Friday, March 6, 2015

My Sew Expo Fabric

As I've mentioned in the comments over the last few days, a real soap box issue for me - as in don't get me started - is the number of reviews I read where the writer blames the pattern for something that is figure related rather than drafting related.

An example might be that the sleeves were too long. My sleeves are always too long because compared to the block used, I have short arms. That's not the designer's fault. It makes a lot more sense for me to know my arm length and to adjust the pattern to match me than to expect the designer to draft a sleeve that magically fits all arm lengths of anyone who might buy this pattern. Designers draft to a common block. To achieve good fit, my job is to use whatever alterations are necessary to alter the draft to match my figure.

I wondered... would it be of any interest if I wrote a series of posts about how I work through tracing and altering a pattern for my body and then fitting and sewing it? While these will be based on my alterations, they may provide some things to think about with your own process. The posts would take a fair amount of work but I'd be happy to do that if there's sufficient interest. With the process I've worked out for me, my issues are rarely fit. They're usually about style, wearing ease, and the things I deliberately overlooked. An example would be the top I'm currently working on.

In many reviews, I read that the person felt they needed a sway back adjustment. If you look at the top in the image above, you might think I also need one only those same wrinkles can occur for a number of reasons. One is the center back length. That's not the case here because I had already shortened the center back length so that the curve of the waist is actually at my waist. The difference between my center back length and the one used for the pattern was 1 5/8" which is significant because if the curve of the waist is 1 5/8" below your actual waist where - in my case - the hips are quite a bit wider, there will be a lot of fabric bunching up that looks like a sway back adjustment but isn't. It's a center back length adjustment. SO...

... if I don't need a center back length adjustment and I don't need a sway back adjustment, what is going on? Why is the fabric bunching? The answer is not enough hip ease particularly in the back. I sewed this top from a remnant and could barely fit the pattern on the fabric as is without widening it so I opted not to check the back hip measurement. I knew the front would work so I decided to go ahead and see what happened and here it is - too tight so the fabric walked (bunched) up.

In this image, I've opened the center back seam up past the waist allowing it to split over my hips which resulted in the top settling nicely against the body. The size of the split is 2" which is - coincidentally, VBG -the same amount of difference between my front and back hip measurement. My front hips are 2" narrower than my back hips. I'm currently working on a buttoned godet to fit into the V shape of the opening and fill in the gap. I'll show you the finished top in another posting. Right now...

... my Sew Expo fabric. One of the vendors sells GORGEOUS raw silk and dupioni silk fabrics. These, along with linen, rayon, and a lightweight cotton are my among my favourite fabrics. Left to right are a turquoise raw silk, a fuchsia raw silk, a turquoise silk dupioni, and a fuchsia rayon blend all intended for blouses.

These are - left to right - a lightweight cotton for a blouse, a Japanese cotton to use as an accent because of its lovely gradation of size, a grey cotton knit remnant for a t-shirt, a turquoise knit remnant for a tank top, and dark turquoise bamboo knit for a t-shirt.

Marcy helped me choose the black knit for her Vogue 9035 pants which will surely up my success rate. The black with silver bits is a taffeta like remnant that may be enough for a short coat. The black with silver flowers is another remnant that should work great for Vogue 9060 and the shredded black is for the cardigan in Vogue 9081 which looked far more fabulous in person compared to the pattern envelope. I'm so thrilled that I get the opportunity to see these garments up close. It often changes my impression.

The fabric at left is two sided with the reverse black with turquoise dots. It's heavy - somewhere between denim and upholstery fabric - and will make a great coat. The middle is a light-weight denim and the far right is another remnant that is like a twill. There's not enough for pants which I would have loved to make with it but possibly enough for a vest. I'm imagining it with some running stitches in a black thread.

This is a piece of Miles Frode's painted fabric. Miles is Diane Ericson's son. He often paints on canvas but this time the base is linen. I think it wants to be a purse.

Once I've worked out all the details on the top I'm currently making, I'd like to use the tested pattern again with this lovely grey and purple silk that my friend Claire brought me from Paris. I'm so touched that standing in the middle of a fabric store in Paris she thought of me and not only thought of me, bought me a present. I'm so lucky. I can hardly wait to wear this. It feels GORGEOUS.

While I was at Sew Expo, my son moved out and into his own place. I have an arrangement with my children that they have six months to change their mind and move back and after that, it has to be something significant and beyond their control since they are now adults and need to manage. My youngest is the only one who has ever moved back... twice... and now his months are all used up SO...

... today, I am patching a few places on the walls in "his" room and touching up the paint and sometime soon we'll move the guest room from upstairs down and turn the upstairs room into my second studio.It's the sunniest room in our house and I plan to move the love seat and a chair in there and create a sitting room for knitting, reading, and writing plus for making accessories. The closet used to house my computer so it has electricity for tools and enough room for a four foot counter. It's going to become my "beading space".

I know. How spoiled is that? A second studio is something I've dreamed about for years and I'm really excited to be getting it now. Setting it up will take a while. I'll post pictures when it's ready.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - fabric potential

Never apologize for your studio
- Denise Bezanson


  1. I would LOVE to see how you alter/fit patterns! I've been sewing for years and yet that is still my biggest hurdle. Lovely fabrics--can't wait to see what they become!

  2. I'll second Diane's comment about loving to see a series on altering paper patterns to achieve fit. Sounds as though many people may find it helpful.

  3. man you've got some gorgeous fabrics there!!

  4. Yes, yes, yes to altering/fitting tutorials! It's still where I struggle most with my sewing. And that second group of fabrics looks so wonderful together - you found some some lovely things.

  5. Learning how you fit and alter patterns would be wonderful. I'm just starting to get into it using Fit for Real People and it took me several paper and muslin iterations to get the shirt I'm working on to fit well. Congrats on your second studio! I'm excited to see what you create using your beautiful new fabrics.

    Btw, I'm a big fan. Your writing is thoughtful and motivating and there is none other like it in blogland. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts so generously with us.

  6. Yes, please share your fitting/pattern altering process! I learn so much whenever I read your posts. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Your fabrics are ones I would have picked for myself. It must have been wonderful to be able to be there.

  8. I am thrilled that you like the fabric and look forward to seeing it in action!

  9. That's quite a fabric haul! Enjoy every piece.
    I laughed when you talked about reviews saying that the pattern didn't work for them, when it is really their body. I have short arms so I know that I am going to shorten every sleeve I come across. I also have my pear shaped weight in the high hip so I know that I need extra ease in the waist to hip transition or I am going to have drag lines. I don't blame the pattern, but I do blame myself when I buy patterns that will never work on my body even with alterations.

  10. Yes, I'd love to see some posts on your method of making pattern adjustments. I'm just beginning to understand these; your illustration of the back of your garment was very helpful.

  11. Ditto on your alteration process. And I am envious of you having ONE studio....much less TWO! I still say hooray for you. :)

  12. Ah, Sewing Expo is on my bucket list. I'm in Oregon, but something always gets in the way. Please do show your pattern adjustment method. Fitting is my demon. ; )

  13. I would love to see some fitting posts, even though we're shaped very differently! I learn SO much from your blog, and not just sewing related! Thank you for all your posts xx

  14. I'd love to see how you work through pattern alterations, even though I have the opposite issue - I'm usually needing to add length and width somewhere. And that's something I'm still working on - reading the wrinkles and decoding which is the real reason they are forming.

    I really like the fabrics you got at Sewing Expo, esp. the ones in the second fabrics photo. I'm glad you had a great time! A sunny studio sounds lovely - sunlight, or more correctly - the lack of, is the biggest issue beyond my control in my sewing room.

  15. Great fabric selections and it was interesting to read how you plan to use them. And a definite yes to an alteration series of blogs. It's very helpful to know how to approach alterations for a better fit.
    I've really enjoyed your blog over the last year or so. It's been delightful to read about your coaching sessions with Diane and watching/reading as your confidence grows.
    I'm grateful for your blog and your authenticity.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.