Archive for August 2013

Winter capsule – blazer, pants

August 31, 2013

Two of my favourite stylists have suggested similar small casual capsules for the coming winter 2013, so I thought I’d use them as a focus for talking about some of the new patterns.
The Vivienne Files

They both use layers, tops, and pants.
No skirts, despite UK Vogue’s insistence that they’re a key look this season, see my post on skirts for this winter.
And no dresses, though the pattern catalogues are full of them. Perhaps home sewers are more likely to have a dress-wearing personal style 😀
(If you do prefer skirts and dresses, here’s another capsule from The Vivienne Files.)

The basic capsules have :
– 2 layers
– 3-6 tops, mainly knits but include 1 shirt
– 2-3 pants
– 1-2 big scarves
– 2 pairs shoes
– 1 bag.
– 1 belt

My comments have turned into a series of posts.
– here the main focus is on blazer-style jackets, with a note on pants.
I’m also planning :
– a couple of posts on other jacket styles (see YouLookFab on jacket trends for the season).
– one on tops.
– and possibly one on accessories.

– – –

Travel capsule

Incidentally, Janice of The Vivienne Files is talking about a minimal travel capsule, and shows all the advantages of mix-and-match.
Wear to travel : (“Key 3” outfit) 1 pants, 1 layer, 1 top,
plus 1 big scarf/ shawl, 1 pair comfortable shoes.
Carry a small bag with : (“Four Pack”) 1 pants, 1 layer, 1 shirt, 1 dressier top,
plus 1 big scarf/ shawl, 1 pair dressy shoes, (nightwear, small size toiletries, spare undies and socks).

The only bulky heavy item is the shoes, so try to lighten them. No jeans – they’re bulky and heavy. A knit for the packed layer would be light and pack down well.
Very little to carry and, if you have access to washing facilities, you have the basis for over 30 different looks !
(P.S. ejvc has some interesting ideas about making this group in her post here.)

– – –


First a brief mention of the pants.

Both stylists go for 2 pairs of pants, slim and even more slim.
Plus YouLookFab adds a comfortable-casual pair of ‘boyfriend’ jeans.

sources at YouLookFab

There aren’t any new slim ‘pants only’ patterns, but plenty of pants combined with the jackets, so I’ll mention them there.

If you’re looking for really slim high-stretch styles, McCall’s is a good source of patterns.

For jeans, each of the big companies has their own basic pattern.
Jalie 2908 jeans was the top Pattern Review pattern for 2009.


Pattern Review have 85 pages of tips in a chat and advice jeans sew along for this pattern.

– – –


Both stylists suggest 2 layering options.

This is where Angie and Janice have the biggest difference of opinion : one suggests sweater knits (she’s suggesting a travel capsule), the other has more structured wovens.

The Vivienne Files goes for a couple of classic thicker knits, sweater (what we in the UK call a jumper) and cardigan.

sources at The Vivienne Files

There isn’t a good source of sweater knit fabrics here, so knit your own or buy RTW.

You LookFab picks a blazer and a moto/ biker jacket. She’s going for one more formal and one more casual style, to get a wide variety of looks out of a small capsule.

sources at YouLookFab
(not clear from the image, but it’s a shawl-collar blazer)

Moto/ biker basically is a closer fitting style with exposed zips, often asymmetrical and in a tough fabric such as leather.
I’m planning to talk about these in a later post.
This post is about new patterns for blazer-like styles.

– – –


Many of the new notched collar patterns are buttoned at bust level. Which is interesting as nearly all blazer patterns recently have been buttoned at waist level.
Indeed, YouLookFab says that trendy jackets are buttoned low.

Long low-buttoned lapels may be high fashion,
but they’re difficult to get to lay flat for anyone but the B cup people who the patterns are made for.
And they’re not such a flattering look for many people with large cup size (see Imogen Lamport’s post on buttoning).
It’s a compromise decision, as long lapels do add a lengthening line.

So choose which is most flattering for you. And make sure the visual focus of attention is on the collar, not on the ‘break point’ where it turns back to start the lapels.

Blazer-like styles

Butterick 5926 has a notched collar.


The collar in Vogue 8939 is less usual.
And ah good, a wardrobe jacket that’s designed to fit over long sleeves.


Butterick 5965 wardrobe has a shawl collar.


McCall’s 6655 jacket by Palmer-Pletsch has 2 lengths and a good variety of collars. The blazer picked by YouLookFab is like the one lower left here, though not colour blocked.


– – –


In her post on jacket styles for the coming season, YouLookFab mentions the tuxedo as well as the blazer.

I take it to mean a version of the blazer that is ‘boyfriend styled’, looking as if you’re wearing a man’s jacket :
long and large – wide
more structured – crisp

Obviously the big pattern companies disagree with her, as there used to be several patterns for tuxedos, now no more.

Here’s a couple of download patterns from Burda Style.

Notched collar, Burda 03/2010 # 116


Shawl collar, Burda 04/2013 # 101


– – –


Blazer jackets no longer have to be made out of dark neutrals in gaberdine or men’s tailoring fabrics (unless you want to of course).
Big floral and geometric prints are still in style.

And the new idea is ‘multi-media’ styles (see YouLookFab’s post – link at top of this – for tops in different fabrications).
That means you can make your jacket or top with :
– colour blocking.
– areas with different styles of print.
– texture blocking – add lace, leather trims or sections, bias cut or textured areas.
It’s easiest to do texture blocking if all the fabrics have the same weight and weave. Using areas of different fabric types, such as combining knits and wovens, velvet and charmeuse, can be a technical challenge.

Blazers may be associated with serious work and power, but nowadays the most formal shape of blazer can be worn to an exotic occasion if you use the right fabric 😀

Maybe the blazer shape is classic, but using fabrication there’s lots of fashion forward jacket exploration possible this season. Well actually even classic fabrics are currently high fashion. A recent TV show had a multi-million-selling girl pop group wearing matched solid fabric blazer pant suits !

Does a blazer or tuxedo suit your personal style ?
See my post on details of blazer styling to make them your own.

Blazers are straighter and more structured, for people with a straighter shape, or who want to look more formal. Angie of YouLookFab herself has a crisper look and tends to suggest those styles. (As a supplementary post from YouLookFab, here are some capsules suggested by her readers.)

But if you’re like me, and not happy in a straighter more structured and classic jacket, there are plenty of other new jacket possibilities, which I’m planning posts on.

– – –

Patterns and links available August 2013

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Pant patterns and body shape

August 24, 2013

3 years ago (!) I wrote a post on pant styles for different body shapes.
Which suggested patterns that help with pant fit.
Also one of my most popular posts is on adding wedges to pants patterns.
Since then, I’ve seen two more patterns which deal with different pants fit difficulties.

The fit issues I’ll mention are :
– long or short rise,
– deeply indented waist,
– midriff larger than hips,
– protruding stomach,
– large or flat butt, deep torso, large thighs.

– – –

Fit for Art Eureka pants


Those aren’t 3 different styles, they’re 3 different rear sizes !

Pattern information here, with videos about fit.

The basic pattern has CB or side seam zip and tapered legs. Brief instructions for making other styles.
No instructions for inserting zip. Try this free Craftsy class on zips (not fly zips).

No pockets, so add your choice by copying across from another pattern.

The advantage of this pattern is it offers 3 different back pattern pieces for each size.


Basically, a pattern choice for people with a flat butt, an average butt, or a large butt.
The largest back also helps people like me who have a deep torso, or people with large thighs.

The patterns differ in :
– length of crotch extensions,
– angle of CB seam,
– shape of crotch curve.

This pattern doesn’t claim to be a quick and easy fix. You’re expected to make a test garment (perhaps several) marked with horizontal and vertical reference lines. Then adjust it according the instructions until the reference lines are horizontal and vertical on your body.

This is based on Sarah Veblen’s fitting ideas. She has a pants fitting class with pdfs and videos based on this pattern, at Pattern Review. Or get help from her direct, by video or e-mail and photos, contact information here.

– – –

Sure-Fit Designs Pants kit

Pattern information here

The SFD pattern uses waist, high hip, hip, and crotch length measurements.
Find the dots corresponding to those measurements on the master pattern, and join the dots to trace off your pattern shape.

(Sorry about the quality, this is a screen shot from an on-line video, not the pattern ! I have an earlier version of the pattern.)

Looks complex, but the grid is for finding your crotch length.

There’s DVD support for fitting, and for making a jeans pattern (closer fit).

And many support videos at the SFD Video Library
(scroll to about 2/3 down the page)

Sadly this pattern doesn’t work for me, even as a starting point for fitting tweaks.

My back is several sizes larger than my front.
Well, I could get round that by taking separate front and back measures, and drafting the Sure-Fit front and back to these different measurements.
(See my post on getting to know my sizes.)

Large or small waist

I also have a deeply indented waist. When such people buy RTW pants to fit our hips, we get spare fabric flapping around at the waist. We need more than minimal darts.

My large high hip pads mean I need 3 back darts for a good fit to the waist. Here is my ‘hip template’, back on left.


Perhaps I can’t complain about the Sure-Fit pattern only having one standard dart. Such an extreme waist-high hip difference is rarely mentioned by anyone. Some writers even rule against having that many darts that wide. I’ve only seen one example of a pattern like mine – one of the people in Lynda Maynard’s CD-book on De-mystifying fit.

In contrast, if your midriff is larger than your hips, the last thing you’re concerned about is adding more darts. In RTW, the best you can hope for is to find a company that designs for rectangle shape people, with waist similar to hips. Rather than for the ‘average’ person with waist smaller than hips.

Sure-Fit Designs do consider whether you’re bigger at mid-riff or hip. She talks about ‘heart’ and ‘diamond’ body shapes, rather than ‘apples’ and ‘pears’.
The master pattern includes both high hip and low hip measures. So if your high hip is larger, that can be represented.

(The only person with this body shape I’ve seen being fitted is in Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class at Craftsy, though that’s for a skirt not pants.)

Deep body

The need for more than one waist dart isn’t my only problem with SFD pants.
SFD assumes that, if you have a long crotch measure, the extra length needs to be added to the rise.

While for people like me, with a deep torso because of deep pelvic bones or large butt, or large thighs which cause a similar issue – what we need is longer crotch extensions.


All these lines are the same total length.
Think of them as a simple diagram of a vertical cross section through your lower torso mid-line from front to back. Which is most like you ?

This shows that just knowing the crotch length measure alone is not enough. You also need to know where that length is.
Are you longer or shorter than average from waist to crotch – are RTW pants always too long or too short for you here ?
Or are you longer or shorter than average from front to back :
– Do RTW pants collapse at the back ?
– Or give you big ‘smiles’ – fabric pull lines pointing to the crotch ?
– Or just plain feel uncomfortable and cut into your crotch, especially when you sit down ?
– Or do your pants pull down an inch or more at the back when you sit down ?
Big thighs also mean you need more fabric between your legs.

The Eureka pattern deals with this depth issue directly.

Unlike the Eureka pattern, all SFD patterns have the same crotch curve shape and CB seam angle. And all SFD patterns with the same hip measurement have the same crotch extensions.

However, Sure-Fit pants do solve fitting problems for many other body shapes.

(P.S. Since getting interested in this, I’ve noticed that many commercial patterns have the same length of crotch extensions for all sizes from XS to XL. Surely not ! It seems unlikely that the depth of body stays the same whatever someone’s size.)

– – –

Add princess seams

If your main fit issue is a protruding stomach, start by letting out the CF and side seams. If that doesn’t give a good result, add princess seams to the front pattern piece. They give lots of opportunities for adding extra fabric in this area !


This is supposed to be a horizontal cross section of either your lower front or back, such as the view looking down at your tum.

Shaping seams or main darts are usually best placed about where your body stops being sort-of straight across and starts to bend back to your sides.

Quite easy to add these seams.
– Feel your body to find where the biggest ‘bend’ comes in your shape around.
– Measure how far sideways this is from Centre Front.
– Draw a line down your front pattern piece, this distance from CF and parallel to the grain line.
– Separate the two pattern parts and add seam allowances.

Make up your test pants with wide seam allowances here, so you can try out how much to add. 1 in./2.5 cm on each new seam edge adds 4 in./10 cm to the total width. Like people with large midriff all round, you may need to compromise about how much extra fabric you have to allow over your hips and thighs to deal with the transition from large mid-section to thin legs.

(P.S. here’s a post from Colette Patterns with another method for abdomen adjustments.)

If you have a large rear, you could try adding princess seams to your back pattern. There may be some combination of shaped princess seams and longer crotch extensions which gives you the best result.

– – –

Which pattern for which fit issue ? – summary

If you have difficulties with a long or short rise, you could try the Sure-Fit Designs approach.

While if you have a flat or large butt, deep torso or large thighs, the Eureka pants may help.

Both ? I would start from the Eureka pants, as adding or removing rise is just a matter of lengthening or shortening the pattern between waist and hip. Much easier than changing the crotch extensions and crotch curve shape and angle.

Heavily indented waist : Eureka pants could be best at dealing with this. As the dart positions, numbers and sizes are fitted directly on the body, rather than being supplied by the pattern.

Though it is a bit of a fiddle to do this on yourself. I used a mixed approach, made some guesstimates about dart position by feeling my shape, and about numbers and sizes by comparing my waist and hip measures. Drafted a trial pattern, then improved the details using a test fit.

Midriff larger than hips : Sure-Fit Designs patterns include an explicit measure of the midriff area.

If you have a protruding stomach, try adding front princess seams.

(P.S. 2016 : Sure Fit Designs now has a section of free pant fitting videos which cover many of these issues.)

Whichever pattern may be best for dealing with your fit issues, SFD is the company to go to for instructions on altering your basic pant pattern to make everything from palazzo pants to jeans, yoga pants, leggings, shorts, capris. . . These instructions apply to any basic pant pattern, not just to patterns produced by their system.

Might either of these patterns help you towards the perfect pant fit which is at the end of the rainbow 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available August 2013

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Skirt styles for winter 2013

August 17, 2013

UK Vogue catwalk edit for Winter 2013 says skirts will be a focus this season. Especially 3 styles – pencil, pleats, full and flouncy.

Nearly all worn below knee length. At lower knee cap or lower calf for most people. Mid-calf if you have thin legs.

– – –


McCall’s 3830 classic pattern.


At calf length, you need a hem vent for ease of walking. In the early 20c, they weren’t allowed to show their legs, so made slim skirts without vents – rightly called ‘hobble’ skirts !

Written sewalong from Tuppence Ha’penny (for pencil skirts in general, not this specific pattern).

Lots of video sewalongs listed in my post on Skirts – video sewalongs.

Pencil skirts are styled by UK Vogue this season especially with sweater knit tops and flat shoes.
Here’s a post from YouLookFab about styling a longer skirt , though on a tall person with good shoulders.
And here she is on tops to wear untucked with pencil skirts.

– – –


All around pleats such as Butterick 5756


supplement to instructions, from Fashion Sewing Blog

Or similar McCall’s 6706 if you’d like a shorter style.

If you have difficulty getting your head round how pleating works, here’s a YouTube on pleats.

These pleated skirts can be worn short and flirty, or long. With a long top, or waist definition.

– – –

Full and flouncy

Long again, worn with a fitted top and waist definition. Most of these are fitted at the waist and flare out. Not many with gathered fullness.

Mad Men style – I was a teenager in the 50s and I can tell you it wasn’t a glamorous time. But the skirts are lovely !

Here’s a basic pattern, Vogue 8749.


Though a true New Look skirt is much fuller than this. One point of Dior’s design was to celebrate the end of wartime shortages. So look for a skirt pattern that uses 5 or 6 yards of fabric !

Or test your creativity by making McCall’s 6712 a bit longer.


– – –

For these flared skirts, add sewing a curved hem to your skills.

Very narrow hem – tutorial from Allison.

Narrow hem – many web tutorials, I like the clear photos in this one from Victory patterns.

Yes, 3 lines of stitching – trying to get away with only 2 doesn’t work well !

Wide hem – actually a bit more difficult.
Use similar technique to the narrow double fold in the tutorial from Victory.
Only sew the first row of stitching, as a first turning in/ gathering line.
Fold up hem without guide sewing line,
and press the hem into place, pressing out the fullness.
Best if hand sewn.
Lots of hem tips in general, including on wider hems, from SewMamaSew.

(P.S. Vildy suggests using a hem facing if you want a wide curved hem.)

– – –

Lantern skirt

And – though this isn’t recommended by UK Vogue !
How about a ‘lantern’ skirt for those of us with wide hips and trim ankles.

Wall London

Make as a ‘balloon’ skirt (see my post) using the underskirt method, but low calf length.

Check if you need to add a hem slit so you can walk.
A slit at CB is probably best for most people. Make an open slit if you like to show your legs, an overlapping vent if you want it to be unnoticed when you’re standing still. Trace the vent from another skirt pattern, if you’re not comfortable with just adding to the seam allowances.

– – –

Might this season convert you to skirt wearing !

Long skirts are best for my leg shape, and I love swirling, so I’m tempted 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available August 2013

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Up-down, side-to-side

August 10, 2013

One thing Gale Grigg Hazen mentions in her book Fantastic fit for every body, which I’ve found very helpful and haven’t seen elsewhere.

I get a better fit if I :

– move front and back bodice pieces sideways relative to each other at shoulder seam.


– move front and back bodice pieces up and down relative to each other at underarm seam.


Of course this isn’t a completely straightforward change, as it requires a bit of adjustment to neckline, armhole and sleeve cap, to get them all to match up properly. Plus a small added strip to one of the pattern pieces.

But as my back is wider and longer than my front, I’ve found this adjustment is surprisingly effective in improving my fit with commercial patterns.

P.S. Another tip on fit.
I’ve recently discovered the free pdf from Fit for Art Patterns, on how to fit their Tabula Rasa jacket.
Very clear.
Draw similar horizontal and vertical reference lines on your muslin for any pattern and follow the same instructions, to improve the fit of nearly any upper body pattern (though it’s no help with waist fitting or sleeve cap).

– – –

Links available August 2013

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