Should I Continue With This?

I really hate the way this dress is coming out. I don't like the bubbles at the bottom of the back darts. I think it is too big and baggy looking. The gabardine does not drape the way I thought it would. Maybe it will hang better once it's lined? I really cannot decide whether to keep working on it or to let it "rest" for a while. Sometimes when I hate something and I try to save it, I get really creative and end up truly loving the result. My psychic spidey senses are not seeing good things for the future of this project. I am calling out to all of my fellow sewing fashionistas. What would you do with this?

back view

front view
I tried styling it with a thick knit turtleneck and a wide patent leather belt, but I am just not feeling it.

front view

back view
Here is what the finished dress is supposed to look like. Should I leave it sleeveless? I am afraid there may be just too much azalea gabardine...

technical drawing

from BURDA Style February 2010

Grading BURDA Plus Fashions Down

I really like some of the BURDA Plus size offings the last couple of months. Take a look at these:

February 2010 style number 139
organza ruffled trimmed dress
February 2010 style number 132
gabardine pea jacket
February 2010 style number 139
chanel inspired jacket
February 2010 style number 138
striped shirt dress
February 2010 style number 133
trench coat
February 2010 style number 135A
pin-striped trousers

I may have to just go ahead and experiment with grading. I have never done it before, but BURDA must be reading my mind because they put instructions for down grading in the February 2010 issue. Then the March issue came along with these two styles that I love...

March 2010 style number 132
blue silk dupioni dress
March 2010 style number 130
blue silk dupioni coat

According to BURDA, all I have to do is draw an additional size line on the multi-sized pattern, keeping the same proportion between the new size line and the other sizes. Where there are match points, draw a line connecting all the match points. Measure the distance between two consecutive match points and add the new match point along the connecting line at that same distance. Sounds pretty simple. Has anyone done this? How easy is it?

Pant Fitting

back close up
front close up

I thought these pants were a good fit. Good enough to be my TNT (tried and true) pants. There are a few wrinkles across the front, but I have since corrected the pattern by shortening the front crotch curve. Well a couple of days ago, I read this blog post by Victoria and now my standards for a good fit have changed...

here you can see the leg does not hang straight
and notice all that poofiness (is that a word?) in the front?

Now when I see these pictures, I regret having cut this beautiful silk/wool blend fabric before I perfected the pattern. The good news is that I am inspired to do better. I would like to thank all of you blog authors for sharing your pictures, tutorials and comments on line. I am so happy to have found people who want to sew clothes that fit well! I ordered a used hardcover copy of the Singer Pants Fitting book that Victoria spoke so highly of in her blog posting. I can't wait for it to get here so I can begin to tackle this issue!

Suit Dress Muslin

I have my husband to thank for this. It was at his urging that I got up off of the couch at 8:00 last night and whipped up a muslin to test the fit of this pattern. The only alteration made to the pattern is that I added some fullness through the hip and thigh. I think I will go ahead and cut the gabardine with 1 inch side seams and add a little more ease below the waist.

Fitting the Suit Dress

After all of my alterations, the shoulder slope just didn't look right to me. I thought maybe with all the years of folding ready to wear laundry which never fit quite right, finally seeing something that fits me well ought to look odd.

But, just to be on the safe side, I cut the front and back half pieces out, folded the bust dart, and taped the pieces together at the shoulder and side seams before slipping it on to test the fit. It turned out the shoulder slope alteration was good, but the bust dart was too high, and the waist was also too high all the way around, so I undid the tuck I made to petite the armsyce, but then the shoulder didn't lay right. Then I undid the shoulder seam alteration, and now it looks like this.

This looks fine to me.  Maybe I should make a muslin?  I sure wish I had a TNT sheath dress!

Leather Skirt Debut

Well I finally got the snaps attached and the leather skirt is ready
to be worn. Here I am on my way out to celebrate Valentines Day with
my husband. Oh and by the way, did you notice the sensible shoes? I
hate them... But my feet are very happy today.

Killer Heels - Why do I TORTURE myself like this?

I love Love LOVE these shoes I bought last weekend. I am almost six feet tall when I wear them! But these shoes were NOT made for walking...

They will spend more time sitting on my desk than on my feet today. At least I will get to admire them...


You know, I really wanted the black thigh high boots, but...

I fear they will give the message that I want to look sexy. I prefer a look of sleek sophistication. I still have not decided against the Farah boot, though. I bought these which I love. They are extremely comfortable and I think they are more office appropriate than the black platform boots.

Thigh High Boots - Yay or Nay?

Bakers Boots

I saw these boots in Bakers over the weekend. So here is my question for the day. Can a woman aged 40+ get away with wearing thigh high boots? Is there a way to give these sexy boots enough sophistication to be worn to the office? What do you think? Yay or Nay?

2010/11 MARFY Catalog Favorites

Yes, I bought the catalog. It arrived today. 10 new patterns for me and so many more to wish for... Here are a few of my favorites.

A simple armsyce princess blouse with a twist on the sleeve, I like the neckline and the two color combination.

On the left, I like the waist style lines and zippered pockets.  On the Right, the raglan sleeved jacket with asymmetrical closure has pockets in the princess seam.  I would omit the buttons on the pockets - too much hip area emphasis for me.  

Another raglan sleeved jacket.  I like the purse :)

Don't you just love this dress?

Fitting and Measurements

I had a "duh?!" moment in a sewing class I took years ago when a woman asked where her shoulder point was.  I was wondering the same thing.  The answer was it's the place where you want your shoulder seam to intersect the sleeve.  It was one of those moments where the lightbulb turns on.  Have you ever gotten so caught up in some intermediate thing that you lost sight of the end goal?  Ever since then, measurements have made a little more sense to me.  I stopped using patterns with seam allowances after that.  The pieces make more sense to me without them.  I use a self-healing mat and a rotary cutter with a gauge when I cut my fabric, now, and  I think less about body measurements and more about the finished garment measurements.

That said, I decided to get a body scan this fall.  I was hoping to import the scan results into a 3D modeling program and see if I could drape fit myself in virtual reality.  I was disappointed when I realized I would not have access to the 3D image file, but the disappointment was only slight.  I have since found myself reaching for the comprehensive measurements every time I trace a pattern.  I get out my measuring tape and start comparing the pattern to my measurements.  Then I start tweaking.  Now, like most people, I am not perfectly symmetrical.  Also, there are bumps and bulges that I prefer to be my little secret.  Shhh... don't tell anyone.  Somewhere in all this, I have again lost sight of the end goal - flattering clothing!  I am having another "duh?!" moment today as I hear the echo of Cynthia Guffey in my head saying "... you know, there are some things you don't want to fit..."  I am thinking about my hip measurement which is constant from full hip through the thigh area.  If I make the pattern match my measurements through this area, I will have a garment that hugs every curve, and my profile will have an S shape.  Fine if that is what I want, but I always reject clothes in the fitting room that fit me too well below the hip.  So why am I going through all this trouble to do the same thing to the ones I sew???

How to Petite a BURDA pattern

Love the regular sized pattern but need a petite version?
Here is how I petite a BURDA pattern.

drafting table & supplies

I have a copy of my measurements, my pattern traced on tissue paper with no seam or hem allowances, a tape measure, a pen, some adhesive tape, and a French curve handy on my drafting (dining room) table.  I also use a gridded mat and a TNT (tried and true) skirt pattern cut from a plastic quilter's template sheet. 

In my case, I only need to petite the front piece, but the technique is the same except for the sleeve piece which I will explain later.  First, I compared my bust tip to waist measurement.  The waistline is marked on my pattern, but the bust point is not marked.  I extend the center line of the dart about 1/2 inch and that is what I use for the bust point.  My bust span is about 8 inches, so I check to make sure the bust point is about 4 inches from center front.  I usually need no petite adjustment in the area from bust to waist, but I check it anyhow.  In this case the pattern was a match so I made no adjustment.  If you need to adjust this area, you would pinch a fold just above the waistline to make the bust to waist measurement of the pattern match the length of your body.  You would do this for both the front and the back, pinching the same amount on the back piece so the side seams would be equal.

neck to waist front measurement

Next, I measured the pattern from the neckline at the shoulder seam to the waistline, and compared with my measurements.  (I could also have used neck/shoulder to bust point - either would have been fine - but since the waistline is more clearly defined, I chose that method.) 

post alteration measurement

The pattern is too long, so I made an adjustment by pinching a fold above the bustline, and smoothing out the seamline at the armsyce and the neckline. If I needed a petite adjustment in the back, I would pinch the same amount from the back pattern piece and smooth the center back and back armsyce seams, but this is not necessary for me, so no adjustment was made to the back.  The lapel and sleeve pattern pieces needed corresponding adjustments after this alteration.

sleeve alteration

To adjust the sleeve pattern piece, I lined the sleeve seamline up with the armsyce at the front match point and rotated the sleeve along the seamline until I reached the fold on the front piece.  I pinched an identical fold on the front side of the sleeve, tapering to nothing at the back of the sleeve (since I made no adjustment to the back piece).  Now the shortened sleeve pattern piece will fit the adjusted (smaller) armsyce.  If your petite adjustment affects both the front and the back pattern pieces, you will pinch a horizontal fold all the way across the sleeve piece to fit your new smaller armsyce.

lapel adjustment

Next, I adjusted the lapel pattern piece.  I laid the lapel pattern piece on the front pattern piece along the neckline opening matching seamlines.  I pinched a corresponding amount out of the lapel in the same place where the neckline was shortened by the petite adjustment on the front pattern piece.  Now the shortened lapel will fit the new altered (smaller) neckline.

Other adjustments made to this pattern:

I find BURDA patterns are drafted with shoulders which are an inch wider than my shoulders.  Also, my shoulders slope a little more than normal, causing unflattering wrinkles in the front and back of ready to wear clothes. So I integrate two adjustments in one step - shortening the shoulder seam and adjusting the shoulder slope.

I took a fitting class taught by Cynthia Guffey at the Sewing and Quilting Expo which has helped me to identify and fix my shoulder slope problem.  If you ever have an opportunity to attend a class or a workshop by Cynthia, do it!  She is meticulous.  You may not always want to bother making perfectly fitting clothes for yourself, but you will know how to do it when you DO want to bother.  (Personally, I ALWAYS want to bother, but I am picky picky picky.)  Everything she teaches is available on DVD, so you can relax, put your pencil and notebook down, and just pay attention,learn, and enjoy.  She is really fun in class, as well.  You will laugh, and I promise, you will have several "ah-HAH" moments.  She showed me how to figure out what she referrs to as shoulder slope.  In order to fit me perfectly, the shoulder seam on my back pattern piece needs to have a slope to it which allows the shoulder point to be 1 1/8 inches lower than the neckline at center back.  No matter what I make, a jacket, a blouse, a t-shirt, if there is no shoulder pad, I need this same slope on that back pattern piece!  (If the pattern has a different shoulder seam as in a tank top that does not go from jewel neckline to shoulder point, the slope or angle is still the same.) 
shoulder adjustment

Whatever I have to do to my pattern piece to get that slope in the back, I repeat it for the front.  In this case, I had to lower the shoulder.  I started by cutting the pattern piece from close to the shoulder point to just below the armsyce.  I dropped the shoulder point to 1 1/8 inches below the neck seamline at center back, matched the side seam, and slid horizontally until my shoulder seam measurement matched my body measurement of 4 3/4 inches.  Then I held that shoulder point down and pivoted until the side seams matched up so I would not alter the side seam.  Next, I redrafted the shoulder seam.

The final pattern adjustment involves redrafting the side seams along the hip line.  I slipped my TNT skirt front pattern underneath the dress front pattern tissue and matched up the waistlines.  Then I redrafted the side seam to match the TNT.

sway back adjustment

For the back, I need a sway back adjustment.  It looks like this if I
use a one piece back.  In order to keep the grain line straight, I cut
the pattern apart at the waist and keep the upper part of the pattern.
I use my TNT skirt back for the lower part of the dress.  I will pin fit the dart with help from a DD or DH during the final fitting.

There you have it - my pattern alterations for the suit dress :)  Now, do you see why I have reservations about MARFY patterns?  I do love the designs, but I am challenged when it comes to alterations.  I guess I could rationalize that I *need* the practice...

What are your alterations?

To Buy or Not To Buy - That is the Question

new MARFY 2010/11 annual catalog

The New annual MODA Marfy 2010/11 is here!  And it comes with 10 FREE patterns!

I posted this picture of these gratuitous MARFY patterns earlier this month. 

free MARFY patterns for 2010

I have been trying to decide whether or not to buy the new pattern catalogue.  I really love all the free designs.  They are SO worth the price of the catalog all by themselves.  Not to mention that the catalogue is truly inspirational to me when I am looking for that something special.  I love Italian design and the way they show a whole outfit - including a coat - that just works so well together.  I love that the style lines are not the same old same old that I have grown bored with.  There is a timeless elegance to the designs which reminds me of the styles from the 40s and 50s when women wore tailored clothing.  A time with shoes and hats and stockings and lipstick and pin-up girls and curves...  I love the formal look of well fitting clothes.  Even if I don't order the patterns, the ideas are there for me to interpret and incorporate as I develop my own style.

But I do have a few issues:

1.    I already have SO MANY patterns.
2.    MARFY patterns with their interesting style lines are harder to petite
3.    I have a subscription to BURDA Style which has lead to
4.    I have a backlog of patterns in queue waiting to be sewn which leads to
5.    I just don't have the time to sew everything I would like to sew.
6.    I am trying to control my impulse purchasing
7.    Did I mention I have SO MANY patterns?
8.    Judging by the overflowing closets, dresser drawers, and laundry baskets in my home, I don't need any more clothes...

HELP! Any thoughts?  Suggestions?  Rationalizations??

Almost Finished

I ordered these beautiful edge snaps made in Italy from Birch Street
Clothing. Well I realized that I don't have a fastening tool that will
work with them, so I placed another order today. These little beauties
will be the perfect finishing touch for my leather skirt. In the
meantime, the skirt is hanging on my dressform waiting patiently. Since
I cannot wear it, I thought I would share a picture.