Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pattern Testers Wanted!

Since the release of my first pattern, I've had a few people email me offering to test any future patterns I may have, which has been absolutely amazing. I've always taken them up on the offer, because, why on earth wouldn't you? I'm now at the stage where creating a small database of those lovely people who want to do some pattern testing for me would be extremely useful, so, would you like to do some future pattern testing for me? Because, I'd really love it if you would (and would be forever grateful!).

I've written up a little FAQ about testing to hopefully answer some of your questions -

1) Do I get paid to pattern test?
Unfortunately not, but you do get a (hopefully) cute pattern! Once all feedback is collated and any changes are made, I'll also send you a final copy of the updated pattern as a thank you.

2) Do I need to blog about it once the pattern is released?
Absolutely not! In fact, I have testers who don't even have blogs or an internet presence. What I need from testers is honest feedback about the pattern, and then should you wish, you are more than welcome to blog about your experience with the pattern (good or bad) once released, but there is no small print stating that you have to blog about it (though obviously, I'd welcome it!).

3) Do I need a blog or web presence to test?
Again, absolutely not, see above answer.

4) How do you pick who get's to test?
Once I have the next pattern ready, I'll email the entire database to let you know. From there, testers will be chosen on a 'first in' email basis. BUT, if the first 10 people signing up are all a size 14, obviously I need a range of sizes to test for me, and sending the pattern to a large group who are all sewing up the same size isn't going to give me a good idea of how the pattern works across all sizes. So in that instance, the first few in the group will get to test.

5) What do I have to do?
Once you've received my email with a description of what the next pattern is, if you want to test it, all you have to do is let me know. If I receive your email before the testing group is full, I'll email you the pattern with a list of questions I'd like to know about. After you've made the pattern, you'll need to email me back with the answers to my questions and any other comments you think might be useful for me to put into the pattern (whether it's fit, typos, missing information, instructions that are hard to understand etc). This usually needs to happen with a 2-3 week turn around.

6) What if I'm too busy to test a pattern with a 2 week turn around?
I'll always let you know what you're in for before you commit to testing a pattern. If you think there's no way you'll be able to provide feed back in that time (sometimes sooner!) then I'd appreciate it if you'd pass on testing this time and let someone else do it.

Don't worry, just because you pass this time, doesn't mean you get a black mark next to your name for next time :)

7) Is the pattern going to be in pdf? Do I need a printer? I hate pdf's by the way...
Yes, at this stage all my patterns are in a digital pdf format. I am looking into paper patterns depending on demand, but that is realistically not going to happen until at least the end of the year/beginning of next.

So, yes, you'll need a printer. My patterns work for both A4 and US Letter sized paper.

I think 'hate' is a rather strong word, but I understand the difficulties of working with pdf patterns. However, if you're yet to try one of my PDF patterns, I hope I'll curb some of that dislike. My pdf's are laid out in a way that you don't end up needing to rearrange your entire living room to tape together one big blob of paper. You get to print out only the version you want to make, and you'll save a bunch of paper and time doing it my way :)

8) What if I don't like the style of the pattern on me?
I'll hopefully describe the pattern to you as best I can without actually showing everyone what the pattern looks like (cause that'd be giving it away!). Based on that information, you'll need to decide if you think it's something you'd like to make, and then fingers crossed you like it. If you end up hating it, obviously I'd still love your feedback and I guess you'll just need to look at the pattern objectively (rather than emotionally) so you can let me know any issues with it.

9) What if I'm a beginner seamstress?
Great! I will be releasing patterns that suit different levels of sewing experience. If I've stated in an email that a pattern is intermediate or advanced but it sounds like something you'd like to have a go at making, then please feel free to sign up. You never know, while I think it's an advanced pattern, you might think it's super easy, which would then mean I'd need to re-think my classification of the pattern anyway.

10) If I sign up and give you my email address, will you use it for other spammy 
purposes, or give it to spammy people who will send me spam?
No way! Your email address will specifically go onto my testers database, and you'll only ever get an email from me if it's about pattern testing (unless you'd like other emails of course! Email penpals anyone??). And I'll never give your email address to spammy people either, don't you worry (damn them and their promises of enlarged bodily bits that I don't even have!).

If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments (just in case others have the same question) or email me directly at

The size chart for my patterns is here - scroll down to the bottom of the page.


PS) Apologies for being mean in my last post, hehe :) Here is more of a hint - the next pattern is for wovens and is a skirt/dress combo :) Is that better?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sneaky Peeks...

I've been neglecting this poor wee blog of late, mostly due to this...

O hai new pattern!

This is not the original third pattern I was intending to release. Nope, we had a slight falling out so decided it was best we move on and see other patterns, because time (and distance) makes the heart grow fonder and all that. I think we're making up again though, because as soon as this one is out, we're going to work on our relationship, take it one day at a time and then hopefully show the world what a beautiful and versatile couple we (and you!) make. #howmanytimescanapatternbedescribedasversatile ?

In the mean time, other pattern and I are working out the last few bits before it hits the inboxes of testers (who will politely rip it to shreds in the very best kind of way) and we'll then be able to deliver a new pattern to you at the end of August to hopefully add to your ever expanding list of 'Patterns to make'.

I'll give you a hint, intermediate and advanced seamstresses, this is your pattern. Keen beginners, time and patience may be all you need.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Your Bronte Tops...

Today I wanted to showcase a few of the amazing Bronte Tops I've seen popping up lately. It's so exciting every time I see a new one out in the world!

Sue from Fadanista kind of blew my mind with her first Bronte top, in which she put the front overlap on top of the back overlap (it's designed to go the other way...) and wow, how cool does it look! Can I just say that doing it this way had honestly never crossed my mind, but now...

She also made a cute green spotty short sleeved version for fabric shopping in during her travels (me, jealous? Nope, not me...*cough*).

Heather over at Handmade by Heather B has made a gorgeous blue spotty version with some bonus fitting info for hollow chests and forward shoulders!

Tanya from Mrs. Hughes has made two versions, a gorgeous green and black stripe and a nautical stripe...

This Bronte dress from Gillian has me dreaming of a Bronte-Skater dress, what do you think?

I've fallen in love with the polka dot binding Tialys used on her Bronte...

Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies made up both versions of Bronte - loving the gingham buttons!

Nicole from Sartorial Sewing has made a sleeveless Bronte! And she's hopefully going to post a tutorial on just how she went about it - can't wait!

Ela has made a Bronte from some absolutely gorgeous fabric, and the buttons she used for the neckline were found in an old shed in the Ukraine - I just love little details like that.

There are heaps more out there and you can either peruse the pinterest board for inspiration or add your own Bronte top to the Flickr group here.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bronte Top Sew-A-Long - Finishing the Neckline

Guys, we're almost finished!!

Today I'm going to be showing you two ways to finish off your Bronte neckline. You see, if you don't secure the underlap to the overlap in the shoulder area, you will get bunching when wearing it, which doesn't really give that smooth shoulder we're after (and I reckon it'd be pretty annoying actually).

There are other ways you could secure it, but the following are my favourite ways -

Everybody loves buttons. I like to use three buttons down each side of my top, but I've seen some lovely versions that have just one in the corner etc. It's also totally up to you whether you use buttons or other notions as well.

1. Measure out your binding overlap from the bottom of the sleeve to the top of the overlapped binding (where it's hitting 10cm in the photo below). Mark out where your buttons will sit evenly along the binding.

Note - it may be easiest to sew the two end buttons on first so you can get the middle button exactly in the centre.

2. Thread your needle with a double thread and a knot at the end. Place your first button on your binding.

3. Starting from the underside, thread your needle up through both layers of binding and through your first button hole. If you have a 4-holed button like mine, I like to stitch it down making an X in the centre with my thread, but feel free to stitch it down however you choose.

4. Stitch through your button holes 3 to 4 times each, secure your thread on the wrong side with a knot and repeat for the rest of the shoulder line. Then do the other side.

Invisible Hand Stitches
Popping in some invisible hand stitches will give your Bronte a clean yet finished look if you don't want to decorate it with anything.

1. I like to sew my invisible hand stitches into the seam (photo a) rather than the top stitching (photo b), but either is fine. In fact, you could carefully sew over your top stitching with your machine if you prefer not to do any hand finishing.

a) Sew into your seam (my preferred method).


b) Sew into your top stitching.

2. Double thread your needle and knot the end. Starting at the sleeve end, bring your needle up through the seam, through all layers, from the underside.

Note - try to find a thread that matches your Bronte fabric as much as you can, this will help hide those stitches. It was really hard to find something that matched my purple-grey fabric, but this thread still becomes invisible with some careful stitching.

3. Pull your thread all the way through until it stops at the knot.

4. You only need teeny tiny stitches on the outside of your Bronte, so now, go back in as close as you can to where you came out.

Note - don't pull your thread too tightly otherwise you'll get little tell tale dents along your neckline binding.

5. Where is that stitch? Invisible, that's where it is!

You don't need to worry too much about how far apart your stitches are on the underside (mine are about 1cm apart), just make sure the stitches on the outside are small so you won't see them.

6. Continue your small 'outside' stitches all the way along until you get to the end. At this point, you can choose to tie off your thread OR if you're like me, you can stitch the binding down at the corner as well...

7. Bring your thread up through the very edge of the overlapped binding (try not to bring it through the top, otherwise you'll see it).

8. Pull the thread through and loop it around twice.

9. Tie your thread off and repeat for the other side.

And that, my friends, is it. Done. Finished. Finito. Until the next Bronte of course...

Have you finished a Bronte top? Why not upload it to the Flickr group or flick me an email so I can showcase a few?


Monday, July 14, 2014

Bronte Top Sew-A-Long - Side Seams & Hemming

We're nearly there! Today we are sewing up the side seams of our Bronte tops and finishing up the hems...

1. Right sides together, match the under arm sleeve seams, lining up raw edges, so that once your Bronte top is turned out the right way, you'll have nicely matching sleeve seams. Pin in place.

2. Pin the rest of your side seam together and stitch in place starting from one end all the way to the other. Repeat for the other side.

3. If you're making the long sleeve version or opted not to sew your short sleeve hem before you sewed your sleeve in place, turn up your hems twice, press and pin in place. You may want to try on your long sleeved version to make sure the sleeve is ending where you'd like it too. Make any adjustments at this stage.

4. Stitch in place and press your final seam. Repeat the same steps for the other sleeve and bottom hem of your Bronte top.

5. If you chose to stitch your short sleeve hem prior to inserting your sleeve, you'll have a little seam allowance where you stitched your sides together. Pin this allowance down toward the back and tack down to secure in place using either your sewing machine or a few hand stitches.

Next up we're going to be finishing up our neckline and then we're finished!!

If you're sewing along or have made a Bronte top (or an Afternoon Blouse) why not put your finished garment into the Flickr pool? I'd love to showcase a few of your creations sometime next week.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bronte Top Sew-A-Long - Basting Shoulders & Inserting Sleeves

For this section of my Bronte construction, I like to do each step to both sides of my top at the same time (er, because there are two sleeves, you need to do each step twice...) For the sake of this photo tutorial however, I haven't, but feel free to do them either at the same time, or separately, it's completely up to you.

If there is a difficult section of making your Bronte top, inserting the sleeves is probably it. Not that it's hard at all, but it can be a bit fiddly if you've never inserted a sleeve flat before, so remember to just take your time.

1. With right sides facing up, place the back bodice shoulder section over the top of the front bodice, lining up the tip of the front binding with the single notch in the back armhole.  Pin in place.

Note - the single notch is marked on the photo below with a black line to make it easier to see.

2. The tip of the back neckline binding needs to be gently manoeuvred into place to line up along the raw edge of the front bodice arm hole. Do this without stretching your binding and pin in place.

3. To ensure my neckline stays nice and flat during the sewing process, I like to pin my under lap to my over lap along the binding lines, making a sort of triangle. Doing this will ensure that your neckline doesn't move at all when it comes time to put in your sleeve.

4. Baste your front and back pieces together along the armhole, stitching 3mm (1/8inch) in from the raw edge.

5. When doing the short sleeve hem, I like to do this before I insert the sleeve, however you are more than welcome to hem your sleeve after you've inserted it (as is done for the long sleeve version).

So, if you want to hem it first, turn your sleeve up and press it (twice) and stitch in place.

6. Both long and short sleeves for Bronte are inserted flat. Make sure you line up the single and double notches to make sure your sleeve is going in the right way around.

7. Right sides together, place your sleeve in the corner of the front bodice, lining up all raw edges and notches. Pin in place, and continue around the sleeve head.

Note - this is where it can get tricky! Remember, you don't need to keep your bodice flat when pinning, I find it easiest to almost scrunch my bodice up as I'm pinning around. Also, use as many pins as you like, ain't no judging round these parts...

8. Stitch your sleeve in place along the arm hole starting from one end and working your way to the other.

9. Trim out your excess seam allowance along your sleeve seam.

10. If you've only worked on one side of your Bronte top, then repeat the process above for the other side. Before you know it, you've almost got your very first Bronte top - easier that you thought huh?