Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fitting Pants from the Rear

Today I came across Leena's website at with a great tutorial for drafting your own pant pattern using the Scandinavian drafting method. She's done a very good job of organizing the procedure with charts for measurements and ease.  Drafting a standard pant from measurements is about the same, no matter what method you use. Everything is added, divided up, and placed on paper using our curved and straight rulers.

The problem comes in when our bodies are not so evenly divided. Even with drafting, we still use a standard way of laying it on paper. In my experience, drafting can get us only so far, and by no means eliminates the need for fine tuning.

There must be literally millions of blog pages full of fitting woes and solutions, but these last few weeks I've been working with a private client and this week and I did her pant fitting. I thought I'd share my observations with you.

My drawing below is a similar shape to what the pattern pieces look like, with the black being the front pattern and the red being the back. Pants can be drafted side by side, or the front is drafted first, and the back built off it. Either way, the center back crotch is tipped outward to make room for our rear. How much it should tip depends upon how much rear we have. If your rear is more flat than the standard then your pattern should tip less. If your rear is larger, then your pattern should be tipped more to make enough space. The green lines roughly represent those differences.

 When dividing up the crotch space, the back gets more than the front, but for someone with a large rear, the crotch should have an even deeper scoop and longer length than the standard shape.
 And the pattern shape for a flat rear will have less curve and length to it.
 The standard pattern change is to take in or let out using a horizontal dart cut from center back, creating the same shape as described.  Understanding the relationship of the figure to the shape of the patten can go a long way with the fit before we ever get started, and can hopefully save us hours upon hours of fitting changes and muslin making. Cheers to all us fat/flat bottom girls!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Darts in Clothing that hit the Bullseye

This morning I gave a presentation to my local group of American Sewing Guild members. I'm sure you'd like a picture of it, but I can never remember to take photos of the (interesting?) things I do when I'm out and about. I forgot again. Anyway, the topic was darts.

To get us off on the right track, here is a quiz for you. A dart is widely understood to be:

A) The stinger of an insect.

B) A game in which small, slender, pointed missiles are thrown at a target.
C) A sudden, rapid movement.
D) A fold sewn into fabric to help provide a three-dimensional shape to a garment.

Though I have moved quickly to avoid being stung by a bee while attempting to hit a target with a small slender missile, I am really best qualified to speak on the three-dimensional fabric type, which I think are largely misunderstood. Here are the basics:

See how nicely those imitation darts (dotted lines) fit so well into the curves of our lady? The main point I would like to make about darts is that 1) the type, shape, length and width need to be personalized. One dart cannot be all things for all people. It can be for some, but not all. Let's see how those lovely darts look on someone of a different figure type:
You see what I mean- Not such a good match up.

The next thing to keep in mind is that a dart should never be longer than the apex of the curve it will be fitting.

So, what happens when a dart is too big? You'll end up with a big poof or bulge where you don't need it, as in the Sewing Lawyers experience with Vogue 1324.

The photo I want you to see:

The whole blog post:

Okay, but how to fix it? Make the dart smaller (draw in a smaller dart, and not so long) and then take another avenue to reduce the now too large waist.

So What happens if a dart is too small?  You'll see drag lines and/or pulling, but be careful because the cause may not be the darts at all. You might think these draglines point to a need for a full bust adjustment as with Kadiddlehopper when she made Sew Chic 7401:        

The right solution to this problem may surprise you. Read about it on her blog here:!/2010/01/myrtlewood-muslin.html 

Sometimes a pattern comes without any darts when it really needs one. Read about our experience with Butterick 5601.

I challenge you to look for new ways to use darts for fitting. Of course they can be both friend and foe, but when used right, they work wonders!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Pieced Skirt using the Starter Pattern

This week I did a photo shoot with my model, and boy did we pick a lovely day for it. The sun was shinning and the air was cold but clear. For just a day we thought it was Spring, tromping around with our rack of clothes and a camera for 5 hours. We got some beautiful pictures! My pieced skirt is one that I can share with you now. I did this pattern especially for the ASG conference in LA, Aug. 2011.

It is the ultimate for those of you who love quilting or want total creativity and control, and is very earth friendly!
  • The textile pattern was created digitally on my computer using Photoshop, so the the colors in the two fabrics match perfectly.
  • The fabric was then printed directly onto my  prepared-for-printing 100% cotton fabric using my standard inkjet printer. (YES! It's machine washable!)
  • The size of the skirt pieces were purposely sized small enough to fit onto a standard size page, and to eliminate waste.
  • I turned my textile pattern to look bias while printing on the fabric grain.
  • I used scrap fabric that would have otherwise been tossed out.
  • The expense went into the 100% silk organza on the bottom, which makes this skirt look fabulous!

It all started with the Starter Skirt, #1000, view A. Instead of using one of the waistbands, I used bias binding to finish off the waist. Watch that finished waist measurement though, as it will easily stretch out of shape.

I encourage you to try this yourself! Be sure to use a simple style, whatever you make.

For those of you short on time and just interested in learning how to make and print your own digital fabrics, great for quilting and other piece work (like this skirt), I've made a CD with this fabric print on it, along with more than 300 digital vintage prints arranged by era taken from actual fabric, and a tutorial for how to make your own fabric designs at

If you want to make this exact skirt, I sell the whole kit through Etsy. You get everything you need to make the skirt from scratch just like I did, the original pattern, the pieced pattern, the CD with files for printing the fabric, the bubblejet to prepare the material for printing. The only thing you will need is the fabric!