Digital versus printed patterns: which is your favourite format?

Tilly's Mathilde print-at-home pattern.

Tilly’s Mathilde print-at-home pattern.

As the dress project I’m working on is on hold at the moment (eh, I did finally buy a zip but I’ve gotten distracted from it all!), I’ve been turning my attention to sewing separates and am currently working on both the Beignet skirt (by Colette) and the Mathilde blouse (by Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons). I’m working with the ready-printed copy of the Beignet, but the Mathilde is the first print-at-home pattern I’ve used.

Working with these two patterns has started me wondering about which format is more practical: digital or print?

The Beignet pattern directions come as a booklet, which is great for propping up in front of the sewing machine and makes a welcome change from those huge and unwieldy paper guides I’m used to. But having the Mathilde directions online (Tilly has a great step-by-step guide on her site), has allowed me to read over the next steps on my iphone whenever I have a few spare moments so I feel better prepared when I sit down to sew.

Then last night I came across the ebooks for the incredible vintage knitting collections by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford, on Susan’s website (vol 1 here and vol 2 here. And, yes, both are going on my Christmas list). Brilliantly, Susan provides a photo gallery of all of the projects featured in the ‘Stitch in Time’ books. (It’s so frustrating when you want to order a book online, but don’t really know what’s in it!)

I’m not sure it would make much difference to me to be able to work from a digital copy while knitting: I tend to write out my own pattern version anyway as I go along, to make sure that if I end up knitting it again, I have all my amendments easily to hand (and without completely defacing the original with numerous revisions). However, it could be quite useful to be able to reference a range of knitting patterns while out and about. Also, importantly, Susan notes that anyone who buys the ‘Stitch in Time’ ebooks now will automatically get the updated version when it’s ready to go.

In the case of sewing, I can see pros and cons to digital patterns. On the one hand, fumbling around with dozens of printed pattern pages can be tricky (and I personally only have limited access to a printer), but on the other hand, downloading the pattern means instant access instead of waiting for delivery – wahey! Price is also clearly a factor – digital copies are much cheaper for designers to produce and so tend to be a bit cheaper than the printed version, even before adding postage costs.

Do you have a preference for the format of your knitting or sewing patterns? How has your experience been so far of pdfs and digital copies?

Advertisements

Sunday Special: this week’s blog round-up

Sewing and Knitting

I read a lot of sewing, knitting and craft blogs and I try to keep my favourites saved for future reference. I’ve been thinking though, that a handy way to catalogue them would be to compile a ‘best of’ each week. So, here’s the first round-up of my favourite posts from the past week:

1. I haven’t tackled any Fair Isle knitting projects yet, but I think I’ve just found my first: this gorgeous 1940s-style hat which By Gum By Golly released this week via Ravelry. Beautiful!

2. Katy & Laney’s “cautionary tale” about pattern placement when making Ikat trousers shows the (sometimes hilarious) perils of working with prints. (On the plus side, Katy did succeed in making a really well-fitting pair of trousers…)

3. I love when Paunnet and Sewing Princess do their very frank two-part pattern review of the latest La Mia Boutique release. I’ve never bought LMB  (or even seen in person), but I really enjoy seeing new sewing patterns and find them great for inspiring sewing projects. Here are part one (via Paunnet) and part two (via Sewing Princess) of their latest LMB review.

4. Needle and Flax (disclaimer: that’s my sister’s blog!) posted this tutorial for making simple notebooks. I love notebooks for storing fabric samples, sewing ideas, noting my adaptations of knitting patterns, etc etc. I’ve never made any before, but the tutorial makes it seem much less intimidating than I’d thought!

5. Ok, this one was actually posted closer to a fortnight ago rather than over the past week, but it was so good that I’m going to bend the rules on this first weekly round-up and include it here at the end: Coletterie’s brilliant run-down of sewing machine maintenance tips to keep your equipment in top condition.

Found! Jane Waller’s incredible vintage knitting pattern book

Vintage knitting and sewing are clearly enjoying a resurgence of interest, judging from the incredible range of craft blogs and new publications on the subject. But the range of books, patterns and guides out there can be really overwhelming – and modern interpretations of old patterns can leave a lot to be desired, especially when fit is concerned.

I’m working on knitting this 1940s men’s pullover/tunic from a collection of vintage patterns compiled by Jane Waller. I recently discovered that Jane’s hugely popular ‘A Stitch in Time’ book from the 1970s has become the go-to bible of vintage knitting lovers. In trying to track down a copy of the re-worked reprint which was published by Jane and Susan Crawford much more recently, I noticed that it’s going for crazy money on Amazon.com – people are clearly really into their vintage patterns… (Incidentally, it’s much cheaper on Amazon.co.uk)

The cover of the re-published 'Stitch in Time' collection.

The cover of the re-published ‘A Stitch in Time’ vintage knitting and crochet collection.

I did manage to get my hands on the reprint: I’m lucky enough to live near a copyright library here in Dublin, and they had it! Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold on to it for very long, but I had a good look through it and there are some really beautiful patterns in there with, happily, a range of sizes. I’ve copied a couple of patterns and hope to get stuck into them soon.

How gorgeous are these sweaters (and hat)?!

Sweater

Sweater

Sweater

20s hat

Vintage knitting – working with 1940s patterns

Several years ago, I came across a lovely book on sale on Amazon called Knitting Fashions of the 1940s by Jane Waller. The book has a great selection of patterns, but I found it quite hard for a beginner knitter to use given the limited sizing ranges (a more seasoned knitter would likely make the necessary adjustments without much hassle). I recently picked it back up again and am determined to see at least one project through!

Jane Waller's lovely 1940s knitting pattern book.

Jane Waller’s lovely 1940s knitting pattern book.

I’ve started working on the ‘pull-on vest’ pattern – which is actually for men, but I thought it would make a very useful short-sleeved woolen tunic top to wear with leggings or skinny jeans. Crucially, though, what drew me to the pattern was the simplicity of the stitches involved (basically, knits and pearls). Phew…

I think the style of tunic also means that the fit doesn’t have to be spot-on:

The 'pull-on vest' pattern from Jane Waller's book.

The ‘pull-on vest’ pattern from Jane Waller’s book.

The only downside is that I’m working with a 4-ply wool and that stuff takes an age to knit up (I’m using a stone grey from the Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply range). After about a fortnight I’m almost finished the back section, though, and the front follows exactly the same pattern so I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll manage to get through it without too much stress (and before the end of the year!).

I’ll post details of the fit and finish (the pattern is presented in just one size) once I’ve completed it.

Sewing resources in Ireland

Fabric stores are few and far between in Ireland, limiting a sewer’s options for finding interesting and inspiring materials. With that in mind, I’m compiling a list of each one that I come across as a resource to come back to later when planning or executing different projects. I’ve spent more time as a sewer in Dublin than the rest of the country so I’ll start there:

Dublin

The Cloth Shop – lovely (though limited and quite pricey) range of fabrics at this South King Street shop. They stock a decent range of notions, especially zips and bias bindings, and lots of lovely Colette patterns. Their website is more of an intro to their business rather than a comprehensive resource for ordering from the store.

Fabric Select – impressive range of fabrics in a rather small shop on Parnell Street. Awkwardly, the prices aren’t marked on anything, which can mean a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the shop staff. They do have a good remnant bin under the stairs though which can be well worth a rummage (the prices tend to be marked on that stuff, alright). Website is pretty rudimentary, but they seem to be quite thorough with phone queries.

Floppy Fabrics – based in Booterstown, this shop focuses on quilting and home fabrics rather than dress fabrics. I haven’t been in store in person, but their website carries comprehensive listings of their stock.

Hickeys – the Stephen’s Green branch closed a few years back, leaving the Henry Street store as their sole Dublin city centre outlet. They also have branches in Galway and Limerick, but I’m not very familiar with them. The Henry Street shop is brilliant for notions as well as all manner of sewing and knitting tools. Their dress fabric range leaves a lot to be desired though, being (apparently) primarily aimed at home ec students and costume-makers. Their website is pretty abysmal.

Murphy Sheehy – Interesting range of fabrics at this small Castlemarket shop (set between the Powerscourt Centre and George’s Street Arcade). Their fabric turns over fairly regularly, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them now and again, and they have really good sales on whatever manages to last long enough in stock. Their Facebook page is marginally better than their website, given that it’s more regularly updated with new fabric arrivals. (Neither is a great reflection on the stock, though.)

Sligo

The Crafter’s Basket – I haven’t been in person yet, but they have a good online resource for sewing and knitting supplies. Their website is a bit clunky, but it’s by far the most comprehensive in terms of listing the store’s wares that I’ve come across in Ireland.

Galway

Hickeys – based in Galway city centre. They stock a good range of notions and a decent selection of wool and sewing and knitting patterns, but, as with the Henry St branch, their fabric selection is a tad grim.