Friday, March 22, 2019


courtesy impact branding and design

There is a different look to the blog. I never could get a good contrast to the text on the last theme used so it was time to move on. I went to fix it just one more time and decided to just try something new instead. I wanted simplicity and clarity of text. I've just moved things over so there is definite tweaking still  to be done. 

Another bit of housekeeping I have been working on is updating the Next Level Sewing Series as well as the Tutorials. I am giving some of them fresh photos and a bit of updating to their texts to keep them relevant. I also plan on expanding the Next Level Sewing series with some more posts. I frequent various platforms and often find what I call "cluster flusters", bouts of total frustration by sewists, usually those who have been sewing not that long, and they really don't have the mentors or knowledge to understand the problem they are having.  Sorry to say this but what often happens is a massacre of the pattern company or the designer ensues and the fact is the issue is one of  user error and/or inexperience. I am not judging here because you just don't know what you don't know. In that vein, I will monitor these cluster flusters and try to publish posts on them for the Next Level Sewing Series. Most are pretty basic issues but the type of thing no one really teaches you. As always with NLS, I love the comments as all of you have such varied backgrounds, skill sets, and contribute so much to the conversation. I am looking forward to these posts. 

All that remains on the Top of Many Colors is the lining hem. I believe my shell stitched hem has gone out the window. For several reasons, I decided to have my hem a bit longer and finished it that way, topstitching and all. Then I went to finish the lining hem and realized that now it was not long enough. Then I searched for the fabric I used for the lining and bought probably ten years ago and there was none left anywhere! So I have a solution, not the greatest, but my top will be nice enough in the lining area, the outside will be awesome I hope and it will be done soon as I get a few moments to finish that and do some modeling. Then it may be on to an easy Faux Roman Shade!...Bunny

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Top of Many Colors Part One

Yesterday I spent 7 glorious hours working on the Top of Many Colors. I made my muslin first. Let's get a few things out there about muslin making. First, it is to establish fit, and maybe, just maybe, pocket placement and such, but really the focus is fit and not much else.  Because you are making the muslin all about the fit, it doesn't need collars, facings, buttons, zippers and other extraneous details. So don't do them. Pin it shut, don't do a zip! Don't stitch a hem, just pin. For this muslin, I did a front and a back, baboom! The whole process took way less than an hour and when it was complete I knew the length I wanted and the neckline changes, for the most part. I made my pattern and away I went. I did not muslin my sleeve, but simply measured from my shoulder bone to where I wanted the sleeve to end. When I tried on the muslin I measured where on the muslin that shoulder bone would be and figured the length from there. I proceeded to put the front and back of the top together. My muslin also told me that the neckline would fit over my head, a big concern. Now I knew I didn't need any closure and my top just got a bit quicker to make.

The next challenge was figuring out how to finish the neckline as well as how far I wanted to go with a lining. I definitely wanted some sort of lining but really wanted to keep it light. In her latest post here, Tany of Couture and Tricot makes a beautiful rendition of the latest pattern from BCN - Paco Peralta.  Her lining treatment really inspired me and I sort of replicated it here in my own fashion. Tany lined her top but simply left the sleeves unlined and the armholes beautifully bound and unattached.. The link will show you how she did that. I am going to do similar. The lining will be connected at the neck, I think, understitched, and hang freely in the bodice with thread chains in the side seams to keep everything secure. The armscye and hem will be finished with a shell stitched finish, a technique often used in heirloom sewing and great on lingerie. Here is a pic of the lining all cut and ready to go.  I've been using clips for a while but just started using them for patterns and really like them for that.

You've hear me many times talk about making samples. If there ever was a case for sampling, it is the shell stitch in combo with the poly anti static lining. Here you can see my beginning attempts. They are horrid, I agree. But, with sampling you keep playing until you get it right and eventually I did.

You can see some rows just aren't doing a "shell" effect. That is the work of the tension and to make this work I used a tension setting of 8. Other rows have me fiddling with width and length, just nasty, but I kept at it. I  eventually got it and when I did, I tried it out with matching fine machine embroidery thread as used in heirloom machine sewing.

You can see the pretty little shell effect in the row the arrow and the scissors are pointing to. It has a stitch width of 4.0, a stitch length of 1.5 and a tension setting of 8. The fine thread disappears into the fabric so prettily. The shoulder seam of the lining will be sewn  first. Then the armscyes  will be the shell stitched and once those are stitched the side seams will get a French seam. Last but not least the hem edge will get the shell stitch treatment, all a light and lovely secret hiding under the top.

My next session will have me making the lining, connecting it to the neckline and re-cutting the neckline a bit for a more attractive curve. The back neckline is very horizontal and needs a bit more shaping, IMO. I have really been enjoying this project and sharing it with you! I bet we all have lots of 1/4 and half yard pieces we could put to good use this way!............Bunny

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Top of Many Colors

Courtesy Susan Eastman

The work of fiber artist Susan Eastman  caught my eye when it popped up in my Pinterest boards. 

I think what appeals to me is the short length. I  like tops that just skim the top of my hips, making my legs look longer!  I have loads of linens and lots of hand dyeds that I've done over the years. It's time to put them to use. As many are small pieces, this sort of patch work-y garment could really make great use of their uniqueness. I can also see this style in some woolens for winter with a black turtleneck, sort of sweater style but we're moving into Spring now so linens and cottons are my focus.  

I've started working out the pattern. I really liked the way Vogue 9305 fit me, but I had to get rid of the big slit and bias drape. I worked on that today and think I may have it. The other change I wanted was a wider, higher neckline, as you see in the two examples above. I've marked one out but I'm not sure where it will land. A muslin is in order to get this all right. A muslin for what's basically a fat tee shirt out of patches? Well, I figure if I can work this out well enough I will make it numerous times so a muslin is definitely in order. I also don't want to waste any of my hand dyeds on a garment I won't wear because the fit is off. The original 9305 has cut on sleeves as do many of the Eastman designs and the pattern also provides an extension for full 3/4 length sleeves as well. I will probably use three fabrics in the sleeves. Here are my fabric choices. 

Clockwise from 9 o'clock is a Kaufman linen/cotton yard dyed, a silk hand dyed by myself at 12, a 100% home dec linen in turquoise, a 100% cotton batik, and a gorgeous periwinkle Kaufmann yarn dyed. My dominant color, I think, will be the navy but we will see how it all lays out. The batik will be just a tiny accent as it is quite bold. 

I am debating exactly how to construct this. I really don't want exposed seams inside so a lining is in order but I've been pondering the "stitch and flip" technique. I get the idea, just have to work it all out in my head first so I have no surprises or I may just do a traditional lining. I am keeping this simple, no topstitching of the pieces or neckline, I think. I don't want this to look like a quilt. This shouldn't take long once I get going. 


Also in the queue are some desperately needed window treatments for our guest room. I haven't been fabric searching for that yet, time, and all, but that will happen right after the top. 


Portrait update:  It's coming along. It's a project that really requires unbroken extended time once I get into it so it's good to have this simple top to work on in between. The top is a project good for "spurt" work, which I have more of than uninterrupted time work right now. I've worked out my fourth mouth at this point and figured out that the dimension I was seeking for the teeth comes later in the process. I was fraught trying to get the fabric to do what a combination of techniques is really going to do later in the process. Sometimes we learn slowly and stubbornly and that applies here. What's interesting is the feeling I get when working on the tee top by vivid comparison. It was as if I could do it blindfolded, manipulating pattern paper, adjusting for design, arranging limited fabrics to their best advantage, etc. it went quickly,my hands flitting around the cutting table and with fingertip muscle memory just moving unencumbered, great fun. Whereas the portrait really takes  a learning mindset, with muscle memory not even existing yet but trying to be imprinted. It can feel awkward. I do like the idea of having these two distinctly different projects going. They enhance each other's process. I should get a lot done this weekend. I think I'll hit the top first!.........................Bunny

Friday, March 1, 2019

This is what I have been working on. Please don't judge. It is in the most basic of many stages and far from having even that part complete, but I did want to share. It's been an interesting ride. I do think seeing it as a photo solidifies what I was seeing in my mind and will make it that much easier to correct issues I am seeing.  At this point, if you squint, it definitelylooks like my daughter. I loved working on her hair. At this point fabric pieces are laid down and secured with a bit of glue. Here's a closeup of the hair.

Every piece will be zigzagged down, then quilted and embroidered. I will probably add some angelina to the hair and embellish other parts of the portrait as well.

The bug to try this hit me when I saw a Sewing with Nancy Video entitled Sewing Art.   It snagged me right in. I started looking for photos and shopping for my 8 fabrics. I luckily have Photo Shop so proceeded as instructed with getting everything in order on PS to get this project going. While doing that I was so smitten with the technique that I started researching other books and found this one on Amazon.

Wiener's book took a totally different approach that appealed to me more than the first technique. Hmmmm,,,,,I think I'll go her way! And then, I kept searching.........


Each artist has a different method for accomplishing their work. I will give in depth reviews when my project is done. Susan Carlson's book to me is more my style. She takes a free form approach but one requiring specific skill which she teaches in depth. I've seen her work in person and it is spectacular. She has a "no rules" sort of ease to her teaching and art and I really like that. By now my project is where you see it and I have confusingly employed techniques from all three artists. While this has made me feel awkward it has been a terrific learning experience. I've learned for my approach, Carlson's methods are the way to go and the next portrait, yes, there will be a next one, will be strictly using Carlson's methods. It is just so uncomplicated compared to the other two.

I have seen Susan Carlson's work up close and personal. At one time she owned a fabric shop in New Hampshire but long sold it to pursue her art. I took classes there, but not from her. She has an amazing sense of color that that really appeals to me and that the other two artists approached differently. I prefer her approach. This project has been very challenging and I am really enjoying it. There are so many layers to the process, much like making a tailored coat. So first I have to get all the fabric down the way I want. Then it will be glue it all down, then stitch it all down, then quilt it with free motion techniques, so not quite an overnight project. I really want to get a garment project going at the same time but this one and all its messy pieces of fabric, glues, etc, has taken over my work table for now. As soon as I can I will start a garment. There is much I need for the warm weather so I may even make a plan, not usually my style! So go back to the first picture, squint a bit, and you will see my daughter. Tomorrow I will redo all of the mouth area and start on her ear and clothing. .......Bunny

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Street Style in February

February sucks. Every year I struggle to get thru it's cold and grey embrace. I imbibe massive amounts of Vitamin D, doc prescibed, and something all above the Mason Dixon line must need as much as me. But this is Fashion Week month as well. Photographers are out on the streets doing their thing and this year I am finding their results glorious. While I may not wear what I will show you, each photo made me smile while being smothered in grayness on the last day of this dreary month. So without further fuss, here are some pics from The Cut that brightened up my last day of winter depression.  It really seems that others have had with the cold and snow and are using color as their excape mechanism. Yay for that! The photos show trends and I will do a bit of commenting. Enjoy!

Is this not spectacular? This would wake up my winter blues!

Love the orange coat and the other big trend throughout this article is barrettes, everywhere!

Dreary gray, dirty snow, be damned!

Color, yes, but this should have left Mom's closet in 1990. 

My idea of killing the winter blues.

Dirty snow, just get outa my way!

The last thing I would think of when it comes to NY street style. 

Another great way to chase away the winter blues!

Barettes and bobby pins are in, in, in!

This beautiful woman really knows how to face a cold, winter day!

All of this has me planning my warm weather wardrobe. I really need a lot! More to come on that. I am still in the thinking stage. 

May you all enjoy the last day of February and Spring will be here soon. Thanks to The Cut for these photos. There is lots more on the site so please check it out....Bunny

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Two Projects

I have been creating, using my smocking skills for this first project. I have found those skills to be quite rusty but I am keeping at it and it is coming back to me slowly but surely. Above is a beautiful length of ribbon I recently purchased with the intent of smocking it into a piece of jewelry. It is all poly, totally loaded with floats on the back and gave me attacks of instant desire. I also purchased the other colorway offered as well and I am playing with that too.

You can see it's over 2 1/2 inches wide.  Here I have it on the pleater and it is getting five rows of gathering threads.

This project gives me something I can take with me to do pickup work as spare moments allow. I also can just have some lap fun while watching Netflix in the evening. It is taking far longer than I thought to get the ribbons properly pleated because I am just not pleased with my results, rip out the row, and do it again, and again. I know these skills are embedded in my fingers and just need to make that connection back to my brain. It will happen. Next project..........................

This is my daughter and her gorgeous hair. It's real and been that way since birth.  I am attempting, and I do mean attempt, to do her portrait in fabric. I have always been intrigued by portraiture. When in my last year of high school and later college,  I spent all my available summers and weekends as an assistant to a commercial artist. He was my dad's best friend and I was his only assistant. It was heaven and I learned so much. He made signs, oil painted exquisite seascapes and did portraits. He would have definitely dropped the first two to do the the portraits full time but his money was in the sign making and seascapes, living on Cape Cod. He was the nicest man ever and we had many conversations about portraiture and how he loved it. I think something rubbed off on me as it has always intrigued me but I have never attempted it other than a self portrait I did years back in oils. Somehow it got lost in moving at some stage as do many cherished things, sigh. His name was Si and he taught me how to use a hot press machine, great fun, design and build sets, colorize photos and so much more. I think of him often..............

Fast forward to some research I have been doing and I am attempting to do my daughter's portrait in fabric. It is a fascinating process but one that require focus unfettered by time restraints so it has been slow coming. I have gotten some of the face done and one eye and socket and I am pleased with that. The image has been digitally simplified, made into a pattern, and then fabric applied. After the image is complete at the fabric stage it will be much further enhanced with free motion embroidery, regular embroidery, some painting, etc. I am comfortable with the process and results so far although they can  look quite scary. This process appeals to me on so many levels, the surface embellishment, the interpretation of the subject, the painting, the thread play, etc, etc. so I am really enjoying it so far. Will it look like my daughter? Only time will tell.

I know this looks frightening but it is part of the process. It's sort of like when you redo the kitchen cabinets. You take everything out and heaven forbid anyone see the mess. But then as you organize and place, you end up with a beautiful finish. I did a lot of research to teach myself this blend of techniques. I say that because I have studied videos and books of three different artists and they each approach fabric portraiture quite differently. I am sort of blending the best of each. How "best" it comes out only time will tell. If it comes out well enough to show you all, and my daughter, I'll review the three different books and processes.

So that is what I've been up to. No garment sewing at the moment but it will come!............Bunny

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Paco Peralta

Today we mourn the passing of designer Paco Peralta, a couture designer and a kind soul who shared much with the home sewing community.  Years back, Paco would often comment on this blog and those of many sewists. He was always encouraging and kind. There are bloggers who became very good friends with him via the web and  Paco was able to cement those friendships in real life.

I loved Paco's designs. He designed for all women. I knew his clothing would look amazing on the  beautiful tall Tany of Couture et Tricot as much as I could wear his designs on my petite frame. He appreciated and made all women look good with his patterns.

This is the white shirt that goes under the red jacket in the first photo. 

 His couture skills were amazing and he so willingly shared them. I learned much from Paco's generosity. Here is a link to his jacket making tutorial. It is in Spanish, but you can translate, and there are so many photos that I think you will get it. If nothing else you will see the perfection of his efforts.

Rest in peace, dear Paco.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Midwinter Linen Fantasy

It's the end of January. The only thing worse is the beginning of February. Lord get me thru February, the worst month of the year. It is just so cold, snowy, wet and raw and undriveable. It makes one housebound. From the living room picture window we watch our Road Agent, Emmett Bean, go by in the town plow,  keeping us able to get out of our wintery nest. We stay in. We hunker down. We wave to Emmet as he goes buy. We cook. We bake. We read and do all sorts of things requiring little movement and even less excitement. I sew as I can fit it in. As much as I love to sew wools, this depressing time of year, give me some great linen. This annual request has been answered nicely.

At this time of year a piece of beautiful linen is so good for the soul. It reeks of lightness, warm memories, summery days and swishing, dry, comfortable fabric around one's dark legs. Sometimes linen can be a topper, a big, loose Tiltonesque tunic that lets any breeze blow through. Or linen can be pleated shorts, the type that are almost triangle in shape, never letting a bit of summer heat alter their comfort level. Do you remember when linen was a tailored blazer, pressed to perfection, that arrived at work or some other event, looking so horribly wrinkly that you just died of embarrassment? But it was linen, in my best whiney voice.   Tailored linen pants would make horrid crotch wrinkles, baked in by the morning work commute, so awful. I used to be on my feet almost all day with my former career. I would carefully hang my linen trousers in my air conditioned car and drive to work in a pair of PJs, seriously. I would get there way before I needed to, put on my perfectly pressed linen pants and not sit down until later in the day. My linen trousers would manage to look maahhvalous for most of the day and they were so comfortable to wear. Alas, that time of my life has ended and I have moved on to other linen endeavors, somewhat less based on my vanity.

I have found more linen, beautiful linen, in thrift shops. I glean it from the larger women's sizes and it usually can be found in full skirts, pants and suits. The skirt above is clamped in back to keep it up on the form but is a size 18. I can often manage enough for most any garment I want to make for myself.  This could mean taking a suit jacket apart but for the price of great linen, what the hay? At the huge Goodwill I am lucky enough to live near, I recently found an Evan Picone skirt that I would say at most was mid sixties vintage. The cross dyed plaid linen is exquisite and in my favorite colors, a bit of black, some white and a water colored aqua. The deep knife pleats held a huge amount of fabric. The skirt went to the floor on me, hemmed, and was over three yards in length. I remember having a legitimate excuse for not having this ironed for the photos but here it is. After the pics, it was washed, the waistband removed and all the pleats easily pressed out with my Rowenta and a lot of steam. I've got a lot of fabric to work with here.

 I know, not pressed yet, but this is the back zip area. The zip  on this is a beautiful installation. which I have recently found in an old Threads issue.

In an article by Cecilia Podolak in issue #43 you will see the exact same type of zipper installation, hidden deeply behind the pleats and laying very very smoothly. With some ironing in my previous photo it would be entirely invisible. Those old Threads issues are priceless, BTW.

This zip lays as smooth as possible and matches beautifully across the plaid on the exterior, very impressive. Not bad for my two dollar investment, don't you think?

What will this be? The more I think about it, the more I think it will be another swishy and cool summer skirt, but no sharp pleats. I may have pleats but will gather them in as I did on the Cuba skirt. I so love this linen! Are you longing for summer sewing? There is nothing that says you can't start now. Suffering from cabin fever in the depths of February? Go for it! Sew something light and airy that you will enjoy wearing all season. It's never too early....................Bunny

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Standards of Fit, Part Two

Nice sweater dress fit, without being all body con. 

Why is fit eluding us and why don't we know what good fit is? There are lots of reasons. 

* Most schools do not have garment sewing in their consumer classes, instead, emphasizing utilitarian sewing such as making pillowcases, putting on buttons, etc. You won't learn about fit if you don't learn to sew garments.  If you are blessed with a family member or friend or neighbor who can mentor you,  it is one of those special things that is passed along, like Mom's Pot Roast recipe, but most of us aren't that lucky. 

* Styles often dictate fit. Think of jeans. Some years they are baggy, some years skin tight, sometimes pleated, and so on. All of these changes have a distinct effect on fit. You can know how to make a perfectly fitting pair of trousers, but if the skinnies are in, what do you do now and what is the standard for that?

* We wear generic sizes like Small, Med, Large and XL, 2XX.  and so on. Who even knows what this is? My husband wears XL. He is not overweight or real tall. It is the same with women's clothing. There is no standardization. But what if I am a real size, one that is in between med and LG? I buy the medium and its snug. I buy the LG and it's big and sloppy. I need a size in between for a good fit and it's not there so because it's not there I think that Med and LG are what I am and I can choose to be snug or baggy. I can't choose to have a good fit and it's just not fair or right. This is done by manufacturers as limiting the sizes like this increases margin hugely, really. Read it in the NY Times! 

* Retail clothing manufacturers use NO, did you hear me? NO standardization of sizing. I can wear a size zero in a 600.00 Ralph  Lauren trouser. (That was fun to try on and look inside.) I take a size 6 in a Gloria Vanderbilt 24.00 dollar jean. Gloria does not talk to Ralph regarding fit standards so we need to get over what we think our size number is. It doesn't matter, to them or us, so, no retail size standards exist between manufacturers.

* Sewists, and this is often quite a revelation for our newer sewing friends, pattern size has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the size of clothing you wear in retail, Just get over it. Throw that concept out of the window and start fresh like you never bought a dress before and work with what the pattern is using for measurements for a start. Good fit will always elude you if you pick your retail size in the pattern size. Promise. Oh, one of my favorite "overheards"is "is this pattern true to size?" Wha? True to whose sizing, Ralph's or Gloria's?  I need "sum splainin" on that one, please.

* Another reason why fit is eluding us is our good faith. We take it for granted that the people who design patterns, the companies as well, know what they are doing. We assume they are using trained pattern makers or hiring out for those skills. On the other end of the spectrum are those who never worked in the garment business or went to design school and yet are designing and  selling patterns, sometimes really cute ones.  Do we really expect them to provide great fit?  Do your research and check Pattern Review and blogs for honest reviews. Designer/company FB pages have opinions that are pretty much fangurled for these types of patterns so don't expect to find consistent, honest opinions there.
Overfit? Smooth all over, but can she sit down?

* Another valid reason good fit eludes us - we just don't know something doesn't fit. We are forgiven for this one. Our friends and families don't know either. We float out the door and glide by their admiring faces. They have no clue either and are so blown away by the fact that you just made this dress for the prom. So why bother? Because you have put dollars, effort and passion into making your "perfect" garment and shouldn't settle for inferiority. If you look at the garment on you in the mirror and it fits like a dream you will walk out of the house full of confidence, proud as can be, and ready to start your next sewing challenge. You will look wonderful! Your clothing will look triple the price too!  You will rock the room!  We need to know what good fit is as well as have a set of  Standards by real professionals to explain it. My search ended with a document by the ASDP.

Enter the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals! The ASDP, established in the early 80s,  is a non-profit organization of design and sewing professionals  who provide business training, professional development, networking opportunities and even a Master level certification program. It is for those who have sewing related businesses whether that be designing patterns, making felted mittens or dressing others in custom clothing and  so much more. Here is a link to their website which explains more of who they are and why you should investigate even if you are not a business. They have been very gracious in allowing me to link to their immense knowledge base to help us all understand a bit better exactly what good fit it. This comes with authority and from the eyes of custom clothiers who have worked very hard and long to provide the public with this information. I thank them tremendously for their generosity. Please visit their site and check out their page on Facebook as well. They will be holding their annual convention in Danvers, Mass. this year and the info is there. 

In 2008 the group developed a document, "Standards of Quality for Custom Clothing." It is a 54 page PDF that covers everything a well made custom garment should be, from fit to clothing details to actual design. While we may not think we do custom clothing, every time we pick out a fabric in a color that enhances our own color and in a style that flatters our own unique body, we are making our own custom clothing. Doing this as a business for clients means there are expectations and standards to be met when dealing with them. We deserve at least as much for ourselves. This document is amazing and touches on every aspect of constructing a garment from visual design principles to  technique. I felt like I found the Magna Carta. It is a learning tool for all sewists and may be just what you need as your sewing evolves. There is an entire section on "Quality Standards for Fit." from pages 23 to 31.  This is immediately followed by a great ease chart for every single part of the body. There is a bibliography at the end of the fitting section to further help with fit issues.  I suggest reading this document and keeping it handy on your phone or in a notebook by your machine, to refer to with your next fitting challenge. I would also like to thank the members of ASDP for what clearly is the huge work they put into this. It is here for all of us, newbies and expies (my new name for experienced sewists, feel free to use), a remarkable reference by professionals for all who love sewing. 

Here are just several nuggets:

Darts end approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) short of the fullest part of the curved area. ( This rule kept repeating over and over in nearly every book I picked up.)

* Sleeves - . The sleeve cap usually extends about 1 / 2 inch (1.2 cm) from the shoulder point then drops vertically. 

* Armscye - The armscye is in line with the front arm crease when hands and arms are relaxed at the sides.

These are just three pearls of wisdom for you and there is so much more in the PDF. I know you will appreciate its value and its source. Thanks again to the professionals at ASDP for this and allowing me to quote and to their gracious communications director, Aiese, for taking time to speak and share with me and now you. 


For a dropped shoulder this has no wrinkles and the armscye lines right up with the arm crease. It is not overfit and looks so perfectly comfy and flattering.

I also thought I would offer  some of my thoughts based on what I have seen and personally experienced as to what constitutes a well fitting garment. Style trends can have effects on this opinion as in jeans, bodycon dresses, and other styles but for most garments this is what we are shooting for. Keep in mind these are just thoughts that are in my own mind based on what I see out there as well as my own issues. Feel free to add  and share your own. I am not going to repeat the basics that I have seen in the reading I have suggested for you already, just some of my own musings. 

* A well fitting garment skims. No where is it too tight or strained or pulling. See the lovely beige dress above. 

* A well fitting garment glides smoothly over the body. There is ease built in  for comfort in moving. 

* Armscyes are not too low as in low enough to show undies and not to high as to look          uncomfortable. 

* Pants crotches are not to low or long or too short and snugging up into the body creases whether they are trousers, jeans or leggings. 

* Pants back waists do not dip when seated.

* Pants and skirts do not have horizontal wrinkles right below the waistline and above the hips. 

* Hip pockets do not hang open, particularly slanted front hip pockets. 

* Rear pockets are placed equally and are in proper proportion and placement to the size of the bum. 

* Skirt/dress/blouse hems do not ride up or hang down in the rear or front of the body. They are equal distance from the floor all around the body.

* Backs of bodices do not have pools of horizontal wrinkles above the waist.

* Darts end before reaching the apex of the mound of flesh they are providing shaping for.  The larger the bust/hip the further back the end of the dart. Again, this was stated in every single book, vintage or new, that I pulled out. 

What would you add? 

Overfit??? While smooth, the crotch looks high and uncomfortable. 


I'd like to add a bibliography here that is based on my own experience. I haven't read the Leighty/Rasband book yet or the latest from Kenneth King but will add them here as I know from others they are fabulous. Thank you to those who contributed thoughts on a bibliography and I will pull them all together here for us once again. 

                         Kenneth D. King's Smart Fitting Solutions by Kenneth King, just out

                         Pattern Fitting with Confidence by Nancy Zieman

                         Power Sewing by Sandra Betzina, many versions published

                        Fashion Sewing for Everyone by Adele Margolis

                        Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A multi-method approach  by Leichty, Rasband
                                  and Steineckert

                        Creative Clothing Construction by Allyn Bane

                        Fast Fit: Easy Pattern Alterations by Sandra Betzina

                        Pattern Drafting, Women's Institute,   an e-book

I hope you enjoyed this series and will add any thoughts you may have on what makes a well fitting garment. Thanks again to ASDP for their help in pulling this blog series together for you. Happy Fitting...............Bunny


Monday, January 14, 2019

Standards of Fit, Part One

It hurts to look at these pants with the tight crotch and waist so tight it is pulling the zip. These must be great to sit in.

I cannot tell you how long this blog post has been simmering. It clicks in my mind NOT every time I see a poorly fit garment but every time I see someone say "I love this top/skirt/whatever that you've made and it fits perfectly"  and it doesn't.  Then there are the  times someone posts a picture of themselves in a garment with their bum having an uncomfortable wedgie, wrinkles over the boobs, inches and inches of horizontal fabric at the back waist and all their friends telling them how beautifully it fits. I would never spoil their proud moment but they are walking away thinking their garment fits and it doesn't, at all.

Let's start by saying this post is not a blame game or a judgement of the sewists and their admirers. It is about a lack of education. As stated, I have wanted to post about this topic a long time and one of the things that hung me up was the lack of information on the subject.  It is not easy to find this info. But let's go back logically even a bit before that. Do we even know there are Fit Standards?

Yes, Virginia, there are Fit Standards. I made it a project to find them. Did anyone teach them to me? Not directly. Did I see poor fit on myself? In the beginning only if it looked "stupid" or felt uncomfortable. I saw a wrinkle. I pinched it out, end of fitting. One suggestion for newbies at this game is to join up and frequent the Fitting Woes Forum  on Pattern Review. It will really open your eyes. Posters with wrinkles and poor fit that they can't seem to understand post their pictures, dressed in the garment,  and then experts kick in with what exactly the problem is and how to correct it. Often we know there is an issue but just what is it? Is it a forward shoulder, dowager's hump, knock knees  or some other awfully named fitting challenge? Members are welcome to post their own pics and ask for help and the group is very generous with it's positive commentary.  Reading this often will help you develop an eye for what is right and wrong. Before you know it you will be standing in line at the supermarket wanting to fix those butt wrinkles on the pants of the person in front of you. But this is just an awareness  lesson, albeit a very good one. If you should decide to post a pic and ask for help know that you should keep it simple with a straight up front, back and side full length picture of you in the garment. No need to raise arms or get in in odd positions. It only makes it harder for the experts to diagnose your issue.

Oh, I saw so many pics that would make my point in this article but did not want to post them for obvious reasons. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I did search retail garments and marketing pics for patterns for examples and that is what is shown.

Pattern Review Fitting Board can be a start but I wanted more solid, proven information and pulled out my sewing books. I went to my two favorite fitting mavens, Nancy Zieman and Sarah Veblen. Their books were typical of the many more I searched through. Great advice on how to fix your specific wrinkle/tight issue. If you knew you had sloping shoulders, large bosom, protruding derriere, here's what you do. But no book,  other than the few I will mention, started with a discussion, picture, or anything about what a well fitting garment should look like, what we are  shooting for in our finished garments.  Is that unnecessary in this age of sweats and yoga pants? Maybe, but even those should fit you properly or you risk the slob effect. I dug further.

Yes, you can avoid the whole issue with clothing that is cut super large but do you always want that look?

My first reference to what she calls "standards for a perfect fit" comes from Sandra Betzina in her book, "Power Sewing".

In a nutshell, she uses one page to tell you that "to fit a garment perfectly start with the high chest area." and gives great tips about the garment fitting smoothly in specific areas, where the shoulder point is naturally, sides seams being perpendicular to the floor in pants and more. This was an introduction to the concept, IMO, but gives one only a taste of what good fit could be. Her key word: "smoothly". She suggests a custom fitting class for yourself as time well spent. This is just one page but on the right path.

I looked through all my books, really nothing in contemporary books about what constituted a standard for perfect fit other than Betzina's words. I decided to look back. Good move. A bit of disregard had to be paid to style trends from past decades but the concept of what great fit is was definitely found in two books and much certainly applies today. The first book is  The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction, revised, C1959. Edna Bishop was the sewing queen of her day and her mantra was grain, grain, grain and how it effected everything done with your sewing efforts. She has a chapter in this book called "The fine art of fitting your clothes" and it is very good. She bullets 16 points that make for her perfect fitting garment. I won't copy those all but will list a few highlights. This book is old enough that I can copy word for word and these are hers. 

* It fits smoothly without wrinkles, strain, or bulges and without sagging. It hangs gracefully and smoothly from the shoulder and the waistline. It should never have to be pulled into place. 
*The neckline should not ride up. 
* The armhole should be one inch below the armpit. 
*Front bodice and bust darts STOP SHORT of the crown of the bust (apex) but are in line with it. (1959 here peeps. Who says vintage dresses have darts to the apex?)
*Hip darts STOP SHORT of the fullest part of the hip.
*Side Seam hangs perfectly straight from armhole seam to hemline.

This is just a gleaning and she provides much more detail in the book. She insists you can't get a good fit without getting the right size pattern, using the best style for your figure, wearing the proper undies, underlining properly and much more. It is definitely worth checking this vintage book out of the library to read Chapter 8. A neat quote from Ms. Bishop: "Fine fitting is one of the main differences between poor and good dressmaking."

Next I reached back for one of my all time favorite sewing books, also vintage, and in my opinion, priceless! This is "Fashion Sewing for Everyone" by Adele P. Margolis. The diagrams in the book are dated to the point of being cute but they are simple and they get her points across very clearly. Best of  all, Ms. Margolis is an incredible teacher. She is very clear, articulate and posesses an amazing sense of humor that is widely seen throughout all of her books. On ease, she says "just the right amount of ease is the goal. We don't want you flapping around like a scarecrow, like June, bustin' out all over." There are great drawings to simply illustrate how grain effects fit and how it must appear in a garment. Some of her thoughts on fit, direct quotes from Margolis:

* The waistline seam of a garment should be about a 1/2 inch lower than the natural waistline.

* All circumference seam lines are curved to follow the natural curves of the body: neckline, bustline, hipline, hemline, etc.

* If fitting your wide shoulders as per the rule makes you look like a football hero in full regalia, by all means set the armhole seam in to narrow the shoulders.

Don't you just love her wit? While Margolis will teach you a lot about fit and have you laughing through it, this still wasn't quite what I was searching for. I wanted a list of sorts, something sewists could refer to when they look at their muslins or basted garments  and don't quite know what is wrong with it but know that something is. I wanted something compact and organized. Most of all, I wanted something that professional garment makers said were the Standards of Fit, a voice of authority. Of course this all had to be in understandable prose as well.  I went back to Dr. Google for the umpteenth time and I think on page three of results on a recent afternoon found the Holy Grail!


This post has turned into something filled with a lot of info and therefore quite lengthy. I've decided to do it in two parts. Please share your thoughts in the comments and come back for Part Two. Thanks for your patience,,,,,,,,,,,,Bunny.
ETA: I will be away this long holiday weekend back to see friends in NY which I am really excited about. There is also 2 feet plus snow predicted there and here so it could be  interesting! I have been putting the final touches on the next blogpost and it should be up once we get back early next week. Thanks for you patience. May you all be safe and snuggly warm in the cold weather!...Bunny

Saturday, January 12, 2019

So proud!

I am so proud of my grandaughter. She is eleven and we have just started sewing lessons. She is very artistically gifted and loves and excels at all things crafty. She has wanted to learn to sew on a machine for some time. Her other grandmother and I got together and made her birthday special with all that she would need for a long sewing life. Her "Momo" got her a Brother cs6000i and all of it's add ons, the additional table, every additional foot, etc.  "Bunbun" contributed all the peripherals, a great carrying case for her sewing visits, various scissors, patterns, markers and other fun notions we all love.

The machine has been ensconced in my workroom in it's special place next to mine so we can sew together. It was purchased after reading lots of reviews and consultation between Momo and Bunbun. We spent our first afternoon getting it out of the box and putting it through all of its paces for basic sewing. This machine got great reviews on PR. I was very leery of the price range but if you want a great backup this is it. I would not hesitate to buy this machine at all. I think it is an excellent value.  What I like about it the most are the pictures, which you can't see, that clearly show you how to fill the bobbin, thread the machine, and such, right on the machine. I realized also how much I missed sewing with a large removable extension table. It has my Pfaff beat on that one but that was an add on. I LOVE, and so does Carly, the adjustable speed. When I had her doing practice stitching on paper, she would dial down the speed to maneuver the tight curves and they came out perfectly. She took to this like a duck to water. Not once did I have frustration with her managing the machine and Bunbun made her do everything so she could learn. The only issue I have seen with this machine, and the manual is honest about it, is the needle threader. It works just fine, to a point. We threaded the machine with Coats and Clark thread for our project. The auto thread pulled the thread through the hole and it was shredded somewhat. I  read the manual and it said, paraphrase here, "if you are using inferior thread, manually insert the thread into the needle." So, there!!! I will try another brand next time! All in all this is a great starter machine, back up machine, and then some. 

Once we had the machine dealt with our next block of time was spent with pattern work.  We used a Green Pepper pattern  that we found on the spinner rack at Joanns. It is called the Polar Beanie and has several variations. We did the basic Boarder Beanie.

There was a lot of discussion of the envelope, a lesson in how to neatly fold it to get it back in the envelope. This worried Carly as she is VERY organized. Then it was onto grain, selvedge and the actual pattern cutting lesson. This is a great pattern for a beginner project. It goes quickly and teaches the very basics. For fabric, we used the Luxe anti pill fleece in the thinner weight. This was suggested when I asked the associate what the best quality fleece would be. It is nice. Also, , it wasn't a major issue, but fleece is not the greatest fabric to use for your first project. I would suggest a nice cotton knit next time. That being said, I taught Carly how to use a "cheater" cloth piece to start her seams so they would  not get stuck in the bobbin and also taught her about using special needles and such. I actually showed her the difference using a universal needle and a stretch needle made and how to "hear" the difference in the sound so she would know the needle was wrong.Such a quick learner and she mastered the cheater cloth technique perfectly and we had no issues. We straight stitched the seams with a bit of stretch as she sewed and did a triple zigzag to finish. She liked that. Once done, she put her hat on, and wore in my home for the next three hours till her mom took her back to Boston and had it on all through that. She loved her hat and we cut one out in navy for her twin brother.She has it all marked, cut and ready to stitch  on her next visit. Her lessons also consisted, before we started anything, a fun visit to fleece heaven, aka, Joanns, for fabric. I taught about maneuvering the fabric store, looking at bolt ends, the pattern books and table, the coupon app on the phone, and a grand tour. We picked out a pattern for our next project, a cute skirt and she is leaning toward one of those fancy denims. As soon as her brother's hat is done we will move on to that. I am teaching her to work and focus on one project at a time.  For both of us it has been a really positive experience. If there is one word to describe Carly's personality it is "Unflappable". This made my job easy and let her love every minute of the process. She didn't tire, get frustrated or have difficulty with immature fine motor skills. Her retention was impressive as she did the second bobbin winding of navy thread totally on her own and then set it in the bobbin case. We are shooting for every other weekend. Mom and Dad have a second home up in New Hampshire not far from us so this is very convenient. I can't  wait to shop with her for the skirt. I have such fond memories of fabric shopping with my own grandmother.  And so it continues.....................Bunny


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