Though it’s not historical, I’ve been doing some quite exciting sewing lately – and pattern drafting.
The Mackenzie Cardigan!
Which is (squee!) almost certainly going to be my first commercially available pattern!
Being able to make my patterns available to other sewers has been a huge goal for me for the past few years. Teaching sewing as I do, it’s become very obvious how few well really well drafted patterns there are available to sewers. The gap is particularly bad for some garments that I consider absolute wardrobe classics – cardigans, knit wrap dresses, simple darted blouses, the iconic fitted dresses with set in sleeves, slim skirts, and at least 5 darts for fitting, and interesting shift dresses. The rise of independent pattern companies has been fantastic, as their patterns are often much better than the big five, but here in NZ they are really expensive. People are always asking about the patterns I draft for myself, but I haven’t had a way to pass them on.
I’ve been pattern drafting and and resizing patterns for years, but I was taught to do it the old fashioned way – on paper, and in fabric, and making the jump to computers has been an enormous undertaking for me. I’ve still got some tweaking to do, and I know I’m not doing it the ‘correct’ way, but the way I do it does work.
More importantly, the pattern works, and it doesn’t just work on me – I’ve tried it on a range of figures, and it really does fit women (with the expected minor tweaks to fit the huge diversity of women’s figures).
The cardigan is named after the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island of New Zealand, home to high country merino sheep, lupines, and impossibly blue skies. It’s perfect cardigan country.
The pattern came about because I love cardigans, and after trying every commercially available women’s or unisex cardigan pattern in search of the perfect (downgraded to good, and then to ‘OK’, from there to ‘Reasonable’, and finally to ‘Not totally horrible’) I realised that in order to have a good pattern that I could offer to my sewing students, I was going to have to draft my own. After lots of drafting, and lots of trials and tweaking, this is it!
These photos were actually quite impromptu – Mr D and I went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens, and then stopped to watch some rugby league on a nearby field (Mr D is a huge League fan), so if my smile looks strained in some of the images, it’s the league 😉
This isn’t my first version of the cardigan, nor is it quite the final version, but it’s one I’m particularly fond of. I found the lilac wool at an op-shop, and the beautiful merino binding came from Fabric Warehouse. I’m so in love with the blue-grey that I sewed up all I’d bought, and then rushed out and bought another length.
In addition to the cardigan binding, I made the blue-grey merino into a T-shirt from a re-draft of my personal T pattern (I can’t find the original, and I’m afraid the re-draft isn’t quite as good). The one drawback to the shirt is that I can get a bit too matchy-matchy with the cardigan!
And I made a pair of everyday mitts, and there is going to be a pair of blue-grey stockings as well (and don’t worry, the stocking pattern will be available soon, and it will be free!)
So I’ve got a few more tweaks to do, and a bunch of business stuff to sort, but one day soon the Mackenzie Cardigan pattern will be available!
I love “matchy-matchy” looks. Just saying. 🙂
Congratulations on the Mackenzie cardigan! I look forward to seeing you publish a line of solid, well-drafted patterns. Maybe someday you will publish a “slim skirt” pattern than I can use for a serious work garment.
Me too! After spending a decade and a half mixing patterns, I’m proud to say that my slippers match my pyjamas. Matching is way too much fun!
This is brilliant! I’m so pleased you’re able to produce your own pattern line. You’re absolutely right about the lack of well-drafted patterns available, particularly patterns for wardrobe staples.
Will definitely be placing a pattern order when it’s available!
Gorgeous! Can’t wait until you release the card pattern. I’m scheming up fabrics as we speak.
Absolutely fantastic!! Hoping there will be e-patterns so we can get it here in the US too!
Oh I am so excited for you! Though I have to say I am particularly excited for the stocking pattern to come out!!! I have a piece of beautiful pink wool that I’m sitting on, waiting for your pattern to come out to make the stockings with.
Hope all the best for your endeavors!
Thank you so much! I’m really excited about the stocking pattern too – just having to balance it with all sorts of other commitments in my life!
A great success! I rejoice for you! And I’m with Catherine – I think ‘matchy-matchy’ is good – it’s what cardigans like to do.
Face it, the reason my generation ran shuddering away from the cardigan as a garment type, was the twin-set and pearls look that our mothers favoured. No-one wants to dress like their mother! But it was the look, and perfectly fine, in retrospect.
And I now think the cardigan is a practical, useful, and, when it’s as lovely as this one, becoming garment!
Thank you! I’ve become a huge cardigan fan since moving to Wellington – layers are my friend!
I’m not a cardigan-wearing girl (koumpounophobia does that to a girl), but I can certainly enjoy the look on you, because this is one of the finest cardigans I have ever seen. 😉 The merino must be really lovely in real life, because it looks lovely. Such soft colours and texture.
I wish you good luck with the patterns. As evidenced above, for this particular pattern I am not a prospective customer, but who knows, maybe later…
Is this The Project, then?
Nope, not The Project – that is far bigger!
Congratulations! What an accomplishment!
One of the reasons I chose you to donate all of my vintage clothing to was that you was that I knew they would continue to live on: to be worn, to be used as study materials, and even as bases from which to draw patterns. Or to be given away again.
It’s wonderful when an artist finds success. Congratulations again!
Can’t wait to try this pattern when you release it – so exciting!