Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to Resize to Plus Size Sewing Pattern: The Sew Chic Spin Skirt

Hi Everyone! I often get requests to resize my sewing patterns for the vintage curvy girls- and while I would LOVE to do that, there are just too many hurdles of every kind to tackle that type of expansion right now. In the mean time, enjoy this easy to do DIY tutorial for resizing the Sew Chic Spin Skirt, #LN1209.

To start off, we need to do a little math. It's very handy that the waist/hip ratio in my example is exactly the same as the waist/hip ratio on my chart: 10" difference. If your ratio is different, I will mention what to do about that in a few steps, but for now we are going to need only the waist numbers.

We  need to find out how much difference there is between the waist measurement and the chart. Subtract the chart size 18 (38") from your measurement and divide the difference by 4.


The result is how much we need to add to the pattern, both front and back.

Make a long strip, 3 3/4" wide (per my example, your number may be different) that we can tape to our pattern. I used my cutting board grid to draw the first line, and then I'll measure across and make some dash marks to follow all the way down. Don't trust your board to measure for you. They are great for making straight lines, but as you can see, the squares on my board are not accurate.

Now connect your dash marks, creating two parallel lines.

Here are my two lines with 3 3/4" between them.

 With the yoke front, match up the first line with the center front line on the yoke. Tape in place.

Using the grid board and your ruler, square off the top and bottom, extending the yoke pattern.

 Relabel your pattern markings. Cross out the old labeling so you will know what to do if you use this pattern again in the future. Your pattern should look like this. In my example, I need to cut from the extension and follow the size 18 cut line.

If your waist hip ratio is smaller than 10", cut the size 18 and make any needed changes during fittings. If your waist/hip ratio is larger, it is at this point you would reshape the hip curve at the side seam, adding width to the bottom of the pattern (1/4 of the
ratio difference), tapering from nothing  at the waist. For example, if your waist/hip difference is 12" (2" more than the 10" pattern ratio), 2" divided by 4 = 1/2" needs to be added to the hip at the side seam.

Follow the same procedure for the back yoke. Use the grid board and the ruler to line up and move the notches to the new location.


The grain line stays the same.  Cross out the old center back and cut line. Make any needed adjustment to the hip at the side seam as you did with the front yoke.

 Now we move on to the skirt pattern. I've taped on the 3 3/4" strip to the pattern center front.

In order to keep the skirt flare evenly divided, I'm going to split the extension more or less in half by drawing a line down the middle. Mine is divided into 2" and 1 3/4" strips.
 Cut apart at the line. I'm going to add this cut away piece to the side seam.If you have altered the hip at the yoke, be sure and add this additional amount to the side seam also. Square off the extensions at the hip and hem as before.
 Here is what my skirt front looks like. Repeat this procedure to complete the skirt back.

To sew the skirt, I recommend a different order of operations from the booklet that comes with your pattern. Sew the skirt front to the yoke front, and the skirt back to the yoke back first. Then sew the side seams and center back seam so that you'll be better able to test the fit and alter it at the side seam in one step. I also recommend a full 9" or 12" zipper, which will provide for easier access in and out of your spin skirt. 

I'm excited, so sent me photos! Let me know this tutorial was useful to you.
Happy Sewing Day!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2015

This year I took a little bit of a "vendor" break and went to Expo to network and help my friend Dana Marie, designer at Dana Marie Designs. If you aren't familiar with her work, it's part wearable art and part rock 'n roll. I know her through my affiliation with the Independent Pattern Company Alliance. Visit her site here:

 The first day of the show I wore the new Pendleton design. I got so many lovely compliments and gave out a whole lot of business cards.  

However, my dress wasn't nearly as popular as my shoes! Many people commented- mostly about how comfortable (or not) they thought they must be. One woman came by and said "They told us to take pictures"  so she took a photo of my shoes. I wear a lot of black and white and red combinations, so it's true- these shoes are my all time favorites. I hope they never wear out.
The second day I had more opportunity to get out of the booth and wander. I wore Ginseng, a new spring design that will be out sometime between now and the end of March. So many people stopped me, swarmed, commented. It warmed my heart to know that people liked it.

Of course my affiliation with Simplicity meant I wanted to go to the fashion show. I enjoyed it very much. Stopping by the booth, I found they were giving away Simplicity clothing labels! The labels give you a space to write the pattern number, and then it is sewn into the garment. Years ago, they would give those away at the pattern counter. Would you add a label if they made them easily available again?

The business cards represent all the great people I met and talked to, like Carley Struve, instructor at Sew Good. It's wonderful to connect with the many people that do their part to keep the love of sewing alive! See you all at Expo next year!

Happy Sewing!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine Slip Sew Along with SEW NEWS MAGAZINE

 The Sew News Sew Along is Sew Soon! 
Sew News Magazine SEW ALONG is about to begin. Join Sew News and make the Valentine Slip, #LN1207,  your next project too! The sew along begins MARCH 2.

Sew News "Sew and Tell" article from Jan 2015
  We are so excited! Look at all the beautiful variations of the slip! Imagine what YOU can do with it!
View A
View B

Made by Rhonda Buss
Rhonda Buss, blogger at "Rhonda's Creative Life" will lead you through the Valentine with both video and text/photo, and is 100% FREE.
The sew along video is funded by pattern sales, so please show them your love and support for this great service and buy your pattern at the Sew News "Sew it All" shop:

Rhonda Buss valentine slip detail
Rhonda made the pink slip shown in the magazine above, and this version to the right using vintage ribbon.Beautiful isn't it?
Rhonda is doing a Giveaway Extravaganza. and THIS WEEK, the winners will be picked - Saturday the 21st. She's giving away a number of amazing items including a free one-year subscription to Sew News Magazine, a Sew Chic Valentine Slip pattern, and a Feb/Mar 2015 Sew News Anniversary issue.

Check out Rhonda's blog and discover more of her wonderful work! Click on the link to go to her blogspot and find out how to enter in the giveaway before it's too late!

The Sew Along Schedule begins on the Sew News Blog:

Week 1: Week of March 2
Fabric Choice and Sewing Lingerie Fabrics
Week 2: Week of March 9
Construction and Bust Adjustments
Week 3: Week of March 16
Customizing with Lace and Seam Finishes
Week 4: Week of March 23
Finishing Touches

Read the Sew News article here:

Find the Blog to start your sew along here:

See you at the sew along, until then, happy sewing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015 A Year to Look Forward to!

Hello Readers! Isn't life great!? We get one pass at this crazy maze on earth, and no matter our situation, it is always worth the effort to seek the good, and be grateful. 2014 has been a good year filled with good moments, new friends and connections, and opportunities. I attended two new shows, one of them being the American Sewing Guild conference. With the passing of another year, it's a good time to look ahead as well. Here's a list of few of the events and collaborations to look forward to!





Sew News is sponsoring a Sew Along with Rhonda Buss using the Valentine slip!

The sew along starts March 2 and will last 4 weeks, ending March 23. It includes photos and video posted to the Sew News Blog.  It's 100% FREE, so support the sew along by purchasing your pattern from
the  Sew News Sew it All Shop.
Read the Sew News article and see their version of the Valentine Slip here:

It's a beauty!

 International Textile Expo

In March I'll be heading for Las Vegas and the ITE show. This is not consumer show, but is a show for retail stores. Will your retail store be here? I hope so! I will be participating in a fashion show, which is always fun to do, and with any luck, will get some good photos I can post.





Article For Threads

I am writing an article for Threads Magazine called "Mix and Match Patterns." It's a pattern making "how to" for successfully combining elements from different patterns in a surprisingly new way. It will be published in the Aug/Sept. 2015 issue #180. I think you're going to like it!







Designing for Simplicity

I'm very excited to announce that I am now a special designer for the well-known Simplicity Patterns! I spent all of December designing and sewing my first pattern for them. It's been a favorite of my fans for years; a style I call Pongo. This pattern will be available with the Fall 2015 catalog, available about August or September. In connection with this, we are starting our own sew along site too! I'll be posting more about that later :-)

Happy New Year, and as always, Keep on Sewing!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Learn to Sew: Cutting Line accuracy

I've worked with many a beginning seamstress. Some are naturally meticulous (and can go overboard, even for me!) and others are...well, a bit sloppy. Not because they want to be, but because they don't know. When I start a project, 75% of the time goes to the prep work - pressing the fabric and pattern, checking and correcting any problems with the grain, meticulously arranging a double layer of fabric so that both layers are on grain and perfectly straight, and then carefully measuring each piece in the layout. With all this care that goes into the prep for layout, it makes sense that just as much care would go into the cutting. In terms of fit, assembly, garment hang/quality, and cost - cutting is the most important task there is, and in the industry, the cutters job is given only to the highly qualified.

Here is the pattern piece we will be working with. I use a mechanical pencil when creating my patterns so that the line is as thin and precise as it can be. I cut on the outside of this line leaving no paper margin, but yet the pencil line remains.The goal is to create an exact fabric replica of the paper.

In this photo example above, I cut the top and a beginning seamstress cut out the bottom. Do you need to ask yourself which side best matches the shape of the pattern? Just in case...

Both top and bottom should look like this example with smooth edges and crisp sharp corners.
Beginners should:
  • Use a sufficient amount of pins to keep all layers firmly together. 
  • Aim carefully using long strokes with sharp scissors. use short strokes for curves.
  • Don't lift your fabric up- keep it level with the table as much as possible
  • Cut in the same "groove" as the cut before it.
  • Ideally, move your body, not the fabric to get a better cutting angle. 
  • If you must move the fabric, cut around the pinned pattern piece leaving a fabric margin, then turn the piece to cut the margin away. 
Why is this important? Because our seam line is determined by the cutting line. If we take care at this stage in the game, everything else is smooth sailing.

Want to get away from meticulous cutting? Mark all of your SEAM LINES with dressmakers carbon. Then your cutting line can be as sloppy as you please and no one will ever know!

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sewing Indie with Craftsy: Flirty Meets Sassy, part I

This tutorial was first written for Indie Pattern Month, as I was assigned to write a blog for Christine Haynes. Since we are both Craftsy teachers, it seemed appropriate to apply a related topic.



...I thought it appropriate that my tutorial for Sewing Indie should focus on our Craftsy Class projects. Pairing Flirty with Sassy makes for one adorable outfit, perfect for spring! So here we go with Sewing Indie with Craftsy: Flirty Meets Sassy Part I

Via this tutorial, Miss Sassy has become a jacket, perfect for warding off cooler weather, or a room with too much air conditioning!

This jacket adds some great color to match the dress trim in a fabulous vintage silhouette.
Miss Flirty, also known as Tia #1312, got a make over too! Adapting the trim to mirror the collar and incorporating rows of tucks down the front with a couple of cute covered buttons is perfect!
I've even included some cross tucking on the pocket just for fun.  To get all the details on how to take on the Tia dress adaptations, head over to my blog at It's Sew Chic, but stay right here for the Librarian Blouse make over.

Turning your Blouse into a light weight jacket is really easy, and only requires a few pattern changes. I always start with the top at the front and make my way down the pattern. Always mark on your pattern the changes you made from the original to guide you if ever come back to this pattern and wonder what you did!

Transferring the new neck line to pattern front

Because I knew the neck would be too high for my liking, using the pattern front without the tucks, I lowered the neck at center front by 1/2"redrawing a new line from the shoulder. (I used that pattern to keep all those tucks from getting in my way.) With the tucks closed, I transferred that new line to the view with the tucks.

Cutting this one into a short jacket
Using my bust point as a guide for length, I decide to cut off  7 7/8" from the bottom of the pattern. I am using my grid to draw a cut line perpendicular to the grain line. Draw a line 1" above for your hem mark.

Matching the side seams, front to back
  Mark your back pattern in the same manner, and then close the side dart and check to make sure that your side seams will match up.

Cut the pattern
  Now it's safe to cut away the extra.

Add additional to the collar

 Because I lowered the neckline, I know I'll have to add some additional to the collar pattern. To know how much, I have to walk the collar to the back and front pattern pieces. I had to add 3/8", and if you lower your neck the same amount that measurement will be the same for you also. Size will not matter.

Add length to the sleeve
Next, I added 8 3/8" to the bottom of the sleeve, which also includes 1" for the hem. You may need more or less length depending on your arm.

Copy these changes to the facing
Be sure to make the same changes to your facing piece. Lay your pattern right on top matching the edges and trace those off.

The facing now matches
Trimming away some of that neck front left that edge a little bit sparse, so I reshaped that curve on my facing. If you wanted to line your jacket, you can cut a lining from the front without the tucks, but you'll still need to use this piece to cut an interfacing. 

Now that your pattern is ready to cut out, let me share with you a few tips to get those tucks perfectly aligned and sewn without measuring.

Clip into the fabric
 Following the pattern markings, clip into the fabric at the top and bottom of each column. You can clip both, but the fold line is the one you need to keep track of.  

Press the fabric
 Holding your fabric at these ends, fold the fabric in half along these clips. The grain will help you line these up perfectly. Press each fold line before ever sewing a stitch.

Set your guide
Put your pattern under the sewing machine and put the needle down into the stitching line. Using a guide, set the distance to match the fold perfectly. Tape is a poor man's substitute, but these guides work better than the bumper rails at the bowling alley!

Thanks for joining me in this Flirty Meets Sassy tutorial! If you have questions you can find me on Facebook,and Twitter: @sewchicpatterns. Now head on over to part II

Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Shorten a Sewing Pattern

I've had a few questions lately about how to shorten (or lengthen) a pattern, and more specifically, what to do if there is no line with instruction to "Lengthen or Shorten Here."
Where to shorten may vary for your figure, but these are the most common locations to shorten or lengthen a pattern:
BODICE: below the bust in the midriff (tummy) area.
LONG SLEEVE: either or both above or below the elbow, depending on where your elbow is. If the pattern does not have an elbow dart, then pick any place close to the middle.
PANTS: at the crotch, and either or both above and below the knee, or in the middle depending on the pant style.
SKIRTS: any place below the hip

This tutorial deals specifically with how to shorten a bodice pattern using the Tia Dress, #LN1312, but the same methods and rules apply for shortening the length of a pattern in any and all locations, standard or not.
 There is no limit to the amount you can lengthen a pattern, but with short people, it's a bit more limiting. A pattern with seams across the body cannot be shortened more than the length of the midriff. Take away the seam allowance and we have 4" left to work with.  3" is about as much as can be taken away and still have a midriff left to sew!
How much to shorten? Take a look at the pattern back waist measurement. I'm using a size 2 for my example, which is made for a person that is 15 1/2" from base of neck to the waist. If you are taller or shorter than the measurement noted for your size, then you'll need to alter the pattern for length in the bodice.

Now you might ask- what is a backwaist??? The backwaist is a sewing term used to mean the  measurement of the space from the neck to your waist. You'll be looking for that prominent vertebra at the base of your neck that sticks out just a little more than the others. Your waist is an anatomical space between your rib cage and pelvic bones where your body bends in half to pick something up. Yeah, we'd like to think it's the smallest part of our torso or we could pretend it's three fingers above the belly button, but that doesn't make it truth! If you have a hard time finding these two places, put on a chain necklace that has some weight to the front and a tightly cinched narrow belt. Feel around for that gap between those bones, and it may help to bend around a bit to check that the belt is settled into the right spot. Measure to the bottom of the belt. It's better to be too long than too short!

Now, if you'll turn to page 6 in your instruction booklet and work along with me, here is the LONG version of what it says there ...

 So now we are ready to make our very own "lengthen or shorten here" line.   This line must be squared up with, perpendicular, or at right angles to the grain line. When the grain matches Center Front or Center Back, then we use that line for reference instead. I'm using my trusty grid ruler of course, and with my pink highlighter, I'm going to draw my line about 1 1/2" away from the bottom. This avoids the seam allowance and I still have room to fold up and take away length.
 I'll do the same with the back pattern piece. We want our lines to be in similar locations to each other. You can write a "length or shorten here" note to yourself if you like.

I'm thinking I'll be making this dress for a pre-teen who has not quite reached adult height and has a backwaist of 14 inches, so using a bit of math and the chart above, I need to take away 1 1/2 inches. I'll now make a parallel line 1 1/2 inches away from the first line.
 Now comes the tricky part! Just to make a crease, I've folded my pattern back and under along the first line.
Bringing that first line up to meet the second line, I pressed it flat in place. That excess length is now folded to the back and out of the way.
 Do that to both pattern pieces.  Now pin or tape it in place. With tape, time will more or less ruin your paper pattern, but if you aren't worried about longevity, tape is nice and secure.

See the black arrow pointing to a nasty jog? Our dart wouldn't come out very well if we tried to sew it like that! We need to take care of the "jogs" we've created with our alteration. The next step is to straighten or true all of these jogs by using a ruler to draw new lines using the same end points we had before.
That dart looks so much better!
Now do the same thing with the side seams. It's best to leave paper around your pattern until after all alterations are done, but if you've trimmed yours away already, don't dispair! Tape more paper to the sides and then straighten up that line.

If your pattern has more parts to the bodice, you'll use these same steps for all pieces around the midriff. Choose a location where there is relatively no fussy lines or decoration to deal with. Choose a location below the bust. Shorten above the bust if your bust point is high in relation to the pattern. Measuring is the only way to know the difference.

Happy Sewing!