Tag Archives: indie sewing patterns

Sewing Indie Month – Interview with Dixie DIY

dixie diy interview

Continuing with the Sewing Indie Month activities, today I’m interviewing Dixie of Dixie DIY who is based in Austin Texas! Rather than give Dixie and intro, let’s get on and read the interview which tells you all you need to know!

What first motivated you to start sewing and when was it? Was there a person who was influential?

I was always a creative kid, making doll houses and building my own toys. Like many people, my grandmother taught me the basics of hand sewing. She used to love cross stitch and embroidery and I transferred those skills into my own projects.

What was the first garment you ever made?

At first, before I had a sewing machine, I would hand sew elastic waist skirts out of some pretty ugly old scrap fabric.

Eventually I bought my own machine in high school, went to the fabric store, and bought a pattern and some fabric. Of course, I knew that I was a total sewing expert so I didn’t have to worry about picking the correct size or an appropriate fabric. Seam allowances? Who cares!? Yeah, I ended up with a stiff, too big shift dress that I could never wear. That experience actually turned me off from sewing clothes for a few years.

Are you totally self-taught or did you go to college?

Self-taught, although I have taken a few informal sewing classes.

Is sewing and making patterns your main job or do you do something else too? What did you do before Dixie DIY?

Yes, but I also teach classes at a local fabric and yarn shop. My pattern making business began after I was laid off from my last “real” job – I shot and edited informational internet videos for a parenting website.

How did you start designing sewing patterns?

It seemed like a natural progression – in college I started sewing more and more of my own clothes. I began manipulating patterns to fit my style and I bought some pattern drafting books to make that easier. I created basic blocks to fit me and started drafting from scratch. Later I learned to grade my designs.

Where does your inspiration come from for new patterns?

Usually it starts with one or two design elements that I want to incorporate into a garment. It could be something I think looks cool, like the cut outs on my Bonnell Dress, or it could be a fix for a common problem I have, like size fluctuation which led to the side button design on my Movies in the Park Shorts. You can adjust the position of the buttons to get a more personalized fit.

Who are your design heroes?

Back in 2007 when I started sewing clothes more regularly I was a little disappointed with the Big 4 styles – until I found the Built By You collection from Wendy Mullin for Simplicity. I loved her young, modern, casual style and I quickly gathered up every pattern of hers I could find. That collection is what truly hooked me on clothes sewing. Wendy will always be a design hero to me for that reason.

What’s your number 1 most used sewing tip?

Be organized – label your pattern pieces. Keep everything for a project together in one place. Mark notches and front and backs of pieces. I don’t often follow my own advice – I often get pieces mixed up and don’t realize I’ve done so until I’ve already sewn pieces together along the wrong sides.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t running Dixie DIY?

Ooooh, well, I studied film in college and did a stint at script reading for a Hollywood production company. I actually liked that job and if I could make decent money at it I might try that again.

How do you spend your time when you’re not sewing?

Well, when I last had a regular job, sewing was my main hobby. When sewing became my job I realized I needed a new hobby. I couldn’t sew 12+ hours a day so I began taking breaks to do something I never thought I’d be interested in – playing video games. But now I’m a huge gamer – mostly console – and I’ve even cosplayed video game characters at conventions.

What do you think is the best part of making your own clothes?

Better fit, quality, and style in your clothes. I’ve become a real clothes snob after sewing for so long. I have a difficult time buying clothes in a store now. I’m picky about fiber content and construction quality (why, why, why do they put polyester in jeans now!?). With sewing I love that I can pick exactly the fabric I want and pair it up with a design I know fits and make something completely unique.

What a great interview! Thanks so much Dixie, it’s been great to “meet” you.

Catch up on all the other Sewing Indie Month happenings here or search #SIM2015 on social media.

Sewing Indie Month – Lots Going on Already!

Sew Indie Month, 20 days in and there has been loads happening!

I’ve been interviewed and there have been some great reviews of the MIY Walkley vest and dress pattern. I’ve written a summary here. Enjoy!

The Walkley Vest Dress

Remember I started giving my patterns names?

Here’s the next…..webvest-diagonalseam

My straight neck vest and dress pattern is now the Walkley Vest Dress.

I’ve just updated the PDF version of the pattern and as well as the new name it uses my new sizing system based on body measurements and a full scale untiled version of the pattern if you prefer to print patterns at a copy shop rather than on A4 sheets to join together at home.

miywalkley

If you prefer a paper pattern, it’s still available here and will be updated soon with the new name and size labelling.

This pattern is a great summer project – the vest and dress are both really easy to wear – a loose-ish fit, but with some shaping at the waist so it’s not a completely boxy shape. It’s easy to add custom seams to your pattern (fully explained in the instructions) so you can mix and match fabrics and use up some of that stash!!

Lots of my beginner students have happily used this pattern and if you’ve done a bit of sewing before, get creative with those seams and make yourself a completely unique version. I love seeing what people make with my patterns so don’t forget to tag your makes #miywalkley or email me your pictures.

There are lots more MIY Collection patterns in the pipelines, so keep room on your sewing to-do list.

In the meantime, get your Walkley Vest Dress as a pdf or print pattern now and get sewing!

Some New Directions for MIY Collection Sewing Patterns

What’s in a Name?

For some time I’ve wrestled with whether or not to “name” my patterns.  It seems to be a convention amongst indie pattern designers to give each pattern a name (as opposed to the style number that big brand patterns use).  Now, I can see the advantages of naming your patterns: they’re much easier to remember and search for online, easier to # on social media enabling sewists from around the world to look at each other’s versions of the same pattern, it makes the pattern and brand feel more personal and it definitely can enhance the touchy feely side of a pattern brand by adding another personal narrative to the story of the brand. (If in fact there is any narrative to the names and they’re not just random.)

So why haven’t I?!  Well for one, I hate to be seen to be jumping on any kind of bandwagon and like to think that everything I do is considered and done that way for a reason.  For example, my patterns aren’t printed on thin/tissue paper, the instruction book is A4 size and the whole thing is packaged in an A4 sized paper bag into which you can keep your project!  I’ve been criticised by some  retailers wanting to stock the patterns over the size of the packaging, but I like it, my lovely makers seem to like it and it makes MIY Collection distinctive, so I have no intentions of changing it just to be like everyone else.  I’m also a fan of keeping things simple and the “form follows function” approach to design.

I asked the question on Instagram:

 

The consensus from the super lovely positive community on there was that people like a name and it works.

So, I’ve come up with an authentic naming system that I hope will add some sort of narrative to what I do and that some of you lovely people may even find interesting/intriguing.  No, I won’t be naming them after friends, or film stars, or French girls’ names, I’m going back to my roots and I’m naming them after areas of my home county (Yorkshire) and to start with, more specifically after Sheffield wards and districts. Har har see what I did there – Wendy Ward, Sheffield wards?!  (For non-UK readers wards are administrative divisions of a city or borough represented by councillors in local politics.)

So, in honour of the steel city that made me who I am and that still has my heart wherever I may be, my first named pattern will be The Brightside Shrug pdf pattern #miybrightside and here it is! If you fancy whipping up one for yourself (I once had a MIY Workshop student make one from scratch, including cutting out in a 2 hour class!), you can get yours here.

MIY Brightside Shrug pdf sewing pattern

I’ll gradually be going through all my existing patterns and giving them names and all of my future patterns will also have names. Rest assured I have a long list at various stages of development, here’s a snippet of it that I recently posted on the MIY Collection Facebook page:

Size Matters

The second improvement I’m making with the launch of this pattern is in my approach to size labelling.  Regular readers will know I like a good rant about sizing (here’s a previous rant).

For a long time I’ve been thinking about an alternative size labelling system to the current confusing and disingenuous dress sizing system that we’ve all been brainwashed by.

In my book I made a start by using a numbering system, 1, 2, 3, but have since thought that this is probably how the current system started and after all it’s still just a label which actually tells you nothing about the actual body measurements of that particular “size” garment or pattern.

So, I’ve decided to go for a system similar to men’s sizing and refer to actual body measurements, for tops the size will relate to the actual bust size that the garment is designed to fit (including any ease), for skirts and trousers the size will relate to the hip measurement and dresses will use both bust and hip.

I am a bit of a control freak and to an extent, if you make your own clothes I think you should be too.  Know the dimensions of your body and love that information, it’s the secret to making beautiful well-fitting clothes that you’ll love to wear, don’t treat your measurements as something to avoid, deny, keep secret or be embarrassed about.  In the spirit of leading by example, here for all the world (who is bothered) to see are my measurements:

dressmaking taking measurements

1 Bust: 97cm / 38″

2 Waist: 79cm / 31″

3 Hips: 103cm / 40.5″

Height: 5ft 8ins / 173cm

Foot size: 7 / 41

This means that when I’m shopping for ready-to-wear clothes I can fit anything from a size 12 to a 16. Confusing and a bit dispiriting huh? I’m fairly happy with my shape and I know that I’m healthy and armed with these measurements I also know how to make myself fabulous clothes that I look and feel great in.

I hope you’ll enjoy my new and improved MIY Collection sewing patterns. I’d love to hear what you think of the changes, leave a comment!

MIY ASAP in this month’s Sew Magazine!

I was pretty happy to find this when I opened my copy of Sew magazine this month (June issue), right there in your face in the middle of the news page at the front of the magazine (p6)!

sewmag-pullonshift-June15

I rather like that little headline and may have to steal it to use for myself.

If you’d like to MIY ASAP, you can find the easy pull-on shift dress pattern here.

You can make it with and without the roll collar, as a boxy top or mix and match your fabrics with different fabrics for the bodice and skirt, like this one that I’ve nearly finished:

shiftin2fabrics-wip