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AT THE MAKEHOUSE: Pattern Making Essentials with Alexandra Morgan

Pattern making blocks

Written by Cady Brimacombe of Cady Made

Pattern Making Essentials is a 5-week course at The Makehouse taught by the very experienced Alexandra Morgan. Alexandra studied a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Fashion Design at Ryerson University and has worked as a pattern maker, designer, technical designer, and fit technician since 1995, specializing in women’s wear. She has her own pattern making company, In-House Patterns, and also teaches private lessons here in Victoria.

Over the last five weeks I attended Alexandra’s pattern making class. Pattern making is the practice of turning a sketch into flat pieces that will be sewn together to fit and flatter a three-dimensional body. I loved this class. It was the best combination of math and precise measurements mixed with creativity and problem solving. The workshop covers foundational knowledge about how a pattern is designed as well as how the design and layout of a pattern on a certain type of fabric will affect the end shape of the garment. Alexandra has so much knowledge about pattern making. She explains and demos the pattern making techniques in easy to understand methods while also giving students lots of time to practice the techniques.

I attended a pattern making class about a year ago at the Makehouse and I was excited to further improve my skills with this new 5-week course. This class is perfect for you if you are new to sewing and want more of an understanding about how patterns work together, or if you work with sew-at-home patterns a lot and would like advice about how to manipulate them to better fit your body.

In the first few classes we covered the bodice and skirt blocks and how to manipulate those to make different shapes. With the skirt block we started with a straight skirt pattern, and manipulated it into different styles of skirts including an A-line skirt, flared skirt, and four-gore skirt with a yoke. With the bodice block we worked on single and double dart manipulations and moved darts around the bodice to create different looks.

In the last few classes we worked on understanding how to add ease and remove ease in order to change the way a garment fits. We started with adding ease to the bodice block in order to make a basic button up shirt. With this we removed darts, changed the styling, added a pleat, a facing, and a collar, and shortened the sleeves from long sleeves to short sleeves. This practice was a great opportunity to see how something can be changed from one shape to another while maintaining consistent fit measurements.

Next, we focused on removing ease to create a contoured dress that fits closely to the body. This project was mostly bodice manipulations where we removed ease in relation to the bust point. Then we separated the bodice block to create an empire waist and changed the neckline to be deeper and the shoulder width to a strap. For the skirt of the dress we changed the straight skirt into a flared skirt.

Throughout the course Alexandra offered many tips and techniques for creating a more professional looking finished garment. Here of some of my favourite ones that she shared with us.

Tips for pattern making:

  1. Walk your patterns and make sure that all seams match up properly. This is especially important if you have changed any styling or manipulated any darts. This will make things so much easier when you are trying to stitch pieces together and are wondering why certain seams aren’t lining up.
  2. When manipulating darts for the bodice, pull the dart back from the bust point about half an inch to get a better fit and no pointy corners. As cool as Madonna’s cone bra was, you don’t really want that for your handmade summer dress.
  3. When creating patterns and when cutting the fabric, make sure to draw on the notches. This will help you keep track of back and front pattern pieces and will lead to less confusion when you are trying to put together a yoke and a skirt piece and wondering which are the front and back pieces.
  4. Ensure that seam lines and waistlines are at 90 degree angles. This will create a nice straight edge when the two seams are sewn together rather than dipping down or creating a point on the seam where the front and back pieces meet.

Pattern Making Essentials is one of my favourite classes at The Makehouse. The next class will be held in the fall, so make sure to pencil it in to your calendar. Other ways to get your pattern making fix are the Fit Nights where you can bring your latest project and get some feedback on how to make it fit better, and the Skirt Block and Bodice Block classes where you can create blocks that fit your personal measurements.

Keep on designing on.

xx Cady

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Make in May Fabric & Pattern Sale


Visit The Makehouse from May 13-31st and save big on fabric and patterns! We’re making room for a couple of new brands so this is a great chance to get a deal on materials for your next make!

Buy one get one free on all rolled remnants, selected fat quarters and sewing patterns.

BUY ONE GET ONE FREE PATTERNS – Brands include Vogue, McCall’s, Burda, Simplicity, Kwik Sew, New Look and more.

Colette and Victory Patterns are 50% off while stocks last.

Save 15% on all regular priced fabrics and patterns including new arrivals!

Tues 10 – 6 | Weds – Thurs 10 – 8 | Fri – Sat 10 – 5 | Sun 12 – 4

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Weekend Pattern Sale!


Sale includes: Simplicity, Burda, Kwik Sew, New Look, McCall’s, Butterick and Vogue (modern and vintage).

Sale patterns include womenswear (our largest collection), accessories, homewares, crafts, kids, teen/tween, Halloween and a little menswear.

Saturday June 4 – 10am-5pm

Sunday June 5th – 12-4pm

We are making space for some new and exciting lines so stay tuned!



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Meet Cady, Blogger in Residence at The Makehouse

Hello! My name is Cady and I am so excited to join the Makehouse team as a blogger in residence. I will be sharing workshops, patterns, events, and tips and tricks in collaboration with The Makehouse that will aim to inspire you to get creative. Below are some questions and answers that share a bit about me and why I like to make stuff.

Why did you start Cady Made and what drew you to entrepreneurship?

Cady Made is a personal blog where I share what I make: clothing, accessories, home goods, and beauty products. It’s also a place where I am exploring what it means to lead a more mindful and caring life toward other people and toward this beautiful planet we all share. The slow living movement has been of great inspiration to me, as burnout used to be my best friend. Since graduating university I have been focusing a lot of my time on doing things that truly feed my soul, and that means making things by hand and sharing them with others.

I studied entrepreneurship in business school and finished my degree about 8 months ago. Attending the University of Victoria largely influenced my passion for sustainability in business. As I continue to do work, experiment with my lifestyle and habits, and make things by hand, it is important to me that I am continuing to think about how this will benefit or harm the planet. I shared a post early on my blog about making your own beeswax food wrap and I have had such an interest in that post and from people wanting to buy handmade beeswax wrap from me that it blows my mind. But it also shows me that there are a lot of other people who also value the health of the planet and want to live a more sustainable life. It fills my heart that I can help them on that path through tips or projects on my blog and support them on their journey for a more sustainable lifestyle.

What is your background in making and sewing?

I grew up in a home where my mom made our Halloween costumes and my dance costumes at the kitchen table. She would spend hours in the garden in the summer. And when she wasn’t making something for us or the home, she was in her office creating work for clients of her own graphic design business. On snow days, mental health days, or sick days my mom and I would sit down at the table and make stuff with our hands. When my mom had friends over we would all sit at the table together and scrapbook or make holiday cards, hand sew stuffed animals out of old socks, draw and paint. My mom is a woman who makes up her own rules. Recipes always turn into her own creation, and I am the same way. If we see something in a store, we dissect the item and figure out how we could make it ourselves. Both of my grandmothers sew, and when I would spend summers with either of them you could either find me watching them sew or at the kitchen table sketching and drawing things that I wanted to make. Creativity and the need to make things is in my blood.

I had so many interests growing up that I often stressed myself out because I could not pinpoint a concrete career path that I wanted to do. Now that I have gone through business school and have worked for a few small businesses I have realized that what makes me happy and motivates me to work is being able to create my own stuff. For me, being creative is not just about putting together a physical product or piece of clothing, it is also about creating a space and a lifestyle and a business that I can share with others.

What are your favourite things to make?

I love designing and sewing my own one-of-a-kind clothing. I often do it with very little planning. I will be inspired by a piece of fabric and I will have an idea about what type of garment I want to make. I will quickly sketch a plan and then just start cutting out fabric. Since I am only making things for myself at the moment, I often copy cut parts of the pattern from clothing I already own. Sometimes I will take the time to plan out a proper pattern, but usually the rush of inspiration carries me away and I figure it out as I go along. It is fun, challenging, and makes me think about how I can best utilize a certain amount of fabric. I am often sewing clothing for myself from scrap fabric that my mom or my grandmother has found and passed on to me so I have to think about how to best use the fabric and get the most out of it.

What does zero-waste fashion and sewing mean to you? How has that changed the way you sew?

Since moving to Victoria and attending a sustainability focused business school, the well-being of the planet has become extremely important to me. Now that I am sewing my own clothing and projects, on a tight budget, and often using scrap fabric for things, I am very conscious about how I am using my fabric. Recently I made a top from some beautifully patterned cotton blue and pink cherry blossom fabric. I have some leftover from that project and have been using that to make beeswax wrap. I also save all my small scraps in a box for stuffing handmade animals and pin cushions. When I have to buy new fabric for a project I look for natural fibers and organic cotton because in my opinion the entire supply chain matters, even with my own handmade items. The concept of zero-waste is something that I want to integrate into more than just making in my life. I am excited to see how I can challenge myself to grow as an individual and change my habits to be more focused on living a zero-waste lifestyle. It all starts with small steps!

In one sentence what is Cady Made?

Cady Made is a personal blog where I share what I make: clothing, accessories, home goods, and beauty products. It is also a space where I am sharing ideas around living a more mindful life, and considering the well-being of the planet in our everyday actions.

I am so excited to join The Makehouse team and share more about workshops, events, and projects for The Makehouse community. If you see me at a workshop, say hi!

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Made by You

We’re so impressed with your summer makes! Here’s a few that we managed to capture before they left the studio!

navy shorts with fox print

Foxy shorts made at Fashion Camp

‘Don’t go bacon my heart’ – apron designed and sewn at Make Camp
Sun hat and dress made at Fashion Camp for a lucky four year old girl!
Arnold the sock mouse – created at Make Camp
Sewing Boot Camp graduate rocking her new dress!
Dress designed and sewn at Fashion Camp
Bamboo underwear made by 5 ICBC team members
Circle skirt made at Fashion Camp
We loved when this young designer brought her dads work pants in to path at Fashion Camp!
Shorts made at Fashion Camp
Floral sun dress made at Fashion Camp
Shorts made at Fashion Camp
Handmade backpacks made at Make Camp – photo by Anne Ly-So
Gorgeous summery shift dress designed and sewn at Fashion Camp
Hi-lo skirt made at Fashion Camp
Sock fox made at Make Camp
Waster Wu from Ninjango made at Make Camp
Dress designed at Fashion Camp by recreating taking a pattern from a favourite dress!

We have featured just some of the amazing pieces that you’ve been making this summer! If you have any images that you would like to include in our next ‘Made by You’ please send them to jenny(@)

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Made by You

We love sharing all the awesome things that you’ve been making! Here’s a few examples from the last couple of months!

The Laurel by Colette Patterns – Made at Sewing Boot Camp
The Laurel by Colette Patterns – Made at Sewing Boot Camp
Ginger Sock Men – Made at Make Club
Bunny Stuffy – Made at Make Club
Super Hero Capes and Masks – Birthday Party
Pillow made at SMUS Sewing Exploratory
Adult Crafting at the Royal BC Museum’s Night Shift
Yuri on Ice – Cosplay Jacket – 1-1 classes
Dress made by Gean from vintage pattern, fabric and buckle.
Dress made by Gean from vintage pattern, fabric and buckle.
Quilt in progress – Quilt Making for Beginners
Quilt in progress – Quilt Making for Beginners
Quilt in progress – Quilt Making for Beginners
Quilt in progress – Quilt Making for Beginners
Quilt in progress – Quilt Making for Beginners
Quilt in progress – Quilt Making for Beginners
Our newest addition Amanda learned how to make her first pair of undies!
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Made By You

Here are some of the things that you’ve been making in the last month!

First time needle felt project made by an adult
First time quilt made by 10 year old at Make Club.
Custom puppet made at Tim Gosley’s workshop. We think this guy could be one the Muppets!
Custom blueberry apron (gift for loved one) – 2nd ever machine sewn project!
First time needle felt snowman sitting with Jenny’s penguin made in the same workshop!
Custom sock puppet made at Time Gosley’s workshop by a 10 year old!
Custom ribbon shirt made in 3 one on one classes. Pattern was taken from an existing garment to make sure it fits perfectly!
Custom corduroy Santa hat made at Make Club by a 12 year old girl!
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Vintage Expo – The Makehouse Booth 51 & 52

Group of women crafting around a table at the Victoria Vintage Expo

victoria vintage expo 2016 banner

Come visit us at the Victoria Vintage Expo on September 30th & October 1st! This year marks our third year participating as an event sponsor.  This time we’re in a new location upstairs near the cafe at Booth 51 & 52. 

You don’t need a reason to stop by and say hello but we’ll give you a few…

We raffling off a gorgeous sewing machine, offering fun interactive workshops and showcasing your favourite shop items!

Vintage Themed Workshops

We’re hosting a jewellery upcycling and card making station (included with your ticket!) throughout the show. We have a team of  fun and friendly volunteers on hand to help you get creative and relax from all the shopping mayhem! Our station is open to all ages and abilities so don’t be shy!

Paper crafting and stamping papers spread on a table.

Accessories – Take old bits of jewellery combined with a vast array of beads, feathers, felt, lace and other trimmings to create new accessories including brooches, hair clips, earrings and necklaces.

Card Making – Delve into our inspiring stash of stamps, art papers, shape punches and decorative scissors to create a special card for someone you love.


Green suitcase full of ladies bamboo underwearWe’ll be stocking  a range of sewing supplies from our shop including sewing patterns, Cotton + Steel retro inspired cotton prints, laces and trims. We’re also bringing our cute 1950’s Betsy McCall paper dolls, collage magnets by Uniquely Cedra and our beloved bamboo knickers!

This year the stage is being sponsored by

Friday night

D.J.’s from The Truth Sound system playing vinyl motown hits, all night long!

Cash bar & Food concession located upstairs

5:15pm Hair & Make up demo by Richard Mar Advanced School of hairstyling

6:00pm  Daniel Cook & The Radiators-Original West Coast Roots Music fused by contagious melodies with timeless stories

7:30pm Legends of the silver screen fashion show-all original vintage clothing in the legendary style of the 40’s & 50’s movie stars. Elvis is rumoured to make an appearance! Organized by local vintage enthusiast Lucky J

815pm Best dressed contest (open to the public, free registration on site between 5:30-7:45pm & great prizes!)

Saturday main room:

12:00-2pm Slim Sandy duo playing rockabilly hits – look for them near the concession.

Free tea samples from sponsors Davids Tea!

Saturday Presentation area:

10:30am-Avery & Madelaine singer songwriter indie folk harmony

Join ReLoving Furniture in two exciting workshops & demos

11:30am First, to learn how to transform an image (your own or from the internet) onto furniture or signs and then add dimension with glazes!

12:30pm Next to learn how to distress and wax furniture to bring out layers of colours to add age and patina to your piece. Registration is free and onsite at the show!

1:30pm Learn how to do easy everyday vintage style braids with a demo by

2:00pm Heritage productions history of fashion show. Looking at how fashions garments have changed in the last 130 years and why.

3:30PM An exciting talk by the Makehouse on DIY clothing & patterns & how you can learn to create your own original clothing!

4:00pm Customer show and tell! Bring something from home or something you bought at the show and tell everyone why you love it or what you collect!

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Halloween Costume Fabric Sale

Halloween yellow Star Trek shirt with toy communicator

We are hosting our annual Halloween fabric sale!

Every year we do a one off sale where you can fill a bag for $5 on selected fabrics, trims and odds n’ ends suitable for costume making in all types and colours in big and small pieces!

Halloween fabrics include:

Fun fur, spandex, shiny bits, sparkly bits, solid colours (stretch & non-stretch), prints, pieces of leather, vinyl and more.

We also have a selection of adult and kids costume patterns for just $4 each!

This event is from 12pm – 4pm.

First come, first serve. Get down early to get all the ghoul deals!

Shopping bags provided by


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Celebrate 4 Years of The Makehouse

The Makehouse is turning 4 years old on September 1st. We’re going to have a day long celebration on Saturday September 3rd from 10am-6pm!

25% off ALL fabrics and patterns in-store including the fabulous Cotton + Steel collections!

11am – 15 minute Introduction to The Makehouse Sewing Machines and Equipment 

12pm Cupcake Service (until they run out!)

1pm – 15 minute Introduction to The Makehouse Sewing Machines and Equipment

2-4pm – Accessory Making (First come/first serve) – Create fun wearable projects including bowties, brooch pins, patches, headbands, wrist cuffs, hair bands & clips. All materials provided by The Makehouse.

Enter to win $100 gift certificate!