Since launching the Lisette brand last week, we’ve gotten several questions about how the sewing patterns are developed. I thought it would be useful to answer them here.
As you know, we have partnered with Simplicity to produce and distribute the Lisette patterns. We chose to do this for several reasons, two of which are worth sharing.
First, Simplicity will give Lisette patterns an immediate global presence. You can purchase them everywhere Simplicity patterns are sold, in almost any country around the world. The instructions are provided in English, French, and Spanish–automatically expanding the potential audience for the brand.
Second, Simplicity provides a well-known and understood set of fit and sizing specifications for women’s apparel. Developing these standards is much more time consuming and difficult than you might imagine. Being able to work with a company that has these standards in place ensures a quality product from the start.
So let me explain for you a bit about the process of how I work with the good folks at Simplicity to develop the patterns in the Lisette line.
All commercial sewing patterns, regardless of the designer’s name appearing on the envelope, are drafted by the sewing pattern company that distributes them. If you purchase a pattern with a designer’s name on it from Simplicity, McCalls, or any other pattern company, the style was created by the designer while the pattern was created by the pattern company using their own proprietary construction techniques and sizing specifications.
For the Lisette line, I design a number of different styles and then work with Simplicity’s wonderful creative director to make a final selection for the line and decide which views will end up in each pattern package. After we’ve finalized the styles, I write the technical specifications for how I want each garment to fit. Simplicity then uses this information to draft the patterns for each style using their sizing and fit standards. Once the patterns are drafted, we schedule a first fitting to review how each pattern has come together.
I attend every fitting at Simplicity’s offices here in New York. We go over each garment in great detail to ensure that the vision I had for the design has been realized. At this stage in the process, most sewing patterns are fitted and tested on a mannequin. I know from experience, however, that a mannequin just isn’t sufficient for achieving proper fit. So we also test the fit of all Lisette styles on real people as well.
I work with the team from Simplicity to tweak the first version of the pattern so that it fits the way I want. You’ll discover, for example, that the Lisette styles tend to be slimmer fitting than most commercial sewing patterns and feature unique fit details such as higher armholes. It’s important to get these things right at this stage in the process, and I’m intimately involved to make sure that my preferences and vision for each style are realized.
What does this mean for you? Since bodies come in all shapes and sizes, one of the wonderful things about sewing for yourself is that you can customize your clothing to fit you and your preferences. Here are a few tips to help you achieve a good fit when you sew with Lisette patterns:
- Be sure to take your measurements accurately before deciding which size to make. Pattern sizes are different than ready-to-wear sizes. Simplicity allows a little extra ease (or room for movement in the garment) in all their patterns, so if you prefer a slimmer fit you may want to do as I do and sew a size smaller than your measurements indicate.
- It’s always a good idea to make a muslin before cutting into your good fabric. A muslin is a “first draft” of a garment, made with an inexpensive fabric and usually basted together, eliminating details like facings and finished seam allowances. Having a muslin allows you to concentrate on adjusting the fit before investing time into making a finished garment.
- As with any ready-to-wear clothing, you may find that adjustments need to be made in order to achieve a proper fit. There are a number of helpful books and guides available to aid you in this area. We’ll offer some tutorials and tips on the Lisette blog, but for in-depth examples and explanations I recommend buying a book about fitting which will help much more than a short tutorial or blog post.
- If you are between sizes, or different parts of you measure different sizes (don’t worry; this isn’t uncommon), the general rule of thumb is that for dresses and blouses you select the size according to your bust size. For pants and skirts you select according to your hip. Again, this is just a rule of thumb, so use your own judgment and preferences. (And see the point above about making a muslin.)
Once we have the pattern style and fit finalized, it’s time to create the sewing instructions.
Just as with the patterns themselves, Simplicity has a well-defined set of standards that are used for their sewing instructions. All Simplicity patterns, no matter which label, include these methods and basic construction techniques.
Lisette patterns, however, offer additional elements that I add that aren’t found in other Simplicity patterns. You’ll find special Lisette tips and hints throughout the patterns, giving you information about a technique or a useful method that will help as you sew. Lisette patterns also indicate when and where to finish the seam allowances, since this is a common area of confusion for new seamstresses. I think that you’ll find these additional Lisette elements helpful in your sewing and that your skills and confidence level will improve by using them.
In the future, we’ll be compiling a list of common questions about Simplicity sewing steps to help you understand them if you’re not already accustomed to sewing with Simplicity patterns.
I hope this gives you some insight into how the Lisette patterns are developed. Try one out and provide us with your feedback by leaving your comments or questions in the discussion forums section of our website.