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Margaret Eversole writes -
Thank you so much for printing the article “Men in Stitches.” I can’t imagine how gender became attached to creative endeavors such as sewing, cooking, poetry, embroidery, etc. The “John Wayne” mentality has really stifled the creativity of our young men. I have young men interested in sewing, but their parents won’t let them sign up. There’s so much pressure on the boys and men who enroll in my sewing classes, that they have to preface their interest with “I’m not gay, I just want to...” or they eventually have to drop out because one of their peers sees them in class. I hope that someday, hopefully within my lifetime, these gender related biases will fade into the sunset; just like the cowboy on his horse.
Response from the Editors - As we were sending the June/July issue of VPM to the printer, we received a brief note and photo from Jeff Keith showing us the suit he had just finished sewing from V2836. We were so disappointed that we didn’t have time to put them into the issue with our “Men in Stitches” article—it would have been a perfect match. However, it gave us time to write back to Jeff and ask for more details about his sewing background, and he graciously replied. What appears below is an edited-together version of three letters from Jeff. We think he’s an inspiration for ALL of us, no matter what our gender. We hope you enjoy his story as much as we did.
Jeff Keith writes -
I’m a 47 year old married man with two daughters, ages 21 and 19. I live in Merigold, MS, which is in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, about a hundred miles south of Memphis, TN.
I just finished my fifth suit, using your Vogue 2836, and I think it came out really good so I just had to write to pass it on! I’m one of those people who hates not knowing how to do something. I figure there are way more things that I don’t know how to do than things I do know how to do, so I’d better get cracking. Among the hobbies I’ve enjoyed are restoring antique cars, flying, painting, motorcycling, writing, model making, I guess I just really enjoy making things. You could say I’m “self-taught” [at sewing], except my wife had to get me started with the basic operation of the sewing machine. I love to read, and whenever I try to tackle a new project, whether it’s building something or repairing something, or something crafty, I read as much as I can on the subject.
My daughters would occasionally ask me to hem or fix something, and I enjoyed it, so I decided to try sewing something from scratch. I picked up a vest pattern and some fabric, and it came out pretty good, so of course I had to try to tackle making a suit. I didn’t realize that advancing from vest-making to suit-making was roughly equivalent to feeling qualified to perform brain surgery because of having experience applying a bandage to an “ouchie.”
I bought Vogue pattern V2836, roughly two years ago, and some fabric on eBay. My first suit looked absolutely awful, due to two factors: My inexperience and the foofy fabric I had purchased. Honestly, it looked like a formal pair of pajamas. But I tried again, and again, and each subsequent suit came out a little better, until I reached the point where they look pretty good.
Then, a couple of months ago, I was looking for a new sewing machine, and I came across the Janome “Threadbanger” series, and I had never heard of Threadbanger. So I looked into their website, and their forum, and I posted a picture of a suit I had made. Someone there told me that when I made another one, I should take pictures and post a “how to,” so I did. I think I spent more time taking pictures and writing the descriptions than it took to actually make the suit, but it was fun. The whole step-by-step tutorial, along with my simplified instructions for the sewing impaired can be viewed at threadbanger.com, on their forum, with links to the Photobucket site. I was eager to post the step-by-step instructions because I thought there might be other people out there who were at the same place that I was a couple of years ago—looking for pointers without spending a bundle.
I’m so excited that you are interested in my suit-making. I do marketing for my company, and by now most of the people I call on know that I sew, and they ask me if I’d do it for pay and my answer is always no, that would take the fun out of it for me.
I just got my June/July issue of Vogue Patterns magazine, and I really enjoyed the “Men in Stitches” piece. I was especially impressed with Ron Collins, and the picture on the bottom of page 25 jumped out at me. I’ve got a store-bought suit with similar features to its lining—the curved piece around the inner pocket, the skinny piping between inner and outer fabrics, and the button with a loop instead of a button hole. Seeing his treatment of these features has inspired me to incorporate them on the next suit I make, if I can ever get around to it!
Gail Rodgers from North East, PA writes -
I received my June/July 2009 Vogue Patterns issue yesterday in the mail with great delight. This issue, in my opinion, is the absolute BEST issue you have ever put out from the many issues I have seen.
The Shirt Workshop by Kathryn Brenne showed not only a wonderful classic shirt, but exquisite workmanship, and wonderful directions to accomplish the feat of making it ourselves! Thank you for devoting so many pages to this great article. I would much rather see one extensive article to advance my sewing knowledge than many short articles that do not include enough explanations and instructions for those of us who are not experts on the topic being covered.
Claire Shaeffer’s photos and tidbits on the Chic Chicago Couture Treasures made me want to see many more garments and the sewing techniques behind them that make them so great. I also enjoyed seeing the article about men who sew. I am fortunate to have a husband that, even though he himself does not sew, is wonderful at helping me pin, measure and giving suggestions for my own sewing.
Carol McNeely writes -
I have really enjoyed the two articles by Kathryn Brenne in the June/July and April/May issues. The article instructions are easy to follow and the end products are incredibly inspiring! I would love to see more articles by Kathryn. I have subscribed to your magazine for more than 20 years and it has been a long time since I have read articles like Kathryn’s that have inspired me to the point that I have immediately started to utilize her suggestions and creative ideas.
Julie Taylor from Vacaville, CA writes -
Once again, the newest patterns released for Summer 2009 have no offerings for petite women. Is this a policy change or can we expect to see new designs that include petite sizes in the near future. I haven’t purchased any Vogue patterns in recent months, because of this trend. However, I saw several new designer patterns I would have ordered immediately, had they been available in petite sizes too. I would have thought Vogue Patterns would welcome our patronage, but perhaps not.
Response from the Editors - We have passed your comment about petite patterns on to our design team and have been told that there are plans to add more petite patterns, on a regular basis, in future issues. Please be aware that we work six to nine months in advance, and the impact of these changes is not always immediately apparent. We thank you for your patience and hope that you will again find great style with Vogue Patterns in your size.
Ellen writes -
Thanks for the article about fitting pants [June/July ’09]. I am determined to make some pants that really fit and the pants fitting article in this issue makes so much sense. However, I cannot fine a flex ruler longer than 18 inches. Any suggestions? Thanks for the help.
Response from the Editors - We’re glad you found the article helpful. You can purchase flexible rulers in 16", 24", 32" and 40" lengths at www.dressformdesigning.com.
Marjorie Post from Portland, Oregon writes -
On a recent trip to New York City, I happened to make a chance purchase of a lovely piece of shaded silk. Not sure what to make from it, I searched the Vogue Pattern website until I found Vogue 8113 and imagined how I could add spaghetti straps to the open back, rather than the wide straps shown in the pattern. There was enough fabric to take advantage of the bias cut and enough left to make a slender shawl. I painted a pair of silk mules with fabric paint that matched the color perfectly. I modeled the gown at the Houston fashion show luncheon which is open to all sewers during the big Houston Quilt Festival.
Response from the Editors - Readers’ Favorite Fabric Stores We asked for it and you answered. Here are readers’ responses to our request for you to tell us about your favorite fabric shops. Please continue to write to us with your favorite fabric sources, and we’ll print them here.
Mary Jo Rice writes -
Although I consider my hometown of Chicago world-class, fabric shopping has gone from world-class to abysmal.
The best place for a Chicago sewer to buy fine fabric is New York. But if you can’t get to New York, Chicago’s own Nancy Erickson/ Fashion Sewing Group (www.fashionsewing.com) brings New York fabrics to Chicagoans through her Fashion Sewing Group swatches. The fabrics are consistently beautiful, of high quality and fairly priced. Orders reach your mailbox quickly, and the newsletter fires the imagination.
Caroline Sobolak from Cary IL writes -
The best fabric shop I’ve ever been to is called just that—The Fabric Shop. Located in Crystal Lake, Illinois (about 50 miles northwest of Chicago), the store has EVERYTHING you could ever want or imagine in fabric. Originally opened in 1949, it is like a throw back in time except with up-to-date fabric. For example, I bought my daughter’s silk-satin wedding dress fabric there, and last Saturday I bought material for a shower curtain and new curtains (plus added to my stash).
If you are anywhere near Chicago and LOVE fabric, this store is a treat and well worth the time to travel there. The store hours are somewhat limited, so check before you go to make sure they are open. The Fabric Shop, 21 Williams Ave., Crystal Lake IL 60014, (815) 459-2084.
Thea Furman from Greenville, SC writes -
My favorite fabric shop is Waechter’s Fine Fabrics, 9-D Reed St., Asheville, NC 28803, (828) 252 2131, www.waechters.com They have a beautiful selection of silks, wools, fine cottons…in fact just about anything you might want. They are lovely to deal with, send samples, discuss your project on the phone, make suggestions, etc. Give them a try. You are sure to be pleased.
Zel Kaslewicz from Baton Rouge, LA writes -
For three years my sister, Analtha Pell of Tacoma, WA and I took shopping vacations. It was on two of these trips that we found Carol Harris Fabrics in Dyersburg, TN and Eunice Farmer’s Fabrics in St. Louis, MO.
Carol Harris is like walking into another world. It is so bright, neat, so very quiet, and a most inviting shop. Ms. Harris and her employees are very nice, helpful and unless you ask questions they don’t bother you and let you just look and feel to your heart’s content.
Eunice Farmer’s Fabrics was busy and bustling with little girls of all ages running around buying fabric and notions. All around the large area where the fabric is displayed were smaller rooms where these children were attending classes. Their teachers must have been very good because these children knew exactly what they needed and how to purchase it. There were also classes going on for people of all ages.
We would like to take another trip like this but our children think that we are too old to be turned loose on the highways so for the last few years we have gone to school/classes.
Sandra Betzina has a great school in San Francisco. On Saturday her husband took us shopping to the places where Sandra shops. We went crazy purchasing silks of all kinds and each shop gave us a lovely discount because we were Sandra’s students.
At one time there was a week long school in Brigham Young University where we learned all about heirloom sewing from Sheila Parkin who still lets me call her when I have a problem. For some reason they have discontinued this school which is a shame because we enjoyed our time there and Sheila is a wonderful teacher.
Now our trips are pretty much limited to the Sewing Expo in Puyallup, WA. It is very well planned and the instructors are very experienced and know how to teach and most are well known.
In addition to these classes there are hundreds of vendors selling fabrics, notions, and every sewing machine known to man. This Expo is worth one’s time and money.
I know this is too long for your magazine but unfortunately I write like I talk— non-stop. But now you know my two favorite shops as you requested in your magazine.
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