Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Euro Experience

Zuma by Studio Tantrum

European patterns are all the rage on eBay. You can click on just about any boutique outfit, and it has some unique flair that was adapted from European design. The ultra cute look and flair of European patterns is what draws seamstreasses everywhere to try to make them.

At first purchase of a Euro pattern, a beginner may be surprised. Even a seasoned seamstress may be caught off guard. The patterns are not like American patterns at all. The Euro patterns are on one piece of paper that unfolds and unfolds until you have a larger than poster size paper sitting before you. All of the pieces are drawn on this sheet. Don't cut them out, or your pattern will be useless! You are about to become an expert in tracing!

Now, I do things the hard way. I use my computer paper and tape the pages together so I can sit them on top of the pattern paper and trace the pieces. But there is pattern tracing material that is sold in fabric stores. The material is thin enough to trace through, but is durable, so it doesn't tear easily. This allows you to trace just the size that you need. I went to JoAnn's to buy some of this material, but it was gone by the time I got there. I'm thinking with the Euro pattern revolution going on, this material is extremely popular!

Not only do Euro patterns have to be traced, but they don't have any seam allowance. Trust me, it's not fun to miss this little fact! The first time I made a Euro pattern, I had no idea it didn't include seam allowances, and my cute little creation didn't fit! How frustrating when I read this little information after the fact, right on the pattern!

There are different ways you can add seam allowance to a pattern. One way is demonstrated here. If you're like me, and don't mind a little work, you can use this method I found online about a year ago. Put two pencils, two pens, or whatever two writing utensils you have, together with a rubber band. Then, place one pencil on the tracing line, making sure both pencils are pressing down on the paper, and begin to trace. Both pencils will trace onto the tracing material. The outer pencil mark is your seam allowance, and this is where you should cut your pattern piece out. I always find myself just sitting in the dance studio for hours, so I use this method because it gives me something to do.

I think the absolute best thing about the Euro patterns is the versatility. You can see the same pattern a hundred times, and it never looks the same. The patterns are made simple so that each designer can put their own spin and creativity into it. You're never held to a standard with Euro patterns. I've seen patterns made to be long made short, or even longer! I've seen extra ruffles, lace, and pockets added. I've even seen patterns which were supposed to be skirts used as shirts, or shirt extras! Some seamstresses even mix two or three garments to make one outfit. The possibilities really are endless.

The most popular Euro designers, by far, are Farbenmix de and Studio Tantrum. Though these patterns are written in German, they are translated into English. There's something about translation, though, that I think sometimes some of the instructions are lost, and you can get really confused as to what you should be doing. So there are sites dedicated to helping explain the steps to certain patterns.

One such site is Banberry Place. I love this website. It's the ultimate in Euro finds. Not only do they have instructions for these patterns, but sell the patterns themselves. There are lots of Euro patterns on this site, by different designers, and they showcase children's clothes to women's clothes to purses and stuffed animals! At Banberry Place you can purchase patterns, imported fabric, even the popular kids fashion magazine Ottobre from Germany. You have to check out this site! It's one of my favorites, and I like to go there to just "window shop" sometimes. Check out this site at

Anna Wrap Dress and Paula Pants by Farbenmix de

Friday, February 5, 2010

You Can Make It!

I Made This with!

I have lots of favorite sites, but there are a chosen few I just can't stay away from. As a seamstress, I'm pretty much a do-it-yourselfer, as most of us are. I like to take on a project head on, and I don't stop until I get to the end result.

I guess that's what drew me to this site. As a seamstress you can never stop growing or learn too much. I can search the internet and find all kinds of tips and tricks, from making my sewing more professional, to taking shortcuts that save time, but work just as great as the alternative.

I discovered on another favorite site which I'll discuss at a later time. As soon as I began looking at this site, I couldn't get off! offers patterns and instructions for a lot of the clothes that are in boutique style at the time. You can look at all those cute clothes on eBay and Etsy, wondering how to make something...

And now you can! offers all kinds of patterns for pants, shirts, skirts, dresses, and many of the things you can think of to sew for your little prince or princess. The best part about the site is the patterns are affordable, and allow you to get them right away. After you pay for your items, you are given a link so that you can download the patterns directly to your computer! How's that for convenience!

You can make pants, legwarmers, pettiskirts, hats, purses, even dolly clothes to match your daughter's version of an outfit. There are free video tutorials to help you learn how to use certain techniques. And for all you blogger followers, a blog site with lots of information and free projects.

Once you have downloaded your pattern to your computer, you can open it, read it, print it out on your printer, and use it over and over again. You also gain points everytime you make a purchase, which allows you to get patterns for free. You like quilting? There's, and for embroidery fans.

You really should check out this site. If there's something you've been wondering whether you could make it yourself or not, is the place for you to find out!

You Can Make This

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On a Smaller Scale

I never thought I'd make anything for anyone but humans. I guess I was wrong. When you have kids, you'll do just about anything...if you think it'll make them happy.

Well, my girls love the Bratz dolls. It's funny, because even long ago, before the birth of Bratz, I used to sit and thumb through the Barbie clothes patterns in the pattern books in the fabric store. Of course I thought it would be a cute idea to make them, but I never actually tried. I think I just couldn't bring myself to have to deal with something that small. Sewing is complicated enough, but having to do it for a tiny doll?

I thought about the baby dolls the girls slept with every night, but really. Was I up to the challenge of making clothes on this really small scale? Needless to say, I just passed the patterns by. There was no way I was gonna even bother...

Then came the Bratz dolls, all sassy and done up with their fashion forward clothing. This wasn't a deciding factor for me or anything, because I still didn't want to deal with the small clothes. Plus, the Bratz dolls are even smaller than Barbie. I could see myself trying to force a piece of cloth the size of my finger into the feed dog and under the needle.

I don't think so!!

But as my daughters grew, so did their love for these dolls. So I began to search the stores for clothes... No luck. Barbie clothes everywhere, but no Bratz. Only the outfits that came in the box. Eventually, I discovered lots of cool stuff on eBay, but decided I couldn't keep paying the high price for these tiny matter how cool they were.

So, I had to dig deep, and come up with a plan. I began measuring the doll, just like you measure a person, so I could make up patterns. With no guide, lots of tweaking go into the pattern making. I'd make a pattern on my computer, cut it out of muslin and try it out on the doll. When it didn't work like I wanted, I'd have to start all over--re-tweaking the pattern, cutting it out of muslin, and trying it on the doll. Finally, I had my first creation: a dress. It wasn't terribly detailed, but it worked, and it was cute. Strangely, from then on I was hooked!

I think the thing I like most about creating for the Bratz dolls is that I can put the coolest, up to date fashions on them, and not feel guilty, because it's not my children. They allow me to play with bigger styles than the cute little princess things I make for my girls to wear, and at the same time my girls get more things to put on and take off of their dolls. It makes me feel so good that they treat the things I make just like the rest of the pre-made Bratz clothes. They even have favorites!

Looks to me like handmade can go anywhere on the spectrum...even to the dolls!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tailor Made Boutique Suggestion

So once again I'm going to suggest another boutique that I love. I've followed this young lady on eBay for quite a while. Everything she does is amazing!

I always sit and wonder how much time it takes other seamstresses to create the beautiful outfits they showcase online. I always find myself saying that I wish I had the time to work like that. I can always come up with fab designs, but they never come to fruition.

So I find myself, ever so often, following someone else's work and marvelling at everything they do. This is how I found Bellabebeco. Honestly, I'm not sure if I even pronounce the name correctly, but I know Cynthia's awesome designs when I see them, even from just the thumbnails!

Bellabebeco used to be a part of the group StudioE, which is how I kept up with her awesome work, but now she is part of the group Polkadotz on eBay. There are some super powerhouses (as I call them!) in the Polkadotz group, which I will highlight later.

Cynthia makes awesome character outfits like Betty Boop. She also makes themed clothing, like Little Red Riding Hood, which comes complete with a red cape! She mixes designs and colors like a painter, and finishes them off with ruffles.

If you would like a preview of Bellabebeco from Cynthia herself, you can go here. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do!

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Tailor Made Models

I was talking with a friend at the dance studio a couple of days ago, and we were discussing pageants. She said that her girls would never go for that. She said they would complain about the dresses, and don't really like to be in one place for too long. She says they're not really girly girls, and that's ok, because she wasn't either.

I was quite the tomboy myself. There wasn't a tree I couldn't climb! I played tee ball, football, kickball, dodge ball, and anything I could to outdo the boys. But as I got older, I began to fall in love with ruffles and lace, earrings, and ribbon and perfume.

Once I began to have my own children, I felt blessed to have girls who were girly, because I want to put them in all the girly things I can! All of my girls love dance, fashion, shopping, and dress up. They also love the camera. All this makes it so much easier to showcase my creations to the world.

Alannah is my baby. At 3, she is the youngest to enter Mommy's tailor made world. Ironically, she's had the most benefit from it, because she's 3 and 4 years younger than her sisters. This makes hand-me-down clothes touch and go. Basically, it takes that many years for her to get into the clothes, so in the meantime, she's stuck out. So I've had to do quite a bit of sewing for her, so that she could have a wardrobe. The fact that her need came at the height of my creativity was a plus for her. Alannah loves new clothes. She also loves playing with her baby dolls, going to school, and baby ballet.

Michaela is my middle girl. I call her the closet diva! She's the one who loves tee ball, basketball, and football, but I'll catch her going through the fashion magazines. Michaela is the one who told me last year not to put her in dance this year, because she wanted to play basketball. But after she got her costumes and performed on stage, she was hooked. I knew Michaela was a little fashion girl when I started noticing how many times she'd change clothes in a day. She'd start out the day in a denim skirt, and end it in leggings. I actually had to threaten her to stop running through so many of her clothes in one day!

Michaela is 6. She also loves new clothes and shopping. She loves school, year round even, and she likes to write. She takes ballet, tap, and jazz, and she likes to play with her Bratz dolls with her big sister. Michaela loves posing for my photo shoots, which is great, because the camera loves her. I always have to choose which photos not to use, because almost every one she takes is beautiful. It's a good thing she's going to be tall, because there might be a career in modeling here!

Aaleigha was my first baby girl. At 8 she's my oldest daughter, and she knows it. And trust me, she lauds it over the other two! Aaleigha is the daughter I call my diva. She's very particular about everything. She can already dress herself perfectly, down to the shoes. She knows what things can go together, and which things can't. She even tried to correct me one day!

Though all my girls love the mall, I'd have to say that Aaleigha is my shopaholic. If we're in the store, she can find something she needs, and there's no shortage of those things! She likes jewelry, sunglasses, lip gloss, nail polish, purses...all the things a girl could want! It's almost hard to say no to her sometimes, because she's so good at what she picks out. She already knows that she wants to design clothes for a living, and has actually already begun to draw out some things. But Aaleigha's first passion is dance. She takes, tap, jazz, ballet, and hip hop. She's already trying to talk me into clogging for next year! She was chosen to perform in Production this year, which is exciting, so I hope this means bigger and better things are to come.

I'm so excited to share this sewing experience with my girls. I remember telling my husband, after I had my son, that we couldn't stop at just the boy that he was satisfied with. I said I needed a babydoll...and I got 3! And even though I'll never force them to be interested in everything, I'm so blessed to have three little girls who love to do what Mommy does!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tailor's Boutique World

Since I became good friends with Tailor, I discovered the world of boutique clothing. At first it was just awesome, but then it became overwhelming. Especially for a do you get into this world of buttons, lace, fabric, ruffles, tulle, and frilly creations without getting lost?

Needless to say, there will always be some who stand out among the crowd. Of course, to each his own, but there are a few custom made boutique designers who I follow regularly.

The first boutique I want to highlight is Cocoloka Boutique. Josie has to be a stitching genius! There's no limit to her imagination and creativity. I can sit back and look at her collections for hours! Pictures upon pictures of beautiful handmade clothing you want to dream about. You could never find anything close to outfits like these in
stores. If I was the type to have idols, I'd be her biggest
obsessive fan! I can see myself screaming like a crazed seamstress maniac: "I want to be just like you JOSIE!" The sky is the limit when it comes to her designs, and her craftsmanship is amazing.

You can check out her creations here. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

Tailor Made This

It's amazing how much Tailor made. In the past she was all there was. Even today what Tailor made is more expensive than store bought. Yet, there seems to be some kind of neverending stigma to her work. Tell anybody Tailor made your outfit, and you get a sea of mixed responses. Most will turn up their noses: "I can't believe Tailor made that for you, and you're wearing it!" Others will just think you're poor and can't afford to buy clothes, but they'll smile and pretend they like your outfit. Still others will genuinely adore your Tailor made garment, but would never actually wear it themselves.

Even though handmade clothing appear to be making a comeback, there is still some hesitation for the masses. The ironic part of this is that people will flock to a designer store and wear a "one of a kind," but that "one of a kind" was handmade by someone! I think it's time for seamstresses
to band together and bring back the honor that Tailor is due!

So with this blog, I intend to do my part to show the world what Tailor can do! I've seen many handmade outfits, and they're far superior to anything you can find in any store! Not to mention they're better made, and customed to fit you especially.

I started with my daughters. I introduced them to Tailor before any of them had the ability to remember, and now they actually prefer her to store clothing. Handmade clothing allow them to use creativity in choosing fabrics, colors, textures, ribbon and lace, and anything else they can dream up to add to a garment. I have helped them to appreciate at a very early age that the way of Tailor will always be the way to go!