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The Confident Stitch

  • Jalie Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Pattern Review

    Eleanore pull-on jeans Front View Eleanore pull-on jeans front view

    Bonnie made a cute pair of Jalie Eleanore Pull-On Jeans out of floral stretch denim -- available here.  They look cute on her, but she did make some major alterations. Here is her review of the pattern:

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    Yep it did, after many adjustments.

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    Yes, they were.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    I loved the style and the use of stretch denim. I didn’t like the lowness of the rise, or the single-layer yoke.

    Fabric used:

    Floral Stretch Denim from The Confident Stitch.

    Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:

    After comparing the pattern to a pair of ready-made pull-on jeans I like, I made some changes based on the differences between the pattern and the ready-made jeans. My ready-made jeans had a much higher rise, so I raised the back rise by 3 inches, and the front rise by 1 inch.

    I also had trouble making the waist small enough, so I created a fake fly with 3 hooks, which allowed me to cinch in the waist and still get the pants over my hips.

    Would you sew the Eleanore Pull-On Jeans again? Would you recommend the jeans to others?

    Why, yes I will. I love my pants. I recommend this pattern to intermediate sewers who know how to alter patterns.


    The Eleanore Pull-On Jean is a great pattern for anyone who loves a low-rise. It is also a good pattern for anyone who wants a mid-rise and knows how to make the alteration.


    Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Side View Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Side View

    Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Back View Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Back View

    Eleanore pull-on jeans back pocket detail Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Back Pocket Detail

    Detail of the faux front pocket on the Eleanore Pull-On Jeans Eleanore pull-on jeans faux front pocket detail

    buy-the-fabric-eleonore-jeans buy-the-pattern-eleonore-jeans


  • Colette Peony Handmade Dress in Stretch Sateen

    colette peony sateen confident stitch Kate in her Colette Peony


    Colette Peony Sateen Confident Stitch Kate in her Stretch Sateen Peony

    Selecting the next sample to make is a collaborative effort around here. One of us has an idea for a perfect fabric/pattern combo, and we all discuss and decide together. Usually, Bonnie makes samples in her or Jane's size, since they are both approximately a size 6 -- the same size as our mannequins -- but, sometimes I luck out, and we decide to make something in a larger size. Enter the Colette Peony! You can find the pattern on our website here.

    Here are Bonnie's answers to the Pattern Review questions about the Colette Peony:

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    Yes, it did.

    Were the instructions easy to follow?


    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    I liked the style lines and that Colette Patterns fit Kate in the bust without any alterations. I didn’t like the height of the bateau neckline (too high), and I didn’t like the back sleeve cap ease. I lowered the neckline almost 1 inch, and took out approximately ¾” of the sleeve cap in the back.

    Fabric Used:

    Two black and white stretch sateens: Figure Eights, and Polka Dots. I liked using fabrics with the same colors but different designs for this dress. They were great to sew and fit with, but I narrowed the skirt a few inches because the lack of drape in the fabric made the skirt very wide.

    colette peony sleevecap alteration Bonnie increased the seam allowance for the the sleeve cap in the back to reduce fullness there.

    Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

    I lowered the neckline almost 1 inch, and took out approximately ¾” of the sleeve cap in the back. I also narrowed the skirt by approximately 3 inches.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes and yes. I really love the dress, and the alterations were not difficult.


    One of Colette’s original patterns, this dress is still in style and a great choice for those of us with hourglass figures.


  • 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.

  • Grainline Lakeside Pajamas

    1 Grainline Lakeside Pajamas made in Art Gallery Voile in Sunday Clippings. All photos by Bess Bird Photography.

    The very first piece of clothing I made once I started sewing in earnest was a Grainline Scout Tee. It's become an indispensable staple, along with its knit sister, the Lark Tee. I appreciate the simplicity of the designs (everyday wear, hurray!) and the well-written instructions.

    Last month, I decided to make Grainline's Lakeside Pajamas for our hot Montana summers. I. Love. Them. They have enough design to make them interesting, but are simple enough for a novice like me to sew up with no problem. This has been one of the few patterns I've cut and sewn straight from the box - no alterations needed. There is something so satisfying about having a pattern that just fits, right off the bat.

    Overlapping back detail. Overlapping back detail.

    When making a shirt or a dress, I usually I have to make the top one size and then grade out a size or two below the waist. With the Lakeside PJs, I was able to make the top in a size 6 and the bottoms in a size 10. (Try doing that with ready-to-wear!) I double-checked all of my measurements and then followed the sizing guidelines, and ta-da, they fit like a dream. As tempting as it was to make the entire set in a size 6 (oh hi, vanity!), I'm relieved that I actually made the size that was recommended for me; believe me, carefully sized and drafted patterns are not to be taken for granted!

    Miles and miles of binding.. but so worth it! Miles and miles of binding... but so worth it!

    The shorts required a leap of faith. You have to attach most of the bias binding to the edges of each piece before you sew up any major seams, which makes it really difficult to make adjustments once you're underway. (Of course you could baste or pin the shorts together without the binding before you get started for a rough idea of fit, but did I think to do that? Of course not!) The method for sewing on the binding and then assembling the shorts seems confusing at first glance. But I dutifully followed the instructions step by step, and, as promised, it all worked out beautifully.

    I made these PJs with Art Gallery's Sunday Clippings Voile. Because it is so silky and lightweight, the Art Gallery Voile was a little slippery, but I used a new needle and took my time, and I was able to handle the fabric with very few problems. If you haven't sewn with Art Gallery fabrics yet, you are in for a treat. The quilting cottons are finer and softer than most quilting cottons, and the voiles are even finer than Liberty of London (in my opinion).  AND, Art Gallery voiles make great blouses. Our customer, Debrah Fosket wore her lovely Vogue blouse to the shop the other day and graciously agreed to be photographed.

    _B9B1559 A well-made blouse in a pretty fabric. Nice work, Debrah!


    I highly recommend these jammies -- and of course I'm partial to the super-soft voile. They're comfortable, cute, and a fairly quick sew (especially if you use pre-made bias binding like this). Plus, either the shorts or the tank top can stand alone in the right fabric. No one needs to know that they're a pajama pattern! I'm already planning a light summer tank top with this pretty rayon and some casual shorts with this sweet tencel.

  • Merchant and Mills Shirt Dress in Rayon


    The Cotton + Steel Rayon makes the dress so flowy. The Cotton + Steel Rayon makes the dress so flowy.

    In order to showcase our lovely Cotton + Steel rayons, I had Bonnie make me a Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt out of Pixel Print Rayon in Neon.

    I think rayon is a great choice for all the Merchant and Mills dresses, which are not very fitted, and can look boxy. Bonnie made me a size 16 based on my measurements, but a size 14 would have fit just fine.

    I washed and dried the fabric before Bonnie cut it out so that I wouldn’t have any shrinkage.

    Bonnie loved working with both the fabric and the pattern – her only caveat is that the fabric is slippery, which makes it hard to cut out. We have been experimenting with Best Press for slippery fabrics. It is a clear spray that is touted as a “sizing alternative,” and it gives all fabrics a little stiffness.

    I love this dress! The curved bib in the front gives it enough shape, and the shirt-tail hem is so cute. I could wear it every day in the summer!

    I love the gathering below the back yoke I love the gathering below the back yoke

    The curved bib in front keeps the dress slightly form-fitting The curved bib in front keeps the dress slightly form-fitting

    Photos by Bess Bird Photography

  • 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


    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!

  • Why I Sew

    IMG_6980 Jane just started sewing, and she's already making amazing things! Dress Pattern: Merchant & Mills Camber Set. Fabric: Traffic in Cherry by Anna Maria Horner.

    It’s easy to fall in love with sewing when you’re surrounded by gorgeous fabrics. As every new shipment comes in, I swoon and sigh, and the wheels start turning. By now I'm pretty sure I’ve got a plan in mind for all 1,036 bolts of fabric in the shop. But let me back up.

    I was not always into sewing. Before starting at The Confident Stitch six months ago, I’d learned how to do the basics, and throughout the years made some curtains, napkins, and tote bags. In other words, very square things. My attempts at clothing always ended in frustration, irritation, and an utterly unwearable piece of clothing. After each attempt, the sewing machine ended up back in the basement to collect dust.

    Thankfully, I have since discovered a whole world of inspiration, and, more importantly, instruction. I’ve been introduced to the sewing blogs and Instagram accounts of talented sewers and pattern designers across the world, and am excited by a new generation of modern garment makers. The tutorials available online, particularly from the independent pattern companies we stock, are an invaluable resource. Closer to home, I am constantly impressed by the things our customers make; no two look alike, and each person's interpretation of a pattern is unique to their style. Finding this network of makers and doers online and in my own community convinced me to give garment sewing another chance. Armed with some good patterns and lots (and lots) of patient advice from Kate and Bonnie, I’ve become nothing short of obsessed.

    I’ve always been a consumer of other people’s creativity – artwork, food, books – but now I’ve discovered a way to explore my own. Just as quickly as I learn a new pattern, I end up changing it. Some changes are functional; I often need to tweak darts and or add length to the torso. Some are purely for fun: adding a shirt-tail hem or a keyhole neckline. But that’s the beauty of making my own clothing. It’s truly my own – the pattern is just the jumping off point.

    I still take out almost as many stitches as I put in. I’ve cursed at more bias binding than I care to admit. And I require much, much more practice before I can comfortably embrace the label of seamstress. But along the way I’ve learned that some silhouettes work on me and some never will, that my back has a deep curve to it, that my top half and bottom half are two completely different sizes. I’ve learned that clothes I’ve made myself are washed more carefully, worn more frequently, and complimented more often. I’ve learned the difference between rayon and voile, bamboo versus soy, and been introduced to that most magical of fabrics, double gauze. I’ve learned that a single pattern has infinite possibilities.

    And so, piece by piece, I’m building a handmade wardrobe, and building confidence in my skills. I’m heartened that the slow fashion movement is gaining momentum and that there is a new generation of (mostly) women breathing fresh life into sewing and pattern making. I’m stubbornly optimistic that we have options beyond the chains selling us unsustainable fashion. And did I mention that sewing is just fun?

    Quilting is another matter entirely. I’ll let you know when I take that plunge…

  • Welcome to The Confident Stitch!

    The Confident Stitch Founder, Kate McIvor, outside our shop in Missoula, Montana. The Confident Stitch Founder, Kate McIvor, outside our shop in Missoula, Montana.

    Welcome to The Confident Stitch! We are glad you’re here! Our goal is to help you feel empowered to express yourself through fabric, whether you’re making clothes that fit just right, a quilt, or just playing with scissors.

    Take a virtual stroll through the shop – we have fine fabrics from around the world, high-quality notions, patterns from independent designers, inspiring books, buttons, ribbons – everything you need to make your next project a success.

    All of the products in our little shop are organized by category and attribute. We have also cross-referenced products with companion products, such as fabrics with appropriate patterns -- to help you find things, and to make browsing more fun!

    We’d like to say this site is the culmination of a year of hard work, but The Confident Stitch feels more like a work-in-progress! Let us know what you love and what could be improved. We’ll accentuate the positive and improve the improve-able!

    While we worked hard to describe, photograph and link every item, credit for the beauty and quality of this site goes to Flying Horse Communications, and our web developers, Drew Schug and Wes Broadway. They did amazing work taking Kate’s vision for a great website to reality.

    We will also be using this blog as a forum for describing our experiences sewing with the patterns and fabrics you see in the shop.

    We look forward to getting to know you!

    Kate, Jane, Bess and Bonnie

    Kate McIvor, Founder Kate McIvor, Founder

    Jane Mandala, Shop and Web Manager Jane Mandala, Shop and Web Manager

    Bess Bird, Photographer Bess Bird, Photographer


    Bonnie Thompson, Seamstress Bonnie Thompson, Seamstress

  • World's Easiest Last-Minute Gift

    Handmade scarf made from Robert Kauffman plaid flannel. Handmade scarf made from Robert Kauffman plaid flannel.

    Now that we’re in single-digit days before Christmas, we’re sure that all of your gifts are all ready, wrapped, and under the tree. Er… not quite? If you’re in need of a last-minute gift or two, we have a fabulous (fast) project. A handmade scarf with gorgeous, cozy fabrics – for men or women – is easy to make and sure to get lots of wear this winter.

    Robert Kauffman's plaid flannels are cozy and come in lots of colors! Robert Kauffman's plaid flannels are cozy and come in lots of colors!

    We made our scarves from our Robert Kauffman line of plaid flannels, which are thick, cozy, and come in a variety of cheerful colors. We also made some lighter-weight scarves out of the beautiful Anna Maria Horner wovens, which have a luxurious feel, nice drape, and unique designs.

    Anna Maria Horner's Anna Maria Horner's "Loominous" line.

    First, get 2 yards of fabric. Next, cut your fabric in half length-wise, so you end up with two long rectangles. Each one will make a full-length scarf. Then, beginning at one of the short ends, start pulling the horizontal threads out to create the fringe. We found that a sharp thread tweezers work well for this purpose. Some may find this tedious, but others of us find it oddly satisfying…especially when paired with a favorite TV show. Once your fringe is long enough for your liking, do the other side the same way.

    Pulling out horizontal threads one by one. Pulling out horizontal threads one by one.

    Finally, press the long edges of the scarf under twice and simply stitch up. And voila, you have a beautiful, handmade gift to give away – and enough fabric to make a duplicate for yourself!

  • More Scenes From the Grand Opening

    The Confident Stitch shop opened on Friday! Since it was the first Friday of the month, the art galleries of Missoula were all open late, so the shop stayed open until 8:00 pm. I was exhausted, but very happy with the turnout. From 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm, people were constantly flowing in and out.

    My friend Katherine came from Helena. We have been friends for 25 years! Photo by Sahra Susman. My friend Katherine came from Helena. We have been friends for 25 years! Photo by Sahra Susman. Cutting Cotton + Steel Quilting Cotton. Photo by Sahra Susman. Cutting Cotton + Steel Quilting Cotton. Photo by Sahra Susman. My guy Fred served wine, cheese, grapes and cookies. Photo by Sahra Susman. My guy Fred served wine, cheese, grapes and cookies. Photo by Sahra Susman. Lovely Jane (in an orange coat) will be my full-time employee starting December 1. Photo by Sahra Susman. Lovely Jane (in an orange coat) will be my full-time employee starting December 1. Photo by Sahra Susman.

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