Sewing a foreign language

With my wedding ring crisis averted last Saturday I spent the rest of that weekend working on my Melbourne Cup/Honeymoon dress.

Said dress is #10 from Patrones 289, which means the instructions are in Spanish. I speak English (obviously) and a little Japanese which is so rusty it makes my jaw ache.

Patrones 289 Dress #10

Google Translate is close to useless when it comes to sewing instructions so I though it would be helpful for other sewers who subscribe to magazines in languages they do not speak if I documented my thinking process as I tackle a pattern more or less sans instructions. It differs for different patterns and I’ll sometimes consult instructions from a similar pattern to give me a quick feel for order, then I do some brain sewing before I get started. If I get stuck or am in doubt of the next steps I’ll pin or baste pieces together or place it on my dress dummy Scarlett to get a feel for how the item is shaping up.

This might be a bit epic so be prepared for far too many images and lots of words…feel free to skip ahead 😉

Right, lets begin: You might remember this image from my UFO post.

The pieces were already cut out (it’s the envelope on the far left) from a little while ago. I bought the fabric with the Patrones pattern in mind and I really liked my choice, a printed jersey from Spotlight.

Tangent: For those of you not from NZ/Australia you might no be familiar with Spotlight, it’s a kind of mashed together craft/knitting/sewing/homewares warehouse kind of store at the mid to lower end of the budget. I know a lot of sewers really hate them and wouldn’t be seen dead inside of one but I think they are getting better and they have their place in our sewing world. Recently I even saw the exact same fabric in a Spotlight store that I had only just seen in one of the higher end fabric stores. They sell Gütermann thread and Schmetz needles at good prices, two brands I use without a second thought, and they often have Birch and O-Sew overlocker thread on special. When I got my overlocker I was given 4 cones of (apparently) very high quality thread, the sign said $6.00 per cone retail. I chose black since I was sewing a black dress at the time but I also wanted white so I went to Spotlight and bought some O-Sew thread at $4 per cone. I’ve used both colours equally and never found a knot in the white cheap thread but the black expensive thread has had at least three (and still counting) and two of those were on the needle thread, luckily I saw them (I have high-speed vision apparently) so I guess “you get what you pay for” isn’t always true…and yes, I am aware of the irony that I got the black thread for free 😉

Ok back on track: This fabric however was not really a Spotlight success story, it was a fairly good price but the print was woefully off-grain and you can’t really correct an off-grain print in jersey. It fact it was so bad that I think it’s more plausible to assume it shifted during the printing process, jersey is tricky like that. I barley had enough for the dress but I wasn’t about to be defeated by some cheap fabric so I threw out the cutting layout and spent an entire day trying every which way I could to lay the pattern to not only match up the repeating chevrons but also to keep the important seams looking straight. I think I did a pretty good job and eventually I was ready to cut…then I made the mistake of cutting the back skirt piece on the fold…and it wasn’t supposed to be…I realized halfway though cutting but I was lucky enough to salvage it by moving it across and shrinking the outside edge seam allowances to just under 1cm, never the less it was enough for that weekend and into the envelope the cut pieces went until the other side of winter and here we are…

Ok, let’s get started: First things first, after transferring any markings I sew or baste any pleats, darts or other manipulations that need to happen to each piece before any main assembly, I think of this as the “first shaping” and helps me get my head around which pieces go together and the construction. This dress is pretty basic as far as that’s concerned, no pockets, just a heap of pleats on the front skirt piece and your basic bodice darts front & back. The faux wrap pieces on the front of the dress are attached at the armholes and have lots of  pleats too.

UPDATE: The pattern pieces below are copies of my Patornes pattern sheets, I promise I didn’t cut up the originals, see my explanation here.

Bodice front & back with darts pinned

Skirt front & wrap pieces with pleats pinned


Next I assembled the basic dress parts, forgetting about the wrap pieces for now.

I attached the bodice front to the skirt front, the bodice back pieces to each of the skirt back pieces.

Bodice front & skirt front

Then I sew the centre back seam and insert the zipper.

Centre back seam sewn, zipper gets pinned

Now I have the dress front and dress back assembled.

Ready! My zipper colour choice was limited, it was either this dark purple or super hot omg blinding pink, so I went with the purple

There were four front wrap pieces and four tie pieces so I assumed there are two for each side, one as the outer and one as the inner facing.

Attaching the tie to the end of the wrap piece

I attached a tie to each wrap piece then lay the assembled pieces together and stitch the outside seam leaving it open at the armhole curve. Turn and press, baste open armhole edges together.

Inside out completed wrap piece, ready to be sewn, then turned…

Testing, testing & testing – Scarlett plays dress-ups

Next I pinned the wrap pieces to the bodice front and basted in place.

Attaching the wrap pieces

Nerd Moment Alert: after all that pleating – perfect 1.5cm shoulder and side seam allowances still in tact

Now it was ready to pin to the dress back and sew the shoulder and side seams.

Side & shoulder seams

After this step I tried the dress on myself. It looked a bit too big on Scarlett and indeed on me it was a bit too big also, I think the jersey I used had much more stretch than the pattern allowed for. I could also put it on over my head without even undoing the zipper so I ended up taking the zipper out and sewing the center back seam again and taking it in the sides.

I think the armhole and neck openings were supposed to be enclosed in bias strip but I did not have enough fabric so I did a basic seam edge and then hemmed the skirt. I used Scarlett’s hemming attachment for the first time and it was brilliant.

Ready for the big day

I think that’s enough pink fabric photos for one day, I promise more finished dress photos when I upload on the weekend. Photos here 🙂

Sewing in a foreign language really isn’t all that scary or difficult if you have a basic knowledge of all the main clothing items: dresses, shirts, skirts and pants. Just take your time and look at other similar patterns instructions to help you along.

Ok, I promise, that’s all for today 🙂


Patrones 289 (February 2010)

So I originally began posting a small write-up of the Patrones magazines over on but the formatting was awful and my words kept getting bumped together and crazy extra spaces and random font changes drove me mad so I thought I would re-post them here as my future magazine reviews will be posted here from now on so you can collect the whole set! 🙂

Originally posted March 4th 2010 (excuse the formatting):

I thought I’d write a bit of a blog here (I don’t have my own, but I am toying with the idea of starting one) about something that I got very excited about this week, my Patrones magazine arrived. It’s the second in my first ever 1 year subscription but since the first issue was children’s clothes and I do not have children this magazine feels like the first all of my own. There seems to be very little information available for Patrones and also La Mia Boutique magazines (which I have also subscribed to), especially for us sewers outside of Europe. So I thought I’d write a little about this issue here to inspire anyone else and help those thinking of subscribing.
Let me know if you are interested, I’ll be happy to post info on future issues as I get them.

(Click on any images to see full-sized)

There is a lot to like in this issue but considering we have just been through a heat wave where our weekend temperatures barely dropped below 42 degrees Celsius (and my air-con was broken) it’s no wonder I am drawn first off to 4 amazing summer dresses.

I am currently sewing the Butterick 5454 wrap dress, my first wrap dress ever so I love this sophisticated version
and I hope I can find some similar amazing fabric to make my own version of this dress (#10) on page 12.

I also love this shift style dress (#11) on page 13, I’ve seen some lovely light linen that is perfect for it. Even though I am not sure about the style suiting my figure I can also see it as a dress to pull over the bikini at the beach or beside the pool.

This fabric is haunting me. I first saw it at my local Spotlight and hummed and hawed over buying it. It’s a printed satin with insects all over, from butterflies to locusts, in the end I worried it was a bit weird for me and left it behind. Since then I have seen a curiously similar dress on Gok’s Fashion Fix and now in this! Needless to say it’s no longer at Spotlight so guess I’ll have to hope  it comes back in next season. I’ve been after a cute halter maxi for a while to make up in a printed cotton I got when I visited home (Wellington, NZ – fabric is the best souvenir) last year so this dress (#12) on page 15 is on my list too, although it looks like I’ll need to get hold of one of those fantastic “U” bras first, phew, that bust line is seriously low!

I love this dress’ bodice (#15) on page 20, the pleating looks wonderful and I love the empire cut, and it’s the kind of dress that could be in a casual summery fabric like it is shown here or made up in something a bit sparkly with some wonderful heels to become an evening dress.

As with Burda the Patrones magazine has a Plus sized section also, I really like this dress (#67) on page 50, the cute wrap style belt and pleated front looks very flattering and has   trying to grade it down to my size. Overall I am super pleased with this magazine issue and I am also looking forward to next month, it is a Joven issue (“Young”) and the last one I saw at a club meet   of patterns that I liked also. They give us a little peak of the cover in the back, the blouse looks sweet and it looks like the beach in the background so perhaps some more fun summer styles? We’ll see…