Hi! In my last post, I lamented my habit of sewing dresses when I never, ever wear them. What I really need to sew are everyday separates. Like Sophie-Lee, I am a pear. I have a 12” difference between my waist and hips. So ready-to-wear is unflattering, since finding tops that fit my hips means the shoulders and bust are waaaay oversized. Additionally, I’m 5’9” tall, so I’m too tall for regular length shirts, and too short for tall shirts. Making my own means I can add just the inch or two I need.
What I needed were some basic patterns for constructing a wardrobe. That’s why I love Ottobre Design magazine. For the price of one pattern, each issue has around 20 patterns. Their patterns come in European sizes 34-52, which goes up to 48” bust, 40 1/2” waist, and 49 1/4” hip. (See their size chart here in inches; it’s in centimeters in the magazine.) A few of their earlier designs only go up to size 48, although the more recent issues tend to have all patterns in all sizes. Also, I’ve see a few pairs of pants where they have two patterns, one for the lower end of the size range, and one for the upper end. That’s great because it means they’re not just grading up from the smallest size. (See the Lady Fit/Curvy Fit pants in issue 5 from 2012.)
Even better – their models come in many shapes and sizes and ages! I like their style – it’s simple and conservative, which is what I need for daily wear. (They are feminine and modern, without plunging necklines and the like.) I love seeing the clothing on all sorts of models. Check out this model from issue 5 of 2012. Gorgeous!
[Model from issue 5, 2012]
Ottobre Design mostly publishes children’s patterns, but they have two women’s issues each year. One thing I really like is that you can preview issues online. If you click on an issue cover – the women’s issues are numbers 2 and 5 each year – you can look at the line drawings for all the patterns in that issue, and also preview some of the pages from the issue.
If you aren’t ready to subscribe, or you want to buy back issues, you can visit their Etsy shop and buy single issues. I love their clothes so much, I”m slowly buying all the back issues.
Let’s get to some important details. I consider myself an advanced beginner sewist. These patterns, while mostly simple in design, do not include the sort of hand-holding instructions that most beginners want. Anyone can sew them, but you might need to work on your Google-fu so you can find videos and instructions elsewhere. Each pattern – even for the coats – has less than one page’s worth of instructions. They do tell you what to do, and what order to do things in, but the only illustrations with each pattern are of the related pattern pieces. There are no diagrams to illustrate the directions.
[pattern instructions for a velveteen blazer in issue 5, 2012]
You absolutely must have tracing pattern to work with these patterns, because they look like this:
So save the glass of wine until after you trace your pattern, okay? While the master pattern page might look a little nuts, look at the edge of the page and you’ll find the numbers for the pattern pieces.
[pattern numbers on the edge of the pattern sheet]
Run your finger up the page from the number, and you will find the pattern piece you need. You’ll also have to add a 1 cm seam allowance around the entire pattern, because it’s not included in what you’re tracing.
Another thing that might be slightly off for U.S. sewists is the nomenclature for materials (Quick! To the Google!). For example, they call it elastane, and I call it spandex. They do have some specialty fabrics for sale in their Etsy shop, like the floral quilted fabric they used in one of their coats. The coat patterns are really cool, by the way, and when I finally work up the nerve to sew my first coat, I’m sure I’ll use one of their patterns.
I’m sure you are dying for me to get to the part where I show you all the glorious stuff I’ve made so far. Sorry to disappoint, but life has been hectic and I have sewn exactly two things in the past four months! Two variations on the same knit shirt – the Monday Basic Raglan T-shirt from issue 5 of 2013. Unfortunately, the el cheapo knit fabric I used is starting to pill already. Also, my sewing machine and I are not on speaking terms, as it refuses to sew more than a few stitches without staging a full-on assault on the fabric. So the shirts are definitely not photo worthy.
I almost didn’t write this post because I have no examples to share, but I hadn’t seen anyone else mention Ottobre Design. I wanted to get the word out to everyone, especially for people interested in separates. Hopefully someone else can make something photo-worthy and share it here!