Saturday, January 23, 2016

Spotlight on Winter Wear Designs

One of our favorite things here at Sew Cool is to match up pattern designers who design for tweens and those who sew for tweens.  And today we get to do that by having a designer spotlight on Winter Wear Designs.  Suzanne designs for all ages and sizes so her patterns have a great size range but also a great style range.  She has great patterns for boys and girls so no matter who you are sewing for, I am sure you will find a good pattern at Winter Wear Designs.  Over the holidays we interviewed Suzanne and here is what she has to say about Winter Wear and designing for tweens.  (at the end of the post we have a special discount for our readers)

How would you describe the Winter Wear brand?  What makes it unique?

The Winter Wear brand is classic, wearable, and all about the details.  When it comes to my kids, I want them to be these cute adorable little models.... and then I remember that they have to actually WEAR the clothing... it needs to fit well and be stylish and yet they need to be able to keep it on for longer than the 20 minutes of a photoshoot.  For this reason, I really think about the details of how my garments are finished and that makes all the difference in the final look and feel.

When it comes to my women's patterns, I am very body conscious.  All of my women's patterns talk about body shape and how to adjust and alter to best flatter the body God gave you.  For tweens who are starting to develop and change in shape, this can be especially useful.  I want all of my customers to feel great when they put on a garment that they have sewn for themselves, it might take some time figuring out your body, but when you start sewing clothes you LOVE it is an amazing transformation.
None of my patterns are really hard to sew, but the details can be a bit time consuming.  I promise though - they are worth it!

How long have you been designing patterns?

I have been running Winter Wear Designs for  a year and a half, but I have been designing since I was in college.  I worked as a teaching assistant in the costume shop for my theatre department in college.  I was able to take classes in design, drafting, and draping, and I designed and constructed 3 main stage shows.  

What made you decide to be a pattern designer? 

Robin Hill...... Hahahahah, no but seriously.  She saw all the things that I was creating for my kids and kept asking me about it.  Finally she lined up my writing a full review of Lauren Dahl's Pattern Workshop for Pattern Revolution by taking the class.  I think she knew that if I branched into the digital ends of design (which really didn't exist when I was in school) that there would be no stopping me.  And she was right ;o)

What is your inspiration?

I'd love to give a lofty answer about art and the fresh breeze of sea salt off the ocean, but I live in Central PA and my current art immersion is scrubbing my kids' crayola masterpieces off the wall (but hey, we graduated from the poo-caso stage).  I am inspired by what I want... I want to dress my kids in really expensive clothes that I could never afford off the runways, I want to have new and current clothing for myself that fits me right - and sadly that rarely happens for me with store bought.  I want clothes to make women smile and keep kids running and playing.  These wants inspire me constantly, and I'll never have time to get on paper all the things I WANT to design.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of designing pdf patterns?

Math - I really and not great at math, and that can get me in trouble with basic elements in the pattern design process.  Beyond that, just finding the time.  With three littles underfoot, I deal with a lot of interruptions that can slow down the process.

So many designers shy away from the larger children’s sizes; what motivated you to size up to 14yr?

Well, with a 3 year old who wears a size 6x and a 4 year old who is between a 7/8, it just made sense.  As I was starting to draft patterns I constantly saw parents of older children begging for bigger sizes, and then one day I saw a sweet mom asking how to grade up a pattern for her 7 year old who needed a size 12.  This was still a little girl who needed cute clothes that would fit her properly.  I will be that mom in just a few years, so I just decided there and then that all my patterns would go up to a 14.  I'm currently looking at expanding that to a 16 for future patterns, but haven't decided yet.  All of my patterns come with suggestions for combining sizes to get a perfect fit.

You have a few patterns for women that start at size 00; would those work for a tween?

Yep!!!  My women's patterns are designed for curves, but with young girls developing at younger ages, many tween moms are finding themselves with curves that children's patterns aren't designed for.  Moving up to small women's sizes will actually be more flattering and comfortable for these budding figures.

Thank you Suzanne for taking the time to share about your process and your patterns!  She has also been kind enough to provide a 20% off code on patterns at Winter Wear Designs.  Just use the  code: TWEEN20.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1251

Simplicity patterns were on sale at my local big box fabric store and I had my tween with me so as I perused the fabric aisles, I told her she could go through the Simplicity pattern book and pick out any that interested her.  Simplicity 1251 was one of the ones she chose.

Name of the pattern:  It has the creative name of  "Misses' Knit Dress, Tunic and Top".  It is a cute, elfish looking hoodie that comes in various lengths.  This is a women's pattern but it comes in very small sizes.  I made a size 6 going off the waist measurement of my daughter (23 inches).
pattern review

Pattern Source:  Simplicity patterns can be found at almost any fabric store or on their website.

Sizes available:  As I said, it is a women's pattern and it comes in sizes 4 thru 20 though the paper pattern divides the smallest sizes in one envelope and the larger sizes in another.

Embroidery Library fairy

Special materials required:  The dress calls for stretch knits only.  I used a fleece with a light stretch to it.  The fleece was on a steep discount, so that worked out great.  The pattern comes with templates for applique; if you choose to do the applique, you will need scrap fabric of your choosing.  Instead of the applique, we chose to use machine embroidery.  With the pixie shaped hood, I thought that would be very cute.

This is a simple pull-over garment, so no zippers, buttons, or other closures are needed.

embroidery library fairy
The pattern called for a 'lettuce edge' which was completely explained in the supplemental instructions.

Skill level required:  I found the pattern to be very easy.  There were good diagrams and the construction was quite basic.  The hood had a neat shape and was assembled a little different than your standard hood but it was still super easy.

pattern review

Good:  This was an easy and fun pattern that gave a more grown-up look to a fairy tale inspired outfit.

Bad: Nothing.  The pattern was well written and the end product very cute.

Overall pattern rating:  I give this pattern our highest score, 5 bolts.  I don't do this often for the big pattern companies but I think their women's patterns are better than the children patterns.  I think this particular look is great for an older tween.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Pattern Review: Ottobre hoodie - Issue 1/14

Today we have a guest post from Kristi who blogs over at Kopykat & Kidz.  Her blog covers sewing for both kids and adults and various craft projects. She has a fun casual style that is certainly worth checking out.

Thank you Kristi for giving us another option for the ever popular hoodie!

Name of the pattern:
The pattern I’m using for this review is the Zip Up hooded fleece jacket.

Pattern Source:
This pattern is from the sewing pattern magazine, Ottobre, issue 1/14.

Sizes available:
Ottobre is a European magazine so it is published with European sizing.  This threw me for a loop when I first started sewing from it because using my kid’s measurements to figure out sizing put them all over the place.  Then I found out that the sizes roughly equate to their height in centimeters.  This made my life much easier!  The pattern comes in sizes 128 – 170 cm.  Abby is about a size 10/12 and I sewed up a 140cm based on her height and it fits her perfectly.  If I would have sewn her pants I might have based the size on her waist measurement and added length.

inside view

Special materials required:
The only special material I needed was a separating zipper, however if you want to make it just like the pattern you also need two zippers for the pockets, two grommets (and a little bit of interfacing) and flat cotton cord.  I don’t know if it’s a special material, but I did use a size 14 stretch/knit needle for sewing as well.

Skill level required:
I think this is probably an intermediate pattern to sew up.  The thing that makes it lean more toward intermediate is the zipper installation and the fact that Ottobre is catering to people who already know how to sew.  What I mean is that there are no pictures of the construction.  If you have sewed up a hoodie before you will not have any problems following Ottobre instructions.  Also the princess seams in the front and back mean that you are sewing curves together instead of straight lines which can be a little trickier.

back inside view

How you came to choose the pattern:
In the case of this garment the fabric came first.  Abby and I were at JoAnn getting some microfleece for a coat for me (I finally got it sew and you can see us pictured in our hoodies.  Mine is also Ottobre Women’s, issue 5/14, very similar but with no hood.  The sizing women starts at a European 34 which is about a U.S. size 4.  This could also be a great option for the older tween/teen) and she found this light blue microfleece.  Since I love to sew for my kids and she did need another hoodie for fall we bought some.  Then we talked about hoodies and I decided to make this one.  I love the princess seaming it has.  I think it elevates the regular boxy hoodie to a slimmer fit one for tween/teen girls.