Helping to build a functioning sewing / pattern drafting space


Hello all,

This is my second time visiting hackspace at its new location, and it is coming along quite a bit in terms of setup. I’m hoping I can volunteer my time and skills to create a functioning sewing and pattern drafting space.

  • I spent the evening cleaning and looking at the two domestic overlock sergers and both are in good working order (though I did not have time to fully convert the Kenmore machine (the one with the purple cones) from a 3-thread rolled hem to a 4-thread safety stitch, so beware if you try to use it, the lower looper thread tension is a bit off.

  • After speaking with a few other members, the upper left locker beside the sewing table will be designated to machine parts, manuals and a mini library of reference. The locker space is NOT for sewing or crafting materials like thread / fabric / buttons, etc

  • I am hoping to over time be able to photocopy and create some manuals of reference from my school textbooks for sewing, pattern drafting and general machine usage. I don’t have a lot of disposable income for the project, so if anyone wants things done faster, or is looking for specific help, a few dollars goes a long way.

  • As well, I am hoping someone can help me create an area for large hanging pattern storage and large pattern blocks on manila tag (These cannot be folded up small like domestic sewing patterns, but they are much sturdier and can withstand many more uses than that delicate tissue paper)

  • As time goes on I am going to be drafting and donating basic working pattern blocks to the area, which members can use to trace a NEW version of the pattern onto their own paper to manipulate and add seam allowance. NEVER CUT INTO A BLOCK.

  • For right now, I only have the one pattern sitting in the locker’s upper shelf

  • Would anyone be willing or able to add a middle shelf to the inside of this locker? It would be great if the top shelf can be books and the bottom area be for machine parts

  • At later points of setup I can teach workshops like basic and advanced pattern drafting, sewing and how to make a personalized dress form out of duct tape

I also want to point out to those interested in sewing that VHS is now located very near to the Our Social Fabric non-profit, where you can get all sorts of landfill-diverted sewing supplies and fabric for very cheap. It is just down the street at 270-1275 Venables Street. I also teach sewing classes there from time to time.

Another resource that I discovered but haven’t spent a lot of time with is an open-source pattern drafting website called If anyone has spent time there or wants to collaborate on a learning session, let me know as I would love to help create easy access to patterns for our members. I am very familiar with sewing patterns, but not so much the coding side of things.

For my next visit, I will try to look at the other lockstitch machines to make sure they are working correctly, and then start to go through and organize the other supplies and notions.


Irina from frameworq recently opened her own social fabric recycling initiative: Fabcycle
it may be worth it to talk to her too


I tried going to that link, but my antivirus said it had malware on it. False alarm?


Cool! I’ve been wanting to draft some patterns for mens clothes.

A while back I got a copy of Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear from the Vancouver library and attempted to do a basic pants pattern for myself using various open source tools without much success.

I discovered the Seamly - Open Source Pattern Design Software about a year ago. It seems to have matured somewhat. It would be great to go over creating a basic pattern using Seamlingly with someone who knows how to make patterns.

Great to have you at VHS



I took a look and downloaded Seamingly and it looks like a really neat program once you figure out the vector controls (I’m used to illustrator and CSP, so not yet) It would probably be a great tool to cross-reference with the Freesewing project which can generate whole patterns just from measurements.

Also, like I said, I have a bunch of textbooks from my schooling and personal collection that I hope I can photocopy the core parts of to put together a reference section for members to use. Winifred Aldrich’s books are good, but I have the more comprehensive Pattern Making for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong, as well as the Rundschau english translation of coats and jackets. Unfortunately their menswear book is still in German, so it would require a but of dedication to get through.


I can help out wih some of the shelves ect that you talk about. I can’t help until i finish the drywall project though. So say 2 weeks or so.


I teach sewing and how to cut from a pattern. i’ve also taught how to make a duct tape dress form. I plan on doing another sewing basics class and a how to sew with a serger class once the space is more in a functional state.

I would like to learn pattern drafting, if you have a workshop for pattern drafting awesome!

One thing I would like is to get a new surface for the craft table so that we have a workable area to cut fabric on.


Storage for thread, tools, fabric, etc is under the craft table.

Thanks lots for dropping by! Hope to meet you soon. Been very sick thus mia


That would be really helpful. I don’t have any timeline at the moment, as I am still gathering and organizing resources.


Hi everyone, I hope it’s ok if I weigh in with some thoughts. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do have some experience on the matter :slight_smile:

  • If you have any questions about freesewing, we have a chat room. Feel free to stop by and ask away.
  • It’s not Seamingly, but Seamly :slight_smile: Furthermore, Seamly is a fork of the Valentina project. The fork was ugly, with a lot of bad blood between both parties (Google if you’re interested). However, Seamly is run by the marketing/sales focused people, while Valentina is run by the actual developer(s). So, obviously Seamly is now the better-known project (because they are all about marketing and making things pretty) but Valentina is where the real action is.
  • The Aldrich books are not very good. It’s not only that their styles are dated, but the draft instructions also include seam allowance. Which really is nonsense. If you’re looking for menswear drafting instructions, I can recommend Pattern Cutting for Menswear by Gareth Kershaw it is the far superior book.
  • If you want a menswear block to start with, freesewing has Brian, which is exactly that. You can generate a paperless pattern, and simply trace it on some pattern paper yourself.

That’s about it for me :slight_smile:


Wow! So cool to see you here @joost! :slight_smile: I’m a huge fan of your freesewing site.

I’ve made about 6 or 7 pairs of the Bruce Boxer Briefs

I’ve corrected my original post to Seamly. I had no idea about the Valentina fork. Valentina was what I discovered first and just assumed that they were just rebranding themselves. I will go back and check out the Valentina project.

I am a complete newbie to pattern drafting. The Aldrich book was what I came across in my limited web research and it was available at the Vancouver Public Library. I will look for the Gareth Kershaw book.

I’ll have a look at freesewing Brian Pattern.



Hey joost, welcome! I’m really looking forward to doing a deep dive on your project soon!

It’s not Seamingly, but Seamly

Whoops, don’t know how I missed that. I read up on the project split and- yikes! Sad to hear how these projects can be waylaid by creative differences and bad blood.

The Aldrich books are not very good.

I mean, I’m not one to deliberately smack-talk a resource, but I do agree with you, lol. There are much better resources out there that are also easier to understand.


Update: March 5 2019

Was able to go through most of the craft and sewing materials and fold the fabric into large and small pieces. Large pieces are in the green tub under the side desk, small pieces are in the red bin under the cutting table. I will eventually find a permanent home for these materials

I was also able to go through some supplies and start to separate machine materials from notions, but this is far from complete. I made a mini kit of essential supplies and placed it on the sewing desk in case anyone wants to start working right away, but I will try to finish up the supply organization by next week.

I did mention that I have a pretty comprehensive vision for the sewing space, but there are some variable options.

One big concern I have is that there is no ironing space at all.

Ironing is almost more important than sewing itself, and it would be a huge hamper to not have anything that could serve, so I have some ideas

  1. A fold-down or pull-out / rolling ironing board that could be stored where the mannequin currently sits. The mannequin can be stored elsewhere until needed.

  2. Possibly converting half the cutting table closes to the sewing table into an ironing space instead of a full cutting space. This might also be done with some sort of removable panel or a blanket-like object that attaches to the table.


We definitely could use some shelving to split up the locker space so we can store machine-related parts and library materials


I’m not sure what other shelving we will need once I go through and organize supplies, but it might be useful to add shelving to the side cubbies beside the desk for easy access tools.


However, I am still considering that we need a place to store

  1. Large hanging patterns
  2. Large solid objects like metresticks and curved rulers

Why don’t you put the sewing machines in the cubbies?
Because they don’t fit and they would be constantly kicked.


This blog has some great examples or organization and storage for a space

Magnetic attachments are certainly an option for metal tools and supplies

This is how professional patterns are stored, they are hung on T-hooks instead of folded or rolled which can damage the way the pattern lays out on fabric.

If anyone has other suggestions about designing the space, I would love to hear!


Looks great! There is some pegboard in the wood storage area in the back. It could be painted white if this is what is desired.

Just so you know, while the front area is designated as a clean space there is always the likelihood of dust. I would consider having all thread, sewing machines, etc always covered in some fashion.

I’ve ordered a copy of Gareth Kershaw’s Pattern Cutting for Menswear which arrives in a few weeks. Looking forward to diving into this. :slight_smile:


Wow amazing job laura! Keep up the goodwork!


Continuing on down to the nitty-gritty, I am going through all the craft supply bins from moving and trying to organize them into logical storage, like tools, sewing notions, yarn, beads, etc. Still not done yet, but made a lot of headway.

The only thing I would say is that I think we might need some more small storage containers like fishing tackle / bead boxes. There should be enough shelf storage under the table, I just need to create a workable system below. Once I finalize what the bins are for, I will make labels so the system is clear.

After getting out all the hidden sewing supplies from various containers, I plan on organizing the main supply bins on the sewing desk into workable bins and kits. Hopefully the peg board can go up soon, and we can get these supplies on the wall! :slight_smile:


Spent some time at the space today organizing and labeling the foot pedals for each machine.

  • Moved the roll of kraft paper for patternmaking into the bottom locker. Would love one day to eventually get a spool to sit it on, but it fits really nicely in the cubby
  • I have some idea for other woodworking projects, such as a point turner and pressing clapper (these are used when ironing projects to press the seams open and lay flat)

  • The foot pedals I moved to the cubby underneath the desk, I hope that is accessible enough, I may need to still shift things around

  • Added more stuff to the peg board, including the second Iron, and a glue gun + glue sticks
    Eventually I would like to add hanging loops to tools that don’t have them so they can hang nicely, like the thread snips and xacto knive

  • Took photos of current machine inventory and updated the wiki

  • Added Irons, ironing boards, steamer and dress form to wiki