workroom peeks // sketchy

February 18th, 2015

Just a bit of what i’ve been working on – A few variations of a new sewing pattern i’ve been developing. It’s been so long since i posted sketches, i seem to have this really bad habit of just posting behind the scenes stuff to Instagram or keeping it to myself. It’s hard to remember to share whats going on behind the scenes, but i’m hoping to get a bit better at that!

Tutorial // how to make midi Tania culottes!

February 16th, 2015

YOU GUYS! i am so so excited to share this tutorial with you!!

I have had sooooo many requests for a tutorial on how to make the Tania culottes midi length, and i’ve tried out a couple of methods to find what i think works well, whilst still maintaining the original feel of the Tania culottes. The thing that makes the Tania culottes so special is the fact that they really look like a skirt and i wanted that effect to remain when lengthened.

OK so i’ve prepared two methods for you. The first method is for culottes that are very drapey, like the orange pair i shared in my last post, and have a very similar shape to the original culottes. This method will use more fabric, so keep that in mind. The second option is for culottes that are more structured, and have less flow. This is a great option for your more structured stiff fabrics, and also for any fabrics that are narrower. When i made the second option i was able to place my pattern pieces on folded fabric rather than single layer to cut, and that was really really nice.

Ready? click through for the details!

(more…)

the Briar valentine strikes again

February 13th, 2015

You know i can’t resist a Valentines themed outfit right?!

Basically i will take any excuse to wear my heart Briar crop. It’s changed very slightly since i first posted about it. If you recall, it was first a cropped sweater, which i wore to death, but i kept finding myself wanting to wear it in summer too. So about a month ago i took the old scissors out and chopped off the sleeves, and boom she’s a summer top! I think it always wanted to be a summer top :)

If you would like to make your own heart applique Briar crop top, head on over to my original post for the tutorial.

Also, debuting today, my midi Tania culottes! If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably noticed i’ve been experimenting with finding the best way to lengthen the Tania culottes past the knee, specifically to midi length, so that i can make a tutorial for all of you. This is one of the test pieces and i must say i am in love.

IN LOVE I TELL YOU>

Which makes sense of course because it’s a Valentines outfit. Ahh full circle :)

And don’t worry, the tutorial will be available next week! xoxo

[Make this look]

Top: Megan Nielsen Briar // Sewing Pattern + heart applique tutorial
Culottes: Megan Nielsen Tania culottes // Sewing Pattern
Shoes: Skin Shoes // Manhattan (so much cheaper than i paid, sad face) 

versatility and the jersey eucalypt

February 10th, 2015

Oh you guys. I am so in love with my jersey Eucalypt dress! I love how versatile it is and i think i need to make a million more!

This time I tried styling it a little differently. A belt around the waist and a pulling out a little fabric makes this dress look completely different. I feel like it actually showcases the hemline a little better which is really cool – who knows, i may end up chopping the dress at the some point and making it a midi length rather than maxi.

If you want to try making one yourself don’t forget to get the pattern and try out my tutorial!

[Make this look]

Dress: Megan Nielsen Eucalypt made in stretch fabric // Sewing pattern + tutorial + fabric
Shoes: Madewell 

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.