Ottobre Sewing

This post comes to us from our friend Melissa over at All Buttoned Up. Don't we just have the most wonderful neighbors?  

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The last few years have found me sewing out of magazines (and Japanese craft books) more than from traditional tissue patterns.  I like having whole outfits worth of patterns in one little publication.  Not only are there pretty people in pretty layouts, I'm able to thumb through the whole thing before I hand over my money.  Ottobre is one of those magazines that I'd always planned on getting around to buying, but since I couldn't find it locally I never got around to making up my mind on which one to get.  Lucky thing that I have Bolt up the street.  

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Sewing from a magazine, and specifically Ottobre, is quite a bit different than traditional tissue sewing and there are a few things you need to pay attention to before you get started:


  • First off, make sure your body measurements correspond to the ones listed for the specific patterns.  Everything (including fabric amounts) is measured in metric, so have your calculator ready to do a little conversion. 

  • One of the most obvious difference is the inclusion of the nested pattern-- these big pull-out sheets look like maps to nowhere and often stop an ambitious sewer before they even get started.  They also do not include seam allowances, so you need to add those in before you start tracing.  I use swedish tracing paper or newsprint paper and a ball point pen.  It also helps if you have a set of french curves and a ruler hanging around so you get smooth cut lines.  Honestly, this is the part that often takes me the longest, so it's worth doing it right the first time.  Transfer all the pattern markings to your tracing paper so you don't have to go back and figure out which piece you're missing.

  • Read all the basic pattern instructions first.  They will tell you where to add seam allowances and where you can leave them out, as well as give you handy tips on how to deal with the patterns as a whole.

  • Read all your specific pattern instructions before you start tracing and cutting.  There are very few diagrams included in the written instructions so you need to know where you're going.  The line drawings of the finished pieces and the mini pattern pieces are very specific and quite helpful at showing details.  Don't worry if things sound a bit different than what you are used to-- there are often tricks to setting in sleeves or attaching lining that will make it seem like you performed magic, rather than a lot of tricky sewing.  


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These patterns are designed for all kinds of body types and they do not skimp on the details.  Pintucks, pleating, lining and interesting fabric options can result in some very beautiful clothes.  They above tunic is from the Fall/Winter 2008 volume (Bolt carries several back issues for both women and children) and is made from a lightweight, cheap, cotton.  It's my muslin (or a mock up) that I wanted to test before making the leap to cutting into my sweet Liberty stash.  It turned out just like the pattern said it would with no problems at all, the only exception being I'd like to swap my body and face out for the cutie that modeled it in the magazine.  I'm not so sure it's the right style for me.  It was worth the effort though-- there's nothing better than finishing something from a pattern and having it come out the way it's supposed to look-- even if it doesn't look so hot on me.