I have come to realize that no matter my attempt to organize my patterns, whether self-drafted, or purchased, it will require some sort of system that I myself am willing to follow and stick to in the future.

Now Flylady has long been the way I attempt to maintain a decent home and a welcoming place for guest anytime.  I must have some kind of routine in order to stay balanced.  But crafting and sewing can take anybody over the top.  In order to be creative, my surroundings have to be organized or at least de-cluttered, or my mind and my thoughts will emulate my surroundings.  As you may recall in my Sewn
Confessions, I exposed myself, my sewing room, at least it is dear to me, so sharing that space with the world is like making friends.  It’s personal…  Either way, every since I talked about my disorganized workroom studio, I have been on a quest to put it into a more productive state of organization.  One that beckons the creative mind to actually create.  Thus, I went about making notes of my issues as I approached each one, evaluating each situation for a solution. 
I emptied everything to start….and begin an inventory  of all my contents.  I discovered that the two main problems I have are my fabric stash and my pattern inventory.

I purused blogshere to find any suggestions of order that might be applied to my situation.  I found that Pattern review.com has a pattern inventory system, which I tried to utilized, but to no avail.  Then I contemplated the envelope system used by Victoria over at  Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing yet still, to no avail.  Some systems just don’t work for me.  Then there is the system of filing the patterns in binders, or placing them in magazine file boxes.  Non of these would work with my mental processes.  Now I say my mental processes, because, these are all fantastice systems.  And they do work….yet, not for me.  I am a visual person, and I almost have to have everything catalogued and out front, or clearly labeled so I won’t forget about it.  One of the biggest problems I have with my fabric stash.  But, that will be dealt with later.  For now, the pattern inventory must be tackled.  As my favorite quote from FlyLady:  “You are not behind! I don’t want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?” 

So, I dive in…and start taking pictures.  Every single pattern is gonna now be inventoried and catalogued via the almighty digital god.  I invite you to follow along as I get this all done.  And trust me it is so super easy.  I have finished the digital catalog already.  Here are the steps I have comprised:

  1. Gather all commercially produced patterns to one central location.  Even qued items until completion of the organization process.
  2. Have available a container bin, drawer, box, or file drawer for each pattern company to be sorted into.
  3.  Take a digital image of the front of every single pattern envelope making sure to get the pattern number in the pic. 
    • As you take the pics, use a stamp to place on the front of the envelope on or near the number.  I used a smiley face stamp. 
    • Be sure not to stamp over any design details.  You will want to be able to see those when you do your cataloguing on the computer.
    • You may have duplicates, make sure to take pictures of thems too, this is your record that you have multiples.  Don’t try to notate the sizes, you should be able to see that on the picture also.
  4. Sort the patterns into the proper bins as pictures are taken. Do not try to do this first, or you will get bogged down.  (Just take the pictures!)
  5. After the bins are filled with the same patterns, its time to group them within the bins.  (You may want to put them into numerical order also.)  That is a little anal, but I plan to do that myself, just not now. Just having them in one place is already a great help.
  6. Now to the computer…here you will do the cataloguing of all the information necessary to find what you need.  I will be using this digital catalogue to plan projects, create wardobes, and maintain a list of where my patterns are stored.  I will do this via tagging and captions.  This is now my searchable database of patterns.  Picture database…cause I hate list.  I have to see pictures.  I will also printout contact sheets of the catalogue and place them in a binder for quick reference.  I have already added the digital datalogue to my iPhone as a separate album for quick reference when at the store.  Here are the steps…
    1. Using your photo organizer, I used Windows Live Photo Gallery, set the tags and captions for each set of patterns.  This can be done by multi-selecting patterns and tagging them as you desire. Currently, I am using the company name, type of garment (limit the types). I multi-select when adding tags.  Tagging goes alot faster.  You might want to tag “where” in the house your patterns are…especially if you are like me and don’t have room in your studio for storing all patterns. I have also tagged that the garment has been “sewn”.  I don’t put the date, that too much info. I have a completed project sheet on each garment already.
    2. Add Captions to each individual pattern “picture” if you like.  For this to work, it is best that you do add the numbers.  I add the pattern number as it is on the envelope, which I can see right on the picture. i.e. B5324, V1063.  This seems like it will take a long time…but, this is what you can use as “waiting” room work on a laptop or touchpad device.  Don’t take up precious “at-home” studio sewing time to do this.
    3. Use the rating stars to determine your favorites.
    4. Print contact sheets of your patterns, either 4-up or 9-up and hole punch and place in a binder for quick reference.  This is the point you might want to write the date you made the garment and for whom.  However, it is a good idea to keep these sheets clean.  I only had about 146sheets 4-up and 65 with the 9-up, so to get the best printout I may send it to Office Depot or Kinkos for printing the first time around since there are so many. Afterwhich, I will print off new ones at home as I add new patterns to my collection. And we all know, everyone, adds new patterns to their collection.
I now have found that after pulling 25-30 years of patterns together, I have over 582 patterns.  Not too bad for a professional.  I know many of you have plently more.  Therefore, I feel real good.  If you want the pattern number/caption to show up when you print, then you will need to use a different program or order prints online.  But don’t make this hard. 
I will bring you updates as I get mine completed. 
Have fun.

 Bra making is quickly becoming my new love.  Its quick and satisfying all at the same time.  Especially when you are certain to come out of it with a perfectly fitting bra.

One might wonder, why it would be ok to publically talk about, let alone disclose the interworkings of your foundation garments.  Of couse, any woman would admit “albeit” in private, that she has always wanted to be open and discuss the problems she has with the undergarments.  We all look for the perfect fit in clothing, whether it be pants, blouses, t-shirts, dresses, and the like.  Who doesn’t want their boobs to fit “inside” the bra cups.  Tara Banks was candid enough to have a show about the “bra”.  Oprah Windfrey discussed it and women listened.  There spawned the bra fitting craze so to speak.  Even pattern companies increased their offerings.  What is so illusive about fitting a bra or underwear?

 Tara knows how to make us feel comfortable about the requirements of the body.

Moving forward…I remember last month spending 3 hours in the Dillards lingerie department getting fit for bras.  It was horrible, I was tired, my hair was a mess, and nothing fit.  You say, I’m small in comparison to the average woman with bra problems… Yes, I have a small chest area, 1/2 inch is all it takes to cause a bra to sag, and I hate saging.  I want my bra to hug my chest, not sit away creating a ridge under my clothing.  “It does matter.” 

After taking my bra class in Atlanta last year, I have only made two additional bras, but during this time, I have been complaining about the ill fitting bras.  I just don’t want to get rid of so many bras. However, when inventorying my stock, and I do have a large supply, I found that I am wearing only a select few the most, including the ones I made, which are my favorite.
  So, I look over all these bras and clean house…..
After all that I still saw that I need more of the nice ones.  The ones I learned how to make that just fit me, and me alone.  In comes my trusty pattern drafted especially for me…Intimately Yours, Bras That Fit, by Anne St. Claire. Needlenook fabrics 
I like the kit idea, because I can just work on any item I want anytime because I know all the pieces are there for me.
I made the matching panties from the panty kit provided by Needlenook Fabrics using Kwik Sew 2908, view B- bikini.  The fabric is a wonderfully satiny nylon.  The size may seem off, but trust me, when you really have the correct fitting bikini panty they may appear big.  I was shocked, however, I did not want to change the size until I was completely finished so as to get a true “fitting” of the final garment.  They really fit, with full bottom coverage and a low ride.  No panty lines.  Yee Pee!  The crotch will be narrowed an inch in the next pair, but really these are some great fitting panties.  So if you have buns that cup under a little, these have a nice curved bottom that catches all that rump. 
 Compared to the first pair I made, in which I used vanity sizing, I cut a small, because I figured the pattern has to be wrong.  I got a really good pair of panties that I had to give away….
I used some of the blue panty fabric to line the lace area of the bra for a little more coverage.  Although, the bra kit came with a lightweight nude tricot lining. Anne told me I could have dyed it brown using some strong coffee.  duh  I didn’t think of that. More about the bra…  When I first learned to make these bras, my first complaint was that I donot want a “line” to show through my clothes.  But as you can see, the line isn’t really that prominent.  I found that the slight curve in the sewn cup actually causes it to sit just a little off and properly fitting clothes just hang past the line.  Aaannnd…the bra isn’t pointy, like it might appear.
I especially the way the band covers the side of the body…
…and how the back has the 3 hook/eye combination.  This is much more comfortable and supportive.  Anna has a reason and really good explanations for the structure of the bra.  The whys and why nots are important for someone like me.
Of course, you are not seeing the pesky little rings in these bras.  Thats because you don’t need adjustible straps if they were made just for you.  Why do you need to adjust anything? Right? 
For my straps on this one, I tried one of her variations talked about in the book.  I made a 1/2 version.  Although, I really do like the suggested 3/4″ or 1″ versions.  I will not be making the narrow strap again…it hurts.
You should probably get used to the idea of making your own bras.  My Mom already told me she absolutely loves hers and that I should make some more right away.  “Mom, I will, I am on it for sure.” Love you…
Thanks everyone for reading my blog…I really enjoy sharing.

Fitting issues plague everybody.  But those of us that sew for ourselves seem to be on a quest for the perfect fit.  Thus, we sew through pattern after pattern in hopes to find the perfect fit, or make the pattern fit.  Others of us, buy our clothes from mainstream producers of the garment industry and come to those of use who sew, to make that special garment fit using a multitude of alterations.

For those of us that sew, sizing and the pattern “Grade” matters. 

In 2008 I went back to school in hopes of understanding patterns better.  It was a success.  Did I learn everything there? No, but all education is a success in my eyes… As for commercial patterns, I learn more and more from working right here at home.  But the one class that did absolutely teach me the greatest amount of knowledge that has clarified my understanding of the pattern designing and fitting systems, was the class called Pattern Grading.  I shall fondly think of my instructor, Diane Brett, from Houston Community College, everytime I cut into a commercial pattern.  (I can see clearly now….the lines between sizes are no longer blurred.

Ok, I’ll get to the point….I learned that in grading between sizes, the “average” industry standard is to increase sizes incrementally in groups. So, sizes 2-4-6 and 8 have a 1″ size difference between each numbered size.  Sizes starting up from 8 to 10 to 12 is a pattern grade of 1.5″ and from 12 to 14 to 16 to 18 and beyond is graded by 2 inches.  Well this is knowledge that is helpful going into the patternmaking and commercial pattern manipulation process. 

Until today, this system simplified working with commercial patterns. BUT….I noticed that Burda is the bad boy.  The odd man out.  The rebel, the one that skipped that class. You see, since I started school, I had not been buying many patterns, especially Burda.  I just loved taking a coffee break and looking through their magazine, but never traced a pattern.  I don’t like tracing.  (I see now everybody does it, and so I ventured to start tracing some of these beautiful designs….”I want to be part of the “in crowd”.) 

I even went out and purchased a pattern to check out the “J” curve of the crotch…

I love it… This makes sizing this pattern so, so much easier.  But upon closer manipulation I find this…

Sorry, couldn’t get it to turn. 

Now this should be a 2″ Grade from size 12-14, 14-16, 16-18 and so on.  And of course, the average female fashionista would faint if she was told she wears a size 44 pant size.  Whew!  try explaining that one to your custom clothing client, or a model for that matter….

…to be blogged later.. but the skirt is Vogue ??? and the bustier is my design.

Back to the GRADE!   You see, the industry standard of grading is as mentioned earlier: 1″ sz 4-8, 1.5″ sz 8-12 and 2″ sz 12 & up.  What does that mean to us…

  • The main grade, or measurement between each size is either 1″, 1.5″ or 2″ in the finished size.
  • Each main block, i.e. pant, bodice, skirt side seam is divided by 4, giving us 1/4″ per seam for size 6 to 8, 3/8″ per seam for size 10-12, and 1/2″ per seam for size 14-16 and beyond.
  • In this sleeve pattern, the grade changes between sizes, as I learned.  The sideseams, grade different from a sleeve.  But you get the point.
    A simplicity pattern showing the difference in size grades.

    That equates, in the case of Burda, to a loss of 1 1/2″ in the upper sizes in comparison to other pattern companies.

Burda does a “straight grade” for all sizes.  So those of us that have gotten used to having a “weighted grading scale” with the big four.  Sorry, but you now are in a lower percentile ranking.  Thus you have to essentiallly cut a larger size than even the big four.  Burda, says that a 34 is size 8, a 36 is size 10, 38= size 12, 40 = size 14 and thus 42= 16.  Sooooo, now I have to cut a size “46/18!!!!” in burda on the bottom.  Aaaagh!!  So much for vanity.  Shhhhh! Don’t tell.

More to come…

Alterations and Commercial patterns are synanomous. Basically you can’t get one without the other. I have been working to no end on a customer‘s blouse pattern from McCalls. Horrible to work with for fullsize women. After the fitting it just makes me want to trash it all and start with a custom pattern. I hate all the slashing and spreading. More paper is used than with designing the pattern. And the time spent in this process is unbelievable.