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  • We Have The Cashmerette Appleton Dress Paper Pattern

    Kate in front of store wearing Cashmerette Appleton dress Cashmerette Appleton Dress Paper Pattern sewn in Organic Soy Knit

    Close-up of hem basted in place Wrap Dress Hem Basted in Place -- Ready for the Cover Stitch Machine

    Closeup of Wrap Dress Basted Hem Bottom Hem Basted in Place from the Wrong Side -- Ready for the Cover Stitch Machine!

    I am so excited that we have the Cashmerette Appleton Dress Paper Pattern! Jenny has designed six patterns for curvy women in the past year, and I'm sure she has more in the pipeline. Sizes range from 12 - 28, with cup sizes C - H. Woo Hoo! Here is the link to our pattern.

    Sizing:

    Based on my hip and bust measurements, I cut out a size 12 with cup size G/H. The size 14 with cup size G/H would have been better. You can see in the photo that the skirt wrap is pulling to the side. Next time I will cut out the size 14! (And, there will definitely be a next time.)

    Using the sewalong on the Cashmerette website made sewing the dress a breeze. The fabric I used was The Confident Stitch Organic Soy and Cotton Knit in Navy and Organic Soy and Cotton Knit in Loganberrywhich were both easy to sew with and super comfortable to wear.

    Extra Steps lead to success!

    A few minutes of hand stitching can set things up for success. I wanted to sew the hems of this dress with the coverstitch machine, which meant stitching from the right side without being able to see if I was catching the hem. So, I hand basted the hem with our Japanese fine silk basting thread from the wrong side, which allowed me to see the stitching line from the right side, and get a perfect cover-stitched hem the first time. The silk thread slipped out easily after I stitched the hem.

    I recommend this pattern with only one caveat -- It has negative ease in both the bust and the hip, meaning that the final bust and hip measurements will actually be smaller than your bust and hip, so you may want to size up, or at least be honest with yourself about your measurements (a lesson I need to learn over and over again!).

    buy-the-fabric-appleton-dress buy-the-pattern-appleton-dress

  • McCall's 6355 Dress in Black Ikat Pattern Review

    McCall's 6355 dress pattern review McCall's 6355 Dress Pattern Review on a fall day

    If I had to pick my one favorite pattern (which I would hate to do), I would choose the McCall's 6355 dress and top pattern. I have made it so many times out of so many fabrics. I use it instead of a sloper pattern in my learn-to-fit bodices class, so my students can create wearable projects.

    Here is my McCall's 6355 dress pattern review:

    Pattern Description: Semi-fitted top and dress with optional front and back vertical darts, self-neck binding and optional invisible side seam zipper.

    Pattern Sizing: 16-18-20-22. I made a size 16.

    Did it look like the photo? Yes, it did.

    Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. Not only does this pattern have the Palmer/Pletsch alteration lines already drawn on it, but also Patti Palmer wrote the instructions herself.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about this pattern? I love this pattern. The alteration lines make it easy to make any changes. I can keep or remove the vertical darts for a loose or tight fit. I don’t have any dislikes.

    Fabric used: Designer Ikat Canvas with Rainbow Stripe from The Confident Stitch.

    Pattern alterations and any design changes you made: I did a 5/8” full-bust adjustment, and a ½” broad-back adjustment.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This is my second McCalls 6355 dress, and I’ve made 4 or 5 McCalls 6355 tops, so YES!

    Conclusion: This is a winner of a pattern. It can be made loose or fitted, long- or short-sleeved. It can be a dress or a top. The shape is universally flattering, and yet I have trouble finding ready-made dresses or tops with the same shape. I used a black-striped Ikat from The Confident Stitch for this dress, and it was easy to sew with. I made the stripes vertical so I wouldn’t have to match them, and to make the dress more slimming: Win-Win.

    Have you made this pattern? What is your McCall's 6355 dress pattern review?

    McCall's 6355 dress pattern review McCall's Dress Sleeve Closeup

    buy-the-fabric-mccalls-6355 buy-the-pattern-mccalls-6355

  • Accidental Cool Jeans

    Looking powerful in my cool new jeans! Looking powerful in my cool new jeans!

    In case I haven't mentioned this before, I am extremely tall -- 6 feet tall to be exact -- and, most of my length is in my legs. I love to make pants that are long enough, but sometimes I don't add enough length to the pattern. The pants seem long enough until I yank the center back up a few inches to compensate for my flat derriere, and they turn out too short. Talk about a return to 7th-grade trauma!

    This is what happened with my beloved boot-cut jeans from a couple of years ago. Then I had an idea -- skinny jeans can be shorter than boot-cuts, right? I followed Jennifer Stern's advice on how to taper a pair of boot-cut jeans . I took out the hem in order to create the taper. I was planning to re-sew the hem after tapering, but when I saw the cool shibori look at the bottom of my well-worn jeans, I decided to leave them unhemmed. Now the jeans are longer, trendy AND tapered. Win-win-win for me!

    Shoes handmade in Missoula by Bean_an_ti. Shoes handmade in Missoula by Bean_an_ti.

  • A Tale of Two FBAs

    Jalie Dolman Sleeve Top with cheater FBA Jalie Dolman Sleeve Top with cheater FBA

    Even though I am a certified Palmer/Pletch Fit instructor, I am also a certified shortcut-taker. I know the correct way to alter a pattern to fit, but I my brain automatically tries to find a faster way. And, owning a shop and setting up a website keep me busy, so I’m always doing everything at the last minute.

    As I prepared to teach a Sewing with Knits class, using the Jalie Dolman Top pattern, I felt too rushed to do a proper full-bust adjustment. I also wanted to give my students an easy alternative to an involved full-bust adjustment.

    Noticing that the center front of the shirt is on the fold, and the Jalie pattern drafters moved the center front farther and farther out as the size increased, I decided to cut out the size based on my high bust measurement, but add fabric at the center front by cutting the center front on the size that fit my full bust. I then cut out the top in our lovely rayon/poly stripe knit in black and cobalt.

    I hemmed the neckline, instead of binding it, and added sleeves. I love it. The back fits well, and the deeper, wider neckline formed by cutting a larger size at the center front is cute and flattering.

    I like a wide neckline... I like a wide neckline...

    Then I taught the class again. Only two students signed up, and I knew they would both benefit from a full-bust adjustment. I was curious how a true FBA would compare to my cheater FBA, so before the class, I altered the pattern using the Palmer/Pletsch Knit for Real People book, and here is the result. I used Riley Blake’s Four Corners Knit in Black. I bound the neck, which raised the neckline a little, but as you can see, the two methods created two very different looks.

    The high neckline is maintained with a traditional Full Bust Adjustment The high neckline is maintained with a traditional Full Bust Adjustment

    _B9B0511

    So, if you love the neckline on a pattern, do a traditional full-bust-adjustment, as described in Fit for Real People and Knits for Real People, but if you want a wider neckline, just add fabric to the center front. That’s why we love sewing. Everything is custom, just for us!

  • Our Bodies, Ourselves

    Don’t worry, The Confident Stitch is not going to become a body- conscious blog. But….we are all conscious of our bodies, and many of us sew in order to fit and flatter our bodies. So, I’m going to share my recent epiphany about my body.

    I love yoga. I love the strength and the stretch and the concentration involved. I’m sure it will become an even more important part of my regime after I open the store and stand and lift and twist all day. In Helena, I went to a yoga class I loved. In Missoula, there are many yoga studios, and I have felt a little bit like Goldilocks searching for the right one. The first two yoga studios I tried were not quite right. They were both too loosey-goosey.

    The third studio fits me quite well. The teachers are professional yet fun. The yoga is very challenging. The studio space is clean and lovely. The post-workout popsicles are only $1.00. 

    But…the third studio is the Bikram Hot Yoga Studio of Missoula. It is the first place I have taken yoga that has mirrors, and it is the first place that is HOT yoga. In case you have never taken hot yoga — the room is 110+ degrees with lots of humidity piped in. Some days it feels bearable. Other days it feels impossibly stifling. Every day, I want to be wearing as little as possible.

    I can do this, but my belly spills over the top of my shorts. Image courtesy of www.massgeneral.org. I can do this, but my belly spills over the top of my shorts. Image courtesy of www.massgeneral.org.

    So, I find myself in front of a mirror, with other people, wearing tiny spandex shorts, and twisting my top into my bra. During the first class, I was struck by two things — I am indeed very good at yoga, and my tummy is embarrassingly huge. After that first class, I wanted to apologize to the other women in the changing room for baring my big white belly.

    I can do this, but my ribs do not stick out at all. Photo courtesy www.healthcare-online.org. I can do this, but my ribs do not stick out at all. Photo courtesy www.healthcare-online.org.

    I’m glad I did not apologize, however. As I further master the 26 Bikram positions I have been reflecting on what my body is for and how I should feel about it. Does my body exist to look absolutely perfect? Or, does it exist to stretch and balance and walk and sew? Why should I feel bad about a body that can balance on one leg while holding the other leg straight out in front of it at a 90-degree angle for a whole minute? What more do I want from my body?

    I can even do this! Photo from Bikram-nyc. I can even do this! Photo from Bikram-nyc.

    The answer is, nothing. Each day, as I watch myself in the mirror bending, twisting and balancing a little better that the day before, I feel thankful for my body just the way it is.

  • Preparing to Sew

    If you're like me, you want to finish all your projects quickly and perfectly, and sometimes the two don't go well together. I frequently sew past the point of exhaustion. I'm so excited about wearing something that I skip steps and call it "good enough." When I actually wear the item, I can see all its flaws. I don't feel proud to wear it.

    The things I make during an in-person or Craftsy class turn out much better because I move deliberately and I don't skip steps. So the "new me" breaks her makes into bite-size pieces, and only spends a few hours at a time sewing. I am making fewer things, but more wearable things. Here are my bite-size pieces (by bite-size, I mean I step away from my sewing area for a few hours or days before I start the next step):

    Fitting and altering the tissue for a princess-seam top. Fitting and altering the tissue for a princess-seam top.

    FIRST I fit and alter the tissue. I love Fit for Real People, and I have taken many classes from Pati Palmer and Marta Alto, so I never skip this step. I now have a number of altered patterns that don't need to be tissue-fitted, which makes them easier to create.

    Burgundy linen underlined with gray voile. Burgundy linen underlined with gray voile.

    SECOND, I cut out, mark, and apply interfacing to the fabric. By completely preparing the fabric for sewing, I spend less time going back and forth from cutting table to sewing machine. Everything is completely ready to go. For the StyleArc Katherine pants I am currently sewing, I also underlined the linen. For underlining, I follow Gertie's instructions from a few years ago.

    Bobbins ready to go. I lucked out and had 2 partially used bobbins with almost the right color in them. Bobbins ready to go. I lucked out and had 2 partially used bobbins with almost the right color in them.

    THIRD, I assemble all my tools and make sure my machines are ready to go. I wind a few bobbins in the correct color, make sure I have the proper needles in my machine(s), and experiment with topstitching colors and stitch lengths.

    Tan, Taupe, and Black topstitching experiments. Tan, Taupe, and Black topstitching experiments.

    FOURTH, I practice the tricky bits or new techniques on fabric scraps. For these pants, I am going to create a button fly. I found instructions in Making Trousers for Men and Women by David Page Coffin. It's my first button fly, so I practiced it. I think it will be easier and better than a zipper fly!

    FIFTH, I start sewing! The sewing part only takes a few hours because of all the preparation. Stayed tuned for the finished burgundy pants!

  • No-Side-Seam Pants

    No-side-seam pants are great for summer. They work best in lightweight fabrics, and are fabulous for pulling on over a swim suit when it's time for drinks on the lanai. I am wearing my no-side-seam rayon pants and dreaming of drinks on the lanai. We are still drinking hot toddies here in Montana, but we are dreaming of hot days. Today's high was 44 degrees. Yes, today is June 17. Yes, I choose to live in Montana.

    The lack of seams makes these particular pants super quick to sew, but a little tricky to fit. You can't tweak much with only a crotch seam and an inseam. I had Pati Palmer fit McCall's 6571 to me during one of the two pants workshops I have taken in Portland. I started with a very large size (22 is just a number, right?). The crotch seam fit me well, so Pati had me make a vertical fold in the tissue where the side seam would be -- narrowing the hip and leg without affecting the crotch seam. I had a length of elastic around my waist, and Pati pulled and tugged the waistline of the tissue until it laid smoothly. She then marked where my waistline should be.

    Here is the front in a gorgeous blue and black rayon batik. Photo by Andrea Jones Here is the front in a gorgeous blue and black rayon batik. Photo by Andrea Jones

    This is my second pair of no-side-seam pants. I made them both in a rayon batik. I made the first pair without pre-washing the batik. They are now capris. Rayon batik really shrinks! I pre washed and dried the fabric for this pair, and the first couple of times I washed them, I remembered to not put them in the dryer. I accidentally put them in the dryer the last time, and now they are too short! These photos were taken before any washings. I don't think I'll make any more pants in rayon batik. It does not stop shrinking! This lovely fabric is from SewBatik.  I bought it while I was at the American Sewing Expo in Detroit. I also purchased some border print batik, which I plan to use for a skirt or dress.

    The side. I may fold out a little more width in tissue next time. Photo by Andrea Jones. The side. I may fold out a little more width in tissue next time. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The back. Photo by Andrea Jones. The back. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Wrap Top 2 Ways

    What did we do before "What Not to Wear"? When the original What Not to Wear book by Trinny and Susannah first came out 10 years ago, I gobbled it up. I loved learning why things looked good (or bad) on me. If you also gobbled up the book, you know what kind of top minimizes a big bust: something that either "wraps" or "vees." I immediately gave away all of my high-necked tops to smaller-busted friends and began my quest for V-Neck and wrap tops that work for me.

    My shopping quest has morphed into a sewing quest. My most recent attempt is McCall's 6513, a Palmer/Pletsch design with alteration lines included. The pattern pieces are strange looking, so the lines are particularly helpful. 

    Wrap top version 1 in an ITY knit from Mill End in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones. Wrap top version 1 in an ITY knit from Mill End in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    I did a 1.5" full-bust adjustment, and added darts, which I think made the shirt too roomy. I'm tempted to try sewing up a straight size 16 and see what it looks like. I have some great white modal knit from Dharma Trading Company. I think I'll sew up the top in the modal and dye it if it fits. Stay tuned.

    The top in stretch linen from The Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones. The top in stretch linen from The Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    My rather large full-bust adjustment on the rather strange front pattern piece. My rather large full-bust adjustment on the rather strange front pattern piece.

    McCall's 6513 is a well-drafted pattern with great instructions written by Pati Palmer. There are some tricky bits, so I don't recommend it as a first knit top. It's a wonderful second or third knit project, though. What do you think, should I try it without an FBA?

  • Mother-Of-The-Graduate Dress

    As all parents know, the holy grail of big family events is to make or wear something that is not "too embarrassing" to one's offspring. This simple sheath in a slightly stretchy, slightly shiny cotton fit the bill for my daughter's college graduation. SunnyGal Beth helped me fit Butterick 5602 during my day with her in April. 

    I learned two important things while making this dress: (1) I don't always need a full-bust adjustment -- sometimes I just need to lower the bust darts.  (2) Beth has a trick for altering vertical darts to accommodate a tummy.

    During my day at her studio, Beth shared her method of altering fish-eye vertical darts: she marks the vertical quarters of the dart, and moves the fullest part of the dart from the half-way mark to the upper quarter mark. This simple shape shift creates more room for the waist and what I call the "under waist." My belly is fullest at the "under waist" mark. I have yet to learn how to demonstrate things on the computer, so here are my hand-drawn instructions:

    Super clear illustration of how to alter vertical darts to accommodate a tummy -- just move the widest part of the dart to the under bust area. Super clear illustration of how to alter vertical darts to accommodate a tummy -- just move the widest part of the dart to the under bust area.

    Close-up of the front. Tummy, what tummy? Photo by Andrea Jones. Close-up of the front. Tummy, what tummy? Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The front from farther back. The vertical dart technique makes for room for great post-graduation dinners! Photo by Andrea Jones. The front from farther back. The vertical dart technique makes for room for great post-graduation dinners! Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Back view. Please do admire the stripe matching! The green zipper adds a little whimsy. Photo by Andrea Jones. Back view. Please do admire the stripe matching! The green zipper adds a little whimsy. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Update!

    Hello Everybody -- I apologize for not posting for so long! Work keeps getting in the way of blogging. And, my wonderful photographer, Andrea Jones, is on vacation with her family (the nerve!). She will send me my newest batch of photos next week.

    I have been sewing and learning, however. In fact, my daughter, Charlotte, graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, last weekend, and I took the opportunity to visit Jennifer Stern at her studio in Manchester, Connecticut. She and I had a great time making progress on the JStern jeans I muslined during Jen's workshop at the American Sewing Expo in Detroit last fall.

    My muslin-ed butt in Detroit. My muslin-ed butt in Detroit.

    Me and Jen in her Connecticut sewing studio. Me and Jen in her Connecticut sewing studio.

    Making changes to the paper pattern based on the muslin. Making changes to the paper pattern based on the muslin.

    As you know, I am an avid fan of Marta Alto and Pati Palmer. Their method of trying on the tissue and altering the paper pattern based on what you discover works great. I teach others using their method. But...I am also enjoying learning how to alter patterns using muslins. Both Jen and Beth of Sunnygal Studio start with muslins before they alter the pattern paper. Although garments look different in fashion fabric, the dimensionality of a muslin is really helpful. I'm looking forward to morphing the Palmer/Pletsch method and the muslin method to find what works for me! I'm glad you're along for the ride.

    Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

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