I have been sewing up a storm and it's all Heather Ross's fault. Weekend Sewing is a fantastic book. Not only are there many clothing patterns included, there are lots of small, quick projects, too. I am completely impressed by Heather's attention to detail in her directions and illustrations. Additionally, the clothes fit the sizes they say they should. That makes sewing clothes for myself so much more fun. I was lucky to have the chance to share my finished projects with Heather and asked her some questions about these designs.
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Heather! I am so excited that you are
here today. Your new book, Weekend
Sewing, is fantastic! When I saw the
project photos on Melanie Falick’s blog a few months ago, I couldn’t wait to
get my hands on it. Now that it’s been
out for a few weeks, I can’t get my fill of sewing from it. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to make the
summer blouse. It looks like a great
between-season wardrobe staple or something you would throw on after an entire
day at the beach. What was going through
your mind when you designed this shirt?
Heather: I started with a very basic bodice pattern
with soft darts and a nice high flattering neckline, which is where you should
always start when designing a dress or blouse.
I wanted to introduce sewers to an inset sleeve in a way that made
sense, and I wanted to make it a slightly shaped. I love the way that vintage
tunics from the sixties and seventies are more fitted around the shoulders and
chest and upper arm but then have a full, relaxed fit around the waist.
Remember the way that Lily Pulitzer dresses and tunics fit? With a high, pretty
neckline and and shaping through the chest? Marimekko was the same way, they
both knew how to get the best shape from crisp woven cottons. It’s a shape that
is so much more flattering than a blouse that is baggy everywhere, but just as
With some added length and no sleeves, this pattern will actually make a lovely little sleeveless shift! I added some photos below of one of my versions of this project. I made a little dress out of some of the fabrics from my Mendocino line, with an appliqued contrasting panel. This is just the summer blouse, but with armhole facings instead of sleeves and extended to fit me through the hips. This is what I mean about how great a simple bodice is: you can make it into anything!
next project I made were the Pajama Pants for Everyone. Well, actually, I adjusted the pattern to
make pajama shorts for Jane and Kate. I
think having this pattern on hand is going to come in handy. I can see myself sitting down and making them
assembly line style as gifts for my nephews.
Or a whole winter’s worth for the girls. Are your clothing designs influenced by
items you already own or ones you would like to have or something else
Heather: I wear a lot of pajamas. In fact, I left
the house wearing them this evening. Having a dog is such a great fashion
accessory. It really ties the whole haven’t left the house in days look
together so nicely. I like pajama pants that aren’t all floofy in the front, so
I designed these to lie flat. Its as close to wearing real pants as you can get
without... wearing real pants. How cute that you cut them into shorts! I would
highly recommend cutting them into shorts with the pattern pieces on the bias,
you would get the cutest little fluttery pj shorts ever, with a lots of drapey
curves around the leg and a nice flat front. An added bonus is the way that
bias cut shorts and pants stretch, even when sewn in woven fabrics. Maybe in a
nice linen or lawn?
Erin: One thing I love about your book is that there are so many clothes patterns in it. I haven’t had much success sewing garments for myself in the past. No longer! I think you have me on a selfish sewing roll! Did you start writing the book with clothing in mind, or did the projects fall into place as you went along?
Heather: I knew from the very beginning that I
wanted Weekend Sewing to be the book that propelled sewers from the “straight
lines” stage of tote bags and pillow covers to actual garments. I had a vision
of someone completing a dress or blouse and then saying “So THATS how you do
it, I thought it was so much more complicated!” I focussed on pieces that did
not require complicated steps or closures and hoped for the best. I also wanted
the projects to be grown up, wearable styles that were meant a real, albeit
casual, lifestyle: Things you would actually make more than once, things you
really liked the wide straps and square neckline of the trapeze sundress, but I
didn’t think I would wear it as a dress.
So I cut 12” off of the bottom and made a blouse. And I adore it! It’s sure to be a summer staple for me. I like that this, and other patterns, can be
changed or adjusted to make them entirely different. Was that intentional on your part or just a
Heather: Completely on
purpose! I love this dress too. I wanted to design a sun dress that felt right
in the city, where summer is oh so sweaty and miserable. I needed it to cover
as little as possible while hiding a bra strap. I think the possibilities for
this style are endless. You could make it ankle length and add a really wide
belt (If thats your plan, move the pockets down at least six inches) or add
tiers of ruffles from the chest down. I also had a second motive: I wanted to
show everybody how easy adding pockets can be!
I should point out
that for those of us who are more curvy, moving those pleats into the center of
the blouse will slim down the silhouette and create a less dramatic “trapeze
You look so cute in
You look so cute in it!Erin: Thank you!
There are so many patterns for different bags out there, but I really
like the shape and size of the everyday tote.
I love that it can fold up nice and flat, but still has good style. Even though I sewed my handles wrong (oops!), the fact that they are folded and then open
flat makes them incredibly comfortable. Where
did you come up with that idea?
Heather: I should say here that I believe that there
is a typo in this pattern: I think it should call for 1 yard of each fabric,
not 1/2 yard. My apologies.
This bag is my personal Farmers Market bag. I wanted one that would hold everything from fresh eggs to big bags of apples and berries while still allowing for a huge bouquet of flowers to ride on top. And yes, I love how it stuffs into nothingness too, and I can toss it n the washer. I really love how yours looks with thinner straps. I like wide comfy straps because I always put too much weight in my bags, but its nice to see that it works both ways. I love what you did with the pocket, using just a little bit of the horses over the floral lining. The pockets are so key. I am forever losing my phone and my keys inside every bag, so can’t ever skip this step.
Erin: The pocket is key for me, too! I also purposely chose the horse fabric because I knew I would be able to spot that dark green easily against the white lining. So far, it's working great.
made the yard sale wrap skirt in an afternoon.
I remember having a skirt similar to this when I was a child. It was one of the most comfortable things I
owned. My new one is no different. I think you have a knack for designing
practical yet stylish clothing.
Heather: This skirt is based
on a wonderful old wrap skirt that wandered around in my family for about
twenty years. The wrap skirt, made from printed indian cotton, was such an
ubiquitous style in the 70’s, remember? I have extremely fond memories of
someone, maybe an aunt, holding hers up poolside around my cousin as she
changed into her swimsuit, like a little changing room. I updated the hemline
because I can’t stand that “thick calf” length, but otherwise its pretty true
to form. This is, without a doubt, the most wearable style in the book. Its
also the most versatile, because you can make it as big or as full as you want
by adding more panels. I worked for a long time on the shape of the panels, I
wanted them to create just the right amount of drape so that it would be flat
against the tummy and hips and then melt into a big swoopy hem. It’s tough to
do this without making something that looks like a poodle skirt, but I am happy
to say that i think I nailed it here. I would also suggest adding a piece of
interfacing to the center front waistband, the result will be a nipped-in waist
and flat tummy. I’m getting reports that people are having to add an additional
panel to this style in order for it to fully cover their backsides. Sorry,
Erin: I was happy I had some extra fabric on hand because I did add an extra panel to my skirt, too. People might want to remember that if they are purchasing fabric for this skirt.
After the success with the wrap skirt, I
went ahead and made the all weekend sundress.
I didn’t have high hopes for it – I just wasn’t sure how if it would
flatter me or not. Guess what? I like it.
I still need to add the spaghetti straps, but otherwise it’s ready to
wear. I can see myself throwing this
over a swim suit as a glamorous cover-up.
I had forgotten how much fun elastic thread is, too. So cool!
A good number of projects in Weekend Sewing use elastic thread. Why do you like it so much?
Heather: I did use it a lot, didn’t I!
The kimono dress and all weekend sundress are great examples
of why I did this. By using stretchy rows of elastic thread to join the bodice
and skirt on both of these styles, I brought in the waist with lovely even
gathers so that it would fit the wearer perfectly without requiring a zipper or
other closure. I wanted this stuff to fit, and elastic gathers really make that
possible! Also, I really wanted everyone to see how easy it is to sew with
elastic thread, and how it can be employed to make very cool looking, great
fitting garments without a lot of work.
Your rows of elasticized stitching look so even and
Your rows of elasticized stitching look so even and perfect!!!
Erin: Thanks - I am really proud of how that dress came together. Next up for me: the town bag. First I need to find the right piece of leather and then work up the courage to actually sew with it. I think that if my success with these other projects is any indication, it’ll be a breeze.
Heather: Looking forward to seeing it! And if you can’t find leather, try using a really heavy velvet for the town bag. Really unexpected, but really amazing.
Erin: That’s a great idea – I can just see it in a soft pastel color. Once again, you’ve got my mind spinning.
Thanks so much, Heather.
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OK - that was so much fun. Heather and the nice folks at STC Craft are giving away a copy of Weekend Sewing to one lucky reader. Comment on this post before 12:00 noon EST, Wednesday, March 18th for a chance. Also, don't forget about the design challenge Heather is having on her blog.
Now I am going to clean up my mess and then take a nap. Happy St. Patrick's Day!