I’ve always felt that, as a designer, it’s my job to encourage you to try new things. And that includes encouraging you to try clothing shapes and silhouettes that you might not otherwise consider for yourself. I mentioned this in my Ask Me post on the Oliver + S blog last week, and I’ll address it more in the months to come.

Even if you think you know what looks good on your body, keep an open mind for now, OK? I promise you that if you do your horizons will be expanded, you’ll have a whole new set of silhouettes available to you, and you’ll ask yourself, “Why didn’t I try this sooner?”

Many women seem to think that dresses without a defined waist are “shapeless” and that they shouldn’t be worn by anyone except the ultra-slim. That’s absolutely not the case! I’m on a crusade this year to educate women who sew for themselves that they can wear styles other than 1950s-inspired dresses with a fitted bodice and defined waist. And I’m starting that crusade with one of our newest Lisette styles–the dress included in Butterick B6169.

 

Cover-B6169

 

This style is a relaxed dress designed for drapey fabrics like silk and rayon. It includes kimono sleeves (no set-in sleeves!) and an oversized but very slimming silhouette that’s popular right now. This pattern can be sewn with or without the included sash, which is shirred and attaches at the center back. You could also shorten the pattern to make a cute tunic or top, as I’ll show you.

A few things that I like about this style: it’s extremely easy to fit due to the built-in ease. This ease includes gathers at the yoke which gives the dress design ease and also leaves extra room at the bust for women who need it, but it’s not too much fabric that it will overwhelm a smaller-busted woman. The princess seams will allow you to customize the fit as needed, since princess seams are the easiest to adjust for a good fit. And who can resist pockets in a dress? They’re practically invisible on this one, which I love.

Here are some styling ideas that I’ve assembled for you.

 

B-6169-mosaic-1

 

1. This dress reminds me of all the Japanese sewing books that are so popular. The dress is relaxed in feel, but the optional waist tie in the pattern helps to give it more definition and shape that most of those dresses. The socks and boots give the outfit a little attitude and edge.

2. This outfit looks so sophisticated and contemporary with its neutral palette. I love the loose, relaxed flow of the dress.

3. Isn’t this color-blocked dress fun? I love the colors and way the front is bright and colorful but the back is quiet and serene. You could play with all sorts of colorblocking on this dress, maybe using a darker color at the side panels to give a slimming look.

4. This elegant dress from Maria Cornejo expresses everything I love in a loose-fitting dress like this style. The fabric skims the body and gives a long line–you just need find the right hem length to keep the proportions right.

5. You could easily shorten the front hem like this tunic. I like the balance with the skinny jeans, and the shibori effect at the waist is quite slimming and helps to define the waist.

6. Shorten the dress to make a really cute top! With all the great printed rayons available right now you could make all sorts of really cute tunics and blouses!

7. I know, another black dress. But the shirring at the hem is a nice touch, isn’t it? A midi-length dress like this seems like a nice alternative to the ubiquitous little black dress. It’s less fitted and a little more mysterious so it leaves more to the imagination, which is much more chic than the hyper-sexy fitted mini dresses that have become the standard.

 

B-6169b

 

1. This drapey indio version is so chic. Hem it just above the ankle and cinch it with the sash, which is shirred and sewn at the back waist so it’s really quite a chic alternative to just the basic sash you may have expected.

2. Another Maria Cornejo number. This dress is almost architectural in its simplicity, and the cobalt is just gorgeous.

3. When is the last time you heard anyone mention cotton gauze? I remember when gauze was very popular, and it’s starting to reappear here and there. It’s a great fabric for summer because it breathes, drapes, and naturally develops little relaxed pleats. Use a heavier gauze for this pattern and it would make an elegant sundress.

4. A chic jade version. Again, the sash give you a nice shape while still allowing the dress to drape and skim the body.

All of these image and many more are collected in my Lisette Pinterest board if you’re looking for more fabric and styling ideas for the Lisette patterns.

A few hints to leave with you: When you’re making this pattern be sure you leave enough ease for a good drape–that’s the crucial element for this dress to fit correctly. By leaving it loose, the fabric will skim the body and give you a nice long line. Also, this style looks best with a sleek shoe. Take a look at the shoes in the photos if you need a little inspiration. You don’t need a high heel for this one, just something that’s not heavy and clunky (photo 1 in the top image excepted–for that you need a little attitude and probably a lot of height).

With all the pretty printed rayon, silks and double gauze options out there, you have lots of fun options for this dress! Which version in these photos do you like best?

Recently there’s been a resurgence of interest in ’70s-inspired apparel. Have you noticed it? Witness the recent Yves St. Laurent show (now on its way to the UK!), and the new Yves St. Laurent + Halston exhibit. It’s all over the runways right now and making its way into your closet, I promise. You may not be aware of it yet, but it will find its way to you eventually. I talked about fashion trickle-down recently in my column for Sew News.

I’ve also been seeing a lot more safari-inspired clothing, which makes me happy. When I was designing at Tommy Hilfiger I started collecting catalogs from the original Banana Republic company because I loved the look so much. I wanted to do something along these lines in the new Lisette collection, and that led me to the skirt with Lisette B6182.

A few things I like about this pattern: I love the high waistband. You can’t see it in the photo because the top covers it, but it’s a tall waistband that will give you a nice defined waist and a long line. It will also give you a little more coverage if you decide to pair it with a slightly cropped top, so you won’t need to worry about showing more skin than you intended. But if you prefer a regular zipper, that’s a really easy change to make, too. As you know, I love a nice invisible waistband, so we included that too. And of course there are those applied pockets, which give it a nice sportswear feeling and are so easy to make. Leave them off if you want the skirt to be dressier, but we all like pockets, right? And these won’t add any unwanted bulk or width to your profile.

 

Cover-B6182

 

Both the ’70s and the safari look inspired this new a-line Lisette skirt, B6182, so I thought it would be fun to give you some fabric and styling inspiration for this style. You can find many more images and ideas in my Lisette Pinterest board, too.

 

B6182-image-1

 

  1. For a dressy skirt, choose fancy fabrics like silk dupioni or shantung. This skirt is obviously part of a dress, but I love the versatility of a more formal-style skirt like this. You could pair it will a blouse (the blouse from the pattern, made longer, would be really cute tucked in) for dressy occasions, but you can also tone it down with a more casual top, like a T-shirt.
  2. Classic black! In twill for everyday, or in wool suiting for a skirt that will go with absolutely everything. This skirt is styled a little bit tomboy, which I love.
  3. Simple styles like this pattern work really well with patterns and prints. The chevron print has been a bit overdone lately, but I think this skirt demonstrates how you can play with patterns and get lots of great results for a whole wardrobe full of fun skirts!
  4. Dressy version, see 1, above.
  5. If you prefer a more feminine look, polka dots can give a tailored style like this pattern a bit of feminine charm.
  6. This cute floral skirt from Boden is another great example of how the pattern will work with lots of different printed fabrics.
  7. White: sewn in twill or suiting for summer. In heavier wool or even leather (like this one) for winter.
  8. This is more of a pencil skirt silhouette, but I love the solid color. Solid not-quite-neutral colors are a great way to add a little bit of color to your wardrobe without
  9. Shorten the skirt and sew it with suede like this version from Derek Lam for a little bit of a 70’s vibe.
  10. Love the mustard yellow color! This would be a great addition to a core wardrobe and is similar to number 8, above.
  11. Miu-Miu’s little white skirt has almost a tennis vibe, doesn’t it? Very cute for summer, and so easy to wear. Shorten the pattern to get a similar
  12. Again with the fancy party skirt. Bright bubble gum pink for a really girly version that totally works with this more conservative, tailored cut.

 

B6182-image-2

 

  1. There’s something really sweet and attractive about the classic English tweedy look. If you really want to push this image, swap the solid cardigan for a colorful fair isle sweater (er, jumper, for those of you on that side of the pond) and you’ll be ready for a stroll along the heath. (Did I say that right? It’s been a while since my last trip to Scotland.)
  2. White twill again. Goes with everything, great transition piece for spring and fall too.
  3. Right now I’ve got a huge design crush on Tomas Maier–both his self-named collection as well as his work with Bottega Veneta. This is yet another example of his very wearable aesthetic. This is how I want to wear this skirt. It’s classic but worn with a little bit of a contemporary edge.
  4. Tomas Maier again. Witness the safari-inspired look. I love the topstitching done with a darker shade.
  5. Here’s another example of a dressy pink a-line skirt. I think this one might actually be culottes, but you could get a similar look with the a-line skirt and silk faille. Isn’t it great worn with the casual T-shirt?
  6. This blush-colored suede a-line skirt pushes all the right buttons for 70’s inspired style.
  7. I visited a Jo-Ann store yesterday and spent more time looking at all the great home dec fabrics than any fabrics in the apparel section. All the best prints and more substantial fabric weights (i.e., fabrics appropriate for skirts and jackets) are in the upholstery section, where you could easily find something similar to this cute floral skirt.
  8. Slubby heather gray gives this skirt an interesting texture, and I love texture in apparel. It’s so easy to pair a skirt like this with simple tops and skirts for an grab-and-go outfit that doesn’t require a lot of forethought on a busy morning.
  9. Here’s a very classic skirt. It’s dressy with a little bit of a safari vibe. You could base a whole wardrobe around this skirt and wear it nearly every day. And the crepe fabric looks so elegant.
  10. This vintage-inspired chevron skirt has the pattern woven right into the (jaquard) fabric, which gives the fabric a bit of texture and pattern. Again, a really easy skirt that will pull together a great outfit with very little planning.

Personally, I think I might sew myself an indigo skirt similar to this one, which I know I would wear all the time.

 

cobalt-a-line-skirt

 

How are you planning to sew it? Don’t forget: more images and ideas on the Lisette Pinterest board!

Have you ever owned a piece of clothing that you wore far more often than you ever thought you would? Back when I used to design for Ralph Lauren we had all sort of perks, and my favorite was the amazing sample sales.

At one of those sample sales I found a black fleece moto jacket that I’ve been wearing ever since. It’s cozy and warm and surprisingly versatile. In fact, the versatility of that jacket has impressed me over and over again. At one time I might have thought that a moto jacket was strictly for a more dangerous person than myself. But I’ve found that the moto jacket can go almost anywhere! I wear it to meetings, to evening events, and of course on weekends. I mentioned this versatility the other day when I introduced the new Lisette patterns, but I thought it might be helpful for you to see the moto jacket in action, in its natural habitat. So I’ve been collecting photos for you!

I shared one idea with you last week: wouldn’t it be great to embellish the jacket with tonal embroidery like this?

 

Marchesa Voyage

 

But there are so many other ways to make and wear this style!

 

MotoJacket1

 

  1. I love the use of multiple colors and textures/fabrics here. Textured color blocking like this gives an illusion of a layered vest, which sort of breaks up the full moto jacket if it feels a little too much to you. And if you’ve wanted to sew leather but don’t want to go all leather, this is a great (and more affordable) option.
  2. The pale pink color of this jacket really gives it a nice feminine touch.
  3. The quilted front panel gives this jacket a great texture.
  4. Chambray for spring.
  5. Cream is so soft and pretty, especially layered with other light neutrals. Love the sheer layer peeking out underneath!
  6. Or go all-in boho and embrace the patchwork idea! This would work really well with scraps of home-dec weight fabrics.
  7. Hot pink moto jacket? Again, great combination of pretty and edgy here.
  8. For cool weather, try a buffalo plaid version!
  9. What about a light taupe suede version? This would be great for spring.

 

MotoJacket2

 

  1. Try wool crepe for a lightweight, drapey, flattering version of the jacket that would be great for work, too.
  2. Try sewing the jacket in a stable knit fabric for a cozy take on this style.
  3. Bias-cut plaid? Fantastic!
  4. There’s something really refreshing about a soft tonal palette like this outfit, which is all about the texture. The gray denim, textured jersey and monochromatic jacket look great together.
  5. Metallic leather.
  6. The colors in this oversized tartan plaid are subtle enough that the jacket could still be worn as a basic and be an extremely versatile piece.
  7. Striped knit version.
  8. Cozy knit sweatshirt fleece version
  9. Dress up the moto jacket and it will be perfect for a corporate job if you sew it with wool flannel or crepe like this one.
  10. I love the contrast-color facing on the facings. This is an interesting color-blocking alternative.
  11. Pale pink with dark zippers give this feminine style a bit of an edge.

 
And that’s just the start! I saved some of my favorite images for my Lisette Pinterest board. Take a look for lots more ideas and for larger, un-cropped views of the photos above.

I’m excited to announce something I’ve been working on for quite a while now. Our newest collection of women’s patterns is being released this spring with Butterick! They will begin arriving in stores soon.

 

lisette-lineup

 

For the past year or so I’ve been putting a lot of thought into designing a collection of core wardrobe items for women. The idea of the core wardrobe has really become very popular in the past few years, and with very good reason. It’s a way of thinking about your wardrobe that is very popular in Europe and here in New York, where we have very small closets and need our clothes to be extremely versatile. No one-trick ponies here! The idea behind a core or capsule wardrobe is that all your clothes play nicely with each other and can be mixed and matched to create lots of outfits. In designing these patterns, I wanted each piece to be basic enough to wear multiple ways while also being fun to wear, with great details to keep them from becoming boring.

 

B315-Cov-1-Dom

CombinedSpread

 

In this first collection of patterns, you’ll find simple tailored trousers, a pleated skirt, easy pull-on tops and dresses with flattering silhouettes, as well a my favorite item: a fully-lined moto jacket with all sorts of great details! All of these pieces are appropriate for work as well as casual wear, and they can even move into evening if you make them in the right fabrics. And you know how I feel about clothing. I like updated classics, not trendy pieces that will look out-of-date in six months. So these patterns are designed to look great for a long time, and I hope you’ll enjoy wearing them for a long time too.

Let me introduce you to these new patterns individually so you can get acquainted.

B6183 is a semi-fitted (meaning that it has a nice shape but isn’t tight), pull-on woven top with a jewel neck, princess seams, self-lined front and back yokes, and an exposed-back zipper. This pattern includes pieces for A/B, C, and D cup sizes, so the full bust adjustment is already done for you! And the princess seams are really easy to fit if you want to customize the pattern any further to fit your own body. The tailored wide-legged trousers have a waistband, side-front pockets, and an invisible side zipper. The trousers can be sewn cropped like in the photo or longer like the illustration, so they’re really versatile. And they look so cute on! I love this style because it looks good on pretty much everyone–even the rear view is flattering. I was really careful to make sure these were cut so they don’t scoop at the inside leg to create a bell bottom leg; instead, they have a gentle flare that gives the rear end a little lift.

 

Cover-B6183

B6183_064

B6183_031

 

B6168 is a semi-fitted dress or tunic with a pleated cross-over detail and V-neck with a cute little front neck tab. We took special care to give these styles a really nice finish on the inside without requiring a full lining, so the front midriff detail is lined, as are the short sleeves. This dress has an invisible back zipper (my favorite kind of zipper to sew and wear). This dress is comfortable and flattering so it’s great for work or for casual wear, but it can also be sewn in dressy fabrics for fancier occasions. Wouldn’t it be pretty in silk dupioni?

 

Cover-B6168

 

B6182 is a relaxed pull-on top or dress that has a center-front seam and a fun center dart detail, kimono sleeves and sleeve bands, and an easy fit. The safari-inspired A-line skirt has a wide waist band (which works so well with the shorter top or with a tucked-in blouse), side front pockets, a deep center-front pleat, and an invisible back zipper.

 

Cover-B6182

 

And I saved my favorite for last! B6169 is a fully-lined moto jacket with all the trimmings. You’ll wear this jacket everywhere. It can go to work in place of a blazer, throw it on over jeans for the weekend, and you could even make it in leather if you’re feeling adventurous. The pattern includes lots of great details: princess seams, in-seam welt pockets, an exposed zipper, and two-piece sleeves for a comfortable fit. But don’t miss the dress, either. It’s a relaxed pull-on style with gentle gathers at the shoulders, self-lined yokes for a nice finish, princess seams to help with fitting and also to disguise the in-seam side-front pockets, and a shaped hi-lo hemline. You can make it with or without the sash. This dress would be so pretty in silk or rayon.

 

Cover-B6169

B6169_078

B6169_013

 

I hope you have lots of fun and get tons of wear out of these patterns! I’ll be back with all sort of ideas for these patterns soon.

We’ve been hearing a few reports that my newest Lisette fabric collection has finally arrived in Spotlight stores, so it’s finally time to tell you all about it!

 

Lisette-cotton-jersey

 

I’ve been having so much fun with watercolor and layers of soft color for these designs. The prints are loose and relaxed in feel, and the watercolor gives them lots of lovely texture. We’re using a new (to us) mill in India for these fabrics, and they really did a great job. The entire collection is printed on a really beautiful jersey. It has a wonderful hand, and the printing is just as I hoped it would be.

Jersey is such a fun fabric to sew. It has plenty of stretch and good recovery, and it’s suitable for a wide variety of garment types. As you probably know by now, knits are really fast and satisfying to sew. This particular quality is substantial enough for leggings but also drapey enough for dresses and T-shirts. I really couldn’t have asked for better. I think you’re going to enjoy working with the fabrics themselves. I’ve been playing with them for a few months now and am so happy with them.

To help introduce the line, we made up a few examples to show what you might want to do with the fabrics. Of course you can make T-shirts with the jersey. For kids, the School Bus T-shirt, Field Trip Raglan T-shirt, and Lunch Box Tee are all designed for knits, so they’re an obvious choice. For this Lunch Box Tee I paired the orange and blue scallop print with a solid from Robert Kaufman’s Laguna jersey collection. The colors are a perfect match!

 

T-ShirtJeans

 

You might remember that I recently sewed new pajamas for S using the Playtime Tunic and Leggings. These are getting a lot of wear, and not just to bed. They’ve become sort of a lounge outfit for those occasional Saturdays when we just don’t quite manage to get out of our PJs until the afternoon. (I think the leggings have also gone to school a few times, which I suppose is testament to their comfort and softness. She just doesn’t want to take them off, and they make a great cold-weather layer under jeans and long pants.) You could also sew the Hopscotch Top or Dress, which is designed for jersey as well.

 

PJs

 

I want to wear a lot of these prints, too, and it turns out that the Liesl and Co. Everyday Skirt works beautifully with jersey! Just be sure to use a woven fusible interfacing for the front waistband so it doesn’t stretch when it’s worn.

 

Skirt-Top

 

Of course, the Metro Tee and Bento Tee patterns would also be perfect to use with these knits. I’ve been thinking that the Lisette Attache peplum or dress would also be really cute in jersey, as would the Lisette Diplomat dress, especially the shorter version.

These fabrics are available exclusively in Spotlight stores now, so if you’re in New Zealand, Australia, or Singapore I can’t wait to see what you make!

It seems as though we just announced a bunch of new fabrics for Spotlight, doesn’t it? Well, here are some more!

 

Lisette Fall 2014 Fabric for Spotlight

 

These are some of the prints I loved most when I was designing the collection, and I was afraid they wouldn’t get picked up because they’re large in scale and are quite bold. But Spotlight has been so supportive of these designs! And I’m just thrilled because these are the prints I’ve been wanting to sew for myself.

The watercolor broken stripe is one of my favorites. It’s printed on our much-loved twill, which is so perfect for dresses, skirts, and jackets. I’m making a dress from it right now and have plans for a skirt. I can’t show you the dress yet because it’s an upcoming Liesl + Co. patterns that isn’t quite ready. Soon, I promise.

 

Lisette Fall 2014 Fabrics for Spotlight

 

We’ve also use that great twill quality for the rows of dots that come in two colorways. I think the navy is really pretty, but the bright pinks and oranges are so vibrant and fun, too.

 

Lisette Fall 2014 Fabrics for Spotlight

 

And that big abstract floral? Sateen! It’s so soft and drapey, and the large scale is perfect for women’s apparel. I think it really wants to be a dress or a tunic. But which colorway: the blue/green colorway or the pink/orange? Tough call. I’m more of a green/blue girl, personally, but everyone who has seen this print seems to gravitate to the orange/pink.

 

Lisette Fall 2014 Fabrics for Spotlight

 

I’m also rather partial to the windowpane in sateen, which is so cute for dresses and tops.

 

Lisette Fall 2014 Fabrics for Spotlight

 

There are several other prints in the collection, including a poplin floral which has a bit of a printed texture that makes it really attractive. And if you liked our popular sailboat print from the last couple of collections you might also like our new umbrella print and the cloud print with hot air balloons and airplanes zipping around in the sky. Oh, and the big dots! Nearly forgot those. I’ll be cutting into that fabric soon, too. Again, tough to choose between the pink colorway or the blue/green dots. It would make darling little girls’ dresses, but I can think of so many other uses, too.

You can see all of the Fall 2014 Lisette fabrics for Spotlight in the fabric section of the website.

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