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!