on the gumnut coat

February 7th, 2015

[just a quick aside: thank you so so much for all of your love and support and encouragement on my last post. I am beyond excited, and i can't wait to share this journey with you!! You truly are an amazing group of friends/readers/gorgeous gals!]

If you’ve been following my brand for a while, you have probably stumbled upon the Gumnut coat. It’s one of my favourite designs, and it featured in my 2010 ready to wear collection.

I love it – and evidently a lot of you do too, because i have received many many requests over the years to make a sewing pattern for it. So i started – and got partway through, only to decide to stop.

There were a number of reasons, and i thought i’d explain my thought process a little.

The first reason is that the print plate we were using wasn’t large enough to fit the large pattern pieces, which was kind of a deal breaker. And can you imagine it as a digital PDF download? SHUDDER. Second, there are just so many pattern pieces. It’s a big pattern with lots of pieces, and complexity, i would rate it as requiring a lot of experience – which is a very different thing than the vision i have for my patterns. Let me explain. My goal has always been to make sewing stylish clothing more accessible. Every time i design a pattern i go over it many times stripping it back to be as simple as possible. Everything is assessed, and judged and sometimes changed to make the pattern as accessible as possible. The Crescent blouse is a good example – i spent so much time pouring over the pattern pieces and instructions and refining them to reduce the difficulty as much as possible. And the third reason is wearability. I only believe in making garments that you wear over and over and over. And patterns you make over and over. That’s why i don’t design party dresses. I haven’t worn that coat in years as it was too cold for winter in the USA, and too hot for other times, and well doesn’t even make sense in Australia. Which is unfortunately often the case with stylish outerwear.

And that’s where i get stuck with the coat. I’m not sure it fits with what i want to achieve. I like to be real with you guys, and this coat, a coat i love, doesn’t even fit in with my daily wardrobe, so how can i expect it to fit into yours? I love it, the design is still one of my favourties, but I don’t want to create a pattern that will be too hard for beginners, or not wearable, or even worse only be made once and then packed away in a box.

So thats where i’m at. I hope thats not too disappointing for anyone – but i think that is where my thoughts are on that pattern right now. I may change my mind later – but for now, i don’t think i will be releasing that design as a pattern. BUT> if you really love that coat shape, collar style etc, i’ve found a few coat patterns that are currently available through other companies, and which i think are really gorgeous and quite similar:

  • Simplicity 1197 – this one is so similar it’s creepy :) Sub those pockets for rounded ones, round out the hemline and leave off some buttons
  • Simplicity 1284 – This one needs a collar, but the shape is really really gold
  • Colette Patterns Anise – I know this is a short coat, but make it longer and you have a very similar neckline and sleeve look.
  • Etsy – A quick search of Etsy found some amazing vintage coat patterns that are very similar. This one, this, this and this (this is a kids pattern, but it is AMAZING)
Anyone think of any others?
As always, hugs and happy sewing!

a dream // and a step

February 1st, 2015

I’ve had a lot of questions about my post two weeks ago hinting at where my business is going this year, so i thought i’d share a little more about one of my dreams.

I think it’s hard to talk about your hopes and dreams isn’t it? It’s vulnerable. Its real. It’s sharing a part of your soul.

To be honest, I don’t really dream of success. I don’t dream of making my business bigger, or being the biggest best pattern company in the world, though obviously those things would be awesome. I am a Christian, and my dreams are for people, for humanity and human rights. Not wealth, success or fame.

For a while, our sewing patterns were produced locally in Perth in a sheltered workshop for people with disabilities. What does that mean? It means that people who otherwise couldn’t find work because no-one would hire them, work in a safe protected environment doing work at their skill level. People who work there have pride, and hope and security. And every time my patterns were delivered to me, I got to talk to many of them first hand, and see what that looked like. And it was awesome, I cried after every delivery. I think the greatest gift you can give someone is the ability to look after themselves with dignity and security. I think that’s better than charity as we often experience it, faceless money changing hands. And where does it all go? I believe in empowering people, in really seeing them, and giving them work and a life. I loved it, but unfortunately as my business grew, this unique and valuable organisation couldn’t keep up with the level of production.

That was almost two years ago. Since then, I’ve had a dream. The one i keep in my heart, and save for when i’m falling asleep at night, and almost never talk about though it consumes my thoughts.

I make patterns because i love designing clothing, but i dream about helping people. My children are safe, and loved and have a world of opportunity in front of them. Their futures are bright and hopeful. But other women and other children don’t live like that, not even close – and it makes my heart bleed.

Deep breath. I dream of opening my own sheltered workshop oneday. I dream of opening a sheltered workshop in one of the many countries where women and children are stuck in the disgusting life of human trafficking and sex slavery. My heart is broken for them and their constant, daily suffering. I dream of their freedom, and pray that one day i can help in some way by providing safe work, safe homes, a better option for communities. Choices. I want to be a part of that.

But this idea has stayed a dream, because it’s so big, I’m not there yet. I didn’t even have a first step.

Then a few months ago i met a couple at church who work with an organization that do the very thing i have dreamed of doing! Seriously. My head exploded and i did a happy dance. It took me all of 3.5 seconds to figure out a way that we could work together.

They provide safe and sheltered employment, health care and child care to women who have escaped the sex trade in India- all at a fair wage. Right now they make organic fair trade tshirts and bags, and are working on expanding so they can support more women.

So here is my small, but significant step. Right now we are finished with the design stage, have begun manufacturing and soon will be releasing a line of tshirts to support this amazing cause! I AM SO EXCITED> i really can’t wait! There won’t be any profit. I don’t care. Being a part of providing work, and safety and hope is the most amazing thing ever. I don’t know where this will go exactly, but i’m so excited to be making a small start on a big dream! To be making a small stand in a big world.

Quick tip // Using a mens tshirt as fabric

January 27th, 2015

If you’ve been reading Design Diary for a while, you know i loving taking something old and making it new again. I love reimagining and i love fabric from unusual sources

A while ago i bought a tshirt from Print Liberation and they had some screen print test print shirts for like $5 or something. I thought all of the prints on top of one another looked cool, so i bought one not really sure what i’d do with it. When it arrived i saw the 1984 on the front, and thought yes, BIRTH  YEAR! boooyahh hehe. So i decided to make a Briar crop top out of it – and thought i’d share with you what i did incase you’d like to try something similar

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in small amounts

January 24th, 2015

Maybe i’m strange, but i get an immense satisfaction from eking a garment out of almost no fabric. It makes me feel like a hero. I really adore this fabric – i bought it many years ago at JoAnns – and first used it for this tshirt for Bunny (and don’t ask me where the kids patterns are… because well, that plan kind of never happened hahaha).

Since then i’ve been hoarding it and waiting for something else to use it for. Something perfect. So i used some to make a swaddling blanket for baby Birdie, i used some for a bow headband and before i knew it this beloved fabric was a lovely collection of scraps.

CUE TEARS.

My very basic plan had always been to make a tshirt – but sometimes the simplest plans fail because you know it’s simple. Does that make sense? Oh a tshirt I can make that tomorrow.

Anyway, in the end i got a little sneaky and managed to eke out a Briar crop top! Albiet with a straight hem, as i didn’t have enough length in the back. BUT i did manage to pattern match the side seams, which in normal circumstances is no big whoop, but in this circumstance, it was a big freaking deal.

Ok i’m done. So much love for a tiny little tshirt!

a year of refocus

January 21st, 2015

I’m really excited for this year you guys!

Over the last year while i’ve been on maternity leave, i haven’t been actively developing patterns, but i’ve spent a lot of time thinking with Chris about my business. What it should look like, where we want it to go, what we’re passionate about. How we can run it well, and still focus on our family. How we can make it reflect ME and YOU better. We’ve taken a hard look at how customers use my patterns, and chatted to people about what they care about. We’ve reassessed the way we do everything. Every last part of everything.

And we’ve decided to make changes. Really cool exciting ones.

So i’m declaring this year as a year of refocus. Of making my brand even better, and making it reflect more of me. Of working smarter not harder. Of supporting humanitarian projects (because i’m a Christian first and a business woman second). Of making patterns that you really really love to use.

It’s going to be a big year. And i’m really excited to share this journey with you!

Buddy’s everything quilt

January 20th, 2015

After i made Bunny her Elephant quilt , Buddy told me he also wanted a new quilt. Being younger than her, I expected that i would choose all the fabrics etc, i was imagining something very monochrome, very minimalist, very scandanavian. No he tells me. I want all my favourite things.

So off we went to the fabric store together, and stood in front of the wall of quilting cottons, and i just watched him pull out fat quarters piling up the ones he liked, rearranging, fine tuning. Until we ended up with these. I have to admit, it was such a cool experience. I just love seeing what my kids choose on their own – and this is a perfect little collection of what Buddy likes. And amazingly, it all kind of coordinates! We have orange ( a LOT of orange), robots, dinosaurs, tools and puppy paw prints. It’s not at all what i expected – but i love it! He calls it his “everything quilt” and i think that’s a pretty awesome description hehe. Buddy absolutely loves it, and sat by me almost the whole time i was making it. Total win.

It’s just backed with some checked cotton i had in stash, and the binding is white with navy crosses which i think goes well. It’s so funny to me to think how many quilts i’ve made, considering how much i used to swear i would never quilt. I think next up i need to make a quilt for baby birdie and work on my next collection scrap quilt!

[Here is the very first quilt i made him when he was a toddler and which he has now outgrown awwww]