Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 9 Sewing Happenings and Trends in 2014

As you probably know, December means "recap" time in the blogging world. I'll be doing a single Top Hits and Misses post at some point this month, rating my most-worn garments of the past year and biggest flops. I'm also planning to do an assessment on how I did on last year's goals and set some new goals for myself for 2015. I do know that the barrage of recap stuff bores some readers to tears, but remember, part of the reason why I (and many others) blog is to keep sort of a journal of our own projects, and I think that stepping back and reflecting a bit is an important part of that.
All of this year-end wrap-up stuff also gives me something to write about while project-wise, I'm still in coat purgatory. I'm going through the tedious process of underlining my lining pieces with my interlining right now, which doesn't really give me anything to show you.

To kick things off, I'm posting my Top 9 observations as to what big events and trends impacted the online sewing community and our sewing, in general, the most this year. Why 9? Because I couldn't think of a 10th one that didn't feel like filler.

  9. BMV embraces social media

Vogue-McCall's-Butterick finally hired someone (former blogger LindsayT, also known as "Meg") to blog and handle social media full-time as a way to interact with their customer base. I think that this was a great call; I've particularly loved Meg's posts showing the "guts" of some of the designer garments in the BMV offices. Now, we'll see if the comments that we repeatedly see with regards to the Big 4 manifest themselves in any way over the coming months (more cup size patterns, please!), but it's nice to feel like we have a direct, accessible contact to BMV. I don't know if the recent, awesome McCall's release is a possible reflection of feedback, but it's nice to imagine that it might possibly be the case.

8. Interesting shorts patterns

I know that last summer seems like a lifetime ago to some of us, but this past summer saw quite an interesting array of shorts patterns released. If you wear shorts at all, there probably was a length and a style that suited you, from the wrap-over shorts patterns released by BurdaStyle and Simplicity to the City Short pattern released by StyleArc to the pleated tap shorts released by Katy and Laney:

BurdaStyle 06-2014 #124

StyleArc Jennifer City Short
Katy and Laney Tap Shorts

7. Everyone is sewing bras (but me)

Do you read your blogs via a blog reader (such as Bloglovin' or Feedly), like I do? If so, in the past month or so, on any given day you probably have at least one or two posts from sewing bloggers showing off their new bras and other lingerie. It seems like there's been a decent number of new bra patterns released lately, and these are the new bright and shiney objects in the blogosphere. Of course, much like in RTW, if you wear a larger bra size, you're mostly out of luck with these new patterns.

Cloth Habit - Watson Bra and Bikini
On a personal note, I'd love not to have to pay $60+ for a single bra (you can't just walk into Kohl's and buy a bra off the rack at my size), so I'm intrigued by the idea of making my own. However, I can't say that the handful of existing patterns that reach my bra size (currently 42G) provide much inspiration. And then I'm sure that fitting will still require many muslins and be a nightmare, when I'd rather be sewing something more "fun", so there's that, too. In another lifetime and about 50 lbs ago, I did do a bra-making workshop with Anne St. Clair and came out with some wearable bras, but my skills weren't really up to the task at that point, and by the time they were, I'd gained weight and sized out of the pattern that she'd altered for me.

6. Elsa dresses

If you have a little girl in your life, you probably sewed an Elsa dress for her this year. I know that I did. Maybe it's just an awareness issue, since I have a daughter who's at that age, but I can't remember the last time that a movie dress became as iconic as Elsa's blue "Snow Queen" dress so quickly. Kate Winslet's "jump dress" from Titanic? Maybe Keira Knightley's green dress from Atonement? In any case, McCall's and Simplicity both offered patterns for this dress for little girls, and by now, both have misses' versions of these dresses, too. (Note that the Simplicity versions are the officially licensed versions and, especially in the case of the misses' versions, are more accurate versions of what Anna and Elsa wore in the movie).

Simplicity's Frozen costumes for girls

5. Neoprene/scuba fabric

Remember how Ponte di Roma seemed like the fabric that was all the rage last year? This year, it seemed like everyone everywhere was sewing with a different type of double knit fabric--neoprene or "scuba" fabric as it's sometimes called. The name is a bit of a misnomer in that this isn't exactly the same neoprene used in wetsuits or in laptop sleeves. Instead, it's a beefy, drapey doubleknit that's often available in bright and crazy prints. Because of its body, it can really make the fullness of a full skirt stand out and camouflage lumps and bumps in closer-fitting garments.

Galaxy Eye neoprene from Gorgeous Fabrics
Admittedly, I've jumped on this bandwagon and have bought several cuts of this type of fabric, but I haven't actually sewn with it yet. I suspect that I'm not alone in that regard.

4. Galaxy Print Fabric

For a few months this past summer, it seemed like Galaxy print fabric was everywhere--knit dresses, leggings, and t-shirts, to name a few places. I'm not sure if it was the revival of the Cosmos series (with Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS), or if people just thought that the prints looked cool, but these prints were all over the SBC for a while.

Galaxy print fabric by Timeless Treasures from

3. Skater Dresses

 One of several fashion staples of the 90's returned in a big way this year--the skater dress, which is a (typically knit) dress with a fitted bodice, a waist seam, and some form of circle or gathered skirt. Between the super-popular Lady Skater and Colette Moneta patterns, we saw tons and tons of skater dresses this year in the online sewing community. Reflecting the previous trend, we also saw a lot of skater dresses made up in galaxy print fabric.

My first Moneta
As easy as it is to make fun of these dresses for their simplicity, they do have merits in that they're easy to sew, easy to fit, and can easily be dressed up or down depending on fabric and accessories. I've made two Monetas and both are in regular rotation in my wardrobe.

2. Expanded pattern size ranges

The indie pattern making world seems to finally be acknowledging that they might, in fact, have customers with busts larger than 40" and hips larger than 42". This past year saw numerous indie pattern companies expand their size range to the lower plus sizes, and a handful expanded their size ranges well into plus sizes. In most cases, the designers didn't "retrofit" old patterns with the new size ranges, but have been offering their newest patterns in the new ranges. Just off the top of my head, the following pattern companies expanded their size ranges to at least a 44" bust this past year:

1. Indie pattern explosion

This year, sometimes it felt like every time I sneezed, some new indie pattern designer was releasing her first pattern. The explosion of new indie pattern companies really became apparent to me when I started writing my weekly pattern recaps a few months back. Some weeks, it was difficult for me to keep up with all of the new releases. As with anything any time there's a "bubble", the new pattern companies seem to be a mixed bag; some are released by professional pattern makers who want their "own" thing, others are released by popular sewing bloggers who may or may not outsource the actual pattern making and grading to others. Some designers released their patterns quietly, while others released theirs accompanied by never-ending blog tours and other promotions.

On PatternReview alone, the following screen shot shows the number of companies selling digital patterns, which doesn't even include popular newcomers, like Muse. This is simply what could fit on my laptop screen without scrolling:

Some of the digital pattern companies available on PatternReview

Final Thoughts

So that wraps up this post. Did you partake in any of these trends? What made you smile or cringe among these? Also, was there anything that you observed as a "big deal" in the sewing world that I missed?


  1. I've enjoyed "seeing" the presence of McCall Co around the SBC.
    I love shorts and sewed S1430 a couple times. I should get that SA pattern for next year.

    No bra sewing here. I'm like a 34E so also not quite off the rack. I'd love to sew a bra but do not want to FIT a pattern. Sooooo :)

    No Elsas for me!

    Neoprene/Scuba knit I've passed on.

    Galaxy prints? Not to wear please.

    Skaters are so cute. I made the LSD for my daughter and intended one of my own. Maybe for winter in a sweatshirt knit or ponte. Could be cute with tights and boots!

    Yay for greater size range! I have a plus sized friend who is thinking about sewing. She was fairly amazed/amused to find that I'm 1-2 sizes from the plus range in the Big4. But hopefully there will continue to be more non-sack options for the plus sized sewer!

    I'm all for trying new Indie patterns if I think they are interesting enough to justify their price tag (yes, I know is US folk are 'spoiled'). I raved about my In House patterns makes and can't wait to sew up the Jade skirt. But can't/won't buy just for "support".

    I love lists and cannot control myself when there is a blog post with a list of things! Lol!!!!

    1. Ageed. I'm a huge sucker for lists, too--both reading and writing. I'm looking forward to seeing your Jade skirt! I want to make that, too, once she releases the larger size range.

  2. Great list! I think 2014 was the year of the knit. Colette even published a book about it and some of the most popular patterns feature it: Colette's Moneta and Mabel, Kitchy Coo's Lady Skater, Blue Ginger Doll's Bonnie and Bronte, Cake's Tiramisu, Sewaholic's Renfrew, Tilly's Coco, Deer and Doe's Plantain, etc. A lot of people ventured into knit territory this year and have never looked back! (Me included)

    I think that curvy sewing is also a great trend: not only were there expanded sizes, but curvy fashion and sewing bloggers are getting a lot of attention. And let's not forget the kickoff of the Curvy sewing collective: it's one of my year's highlight.

    1. Very good points on both counts. And I did have the CSC highlighted a lot more strongly in the "expanded sizes" part of the draft but somehow brainfarted and lost that blurb when I edited the post.

    2. Let me say I really like this blog post. It's such a nice recap of the year! You did a great summary.

  3. I think 2014 saw the contined expansion of Indie pattern designers into book versions...and then magazines...

    1. Good call. And I believe that Victory Patterns and a few other indies have alluded to having book deals or books in the works. Maybe 2015 will be the "year of the book".

      Now....if someone would just write a book about sewing coats... ;)

  4. How did I miss that McCalls release? I swear I read your blog faithfully - I must have snoozed through that post.

    Do you think the British Sewing Bee trend took off in a big way this year?

    1. You didn't miss the McCall's release--I did. ;) Er, what actually happened is that I got the email announcing the release after I already had last week's post ready to publish, and given how many patterns I liked at first glance, I didn't want to rush my write up. But, I can assure you that it's covered in this Friday's post. ;)

      As far as the GBSB goes, I want to know what happened to the American version they were casting for! The GBSB does seem to have had a lot of influence on the sewing community in the UK, though.

  5. All the big busted girls have an outlet now. My first bras were also Anne St. Clair, but then I moved on. Have made many, and granted, I'm not a super big busted gal. I think Beverly Johnson has it down though. Check out her website and her class on Craftsy. The Craftsy class shows you how to alter and how to make those boring big bras beautiful. Her patterns go up to a 48H size. Thanks for this post and your pattern posts. Love your blog.

    1. Ooh, I was eyeing that class and wondering how it was. I wasn't sure if it would really be worth it for someone my size, or if the really large busted fitting issues, etc, would just be glossed over--and Craftsy doesn't post negative reviews. To be honest, I was waiting for Shams (not that bras really seem like they're her thing to sew) or someone like that to take the class and post about it.

    2. I enjoyed your list, Michelle! And, no, I agree with you 100% on sewing bras. The fitting would be tremendously difficult. For me, who is wearing a 36G (and probably not fitting into it properly), it's VERY tricky to even fit the equivalent of a weiner-dog balloon filled with sand that hangs to my navel into an uplifted, perky shape. I just can't go there and would not find it to be fun at all. If someone could magically morph me a perfectly fitting pattern, even then I probably wouldn't enjoy it.

    3. Haha, I hear you. I'm wondering if a decent-fitting RTW bra (I actually have two of those!) could be used as a sort of a sloper with, say, a Beverly Johnson bra pattern to get things into the ballpark. Of course, the cup seaming would have to be the same, etc.

  6. I took part in several of these trends, including bra making recently. I took a class at Bra Maker's Supply. So, Beverly Johnson fit me and made my pattern. Thank, God! My 42HH would not have been easy to fit on my own. I recently got Demystifying Bra Fitting by Norma Loehr. I am hoping that will have some good information in it. :)

    I dunno about the whole shorts trend. I don't even wear pants (just dresses and skirts). While I have a couple of the patterns, I am not sure I will ever make shorts for myself.

    I sewed up quite a few Monetas and went nuts over indie companies and expanded sizes, but none of the other things. I'd love to make a galaxy print everything, but the fabric is just too expensive. I did buy a galaxy print dress, though.

    1. Oh I'd say recently with Closet Cases Ginger Jeans that everyone is going nuts for making jeans, but that's only in the last month or so.

    2. I'm so jealous that you had a bra pattern fit for you! I wish that Beverly toured with her workshops like Anne does.

      I suspect that we'll be seeing a lot of people sewing jeans into the next year. (I know that I plan to.) The buzz around the Gingers kind of reminds me of when Jalie came out with their stretch bootcut jean pattern about 5 years ago. I think I'm one of the few people on the planet who never tried that one (I was skeptical of the Jalie drafting block working for my body).

  7. What a great recap of the year. Bra making scares me , actually anything to do with bras scare me. I rarely find a bra that suits me so I'm not sure I could make one but never say never. I have bought some scuba knit but haven't made it up yet. I have made several Moneta's, i love that pattern and the Lady Skater. I love reading your blog thanks for all the enjoyment.

  8. I did not know that about the neoprene! I really thought people were sewing with rubbery fabric and I just did not get it. :)

  9. I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job!
    cheap sewing machine