Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Different Approach

The new Vogue patterns are out.  Thanks Erica! Although I really like the first two below, I'm not getting them anytime soon. Victoria mentioned it first and I agree -- I have to stop buying every pattern I think is cute (fabric too).  It would be different if I was churning out a garment every weekend, but that's so not the case right now.

Anyhoo. Here are the patterns I've mentally filed away until a need arises for them:

V8694                                     V8702

Now, I probably do need a new scarf, but I can't see myself sewing it when I could be working on pants, skirts or tops.

Here are the two that made it to the buy now list:
V8699                                          V8685

You can see them all here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review: Fit For Real People

Update:  Okay, so I made a mistake and published three book reviews on the same day. I meant to space these out, but I forgot to go back and check when they were scheduled to publish. Oh well. Enjoi!

This is a must-have book.  Like others, I read it from cover to cover.  This brings me to my first minor complaint. Perhaps it was information overload, but I wish this was a little better organized.  After reading Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration (2nd Edition), I really appreciate how "clean" the layout is and how the information is organized.  This book reads like a conversation, which is great when you are reading it all the way through, but challenging when you're using it as a reference book.

Back to the must-have part.  FFRP uses the slash method of alterations. This book gives a lot of detail on how to do the alterations.  As a beginner, I find this very helpful.  The book covers alterations for the back; neck and chest; bust, shoulders and armholes; sleeves; and the waist, hips, tummy and thighs. There's an entire chapter on darts.  I love that in some instances (I wish all), the book tells you the maximum amount you can adjust.

There are separate books dedicated to fitting pants and jackets, so you will find very little help on fitting those garments here.  I prefer the pictures in The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns to the illustrations here, but the drawings work.

I usually take issue with people telling me what the ideal is (especially if they use that word) in terms of what looks good.  I think that's really based on culture and even age. Needless to say, I have to ignore some advice in this book, like how the aesthetically pleasing proportions determined by the Greeks apply to skirt length. (Seriously?) I dare you to say that Serena Williams or Beyonce can't wear mini skirts because they have big legs.

Bad fashion advice aside, this book is an excellent resource for alterations.  The Sewing Techniques that Affect Fit chapter is a great bonus.

Book Review: The Perfect Fit

Update:  Okay, so I made a mistake and published three book reviews on the same day. I meant to space these out, but I forgot to go back and check when they were scheduled to publish. Oh well. Enjoi!

Of my many alteration books, this is the one of two that has a no-dart FBA.  That's worth five stars by itself.  (The other no-dart method uses the pivot and slide technique.)The instructions in this book are very clear.  It isn't a comprehensive guide to every alteration, but the ones it does include are covered well.  Very clear pictures detail the steps.  For each alteration, there are instructions for a minor and major adjustment. What I love most about this book is that it tells you the max amount of length or width you can add for some of the alterations. Seems like few other authors thought this was important.  I just realized this is a revised edition of the old Singer Sewing Reference Library books, which explains why it's so easy to understand.

The Analyzing Your Shape section is okay.  I don't agree with all of the "fitting goals."   For example, if you have a small waist *one hand raised as I type* the fitting goal is, "Unless hips are full and out of proportion to small waist, draw attention to the waist." Puh-lease. I am a very pear-y black woman.  I'm required to draw attention to my small waist.  My goal is to create a closet full of A-line halter dresses with midriff rouching :-) When will the world become more inclusive when it comes to fashion and figures?

Here's what's covered:
  • Sloping shoulders
  • Square shoulders
  • Narrow shoulders
  • Broad shoulders
  • Forward thrust shoulders
  • Neckline too high
  • Neckline too low
  • Neckline too wide
  • Neckline too narrow
  • High bust
  • Full bust
  • Gaping Armhole
  • Small bust
  • Narrow back
  • Broad back
  • Rounded back + Extremely high rounded back
  • Full upper arm
  • Thin upper arm
  • Sleeve length adjustments
  • Small waist
  • Large waist
  • Prominent abdomen
  • Flat abdomen
  • Swayback (skirts)
  • Waist & Hip adjustments on gored skirts
  • Full hips
  • Small hips
  • One high hip
  • Full abdomen (pants)
  • Swayback (pants)
  • Full seat (pants)
  • Flat seat (pants)
  • Full thighs (pants)
  • Full inner thighs (pants)
  • Full outer thighs (pants) 
  • Thin thighs
  • Pants length adjustments

The last chapter is about fine tuning the fit of pleats, darts, shoulder pads and scooping curved seams.

The pictures are a bit dated, but the info is timeless. I have no regrets about the purchase.

Book Review: Pants For Real People

Update:  Okay, so I made a mistake and published three book reviews on the same day. I meant to space these out, but I forgot to go back and check when they were scheduled to publish. Oh well. Enjoi!

This is my favorite of the Palmer/Pletsch books, probably because pants are where my fitting issues are the greatest! This book is a godsend. It's where I start when I think about pants.

I even enjoy the front matter in this book. Chapter 3 has good information on fabric choices. As a beginning sewist, I found it very useful. However, the good stuff really starts in Chapter 6.

Chapter 6 is where you begin the tissue fitting process. The chapter also contains a summary of the common pants alterations. I'm still fuzzy on altering for crotch depth vs. crotch length, but I'll get it eventually.  In Chapter 7, you fit the fabric.

One of the really cool things about the book is that it covers different types of pants including trousers, pull on pants (knit and woven), jumpsuits and jeans. There's also information on pants for men and alterations for weight change:-)  Additionally, there are dedicated chapters for darts; zippers; waistbands; belt loops; pockets; hems and cuffs; and lining and underlining. There's even information on proper pressing.

I find the examples of fitting real people aren't that useful. They are before and after shots of models in unaltered and altered tissue and fabric. I would rather have close-ups of the tissue alterations, like in The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns.

This is a very comprehensive book on pants fitting, alterations and construction.  It's a must-have is you have any issues with pants. It's well worth the purchase price.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Save My Shirt & My Sanity

This is the next installment of posts where I give a desperate cry for help! This is for KS3740. It's a knit top with no center back seam.

Issue #1:  Do I have a round back? I know you can't see me, but the pattern falls away from my neck. I do have rounded shoulders. There's also a gap at the back armhole.

I know this is gonna sound crazy, but could my butt (ha ha) and sway back be part of the problem?  Could the curve from the top of my rear to my waist be so severe that it causes the pattern to hang differently at the neckline?  I realized my dress form needs some work because the top is much shorter on me.  Anyhoo. Can you kinda see how the top stands away from Ruby's rear? By the way, she is wearing my Burda 8629 muslin. This twill is now a muslin because I didn't realize there wasn't a nap layout. Live and learn.

Okay. Does it really take this many tucks for my sway back or am I doing something wrong?

How on earth am I going to true this (Issue #2)? Seriously. How do you suggest I true it? Do you see the new grainline in green? Next to the original, it looks like a dart! The wonky center back I'm sure contributes to the issue at the neckline, but I have that problem when I try on unaltered tissue.

The top is supposed to be close fitting. Do I have it pinned too tight?

Back to the truing. the vertical green line you see at the neckline is what hangs over the ruler when I compare the top edge of the pattern to the bottom edge. (I think I measured it right.) When I fold the pattern under along that line, the pattern sits flat against my back.

Please help.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feeling better ...

I've been a wee bit frustrated lately, especially this morning. I took a break from the skirt to work on a quick top to wear with it. Kwik Sew 3740 has been an UFO for quite a while.

I'd completed a high round back alteration, knocked out a sway back dart and an FBA. I still had this gigantic wrinkle going diagonally across the back from the armhole. I added tissue to the side seams at the hip and that went away. (Happy happy joy joy!)

I thought I was ready to work on my forward shoulder adjustment and then it would be all good. Depending on how I pull and tug at this muslin (and the previous ones), there is excess tissue underneath my shoulder blade. The tissue gapes and falls away from my back. Patricia over at Perfect Sew & Fit looked at another muslin and thought it was because of a rounded back (hence the high round back adjustment).

When I did the forward shoulder adjustment (almost 3/4"), all hell broke loose! New wrinkles. New tightness! A gap at the back armhole. Grrrr! I was beyond frustrated. Woe is me. I'll never get this right. Why is my body so deformed??!

Then, I decided to just "make it work." I unpinned my forward shoulder adjustment and used the original stitching lines. I pinched out the excess fabric and the top fit much better. However the neckine was nowhere near my neck. When I thought about it, it made sense. This dart took out almost an inch and even more of was taken out for the sway back. All I'd have to do is figure out how to add the length in the right place. I consulted Fitting & Pattern Alteration. Looks like there's an alteration for a high neck base. I'll also have to go back and make the proper adjustment for the upper back instead of using that dart. I think it's the alteration for short shoulder blades.

I left home for work frustrated and regretting that I didn't have a completed muslin. Later in the morning, it dawned on me that I learned something new and I was well on my way to fixing the next problem. What an accomplishment for the morning! I feel better now:-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chance to Win $20 Jo-Ann Gift Card

Slipstitches is giving away a $20 Jon-Ann's gift certificate to a lucky reader. Please check out her blog. This blog has great tutorials and most recently has been providing a marathon of sewing tips.

Enjoy the reading & good luck!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Little Things

You may find dust in my house, but you will not find the things I love thrown about willy nilly.  I do not love to clean house.  Now once I get started, I love the smell of lemon, pine and almond.  (The key is once I get started.)  What I will do, with my OCD self, is organize and catalog the hell out of stuff.  You should know by because of my swatch cards.  I have spreadsheets that track the contents of my sewing magazines, completed projects and WIP.  My SWAPs are PDF documents; you get the picture.
What I had been struggling with was a way to organize the small stuff you use frequently in your sewing room.  I looked at sewing baskets and I wasn't happy with what I saw.  I'm so glad I found this tote; it's almost perfect. Because of it's height, it can sit right behind my sewing machine and still be easily accessible.
What I like most, aside from the obvious portability, is the size. The three trays allow for organizing a lot of things. Mine hold sewing machine presser feet, buttons organized by color and fasteners. (My gripe is that although you can divide the trays into 36 compartments each, they don't give you enough dividers to do so.)
The slots on the side hold all of the tools I need easy access to -- five scissors, a seam ripper, thread nippers and sewing gauge. The handles of the scissors tend to turn in ways that keep the lid from closing easily. It takes a little adjusting, but it does close. Because of this, I keep it open during my sewing weekends. I close it during the week.
I thought the top compartment could have been organized a bit better, but I'm making do. I added the Sew-Lutions Bobbin & Supply Box. It fits nicely and rounds out the tote's functionality. It sits on top of randomly thrown in pin boxes, a rotary cutter and other misc. items. I'm glad I bought the Bobbin and Supply Box because it gave me the extra dividers I needed for the tote's three trays.

The box is constructed of durable hard plastic. What surprised me was the cheap, flimsy plastic used to for the bobbin tray. It's the same type of plastic used in packaging curling irons and some toys -- the stuff that's hard to cut open and usually scratches you at least twice.

The bobbin tray is poorly designed. The wells that hold the bobbins aren't deep enough. You can easily tip all of the bobbins over. Although the bobbin try sits flush on its own, when you put it in the box, it only sits evenly when the pin strip is toward the back of the box. The tray tilts when you put the pin strip toward the front. This means that you have to reach over bobbins to use the pin strip. Not a good proposition when it's so easy to knock the bobbins over. 

Sew-Lutions Bobbin & Supply Box 6911AB
I'm glad I purchased this bobbin box because I needed it to increase the functionality of the tote. Together, it's a great combo. If I didn't have the tote, I would have purchased the plain bobbin box and some type of cup to hold things like marking pens and tracing wheels.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Checking In

Like most, I have to go back to work tomorrow.  So far, I've got three new projects traced and cut out:  KS2856, M6078 (not looking forward to the swayback adjustment for this) and M6076 (September sew-along). I'm making my alterations to Burda 8269. This has worked my last nerve, so I'm taking a break to write.

As usual, mo to do list was too long and my love of sleep and ability to waste time on the computer too great.  I wanted to knock out the alterations for the new projects, complete this skirt and finish KS3740, which has been hanging around forever.  I have some things in the alterations/mending pile I wanted to get to as well, including a friend's jeans.

I'm proud to say that I've completed the following. None of them aided a project, but I feel better because they're done:

  • Hung all of the WIP. Thanks to Ann's tip, I can see my couch and dining table again!
  • Created an index for the last Sew Stylish and Threads (Yep. I'm that anal. How else can you find the article you're looking for?)
  • Wrote a couple of notions reviews for
  • Picked up a couple pieces of very cute and very cheap ($1.99/yd & $2.99/yd) fabric and waxed tailor's chalk at Vogue. I used the tailor's chalk today and I love it.

I got this one from Vogue earlier this year. It was in the cute cottons stack, so I'd thought I'd show you. $3.99/yd!

  • Grabbed a few new patterns



Here's what I'm ashamed about: I went through my catalog on Pattern and made sure each had a picture and the picture I wanted. This has been a small but growing pet peeve with me. When I buy fabric, I browse the catalog to figure out what I'm going to make with it. If there's no picture, I skip the pattern. If the picture is one view of four options, I might skip over the pattern because I don't like the particular view. However, I might have chosen the pattern if I could see all of the views.  This is especially true with the wardrobes.

Alright, I'll calm enough now to go back to the skirt.  I'm having the hardest time with is adjusting for my small waist and large (okay huge) front thighs. So far, I've added two extra darts, let a side seam out twice and adjusted the seam that goes across my right thigh.

Here's how I had to change the front right side seam (high hip).  The red line is the original stitching line.

Here's the top of the thigh seam.  I took it apart and pulled until the wrinkles went away. Left seam allowance:

Right seam allowance:

The pink and green highlighter marks show that I'm still working on the swayback adjustment.

I'm fixing (yes, I'm Southern) to work on both side seams and tweak that thigh seam. I'm praying that when I try it on again, I can sit down more comfortable and the wrinkle pointing to my left thigh is gone! The good news is that the side seams are straight.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Award Preview

How sweet! KnitMachineQueen sent me the Beautiful Blogger Award! I follow her blog because her clothes have attitude! See? I want the same for my curves.

In turn, I will nominate five people and tell you 10 things about me you probably didn't know:

My nominees are:

Faye is so sweet and always has the nicest things to say. Cennetta makes me want to sew better! Her garments are so beautiful.  Adrienne cracks me up. Cidell, in addition to being a sewing inspiration, has me hunting down nail polish. Dawn doesn't know it, but she's my cyber fabric enabler!

10 Things About Me You'd Never Guess

1.  I have an odd mix of favorite movies:
  • I love James Bond movies, at least 21 of them. The jury is still out on Quantum of Solace.
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Pride & Prejudice (1996 BBC version)
2.    I am seriously afraid of bugs, including flies.
3.    I don't mind eating the same thing every day for a week.
4.    I once wanted to be an Egyptologist. I'm still fascinated by the Pyramids.
5.    I used to play the saxophone.
6.    Prince is my favorite musical artist
7.    I read the entire Bible last year (skipped a few days, so it took me 13 months).
8.    I want to eat my way through Greece and Italy.
9.    I love football and the Dallas Cowboys.
10.  I love roller coasters.

Late Inspiration

Serendipity Claire Cami Dress PatternI've discovered Serendipity Studio patterns (thanks to the recent sale at I wish I'd found these earlier in the year. I might have been inspired to get behind the sewing machine more for some summer clothes!  The catalyst was the Chicago weather. It cooled down to highs in the 70s and I started thinking about my fall knits.  Then, it got back up to the 90s and I was dying for something cool and cute to wear!

Serendipity The Stella Strip Skirt PatternWhat's so great about Serendiptity Studio is that it has forced me to hit the quilting sections in the fabric stores. I went nowhere near any of that stuff before. For some reason, I had no problem with patterned ITY knits, but I was lost when it came to patterned wovens. So this is how you get those cute summer dresses and skirts :-)

The Stella Strip skirt is so interesting. I was worried about cutting all of those strips. Now I know what a jelly roll is. Why are the quilting fabric bundles named for cake and pastries?

Aren't the patterns cute? I'm ready for summer skirts! Too bad it's Labor Day weekend, but I'm early for next year. (Trying to be positive.)

Serendipity Studios Tiffany Skirt PatternSerendipity Studios Bella Skirt Pattern

I think these are my favorites:

Serendipity The Torii Tunic PatternSerendipity The Emaline Skirt Pattern

Now, you can't look at patterns like those and not buy any fabric, right? I'm new to mixing patterns, so I hope this works.  It took a consultation at Jo-Ann to figure this out:

It's for the Emaline skirt. The check is for the tie and a hem border. I had to have a top to match. What do you think about KS2856? (This top has been discontinued. As of right now, there are two left at

View B with this pink jersey:

With such a bold print, I thought I needed a more dramatic top to make this an outfit and not just a skirt and a random top. Hancock Fabrics comes through again with a $2.95 value fabric! By the way, both the floral and the check were $3.00/yd.  The lining was $1.79/yd. Just looking at the fabric makes we want a glass of lemonade! Working on this in February might chase away the winter blues. If the patterns arrive today, I might start working on the skirt now!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: Fitting & Pattern Alteration

I waited a long time for this book.  I viewed it as the answer to my many alteration woes.  I purchased several other books until I got my hands on this one.

All in all, I'm pleased with it.  It's not perfect, but it is the most complete resource I've found.  It's pricey, but I think it's worth it. Others have suggested buying an older edition. The nerd in me won't allow that :-) 

The book is organized into three sections.  Things don't get good until Part Two. This is where the book goes into body types, ways to fit and a discussion of the various ways to alter a pattern.

Part Three is what you pay for -- figure variations and how to alter patterns for them.  This covers 88 figure variations. For each, you are shown how to do the alteration via the seam method, pivot/slide method and slash method. I love that the book provided all three methods for each variation!  I'm a little sad because it doesn't give info on how to adjust wrap skirts or tops. 

Let me back up and give you the full picture:  for each variation, the book explains what the issue is (figure evaluation); the problems it causes (fitting problems); how to alter for the problem in RTW and the muslin; gives body measurement positions and pattern measurement comparison. Then it gives you the correction for flat pattern alteration using three methods.  This book is fantastic.

It's fantastic, but not perfect. While you get more detailed instructions regarding using the three methods to alter a basic pattern piece (like a darted bodice), the book gives you smaller reference pictures showing how the seam method would be used on other styles, like an empire-waist bodice. These are pictures only. I wish there were written isntructions too. My other criticism is that the for most of the alterations, it does not tell you the maximum adjustment amount you can make using any of the methods. 

I also hate the circa 80s apparel drawings.  These are a direct lift from the first edition of Fabulous Fit. What irks me to no end is the use of "ideal" when referring to a figure variation.  "There is more weight deposit an/or muscle development than average/ideal."  How dare you. Make the comparison to "conventional standards" or something, but please don't say "ideal." It's absolutely offensive.

Now that I have this book, the Palmer/Pletsch books (Fit for Real People and Pants for Real People) and Pattern Fitting With Confidence (pivot and slide method) I'm glad I have them all.  This book covers more figure variations, but you get more detailed alteration information in the other books. They all work well together.  Now what you don't need is Fabulous Fit, all of its info is contained this book (at least the first edition; I haven't seen the second).   This is a textbook, so I imagine students are getting hands-on practice with each alteration, so they don't need the additional detail in the other books.

So the question is can this be your only fit and alterations book? The answer isn't a simple yes or no.  If you are familiar with the three alterations methods and are looking for a single resource for all three, then the answer is yes.  Now for beginners, it really depends.  I needed the other books for the detail; I just couldn't grasp how to do some of the alterations.  This book is still a must-have for me; you may not need the level of detail I did.