The October Sew Along with Sew News features the A-Frame Skirt by Blueprints for Sewing. Inspired by the iconic A-frame house, this pattern features two versions: a pencil silhouette and an A-line silhouette. We’ve fallen pretty hard for the triangular seaming (so flattering) and the ingenious pockets – we’re quite certain this is the perfect cool-weather skirt.
We’re kicking off the sew along officially on October 9th, but today we’re sharing our full interview with the skirt’s designer, Taylor McVay of Blueprints for Sewing. Taylor’s approach to pattern design is so unique: her designs are inspired by architecture, hence the name of her company. Her designs are the perfect blend of classic and comfortable, yet plenty unique and artfully edgy.
My sewing career began at a very young age. I’d always been keen on making and as I began to care about clothes and accessories in my early teens, the natural inclination was to make my own. I never quite liked the things I found in stores and they never fit. I found making my own clothes to be an act of self expression, at a time when many of us are first forming our identity and questioning who we are.
I continued to make my own clothing through high school and began to create my own patterns and conceptualize fashion lines while I studied art and art history in college. After college, since my art degree presented my few viable career options, I decided to fall back on my sewing and retail experience and got a job managing a high end vintage boutique.
In my series of jobs and projects after college, I put myself through a sort of alternative fashion design education. You can learn a lot about sewing from studying (and altering and repairing) vintage clothing. You learn about how patterns fit different bodies, rather than dress forms. You see the smart decisions that past couturiers made with interfacings, closures, and style lines. You see the hand of the seamstress adapting a dress to her figure or to the changing times. I poured through vintage and contemporary pattern making books and experimented in my studio. Then, for a few years, I ran a custom clothing business, where I created everything from film costumes to wedding gowns to wearable art pieces. I was a seamstress and pattern cutter for hire in the studios of fashion designers, a consultant for young brands, and a personal couturier to a variety of personalities.
As I was becoming a bit disenchanted with the custom clothing business – I can’t tell you how many times people came to me with the unreasonable and ill-guided request of ‘Make me this, but cheaper’ – I decided to start teaching at a wonderful local fabric & yarn shop called JP Knit & Stitch (located in my old neighborhood). A years time and experience solidified my deep love of teaching and I haven’t looked back since. I now teach at several local fabric shops, adult education centers, and a small college.
While I was honing my teaching skills, I started working on zine-style patterns and handouts for my classes. These eventually evolved into full-fledged patterns, all with an architectural theme: a nod to one of my other loves, architecture (specifically houses). I officially launched Blueprints for Sewing in the Fall of 2014. Since then, I’ve grown my little pattern company to include 4 print patterns, a few freebees, and some other goodies.
SN: What inspired you to create this pattern?
I used to commute to work and school by bicycle, often up to 20 miles a day. However, spandex never suited me, so I was always dressed for the day during my commute. I’ve always been a pencil skirt gal, but they don’t always play well with bike riding. I had the idea for full skirt with a streamlined silhouette (for myself) around the time I started Blueprints. I played around with the various iterations of the design, trying to land upon something that combined the best parts of a pencil and a-line skirt.
Eventually, I decided that rather than combine them, I could mix the best elements from each style into two versions. I landed upon a pencil skirt that was straighter and more comfy, borrowing the flattering style line of the A shape without the volume and an a-line skirt that draped closer to the body but still had nice movement.
SN: What makes this pattern special?
On any given day, there’s a 80% chance I’ll be wearing some form of A-Frame skirt (I’m wearing one as I write this!) It is designed to be comfortable but still flattering, stylish but simple, and just a little bit different than your average skirt. The paneling makes it great for mixing patterns, colors, and textures and the pockets make it a functional, everyday piece. In two styles that suit a wide range of tastes and body types, it’s a great foundation for a killer outfit.
SN: Who do you design for?
I design for the person who wants to have fun and learn something new while they sew. I design for the person who wants something special to mix in with their clothes. I design for sewists who like having that extra bit of information, enjoy a back story and appreciate little details.
SN: What’s your proudest moment as a pattern designer?
Every time a new project made from a Blueprints pattern pops up on my Instagram feed, it makes my heart swell! I love to see what people create and how they interpret – and reimagine – my patterns.
SN: How would you describe your patterns and style in three words?
Architectural, creative, comfortable.
SN: How would you style your pattern for casual or everyday? How about more formal?
For a casual fall look, I’ll wear either the pencil or a-line version in denim, corduroy or wool, paired with a boxy tee, light cardigan, and leather flats. To dress it up, I might pair a bright, patterned A-Frame pencil skirt with a solid color silk blouse, statement necklace, and a pair of high heel clogs.
SN: What special skills will someone learn by putting this pattern together?
The pocket construction on A-Frame is a lot of fun. Though it can be a bit of a puzzle (especially for newer sewists), it is not hard to do and the result is clean and pretty. The pattern also includes instructions for sewing a lapped zipper, which is a nice technique to have in your sewing repertoire.
Join us in October for this fun sew along! Don’t forget to grab the pattern if you haven’t already – we have a few copies left!