Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sewingversary, Year 3 (and a giveaway!)

Three years ago today, in 2011, a shiny new sewing machine was delivered to my house. I choose to celebrate my "sewingversary" rather than a blogging anniversary because for me the defining moment was that day where I broke my machine out of the box and went: right then, I guess I'm sewing now?!? D: (They're both daft anniversaries to celebrate, though, let's be honest!) Last year, I told the story of why I decided I wanted to start sewing so I won't recap again. Suffice to say, one of my better decisions, and I have very few regrets about how my interest in sewing has developed since!

I guess if you read this blog at all regularly you know that the 12 months pretty much since immediately after my last sewingversary in August 2013 have been a bit tough from a health perspective. I have to say that in grinding through the last year, having a hobby like sewing has been an absolute godsend. It has been something different I could read about and think about when I felt too crappy to get out of bed, and when I felt well enough to do something but not really well enough to leave the house, sewing kept me from going (too) stir-crazy. Although I still have bad days, I cautiously think things are improving a bit on the health front and I'm really keen to start putting some of my reading and thinking into practice. Alas, my theoretical knowledge out-runs my actual abilities by MILES at this point!

I have probably not made enormous strides in my actual sewing this year, by which I mean I have not really done a lot to increase the complexity of my skillset. I have picked up a handful of slightly more complicated skills, like one or two seam finishing techniques and one or two fitting tricks, but really the last year what I've done is a lot of things at approximately the same level of difficulty. And that's OK with me! It's not a race to see who can build their skills the fastest and this wasn't a year when I could take on a million challenges.

However, I do feel like some of the absolute basic skills that I've been working on now for three whole years have really started to come together. I'm beginning to be more competent at the base level of sewing skill, and feel more confidence in my competence. Even little things like figuring out exactly how to press my projects properly, and learning how to do some simple but pretty seam finishes that make the insides look neat, and finally more or less getting to grips with a method that works for me for installing an invisible zip make a BIG difference to my finished garments. Of course none of it is perfect. It's so FAR from perfect, you can't see perfect from here without the Hubble telescope. It's BETTER though, and I can definitely live with progress over perfection. I'm weirdly ambitious all the time and about everything, so I do want to get better and better at sewing. I'd kind of like to look back on this post one day and be like wow, you thought THAT was competence, ha, delusional! However, for now, I am pretty happy with this year.

So that's my helpful summary of Year 3: marginally more competent at the end of it, happier than ever that I took sewing up as a hobby.

And now, a giveaway to share my celebration! I've mentioned several times that I had a Patrones subscription this year. It's not rocked my world, but it's been a fun extra pattern mag to peruse and I do have quite a few patterns bookmarked for future use. I know there's quite a lot of curiosity about the European magazines but they're often prohibitively expensive to buy even a single copy to try out a pattern or two. Well, my subscriptions included some issues that were not of much interest to me but that I knew might be fun for someone else to have a go with, and so I have hoarded them for this very occasion. They're totally intact, all I've done is keep them on my shelf in my sewing room.

The Giveaway:
  • Drop me a comment that says which of the magazines (Plus, Kids, Separates) you'd like to win (you can put your name in for two at most) before midnight BST on Sunday 17th August. I'll pick and announce the winners on Monday 18th.
  • I'm not exerting any pressure on people to suddenly emerge from lurkerdom, however, sometimes a giveaway might entice someone who usually lurks from silence for a moment. I know it feels awkward to be like Hi! I've never spoken to you, please give me something for free! even when you'd REALLY like to put your name in for something. I am giving you explicit permission right now to do that exact thing if you wish, even if you've never breathed a word to me before.
  • I will post to you anywhere in the world.

First up, Patrones Extra 35, the Plus edition

Now, you might be wondering, as I am quite open about the fact that I straddle the straight/plus line in say, Burda, why I would not keep the Plus edition for myself. The short answer is: because Patrones' Plus patterns are more geared to the middle/upper part of the typical plus range and I tend to fall more towards the lower end of Plus and/or the top end of straight size most of the time. The Patrones Plus patterns are available in either sizes 48-52-56 or 50-54-58 (see below for how you use this if you fall into a middle size). A 48, for quick reference, is Bust=104cm (41") Hips= 110cm (43.5"), and a 58 is Bust=130cm (51.25") Hip=134cm (52.75"). Here's a size chart (with translations) for more info. The big difference between Patrones and Burda Plus sizing is in the waist measurements, they seem to assume woman are more hourglass/pear than Burda do. Honestly, I have no idea how good their Plus draft is, so I can't really tell you any more than that. (I would be delighted to hear back from you if you win & make a pattern up, just out of interest!)

There are 58 patterns in the magazine. Here's a scan of the teeny tiny overview pages: page 1, page 2. The nice thing about this magazine is while yes, there are a couple of your standard plus-size tent-like tunics and one of the dresses is a TOTAL circus marquee design, most of the patterns aren't like that at all. There are plenty of jackets, blouses, skirts and tops that are just like the straight-sized patterns in Patrones just in plus sizes. I rather like the coats and jackets in particular. On the other hand, you might sprain something rolling your eyes at their idea of "Plus" models because: no.

Next: Patrones Extra 36, the Kids edition

I don't sew for children at all, but if you have any kids in your life, you might find this fun. Here's a link to someone's scan of the sizing chart. There are 60 patterns in the magazine: 11 for babies (6 are size 3-9-18 months and 5 are for 6-12-24 months); 16 for boys (various size groups from 4-6-8 to 10-12-14) and the rest are all for girls (various size groups from 2-4-6 to 10-12-14). I would say the best served group is probably girls in the 4-8 age range, but I think that's pretty normal for kids clothes. I know jack about what's interesting in children's patterns so I probably can't pick out the best things, but I think it's a nice diverse mix. There's everything from little formal outfits and occasion dresses to play wear for tween boys or girls. I didn't have a chance to scan in the overview page and nobody else on the net seems to have done so either -- sorry about that.

Finally, two (mainly) straight sized issues: Patrones Extra 32 "Dos Piezas" (Separates) and Patrones 330 (the regular monthly magazine for August 2013 "Autumn Basics"). These I acquired two copies of by mistake so they are surplus to my requirements as well.

Dos Piezas is all straight sized 40-44-48 (see below for size explanation and here for a size chart). Here's the teeny tiny overview (page 1, page 2). As the name suggests, the Dos Piezas (Two Pieces) magazine is mainly tailoring: jackets and coats, trousers, skirts and blouses, although there's a sprinkling of dresses as well among the 58 patterns. There is a certain amount of crack-tastic stuff in here too. You too can have contrast tweed eyepatches over your boobs, worn with plus fours! Or, you know, not. D:

The regular edition is quite a nice issue. Here's the teeny tiny overview. There are 40 patterns in total, including 1 child's coat pattern, and 5 plus (50-54-58) patterns (they use non-Plus models -- in the teeny tiny overview, the plus patterns are in the top right corner in a group of four). The others are all 40-44-48. There's a section on blouses and skirts with some decent basics that I've had bookmarked since I got my original copy, some tailored jackets and trousers, and some dresses.

A few things to keep in mind for all the magazines:
  • They're in Spanish (obviously). I speak conversational Spanish, and that plus Google translate gets me to something I am fully able to recognize as a sewing instruction. The instructions are extremely terse, not dissimilar to Burda. I recently did a rough and ready translation of a simple blouse pattern and it's basically: "Stitch the darts. Stitch the shoulder seams. Stitch the side seams." and no illustrations at all.
  • Not every size is provided. The typical womenswear size range is say 40-48. But in reality this means that there are only three lines: 40, 44 and 48. If you take a size in the middle (say a 42), you need to draw in your size between the two closest to your size. On the plus side, the pattern pages are less crowded as a result. I don't find it overly painful, but if you hate tracing/blending/whatever from magazines, you might hate Patrones even more than you hate other magazines!
  • For tracing purposes, other than the size issue described above, I would describe the clarity as most similar to Ottobre, with the most significant similarity being that they both use coloured lines on slightly thicker white paper, rather than Burda's all black on newsprint approach.
And that's it, I think! Any questions, ask me in the comments. Otherwise, happy anniversary to me and yay for another year ahead full of fun sewing things! :D


  1. First, congratulations on your anniversary. And on surviving your move. Being unwell sucks.
    I was going to say save the draw for other people, but then I looked at the pictures and thought I would be interested in the plus size one... But if you draw my name, I'll pay for the postage. I
    I've followed your sewing journey for quite a while now and always enjoy seeing your finished things and also your planned sewing and fabric acquisitions. Imaginary sewing is great too. Thank you for the effort you put into blogging.

    1. Thanks, I am glad you enjoy my blog! :D I will add your name to the Plus draw :D

  2. Congratulations on your sewing anniversary and best wishes for improving health! I would be thrilled to receive any of those magazines - I lived in Spain for years and loved the elegant way Spanish women dressed. And like Lyndle, I'll pay the postage too.

    1. Thanks! :D I'll add you to the draws :D

  3. Congrats on all the things! Sewing. Blogging. Moving (do you have a kitchen yet?!!? :-p ) and most importantly getting healthy again.

    I love both of the 'regular' editions. I wonder if the fact that I know all food words in spanish will help me with the instructions?


    1. I do NOT have a kitchen :( I don't even have a proposed date for when I will have a kitchen :( As a result, I haven't moved in, I just spend part of each day at the house working on my PhD as I have nowhere to work on it at my mum's place.

      I will add you to the draw! :D

  4. Congratulations on your sewingversary! Count me in as one who has really enjoyed watching your journey and your triumph over health issues when they've arisen.

    I'd love to throw my hat in the ring for the kids' edition magazine. I'd be happy to pay postage.

  5. Happy Sewingversary and I'm sending many positive thoughts toward your continued improving health. I am also de-lurking after reading your blog for a couple of years.
    The Patrones separates look very intruiging -something I haven't seen sold here.
    Thank you for hosting such an interesting giveaway!

    1. Great, I'll add you to the list! :D

  6. You've only been sewing for three years?! You, Nakisha, and Peter make me sick! =P Just kidding, of course! Happy sewingversary!

    Still no kitchen? Hopefully this means lots of good food dining out. =)

    1. Sewing for 3 years, sewing clothes for just over 2 years (I started with bags and other bits and pieces). I love it though!

      STILL no kitchen :( I'm living at my parents' house so my mum is feeding me, which is way better than eating out I find :D

  7. Emerging from lurkdom here! Would love the plus size issue.

    Best wishes for health and home, and blessings to all.

  8. I've missed the deadline, I'm way behind in my blog reading, but congrats on the sew-iversary, and I look forward to hearing that your health is improving. Sometimes what seems like a plateau is really a time when what you've learned is really consolidated and you go from something like being surprised that a zip went in well to being surprised if it doesn't. That sounds like fantastic progress to me! If you haven't done the drawing yet, I'd love to put my hat in the ring for the regular size magazines. I'm learning spanish at the moment so they would be very relevant to my interests haha. :) Hope you are just as happy with your hobby for years and years to come!

  9. Unlurking to thank you for your inspiring blog. I'm a "hesitant" sewer - always afraid I'll mess something up and waste time and money. I'm starting to realize it's all a learning experience.

    Planning a trip to Spain in February so I'll look for this magazine when I'm there as I've missed the deadline.

    1. Hi! I know just what you mean about being hesitant about wasting time and money. I definitely struggle with that as well. However, one of the things I really remind myself a lot is that I can't really get better at sewing just by thinking about it -- you actually have to DO it. And often I find that things are much less difficult when it comes time to try them than I expected. :D

      Enjoy your trip to Spain! :D The magazine is apparently very widely available in most newsagent type shops, so it shouldn't be too hard to find for you I hope!