I'm super excited to show you something a little bit different and out of my comfort zone today. I'm not usually one for joining in with a book tour but when Laurence King Publishing got in touch a couple of weeks ago I'd already had my eye on No Patterns Needed (the new book from Rosie at DIY Couture) so said yes please! I love the concept of making clothing out of simple shapes without a traditional pattern and thought it was a great way to encourage both newbies to try making their own clothes and also experienced seamstresses to try and different method. I can see this book exciting a lot of my as yet non-sewing friends to try as it's a bit more free and creative and probably less daunting than using a pattern for the first time. Although it was a little daunting for me who is used to the comfort of starting with a pattern!
After some introductory info the book dives straight into the designs divided into three sections; rectangles, circles and triangles. The garments in the rectangle and circle sections are all made from those shapes but the triangle section plays around with the concept a little more using triangular pieces but also other shapes to create triangular negative space. The Deep V Tunic jumped out at me as the one I wanted to make and is one of the negative space projects as it is constructed from rectangles of various sizes.
I was a little apprehensive of how much I'd enjoy such a different method as I actually really like the accuracy and control of working with a pattern and wondered if it would feel a little slap dash. However I found the whole process fantastically freeing and was delighted with how well it fit just by using the simple maths calculations at the start of the project to determine the size of my shapes. This is just the right amount of 'relaxed' I like in my fit! I'm really keen now to try the next project in the book, the Triple Triangle Dress. It's much more fitted and I'm intrigued to see how easy it is to get a good fit using the maths.
There are good number of pages of instructions for each design (this one had eight) packed with very clear illustrations. There's no skimping on page space. I think that's what I really loved about it; the instructions are thorough and full of construction tips so you feel that you are making something really well with a neat and professional finish, yet because you just have shapes in front of you you feel liberated to experiment and 'personalise' the garment. There is so much room for making it your own within this design in particular. The placket width you decide on yourself as well as the size of the sleeve caps which I actually opted to leave off entirely when I tried the garment on. There are two other samples photographed on different models at the end of each project which really show you how different you can make the garment look with some simple changes and different fabric choices. That's a great touch.
My fabric is from a selection that The Fabric Store ever so kindly sent me when they launched their international shipping a few months back. This is the first piece I've used as I've had a major attack of 'it's all so beautiful I don't want to waste it on the wrong pattern!' They've got some seriously gorgeous stuff and my eyes lit up when I spotted their post about shipping to the UK as I was blown away by their stock when I visited their LA store last year. They are one of a very few places to stock an AMAZING range of merino wools along with Liberty Prints, and other on trend prints on cottons, silks and rayons. I'll go into more detail about them on another post when I haven't got quite so much to say about the construction process but all you need to know for now is that there's currently a 20% off store wide sale using the code 20%SALETFS until Sunday! Shipping is $40 unless you spend over $150 when it's free.
I've got a bit of a rayon addiction so of course I picked a couple of their rayon prints. This one was love at first sight and it's a beauty to wear against the skin. It's washed up beautifully, presses like a dream and sewed up smoothly with a microtex needle. The only tricky thing about it is how shifty it is to cut. When you're cutting rectangles you can really see if something has slid off grain as that straight edge will be mighty misshapen! As you are drawing your shapes directly onto the fabric I probably wouldn't recommend such a delicate, slippery fabric for your first attempt at this method but I was dead set on this print being the perfect match for the design. I almost chickened out and opted to draw my shapes onto paper first but it was worth the patience in the end as I am so happy with the finished top. I'm going to wear it to death.
The only thing I would say is that it's really hard to work out in advance how much fabric you are going to need as you are drawing those shapes straight onto the fabric and working out the size of them as you go. You don't need any special tools or equipment to make up these garments but I would recommend having a selection of decent marking tools as there is a lot of drawing sewing and cutting lines directly onto the fabric. I didn't have a metre rule and managed just fine but it would be handy.
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here...I think attempting to show you the shape and volume of it but it's amusing anyway.
Part of the fit comes from looking at garments you already own and love to assess sizes. I used my favourite Sutton Blouse to check the width of the waist and hips, my Alder Shirtdress to mark the depth of the armhole and a Zara top I love to decide on the size of the neckline. I would recommend trying assembled parts on the body whenever possible throughout the process as your fabric choice will really affect how things sit. My rayon is lightweight with a beautiful drape but if I was using something with more body I'd want less ease around the waist. I would also recommend cutting your shapes bigger if you are unsure as it's easy to cut away areas during the process. I wanted a blouse length rather than a tunic and was concerned about quantity of fabric but I do slightly wish I'd left a bit more length on those body pieces.
Trying on parts throughout was what made me realise I'd made one stupid error which was entirely my own fault. I was too keen and ploughed right on in there thinking I knew how to take my own body measurements and then when I put my placket pieces over my shoulders to check the size I realised they were way too long and that deep v was looking pretty deep! Looking back at the book I saw that there was a lovely clear section at the start about how to take all the body measurements you need. The nape to belly button measurement that determines the length of your placket is actually taken from the base of the neck where your shoulder seam would hit rather than the top of your spine. In my costume life the nape is always at the back of the neck where that bone slightly protrudes at the top of your spine so I had measured from there, over the shoulder and down to the belly button. Giving me a measurement a few inches too long. Luckily the beauty of this flexible construction process meant I could just play around and close the v a bit keeping the length to make a long bib feature which I liked. I did find I needed to put a stitch in at the point of the v to keep it closed.
As for the book itself I love the styling, graphics and lay out of it. It's not your usual sewing book at all. The design of both the book and garments themselves are really fresh and modern; I can really see Rosie's personality in it. It's really clear throughout with each project starting with a page of all the important information; line drawing, pieces to cut, materials needed, tips on fabric choice and how that will affect the design and best of all a space to do your maths using your body measurements to work out the size of your shapes.
Flicking through the book it's truly amazing that you can make up such interesting styles from just basic shapes. My favourite part is that it's so easy to tweak once you've got your pieces cut. It really encourages playing with fabric. Mine is more of a top than a tunic and has less of a deep v than intended but it's definitely 100% me!