Tag Archives: fitting

Newlook 6217 – version 2

One of the things that’s been missing in my life for many years is the time to regularly sew for myself. This isn’t a bad thing.  It’s just that life has been full of too many other things to allow me the time and brain space to as creative with fabric as I’d like.

But as the kids get older, and I shed obligations that no longer work with our life, I’m hoping to change the sewing situation.

I’ll have to admit that there’s one other thing that’s kept me from sewing quite as much as I’d like, and that is fit.

I’m have not yet mastered fitting myself.  This isn’t just down to time, I think it’s also due to my ridiculously fluctuating weight over the past few years.  I think I just have to acknowledge that this may continue for a while and embrace the need to carry out alterations or pass clothes on.

It became very clear to me recently in my adventures with Newlook 6217 that I still don’t have a clear plan of what I need to do to a pattern to get a half decent fit without multiple toiles.

This top is so, so simple to make.  Two pieces. Four seams. Five hems.  Nothing to it.

But as with all simple garments, fit is key as it has nowhere to hide.

My original unblogged version of this had been worn to rags, but had needed a little more room in the bust and a little less in the neck.  It had also needed the shoulder and side seams shifting.

So I carried out the changes (thankfully I’d noted these down!) and now have the side seam exactly where I want it.  The black line helps you see it, as it’s well hidden in the fabric pattern.  I know it looks odd but that’s due to me carrying all my excess weight to my front.

It does look like I need a small sway back adjustment in the photo, but I’m sure that’s the way I’m holding my arm up to take an iPhone photo.  I’m going to monitor that situation with future makes as in real life it doesn’t look as pronounced.

So I’m happy with that.

Having moved the shoulders, I’m still not happy.

The seam is still rolling to the front.  I have appalling posture.  Thank goodness I’ve got a yoga teacher coming next week!

Ok…on a top like this it’s easy to adjust the shoulder, so, I’ve done another seam adjustment for the next iteration.

I added another 1″ to the FBA.  I didn’t want to add a dart to this top so I followed the instructions for the Y-shaped FBA in Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern.  I removed the sleeve portion of the pattern before doing the alteration and it worked a treat.

As I’ve added a significant FBA to this top (a total of 6″), I’ve got some pooling above the bust.

I’ve pinched this out into wee darts to make this top wearable, and I’ve transferred this to the pattern.

I promise I’ve sewn them more evenly!

This second iteration is still very wearable.

Even with the fit flaws its still better than anything that I would buy off the shelf.  And because of the FBA it fits around the bust but flatters across the tummy, rather than having too much fabric swimming about there.

The other joy is having a top that fits at hip level and actually covers the bits I want it to.  At 5ft 7ins I have such trouble with RTW tops hitting too high and rising up in wear.  This doesn’t do that!

I have another version cut out and ready to sew.  It’s a knit fabric this time, which is really not the greatest idea when you’re perfecting fit, but was top of the fabric tub.  I’ve also got another length of fabric washed and ready to go which will, hopefully, be the last wearable muslin to get me to my first Tried And Tested pattern.

Project notes

Pattern:                                                                    Newlook 6217

Fabric:                                                                     Soft cotton lawn.

Colourway:                                                             Navy/taupe

Purchased from:                                                     Preston market

Total  cost:                                                               £4

Similar fabric can be found here:                        Croft Mill Fabrics*

*This is more spendy!

Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you click through and make a  purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you!  I only recommend goods or services that I am happy to use myself.


Burda 6985 – a very wearable muslin

I’ve made a start on the first of my planned TNT patterns, which is this BurdaStyle slim legged trouser.


The fabric I used is a 100% polyester crepe from Abakhan.  I’m slowly edging away from polyester, but I’d booked myself onto a Sewing for Fun day at Stitchscape with Celia Banks, and new this was one of the patterns I wanted to work on.

I’d already cut them in a cotton drill but when I’d tacked them together for fitting it was really obvious there was a problem. It turns out the fabric was completely twisted on the grain. So I needed a replacement fabric.  And fast.

It had to be navy and this was it!

Whilst it was a bugger to sew, it drapes really nicely and worked well in a pinch for the sewing class.


For the purposes of fitting, I cut without pockets or fly zip and did an invisible zip in the back seam. This isn’t my favourite style of trouser but I believe it’s a great way to simplify the pattern and work on the fit.


Ah…the obligatory derriere shot!

This clearly shows how flat I am at the back.  I’m straight up and down with no waist or hips to speak of.  This is one of the reasons I have such issues with RTW.

But I’m really happy with the fit at the back. I’m not sure I could get it much better than that.

The front is pretty good too.


All in all I’m quite pleased with these.


I think with a couple of tweaks they’ll be spot on.  I definitely need to take the waist in at least 1/2″, maybe as much as 1″.

I also think that I need to drop the waistline by about 1/4 – 1/2″.

And I may scoop that front curve just a smidge too.

Finally, I’d like the leg to be slightly slimmer, as the next pair I make will be the 7/8ths length shown on the pattern and I like a more slender leg for that style of trouser.

But…these are a great pair of smart trousers and a very wearable toile!  I’d definitely wear them for formal meetings (although those are few and far between) or, more likely, with a pretty top and my wedding heels (as here) for dinner out with the husband.

Now if only he’d book the table…..

CustomFit by Amy Herzog – a review

The plasterers are plastering.

The kids are thankfully at a playscheme every day and grandparents for tea each evening (thank you grandparents…yet again I couldn’t do this without you!).

I am slowly losing the will with the mess, but have my eye on the prize and am going shopping for a new fireplace and possibly doors at the weekend.

All that aside, I finally have Aislinn blocking…I’m hoping she’ll be dry for the weekend, but it’s awfully soggy here at the moment, so it’s taking time. Whilst we wait for that I thought it might be a good idea to share my thoughts about the whole CustomFit experience.



I know that many folks have pondered whether the system works or not, and, in fact, HOW the whole thing works.  So here we go…I’ll try to explain.

What is CustomFit?

For those of you that haven’t come across CustomFit yet, Amy describes it as:

“CustomFit is a web application that will produce bottom-up sweater patterns tailored to your body’s measurements. That means: You put in your body measurements (just once) and knit a swatch (at least once). When you’re ready to create a sweater, decide what kind of fit you want (close, average, or relaxed), and either choose one of our “CustomFit Classics” or create an entirely new design. Select the body and swatch the design is for, and easy as that, you have a pattern!”

Sounds really straightforward, no? There has, however, been much confusion over some of the terminology. So, to clarify, here’s what you need to do:

How do I create my CustomFit version of one of Amy’s designs?

1) Decide which pattern you want to knit.  I’m assuming at this point it’s going to be one of Amy’s patterns.  If not, I’ll come back to that a wee bit later.

2) Log on to the CustomFit website and put in all the measurements listed.  Yes this takes a bit of time, but it’s most definitely worth it. And you only have to do it once!

3)  Next, you need to do the swatching.  I know, I know…but I’m totally converted to swatching after watching Amy’s Craftsy course.  I make bigger swatches and do different needle sizes to ensure that not only is the fabric coming up to the required tension (gauge), but also I like the fabric it’s creating.  Because if I don’t, now is the time to do something about it, not 3 months down the line when I’ve completed the garment.  Ask me how I know!

4) By now you’re ready to start building your customised knitting instructions for the design of your choice, so click on the design button on the home page.  Some of Amy’s patterns are already ready to go…you just need to follow the instructions on the page.  You’ll only need to add a few details and your customised pattern will be ready to print.

5) For the other patterns in the range you’ll need to buy the CustomFit recipe, which will give you all the information you need to complete the design process and produce your customised pattern.

Whichever way you go the process is really straightforward once you actually start popping numbers into the system.  I think the problem has been that this is a completely new way of purchasing knitting patterns, and as such has potentially confusing new terminology.

What if I want to use another designer’s design?

Good question!

My understanding is that Amy is hoping to encourage other designers to produce CustomFit recipes in the future.  Until then I would suppose that you can use the “Classic Silhouettes” or “Build Your Own From Scratch” functions to create a set of knitting instructions that would give you the basic shaping onto which you could superimpose the pattern from your chosen designer.

For example…

I’ve got my eye on Kate Davies’ Catkin sweater:


I could make a CustomFit pattern using the Scoop Neck Pullover template


and then use Kate’s Pattern for the rib lengths and cable design.

Does that make sense?

Isn’t it an awfully bloody expensive way to buy a knitting pattern?

Another really good question…to which my answer is “yes” and “no”.


Amy’s standard knitting patterns are $7.00 each.  A CustomFit pattern + CustomFit Recipe is $12.50.

That’s a 75% increase in the cost of the pattern, which is a pretty hefty number if you’re just looking at numbers.


  1. You don’t have to do any knitting math.
  2. If you’re anything like me you’re going to spend quite a bit of your life knitting this garment…you want it to fit at the end of it.
  3. You don’t have to do the math…I’d sell my wallpaper scraping mother to avoid having to do knitting math!
  4. Even at $12.50 it’s comparable to an Indie sewing pattern, and you’d still have to do the fitting on the sewing pattern!
  5. Did I mention the math…or lack of it?

For me, that extra $5.50 (which, FYI, is roughly equivalent to one large Frappuccino Light) is money very, very well spent that saves me much head scratching and cussing, and let’s me get to the fun bit, the knitting, as quickly as possible.

Obviously, the key question is…

Did it work and does it fit?

Yes (bar two minor hiccups) and yes!

Minor hiccup number one was setting the lace pattern on the front.  It took full consultation of my knitterly friends over coffee and cake to resolve it, so I’m putting that one down to instructions that could have done with a little more clarity.  That said, it wasn’t an insurmountable problem, just potato/potahto!

Hiccup number two was entirely down to me.  I merrily input my measurements into the programme, cast on and knit away on the back of the cardigan, only to realise that I’d actually put two much length into the mix and the finished garment wouldn’t look how I wanted it to look in the end.

So I ripped it back a bit and made a quick adjustment (that even my math phobic brain could deal with because the CustomFit pattern not only gives you the length of the bit your currently knitting (eg back length…knit until work measures X”) but also the number of rows (eg back length….knit X rows).  I can most assuredly count rows and jot them down on a piece of paper!

The key thing is that pre-blocking, I tried the Aislinn cardigan on and she fits like a dream.

Assuming I’ve not buggered that up with the blocking, you’ll be able to see the finished thing very soon and judge for yourself?

Would you use CustomFit again?

Absolutely!  I’m of too Yarndale in September and am planning to purchase yarn for a couple of Amy’s designs, yet to be decided, to keep me in stitches over the winter months.

Things to bear in mind

At the moment CustomFit only does women’s patterns and designs that are knit flat and seamed.  It’s my understanding that at some point an option to create men’s patterns will be introduced, and also designs knitted in the round…but I don’t have any more information on that at the moment.  It’s just a case of “watch this space”, I think.

Cue another “thank you”…this time to Liz who whipped my knitted pieces away and in the blink of an eye had them seamed up into a cardigan with the most beautiful and invisible mattress stitch.

Unexpected upside!

Astonishingly, and unexpectedly, the success of this pattern has made me even more keen to get to grips with fitting knits (which dovetails nicely with the work I’m currently doing on upping my sewing fitting skills).  Whilst my next couple of knits will definitely be Amy’s designs, I’ve ordered a pile of books from the library to check out which I want to spend my cash on…all on the topic of fitting and altering knits.

Fitting is my new obsession, and I’m not remotely sorry! 😉

I do hope this all makes some sort of sense to you, and that it’s made the CustomFit offering a little more accessible, because I do think it’s a really great option to have available to us knitters. Please do leave a comment with any questions you might have.  I’m by no means an expert in this but I’ll do my best to answer.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t received any recompense or reward from Amy Herzog or her team in return for this review. In fact I actually bought the CustomFit recipe, CustomFit pattern, AND the standard pattern, thus paying completely over the odds, mainly because I’m an idiot!.  All opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own.

Images used throughout are shamelessly borrowed from Kate Davies Designs and CustomFit with much gratitude.

Lekela blouse – pattern review and toile

Have you heard of Lekela patterns?

I’ve been aware of them for quite some time but I’ve never taken the plunge and tried them out. Originally their website was more than a little messy and their ordering system the same, and although I liked the look of some of their patterns, I really couldn’t be bothered faffing around with it all.

However they’ve recently upped their game and the site it much cleaner, more easily navigable, and the prices are super low.

I paid $2.69 for pattern 5098, which is this blouse pattern:

Blouse With Wide SleevesI chose this pattern because it’s very similar in style to a RTW blouse I’m wearing to death, that I’d like to replicate, and that I’d like to become part of my planned suite of Wardrobe Architect inspired TNT patterns.

And, frankly, at $2.69 I can afford to take a punt on this…other than a bit of time and some muslin fabric, I’ve nothing to lose.

Buying the pattern

Obviously it’s really easy to buy a PDF pattern.  5 minutes and the thing is in your inbox and waiting to be printed.

Lekela is that simple but you also get the opportunity to choose whether you’d like your pattern with or without seam allowances, which is pretty cool.  Also you get to input your own measurements so that the pattern can be adjusted accordingly.

In theory this is just bloody marvellous.  But don’t get all excited just yet…you’ll see why in a moment.


As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t mind the whole process of print/stick/trace that is your lot if you order a PDF pattern.  Even adult patterns.  I pour a glass of wine, arm myself with scissors, magic tape and a bit of space at the table and crack on. It’s especially fun if I’ve got episodes of The Archers to listen too.

So that’s what I did.

And I wished I’d had more wine.

I’ve had experience of poorly tiled PDFs before but nothing on this scale. Firstly there are only guidelines at the side margins to show where you need to trim the paper to fit together….nothing at the top or bottom margins.

Secondly there are no guide marks to show where the tiled pages should connect to the one next to it.  So you’re trying to match the actual cutting/sewing lines of the pattern piece.

That wouldn’t be so bad if they actually line up…but I had to do some serious jiggery pokery to make that happen.

I know you get what you pay for but, seriously, this was ridiculous.  If you were a newbie sewer, or new to the whole PDF malarky, this could really be problematic for you.

The instructions

Think Burda.  ‘Nuff said.

The Toile

Having thrown the pattern in the corner to teach it some manners, I came back to it refreshed the next day to cut and fit the toile.

This pattern should be used as a teaching tool in every sewing class to show the reason why you make a toile.

Here’s a spectacularly hideous photo of me wearing the toile cut straight from the pattern with no alterations.  Bear in mind that I input my measurements for this:

2014-03-20 17.43.46

It’s just awful.  It’s waaaaaaaaay to big,  I know I’m starting to lose weight but I’ve not lost that much overnight! (Oh, I wish!)  Also, the neckline doesn’t reflect the illustration, and overall it’s too long.

This is the second toile after some adjustments:

2014-03-20 17.41.45

Toiles are so flattering…but this is so much better…and I’ve tweaked the pattern a little more after looking at this picture.

My alterations:

  • Removed 2″ from the centre front and centre back.  I crossed checked this against the inspiration blouse and it was clear that all the excess fabric was in that area.
  • Widened the neckline, again using my RTW blouse to check the sizes.
  • Dropped the neckline by about an inch.
  • Lowered the bust dart by about 1/2 inch.
  • 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment.
  • Hollow chest adjustment
  • Rounded back adjustment
  • 1″ removed from the hem

The forward shoulder/rounded back/hollow chest adjustments are standard fare for me, but I’ll admit to being disappointed that, having given specific measurements, the overall size of this blouse was so far off the mark.

I didn’t fit the sleeve for this muslin as there is a lot of volume to allow for mobility and I’m really pleased with the fit of the armhole.  However I will ‘walk’ the armscye and sleeve head before I cut any fabric…just to be sure one will fit the other!

So…what do I think of Lekela patterns?

I think in principle this is a great idea.  The model for this website is obviously low price/high volume.  $2.69 is a ridiculously low price to pay for a sewing pattern, but they’ve cut right back on the instructions and everything is obviously generated by the software.  Once you’ve done the basic pattern in one size, and an illustration, I’m making a fairly educated guess that everything else is automated.

However, and it’s a big however, there are still a lot of kinks to iron out.  The fit is way off and the PDF tiling is atrocious…the worst I’ve ever experienced.

I wouldn’t recommend these for novice sewists, but if you’re comfortable hacking a pattern around to get the fit, then go for it.  These patterns cost less that a small takeaway coffee so it’s a tiny investment.

I’m hoping to get a sewing day tomorrow and start actually cutting out the fashion fabric.  I’ll be using a super cheap, but really pretty poly from Abakhan for this pattern’s first proper outing.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Wish me luck!

ps…please ignore the absolute tip that is the sewing loft at the moment.  We keep saying “let’s go and finish packing the loft up” and then settling down with a glass of wine and a movie.  It’s just such a miserable job that The Husband would rather lift tiled floors than do it, and I need him to dismantle the heavy stuff before I can do any more.  So it sits, like an albatross atop the house. And we drink wine and ignore it!

Simplicity 1886 – FO 18/2013 – review and a splendid Simplicity pattern giveaway

Ye Gods!

I’m so glad to finally be able to post this review. I’ve been exceptionally tardy with it. Although we’ve had a lovely time, the summer holidays really got in the way of my creative time. On Sunday The Husband whisked the kids away to the park  and for ice cream.  He’s my hero!

Of course, I’d have been posting this much sooner if I hadn’t had that pesky ironing escapade!

Anyway…back to the patterns.  As you know I was approached by Simplicity who very kindly offered me some free patterns in exchange for me making up and reviewing them.  I was delighted to accept, but all opinions are my own.

I chose:



1606 (1)

My third pattern is the one I’ll be reviewing first, although I will get to the other two over the coming months.


As the weather is cooling down a little as we head towards autumn, I decided to shop the stash and make this up in some pretty John Kaldor print that’s been waiting far too long to make it to the sewing table.

John Kaldor floral

John Kaldor floral

Yes it’s poly, but I thought it would be a great little basic to wear with my denim skirt and a little cardigan for slightly cooler days.

I chose this pattern as I’ve been looking for a replacement for Sorbetto.  I love Colette’s aesthetic but really had trouble getting the darts right because of the FBA I needed.  I’m still a bit hit and miss with FBA’s.  I’ll crack them eventually.

With that in mind, this pattern seemed a great option as it’s already drafted for different cup sizes…although I’m a DD/E dependent on who you speak to, so even with the extra cup size options, I knew I’d have some finangling of the fit to do.

So…how did I get on?

It’s a mix of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

The Good

Well, despite the discrepancy between my bosom and that of the pattern, it took me a surprisingly small amount of time and effort to to fit this top.

I cut the pattern in the D cup option in the size that fits my high bust measurement at the shoulders and armholes.  I cut the side seams at the next size up.

This is the muslin straight off the pattern:

03 08 13_edited-1-1_edited-1

I was really surprised that this worked.  Yes, I still had gapping at the armhole and front and back necks…but I always have that gapping.  It’s down to the shape I am.

You can see that I’ve already pinned out a dart on one of the armholes.  I just replicated that at the front neck and back neck, transferred those darts to the pattern and cut out the fashion fabric.


Alterations made and transferred to the pattern within about half an hour. Which is without doubt the quickest turnaround of a muslin in my whole sewing career! It was so easy and I am a very happy camper!

The multi cup size pattern options really do work.

So I was ready to sew, which is when we came to…

The Bad

Perhaps calling them ‘Bad’ is a little harsh.  Perhaps ‘Pesky’ would be a better word.  Or just a little bit ‘Naughty’.

Semantics aside, the first hiccup came when I was making the ruffle for the front. Let’s just say the instructions for inserting the ruffles are less than clear.


The neck band was a complete and total bear.  I’ve lost count of how many times I unpicked the wretched thing.

However, I think it’s most likely that the problems I encountered were created by the fabric being very slippery and fidgety.  Because it was very slippery and fidgety indeed.  But! I suspect that it would have been easier to draft a simple stand collar than the band and facings used here.  It was all a little bit fussy to apply and turned the air in the sewing loft blue on more than one occasion.

Despite it being a slippery customer, once done, it looks really cute, and if I did it again it would be a whole lot easier.  That said, I’m grateful for the printed fabric. It hides a multiple of sins! 😉

The Ugly

This is where I’m going to take the opportunity to speak to Simplicity (and the other major pattern houses, to be fair.  They’re just as bad) about the styling of their pattern envelopes.

People…you really need to up your game on the envelope styling!

You don’t make it at all easy for us to choose your patterns.  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a really cute dress/top/trousers/whatever on a blog only to realise that it’s a pattern that I’d previously totally discounted due to the styling on the envelope.

I can understand that back in the day, before the independent pattern companies flourished, that you could get away with it.  But now…not so much. The Cynthia Rowley envelope isn’t all bad but 1606 and 1886…I feel that they really need some work.

I recognise that the big 4 are aiming at a much wider audience than the indie companies, but I’m not sure that’s a strong enough argument.  How hard can it be to pitch at multiple markets with the same envelope? Especially as most of the design is sketched. Even Knip Mode magazine, which isn’t always the most fashion forward of the sewing mags, manages to do this on a regular basis.

Yep...same pattern...different fabric and styling! Although the camel ones could do with a better fit...more whiskers that O'Malley the Alley Cat!

Yep…same pattern…different fabric and styling!
Although the camel ones could do with a better fit…more whiskers that O’Malley the Alley Cat!

As the sewing market grows, both in the number of customers (due to the resurgence of interest in the craft), and of the range of patterns available (because of the growth of independent houses), I feel that the Big 4 are missing a real opportunity to reach out to sewists and provide them with a well drafted product in a packaging that appeals to a wide range of tastes and styles.


I hope you don’t think this is a negative review because, despite the niggles I had with the neckline on this top, I’m really, really pleased with the result and feel that it really fills a gap in my wardrobe. I know it’s going to get quite a bit of wear over the next few months.  It goes with my denim skirt and a pair of cropped RTW trousers.


Please ignore the creases…this was the end of a very busy day of last minute school uniform shopping!

I also think the ruffle, which I’d normally avoid, works very well and is surprisingly flattering thanks to the lovely drape of the fabric.

For me, this pattern works in a way that I couldn’t get Sorbetto to.  The darts are great and as a result it’s not too boxy.  Lord knows, I need no help in looking boxy!


Happy dart and a lovely snug armhole.
Ignore the wrinkles…they’re just there because I’m pulling my arm back to show the dart.

I can see myself playing with the neckline and hemline to make variations so that I can get some much needed quick and easy tops into my wardrobe. Although, rest assured, next time I’ll be binding the neck and armholes and not faffing with the wretched neckline and facing pieces given in the pattern.

And the scorch…


I just slapped a teeny tiny patch on it…and a matching one on the other side seam. I promise they are much less obtrusive and inelegant in real life. You can hardly see them. And they mean I can happily wear this top.  As most of the time I’ll be wearing this with a cardigan, this is a solution I can easily live with.

But most of all I am totally sold on the idea of multiple bust size options, and salute Simplicity for introducing them.  Being able to remove/reduce the FBA/SBA makes fitting so much faster and easier. I think we’ll all agree that this is a Very Good Thing.  For sure, I’ve never fitted a pattern so quickly and with such a good result.

I can only encourage more/all pattern companies to embrace this feature going forwards.  It’s a feature that will definitely influence my pattern purchasing decisions in the future.  I suspect I’m not alone in this view.

So I’m patting myself on the back for selecting this pattern, and am patting Simplicity on the back for giving me the opportunity to try it.  I’m also looking forward to making up the other two patterns and am hopeful for an equally happy outcome.

But now, if you not asleep at this point, here’s the bit of this post you’ve really been waiting for. It’s time for you to get your hands on a Simplicity pattern of your own!

Actually, it’s time for 3 (yep…three) of you to get a Simplicity pattern of your choice!

Here’s how you can win:

  1. Go to www.simplicitynewlook.com and choose which pattern you’d like to add to your collection.
  2. Leave a comment below telling me which pattern you’ve chosen.
  3. For an extra chance to win, just follow Simplicity on Twitter – @SewSimplicity – and leave me another comment to confirm you’ve done so.
  4. Get a third chance to win by posting this giveaway on your blog and pop a link to the post in your comment.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

I’ll close this giveaway on Friday 6th September at midnight GMT and choose 3 lucky winners to receive the pattern of their choice.

This giveaway is open to international readers as well as those in the UK.

Good luck!

Craftsy Classes Quandary

Oh Craftsy…what are you doing to me?

You know that I was all geared up to do the Sew the Perfect Fit course:stpfAnd then you go and bring out Fast Track Fitting:

fast track fittingWhat’s a girl to do?

I have to say that whereas Perfect Fit makes a muslin based on your basic sizes and then makes all the alterations on the muslin, the Fast Track Fitting does flat pattern alterations before making a muslin.  I suspect this would be easier to do if you don’t have a skilled fitting buddy at your beck and call, makes a great deal of sense to me, and probably needs fewer muslins, which would make the whole process more time and cost effective.

Also, they use the fitting pattern from Vogue, so you do end up with a full set of fitted blocks (slopers) at the end of it.  Which is something I’m really keen to have.

And to make things worse, they’ve also added Adjust the Bust:

titleCardThis covers the how and why of full and small bust adjustments, including my beloved princess seams.

Thankfully I’m not sewing much at the moment so I’ve time to make a decision. However I suspect that my original plan of Sew the Perfect Fit might be changing. 😉

Damn you Craftsy and your fabulous courses.

Green Bee Amelia – FO 16/2013

After the success of Button’s dress and the coming together of the quilts, its time to share a big fat fail with you.

Before I get to the photos in all their hideous splendour, I’ll share my review of the pattern with you.  I think that’s fair.  I’ve waited a while to post this because I didn’t want my review to be coloured by the results, so I’m happy that this is now a considered opinion, rather than a rant over yet another fail.

First up the pattern is printed on lovely study paper that makes tracing it a dream, and it’s well drafted with all the pieces going nicely together.

I did, however have some issue with the sizing. Namely, it turns out not to be designed with us bigger girls in mind, and I think this was half the cause of my problems.  As well as the usual adjustments to accommodate my height and bosom, I also needed to grade the pattern up all over.

In Green Bee’s defence, they do publish the sizes, I just got all swept up in the excitement of the loveliness of this dress and didn’t bother checking.

My bad!  Not the pattern’s.

Lesson well learned.

I also had an issue with the pockets.  I sewed them as drafted and they are teeny tiny.  I can’t get my hands in them properly, never mind a phone.  So if you do decide to sew this dress, please do yourself a favour and add some size to the pockets.

And finally, I found the instructions to be so densely crammed onto the page as to be more hindrance than help.  I think I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Elegance and Elephants and Cake Patterns, who produce clear well spaced instructions with photos or diagrams to illustrate the point.  Amelia’s instructions are effectively just a typed list.  Thankfully I’m at the point in my sewing career where I can toss the instructions and still get a garment to work, but I think a beginner would find these directions lacking.  It’s a shame.

For all that, and for the resulting catastrophe of a dress, I still think Amelia is a pretty dress.  It didn’t work for me for 3 major reasons:

  1. I foolishly didn’t check the sizing before ordering the pattern.  Shiny squirrel syndrome kicked in.  A rookie mistake.  I should know better.
  2. Like the Washi dress, I don’t think this works on my figure.  And that’s not the fault of the dress, the pattern, or my figure.  It just is what it is.
  3. I was rushing to get this finished because, as always, I needed something for an event and was doing this at the 11th hour.  Hence, I ran out of time to keep tweaking the fit.  Though, to be fair, I don’t think I would love it even if the fit was better.  It just would be a better fitting shambles!

Do you want to see it?  Those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now.


Ok…you still here?

Don’t need smelling salts?

Let’s look at what’s going on.

  • A shows the problem at the bust. I added a 3 inch FBA.  In the muslin it looked OK. In the dress fabric, not so much. Because the darts are French Darts, I had a problems actually working out the FBA as I’d never attempted one before…and it shows.  I need more room to accommodate The Ladies.
  • B shows the problem around the sleeves, which are little cap sleeves all in one with the bodice.  Again these are dragging…I think linked to the lack of room in the bosom.
  • C shows what happens when you fit to your natural waist knowing you have a longer torso and really need to fit the waist a little higher to create a better waistline illusion.
  • D is the one that caught me completely unawares.  The dress is cut on the bias.  The fabric is a chambray…red threads one way, white the other.  When you cut it on the bias as a double with the fabric laid on the table right sides together, you end up with a harlequin effect dress.

I can’t even show you the back.  I have waaaaaay to much pride for that.  I know it’s a sin, but lets just say the back is even worse.

And I’ve lost 5lbs in weight since I made this dress…

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

But, there is hope in this.

I was talking to one of the other mums at dance class at the weekend.  She is learning to crochet and was saying that in time she’ll look back on her first attempts and laugh that she could be so thrilled with such a small accomplishment.

I reminded her that even if she crochets for 50 years, she’ll still be learning something new and increasing her skills.  It’s the nature of the crafty beast.

This dress is a timely reminder of some basic rules of sewing that, in my haste to get a garment into my wardrobe as quickly as possible, I conveniently forgot. Namely:

  1. Always, always, ALWAYS check the pattern size.  If you are competent at grading patterns, or have the time to do it slowly, learn the new skills and make it work, then of course you can ignore this.  If you’re in a rush…don’t.  Buy a size that only needs minimal alterations.
  2. Don’t rush the prep.  This would have been a much better garment if I’d taken the time to work out the fitting kinks and make more than one hasty toile before cutting the fashion fabric.
  3. Don’t rush the sewing.  If I’d have allowed myself more time, I could have double and triple checked the fit as I sewed.
  4. Work with the fabric. I’ve got to admit that I never even considered that this lovely fabric would trip me up with this shading.  It’s tantamount to the fabric having a nap, such as velvet.  This would have been much more suitable for a garment cut on the straight grain.
  5. Work with your figure.  I know I don’t have a waist and need to create the illusion of one.  I should have raised that waistline.

This dress is a cautionary tale to all of us.

But it’s not all bad news.  Apart from the kick up the backside to remember the basics of dressmaking, I’ve also discovered another silhouette that doesn’t work for me.  This is A Very Good Thing.  Years and years ago I used to work in sales and sales training and our mantra was if a prospective client genuinely has no requirement for you product or service, then it’s a good “no”.  It’s one more out of the way to a “yes” and a sale.  It’s the same when you’re working out your personal style, as I am.  Every time I make something that has the Fashion Police banging on my door, I’m one step closer to establishing my own Look.

And, of course, I can always chop it up, destroy the evidence, and make pretty things for Button out of it.

Cut on the straight grain, of course! 😉

PS…if you’d like this pattern, do shout.  

I’ll be happy to stick it in the post for you. It’s a pretty dress, just not for me.

Making progress…

My plan for today was to have everything cut out and ready to sew.

I hadn’t factored in coffee with my friends this morning.  Or, to be precise, I had factored it in, but hadn’t factored in that we hadn’t seen each other for a while and we can talk for England! And Scotland! And Wales! (We were all represented at the table!)   Add in the necessary chores and it was time to collect the kids before I even got a peek at the sewing loft.

So after the wee ones were abed tonight I high tailed it up there and cut out the skirt and pulled out the Pavlova pattern ready to do the myriad alterations I knew I’d need before I could put pattern to fabric.


Turns out I’m a fool and Steph is a genius.

I’m a big fan of Steph’s.  I love her joie de vivre, her fantastic ability to structurally and mathematically analyse a sewing problem, and her amazing work ethic.  I’ve been following the launch of her pattern line with glee…really wearable garments that flatter all shapes and sizes of women.  I’ve been so impressed with her commitment to providing the best possible product with the highest levels of customer support.

I’ve also been hesitant to make a start on either Pavlova or Tiramisu.  I think Susan said it far better than I ever could:

All these gorgeous, wearable, well-fitting Tiramisus had been popping up everywhere — how cool! how inspiring! As long as my pattern remained untried, the amazing potential, the validation, of something that might fit me “out of the envelope” was still there

I really didn’t want to be the one for whom this pattern didn’t work.

But tonight…as I double checked the measurements, and then triple checked them, I realised something very odd.

It looks as though this pattern might just fit me straight out of the envelope.

Seriously! It’s a world first!

I was all ready to add length and FBA’s and goodness knows what else.  But no. I can’t see any way that I need to alter this pattern.

The only thing that stopped it being cut out this evening is that I need to clear the dining room table so I can lay the fabric all out nice and flat ready for pinning and cutting. And frankly, I couldn’t be bothered!

So tonight, whilst I thought I’d be faffing with paper and tape and scratching my head as I try to work it all out, I’m sat with a glass of wine and my knitting, and tomorrow I will cut the top out whilst I’m fresh in the morning, and then crack on with sewing the skirt.

It seems that despite my best efforts to leave myself no time to sew, I have been saved by a good pattern choice in a simple pencil skirt in an easy to sew fabric (another world first), and an ingeniously designed pattern, drafted by a magician.

Fingers crossed, folks.

Dressmaking at home

I recently won this book in a giveaway generously hosted by Inna.  It arrived last week and I’ve been remiss in sharing this with you and letting Inna know it’s here safely.

dress at home coverAren’t sewing folk generous?  Thank you so very much Inna.

I love the cover dress and this one too. img904

Isn’t that fabric just divine.  The folklore embroidery is to die for.

I’m really thrilled with this as I do love Japanese sewing books…even if I’ve been terribly intimidated by them!

My problem has always been that I don’t have a well fitting block and I’m a bigger size than the patterns supplied in the books.  Which makes my upcoming adventures with Sew the Perfect Fit even more timely.

stpfThe style of the pattern will, as well as a great fitting dress pattern for the lovely fabrics winking at me in the sewing loft, effectively give me a bodice, sleeve and skirt block.  Which means I’ll be able to finally get to grips with this book and the once kindly gifted to me by the lovely Himmelbjerget aeons ago, and which she’s probably given up all hope of me sewing something from!

Very exciting.

I’m hoping to get to this course in the next couple of weeks.  And I will, of course, review the course and post my progress to the perfect dress.

In the meantime I’ve got to get the camera out and some photos taken and I’ll have projects to share with you.  And once the stuff on the sewing table is finished I’ll be cracking on with STPF.  Yay!

Knit to Flatter – episode 5

Last night after the kids had gone to bed, and I’d sent a very off colour husband to bed early too, I hunkered down and watched the last 3 lessons of Knit to Flatter – “Shaping and Modifications”, “Darts and Frankensweaters” and “Perfect Sweater Checklist”

knittoflatterI’ve been dragging my feet on tackling this bit, because its the part where I actually have to work out how I’m going to make the modifications I want to make to the pattern.

I’m also determined to use up stash yarn to knit this sweater, and to produce a fabric I like I end up with a gauge that is different to the given gauge in the pattern.

So far so scary.

However, having watched these last three lessons I’m feeling a bit more optimistic.

I’m feeling happier about how to calculate the waist shaping I’m planning on adding to give me the illusion of a waist.

I know that I’ll adding some extra width to the front of the cardigan as I carry my weight at the front, and I have a bust.

And I know that I’ll have to do some maths around the neckline as I want it to start a little higher up, and I’ll need to accommodate the extra stitches I’ll be adding to the front for the extra front width (does that make any sense? Strangely it does to me!).

The calculations for the yarn substitution are giving me a little more pain, as it’s not something covered in the course.  And this is where I’ve hit a glitch with the course.  I’ve been having problems getting a response to my query posted in the forum.  I’m not sure why, as it’s happened once before, but I’m pretty sure it’s down to a technical glitch.

But, the internet is a marvellous place and I found a handy dandy formula over at Loom Knitting Help that looks sensible to me, so I’m going to give it a go. Unless, of course, you’ve any suggestions, or a super reliable technique for recalculating the pattern for a different gauge.  In which case I’m all ears…please share.

Ignoring this minor niggle, I have to say that, for me, Knit to Flatter has been a success:

  • Amy helps you identify what constitutes a flattering knit in a gentle and non-judgemental way.
  • This course is clearly aimed at knitters like myself who’ve never contemplated making alterations to a pattern before.
  • It walks you through the basics in a clear and simple to understand way.
  • It gives you the tools to identify what changes you’d like to make and the tools and formulae to make this happen.
  • It boosts your confidence in your ability to actually make these alterations – they are achievable.

The only downside to this course is that I’ve had some problems with the forum part.  On one occasion a question I posed remained unanswered.  I emailed Amy directly and she came right back with a response and was very apologetic, even though the problem was technical rather than lack of commitment to the programme on her part.

On this second occasion I posted a question that then disappeared.  I reposted and then the original question reappeared and I suspect this has again caused a problem with Amy not receiving it, which would explain the lack of response.

I haven’t been put off by these minor glitches.  I still think that the Craftsy platform is brilliant and I know that if I really wanted to push for a response I could email Amy direct and she’d respond, and graciously.

To conclude:

  • I think the Craftsy platform gives you access to courses you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, at a reasonable price.
  • I love that you can go over the material again and again at your leisure.  I know as I start the calculations for this cardigan there are a couple of chapters that I’ll be revisiting, just to make sure I have it right.
  • And I love that I now have the confidence to embark on a project of modifications that I wouldn’t have contemplated before working through this course.  In fact, I’m now keen to sit and work it out and have a revised pattern ready for cast on.

I now know that making modifications to my knits is the way forward for me and, thanks to Amy and Craftsy, I’m not scared at that prospect.

PS…The Husband is fine today, thank you.

PPS…I have received no incentive from Craftsy to review this course.  I just thought you’d like to know my experience before spending your hard earned pennies.