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

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