I have been noticing a slight difference in the way my clothes fit in the back lately. I’ve noticed that the back of my makes do not fit as well. It almost seems like my back is a little bit longer from my shoulder blade to my shoulder point. I thought about it for a while now, and realized that I may be slumping over more now than before or is it my body changing with age?

Than I decided to take a look at it a little bit closer when I realized that I have not been doing my back exercises the way I used to about a year ago. I used to always do special back supporting exercises that strengthened my posture. I haven’t been doing my wing back exercises, I haven’t been using my weights either. Now I’m noticing a slight curvature of my upper back. I normally do a small broad back adjustment on my patterns of no more than 3/8″ or 1/2″. Even though I do a swayback adjustment for my hip and my waistline, I never have to worry about it at the top of my center back. What is this? Is this old age, is this the meaning of getting older? Is this the beginning of osteoporosis or dowagers hump.

I will need to read more about this bad posture in the sewing room and make up exercises to strengthen my back. Lest I need more pattern alterations for the back.

Sheath dress!! I have lots of dresses, most of them have multiple design lines, lots of them, and I live for prints, any type of print. Again I say, as with the basic white shirt, here, I don’t like sewing plain solid garments. Unless, of course you can see them from a few miles away, not the old “where’s Waldo” thing either.  This cute number was made during August this year, when I first started thinking about wardrobe planning. I was originally told to make it plain….but, of course I didn’t listen.  Almost 4 months later, and I have yet to find any occasion to wear it.

With that….you might think I forgot about focusing on my basic wardrobe essentials. Yes, I am a hard head, and yes, I generally steer clear of anything remotely related to “following the crowd”. However, as I said before, I am gaining a new understanding of why I need to have a really, true, solid fundamental wardrobe.

My Sewing Fashionistas Sewing group “Wardrobe Fit-Along” is still going strong. So many of our ladies have made awesome shirts and now begun preparations for sewing up a sheath dress as we continue working to build a great basic wardrobe. Many have already received their related pattern suggestions for their body type, began fitting their patterns, and are well on their way to procuring and prepping fabric choices.

As for me, well, I have been prepping new YouTube videos for all to join in our journey. Oh, yes in indeed, it is a journey. At least for me it is a long journey, one I could not do alone. So, please come along for the ride, if you haven’t already done so with the white shirt fit-along. You could play catch up by checking out my videos, or you can just dive in where we are now with the sheath dress. If you need help choosing a pattern for your body type, just hop over to my “partner in crime’s” blog and favorite wardrobe consultant, here, to see which pattern works best for your body.

In the meantime, I will be working just a tad harder this time to get test subjects who are willing to show their fabulous bodies on YouTube to help you learn how to sew-to-fit your body, your taste, and your style!!!

This week we have started out with our voluptuous, fine and foxy, plus size model, my daughter. She doesn’t sew, but because she loves having me sew for her, she had no choice but to participate as payment for the beautiful dress she will have after its all said and done.

Happy Friday my sewing friends. I am quickly falling back into my days of button down shirts and t-shirts. With shirts being my true love. I keep trying to force myself to sew up a few blouses. You know the ones you must pull over your head. Well it’s not working for me.

This is probably one of the best shirt patterns put out by Butterick, but they in their infinite wisdom decided to discontinue this version. WHY!! @mccallspatterncompany would you do that???!?! Doesn’t really make since to me. Especially, since it’s a cup sized pattern and is a great design for many figure types.

With princess seaming and the best sleeve inset and sleeve cap ease I have found, this is a dream to sew. It comes with patch pockets, plackets, sleeve applets and other details that would make a great cargo shirt as well as a terrific military style shirt. So why did it go away.

Fitting wise this was easy. I cut a straight size 14 and used the D cup front piece and added a tad bit for a broad back at the blades and the. Did a sway back adjustment of only 3/8″. Of course for this fitted shirt pockets dos not work on those mounds we call bust. I I took them off and will opt for pockets on a more moderately fitted shirt.

I am so glad is traced and secured this pattern for use in the future. They should bring it back real fast and in a hurry before there is an uprising in the sewing community.

Let’s wave our flags with this picture to get them to hear our cry.

Until net time. Keep sewing.

Myself and fellow Houston Sewing Fashionistas group members are going full steam ahead working to fit and sew our Iconic White shirts with guidance and instruction on how body types matter, from our very own wardrobe consultant, Roz at See Much Fabric.  As we continue to build a great fitting wardrobe, I continue to welcome you to follow along via my YouTube channel as I fit students and group members’ different body types.

 Vogue 8772: Part 1: Fitting for Petites
Vogue 8772: Part 1- Fitting for Petites

This series of videos is of me teaching, fitting and making all the petite-able pattern alterations for Vogue 8772 for our resident Fashionista Ann, with Youtique Bridal.   We have some really talented folks in our group.  Since we don’t meet every month, these videos are meant to help members along their journey, and so that I can enjoy visiting and not just teaching during meeting times.

 Vogue 8772: Part 2- Making Pattern Alterations
Vogue 8772: Part 2- Making Pattern Alterations

The videos are of my students, friends, and members who have graciously agreed to videotape their learning experience so you can gain personal knowledge for your body type.  Thus, all areas of alterations may not be covered completely for each body type.  I will try to answer simple general questions here on the blog or in future videos.

Vogue 8772: Part 3- Final Fabric Fitting

Be sure to stay tuned, subscribe, and share, and share again.  “Pretty please.”  Click on either of the pictures to watch its related video or here to watch the entire playlist.

– Posted from my iPhone

Wardrobe planning and sewing with a plan (SWAP) has been on my mind for quite a while.  As I continue to assess my wardrobe with the help of a wardrobe consultant, we are trying to get me to the point of actually having something to wear when I stand at the door of my closet.  The big question for me has been: “How do you “plan” for a “teaching–flexible–be ready at a moments notice” lifestyle and still remain “stylish” not “overdressed” or “stuffy.”

 The Wardrobe Fit-Along on YouTube with SewToFit

I love anything outdoors, I love the theatre, the ballet, camping, and even frequent the local home repair store for DIY home projects.  But, I have suits galore and pencil skirts out the kazoo, with a few date night digs to boot.  However, when I go to the closet, I look at that stuff, and think of funerals, board meetings, and “look at me” parties.  Even church doesn’t require that type of dressing anymore.  I want to feel comfortable and still maintain my laid back, classic since of style, without working too hard.

No matter how hard I try to stick to a sewing plan on my own, I continue to make vacation wear and one of a kind outfits, that just don’t go much further than the function originally intended.  Thus, in an effort to stay focused this time,  I have sought the services of Wardrobe Consultant and owner of Sew Much Fabric online fabric store, Rosalind Gathier.   For the last few months her services have been providing me with some much needed focus to forge a wardrobe suitable for my taste, my body, and my lifestyle.

I figured since I’m working through this wardrobing project, it might be fun to also include you all in on the things I learn.  Since, IRL (in real life) I teach pattern fitting and sewing, I will use my talents as a fitting instructor and sewing teacher to share with you my journey, and bring you in on the task of fitting a better wardrobe.  We can call it the “Wardrobe Fit-along,” to make sure our new threads fit our style, our taste and especially our body.  I have created a series of Sew-To-Fit: YouTube videos to share with you what I teach to my students and to help you see areas that might help you long the way.

You can go over to Roz’s blog and sign up for her monthly “Mini Wardrobe Plan” newsletter updates, and also subscribe to my YouTube channel in order to keep current with new pattern fitting information and discussions.

For the month of August, Roz recommended we focus on the “ICONIC White Shirt.”  Thus, for the month of September, my YouTube Videos will show a few of my IRL students, and sewing group members fitting the white shirts.  Something, I so desperately need in my closet.  How I let all my white shirts go, I have no clue.  I think I went too casual at some point along the way.

I am so glad to have this guidance to help me get my act together!  You get to enjoy the benefits of my learning, because I will be presenting fitting tips and pattern alterations assistance via my Youtube channel for the patterns suggested by Roz.  Some of my IRL Sewing Fashionistas group members will even be joining to show y’all the different body types and recommended styles for each person’s style and taste.

I hope you join the fun.

Well, hello all, today I come to you with two new pattern playmates.  We have the Katherine Pants, from StyleArc Patterns, sharing the spotlight with a true success!!!. a shirt from the Vogue 8747 patterns, which may very well become one of my favorite button downs.

I don’t know about you, but I like to eat my dessert before my dinner…just in case I get too full, at least I had the good stuff first.  Thus, it is with this post…I will give you the gist on the top first.
mardi gras colors

Vogue 8747 top view D:
I call this my Mardi Gras blouse, because a friend told me, after I showed here this fabric; “Oh, those are Mardi Gras colors!  How exciting.”  I had no clue.  I bought that fabric last year, and was just drawn to the beautiful watery movement of buildings nearly hidden in the print. I’m embarrassed to say just how much per yard I paid, so if you don’t know, then you are like I was, “Clueless”.  For those of you who do know about “Liberty of London”, can I join your club?  OOOOwee!! this stuff feels fine!!

It’s made from some of the best cotton I have ever sewn, REALLY!!  I will shout that one from the roof top.  I did not know that “Liberty of London” was so special.  I do say that stuff is expensive!!  Yes, I did use all caps, and several exclamation points…that is how I feel.    Shoutout to Josephine’s Dry Goods in Portland, OR(non-sponsored)  Because, they had a boatload of the stuff and the finery was to die for and go to sewing heaven.  

It takes time to “build” a wardrobe of lovelies, those pieces you will pick up and wear over and over again.  That is why it took so long.  This fabric was destined to become a button down the moment I lay eyes on it, but I still had to find the buttons.  Not just any button would have worked.  There again, they just floated into my life whilst shopping for a client I came upon these gems of the ocean to be added to this sea of buildings.  Feast your eyes, oooh my goodness is that not delicious or what?  That was my dessert.   YumYum, that smile is from the internal satisfaction I get wearing this shirt.

Shortening the front band from apex to neck ensures modesty at the decollate’ for the over 40″ crowd.
Construction notes for the top:  
The pattern has multiple views to choose from, a regular with the Vogue basics line of patterns, a true bargain when you are spending big bucks for the material.   The pattern represents the hem as having a shirt-tail shape, but I don’t see it.  It isn’t as pronounced as I would have liked to have in the back.  I will take care of that in the next top.  There will be another, and another, and another.  (I’ll keep going and going and …..as with “Peewee Herman”)
  • NO FBA!!!  Yeepee!  I cut a size 14 as usual, but this pattern had the A-D cup bust sizing.  I used the D cup. (Actually, I think its a little too roomy in the bust, but it may be the design of the gathers along the front placket) 
  • I Shortened the center front between apex and the neck.  You see the little wedge along the front under the neckline.  That wedge is magic for the over 40″ crowd. (Meaning over a B’cup)

  • A swayback adjustment was taken as usual. (See piece 10 above…)  
  • Also added a 1/2″ broad back adjustment. 
  • Totally straightened the center back.  Vogue seems to always add a bit of a curve to all their princess backs, which isn’t something I need.
  • I did not lengthen the top this time, but I intend to do so on the next go around.
  • Lowered the back neck by 3/8″ 
  • You won’t see in the alterations, is that I added 1.5″ to the hips graded from the waist to the hem.  (I will add those changes to the pattern before I mount it to tagboard.)

StyleArc Katherine Pants:

First off, these are indeed tailored pants.  Another wardrobe staple for me aside from the button down.

stretch woven wool.

To be honest with you, this review has been in the making for quite some time, while I tried to decide how to present all the information to you.  I don’t want to burden your blog reader with too much information at one time.  So, I need you to tell me the format in which you want me to dissect these pants.   I only found ONE (1), yes, one pattern review on these pants.  I also contacted the designer for construction assistance with the pockets.

The fabric is a fine light stretch tropical wool…which in and of itself gave me headaches when I tried to topstitch the center front crease seam.  It is a great fabric, but I think I might have a slight sensitivity to wool, because it really makes me itch when and sneeze to wear it or sew with it.  I equate this fabric to a high-end bengaline, because it has a cross grain stretch which resulted in my laying the patterns on the cross not the along the selvage.  I wanted the stretch to go “around” my body, I was thinking if I left it go up and down, then I would get saggy bottom.

topstitching on the bernina 780 using tropical wool stretch

Fitting notes:  “Balance in worklife and personal life is everything.”  But what about “Pattern Balance” in your sewing?

In order to keep them straight and balanced at the center front where the seam is on the actual crease, I had to remember to make any width adjustments on both sides of the leg, inseam and out-seam, at the center leg seam…but I forgot just near the end, when I decided to add just a smidgen more right before I cut.  (((((WRONG MOVE….))))

The legs are 20 inches at the hem, not to be confused with the “slim” 15″ leg of the barb pant I made here.  They should hang straight down from the side hip, and the crease “should” be in the center of the leg.   Because of this it’s important to keep the balance of the pattern when making adjustments. Most fitting guides tell you to increase at the sides. That’s doesn’t work.

An unbalanced worklife.

Come on my fellow pattern nerds, what have we resorted to with this fitting craze?  I have decided to wear these damn pants, no matter what the fit police say.  Posting my butt all over the internets, for the advancement of the sewing sciences, proves I love my rear end in all its round glory.

I know, I know….“Andrea, of all people, you teach fit!! “You have blah, blah, blah..training, blah, blah, duh.”  So, what are you talking about, you should have ALL the answers.”   But wait…. I say, Fitting is a moving target, YO!! and at each junction you decide what part of it you are willing to forgo for the current fashion item you choose to construct.

This is especially true if you insist on making different garments from a different pattern and different fabric with every project.  At some point, I just want to say, “enough is enough!”

Thus, for me I have decided, in my own infinite wisdom, to forgo new pant patterns and just design around my sloper ONLY.  At least for a while, ha!  Right, we will see how long that last.  To get me focused, I signed up for Kathy Ruddy’s Craftsy class ” One Pattern Many Looks” when they had their last sale.

The side front of StyleArc Katherine woven pant….notice the grain line, it would only prove why the pants tend to twist on the leg.  It seams this should be changed to line up with the body, and not be left the same after the alterations.  

Please stay tuned for the next installment of this post giving you the full blown internal guts and gores of the pattern workings, the pocket making and the fitting of Miss Katherine.   Its deep yawl.

….until then, keep studying your patterns.

Sewing for and working with ladies trying to get patterns and clothes to fit their body has reminded me of my own insecurities that were present in my early years.  My studies have taught me that pattern companies and clothing manufactures must use standard measures based on norms they have found helpful as a basis for sizing sewing patterns and ready-to-wear clothing.  

BDD, pattern fitting, body dysmorphic disorder
These sizing standards of measurements, I think, however, can form insecurities in us that may contribute to our obsessions regarding our body and cause use to feel “we” are abnormal.  While, in actuality, the sewing patterns in this case just don’t “fit” us.  

When I was younger, I thought that as long as I was fitting into the size 10 pattern as it was drafted with no knowledge of FBA’s, Sway back, prominent buttock adjustments and the like, then I was “normal” and of good weight and build, and therefore, acceptable.  I fitted into the “CHART” used by the pattern company.  This was my guideline to know whether I was healthy, or so I thought. 
However, as “normal” life changes occurred, so too changes in my body occurred.  Unfortunately, my young mind of twenty-something, did not register or conceptualize, that “those” standards were not absolutes, and thus, were not a goal for me to maintain.  Nor did those “CHARTS” change to recognize a females body changes.  So I was basically trying to fit into a pattern which only took into account the norms of someone half  my age.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include: 

  • Preoccupation with your physical appearance with extreme self-consciousness 
  • Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror, or the opposite, avoidance of mirrors altogether 
  • Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly 
  • Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way 
  • Avoidance of social situations 
  • The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others 
  • Excessive exercise in an unsuccessful effort to improve the flaw 
  • The need to grow wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws 
  • Comparison of your appearance with that of others 
  • Reluctance to appear in pictures 
I don’t think I suffered from BDD, but it was unfortunate for me, that I was a small 135 pound muscular woman with young kids, yet still a Weight Watchers Poster Child, who thought I was overweight, and needed to loose some pounds to “FIT” into my patterns.  Yes, even back then, I did not often purchase ready-to-wear clothes.  OOOH!!! so wrong and naive was I. 
That me on the right at 26.
Unfortunately, I am finding that this feeling and belief is still a problem for many women no matter the age.  Fitting “into” sewing patterns still creates a culture of sewist who think something is wrong with them.  This in no way assumes these ladies have low self-esteem, however, it is apparent we still have some level of insecurities, and just can’t pinpoint the actual cause, except the issue of pattern sizing.  Neither does this take into account that pattern companies have made it part of their mission to make some adjustments in the size groupings now available for the different life stages of their market.
Thus, I now have made a conscious effort to avoid my old way of thinking by increasing my knowledge and understanding of fit, and also to no longer obsess over every little wrinkle and fold in my handmade clothing.  To accept my body as it is, and make things “FIT” me, not me fit them.

So, as corny as it seems, my business name, or my web name was changed many, many years ago to “SEW-TO-FIT.” and that’s what I try to do now, sew-to-fit for me.

I hope this information will help anyone, who can relate at some level and help a young person with their own body image.  

…these were the sentiments of my student from my class last week.  “This is way too much work, if I want to do this many alterations on a pattern, I might as well take my ready-made to my tailor.” 

Compliments of Palmer Pletsch Publishing

I felt her pain.  This is the biggest obstacle to sewing for yourself.  It is all fine, when you are with others that can help you tweak garments, whether it be a personal tailor or in a class setting, you have to invest time in the garment before you can have the fit you desire.  Fit is a process, no matter ready-to-wear or custom.

Not everybody has a personal tailor, or like me, love to tailor my own clothes.  That’s why taking classes in person is so helpful.  You have the chance to experience the process first hand with a guide to lead you and answer questions along the way.  It’s nice to have immediate access to the online sewing community to get your questions answered while knee deep in a project.

This is my take on the need for in-person instruction and training for better sewing.


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…