Friday, August 15, 2014

In the Studio with Tasia from Sewaholic Patterns

This is the last of our interviews in the In the Studio series now that we will be starting the Fabricista Fashion Challenge next month! Learn more about that HERE. This week's interview is Tasia from Sewaholic Patterns. Well known for her sewing patterns and the sew-alongs to go with them! Enjoy learning a little more about Tasia!



Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Tasia, I love to sew and make things. I also love knitting and recently got into quilting, too! I live in beautiful Vancouver, BC Canada and when I’m not working or sewing, I enjoy hiking, cycling, and getting outdoors!




What is a typical work day like?
I get up early and cycle to work, it’s a beautiful half-hour bike ride to the office! I work in a shared office space so there are accountants, lawyers and counselors working in offices next to me. I’m definitely the most colourful and messy office of them all! It’s nice because I work by myself, but am not completely alone. When I arrive, I check my computer and respond to blog comments and emails. Lately I’ve started to divide my day in half: computer work in the morning, sewing in the afternoon. It’s great motivation to finish the computer tasks so I can get to the sewing part! I’m usually sewing up new samples, working out the construction steps of a new pattern or making garments for upcoming photo shoots. Some days I work late, in which case I’ll get something to eat for dinner, take a quick break and get back to it! Otherwise I’ll pedal home for dinner and go to a yoga class after that.

What made you want to be a pattern designer?
I’ve always loved sewing, and I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of pattern design. I like figuring out construction methods that give good results and are straightforward to sew. When I was laid off from my fashion industry job, I thought it would be a good time to try starting my own company. That was in 2010 and it’s been a good decision so far!

Did you go to school for fashion? If so, where? If not, how did you get into what you’re doing?
Yes, I did! I completed a four-year degree from Kwantlen University College (now Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and worked in the apparel industry for eight years after graduation. It’s been great to have training and industry experience as the methods used in manufacturing are different from home sewing!

What inspires the patterns you make?
Everything! I like solving a problem with my designs, like the Renfrew which is a knit top pattern that’s designed for people who dislike sewing knits. Usually there’s a story with each of my designs, like the Pendrell Blouse is designed to make delicate, slippery fabric easier to work with since the binding method is easy to sew and the draped and ruffled sleeves are cut on the fold so there’s no hemming required. The Thurlow Trousers feature an adjustable centre back seam so you can easily alter your pants if needed. I design patterns for a pear-shaped figure, so the proportions fit a smaller bust and waist with wider hips. No one was doing that at the time and I thought why not design for the body shape I know best?

Who is your favorite fashion designer?
I don’t really have a favourite designer!

What is the best thing about what you do? The hardest thing?
The best thing is seeing the reaction to a new pattern, and seeing people make up projects with my patterns! It’s easy to fall in love with your own work but it’s even better when others like it too. There are many hard things about designing patterns and running your own business. It’s a challenge keeping yourself focused on doing the hard tasks when it’s more fun to design and sew. It’s easy to worry too much about whether your designs are any good or if your business is going to make it. And like other business owners, it’s hard to keep a balance between work and the rest of your life. When you love what you do, you want to do it all the time!

Out of all the sewing patterns you created, which is your favorite?
Ooh, good question! My favourite so far is the Cambie Dress. I’ve seen people sew it for bridesmaid dresses and even wedding dresses, which is incredibly exciting! I like that it works for formal wear as well as picnics and weekends. Everyone who’s made it looks amazing in it.
Do you have a favorite pattern designer, (other than yourself!)?
Another good question! I really admire Colette Patterns as a business, it’s so encouraging to see how much it’s grown since I started blogging. Lingerie sewing is a new interest of mine, and I like the designs from Merckwaerdigh, a Dutch pattern company. Sadly I don’t have as much time to sew for pleasure as I’d like, but I’d love to sew some Thread Theory menswear patterns for Mr. Sewaholic! I think they’ve done a great job of making menswear patterns that are attractive and modern.

What is your favorite fabric type?
Natural fibers for sure: cotton, wool, rayon. I’m working with wool today as I answer these questions and I just love the smell of freshly pressed wool! I love cotton shirtings, lawns, and voiles; there’s something so nice about working with fabric that presses easily and crisply. Synthetics do have their place as well, you can’t beat wrinkle-resistant polyester for easy packable travel clothing.


Yaletown Dress and Blouse

What is your favorite sewing tool?
My seam ripper? Maybe my rotary cutter. I started using fabric glue stick for a couple of projects and while it feels like cheating, it is very useful! Along the same lines, I started using self-threading needles and like the extra help they provide.

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all?
For instant getaways I go to my hammock! I’ve always wanted a hammock and finally got one this year for the balcony. Five minutes of lounging in the hammock and I’m way less worried about my work to-do list and those dishes in the sink.  I like visiting Vancouver Island for short trips. Taking the ferry to the island makes it feel like a real getaway!

What is your favorite food?
Fresh summer fruit like blueberries and cherries. We’re right in the middle of fruit season right now and I am loving it.


Rae Skirt
What is the most common fabric/sewing-related question people ask you?
I’d say the most common question is either ‘Will you teach me to sew?’ or ‘Will you hem my pants?’ Those are from people who don’t know me, usually! The other most common thing people say is to talk about their last sewing experience. Usually it’s a happy story of learning to sew with an aunt or grandmother, or a sad story of how they never got the hang of it back in high school. I like those stories, either way I try to convince them that they can always learn again now!

What is one fashion trend you love? Hate?
Love: I love that wide-legged pants are making a comeback! Full skirts and longer skirts, too.
Hate: Overalls. Can’t go there! They work on the right person I suppose, but they don’t do anything for me. No overall patterns coming up from me!


Thurlow Trousers and Shorts
Are you working on any new patterns? Can you give us any behind-the-scenes info?
Always! Depending on when this goes live, we have two new designs coming in July! One is excellent for brand-new beginners. We’re also already working on patterns after that, one that will challenge your sewing skills and one that is already my new wardrobe favourite.

Thanks to Tasia for taking time out of her busy day to answer these questions! If you'd like to check out the entire Sewaholic Pattern line, CLICK HERE. Watch for a post early next week featuring my review of a few Sewaholic Patterns.

I'd love to hear how reader's liked the In the Studio series of interviews and pattern reviews. Was it helpful? Did you find out about pattern companies you never heard of? Let me know what you thought!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fabricista Fashion Challenge II: Call for Entries


Call for entries! We're looking for 8 eager sewing bloggers to participate in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge II! Learn all the details about the challenge HERE.

Do you think you have what it takes to participate in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge II? If you answered yes,email us your submission! Here's what we need from you:

- A link to your blog's homepage
- 3 images of your best work
- A paragraph telling us why you think you would be a great candidate for the challenge.

All challenges will be based on sewing for yourself, so keep that in mind when entering. Sorry, previous contestants from the first challenge will not be considered. While we would love you to participate, we would like to give other fabulous sewists a chance too! Open to citizens of the US and Canada. Entries are due by Tuesday, August 26th!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Made by a Fabricistia: Stratchcona Henley from Thread Theory Designs

Confession: I’m a bit of a selfish seamstress.  I occasionally dabble in minor alterations for others but a majority of my sewing is women’s wear with me in mind.  Head down, stereo up and the faint hum of my sewing machine helps to drown out the sounds of my husband standing in the doorway in his holey t-shirt asking when he’s going to see some action on that quilt he’s been wanting for years.  So when Julie asked me to take part in the “In the Studio” series I was happy to oblige as I was excited to see Fabric Mart stocked patterns by Thread Theory Designs, a menswear pattern company. 
My husband is pretty particular about his clothes so I knew I needed to keep it simple.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time invested in something that might not work for him.   The Stratchcona Henley is a modern t-shirt pattern with a crew neck or Henley style button placket options.  I stuck to the crew neck t-shirt style for my first try at the pattern.  The sizing ranges from XS-XL and note the style is slim fitting.  Eeeek! Slim fit is not hubby’s style at all.  When tracing out the XL I added about an inch to the side seams to hopefully accommodate for this.   I also shortened the sleeve length and hem length 3 inches. 
One thing I found odd when cutting out the pattern was with the neckband.  The pattern and cutting layout has you cutting the neckband along the lengthwise grain for all knits and on the crosswise grain for a 4 way stretch knit.  My fabric, a medium weight interlock from Joann Fabric, had a two way stretch with the most stretch being on the crosswise grain.  There was little stretch to the lengthwise grain but I cut per instructions just to see if I could get it to work.  Like I thought without the right amount of stretch it was near impossible for me to fit to the neckline.  I went back and re-cut on the crosswise grain.  I’m not sure why the two different directional cutting layouts are there but this is something you’ll want to consider when making your own.  I always cut my neckband in same direction as the stretch of the fabric.

Construction was a breeze when completed on my serger.  When joining the shoulder seams the pattern gives 3 different options to stabilize the seam so it’s not stretched when worn.  I chose to stabilize mine with clear elastic since I’ve acquired quite a bit of it in my stash from making swimwear.  Other noted options are twill tape, cutting 1/4 selvages from self fabric or cotton scraps and using fusible interfacing.  To apply the elastic I first marked my seam allowance with chalk then pinned the elastic slightly overlapping the seam line.  When serging I made sure my needle went through my elastic and also made sure my blade was not cutting through end of the elastic.


My sleeves and hems are finished by first serging the ends then folding under 5/8 inch and top-stitching with a twin needle.  This gives it that coverstitch finish. 

Unfortunately this shirt didn't work for my husband.  Bummer right!?  I think the problem is a mixture of the slim fitted style and fabric choice.  The interlock knit was a little too clingy and soft for his liking.  I think with a few fitting modifications and a light weight jersey this could be the perfect shirt for my husband.  In the meantime my dad modeled the shirt for me. 



I always feel bad when a project doesn't work out in my favor.  But sometimes sewing is no fun without a challenge.  The challenge comes in making it better than before and learning from your mistakes.  I’m determined more than ever now to make my husband a t-shirt he loves. 

Have you sewn for the man in your life?  What's your favorite menswear pattern?  

~Shannon from Shanni Loves