Monthly Archives: February 2015

New and improved Lady Skater


I haven’t been blogging much, but I have been working on tweaking the fit of the Lady Skater pattern, with much need help from the lovely people over at Artisan’s Square, LynnH in particular. I think I’ve got it near where I wanted although there are a few more tweaks I’d like to make. I have fabric for two more and I feel confident enough to tackle my precious galaxy fabric, which was the reason I bought this pattern to begin with.

I did want to make a note the cutting layout is still annoying a second time, so much so that I actually doubled my bodice pieces so I could cut them out flat. Unless the fabric is pricey, I’m just buying more next time so I can do a single fold layout. As I said before the layout works, it’s just bit of a pain.


I had a photographer for once and I decided to get silly, err studious.

Cutting out was much easier as I now have a new larger cutting mat and could entirely cut each piece without moving the mat. It’s amazing how much faster and more accurate that made things. I hope some day I can have an even larger mat, one that would cover a whole table would be lovely.

Speaking of cutting, I think I must be getting lucky with my knits because I’ve had no problems with really bad curling so far, but I have bought spray starch as a precaution. They’ve also been very easy to cut out, I honestly have had more trouble with some wovens. I’m sure my experience will change as I branch out, but right now I am enjoying sewing with knits.


I don’t know if you can tell, but I am loving this dress.

I started my alternations on my shortened size 7 pattern. I had taken a one inch horizontal tuck from the bodice. Then after some consulting I removed 1 1/4 from the center front, tapering to 1/4 at the side seam. From the back I did similarly, taking 1″ from the center and tapering to 1/4 at the side seam. This was all based on the amount I had pinched out of the green dress to get the waistband to sit where I wanted it.

I also did my first sloping shoulder alteration , although I probably should have been doing them all this time. I took out  1 1/4″ and took a tuck out of the sleeve cap so it would match the armscye. I did not lower the armscye at all and I’m really glad I didn’t as it would have been quite low and restrictive.

I also slimmed down the dress by sewing 3/4 inch side seams after I didn’t like the look of 1/4 ones. It’s still a little loose in the waist, but not awfully so.


I’m rather pleased with this pattern now. It is quite an improvement over my first green one, although it still needs cuffs and to be hemmed. I want to do a smidge of a sway back adjustment, but then I think I’ll be done tweaking and can move on to trying out drafting different necklines and sleeves.

I feel like I learned a lot while altering this pattern to fit me and I’m so glad I didn’t say good enough and call it quits. It’s got me fired up to make another dress and try tackling my skirt sloper again.



Filed under dresses, finished objects, sewing

The ethics of knocking off sewing patterns

Part of the reason I’d like to get a properly fitting bodice and skirt sloper is that my income is, to be frank, rather limited. I see so many cute indie patterns, but $16-$20 on a sleeveless (of course) dress with one view is something I can only indulge in sporadically. I can often find dupes in the big 4, but not with certain designs, and of course those are always the ones I like the most. In addition, I’m sized out of a number of the indie pattern lines, so I’d be making often drastic alterations to an already pricey pattern and it seems like it would just be easier to alter a block that already fits me.

However, I feel slightly guilty about my plan to do this. I very much want to support small businesses, especially when those businesses are primarily run by women, but not to the point where it doesn’t make sense. I’ll also fully admit that if I’m already out of their size range, I feel much less inclined to try to scrounge up the cash to buy a pattern.

I think I might be holding myself to a double standard because I have no problem with my inspiration folder full of clothing from Modcloth and other sites that I want to try my hand at drafting a pattern for. So much of fashion is knocked off as it is.. I’m fairly certain the people at Forever 21 don’t shed a tear over copying something from fashion week. And unlike them. I’m not making a profit.

I just feel like if a product comes close to meeting my needs but doesn’t I shouldn’t be obligated to buy it out of some nicey nice sense of support. These companies are after all a business offering a product that I should be free to take or leave. Yet I get the vibe from a lot of sewing blogs that people should buy stuff even if it doesn’t exactly work for them out of some vague sense of community. And don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the online sewing community but I feel like things get a little dicey when there’s money involved.

So, if you’re reading this, what do you think? Is it okay to knock off sewing patterns? Only certain kinds of sewing patterns? Only if you’re out of their size range?


Filed under sewing, sewing patterns

Lady Skater “Wearable” Muslin


“Wearable” because this version really needs a belt to be at all presentable.

I feel it necessary to acknowledge that after all the rigmarole of getting it together, the pattern pieces for the Lady Skater sewed together without a hitch. After looking at other people’s finished dresses and knowing my own short waisted nature, I shortened the bodice by 1 inch. I think I’ll take another inch off the next one so that it sits was at my natural waist. I also want to take the sides in a smidge and shorten the shoulder seam by half an inch.

The instructions are very in depth. I do wish I had know the dress fabric needs 40% stretch before buying the pattern I feel like that information should be available outside of the actual PDF. It would have made deciding to buy the pattern a lot easier. I also didn’t like that the fabric requirements did not state the fabric widths. I later learned knits most commonly come in 60 inches wide, but since this pattern is targeted at newbies like myself, it might be best to make that clear. I found the cutting layout a bit fiddly, although it does serve its purpose of reducing wastage and lowering yardage requirements. The instructions have you fold the fabric enough to cut your skirt pieces and then refold from the other side to cut out the bodice. It works but you’re constantly testing to make sure that you’re not placing your pattern on one of the holes left from the previous fold and cutting. I know I call a lot of things fiddly but that’s exactly what it was. With the shortened bodice, I think I might be able to do a single fold layout if I buy half a yard more. It’s little wasteful but it be easier and if I want I can always use scraps to make underwear. I’ve wanted to try doing that.


In addition to shortening the bodice. I want to do a swayback adjustment, the center back waistline is sitting about an inch lower than the center front. I pretty much always find I need sway back adjustments. Although I was hoping I would not this case as the pattern maker mentioned having already made one on the pattern. I guess it’s just not deep enough for the particular curvature of my back. It’s not big deal though, it doesn’t look much worse than most of my RTW.


The shoulders are kind of awful and I’m going to post for some advice on how to fix them, although I think I’ve got it. the neckband came out quite well, I think, although I’m not used to inserting a neckband into a neckline with an open shoulder seam. It and the sleeve bands still need to be top stitched but I do not have any matching thread.


As you can see the waist doesn’t hit the most flattering area, which is why I plan to raise it. I also feel it could use a slight full bust adjustment. I plan making at least two more versions, one for my 6pac and one out of the galaxy fabric. I’m holding off on the galaxy version as I have always wanted a galaxy print dress and I’d like to get the fit better. I feel like this pattern has a lot of potential to be a staple in my wardrobe.

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Filed under dresses, finished objects, sewing

Sewing prep and pdfs


I have not had much chance to get any sewing done these past few days. I’ve been out of notions for this or that, but I was fortunate enough to finagle a small trip to JoAnn’s after visiting my parents. I was able to get the thread I needed to top stitch the waistband of that disastrous Hollyburn, which now only needs a good hemming. I find I don’t mind the look of the top stitched waistband at all and I’m going to be using it instead of invisibly slip stitching by hand on more skirts, at least the casual ones. I also made some bias tape for the red dress but silly me forgot to pick up matching thread while I was at Joann’s so finishing that UFO will have to wait. The floral fabric is an old piece from Fabric Mart that I can’t decide what to do with. I feel like the wrong pattern choice is going to make me look extremely dowdy. Like Little House on the Prairie, but not in a good way.

The top fabric in the above picture is to be my muslin for the Lady Skater before I cut into my galaxy fabric because honestly, it was hard to source and I’m not ruining it. I hope. The green is actually the same cotton poly interlock I made my blue Kwik Sew T-shirt out of. it’s not the color I wanted (colbalt blue) but I am unfortunately stuck with the limited in person selection as far as fabric goes. I had also hoped to pick up a piece of yellow for my 6pac tshirt, but the store literally had one yellow knit and it had all the wrong tones to go with the rest of my color scheme. I must admit I’m pretty jealous of people who have multiple apparel focused fabric stores to go to. I’ve been happy with most of my online purchases but when it comes to knits where I absolutely must know the stretch factor the drawbacks of online fabric shopping become quite apparent. Of course trying to match up the fabrics for my 6pac is also complicating things. I may change one of my colors. I don’t know at this point.

I downloaded, printed out and assembled the Lady Skater PDF which, as I later found a couple mentions of, has several lines that do not quite line up. Luckily I had podcasts to keep me company through the cutting and taping because it was tedious. I normally don’t mind digital sewing patterns, but the fact that the lines were in color, and thus faint due to a nearly empty ink cartridge and they were slightly offkilter made for a trying experience. Personally, I’d prefer if indie pattern designers kept the printable portion of their pattern in good old black-and-white. I also find it kind of weird that the alignment issues haven’t been fixed, given that there are mentions of this issue going back a year.

I think I’m more fond of the idea of PDF sewing patterns in theory than in practice. I enjoy instant gratification. But cutting out patterns is already my least favorite part of sewing. I don’t want to play with a puzzle as well, especially when through no fault of my own that puzzle is slightly off. I tend to blame myself when that happens, but I think the lack of match points on this pattern really brings down the whole assembling experience. I’ve also put together patterns from Colette and Bootstrap (which admittedly doesn’t have match points either), and they were way easier. I appreciate the lack of gatekeeping in the PDF pattern world but it is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t want to get into a quality debate because from what I’ve seen this pattern sews up nicely or I wouldn’t have bought it. I don’t think the product itself is bad, I just  think the delivery method could use some improvement and from what I hear that goes for many, many companies releasing sewing patterns as PDF files.

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Filed under sewing, sewing plans

I’ve been betrayed


By one of my favorite fabrics and patterns. Clever me thought I’d whip up a Hollyburn for the 6 pack today, starting early in the morning so as to stay within the rules. For a while things were fine, I sewed up all the skirt pieces, finished them with my serger. It was my first time doing that on woven clothing but it was super easy and looks much nicer than my sewing machine’s faux overlock. So much faster too, I forgot that finishing seams doesn’t have to take forever.

Then it all went to hell in a handbasket. I had to sew the waistband on 5 times and baste and unpick sections because it would not go on without puckering even though I knew the skirt section had stretched out and eased it to the waistband. None of my zippers matched and the closest one had to be cut way down. I hate cutting down dress length zippers as I have a limited supply. I really didn’t feel like attempting a centered zipper again and I’m pretty good at invisibles, so I went with that. Silly me, it was not my day for that to work out, I had to install each side several times. Thank god the waist seam kept matching up or I may have broken something.


Finally, I could not get the rest of my seam to connect to where the invisible zipper ends. It looks okay from the outside, it’s not the best zipper I’ve done, but the inside is awful, partially because for some reason I though you had to hold the zipper out of the way while I sergered and finished the seams, so I have a load of loops hanging off the edge.

Did I mention this poplin did not like seams being unpicked at all and got discolored from the iron, which I didn’t notice until after I had cut out the pattern? It doesn’t like being ironed either, becuase in addition to the discolartion, I cannot get the wrinkles to come out. This was entirely unexpected, I have the same fabric in a different color, I made a skirt in purple and other than being wrinkle prone it is fine and was easy to work with.


See what I mean about pressing doing nothing?

On the bright side, I modified the instructions from Colette’s Ginger to finish the waistband edges and it looks pretty good. Also the pocket looks so much nicer finished with the serger, even with my lazy lack of thread matching. Technically this isn’t a finished object, I need to get matching thread so I can topstich the waistband.and hem the skirt. I’m so annoyed there is no way I’m hand stitching. Which reminds me I forget to mention the best part.

It doesn’t fit.


The skirt is about an inch too small, despite my other Hollyburn still fitting even though I’ve put on a bit of winter weight. I’m not happy, but if it fits at the end of April, which knowing myself it should, I’ll count it as part of the 6pac. I still want to make another Hollyburn, just not out of this fabric, so thank god it’s gone. I know that next time I want to try stabilizing the skirt sections as soon as I cut them, perhaps with stay tape instead of stay stitching, which has done nothing to help twice in a row.

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Filed under finished objects, skirts