Giveaway: Win a Signed Copy Of My New Book, Skirts & Dresses For First Time Sewers!

February 27, 2015

Thank you so much for the overwhelmingly positive response to yesterday's announcement of my newest book, Skirts & Dresses for First Time Sewers! I'm so pleased that it is being well received and that people are excited to give it a try!

So, want to win a signed copy from me? I am giving away a copy of the US version right here on my blog, and I will ship it to anyone anywhere in the world!

To win, simply fill out the form below between now and end of day next week Tuesday and I will announce the winner here next week Wednesday! Good luck!!!

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Fill out my online form.

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Small print terms:
One entry per person.
Winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
The book will be sent from me to the winner anywhere in the world.
The winner will be emailed to the email entered in the form.
Giveaway runs from 12:00pm Friday, February 27– 11:59pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015, Pacific Standard Time.
If no contact has been made by the winner after one week, a new winner will be chosen.

Introducing My New Book – Skirts & Dresses For First Time Sewers!

February 26, 2015

I am so happy to announce my newest book, Skirts & Dresses for First Time Sewers! This project-based book is full of classic shapes for beginner-level sewers to get you excited about making your own handmade wardrobe. Though of course, experienced sewers can make them up too!

There are 15 projects in the book, all with downloadable PDF patterns that you access via a website link or QR Code printed on the project's page. The projects included are:
  • A-line skirt
  • Tiered maxi skirt
  • Tunic dress 
  • Smocked sundress
  • Baby doll dress
  • Upcycled T-shirt dress
  • Sleeveless sheath dress
  • Circle skirt
  • Slip dress
  • Wrap dress
  • Shift dress (this dress you've seen on me a million times!)
  • Pleated skirt
  • Pencil skirt
  • Upcycled men's shirt skirt
  • Wrap skirt

Also included in the book are quick lessons on basic techniques, like an invisible zipper, darts, gathering, and pleats. There are also sections on adding embellishments and pockets, lists of resources, pattern layout guides, and a tutorial on how to use the book and choose your correct size.

Each project opens with photos of finished ready to wear versions of the shape for inspiration (so a range of tunic dresses or pleated skirts, not just the one you're going to make), and a break down of the hows and whys of that shape, what kind of body it's best suited for, the type of fabric to use, and more.

After the project opening, there is an illustration of my pattern for that style, a few helpful tips, the link to the pattern and a list of the pattern pieces to use, followed by illustrated steps to complete the garment. At the end of each project are two alternate examples of how to change up the original design with embellishment, or simple alterations so customize it for your own personal style.

The book is currently available in the United States, in the UK, in France, and in Germany. There might be more versions along the way, but so far these are the only ones I know of. Signed copies of the US version are available on my site and unsigned versions are on Amazon. UK versions are available on the UK Amazon site; the German version on the Germany Amazon site; and the French version is on the France Amazon site.

Because we knew the book was going to be released in multiple languages around the world, that proved a real challenge for the patternmaking and pattern downloading side of things. I wasn't allowed to include any letters or words on the PDFs so that they can be universally downloaded from the same hub from anywhere in the world.

The sizing is just like my regular line of patterns, though two sizes are grouped together into one. For example, the patterns in the book come in sizes 1–5. Size 1 in the book is equal to sizes 0 and 2 in my patterns; size 2 is the range of sizes 4 and 6, and so on. In case there are any questions, below is a breakdown of the sizing:

  • Size 1– Bust: 31–32" Waist: 23–24" Hip: 33–34"
  • Size 2– Bust: 33–34.5" Waist: 25–26.5" Hip: 35–36.5"
  • Size 3– Bust: 36–37.5" Waist: 28–29.5" Hip: 38–39.5"
  • Size 4– Bust: 39–41" Waist: 31–33" Hip: 41–43"
  • Size 5– Bust: 43–45" Waist: 35–37" Hip: 45–47"

From there the patterns are made just exactly the same way my line of PDF patterns are designed, and they can just be downloaded, printed, assembled, and cut out like any other PDF pattern.

Because there is only one review on the US Amazon site so far and it is an angry all caps 1-star review, I would like to address it here, and how it pertains to the links in the book. The book features a link that you must type into your toolbar. Once you type it in, there is an image of the first page of the PDF pattern that allows you to download the whole PDF pattern locally to your computer. It won't say much on the image because again, I wasn't allowed to include any letters or words so that everyone can use them anywhere in the world.

The download links are written clearly, however, there are some capital letters and some numbers in each link, so they need to be typed into the toolbar exactly as they are written in the book. It can be very easy to confuse a capital letter I with a lower case letter L, or a number 9 with a lower case letter G. So if you enter it incorrectly, it will take you to the link that corresponds with the link you actually typed in, and not the pattern.

Both I and the publishers have checked each and every link multiple times, and yes, they do work just fine if you type the link in correctly. If you find you are having troubles, please contact me! Both the publishers and I have tried to contact Amazon user "All things sewing" who left this negative review and have had no luck. If this is you, please email me so I can actually help you! That is more productive than an angry all-caps comment. But that's just me.

So long story short, type the links in right, or they won't work! I think this is common sense, but clearly it's worth saying.

Still with me? Awesome! I am super excited about this book and it's been years since I've written a project-based book, so that was a fun challenge. And watching it pop up in other countries is pretty incredible. I am making it my mission to find the French version on the streets of Paris on our upcoming trip. And thanks to my French lessons, I might actually be able to read it! Ha!

Tomorrow I will host a giveaway for the book, so come back to enter to win! And thanks as always for being so supportive! Love you guys and I hope you love the new book!!!

Marianne Dress & Emery Dress Class Reminders!

February 24, 2015

 marianne dress class christine haynes sew LA

Just a reminder that I have workshops coming up at Sew L.A. for both my Marianne Dress and my Emery Dress! As of now, there are 5 spots left in the Marianne Dress class and 1 spot left in the Emery Dress class, so if you're interested, jump on it! I hope to see you there!

 emery dress class christine haynes sew LA

Building a Travel Wardrobe, Part Two

February 20, 2015

The easy part of building my travel wardrobe are all the basics that I wrote about yesterday–the outerwear, shoes, bags, and the things I'm likely to buy instead of make. The harder things to figure out are all the items I want to sew. There's never enough time in the day! I want to sew it all!

I've learned over the years to keep the to-sew list to a reasonable handful of items, consisting of many things I've made before, for guaranteed success. Below is this year's list of handmade things to take, a couple of which are already done and ready to go. Though many still need to be made, I know that they are very achievable. 

One consistency you will notice below is that almost everything to wear out of the house has a free-form waist. I have learned that most days when I leave the apartment I really want something flowy and not too terribly fitted. Though I do like tailored details, so nothing is as casual as a t-shirt, but they are just as comfy, and clearly more Paris-appropriate. 

1. Grainline Studio Alder Dress + Carolyn Friedlander Doe
I've been wanting to make up the Alder Dress and have just been waiting for the right fabric. When I saw this navy bias grid print from Carolyn Friedlander, I knew it was a match made in heaven. It's classic, a little bit preppy, and a perfect print for any occasion while traveling. This dress sews up well in quilt weight and I know that this will be a great staple for the trip. 

2. Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas + Amy Butler Voile
Let's be real, we do a lot of lounging on our vacation. I mean, it is vacation after all, right? And as I mentioned yesterday, I long for fun vintage floral prints after a long day of wearing neutrals. So to have some crazy adorable Carolyn Pajamas made in this gorgeous Amy Butler vintage floral voile to wear in the apartment will just be the cherry on top of each and every day. 

3. Fancy Tiger Sailor Top (turned maxi) + Bari J Voile
I originally bought the Amy Butler voile pictured above to make a maxi dress after seeing her wearing one at last year's Quilt Market, but once I got this Bari J Voile, I really wanted to switch it up. And I'm glad I did, because I think Amy's voile is best suited for the pj's, and this voile is just perfect for turning the Fancy Tiger Sailor Top into a maxi dress muumuu. This is already made up and getting worn a lot!

4. Shift Dress from Skirts & Dresses for First Time Sewers + Cotton + Steel Lawns & Rayons
This Shift Dress is my favorite garment from my new book, Skirts & Dresses for First Time Sewers, and last year it's pretty much the only thing I wore on the trip, every damn day. It's chic and looks pulled together, but it's loose and flowing. It's the thing in my wardrobe that I love wearing over and over again. Also, because there's basically no bulk and the dress takes no space in my luggage at all, I feel at liberty to make and bring as many as I want! I plan to make at least two in the luscious new Cotton + Steel rayons and a couple of their soft cotton lawns as well. 
5. Emery Dress + Cotton + Steel Quilt Cotton
This dress is also already made up, and though I don't like taking many fit and flare dresses with me on my holiday, I do like having one on hand in case the mood strikes me. And as I love this fun but neutral print from Alexia Abegg for Cotton + Steel, I think this is the perfect Emery Dress to take with me!

6. Marianne Dress + Blackbird Fabrics Quilted Knit
Every year I make a specific dress to wear on the plane there and back. And really, is there anything more comfortable than a knit shift dress? I think not. It's a long flight, and since I really hate flying, I think I should at least feel like I'm traveling in my jammies. This year my plane dress is my Marianne Dress made in the softest quilted knit from Blackbird Fabrics. Because of the bulk that the quilting adds, this is not a good luggage dress, so it is coming along specifically to wear en route, and I think it will do a perfect job. It won't even wrinkle!

7. Colette Patterns Laurel Dress + Carolyn Friedlander Doe
Another favorite shift dress is the Colette Patterns Laurel Dress, and it's nice to have a slightly more tailored shift in my bag. My book shift and my Marianne Dress are both lovely, but a wee sloppy compared to the Laurel, so I like to have it as part of the group. And really, who doesn't love having another reason to use more of the Carolyn Friedlander Doe collection! Love it. 

8. Robe (Pattern TBD) + Leah Duncan Voile
To go along with my muumuu and pajamas, I think a new robe is in order. But, as much as I love plushy fluffy robes, there's simply no room in my bag for that kind of space. So if I can't have fluffy, I at least want light and soft, and there's little as light and soft as voile. I haven't picked the robe pattern yet, but I'm leaning toward something classic, as pictured above, and without question I will be splurging and buying loads of the gorgeous Leah Duncan voile. Ahhh, I want this immediately!

Building a Travel Wardrobe, Part One

February 19, 2015

Each year for the last six years, my man and I have spent a sizable chunk of time traveling in France. Because of this, my sewing and shopping brain always has that in the back of my mind, asking myself with each purchase and project, "is this something I could, or should, take with me on our next trip?"

We are extremely light travelers, and though we go away from 4–7 weeks a year, we are strict carry-on-bag-only travelers. Each item that gets packed needs to fit the following list of rules:

  • Do I love it?
  • Can I wear it once a week or more?
  • Does it hang dry well?
  • Will it go with everything else in my bag?
  • Is it good on its own, or does it require many accessories to work?
  • Is it comfortable enough to wear all day and into the evening, while walking 2–8 miles?
  • Is is bulky to pack?

Yeah, this is a hard list of requests to fill, but somehow year after year, I mostly get it right. And as you can imagine, with each year, I get better and better at this. Below is my advice on how to do it.

My actual items coming with me this year: my cotton trench coat, cotton gauze scarf, simple Tiffany diamond earrings, ponte knit blazer, black & gray tights, and 3 pairs of Dansko shoes.

1. Start with a group of basics
I begin with a color palate of neutrals, mostly gray, brown, black, cream, and white. From there, I add in some navy and other blues, with highlights of color here and there. But France is a place I feel most comfortable wearing neutrals when out and about. I am not going to generalize and say that all French only wear black and neutrals, but yes, many more do than not. So personally, I feel more comfortable saving my lush vintage florals for when I'm in the privacy of our Paris apartment and not when we're out and about. Let me be clear though; it's not them, it's me.

This might seem incredibly boring for some people, but honestly, I find it very liberating. My holidays are exactly that; a holiday from many things, including thinking about my wardrobe. While we are away, we live a very quiet life and that translates to what I wear, which is a form of being quiet. It quiets my mind to not have to think too much about what I am putting on and if things go together. It allows me to think about other things instead, which is refreshing. Think of it as a wardrobe holiday!

2. Buy the most comfortable shoes you can walk in for miles a day
I cannot go out into the world wearing sneakers. Sorry, I just can't. So, with that in mind, I have figured out what works for me, and I can state it in one word: Dansko. I have loads of "comfortable" shoes, but that's not the same as "comfortable walking" shoes. Walking is much different than standing, sitting, small strolls, etc. Walking is walking. Like a lot. Like miles and miles a day. Or at least that's how we do it.

Two trips ago we kept track of our walking paths each day and mapped them out on Google maps to see how much we walked, and I was shocked that we averaged around 4.5 miles a day. Some days we walked 7–10 miles! Some days it was only 1–2, but many were in the 4–6 mile range, so really walk in your shoes to see if you can walk that much in them. Or plan to take cabs and public transportation a lot.

3. Pack layers
I like to have a few different types of layers with me for a wide range of options. I always take at least one cardigan for wearing under my main jacket, and then I like to have something else to layer. This year I'm taking one cashmere cardigan, my cotton trench coat, and a ponte knit unlined blazer that will serve well as an in-between item. It will fill that space between a real coat and a light cardigan nicely.

In addition, I always take a scarf, some sort of hat, which is usually my black wool beret (yep, even for June & July), and a range of leg covering options like knee socks, tights, and leggings. This gives me a lot of choices for layers. I also try to plan my clothing to have some with short sleeves, some sleeveless, and some long sleeves, so depending on the weather I will be comfortable.

More of my basics coming this year: gray cashmere cardigan, gray folding travel umbrella, large tote bag, carry on hard shell luggage, small over the body bag, and a black wool beret.

4. Plan ahead
Your shoes will need breaking in, long before you go, so that is something to think about months prior to your trip. Buy them, wear them for real, not just lightly around the house. Let your feet get used to the pressure points, and try them in all the situations you might wear them in, like with socks, with tights, and/or with bare feet.

And of course, if you plan to make anything, that takes time! Trust me, I have planned crazy amounts of things to sew before a trip, only to have no time to do it. But I do get better each year about properly judging what I can really accomplish and what is just crazy.

Join me tomorrow when I talk about what I plan to sew for my trip to accompany this collection of neutrals above! And let me know how you do it? What's your best advice for packing for traveling?