Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Au Bonheurs des Petites Mains - report

They've arrived!

I ordered some patterns from Patrons de Couture on Dec 3rd, and they arrived on Dec 14th. A week and a half from France isn't too shabby.

I couldn't wait to dive into these puppies. I had no idea what to expect because the only other person I know who owns some, hadn't yet perused them. (That's not strictly true. I know someone else who ordered some after me, but received them first. However, she has less French than I do. :) )

This is what you get:

Each pattern arrives in a cardboard 3D "envelope" with quarter-inch sides and open on top, with a cut out window. Through the window you can see a small, black and white photo and the front/back line drawings of the garment.

The patterns are multi-sized and are printed on a thick white paper that you will want to trace off. The pattern pieces do not overlap. Different sizes are indicated by a different style of black line, so it will be easy to trace. There are minimal markings on the pattern - some of the markings are described in the text. Seam allowances are not included, but there are grainlines.

The front of instructions page, with the pattern paper in the background.

The back of the instruction page.

Everything else you need is contained on a single 8x11 piece of paper, printed on both sides, which contains:

  • A level of difficulty rating. My patterns are all two scissors out of four scissors. Thank goodness! :)
  • A small black and white photo of the garment, which is what you see through the envelope window. It's much easier to see details on the online photo, which is larger, and in color.
  • Small line drawings of the finished garment, front and back. It's impossible to make out fine detail on these illustrations.
  • A supply list, metric and in French.
  • Instructions, in French. (No illustrations.)
  • A two-columned table containing a list of pattern pieces, with cutting instructions for each. (No pattern layout or illustrations.)
I spent many sleepless hours last night translating the double-sided page into English. I am not completely done yet, but I had a Big 4 pattern nearby, and that was quite helpful. I also used online translators, and my pigeon French from high school. There are still sections that confuse me, but I do know some French speaking sewists, that I may pester at some point, if I can't figure it out. :)

I have been creating a glossary as I go. If you speak French and sew, maybe you can fill in some of the blanks? :) This is what I have so far:

I have moved the glossary to its own entry. You can now find it here.

I just noticed I have hit 40 blog followers. Wow, it is flattering that you want to follow me in my non mainstream sewing journey. :) I'll have to reward you somehow. I was thinking of writing a tutorial on how to draft the Burda twist knot top or a skirt flounce I saw in RTW. I wish I knew how to turn a pattern into a PDF file and whether it's possible to put a PDF file on blogger.

I didn't get any time to sew last weekend, which made me very grumpy. The holidays keep intruding, and they are lovely and all, but it can make shams a tad crotchety. ;)


  1. I hope you love your patterns and have a great time with the translation. I'm anxious to see something things that I know you'll make with them. Happy Sewing!

  2. I wanted to thank you for posting the link to those patterns, they are fascinating! (I wandered around on that site, and the garment that I'm most enamouored with is actually a childrens pattern: http://www.patron-de-couture.fr/modele.asp?id=26&image=1 )

    Now I'm wondering if I can generate something similar, as adapting a childs pattern to my size would be difficult...

    I really look forward to seeing what you will do with these patterns.

  3. Shams, I love your work because of your real pleasure in the qualities of particular fabrics (for the same reason, I am, like you, a fan of Issey Miyake). You give me so many ideas about garments and fabrics (and courage to try them). You deserve hundreds of followers. By the way, does your name mean "Sun"?

  4. Shams, I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your projects because you do combine interesting fabrics with intriguing patterns with wonderful results. I recognize the fabrics (I have the feeling that we shop at the same stores) and when I see your projects it's like seeing an old friend in a new and flattering light. You remind me to be more adventurous and that is a wonderful thing. :)

    Rose in SV

  5. Alison, that is a nice top/dress! It doesn't look too difficult to draft, or at least something similar. It's hard to tell exactly what is going on from the photo and drawing.

    Thanks, habace. :) Love to hear from other Miyake fans. No, my name doesn't mean sun. It's a nickname from years ago. My parents weren't very original when they named me. :)

    Thanks, Rose! If you ever see me in our mutual fabric store, please say hi! My favorite time to visit is the morning, when parking is plentiful, though I haven't been there much lately. :)

  6. I love these patterns and am not surprised just how much they look like what Marcy Tilton is going with some of her T's and pants. She spends lots of time in Paris so I am sure she has seen these. I can wait to see how they are sized for 'american' bodies. I am a huge Issey fan and have every pattern he has done for Vogue, including so really rare Plantation(?) ones.

  7. Oh, yeah, Marcy does have that trip to Paris, doesn't she? Wow, what fun that would be. :D

    Re, I want to play in your pattern stash. ;)

  8. I'll be following to see what you do with these. I found the site & patterns by link from the Japan Couture Addicts forum where I use Google Translate to translate the entire site. I told myself to get to work on some favorites from my Japanese pattern books before buying more patterns from Europe. We'll see how long that lasts LOL

  9. LOL. Terri, I so understand. These are very very very enticing. The online translators don't quite cut it for sewing French, but I have some French speaking friends willing to help out. ;)

  10. I find your posting educational. I enjoy following your projects. To convert instruction into PDF file is very simple: After you have written your instruction and drawing, scan it to your computer. The scanner will offer several options and PDF file is one of the options. You will need to have adobe acrobat program on your computer to be able to view the file once its scanned.

  11. Thanks, Alethia! I don't have a scanner, but let's say I did. How do you convert a giant pattern piece to PDF?

  12. Happily...I just stumbled on to your blog and then went on to Au Bonheur site. So much to like. How do you find the sizing on these? What I really mean is how close to they run to corresponding US sizes?

    Love your coat. Great choice of fabrics and lovely work, too!

    Thanks for the inspirations,

  13. Thanks, Helen! The sizes are similar to Burda sizing, which is European. I requested a sizing chart from them. It was metric, so I converted it and published it here: http://communingwithfabric.blogspot.com/2010/01/au-bonheurs-des-petites-mains.html