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Monthly Archives: January 2013

  • 1950's Silk From China

    Front of Liberty Shirt Front of Liberty Shirt

    Back fits Nicely Back fits Nicely

    The last time I visited my Dad in California, he gave me two cuts of silk he purchased in Japan when he was in the Air Force in the 1950s. They are both shiny and thick. One is a silvery light blue with wispy flowers – a perfect color for me, with my gray, I mean silver, hair. I attempted to photograph it, but the glare was too much. Here are two of the least blurry pictures:

    I have never sewn with silks before, so I was glad to sign up for the new Craftsy “Sewing with Silks”class. The class is taught by Linda Lee from The Sewing Workshop. She provides all participants with her Liberty Shirt pattern, which is perfect for this silk. It arrived in the mail less than a week after I signed up for the class. Linda is a wonderful instructor who does not skip steps! I have watched all of the segments, and I will re-view them while I construct the shirt/jacket for myself.

    I hereby pledge that I will follow Linda’s instructions exactly!

    Today, I pressed the fabric and cut out the tissue pattern pieces. I also tried on the tissue to make sure it fits. It may be a little tight in the bust. It does not quite reach all the way to my center front. I will ponder a full-bust adjustment:

    Linda recommends tracing and making an upside down copy of each pattern piece that needs to be cut twice. She points out that being on-grain is so important with silk that you want to cut a single layer of fabric – hence the need for a right-side-up pattern piece, and an upside-down pattern piece. As I cut out the tissue, I found myself thinking: I could just lay the tissue on the fabric right-side-up cut it, flip the tissue, and cut it out of fabric upside-down. ARGH! I already want to cheat!

    This will be a slow creation. Stay tuned for updates.



  • Suzie and Nina

    Side of Slip On Suzie Side of Slip On Suzie

    Pati Palmer helped me select this great animal print for my Style Arc Slip on Suziewrap dress. I love the fabric! I have never made anything in an animal print before, but this is subtle and it has great colors for me. Because I don’t usually need to do a full-bust adjustment on Style Arc patterns, I just cut the fabric and sewed it up (with some fit-as-you-sew going on in the mirror). I love the dress, but I think I will figure out how to do a full-bust adjustment before I make it again. As you can see, there is some pulling on the sides because the wrap part has to go a little to far to make it all the way.


    I also made the Style Arc 

    Nina Cardigan

    . I made it out of stretch linen, which I did not know existed until Pati Palmer wore a cardigan made out of it to our class one day. It’s gorgeous and flow-y. According to the Style Arc website, the cardigan has a slimming silhouette and a cascading front. I must agree. The cardigan turned out just like the picture. I made no changes.


    See the pulling? Must do a FBA next time. I’ll show you how. See the pulling? Must do a FBA next time. I’ll show you how.

    Here is a front view of my first version of the Slip On Suzi dress from Style Arc. Photo by Treehouse Photography Here is a front view of my first version of the Slip On Suzi dress from Style Arc. Photo by Treehouse Photography


    Here is the Slip on Suzie with a simple alteration. Photo by Treehouse Photography. Here is the Slip on Suzie with a simple alteration. Photo by Treehouse Photography.

  • The Naughty Secretary

    Naughty Secretary Front Naughty Secretary Front

    Here is my FBA on the bodice of the Naughty Secretary Here is my FBA on the bodice of the Naughty Secretary

    Side Side

    Back Back

    Ever since I saw Sunni’s version of this dress while I was lurking on her site, A Fashionable Stitch, I have wanted to sew it up for myself. It’s Simplicity 2724, a Project Runway pattern. I love the high waist and the illusion of the skirt + shirt combo, even though I’m not a secretary, and I’m rarely naughty.

    I was originally planning to completely emulate Sunni and make a classic wool skirt on the bottom with a floral on the top. When I started searching the Fabric Depot, however, I found a beautiful navy blue velvet for the skirt! I also found a light-blue floral lawn for the top in the “Fancy Cottons” section. The bodice could possibly be Liberty of London, but it’s not. It’s just “Fancy.”

    I have never made a top with a pleated neckline, so I’m glad I made this dress with the assistance of Pati and Marta. Here are the changes I made to the bodice:

    The skirt pretty much fit without changes. I love that about skirts! The skirt is great, but it’s different than I thought it would be. It’s similar to Colette’s Beignet Skirt, without the buttons.


  • High-Waisted, but Fit!

    Side View Side View

    Close up of front Close up of front

    Close up of back Close up of back

    Here they are with Jennifer Stern's Tee Shirt and Style Arc's Nina Cardigan. Photo by Treehouse Photography Here they are with Jennifer Stern's Tee Shirt and Style Arc's Nina Cardigan. Photo by Treehouse Photography

    During my Palmer/Pletsch Pants class, Pati helped me perfect the fit for McCall’s 6440, center-back-seam pants. I drove her crazy, because I couldn’t decide where I wanted the waistline of my pants. Every time I went to her for a fit adjustment, I moved my waist-marking elastic up or down, depending on my mood. She could not figure out how to alter the tissue so my waist and crotch would fit.

    The truth is, I’m not sure where I want my pants to sit. I think I want them to be below my navel. On my late-40’s figure, however, I’m not sure low is the way to go. But, high-waisted is not cool, is it? I must have moved the elastic up for the final fitting on these pants because they are quite high-waisted.

    I do adore the fit. Thank you Pati Palmer. You are the master!



  • Fit-As-You-Sew

    A close-up of the front A close-up of the front

    The back The back

    Here are the finished pants Here are the finished pants

    Front pattern piece alterations Front pattern piece alterations

    The first pair of pants I made when I got home from Portland was McCall’s 5716 (an out-of-print McCall’s pattern that is still available through the Palmer/Pletsch website). I made them out of a dark brown wool crepe from Fabric Depot.

    Here is the secret to easy pants fitting: cut out at least one size bigger than your measurements indicate. Marta Alto once taught a pants-fitting class all by herself. She felt overwhelmed by the prospect of tweaking paper patterns for all of the participants, so she just told everyone to cut out one size bigger. The alterations were so much easier.

    Here are the back and the front of my pants pattern pieces. As you can see, it was easy to make them fit. We shortened the crotch, narrowed the back, and added a lot to the leg length. Et viola! They fit.

    Many people make muslins before they cut out their fashion fabric. Marta and Pati advocate fitting the pattern tissue to your body by altering it, and cutting out your fashion fabric (with one-inch wide side seams and inseams). They advise to then pin the garment wrong-sides together and check the fit. Checking the fit in the front is no problem, but checking the fit in the back poses technical difficulties, even with mirrors. Since I am not a school-bus driver with eyes in the back of my head, I enlist the help of my loved ones. When I’m making pants, I can frequently be found walking around in pinned-together pants with my camera, asking anyone who is not obviously busy to, “take a picture of my butt.” I get a lot of important information from these photos:

    How do you fit-as-you-sew?




    Back pattern piece alterations Back pattern piece alterations

    Pants too loose in the inseam   Pants too loose in the inseam  

    Pants too tight Pants too tight

    Just right Just right


  • Pants

    Kate and Darlene in the same size of the same pattern! Kate and Darlene in the same size of the same pattern!

    Side view of the same size pants! Side view of the same size pants!

    After the Fit class and Fit Teacher Training, I decided to stay for one more class with Pati and Marta – Pants. I have been trying to fit pants for quite awhile. After enlisting assistance from both Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch and Steph of 3 Hours Past, I was still struggling with fitting pants. They are difficult!

    An important message we heard over and over was, “Everyone has to alter the pattern.” It would be impossible for clothing companies or pattern companies to make clothes or patterns that fit everyone. People who wear the same size have curves in different parts of their bodies.

    For instance, Darlene and I made the same size of McCall’s 6571 – no-side-seam pants. She shortened, I lengthened, she added darts, I removed darts, and we both ended up with perfect-fitting pants. It was amazing! Take a look.


  • Amazing Transformations

    The Fit Class Graduation at Pati Palmer’s lovely home The Fit Class Graduation at Pati Palmer’s lovely home

    In addition to learning great fit techniques during the Palmer/Pletsch Fit class, the class was a powerful time of change and transformation for many of us.

    One of my Fit classmates is an engineer. She came to the class because she needed to interview for a new job. She had been frustrated in her search for professional clothes that fit her. When she told Pati and Marta her story, they said, “You will leave this class with clothes that fit and flatter and are ready to sew.” Pati took her to the fabric nirvana area on the first day and selected fabrics that match her skin tone and will skim her body in a flattering way. My fellow student then got to work. Under the tutelage of two great masters, she pin-fit a gorgeous dress and jacket that make her look like the young, smart, beautiful woman she is. When Pati slipped the final pin in the dress to make it fit perfectly, she burst into tears of joy. She looked fantastic, even though the dress was inside out with the seam allowances flapping in the wind. The rest of us cried, too.

    Rebecca is a law professor in New York State. She needs to be an authority figure for her students, and a peer to powerful men. Of course, she has been wearing black to assert her authority. Because many of our classmates were getting their colors done, Rebecca decided to get her colors done with Ethel Harms, who works with Pati and Marta. Getting your “colors done” means finding out which colors look best on you, given your hair, eye and skin tones. Rebecca returned incredulous from her session with Ethel. She looked best in camel, beige and coral, not black! What was she going to do? How could she assert herself as a power figure with such drab colors? I went out to the fabric nirvana area with Rebecca and Ethel and saw how amazing and POWERFUL Rebecca looks in camel and coral. She will look like the kick-butt lawyer she is when she starts wearing the colors that suit her.


  • FIT Teacher Training

    My Classmate Mara fitting Vanna in a princess seam My Classmate Mara fitting Vanna in a princess seam

    Next came Fit teacher training. Six of us stayed on to learn how to teach “Fit.” First, we measured each other’s “high bust” to confirm we were measuring correctly. It took me a few tries, but I was able to figure out how tightly to pull the measuring tape. After the measuring, we paired up to alter darted bodices. My partner was the beautiful and tiny Vanna of Brisbane, Australia (Sewing Intuition). After a few easy alterations, the paper fit her!

    My partner for princess seams was Janet, who wanted an armhole-princess jacket to fit. With much assistance from both Janet and Pati, I altered the tissue in a way I thought would work. Janet, like me, is full-busted, and an armhole-princess seam needs a lot of alteration to fit her. After much slashing and taping, I pinned together the pieces of tissue and tried the jacket on Janet. It did not fit. The apex was in the wrong place. Sigh. Pati suggested I may want to buy Janet a new pattern and start over again. I am much too stubborn for that!

    I cut out all of my tissue alterations, moved the apex, moved everything else to match the new apex, re-taped, re-pinned, and 10 hours after teacher training started, draped the tissue on Janet again. It fit! There was more fill-in tissue than regular tissue, and there was almost an entire roll of ½” Scotch Tape holding it together, but it fit!!!

    I was exhausted.


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