Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tips for giving and receiving online fitting advice

Have you ever taken the scary step of asking for fitting advice online, either on your blog or via a Pattern Review thread? I say "scary" because asking for fitting advice, usually involves posting pictures of yourself online wearing a muslin, and these usually aren't particularly flattering photos. 

From my experience, after you hit the Publish button, one of two things happens:
  • You get a ton of responses, and those responses are all over the map in their usefulness. Some responses will likely contradict each other, and you have to wade through those to try to figure out what alteration to make. I remember one time when I posted a request for fitting help, I was told by one poster that I had sloping shoulders and by another that I had square shoulders. 
  • You get...silence. Maybe you get a couple of posts with possible suggestions, if you're lucky. This certainly doesn't help your confidence level with what your next step should be after that muslin.
I love how helpful the online sewing community is...most of the time. Sometimes, though, I think that we can ask our questions in ways that will elicit more helpful responses. On a similar note, if you're taking the time to offer fitting advice, I think that there are a few things to consider to make sure that your feedback is helpful to the person requesting the help.

I've put together a list of my own suggested tips for both people asking for fitting advice and people giving fitting advice. If you've got your own suggestions, I'd love for you to post them in the comments section!

5 tips for asking for fitting advice

These are my suggestions on what to include in your post requesting fitting help. In a nutshell, including more information for fit helpers and focusing your request will increase the likelihood that you solve a particular fitting issue.

  • The fabric that you use for your muslins should be a solid, light color.

    If you're concerned enough about fit to post on the internet about it, I'll assume that you'll also be making a muslin or two for your project. Ideally, your muslin fabric should be a light color and should not be a print so that helpers can more easily see whatever wrinkles and drag lines pop up. Understand that if you wind up making significant changes to your pattern based on your first muslin, you might need to make a second muslin and another round of adjustments to fine-tune your fit before cutting into your "good" fabric.

  • Include pictures in your post.
    Diagnosing fitting problems is extremely difficult without a visual reference. The photos don't need to be of great quality, but they'll help your fitting helpers see what you're seeing. If you don't have anyone to take pictures for you, learn to use the self-timer on your camera or download a self-timer app for the camera on your phone. Take your photos with your arms at your side, and include at least one photo from the front, back, and side angles.

    So...many...wrinkles to read!
  • Be specific, if possible.

    Being specific will both help focus the people who help you and where to look, but should also help focus their advice. For example, posting "I know that I need a bigger FBA, but what's that weird drag line coming down from my shoulder" should hopefully elicit suggestions related to your shoulders and not a half dozen responses telling you that your garment is too tight across your bust or that you need a bigger FBA. Granted, sometimes the response will then be "When you increase your FBA, that drag line will go away."
  • In your post, include as many of your measurements as your are comfortable (if relevant).

    If you're asking for help fitting a top or bodice, include your high bust, full bust, and waist measurements. If you're asking for fitting help with pants or a skirt, include your waist, high hip and low hip measurements. These measurements can helpers zero in on what might be causing your fitting issue. Make sure to include your height and anything notable about your proportions (e.g. short-waisted). Fitting issues aren't just caused by your horizontal body space; they can be caused by your vertical body space, as well.
  •  Be open-minded but understand that you might need to take some advice with a grain of salt.
    Read through the responses to your request and take a few moments to process them before slicing and dicing your pattern. Understand that just because you've never needed an FBA or an SBA before, doesn't mean that you don't need one for this particular pattern, especially if it's a new-to-you pattern company.

    On the other hand, not everyone who responds to your post is likely to be a fitting expert for your particular body type. Some people zero in on a large bust and automatically think that you'll need an FBA or a larger FBA, when that might not be the case. (Hint: Having a very large bust can cause fitting issues outside of the arena of FBAs.)
Once you've made progress with your fitting, post an update with pictures! This is simply courtesy to those who helped you earlier and are curious as to how your project is going.  Additionally, "before" and "after" photos can be a helpful reference to someone who comes across your post at a later date with the same fitting problem.

5 tips on giving fitting advice

If you're somewhat experienced with fitting (or at least with a few particular fitting issues), 
  • Keep it short and specific; concentrate on the question(s) asked.

    We all know that a person's body can deviate from a pattern draft in multiple ways. However, as a person asking for fitting help, it can be overwhelming to read a huge paragraph of text of all of the changes that someone is recommending that you make to a pattern. As someone who has been there, your eyes just sort of glaze over and you think, "Why am I even bothering with this pattern if this is what I have to do to make it work for me?" If the requester asked for help with a specific issue, help her with that issue and avoid the urge to comment on every single other wrinkle you see unless you suspect that they're related to the issue she's asking about.

    Besides, if you're experienced enough to post fitting help, you probably also know that a sewist should start making adjustments at the point that a garment hangs from, and then work her way down from there. Sometimes an adjustment to the shoulders can fix other issues further down the garment.

  • Take the poster's skill level and confidence level into account with your answer.

    A beginning seamstress might be ready to tackle a traditional slash-and-spread FBA, but unless she's really confident, she might not be ready to tackle that FBA and rotate darts. Consider mentioning a shortcut method along with the "correct" method for an alteration in this case.

    Additionally, if you suggest an alteration to a novice seamstress, give a line or two of description of what that alteration is and what it does. Even better, include a link to a tutorial, if you know of a good one. Not everyone owns a copy of Fit for Real People or has the text of that book memorized. Don't just tell her to extend her back crotch length, explain that she needs more length going over her bum, and here's how you add that length.
  • Keep body-shaming out of your advice. Don't tell a poster that a style is a bad choice; they chose that style for a reason.

    Trust me, every female sewist with a very large bust has been told to stick to princess seams at some point. While princess seams might be easier to fit well than a darted bodice, think about, wouldn't you like a little variety other than princess seamed garments in your closet?

    Where I do think it would be a service to say something, though, would be if you know of a pattern with similar details that might work better for the requester. For example, if a plus sized woman is struggling with grading up a Burda pattern that stops at a size 42, it could definitely potentially save her a headache to suggest a similar pattern from a company with a wider size range.

    If you do offer style advice, keep it general. For example, "Princess seams are easier to fit on a large bust" sounds a heck of a lot nicer than "You should stay away from darted bodices," doesn't it?
  • If you're not the first person to post a response, say whether you agree or disagree with the preceding poster(s) and explain why.

    When the person requesting help reads the responses that she receives, she's going to need to wade through the advice and figure out which adjustments to make next, and that can be confusing. Let's say that an earlier helper has already told her that she has sloping shoulders, but from reading her muslin wrinkles, you think that she has square shoulders. In your response, explain why her wrinkles are pointing to square shoulders, in your opinion. On top of that, if three other posters also told her that she has square shoulders, by agreeing with them and saying why, you're adding weight to that opinion.
  • Don't be shy about bringing up known issues with a particular pattern or pattern line.

    Not everyone reads every review or blog post about every pattern. However, for those of us who do read a lot of pattern reviews, we might be aware that certain patterns are known for certain issues. For example, a lot of women have had issues with the back neck gaping on the Colette Peony or that many women have trouble with the rear view of their pants fit from Big 4 patterns. If you're armed with this knowledge, you can decide how much work you want to continue putting into adjustments and muslins, or if you want to move on to try to find a similar pattern from another company.

    The infamous Lekala wadder
What do you all think? Have you ever asked for or given fitting advice online? How did the experience work for you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Around the world blog hop

L over at You sew, girl! has invited me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. I "met" L online on Pattern Review way back around the time that I started sewing in 2007.  At the time, we were both struggling with trying to fit our short, curvy figures. (I'd recently lost a lot of weight at that time, which I wound up re-gaining in subsequent years.) I always felt like we had a lot in common, even though we've never met in person: we're about the same age, both have degrees in STEM fields, and have very independent personalities.

As part of the blog hop, we are asked to answer four questions and invite up to three other bloggers to participate.

About Me

I was born in Chicago to Chicago-native parents, but we moved to San Diego, California when I was four years old when my dad's job was transferred there. I have been told that certain words still have a slight Chicago-twang to them when I pronounce them. My dad is of half-Danish and half-Swedish descent, so for better or for worse, I often identify with a lot of the midwestern Scandinavian stereotypes. My parents are still together (40+ years!), and I have one brother, who is a little less than four years younger than I am.

Danish open-faced sandwich
I grew up in San Diego, played clarinet in my high school band, and did a lot of the dumb things that high school band kids do. After high school, I wanted to get as far away from San Diego as in-state college tuition would let me go, so I headed to UC Santa Cruz, home of the Banana Slugs. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in marine biology and soon found out that it was impossible to find a paid position doing field research with only a bachelor's degree. Having a BA in a scientific field led to me working as a lab tech at a biotech company in San Diego (HATED that), which, in a round about way, led to me doing software QA and training for a genomics software company in Palo Alto. I stayed in the Bay Area during the dot-com boom and bust and have the accompanying war stores to show for it. During that time I "settled in" to a career as a technical writer because I found software interesting, and it paid the bills.

In 2002, I moved back to San Diego to be closer to my family. In 2005, I met my husband through an online social group, and we started dating in 2006.

David and me at Tony Gwynn's Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony, Cooperstown, NY (2007)
Frustrated with RTW and looking for a new creative outlet, I started sewing in 2007. I was hooked, and have been sewing ever since. David and I were married in 2009, and after a few fertility-related bumps in the road, had our beautiful daughter, Eva in 2012.

Last year, life threw us another curveball when I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. We had just sold the condo that I'd bought back in my bachelorette days, and with no ties to San Diego outside of my parents, I accepted a job offer from a Large, Seattle-based Tech Company, and so we relocated to the Pacific Northwest. I've actually gotten to experience seasons and see snow since moving up here! Plus, the fabric shopping here is WAY better than it was in San Diego.

What am I working on?

In the immediate future, I've got a couple of projects for my daughter in-process and on deck. My husband commented about a week ago that Eva didn't really have any lightweight jackets or sweaters that fit her any more, so I just started on the Blank Slate Patterns Zippy Jacket for her.

In progress: Blank Slate patterns Zippy Jacket
Like anyone else who sews for a daughter/niece/granddaughter, I'll be making an Elsa dress for Eva's Halloween costume this year. As a feminist, I really detest the whole Disney princess thing, but for reasons that are at least a whole other blog post, I really love Frozen and its positive messages (not just for girls, but for everyone), and Eva loves the movie, too. I'll be making the Simplicity version of the dress:

Simplicity's Frozen costume patterns
For myself, I'll be participating in the Curvy Sewing Collective's wrap dress sewalong, which starts in a week. (I still haven't decided between my candidate patterns, yet.)

On top of that, I pulled out my fabric and pattern for a new winter coat, which I desperately need before the temperatures drop into the 30s. And, as the esteemed Debbie Cook recently commented, I really need to just make the Colette Hawthorn already.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not sure that I have a set genre? Plus sized sewist/sewing blogger? Yup, I'm that, but I also sew a fair amount for my daughter--in fact, I've been sewing quite a bit for her lately because she shot up in height over the summer.

I do think that my work/blogging differs a bit from some of the other plus sized sewing bloggers out there in that I largely sew casual clothes. With a toddler and a corporate job in an extremely casual work environment, wiggle dresses don't really have a place in my lifestyle. I wear mostly knit tops and jeans or knit dresses most of the time, and my sewing reflects this. As far as my blogging goes, I ramble a lot about patterns that I'd like to sew, and sometimes I touch on subjects related to being a plus sized sewist. Body shaming makes me sad and angry, and my posts reflect this.

How does my writing/creative process work?

With sewing for myself, I really struggle between balancing "needs" and wardrobe holes with "Oooh, shiny!" I also tend to procrastinate on projects for myself when I know that fitting will be a PIA.

When I sew for Eva, it's a little easier for me to focus on sewing things that she needs, and as a growing kid, there's always something that she needs, and it seems like there's always a cute pattern that I want to sew that fits that need.

As far as writing and blogging go, I'll typically blog about a finished project (successful or unsuccessful) as soon as I have a photo or two of myself wearing the garment. For my non-finished project posts, I have a bunch of "draft" posts saved where I'll jot down bits and pieces of that I want to talk about. I try to blog at least twice a week--one post is usually a "finished project" post, and then the other post is typically something else sewing-related. Usually, the "something else" post comes from one of the draft posts that I've fleshed out. Occasionally, something will happen that will inspire me to write (such as the recent launch of a new plus sized indie pattern company), and I'll just whip up a post on the spot.

Next up on the blog tour....

I've asked BeaJay of On the Road to Sew Where to be our next stop on the Around the World Blog Hop. BeaJay sews a lot of wonderful clothing with StyleArc patterns, and I love her always positive and encouraging attitude. I'm also working on lining up another blogger or two to participate.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New plus-sized indie pattern company: Tenterhook Patterns

By way of a post on Pattern Review, I learned about a new indie pattern company that just launched its first pattern this morning: Tenterhook Patterns. Now, as I mentioned, I only learned about them this morning and have no affiliation with them, nor have I tried their first (and only, so far) pattern. However I know that many of you are interested in indie patterns for curvy and plus sized sewists, so I wanted to share this info with you so that you can keep an eye on them, if you'd like.

I found the Tenderhook website to be a little difficult to navigate (I figure that just goes along with them just getting started), so here are the highlights that I gleaned from poking around a bit:

About Tenterhook

Tenterhook is a one-woman shop run by a lovely Australian woman named Amanda. She's working with Bestsy (of SBCC and who grades for Seamster Patterns) for her pattern grading. As an SBCC fan, I'm happy to read this, and I know that other plus sized sewists have commented on the great fit they've gotten from Seamster Patterns. I love what Amanda says on her company's About page:

Tenterhook Patterns is all for rejecting the fashion “rules” often applied to plus-sized women: this is not the place to find exclusively loose fitting, tent like patterns. Some patterns will be fitted. Some will be sleeveless. Some will fall above the knee. There may eventually be a playsuit. That’s not to say that no patterns will be loose fitting, sleeved, or long, as each of those things can be fun to sew and wear, and they can also have a place in a well-balanced, stylish wardrobe. However, Tenterhook Patterns encourage you to try sewing the types of clothes you’ve been told don’t “suit” you or your body type – it’s amazing what a well-fitted pencil skirt can do for your body image.


Tenterhook uses an A-G sizing scheme and designs for an hourglass figure. The initial pattern (the Snapdragon pencil skirt) fits hip sizes from 42"-56 1/2" (109cm - 143cm). By link surfing through blog posts, it appears that Amanda put out a call for pattern testers a while back for women with bust measurements ranging from 41 5/8" - 55 1/4" (104cm - 138 cm), so while the first pattern is a skirt, that should give us an idea of what her overall size range will look like. I'll be curious to hear what bust cup size she drafts for. I know that Betsy, who does Amanda's grading, uses a DD cup size as the starting point for SBCC's patterns. Why is bust cup size so important? The larger the bust size that these patterns are drafted for, the more likely that many of us will be able to avoid doing an FBA or will be able to get away with a smaller FBA.

The Patterns

So far, Tenterhook has just released one pattern--a basic pencil skirt with some cute variations. Here's the line drawing, which I screen grabbed off of their Etsy shop page:
Snapdragon skirt from Tenterhook Patterns

Amazingly, they don't have a tap linking to their Etsy shop on their main web site, but I was able to get their via link surfing. Here's the direct link, if you'd like to check it out:

Snapdragon skirt on Etsy

The pattern is available as a PDF download and sells for $11 (US).

I did see on her pattern testing post that she had two patterns that are nearly finished, so I'll be curious to see what the second one is and if it's available soon.

Final thoughts

I wasn't planning to post anything on this blog today, but I was really excited to read this news and thought that others might be, as well. (Full disclosure: I have not even proofread this post because I threw it together so quickly.) I absolutely LOVE Tenterhook's motto: "Plus size sewing patterns, without the rules." That's right up my alley, and I know that it's right up the alley of a lot of other curvy sewists, like the women over at the Curvy Sewing Collective. I'm looking forward to seeing what this company does going forward.

What are your thoughts? Are you happy to see a company that's specifically focusing on curvy and plus sized sewists? Or is this just another indie pattern company in the recent indie pattern company explosion?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Finished Project: HotPatterns 1130 - Weekender Triple Torque Top (twisted hem view)

I finished this top over a week ago. I waited to wear it until the weekend so that I didn't have to worry about spilling anything on it before I could get photos taken. On Sunday, we headed out to a U-pick apple orchard, with me thinking, "Hey, this will give me a chance to actually do a somewhat interesting photo shoot! Certainly, these will turn out better than all of the photos that we take in the backyard with our dog jumping on me or our adorable daughter wandering into the shot and mugging for the camera."

The twisted hem view of the HotPatterns Triple Torque top was clearly inspired by the various Japanese draping/pattern books and features an interesting dart that creates an interesting drape near the hem. At the apple orchard, I we got a "front shot" from exactly one angle. This one:

HotPatterns Triple Torque Top
I swear that this is a more interesting, flattering top than this one picture shows. Granted, I probably should have used a drapier fabric, but this angle makes it look like I've got a cup of fabric draped off of my boobs. At every angle other than the one we took this picture at, it looks much more like the line drawing:

HotPatterns Weekender Triple Torque Tops
*sigh* I don't know how it escaped me that in a family outing to an apple orchard, my 2-year-old would want to run around and Pick. All. The. Apples. (We came home with 17 lbs of honeycrisp apples, all picked in a half hour, thank you.)

Here's the back view. The CB seam eliminated that lower-back pooling that you see on my tops that don't have a CB seam. There are some lines up around the shoulders that have me scratching my head, but I'm wondering if that's either how I'm standing or due to the "torque" stuff going on in front.

HotPatterns Triple Torque- back view
I know that some people will wait to blog about projects until they get a good set of pictures, but who knows when I'll get a chance to get more photos of this top taken. Plus, even a bad angle of a top is informative to my readers, I figure. If I can get some better photos of this top taken, I will share them here.

In any case, here are the details of the top:
  • I sewed my usual HotPatterns size 18 through the neck shoulders and graded out to a 22 (per the measurement chart) at the armscye. Some of their knit patterns can run a little large, but this one runs true to size. This sizing combo is very close to my TNT SBCC Tonic tee.
  • For fabric, I used a heathered gray cotton-spandex blend from Girl Charlee. It's very soft and was easy to work with, but I should have used a lighter weight, drapier fabric for this top. I knew that when I cut my fabric, but I was fixated on making this top in this color and was in love with the softness of this fabric, so that's entirely on me. The pattern envelope even says to use a really drapey fabric.
  • The pattern is really fast and easy to sew. You've got that one giant dart that creates the drape, and then the rest of the construction is exactly the same as any other t-shirt you've sewn. I've you've got this pattern in your stash, and you're intrigued by it, it's definitely worth sewing up a quick (wearable) muslin for it. This would be a good pattern for your too-thin, really drapey knits from Girl Charlee or FabricMart. 
  • I made no length adjustments to this pattern, and I'm 5'2". I know that HotPatterns sometimes run a bit long on us shorter folks; this one doesn't, so plan accordingly if you're taller.
  • I am going to give this pattern another shot using one of my thin merino wool jersey cuts from FabricMart from last winter.
  • Originally, I pulled this pattern out of my stash because I thought that it would be similar to that Japanese-style draped BurdaStyle top that many of you in the online sewing community made last winter. I particularly remember Kathy's and Nakisha's versions being cute.
  • If you're curious, the BurdaStyle version differs from the HotPatterns version in that the Burda version has raglan sleeves, and the "twist dart" is longer and at a different angle than the HotPatterns version. I think that the idea and spirit behind both patterns are similar, though. Seeing the pattern pieces for both of these, I think that it might be fun to try and hack a TNT t-shirt with different big darts/drapes and see what happens.
You know, I really liked this top until I saw the top photo in this post, but now I'm not sure what to think of it. I know that it's just a matter of positioning the drape differently, though. (I'd been walking around the orchard for a while already when that photo was taken.) On the other hand, I'm not going to be constantly messing with the drape all day when I'm at work (granted, I'm sitting on my butt at a desk most of the time at work, anyway). This definitely isn't a wadder--at worst, I'll wear it under a jacket. The neutral color lends itself really well to being worn under just about anything as a layering piece. 

I will leave you with some apple-picking cuteness. Specifically, here's a picture of my daughter trying to eat an apple the size of her head:

Toddler vs. apple

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stuff I want to sew for fall (2014), Part 2

Can you stand another post of me daydreaming about patterns again? My post last week on the topic was getting to be so long that I decided to break it into another post.

Obviously, I get way too excited about patterns, especially new patterns. I stalk several of the indie designer websites/blogs when I suspect that they have a new release coming out soon. (I suspect that I'm not the only person who does this for StyleArc, at least, because they'll occasionally send out an email letting people know that the new release is being delayed for a day or two, so that we can stop hitting "refresh" on our browsers.) Not all of the patterns in this post are new, but they are new-to-me in the sense that I haven't sewn any of them yet. This post doesn't even mention the patterns that I've made before and want to make again for cooler weather. (I'm looking at you Colette Moneta and HotPatterns Daytona Hoodie.)

I'm sure that you'll recognize some of these patterns from other "stuff I want to sew" posts. Now let's ogle a few patterns!

Warning: image-intensive post ahead!


Cooler fall weather means jackets and cardigans, right?

Deer and Doe Pavot Jacket

I received the Deer and Doe Pavot jacket pattern for free as a "thank you" for participating in the mini-wardrobe contest on Pattern Review back in July. I love the style of Deer & Doe, but have held off from making any of their patterns because their size range is pretty small. I don't mind grading up, say, a $3 New Look to fit me, but I had a personal issue with paying $15+ for a pattern and then having to grade it up. But...the Pavot was free and has lots of seaming, and I've had my eye on this pattern for a while. There's a jacket view (not shown), which is probably the more likely view that I'll sew.

If I like how this jacket turns out, it might encourage me to try some of the other Deer and Doe patterns that I've had my eye on. Luckily for me, some of the indie fabric stores in Seattle carry this line, so I might potentially be able to avoid the shipping charges and wait time from Europe.

Deer and Doe Pavot Jacket

HotPatterns Sakura Bomber Jacket

HP Sakura Bomber Jacket
I've been loving the floral or otherwise printed bomber jacket trend of the past year or so. I'd been looking for a while for a pattern for one that both came in my size (sorry Papercut Rigel) and had some sort of princess or panel seaming with in-seam pockets. This new-ish release from HotPatterns fits the bill. I've got a couple of neoprene scuba knits in my stash earmarked for both a wearable muslin, and then hopefully a "good" version of this jacket.

Muse Patterns Jenna Cardigan

The Muse Jenna cardigan is a new release from a new pattern company. I've started to see tester versions of this pop up around the blogosphere, and as basic as the pattern seems, it's looks like it's a basic that I'd get a ton of mileage out of. Finally, an option for all of those super-thin, lightweight merino wool jersey that I bought from FabricMart last winter.

Tops and Blouses

I'd like a few new blouses for fall, as well. Shockingly, 2 out of 3 of these patterns are wovens!

HotPatterns Pussycat Blouse

An easy-fitting blouse with gathers for full bust room and a cute pussy bow? There's also a tutorial video by Trudy showing how to clean-finish everything on your machine. Yes, please.  I mean, the illustrated fashion drawing even looks like a more slender version of me!

HotPatterns What's New, Pussycat? Blouse

HotPatterns Artemis Top

This top is HotPattern's latest release. I like the sleeves. I don't see the dress shape working on me, but the view for the top is really fun. I think this would work well in a Ponte.
HP Artemis top
Grainline Archer

Oh, many times have I had you in my sewing plans? To be honest, I'm scared of button-down blouses. I was a little traumatized by my first experience with a darted, button-down blouse and haven't tried one since. Unfortunately, though, being an H-cup means that I simply cannot buy this style in RTW. The Archer seems like it works for everyone who tries it, though, and I *think* I'd just need a standard FBA (and I'd leave the bust dart in for shaping).

I really, really could use a button-down blouse/blouse pattern that fits, though and I really like the classic, easy-fitting look of the Archer. I'd love to have one in white, one in denim, and a couple of flannel versions for layering, to start.
Grainline Archer shirt


Notice that while I was obsessed with summer dresses a few weeks ago, our weather has started to cool a bit (although we're still having random 2-3 day periods with temperatures in the low 80s). I still want to sew some dresses, but now I'm focusing on less summery, more autumny choices. Note that these all have views with sleeves.

Colette Hawthorn

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've wanted to sew the Hawthorn for, like, forever. Still haven't done it yet. I know that this will be a flattering style on me; I'm just procrastinating on tackling the fitting/multiple muslins. When I do make it, I'm going to use L's fantastic tutorial to turn the darts into shoulder princess seams.
Colette Hawthorn

Blue Ginger Doll Winifred

Ooh, it's a shirtdress style dress, but with no button closures! And no buttons means no gaping at the bust apex! Honestly, I never gave this pattern a second glance from the line drawing, but Blue Ginger Doll recently released this pattern in a larger size range (including mine) and I took a look around the blogosphere and saw how cute this dress makes up, especially on a curvy figure. I have read a bit online about the dress being tighter than expected in the bust, so it might take a little while to get the sizing/fit worked out for this one, but from the examples I've seen, it will be worth it. Plus, the dress looks like it should be super quick and easy to sew up once you get the pattern size/adjustments down.
Blue Ginger Doll Winifred

Blue Ginger Doll Odette

The Odette is the newest release from Blue Ginger Doll, having only come out last week. I love the neckline (and insert option) on this one and the gored skirt. I really like the two tester versions by GMarie and Mary of Idle Fancy, as well. I suspect that all of those darts won't be my friend, though, however, so this dress would be another candidate for changing the darts to shoulder princess seams.

Blue Ginger Doll Odette

Slim/Cigarette pants

The only pants that I currently have that fit me right now are a few pairs of jeans (from Old Navy), my HP Trackpant and a never-blogged StyleArc Linda pant. The latter two are two casual to wear to work (I feel). I like the straight-leg/cigarette leg profile on myself--it doesn't look dated like bootcut, but it's not outside of my comfort (or fitting) zone like skinny pants. None of these are new patterns, but I've been wanting to sew them all for a while and will hopefully give one or two of these patterns a shot soon.

HotPatterns Dolce Vita slim-cut pant

The Dolce Vita is just a nice, standard slim-cut pant. I know that the HotPattern crotch curve works fairly well for me, so I'm cautiously optimistic that these wouldn't require a ton of fitting.

HP Dolce Vita Slim-Cut Pant

StyleArc Barb Stretch Pant

The thing that I don't like about my StyleArc Linda pants is that the leg shape is a lot wider than I was expecting. I'm hoping that the Barb will remedy that because I like how my Linda's fit through the bum and the front. These would be super fast and easy to sew, too.

StyleArc Barb Stretch Pant

StyleArc Jasmine Pant

The Jasmine is another basic pant pattern. I like the pockets on these and am hoping that the leg profile isn't too wide.


I never used to wear skirts much--I always felt that if I wanted to have to worry about exposure, I'd rather wear a dress. BUT I've been wearing skirts a lot more for the past year and could use a few more.

HotPatterns Deceptively Skinny Skirt

When I make this up, it will be jeans-style in a dark denim with an exposed zipper in back. I do not have a jeans skirt in my wardrobe, so this skirt will fill that hole. With straight skirts, I look a lot better in skirts with some seaming. This skirt fits the bill.
HotPatterns Deceptively Skinny Skirt

Ina Maxi Skirt

As much as it was a pain to make, I love my McCall's maxi-skirt and wear it all the time. I want another knit maxi-skirt. I love the stripes and godets on this skirt from Pattern Review, plus it's been really, really well-reviewed so far.

PatternReview Ina Maxi Skirt
Whew, did you make it through all of that? I promise that with my next post, it won't be me rambling about patterns, and I will actually have a newly finished garment to show you!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stuff I want to sew for fall (2014), Part 1

My whole sewing-with-a-plan thing seems to be flying out the window, as I feel completely overwhelmed with all of the new(ish) pattern releases that I want to sew for fall. Of course, I'll be lucky if I sew more than one or two of these, and at some point, I'm going to need to put aside my Want To Sew All The Things mentality and concentrate on sewing myself a rain jacket and a winter coat, both of which I sorely need and already purchased the fabric/lining/notions/patterns for. Not to mention needing to sew a few things for my daughter who went from wearing a size 18M to a 3T over the summer. My fall sewing ideas are running so crazily around my head that I'll need two posts to cover them.

HotPatterns Essential Shift Dress

First up, I'd like to sew both the women's and girl's version of the HotPatterns Essential Shift Dress. I have a lightweight, drapey denim in my stash that I'm looking at using for this, and I'll do contrast top-stitching.

The women's version of this has been out for a while (and is very well-reviewed):

HotPatterns Essential Shift Dress
The girl's version, however is a new release and re-ignited my interest in the original pattern:

HP Mini-Me Essential Shift Dress
I'd like to get started on both of these dresses when I finish with the polo dress that I'm currently working on for Eva.

Wrap Dress (pattern undecided)

I'll be sewing along with the Curvy Sewing Collective's Wrapalong/Wrap Dress Sewalong, which kicks off in a few weeks. I'm still undecided about my pattern, but have two faux-wrap dress patterns on hand and one on the way from Australia.

Here are the three that I'm looking at:

New Look 6301

This dress is pretty much your standard faux/fixed wrap dress, but it has several sleeve and skirt options. I like how fuller or A-line skirts look on me better than pencil skirts, so I'd probably go with one of the fuller skirt views and either the short or long sleeves. I'll need to FBA the bodice for this and grade the skirt up a size, most likely.
New Look 6301 line drawings

StyleArc Slip-on Suzie

A well-reviewed faux wrap dress that should go together in a snap. I bought a large-scale print specifically for this dress, and both fabric and pattern are sitting in my stash:

StyleArc Slip-on Suzie
StyleArc Trixi

I've had my eye on this pattern for a while, but I finally pulled the trigger because I liked the freebie Molly knit top for the month. I like the neckline and side detail on this one.

StyleArc Trixi Dress

Holly Jumpsuit

I hate myself for loving this, and I haven't bought the pattern (yet), but against every ounce of better judgment in my body, I love the new Holly Jumpsuit from By Hand London.

Now, a little background, I've been loving all of the rompers that I've seen around Seattle all summer long. I wanted to make one but couldn't find a pattern that offered enough upper body coverage for me to feel comfortable. I know that the fashion police would probably say that I'm a little old for this look, but I think that with the shorts lengthened and in a more sophisticated print, it could be a fun and age appropriate look. In any case, the shorts version of this pattern is exactly what I was looking for, but it's getting too late in the season to sew a romper for this year.
By Hand London Holly Romper

There's a full-length jumpsuit view with flowing trousers, and I'm thinking that for fall, I'd combine the romper top with the full-length trousers. There was a princess-seamed top view to the full-length jumpsuit that the pattern testers got that I really liked, but for reasons having to do with another pattern release, didn't make it into the final pattern. I'm not a fan of the bodice view that made it in since it looks to be completely un-bra-strap friendly.
By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit
The me-in-my-head would get the fit and proportions right on this, and sew it in a drapey solid woven and would look oh-so-sophisticated in it. We'll see how that works out.

HotPatterns Refined Peasant Blouse

I still haven't sewn this release from HotPatterns from last spring, but I still really, really want a few of these in my wardrobe. It's pretty and it would go with a lot of things. I've got probably about a half dozen fabrics in my stash that would work well for this blouse.

HotPatterns Refined Peasant Blouse

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guest post on the Curvy Sewing Collective!

Just a quick note today: If you haven't already done so today, hop on over to the Curvy Sewing Collective, where I've written a guest post all about shopping for knits with a wrap dress project in mind:

Wrapalong: choosing your fabric (and fabric discounts!)

If you're unfamiliar with the Curvy Sewing Collective, the CSC is a collective blog from a group of gorgeous, fabulous curvy-figured sewists. Articles have a focus of sewing for a curvy figure and body positivity. I highly recommend checking them out.

Additionally, the CSC is gearing up to host a sewalong starting in a few weeks. The sewalong will be for that iconic, curve-friendly garment, the wrap dress. In conjunction with the sewalong, they've posted some great discount codes to one of my favorite online fabric stores (Gorgeous Fabrics) and a new-to-me but very enticing store, The Smuggler's Daughter.

In sewing news, I finished my HotPatterns Torque Top a few days ago but haven't taken pictures yet. It's a fun top and a fun pattern. I'll post my full review once I've gotten the top photographed. I've also started on a knit polo dress for my daughter. The dress has a contrast polo placket, and I've never done this sort of placket before. It's sort of giving me fits. I think I've figured out what my big problem is, though and am hoping that after some seam ripping, the rest will go smoothly. If the dress turns out as cute as I'm expecting, I'll be using this pattern again, and hopefully the placket will only take 1 or 2 attempts next time instead of 3 or 4.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Finished Project: Green Bee Design & Patterns - Sally Romper

Toddler time!

Eva got to "test drive" her new romper out at the playground the other day. Photographing my new projects for her at a playground is certainly much more interesting (and better lit) than trying to photograph them in our backyard; however, trying to photograph a toddler at a playground is like trying to hold jello in a sieve, when it comes to getting her to sit still and smile for mommy's phone.

In any case, my latest finished project is a winner, I think. The pattern I used is the Green Bee Designs & Pattern Sally Romper (and Dress):

Green Bee Sally Romper
 Here's a flat view of the romper, not obscured by playground equipment:

Sally Romper - flat
I'm not particularly familiar with the pattern company, Green Bee Designs, but I saw this pattern with its adorable envelope photo and fell in love with it when I was browsing Drygood Design back in July. I loved that the pattern included both a romper and a dress option. Eva is prone to sometimes dropping to a downward-facing dog position at a moment's notice and declaring "Upside-down time!", so I like to dress her either in rompers or in dresses with some sort of shorts or leggings underneath. More specifically, I'm always a sucker for a cute, original romper pattern.

Green Bee Sally line drawing
Those cuffed shorts and pockets are too cute, aren't they?

As far as sizing goes, according to the size chart, Eva would be at the upper end of the 2T size for height, but at the lower end of the 2T for girth. Proportionately, she has a long torso, as well. I opted to trace a 3T in height and a 2T in width for her. I'm really glad that I went with the 3T in height; the 2T would have been pushing things on her torso length. This pattern runs true to size for the measurement chart.

Pattern instructions are on the sparse side. This wasn't an issue for me, but I could see it being intimidating for a beginner.  I like that they direct you to an almost-entirely clean-finished garment. However, there were times that I disagreed with the directed techniques to produce a good result. For example, you could use the "burrito technique" on the bodice yokes/front/back to get a clean-finished yoke, but the directions have you ironing up your seam allowance and top-stitching. I also did my button holes and buttons as soon as I had the main bodice completed so that I didn't have to deal with trying to stitch buttonholes with the romper shorts attached.

Here's a back view:

Green Bee Sally Romper - back view
The fabric I used is a Michael Miller quilting cotton from the "Anchors Aweigh" line. It has coral-colored whales on a navy blue background. I purchased this fabric from Drygood Design when I purchased the pattern.

Another toddler picture
Would I make this pattern again? Absolutely, although since our weather will likely start to cool soon, I'll be putting it away until the spring, when I'll likely need to trace off the next size up for Eva. I'd like to try the dress view, too.

I looked on Green Bee's web site, and they have several other really cute patterns for girls that I might give a try at some point. (I'm particularly eyeing that shirt dress pattern.) They have some cute women's patterns, too, but I'm more hesitant to try those because their women's sizes stop at an XL that I'd have to grade up quite a bit.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Projects in progress (September 2014)

Well, I was hoping to have a new "finished project" to blog about in my first "real content" post of the week. However, while I do have a new finished project (as of last Friday), I do not have photographs of the recipient (my daughter) wearing said project yet, thanks to the brief preview of fall weather we've had this week in Seattle. Instead, I'll give a quick update on what I've been working on and hope to have finished pretty soon.


To start, last week, I sewed up this adorable romper, which I made using the Green Bee Patterns Sally Romper and Dress pattern:

Green Bee Patterns Sally Romper
I wasn't at all familiar with the Green Bee pattern company, but I fell in love with the envelope picture for this when I was browsing Drygood Design last month. I love how this turned out, but I'll talk more about the pattern when I have photos of Eva actually modeling it and do my full write-up. (She's only gotten to wear it for about 2 hours so far, due to our cool weather streak.)


I feel like I'm in limbo, weather-wise right now. One day, we'll have a high of 60 degrees F. Four days later, we'll have a high of 85 F. My sewjo for making more summer dresses is pretty much gone at the moment, but on the other hand, we're having too much warm weather for me to really want to commit to fall sewing with, say, a jacket project. What's a sewist to do?

How about sew a casual-but-funky knit top with elbow-length sleeves, which can either be worn alone or layered under something when the weather cools? I dug out my several-years-old-but-never-sewn HotPatterns Triple Torque Top pattern. The pattern actually contains three different top patterns with different draping details in front. I chose this particular view because it reminded me of that BurdaStyle pattern with the asymmetrical drape that everyone was sewing last winter. I liked everyone else's versions of that top, but it only went up to a Burda size 44, and I was intimidated by the thought of grading up/adjusting those odd shaped pattern pieces. While the HotPatterns version as a few notable differences from the Burda version, the spirit of the two tops is similar. I hope to finish mine up in the next couple of days:

HP Torque Top (in progress)
Just Started

As I think I've posted before, I sew for 30 minutes before everyone else gets up every weekday morning. On weekends, I grab what sewing time I can, sometimes accompanied by my 2-year-old "helper", depending on what my husband needs to get done around the house/yard. What that means is that I can't count on any "floor time" to tape together PDF patterns or cut fabric on weekends, since both of those activities attract my daughter far worse than all four of our cats combined. I have learned that in order to be most efficient with the sewing time that I have, I need to do any pattern taping/tracing and fabric cutting during my weekday morning sessions. Even though I am loathe to leave something as a UFO (other than garments that are pretty much destined to be wadders), this means that sometimes I have to start on the prep stage of a pattern before my last project is finished.

With that in mind, I have taped together the PDF pattern and prewashed fabric for my next project--the Peek-a-Boo Patterns Poppy Polo Dress:

Peek-a-Boo Patterns Poppy Dress
Over the summer, Eva grew. She was on the border of a size 18M/2T at the beginning of the summer, and now her RTW 2T clothes are too short. Until I get her fall wardrobe (size 3T!) built up a bit, I will be alternating selfish sewing projects with selfless sewing for her. Expect to see many toddler projects from me over the next few months.

After finishing these projects, I'm not sure what I'll tackle. HotPatterns released a "mini-me" version of their essential shift dress pattern, so at the moment, I'm leaning towards making mommy-and-me versions of that dress. Because I'm a dork. But if you read my blog, you already knew that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

HotPatterns Giveaway Winner!

Remember the giveaway that I posted last week for the HotPatterns Riviera Cote D'Azur top, tunic, and dress pattern?

HotPatterns Cote D'Azur Dress, Tunic, & Top

Well, we have a winner, as selected by the random number generator at

Lucky number 13!

Our winner is Fiona Vincent, who happened to post the lucky comment number 13! Fiona, could you please email me at at with your mailing address, and I'll ship your pattern out in the next few days? I hope that you enjoy the pattern--it has some nice warmer weather options as New Zealand heads into spring.

Thank you to all of my readers for your interest and participation in this giveaway! I'm sure that we'll do another one at some point.