certain.

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

This small-scale ikat-inspired ITY makes a great Appleton for work.

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

The last new Appleton kit is this totally classic blue and pink floral jersey. I’ve already made myself a short-sleeve Appleton from it and I can already tell it’s going to be a workhorse of my summer wardrobe.

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

And, on to the Concord kits! Here’s a really sophisticated lightweight oatmeal and navy stripe.

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

This grey and cream stripe has great proportions and a lovely hand.

Buy now:

Jersey from Cashmerette

So, what do you think? Do any of these tickle your fancy? And are there any other types of fabrics you’d like to see in the store?


Cashmerette
May 2, 2016

Pattern Hack: How to make a Concord T-Shirt Dress

Today I’m going to show you an incredibly quick hack for turning your Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt into a Concord T-Shirt Dress! I made my first one with fabulous Japanese Echino jacquard knit from Super Buzzy in Ventura (and contrast sleeves and neckband in black jersey) and it’s already a firm favourite. So comfortable! So fun! And depending on how much length you add, it could be a tunic, midi or even a maxi dress. If you’re looking for more Japanese knits, you should totally check out Miss Matatabi who has tons.

CashmeretteConcordDress3small

The shaped side seams of the Concord T-Shirt really lend itself to a great dress, as it fits and skims in all the right places.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt Dress
CashmeretteConcordDress4small

OK let’s get going!

Choosing fabric for your Concord T-Shirt Dress

Before you start, bear in mind that a Concord T-Shirt Dress is best made from slightly different fabric than the classic T-Shirt, which is great in jersey. For a dress, you want a little more structure in the fabric so it doesn’t cling, so I recommend using heavier knits like the jacquard knit I used, double-knit, ponte, quilted knits or anything else with a bit of weight.

Because heavier fabric usually has less stretch (my fabric had 10% as opposed to the recommended 20%) I recommend you make a slightly larger size than usual – I went up a full size to a 20 G/H; if you want your dress to be looser than mine, you might even want to go up 2 sizes (if you want the same shoulder fit, simply grade out to the larger size from the bust down).

How to alter your pattern pieces

On to the pattern hacking:

1. On the front piece (1 A/B/C), cut across the “shorten/lengthen” line.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt Dress Hack

2. Move the bottom piece down by the additional length you’d like to add – in my case, I lengthened it by 7 inches because that’s exactly how much fabric I had to play with (I’m 5’6″, and this led my dress to be about 4 inches above my knee).

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt Dress Hack

3. Place a piece of paper under your pattern piece, and tape.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt Dress Hack

4. Trim the paper to be aligned with your pattern piece – simply “join up” the pieces.

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt Dress Hack

5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 with the back piece (2), inserting the same amount of length

6. Proceed to make your dress in exactly the same way as the T-Shirt.

So that’s a super easy way to get a curve-friendly knit t-shirt dress. I’m already planning my next three…

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt Dress

 


Cashmerette
April 25, 2016

Guide to Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

One of the fun things about having a hobby that involves supplies is traveling to new places and getting the chance to go searching for treasures. Naturally, whenever I travel these days I make a beeline for the fabric stores, and it was no different when I recently went to LA on my way to the Craftcation conference. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen the trip, but I thought I’d do a round up here in case you’re visiting LA any time soon and fancy retracing my fabric steps! So here is my guide to fabric shopping in Los Angeles.

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

First up, there’s the fabric district. If you’ve been to NYC you’re probably already familiar with the idea that there’s an area of the city that has a lot of fabric shops… but you have no idea how big that could be until you go to LA! The LA fabric district is giiiinormous, thanks to the garment manufacturing here – blocks and blocks of shoulder-to-shoulder stores. It reminded me a lot of the fabric district in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and barely felt like you were in America. As with most of these districts a lot of the stock is disastrous poly netting, flammable rainbow fake fur and prom dress extravaganzas, but there is good stuff if you know where to look and have a bit of patience.

  • Michael Levine is the main big retail store of the area, and it’s a huge treasure trove of fabric. I often get a bit overwhelmed in there, but it’s a great place to start.
  • Ragfinders is an amaaaaazing place, but before I get you too excited: it’s wholesale only, with a minimum of 20 yards in an order. That said, if you can go I recommend it: it’s the biggest fabric store I have ever seen, and has absolutely fantastic stock, mostly sourced from factories of Ready To Wear clothing who produced too much. The only risk if you feel like the bolts are going to fall on top of you and kill you, but I will say, there are worse ways to go.
Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

This is just one of the multiple printed jersey aisles. Yep. Carrie for scale.

  • The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is right next to the fabric district, and is a cool place to visit – not only do they have great exhibitions, but they also have a fabric shop which has bits and bobs that they haven’t used, and you can often get amazing bargains there.

Next on to my absolute favorite store:

  • The Fabric Store. This place is heaven, guys, pure heaven. I really love curated fabric stores (as opposed to a more T J Maxx “search for the gem in the rubbish” approach), and this place hits the nail on the head with a generous selection of wonderful fabrics. They are particularly known for their merino jerseys (of course I picked some up), but there was beautiful silk, wool, novelty fabrics, cottons… even a rack of pastel coloured leathers by the door. This is an absolute no-miss in LA. Afterwards, pop into Sycamore Kitchen or Republique for lunch – we went back multiple times to both.

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

Fabric Shopping in LA

And conveniently, right up the road is…

  • Mood Fabrics. The sister store of the more famous NYC location, I have to admit I actually prefer LA Mood. It’s more airy and light, it’s easier to see what they have in stock, and for some reason I feel less panic in there (am I the only one who gets like that in the NYC store?!). Definitely check out the bins at the ends of the aisles – a lot of my best purchases have been made from those.

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

Fabric Shopping in LA

  • International Silks and Woolens. Another mega-store with tons of stock, there was a bit too much novelty cotton downstairs for me, but I’ve since found out all the designer fabric is upstairs where I failed to go… d’oh! Please rectify my mistake, dear readers, and let me know what’s up there.

Fabric Shopping in LA

  • The Button Store. This place is great! It’s on a really cute street with lots of cafes and boutiques, and they have a massive selection of buttons (and sell wholesale, too).

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

  • Sew Modern. Over in West LA, Sew Modern is a bright and fun fabric shop and sewing class studio, and they have tons of branded cottons, quilting cottons, and a small selection of garment fabrics. A bit more geared towards quilters than garment sewers, but totally worth popping in if you’re in the area!
  • Rimmon Fabrics. Just up the road from Sew Modern, Rimmon is technically a wholesale jobber (meaning they sell the ends of fabric from factories, only for resale) but they told us that they’re happy to sell retail too, and in fact there was a retail customer there when we visited. It’s an eclectic mix of stock and not set up like a regular store, but they have some beautiful things, and there are many bargains to be had.

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

Finally, I want to give a shoutout to Super Buzzy in Ventura, CA (where Craftcation takes place). Super Buzzy specializes in Japanese fabric, and has the best selection I’ve ever seen in the US! I picked up some awesome Echino knit for a Concord T-Shirt hack, and enjoyed looking at all the fun Japanese fabrics and accessories. Worth a day trip if you’re in the area.

Fabric Shopping in Los Angeles

Below is a map so you can get a sense of where everything is – LA is enormous but as you can see, there’s a lot concentrated in the fabric district and La Brea area. You can have an amazing trip fabric shopping in Los Angeles too!

If you want even more recommendations from an LA local, I suggest checking out Christine Haynes’ Seamworker’s Guide to Los Angeles in Colette Seamwork magazine.

Do you have any other awesome LA spots to add to the list?


Cashmerette

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