Pattern patter: Cashmerette

Any grown woman, no matter what size or shape, knows the frustration of trying to find flattering clothes that hang just right and feel comfortable. One of the best things about sewing is being able to adjust patterns to really fit our bodies rather than having to make do with what comes off the rack. Even so, ladies with a little more here and a lot more there have often had to work overtime to make patterns work. Enter Cashmerette! Designed specifically for women sized 12-28 with busts ranging from C-H, Cashmerette aspires to let every woman look chic and feel at home in her clothes.

Cashmerette founder Jenny Rushmore, a self-described “curvy sewist,” began stitching at age 30 and discovered her new skills opened up endless possibilities for creating a wardrobe to match both her mind and body. Based in Boston, she first founded the Curvy Sewing Collective to share tips and information with other like-bodied women online, and that endeavor eventually led her to create Cashmerette patterns. Offering women with bodies ignored by the fashion industry an avenue to style and comfort, Cashmerette believes “in changing clothes and mindsets, rather than being told we should change our bodies.”

Make It Sew offers a range of Cashmerette patterns. Quite a few of them, like the Appleton Dress (pictured on the right above), work particularly well with our March Fabric of the Month, Andover jersey knits!

Know Sew: Fat Quarter

The basket of fat quarters at Make It Sew

If you have spent any time in a fabric shop, you may have noticed an area with smallish pieces of material called “fat quarters.” Although the term sounds Mardi Gras-related—the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday?—it actually has its foundation in math. Imagine a standard bolt of cloth that’s 44″ wide. If you were to buy a quarter yard of fabric cut the usual way, you would end up with a long strip of fabric measuring 9″ x 44″, right?

But that’s not the only way to do it! Instead, imagine cutting a half yard, i.e. 18″, of the fabric, and then cutting that piece in half horizontally at its midpoint. What you end up with is a squarish piece of fabric measuring 18″ by 22″, which is, in fact, still a quarter yard, just differently proportioned. Rather than a long thin strip, you wind up with a “fat quarter.” Get it?

Now, not all fat quarters are exactly the same. For instance, if the original fabric were 60″ wide, the resulting fat quarter would be 18″ x 30″. If the fabric were 35″ wide, the fat quarter would be 18″ x 17.5″, and so on.

What are fat quarters good for? Well, quilters love them because they are easy to cut into a variety of sizes and shapes for piecing together designs. They also work well for creating appliqués. But sometimes a fat quarter is all the fabric you need for a standard sewing project, such as making a passport pouch, oven mitt, or glasses case! Google “fat quarter projects,” and you will wind up with more ideas than there are Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans. When it comes to quarters, fat is where it’s at!

Check out this lined pencil case that Accacia made from a couple fat quarters!

Kai Makes the Cut

Make It Sew carries several models of Kai scissors, and sewists may also use the much-loved store scissors.

Whether you are cooking, gardening, building a birdhouse, or sewing, having good tools makes all the difference. When Accacia was deciding what scissors to sell at Make It Sew, Kai was the clear winner. These black-handled Japanese scissors are crafted from high-carbon stainless steel combined with vanadium. I hear you thinking, “What was that last thing? Isn’t that what the swords are made of on Game of Thrones?” Well, vanadium may not have quite that pedigree, but the silver-gray metal is particularly valuable because it resists corrosion, and we aaaallllll hate rusty scissors!

Kai combines these top-tier materials with comfortable handles that make cutting a pleasure. Make It Sew carries both Kai’s 5000 series, which are great for everyone at every level, and the 7000 series, which is Kai’s professional line. The available models in each series range from 6-inch thread snips to 10-inch dressmaker shears.

Accacia puts the Kai store scissors to good use.

Also, southpaws take note: Kai offers true left-handed scissors, which Make It Sew stocks. Accacia explains the innovative design “is kind of life-changing for some left-handed people because it’s not just that the handle is shaped differently; the scissors are actually made opposite.” In other words, the blades cross in a way that mirrors right-handed scissors. Accacia says, “Someone who bought some of these from me said that she loved them because she could see much better what she was cutting than with ordinary left-handed scissors or righty scissors.” Perfect!

The icing on Kai’s cutting-edge cake? You can have the scissor blades re-sharpened when they get dull. So treat yourself to the joy of good tools by picking up a pair (or two) of Kai scissors.

March Fabric of the Month: Andover Jersey Knits

Andover Jersey Knits are delicious in both texture and color.

Through March 31st, all Andover Jersey Knits are 10% off at Make It Sew. These colorful knits have a wonderful drape and offer scads of possibilities. Believe it or not, the designer of these 100% cotton fabrics, Alison Glass, lives in Virginia with her husband and two children. She is particularly interested in color and shape and strives to make fabrics that yield beautiful clothes.

To give you an idea of how you might use Andover Jersey Knits to add zing to your spring, Accacia whipped up this fun sweatshirt. (She is on a sweatshirt kick!) So save a little, and make a lot!

Andover Jersey Knits + an eye-popping geometric pattern + a pocketed sweatshirt = yes, please!

When in doubt, look at a book!

Books for sale at Make It Sew.

Did you know Accacia spent years working as a librarian prior to opening Make It Sew? Perhaps that explains her appreciation of books that provide guidance and inspiration for sewing projects. She has carefully selected a small number of books to sell at the shop, each aimed at particular stitching interests of customers. Need a handbook of basics? Try School of Sewing. Interested in learning how to vary a basic pattern? Check out The Tunic Bible. Can’t bring yourself to throw out a favorite garment you’ve literally loved to pieces (or at least to holes)? Find out how to fix it and make it even more special with Make + Mend.

But Make It Sew’s reading material doesn’t end at the front of the store. Meander to the back of the shop, and you will find a library of all kinds of books and magazines providing how-tos and ideas to fuel your sewing fire. The shop even has a comfy sofa and chairs, where you can relax as you read and page through pictures. So when you need a break from cutting, pinning, ironing, and stitching, keep your needle sharp with a good book.

The little library on its red rolling cart at Make It Sew.

Pattern patter: Sew Liberated

Make it Sew may offer a class to make the Sew Liberated Hinterland Dress in the near future.

You may have noticed the wall full of patterns at Make It Sew and wondered about the stories behind the various pattern-makers we carry. Today we give you the scoop on Sew Liberated, the brainchild of Meg Mcelwee. In 2007, Mcelwee was working as a Montessori teacher and living in an adobe house in northern Mexico. Lacking television, internet, and even a phone line, she spent her off hours knitting and sewing. She eventually began drafting patterns based on her own designs, and when she got internet access, she started a blog and began selling them.

Twelve years later, when she’s not exploring the natural world with her three children, whom she home schools, Mcelwee still makes patterns and has also written two books, Sew Liberated and Growing Up Sew Liberated. Her focus is on creating clothes that flatter a range of body shapes, particularly those of busy mothers. She writes that she believes “sewing is a self-care practice,” and she “enjoys slowing down and taking life one seam at a time.”

Stay tuned: Make It Sew may offer a class for making Sew Liberated’s “Hinterland Dress” in the near future!

More about double gauze

June’s fabric of the month is a lovely 100% organic cotton double gauze with a sweet lily pad and frog print. The shop’s sample (and giveaway this month) is a soft glasses case (great for your sunnies!) but the uses of double gauze reach far, far beyond small accessories.

Be entered to win this sunglasses case when you buy 1/2 yard or more of the adorable fabric.

Several Make It Sew customers have asked recently about this fabric, which is unfamiliar to many sewists and seamstresses. To my knowledge, It seems to have become widely available somewhere between 5 and 10 years ago. It’s constructed of two thin layers of woven gauze that are tacked together at regular intervals. These tacks are either integrated in the fabric design as in this polka dot fabric, or they are relatively undetectable from the right side of the fabric.

turquoise dress next to fabric display

The Grainline Farrow in birch double gauze—fabric bolts on display to left.

Double gauze can be made of different fibers, though all of the double gauze stock at Make It Sew is 100% cotton. The fabric is machine washable and dryable and will get better (softer, cozier, more comfortable) with use and laundering. Not all double gauzes are created equal and there are even differences between the “hand” of the fabric from the same company. Make It Sew currently carries double gauze from birch, Cloud 9, Michael Miller, Monaluna, and Shannon, with amazing Kokka Japanese double gauze coming later this summer. I hope you’ll stop in and check it out soon, and remember, if you buy ½ yard or more of the lily pad print before the end of the month, you’ll be entered to win the sunglasses case.

Lily pad fabric

Super soft and great for PJ pants, baby items, or whatever you can imagine.

If you haven’t sewn with double gauze before, you needn’t be afraid of it. You should, however, be prepared for a material that’s made of two layers. Use a sharp rotary cutter or scissors, and because of the fabric’s tendency to ravel, use a marker or chalk rather than snips to mark it. Thread marking (like tailor’s tacks) is also a good technique to use on your double gauze. Use fine pins like the glass head pins available at Make it Sew and be sure to use a fresh needle—a size 70/10 or 75/11 will be your best choice. If you have a serger, this is a good time to use it. If not, a French seam or flat-felled seam will be the best options for seam finishing since the fabric wants to ravel.  

Project ideas for double gauze:

Swaddling blankets (tutorial), accessories like infinity scarves, and quilts.

Kids’ clothes: Geranium Dress, Oliver & S layette

Women’s garments: Farrow, Ann Carolyn smock, Charlie Caftan.

During June, purchase any double gauze and receive 10% off your pattern purchase. 


Happy New Year from Make It Sew

Just over a week ago I said goodbye to 2017; a pretty eventful year for me. Over the summer while commuting to work as a librarian, I began daydreaming about opening a fabric and sewing based business. I wasn’t certain it would happen; if it happened, I wasn’t sure when or what exactly it would look like, and even after conducting some market research, I wasn’t sure how successful it would be or how it would be received by the community.I have been blown away in the last two months by the support I’ve received and the interest you and others have shown in what we’re doing at 119 South Main Street. You have been coming to open sewing night, AKA “Stitch Club.” You have been signing up for classes. You have been filling up classes! You have spread the word in person and on social media. You have shared your suggestions. You have been buying fabric. You have been bringing your favorite garments to be altered. You have told me that Make It Sew is something that Lexington needed.So I want to say “thank you.” Thank you for coming in and signing up and being interested. Your interest and support is gratefully acknowledged and warmly appreciated. I look forward to seeing you in 2018.

And if you would like to stay up to date on what’s happening at 119 South Main Street, please sign up for the periodical online newsletter here.