Going Into A Cocoon…

3 September, 2011

I’m sorry I’ve been away so long! I promise this blog is not dying, and I have no plans on shutting it down anytime soon. In fact, I want it to become more active and grow, but right now, I’m taking 5 classes, doing an instructional assistantship for another, preparing for my Senior Gallery Show, and working 20-30hrs a week to make rent. So, while I am still making things and creating stuff, I just don’t have the time to write about it all! I promise, though, come December, you can expect a deluge of posts! Tutorials, shared posts, discussions, lots of fun stuff!

In the meantime, I want to know what you want to know! Let me know what you’d like to see on OpenSourceStitches by voting below!


Pattern Drafting 101: Sidebar – Ralph Pink

4 March, 2011

A few weeks ago, I came across Ralph Pink’s documentary blog by sheer random happenstance. An up-and-coming UK fashion designer, he’s documenting the process of setting up his own brand. His goal is, as he puts it, “to become one of the UK’s leading couture designers.”

This guy is incredible. Not only does he offer some really stylish vintage-style patterns for free for both men and women, he also offers free premade block patterns for bodices, dresses, skirts, and trousers. He also has a multitude of links to various fashion/sewing blogs that are great jumping off points. Not only that (and this is where it gets really exciting), he’s come up with an ingenious tool for drafting blocks- the Measurement Generator.

You still have to do some of the work; it doesn’t guess your measurements based on height or anything silly like that. It’s better than that. You input your basic measurements into the spreadsheet, it does the rest. Based on your measurements, it calculates the length of every line you’re going to draw in drafting your block pattern and gives you the length of that line. Below this is a diagram of a finished block pattern, to illustrate where every line and point is supposed to go. It’s really easy; I highly recommend this tool to anyone, particularly anyone who’s been having trouble with the previous drafting posts I’ve put up. I tried it out to see where people were having trouble, and wound up getting stuck myself. I was able to finish my block based on Ralph Pink’s calculator in a little over 2 hours, with no trouble at all. In fact, I’ll probably be replacing the Bodice Block tutorial with a newer version based on his calculator program.

The Measurement Calculator is in Part 2 of his first block of tutorials on digital pattern cutting. Check out the rest of the tutorials here: http://www.ralphpink.com/tutorials/tutorial-1 You can download the calculator as a Microsoft Excel document (and watch the instructional video) here: http://www.ralphpink.com/archives/821


“Pink Boys” – Discussion

22 February, 2011

I apologize for the deviation from my normal topics, but I would love to get some discussion going on this topic.  A friend of mine, Eric of Writing Rules, posted this article on Facebook yesterday, and I felt it merited consideration my by the creative community.  Creation, be it sewing, knitting, crocheting, crafting, whatever- is always associated with the feminine, so what about crafty boys? Moms of crafting boys, I’d love to get your insights into this.

“My Son, The Pink Boy” by Sarah Hoffman


Men Who Knit

Real Men Crochet

Real Men Quilt


To Anyone Who Thinks They Can’t

21 February, 2011

This applies to any creative endeavor- sewing, knitting, crocheting, art, photography, writing, sculpting, rughooking, rugbraiding, papercrafting, woodworking, ANYTHING.

To everyone who thinks that they can’t be creative- it’s not true. You can. You just don’t.

To everyone who has told me, “I wish I could make things like that”- you can.

To everyone who has told me, “You’re amazing!”- I’m no more amazing than you are. You could do it too, if you only tried.

To everyone who has said, “I can’t even sew a straight line”- it takes practice. You just have to be persistent and try.

To everyone who thinks they can’t learn something new because they’re too old, too young, too inexperienced- you’re lying to yourself and to everyone else.

You have learned to do many things throughout the course of your life. You learned how to walk, even though you’d never done it before. You learned to feed yourself. You learned to read, you learned to spell, to add and subtract. You learned to solve complex equations, you learned human anatomy, you learned literature, history, sports, economics, problem solving- whatever it was you were interested in, you studied it and learned it. Why is anything creative so much harder?

When you were born, you knew how to do only basic tasks- breathe, eat, poop, and complain. And look at you now. Look at how far you’ve come. If you want to learn something, you can learn it. You have an amazing capability to learn and create and do wonderful things. You are free to learn anything at any time in your life. The only thing stopping you is you. The only thing stopping you from doing anything you want to do is you, telling yourself, “I can’t.” That is a dirty rotten lie.

You  can.



Pattern Drafting 101 – The Men’s Shirt Sleeve Block

18 February, 2011

Thank you all for your support- it makes me incredibly happy to see all those hits on my drafting posts! Let me know if there’s anything you want to see and feel free to post comments or questions!

Also, my fiancé pointed out to me today that I should include a glossary of terms on this site, so starting with this post, I’m including hyperlinks to the new glossary page. I’ll be going back and adding them to the older posts soon.

For the men’s shirt sleeve, you’re going to need the following:

  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Newsprint Paper (It’s easier to see through than thicker papers and will be useful in transferring the markings from the shirt to the sleeve. It’s also fairly inexpensive and readily available at most craft stores.)
  • A copy of your completed Men’s Shirt block – you’ll be using markings from this to create the sleeve, so make sure you haven’t erased your marked points.

Step 1: Rename the Points- For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to rename some of the points on our completed Men’s Shirt block to use on our Sleeve Block. Rename the following points according to the chart below.

Shirt Block Replace with….
Point K Point (a)
Point L Point (b)
Point Y Point (f)
Point U Point (g)
Point M Point (h)

Step 2: Measure the Armscye- Lay a flexible measuring tape or a length of string along the armscye curve. Record this measurement. Extend the line (ab) upwards a distance of 1/3 the armscye measurement and mark the end point (c).

Step 3: Drawing in the Construction Lines- Extend the Armscye Line out to the left, through point B. It doesn’t really matter how far, just far enough. You can always make it longer if you need to. Do the same from Point (c). Mark point (d) halfway along line (ac), and extend a line out to the left of point (d) approximately the same length as your other two construction lines. These lines don’t need to be drawn in very heavily; you’ll only be erasing them at the end.

Step 4: Mark Some New Points- Where the construction line from (d) intersects with the left side of the armscye, mark the point (e).

Step 5: Measure and Pivot- Measure the distance from (f) to (b) in a straight line. Add 1.5cm to this and record. Pivot your ruler on point (b) until it intersects with the topmost construction line at the distance you just recorded, to the left of point (b). Draw the line and mark the endpoint (i).

Measure the distance again from (g) and (e) in a straight line. Add 1.25cm and record. Pivot your ruler on point (i) until it intersects with the middle construction line at the distance you just recorded, to the left of point (i). Draw the line and mark the endpoint (j).

Step 6: Measure and Pivot again- Measure the distance along the curve from (e) to (h). Add 1.25cm and record. Pivot your ruler around point (j) until it intersects with the Armscye Line at the distance you just recorded, to the left of point (j). Draw the line and mark the endpoint (k).

Measure the distance again along the curve from (b) to (h). Add .75cm and record. Pivot your ruler on point (b) until it intersects with the Armscye Line at the distance you just recorded, to the right of point (b). Draw the line and mark the endpoint (l).

Step 7: Sleeve Length- Draw a vertical line straight down from point (i) to the desired sleeve length (This block creates a long dress-shirt sleeve. I’ll go over pattern editing for shorter sleeves at a later date. For now, it’s good to have a longer base to work from). Mark the endpoint (m).

Step 8: The Hem Line- Draw a horizontal line to the right of point (m) until the end lines up with point (l). Mark the end point (n) and connect (n) to (l) with a straight line. (mnl) should be a right angle. Do the same for the left side, marking the end point (o) and connecting (o) to (k)

Step 9: Suppressing the Shirt Block- Go ahead and get rid of your shirt block lines at this point. You won’t need them after this. Make sure to keep everything you’ve done on the sleeve so far.

Step 10: Shaping the Sleeve- Measure 5cm inward from (n). Mark the point (p), and connect it to point (l). Do the same on the other side, marking the resulting point (q) and connecting it to point (k).

Step 11: Sleeve Slit- Mark point (r) midway between (m) and (q). Draw a short, 1cm line straight down from point (r), and mark the end point (s). Draw a line straight up from (s) 10cm long. Mark the end point (t). The line (st) will become the sleeve plaquette in the finished pattern.

Step 12: The Sleeve Hem- Draw a curved line connecting points (m), (s), and (q).

Step 13: Drawing the Sleeve Cap– Connect the points at the top of the sleeve with curved lines, following the chart below.

From point… To point… Direction of Curve Maximum Deviation



Downward 0.75cm



Upward 1.5cm



Upward 2cm



None (straight) 0cm



Downward 0.75cm

Step 14: Marking the Elbow Line- Find the halfway point between  (n) and (t); 2.5cm above that, mark a point (z). Draw a horizontal line through (z) until you reach the line (kq). This is the elbow line of the sleeve.

Step 15: Cleaning up- erase all the construction lines, and you should be left with something that looks like this:

Tada! You’re done! You now have a completed men’s shirt sleeve block ready to be turned into something amazing!


Pattern Drafting 101 – The Men’s Shirt Block

17 February, 2011

These Pattern Drafting posts seem to be really popular- thank you so much!

Next up in the Pattern Drafting 101 Series, the Men’s Shirt Block, again from Gedwood’s BurdaStyle tutorials, located here. This block will not be as form-fitting as the women’s bodice block, but for the most part, men’s fashions tend toward looser styles. With a little tweaking (and we’ll be getting into some “uber-leet pattern editing hax” later), you can use this block to create more tailored men’s fashions. This one is a little long, since it incorporates the sleeve as well, so I’m going to split this post into two.

Again, you will need pencils and a large pad of paper, a long ruler, and a french curve.

* ** *** ** *

Step 1: Mark Point A. Orient your paper in landscape orientation, or with the longest dimension running horizontally in front of you. Mark a point in the upper left hand corner about 1cm from either edge of the paper. Mark this point A. Draw straight down from this point the distance of the armscye depth + 2.5 cm. Mark the endpoint B.

Step 2: Mark Point C one half the chest measurement + 8cm to the right of Point B. Connect points B and C. Line BC is the Armscye line of the shirt.

Step 3: Draw straight up from Point C the same distance as line AB. Mark the endpoint D.

Step 4: Draw guideline AD. This line won’t show up in the finished product, so you may want to draw it in lightly.

Step 5: Extend the line AB downwards until the whole line measures the distance of the waist length + 1cm. Mark the endpoint E. Do the same for line DC, marking that endpoint F. Connect E and F with a horizontal line. This line should be the same length as line BC. Line EF is the waist line of the shirt.

Step 6: Extend the line AE downwards again to the desired length of the finished shirt, plus 1 cm (3/8 in.) and mark the end point G. Do the same from line DF, marking the end point H. Connect points G and H with a straight line. Line GH is the hemline of the shirt.

Step 7: Measure along the Armscye Line a distance of half the back measurement plus 2.5cm. Mark that point I. Draw a perpendicular line from Point I to Line AD. Mark the point where they meet Point J.

Step 8: Measure from point B along the Armscye Line, a distance of 1/3 of the chest measurement + 1.5cm. Mark the endpoint K. Draw a vertical line upward from point K 3.5cm. Mark the endpoint L. Later on, we’ll use Line KL to help us define the sleeve.

Step 9: Measure the distance from point I to point K along the Armscyle Line. From point K, mark a distance of half the IK measurement minus 0.5 cm  to the left along the armscye line. Mark this point M. Draw a vertical line down from this point, crossing the Waist Line (mark the intersection point N) and meeting the Hem Line (mark this point O).

Step 10: Measure the distance of ½ the Armscye depth plus 1cm down from point A. Mark this point P. Draw a horizontal line from point P to meet the line IJ. Mark this point Q.

Step 11: From point A, measure 1/5 of the neck measurement minus 0.5cm to the right. Mark the end point R. Draw a short vertical line up 2cm from Point R. Mark the end point S. Draw a curved line from point A to point S. This is the back of the neck line.

Step 12: Measure up from point Q ¼ of the Armscye depth plus 4 cm. Mark this point T. Then measure 3.5cm to the right of Point T. Mark this point U.

Step 13: Connect Points S and U with a straight line. This is the back shoulder seam.

Step 14: Measure 1/5 of the neck measurement down from point D. Mark the endpoint V. Measure the same distance minus 1cm to the left of point D. Mark this point W. Draw in the neck curve between points V and W.

Step 15: Draw a short, 2cm line down from point U. Mark the end point X. Draw another line from X to the right about halfway to Line CD.

Step 16: Measure the line SU. Add 0.5cm to that measurement and record that amount. Pivot your ruler around on point W until it intersects with the horizontal line X at the distance you just recorded. Connect the two points and mark this intersection point Y.

Step 17: Connect Points Y and L with a straight line. Draw this line in lightly, you’ll be erasing it in just a little bit.

Step 18: Construct the Armscye by connecting points U, Q, M, L, and Y with a curved line. Make sure that the curve stays within 1.25cm of line LY, within 1.75cm of point K, and within 3 cm from point I.

Step 19: Erase all extraneous lines, leaving only the outer lines, the armscye line, the waistline and the center line MO. You should have something that looks like this:


The Plague

15 February, 2011

We have around here what we like to refer to as, “The Plague”, which is a yearly epidemic that sweeps the campus. It changes every year, and this year, it’s a 24 hour stomach bug. And I have it.

So while I’m here in my self-imposed quarantine, I thought I’d bring you some fun things from the Internet.

I preface this by saying that I’m one of those people that, if it weren’t for things like ice, heat, glass and other foreign particulates that can easily become embedded in the epidermis covering the soles of my feet, etc., I would never wear shoes. I just love to be able to feel the ground under me. My favorite pair of shoes I ever owned was an old beat-up pair of ballet slippers from a play I acted in in high school. Being leather, they gave a decent amount of protection from hot pavement, debris, detritus and other  foreign objects, but still let me feel everything that was going on beneath me. They looked something like this:

They were also super comfortable and always made me want to dance.  🙂

Being barefoot (or near enough to it) has it’s health benefits. Recent science has even proven that running barefoot results in a better stride and is, over time, less taxing on your body than running in sneakers- thus the advent of Vivram’s FiveFingers shoe. Toddlers and children who go barefoot more often develop faster both mentally and in musculature- ” ‘The barefoot walker receives a continuous stream of information about the ground and about his own relationship to it, while a shod foot sleeps inside an unchanging environment. Sensations that are not used or listened to become decayed and atrophy. There is a sense of aliveness and joy which I experience walking barefoot that I never get in shoes,’ he says.” (Dr. Paul W. Brand, 1976)

Shoes are also really expensive. The last pair of sneakers I bought cost me around $20, and were retired after 18 months of use.

So while searching around Instructables the other night, I found these beauties, which seem to remedy the problems of price and sensitivity-

Norse-Inspired Leather Shoes!

Skymring's Norse-Inspired Shoes

They look so incredibly comfortable and easy to make, I’m making myself a pair as soon as I get a hold of some leather.

Many thanks to Skymring, who put these up for all to see! The full instructions are freely available HERE.