Meetup Loot!

I don’t know about you, but for me, this summer has been crazy!

There is just so much going on that I can’t possibly keep up. I have three kids getting ready for back-to-school. Sniff! They are getting so big! I’m off maternity leave and back to work (sigh!). And I’ve been sewing up a storm. Now all I have to do is catch up with my blogging.

So I thought I would start by showing off some of my summer loot.

Last Saturday there was a Montreal Sewing Blogger’s Meetup, this time hosted by Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist. It was loads of fun. We started with lunch, then had an amazing swap.

The meetup was organized for CarmencitaB‘s trip to Montreal. And she brought us all gifts! Such a sweet thought! I got a ring pin cushion, some French bath gel and a new tape measure (the last courtesy Jalie patterns). And that was before the swap.

Loot from the second Montreal Sewing Blogger's Meetup.
Loot from the second Montreal Sewing Blogger’s Meetup.

The swap was amazing! I have a bit of a project backlog at the moment, so I didn’t take any fabric except the quilting scraps. But I left with two amazing pattern magazines. I grabbed the Ottobre magazine because it has a great dress pattern, but there is also a cute pattern for pyjamas I’d like to try. I also got some fun trim, some cute kids’ belting and some d-rings. We did go shopping afterwards, but I’m on a bit of a fabric budget. I did get few fat quarters from Effiloché though.

The very best part was seeing everyone’s sewing creations in person. Carmen wore this dress, Vicki wore this skirt, Caroline wore this dress (and is organizing the next meetup in September), and Rachel wore this dress. All very beautiful! I have probably forgotton someone and their sewing. Sorry! I cheated and brought my baby with her new bonnet. I had grand plans to sew something in time, but there are only so many hours in the day. Next time.

All together we were VickiCarmen, Caroline, Katherine, Renée, Rhonda, Tammy, Rachel and Julie. Have I missed anyone? Thanks everyone for all the fun!

Shorts for the Win!

shorts on the line - a summer sew along
shorts on the line – a summer sew along

So where have I been, you may be asking? Each I year I co-organize an open source tech conference. It was on June 29-30. It is huge and crazy and getting through the pile of laundry afterwards is an amazing feat. But I am officially back in my usual, crazy, mum-of-four swing of things.

My first job has been to tame the email, and what was awaiting me there? A prize!

Yes, I am one of the official winners of the shorts on the line giveaway. My prize is the Kid Shorts by MADE. It looks really cute and I can’t wait to try it out. And since it fits kids 12 months to size 10, that means I’ll have to make four. Shorts, shorts, shorts! Thanks to Rachel of Imagine Gnats and Carla of Small + Friendly for organizing both the Shorts on the Line contest (which I also entered) and the giveaway. And thanks to Dana of MADE for donating the prize.

Kid Shorts by MADE
Kid Shorts by MADE (used with permission)

And what else did I get to now that life is getting back to normal… the fabric store!

It’s about 40 degrees with the humidex during the day here in Montreal – unbearably hot and humid. I kept seeing all the local mums in these fabulously comfortable jersey maxi dresses. I’ve been having babies for so long now that my (non-maternity) wardrobe is just pitiful, so I figured it was time for some summer sewing for me.

McCall's M 6760 Misses' Dress and Jumpsuit and some spongey bamboo jersey.
McCall’s M 6760 Misses’ Dress and Jumpsuit and some spongey bamboo jersey.

This is some really soft, really spongey bamboo jersey and McCall’s M 6760. The photo makes the fabric look darker than it is. It’s actually a medium grey and medium-weight. Now that I’ve blogged it I will be forced to sew it. No procrastinating allowed!

I know, I know, all the dresses on the pattern envelope are made of georgette or some other airy fabric, but definitely not knit fabric. But there it was on the back of the envelope, “jersey”.

And the bonus is that with jersey, I won’t need to line it or use an invisible zipper. I’m just a bit concerned that the jersey might be a bit heavy and weigh too much on the waistband, but we will soon find out. The waistband is meant to be interfaced, but then it won’t be as comfortable. Hmmm. dilemma, dilemma. I love the fabric, but I could also do a glorified t-shirt maxi dress instead. Maybe a bit dull, in grey though. What would you do? Suggestions welcome.

Meeting Montreal’s Sewing Bloggers

My husband is getting pretty tired of hearing about separating zippers and wool crepe. So I was very excited about the first Montreal Sewing Bloggers’ Meetup. We were seven sewists at the meetup. Not bad,  especially on a very cold and rainy Saturday.

We started out with coffee at Caffè mille gusti. The service was great and the owner was super friendly. Also, cannolis! Mmmmmm. Then we had a fun pattern and fabric swap. Check out the damage.

pattern swap
Look what everyone brought to swap! Not much room for coffee on those tables.

I got two nice patterns for myself. A nice pencil skirt from Burda (view C is calling me), and an Anne Klein jacket. I also have a big box of homeless patterns for the next meetup. Ah, the 1980’s!

Patterns from the pattern swap
This is what I took home from the pattern swap: Burda 4400 – Misses Gored Skirts and Vogue 2047 – Anne Klein Misses Jacket, Skirt & Pants.

Then we did the tour of Saint-Hubert. Luckily for my budget, we mostly stuck to the more affordable fabric and notion stores. It was great fun. Heather of Closet Case Files knew all the shops and took us around to her favourites. I picked up a bit of pretty cotton shirting for only $6/yard. I also saw some really nice wools, but couldn’t decide what I wanted. And I think the other sewists convinced me I need a cape. I do need a cape, right?

Cotton fabric
What I picked up on Saint-Hubert: lightweight cotton shirting in white with a turquoise print.

I am so excited to find a group of people who are as excited about sewing as I am!  So excited that I forgot to take photos. I’m such a bad blogger sometimes!

Who was there?

Shannon (me) of The Finished Garment
Suzie Suzie’s Sewing Story
Catherine of Ramble On Cat
Heather Lou of Closet Case Files
Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist

Everyone was so nice! Really! I’m not sure what it is about sewing that makes people so incredibly nice and friendly, but it’s awesome. And of course no one complains if you want to talk zippers and wool crepe.

I think we should definitely have another meetup and Vicki from Another Sewing Scientist and Map the Sewintists suggested somewhere with a terrace next time. But when? Suggestions for dates welcome!

And though we were only seven of us this time, there were other bloggers that just couldn’t work last Saturday’s meetup into their schedule. Hopefully they will be able to make it next time. Here are some of their blogs, in case you are looking for more local talent.

Caroline of Sew-Eng
Emily of La Bobine filante
Sophie of L’effet Créa
Véronik of St-Denis Yarns
Jennifer of Family Buzz
Mémère of Graine de mémère

(If you are looking for more bloggers to follow, but quilting is more your thing, you can find a list of Montreal modern quilting bloggers on the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild website.)

Do you know any other Montreal sewing bloggers? Or maybe you are another Montreal sewing blogger? Let me know who I’ve missed in the comments so I know who to invite next time!

More Family Patterns

I hope you had a good Easter. Mine was great. This year, the Easter bunny brought me vintage patterns! They are so much more exciting than chocolate and last longer too. Let’s take a look.

Look at all those new patterns!
Look at all those new patterns!

I know! Soooo many patterns.

A little while ago I posted an article on a bunch of patterns that my mother gave me. Well, my husband’s aunt saw the article and thought I might like her old patterns too. So generous!

I can’t show them all, so here are the ones I’m most likely to sew.

The blouse is Style 3351 from 1981. Next is a bias skirt, McCalls 3296, from 2001. Finally Simplicity 7254 from 1975, an apron.

There is a nice blouse (Style 3351) from the early 1980s, but it’s got 1970s styling. There is McCall’s 3296, which is a bias-cut skirt. There is also a fishtail version, but I think I’ll stick with the classic a-line skirt. Another good one is Simplicity 7254, an apron from 1975. I can’t believe I have no apron patterns at all, and yet I am in need of an apron.

This is McCalls 5861, from 1992: jacket, tank dress or top, skirt & pants or shorts.

This is another one that looks nice. McCall’s 5861, from 1992 includes a tank top and dress with Made-For-You A-B-C-D cup sizing. I think it might make a nice summer dress.

Simplicity 7412, from 1976: child’s dress and capelet. A French jumper pattern from Modes et Travaux. Simplicity 1434; ca. 1955/56; boy’s pajamas in two lengths.

But the real gems are in the children’s patterns. Here we have Simplicity 7412, from 1976. Clearly, it’s a first communion dress, but without the capelet (and maybe a bit more length) it’s quite cute. Then there is this French pattern for a jumper by Modes et travaux. And my favourite is the boys pyjamas. They are pull-on with no buttons! My kids are pretty allergic to buttons, and this pattern has a really nice, unique neckline.

Butterick 7602: Quick & Easy boys’ & girls’ sport shirt. Simplicity 1785 Child’s Mandarin Pajamas, robe, and matching doll coat, from the 1950s. Simplicity 4636; ca. 1962; child’s hooded jacket and pants.

And finally, these were the most unusual kids’ patterns. I’m not sure I’ll be sewing them, but the 1950s styling is interesting. First there is   Butterick 7602, a pull-on shirt. I’ve never seen a shirt with this type of neckline. Next is  Simplicity 1785,  a child’s mandarin pyjamas and robe. So 1950s! And finally a ski suit: Simplicity 4636.

A big thank you to both the Easter bunny and my husband’s aunt (name omitted to protect her from the notoriety of sewing blog fame )!

All Your Patterns Are Belong to Me

They’re here! Finally! I ordered a batch of Vogue sewing patterns during the big February sale. Vogue patterns were only $2.99, and Butterick and McCalls were $0.99. Those are great prices, especially for new and current patterns. But I’m sure there is one burning question on your mind…

How long does it take Vogue, McCall’s or Butterick patterns to be delivered to Canada?

(Don’t care? Then just scroll down to see some pics. )

The Vogue website says that for Canadian orders, “please allow up to three weeks for delivery”.

I ordered my patterns on February 15 in the wee hours of the morning. Baby must have known I needed new patterns and thoughtfully kept me awake. One week later I received a shipping notification, but without a tracking number. The message said “your tracking number will be sent when it is available”, but it was never sent. Oh well.

Shipping prices were quite reasonable. I was charged $12. Simplicity patterns, by comparison, cost about $30 and up in shipping for Canadian orders.

The patterns arrived today. It took three weeks less a day. And the tracking number was prominently attached to the box. And with that I can find out that the patterns were picked up from the warehouse in Mississauga just two days ago. Oh well. It’s still the best price.

And now the really important question. What should I make first?

My new patterns!

Sewing for Kids in the 1950s

Is this not the cutest hipster utility jacket for toddlers ever? It is a rhetorical question and the answer is “yes!”.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The envelope is a little worn, but the pattern itself is in good condition.

It’s part of the stash of vintage patterns that my mother gave me when she cleaned up her sewing things. But this was not one of her patterns. There’s a bit of writing on the envelope. It says “Effie’s pattern – 1958”. I would recognize my grandmother’s handwriting anywhere. And of course it isn’t her pattern either. Effie is my great-grandmother and this is her pattern.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The back of the envelope is a bit torn.

The pattern is Butterick 6176 in size 2. From the envelope back: “Toddler’s Sunsuit or Overalls and Jacket. (A) This short button-front jacket has long, cuffed sleeves set in raglan style. Makes a suit with these side-buttoned overalls (B). (View C) Make this simple sunsuit: bib-top with button-on straps and briefest bottoms.” Indeed!

How old is this pattern?

If you look for this pattern on the Vintage Patterns Wiki, you’ll see it says it was a pattern from the 1950s. However, I think this pattern was probably released through the 1950s and 1960s.

It’s difficult to date vintage patterns, and I am certainly no expert. Butterick patterns, like this one, don’t always have a date printed on them. You have to make an educated guess. Sometimes you can use the pattern illustration, or certain design elements to date the pattern, but children’s patterns tend to be less fashion-forward than patterns for women’s clothing. Another way to date a pattern is by the pattern envelope style.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: Toddler’s Sunsuit or Overalls and Jacket. (A) This short button-front jacket has long, cuffed sleeves set in raglan style. Makes a suit with these side-buttoned overalls (B). (View C) Make this simple sunsuit: bib-top with button-on straps and briefest bottoms.

This pattern has the classic upper-left square around the Butterick logo that is typical of patterns from the 1950s. You can see the same style logo in this pattern dated 1956. Her copy was probably published in the 1950s. There were a few other patterns with this one, with dates printed on them, that were from the 1930s and 1940s.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The instructions are in great condition.

However, even though the copy of this pattern that my grandmother had was from the 1950s, you can find this pattern with different envelope designs. This probably means that it was published over an extended period of time. It would have to be published in the late 1940s or after, since the pattern is printed and not perforated in all the versions I’ve seen. And it seems to have been published through the 1960’s judging by logo design alone. The price of the pattern varied between 35 and 48 cents, from what I can tell from a quick internet search.

How is it different from modern patterns?

The envelope from my grandmother’s pattern is barely holding together, but the pattern and instructions are in great shape. It looks like only the overalls or sunsuit were actually sewn up. The jacket was carefully cut out though. My great grandmother had eight grandchildren to sew for in the 1950s and 1960s, but I’m curious about who got the overalls.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: Check out all the different layouts. There are layouts for fabric with widths of 35″, 39″ and 54″. Fabric usually now comes in widths of 45″ or 60″.

The first thing I noticed were the cutting layouts. There are layouts for fabric with widths of 35″, 39″ and 54″. Fabric usually now comes in widths of 45″ or 60″.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: I like how they want me to use tailor’s tacks.

I also think it’s cute that the pattern calls for the use of tailor’s tacks or a tracing wheel, a tool “much used by Professionals”. I like the gratuitous capitalization.

Butterick 6176
Butterick 6176: The pattern shows how to make corded, blanket-stitched buttonholes. Keep in mind, this is a jacket for a two-year-old.

The pattern also tells you to make corded, blanket-stitched button holes by hand. Ooh la la! Keep in mind that this jacket is in size 2 and will last about a year before the lucky, but admittedly well-dressed recipient grows out of it. “Modern sewing is easy”, it says on the envelope. Un huh. I recently read a blog post that asked if patterns used to be more complicated. In this case, yes.

What else is different? If you look at the pattern illustration, you’ll see that this is a pattern for both boys and girls. If you look at Butterick’s current catalogue, you won’t find any patterns for boys at all, unless you count pyjamas or a layette. McCall’s has only a couple patterns for boys. And if you look at the girls’ patterns on either site, they are all super girly – ruffles, loads of pink, bows and ribbons. Ugghhh.

McCall’s M6385, Vintage Butterick 6176, and Simplicity 2292

About the closest you would come to this pattern is McCall’s M6385 or Simplicity 2292. But look at the styling. It’s sort of like a big billboard ad “You Must Dress Your Girls in Pink.” And of course the boy outfits must be “boy-ed-up” with “boy”-themed appliqué work. Personally, I prefer the little red utility jacket.

I think it’s pretty fun to open up old patterns, but I’m geeky that way. What about you? Have you ever tried a vintage children’s sewing pattern?

How I Organized My Growing Hoard of Sewing Patterns ; A Software Review

When I started sewing again, one of the first things I decided to do was to get all my patterns and fabric organized. I only had a small stash: one box of quilting fabric, one box of apparel fabric, and one box with patterns and unfinished objects (UFOs). It had been a while since I had gone through it all and I honestly had no idea what I had to work with.

The other reason for getting organized was that I was tired of going to the fabric store, finding the perfect fabric, and then having no idea how much to buy. Other times I would come home without buttons, or with the wrong  type of zipper. I couldn’t carry around all my patterns, just in case I needed to consult the back of the pattern, or could I?

My Goal

My goal was to create a system that was easy to use, affordable, allowed me to know what I had in terms of fabric and consult my patterns anytime and anywhere.

There are a couple of ways to do this. Of course you can do this the low-tech way, lugging patterns around, or little scraps of paper, but this wasn’t working for me. So I decided to go high-tech.

What Are the Options?

There are a number of dedicated smartphone and/or desktop apps you can use.

Sewing Kit, and Sewing Kit HD

Sewing Kit HD is an application that is available for the iPad while Sewing Kit is built for iPhone. You can use it to keep track of your patterns, fabric, measurements and other data. It doesn’t allow you to sync between devices, however.

Cost: $9 for iPad, $5 for iPhone.


PatternPal for iPhone lets you organize your sewing projects. It keeps track of patterns and allows you to input up to 2 photos. There is also a Fabric Stash app for an additional fee.

Total cost: $5. Add $4 if you also want Fabric Stash.


PatternFile is a desktop application that lets you keep track of which patterns you own, and where they are located. It costs $10-20 USD, but if you want  to be able to use your data on a mobile device (of course you do!), and to automatically import pattern data, it’s another $5 per month. Mobile apps are available for iPhone, IPad and Android. The iPhone and iPad apps are only available in the US iTunes store.

The software automatically imports pattern data, images, yardage, etc. directly from the pattern companies’ websites. It also allow you to quickly import data for some vintage patterns. This is a really great feature, especially if you use current patterns from the ‘Big Four’ commercial pattern companies.

PatternFile also allows you to share you data with friends and see which patterns they have. I can safely say I would never use this feature. The chances of a friend using the exact same software, and having patterns I want to look at is exactly zero.

Total cost: $23-$55.


Filemaker makes a product for Macs only called Bento that allows you to create simple databases. The system is pretty flexible, so you can decide what information you want to store. Fabric, patterns, and notions can all be recorded, you just need to take the time to set things up. There are even some ready-made templates available for organizing sewing patterns which can save you some time.  Bento allows you to download their product for a 30-day trial.

Unfortunately, I had downloaded Bento a few years ago for some now forgotten reason but hadn’t gotten around to testing it out, and once your time has run out, you can’t get another trial.

There are also Bento apps for iPhone and iPad that allow you to sync your data and make it portable, but these are not free.

Total cost: $49 for Mac, $5 for iPhone, $10 for iPad.


Evernote isn’t really an application as much as a web service. It allows you to keep track of patterns, notions, fabric, and anything else you like. You aren’t limited to any number of photos and you can even save PDFs directly to the service. As long as you upload 60MB per month, or less, the service is free. Otherwise it’s $45 per year.  If you are routinely entering the same type of data, you can even set up templates to save time. You can access your data through a web browser, using a Windows or Mac desktop application, or on your iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or Windows Mobile phone. You can also share your data with friends, if you choose to (I have no need of this feature).

Total cost: free.

What Did I Choose?

Evernote was the winner. It is free, easy to use, and did all the things I wanted (except for magically importing pattern data).

I started with my fabric. I created a ‘Notebook’ in Evernote called apparel fabric, then I started documenting all the fabric in my stash. For each piece I created a ‘note’. I took a quick and dirty photo of everything I had, and measured it and included that info. Evernote helps you keep the file size down by letting you take photos within the app in smaller file sizes.

The whole process was pretty quick. I only had one big box of fabric and I documented it one night while watching bad tv shows. That is also why the photos are a bit ‘meh’.

Evernote lets you sort alphabetically by the title of the note, so if you want to organize by colour, put the colour first in the note title, if you want to organize by fabric type, then put the words ‘lining’, or ‘silk’ first. If you want to, you can note how much you paid, where you purchased your fabric, care details, etc. You can also attach tags to notes that help you find things later. I didn’t really use tags for my fabric collection.

Evernote Fabric Stash Collection
Some of my fabric stash. I’m pretty sure I will die an old woman and my grandchildren will have to deal with that jaguar-print fun fur.

Next I tackled my patterns.

I created three notebooks, one for women’s patterns, one for men’s and one for kids’. This was the best way for me to start, since there is no overlap in these categories, at least not within my pattern collection. Well, I suppose there is that 1980s bomber jacket, but the chances of me sewing that for someone of any gender is small.

I used the pattern company name, followed by the pattern number in the title, and then the name of the pattern (i.e. Kelly Skirt). Then I pulled in the pattern front, pattern back and technical drawing for each one. In some cases there is also a link to the pattern company site, or to an inspiring blog post by someone who has made the same garment.

I really like that this system is so flexible. I can keep track of digital patterns and printed ones, ‘Big Four’ patterns and independent ones, patterns for me and for others. I can even include all my vintage patterns.

Evernote Pattern Collection
Some of my pattern collection in Evernote. I’m pretty sure I won’t be making that bustier from the 1980s.

With my fabrics, I only used a few tags, but with my patterns I used a lot. I tagged my patterns with the pattern company, the decade, the type of garment (dress, top, etc.) and any distinguishing features that I might want to search for later (gored skirt, puff sleeves, asymmetric, vintage, summer, half-size, etc.).

This process was more time consuming that recording my fabric, but well worth the effort. Now if I see a fabric that would make, say, a great summer dress, maybe with ruffles, I can just open up Evernote on my smart phone and search for ‘summer dress ruffle’ and see all the patterns I own that fit those criteria. Then I can choose one pattern, and get the yardage and notion requirements from the image of the pattern back. I have my entire database of patterns available at all times.

I also like that I have a good idea of what patterns are ‘missing’ from my collection. I don’t own a good jeans pattern, for example, and the men I sew for have very slim pickings. I also can avoid duplicating pattern purchases. In a zombie apocalypse, I now know that I will be able to clothe girls between the ages of 3 and 12 in skirts that are a-line, tiered, gathered, pleated, or culottes, in all lengths, without ever leaving the house to purchase a pattern. How did this happen?

Overall, I’m very happy with this solution. You can see how some other bloggers are using Evernote with their sewing herehere, here, here and here. Everyone is organizing their patterns a little bit differently, which just shows how flexible this solution is.

What about you? How do you organize your patterns and fabric?

Note: This post contains an Evernote affiliate link. If you click on it, I get a little extra storage space, but no monetary compensation. As always, my opinions are my own.