Sunday, January 7, 2024

What is a Half Scale Sewing Pattern?


Just what is half scale and what is a half scale sewing pattern?

 Half Scale Patterns

I get this question all the time.

When I’m at an in-person show, along with my full scale (human size) patterns I always bring along a smaller selection of half scale patterns, and I hear the most interesting comments!

It's not something that everyone works with, and the word "scale" can mean so many different things, so it can cause confusion. Fish, music, and weight measures all have scales, but in this case, scale refers to proportion between two sets of dimensions.

 In fashion patterns, a full scale pattern refers to the size of a person, whatever proportions those are. Full scale is a human scale. Half scale is relative to that human, being exactly 1/2 of those proportions. In some cases we may also use a quarter scale, which is 1/4 proportion. In short, half scale: is one half the size and measurement of a full size person. This means what ever shape or proportions the full scale person has, the half scale will have that same shape and proportions, just smaller. With this in mind, let’s talk about products, uses, and reasons to use this scale.

 The half scale dress form is of great use to designers, teachers, and students of design. Teachers use this scale when teaching because it saves time and resources, and students are expected to learn very quickly. Students must create the pattern and then make it up to check their work on the form. The teacher grades each student for accuracy of design, proportions, and pattern making.  


Designers use half scale to visualize, work out an idea, or design something new. Madelaine Vionnet is a renowned designer of the 1930s who always designed her bias dresses in half scale first. 

Instagram is full of elaborate gowns and fantasy outfits made in half scale. Look carefully for signs of scale the next time you spot one of these eye-popping garments. 

 Patterns in this scale can be useful in other areas too, such as for dolls or to teach fit and design techniques, for practicing skills, and create clothing for display.

Sew Chic half scale patterns will fit the "My Size Barbie" that comes in both a 28" and 32" height and has a 25" waist, which would be 30" in full scale. Just like full scale, the half scale patterns are graded to fit more than one size. Measure your doll at the bust, waist, and hip just like you would a full size person to find out what size to cut for your womanly shaped doll.

Here, Barbie is wearing the Palazzo Pant and Portrait Blouse

 To help students practice alteration skills, several   of my half scale patterns are included and   used in the exercises of my workbook "Pattern Alterations for a Beautiful Bust."
 If you take a fitting, alteration, or design/patternmaking class with me at any of my in-person events, you will most likely be working in half scale because they are easier to work with, take up less space, and conserve resources. 
So how can half scale help you with your sewing journey?

      - Though half scale is not a good choice for working out fitting details, it can help with practicing specific alterations.

      - If you love the idea of making women's clothing in miniature, half scale is the "designer" way to make cute and even elaborate clothing just for the pleasure of the doing and/or display. 

     - If you are a beginning seamstress and want to "practice" the assembly of a pattern first, it will give you a once through to work out the challenges before making the design in full size.

   - Half scale patterns are a great way to experiment with hacks or alterations for design. It avoids wasted fabric and time just to find out the idea wasn't that cute after all!

     Did you know that any full scale PDF can be printed at half scale just by setting the printer scale to 50%?  

       Buy them printed at scale here:

     I hope you'll discover new and interesting ways to use half scale in your next level sewing journey! 

How do you use half scale and how has it been useful to you? I'd love to read your thoughts on this topic.

Have a great sewing day!

Laura Nash

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Wear Your Retro to Expo Day!

NOTE: This post was first published several years ago. A glitch at Google unpublished this information. We have re-posted for the Pattern and styling content. The year of this event was 2020, right before the COVID outbreak.

The Sewing and Stitchery Expo has long been the place to show off your creative garment finesse, and this year will be no different! Having attended the expo as a vendor since 2012, year after year it's been a pleasure to watch people go from simply reminiscing to boldly embracing the mainstream return to vintage. Have you made the move to retro? If you like to feel beautiful, confident, and love getting compliments, then why hesitate?

Hello, my name is Laura Nash and I am the owner, designer, patternmaker, and instructor at Sew Chic Pattern Company where I design "Modern Patterns with Vintage Style"  at Today I'm going to help you visualize how easy it is to make the move to retro, and hopefully debunk any arguments you may have against adopting this trend for yourself.  So get ready to plan your expo retro wardrobe!

Friday, Feb 28 is "Wear Your Retro to Expo Day!"

My Expo Team at booth #923/925

Retro Style, also known as "vintage inspired," is about a return to the clothing styles of the early first half of the 20th century and ranges from totally authentic looks  to second hand vintage or new vintage inspired separates that are paired with totally modern elements and accessories.

Premonition #LN1922
What is truly vintage can get confusing, but typically garments have lots of unique details, use classic fabrics, and feminine silhouettes. Pair your outfits with a simple Mary Jane or ballerina flat shoe. Classics like these can go with anything.

Spin Skirt #LN1209
   To give your outfit a more authentic air, add accessories such as belts, gloves, a small hat, or a fascinator.

If you've never worn a petticoat before, you can ease into it with a petticoat with less fullness. One word of caution.  Not enough fullness, or fullness in the wrong body areas can add visual weight and make you look fat. What you are looking for is structure to enhance the shape and  silhouette of your dress or skirt, filling in the area around your legs. The fuller your skirt circumference or the heavier the fabric is, the more fullness your petticoat needs to help the garment hold its shape. Lighter fabrics and less fullness look great with a lighter petticoat.

Gatsby #LN1923 skirt and pant
My standard go-to top for skirts and pants is a plain (often white) t-shirt worn with a button down sweater that matches my separate. I admit that I have a whole drawer full of these sets!

Phantom Pant and Jacket #LN1106

Retro need not be form fitting. At first glance, this is the pattern everyone calls my "Lucille Ball" outfit! Envision yourself wearing this stylish silhouette!

Myrtlewood  #LN7401
 Have you ever said to yourself  "I'd like to wear retro" but think you're just too old? Let me introduce you to Judy! Isn't she adorable in this cotton house dress? She is the focal point of the room! Age is no reason to avoid wearing what you love.

Southern Belle #LN8503 Plus Size
Maybe you think you can't wear retro because you have a full figure?  Not so! Wear styles that smooth over the tummy, flare at the skirt and broaded the shoulders to give the illusion of an hourglass figure.  Notice how my friend Jocelyn has accessorized with a bright bag and wears a flower in her hair to draw the eye to her face. These bright colors make us happy to just look at her!

Southern Belle #LN8503 Misses Size
Think creatively when considering your favorite retro looks. Southern Belle displays formally but is easily  made to look casual and visa versa as above.

Noelle Coat #LN1721
As with any project, I encourage my students to add a unique detail that will lean it toward their personality and give it that "pizzazz" that makes it uniquely their own. If you'd like more info on how to dress retro, check out my 1 needle expo class #1039 "Harmony in design, dress, and body type" or my trunk show #1040 "Style Me Vintage."

Join me and my booth crew at the Pavilion  #925/923 at 5pm Friday for a little Soiree and celebrate your style of Retro with us!


Interview with Laura Nash of Sew Chic Pattern Company

You have so many gorgeous patterns! Which one do you find yourself wearing the most, and why?
Pretty Petticoat
Pretty Petticoat
Thank you! I'm so pleased to be a part of INDIE PATTERN MONTH once again! 

The pattern style I wear the most may surprise you - it's actually one that no one sees! Whether I'm dressing up or down, staying home or going out, anytime I have on an outfit with a full skirt, it will be paired with my Pretty Petticoat pattern #LN1208. I have two- one that is longer with moderate gathers and one that is shorter and more full. Full skirts and dresses just don't have the right silhouette without the right structure underneath. This pattern guides you for both hand gathering or using a ruffler foot technique.

Which is your favourite design to pull out for special occasions, and why?
Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue
  If it's a very formal occasion I can't go wrong with the design called Fifth Avenue #LN1311. This dress is stunning on everyone, in part because the details are so distinctive and also because it's a great silhouette for all figure types. The details on this dress creates the illusion of a curvy figure for those that are boxy, and a curvier figure for those who have curves. The short person looks tall and a tall person gets taller. Fashion should always be good to our figure.

We're always curious about how much of their own wardrobe people make - how much of your wardrobe do you  think you have made yourself?

The Phantom Pant and Portrait Blouse

My personal wardrobe is probably 50/50. For years I haven't sewn any jeans and t-shirts because they are plentiful in the marketplace, both as ready to wear and as patterns.  I do have some nice basics such as the Starter Skirt #LN1000 and the Phantom Pant #LN1106, and these styles continue to serve an important place in my everyday wardrobe.

One of the things I buy a lot- and I admit I couldn't survive without my large collection of white t-shirts. Of course I have my fair share of sweatshirts and button down sweaters that I did not sew, but I  generally reserve my sewing time for invention and creativity. I would rather spend that available time designing something unique and exciting!  


   What's your favourite pattern to sew, and why?

The Averly Dress
The Averly Dress
This is a difficult question!  How can I choose just one? Though I enjoy them all, after much thought I decided that at any moment in time my favourite to sew has to be my newest! I say this because the new pattern is the one that has yet to be creatively explored, adapted to new uses, and style personalities that are yet to be developed. At this very moment, my favorite pattern is the Averly #LN1720. It's a sweet and romantic dress with a midriff drape and bow that is quick to make and comfortable to wear. I'm itching to make this one in a suiting fabric for fall.



We'd love to see how you wear your designs! Can you show us some of your favourite outfits and tell us about them?

Vignette Skirt
Vignette Skirt

This pattern is also one of the new releases published since INDIE PATTERN MONTH 2016 called the Vignette Skirt LN#1720. One of my favorite features of this high waist skirt is the boning placed in the waistband to keep the front from rolling down. It has the essential pockets, piping detail, and I LOVE the pleated detail at the hem.

This video I did shows you how easy it is to get those pleats made quick and accurate!

 This skirt is one of my dress quick styles. With a simple Tee, and a pair of heels I'm ready to go! This pattern has recently been made into a PDF and will be part of the INDIE PATTERN MONTH bundle sale. I hope you will give it a try!

A big thanks to Kat and everyone for hosting this wonderful online event for all of us. I hope I've provided you with some inspiration for easy to make quick and chic fashion!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

How to Sew Underarm Gussets with the Portrait Blouse

 Before I dig into the meat of the "how tos" I want to go into what type of pattern would need a gusset.

"Hi Laura, ...My question is: Does a gusset benefit every garment? Why do some garments such as the portrait blouse have a gusset while others do not." -Laura K.

ANSWER: The whole point of a gusset is to improve arm movement, and there are several factors that
will be considered and as you might guess, all of them relate to the design of the sleeve. A cut-on sleeve ( a one-piece bodice and sleeve - often called a kimono sleeve) is generally the type of sleeve than needs a gusset, especially if the sleeve is fitted and the sleeve tilts down at the shoulder (such as the portrait blouse). Without a gusset, you could not lift your arm without pulling the whole thing up. Gussets adds fabric under the arm pit and allows the arm to move freely without pulling up the blouse.

Though I'll be using using Sew Chic Patterns LN1619 Portrait Blouse, this tutorial will apply similarly to any pattern with a gusset, or one that needs a gusset. 

Your pattern will look something like this one where the body and sleeve of the garment are all one piece. You'll cut according to your size needs, and there will be a gusset line marking where the gusset should be sewn. It should point to the neckline. 


During the layout stage, I must emphasize  DO NOT CUT ON THE GUSSET LINE at this point, but DO mark the line on the wrong side of the fabric with your dressmakers carbon.

After marking, the end of the gusset line will need a bit of fusible interfacing. The heavier the better. You will be sewing really close to the raw edge and there won't be much of an allowance. Interfacing helps to keep that end stable and supported. I know you are going to ask me which kind of interfacing, so I recommend fusible woven or knit. Make sure to fuse it tightly to the fabric! Heat and steam do this.  

The first "sewing" step is to mark the seam lines. I use a ruler and a chalk marker. The seam allowance is 1/4" where it crosses the garment seam line, tapering to nothing at the tip. It should look like a "V" with your original marked line running down the center.

Stitch, following the marked seam line. This is called "stay stitching." Use a standard or narrow stitch, especially at the tip to really support that narrow edge. 

Now cut down the center along the "gusset" line. 

Cut right the tip as far as you dare. If you don't cut far enough, it will cause puckering and this next step will be difficult to do. 

If you haven't marked the seam allowance on your gusset, do that now. Correct any cutting misalignment. An accurate seam line here will produce a perfect fit to the bodice.




Pin one side only, seam line to seam line as marked, joining the corner of the gusset to the corner of the gusset line stitching. The bodice will taper to almost nothing at that corner, but it can't be nothing, or the two pieces wouldn't stay together. 

Sew right over the top of the stay stitching. 

When you get to the tip, with the needle now, lift the foot to adjust the fabric. 

Reposition the fabric to align the seams and pin if needed. Make sure the fabric has been twisted to fit and doesn't have any bulk or bunching underneath. Lift the fabrics, as they can get caught on the feed dogs- make sure they are truly straight and aligned, then lower the foot and stitch down the other side.




Press seams toward the bodice. This gusset is complete. I do serge this seam after sewing and use a product called Fray Check to seal that tiny seam allowance on the bodice side.



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Future of Craftsy and the Flirty Day Dress Class

 You may have heard that Craftsy/bluprint has been purchased by an entity called TN Marketing, and that they have resolved to bring back the "old" Craftsy that we once knew and loved. They aren't really set up like the youthful Craftsy I enjoyed comrade with (teachers are still wondering about contract royalties) but for sure, as of now, the promise to keep your account and "forever" class purchases still stand. Hurray!

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This image below is the landing page for my class, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that this leading "important" statement could be used in a Marketing 101 class as an example of what not to do. It doesn't encourage me to sign up, but rather does the opposite. Is it an attempt at transparency? Let me just be clear here and say that the statement isn't correct. Yes, Simplicity is still selling the pattern, and as soon as they stop, I will publish it again afresh! The design is only licensed to Simplicity. Thankfully I am still the copyright owner and all rights revert back to me.

Now that I've worked with two "for profit" enterprises in my field, Craftsy and Simplicity, I am much wiser about these "collaborations". We independents do it for the chance at exposure, and I did gain some valuable working experience, but there is yet a list to be made of the good and the bad. In the end, would I say it was entirely worth the benefit? Once you enter into a deal with a corporation,  it's like giving a gift to a stranger. You work so hard and give it all you can, but in the end you never know what they are going to do with the gift, so be prepared to just let it all go. Don't expect to be kept in the loop. It's not in the contract. You are the last person to discover it, yet it's your face or name on the front and held responsible by the public none the less.
So now you know. The future of this pattern remains in my keeping, and here's my promise:  I promise the Tia dress pattern will be "forever" available after it finally drops off the wheel with Simplicity. Will we be safe in the hands of TN Marketing? That I can't say, but there must always be hope for a bright future! 
Here's the links for the things I've been talking about in this post: 
Have a Great Sewing Day!  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Pattern Tour: Sew Chic Patterns & LN1923 Gatsby Skirt or Pant

Hello All! It's been a long spell since I've last written, and I've missed you! It's been a very busy year for me (in a good way!), so it's time for me to check in and share with you my last 4 new patterns. Gatsby sales are topping the charts at the moment, so I thought I'd share with you a few details that make this style pretty special.

All About Gatsby

 With a basic pencil sketch on a scrap of paper pinned to the corner of my mood board for the last several years, the skirt idea had been kicking around in my head for a while. A couple of visitors had commented it was cute, and with a board as cluttered as mine, just noticing it was simply amazing! It was my sign that it was time to bring the idea to life.

Designs do change once I get working on them, and adding curves to the princess seams and including pockets were two good choices. I had some good details, but it still seemed too ordinary for me. I don't like ordinary, so I added the extra flounce in front. It pulls the grain off kilter just a little bit, and the flare follows. It's a great detail for a solid color too.

 One customer asked about matching the stripes with the flounce. As you can see I didn't bother with matching the pin stripes on any seam. My rule of thumb for matching is that the print or pattern has to be bold and large enough to make a difference to the look before I will painstakingly match every stripe. On this skirt with this fabric, it doesn't bother me at all.

If you are a pin stripe matcher, let me just say that not all seams can be perfectly matched. To match stripes and plaids, both adjoining seams must have the same grain and match the same curve. Like a sleeve, they can match at certain points, but not throughout. Because the flounce and side front seams are not the same, they will not be able to match up perfectly. The side front and front pattern pieces also have a curved seam, but they are cut to match the same angle, so they could be pattern matched. Besides, if the stripes were matched, the seam would not stand out as such a great detail. Perfectly matched stripes would force the seam into the visual background.

The flare kicks out just a little bit more (pointing to it on the left), and the soft undulating hemline should help you appreciate the "designer" qualities of this skirt.

After I finished with the skirt, I asked my facebook followers which they would prefer- a jacket to go with the skirt, or perhaps a pant. Mind you, they did not know what the skirt looked like, but hands down, everyone wanted a pant. I personally hate making pants, but these are painless to make and are pretty cute!

At this point, let me point out the high top waist (called a hollywood waist) which I love because it visually lengthens the body. This pant leg style used to be called a "stove pipe" because they were wide and uniform from the hip to hem. These pants actually do have a tiny bit of leg flare, but it's not much. It's a pant leg that I like best and one that suits many figure types. Can you tell the difference between these two pant fabrics? Which would you choose and why?

 Find this pattern here:
Thanks for coming on the tour, have a great sewing day!