Archive for the ‘fit + patterns’ category

Changing a pattern neckline

October 22, 2016

You like a pattern except for the neckline ? or you want to try a different shape ?
Changing a neckline is quite easy pattern work.

First draw in the stitching lines on the existing pattern. It’s easy to do this with a transparent French Curve with 5/8 inch marked round the curved edge. These stitching lines show the position of the shoulder seam and the finished neckline edge.


The crucial point to identify is where the neck edge meets the shoulder seam, sometimes called the neck point.

So long as you draw your new front stitching line-finished neckline through this point, you won’t have to alter the back neckline (or vice versa).


If you want a wider or narrower neckline, draw in the new finished neckline position. Then measure how far the new neckline is from the old neck point, along the shoulder seam. Use this measure to find where to start the new back neckline.


To add the new cutting line :
– make some marks 5/8 inch from the stitching line.
The ends of both a tape measure and a seam gauge are 5/8 inch.


– Then join the marks into a smooth curve – easy to do with a French Curve.


Changing the neckline of a wrap top/ dress is a bit more complex. Here’s a tutorial.

Neckline finish

You could simply finish the new neckline with a bias binding or a bias facing.

If you want the added structure of a proper facing, that involves a bit of easy pattern making.

See instructions for making a facing pattern about 3/4 of the way through this post.

Here’s a video from Louise Cutting on how to add a back neck facing to a pattern that hasn’t got one (facings do make collars very easy to sew on).

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There’s a Craftsy class from Suzy Furrer on drafting necklines.

Again, many possibilities to think about and try out. But once you’ve decided what to do, the pattern work needed can be very simple.

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Links available October 2016

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Choosing necklines

October 22, 2016

Do you know what is the best neckline for you ? There’s much to consider. There’s the shape of neckline that enhances your upper body. There’s the shape of neckline that flatters your face. And the widths and depths of neckline that go best with your proportions. All that before you even think about pattern making techniques for changing a neckline.

My old post on choosing and changing necklines is much visited but now rather out of date. So I’ve updated it in 2 sections.
1. choosing necklines.
2. changing a pattern neckline.

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The neckline shape that flatters your body

If you search ‘choose neckline’ you’ll find a lot of guidance, especially about the best necklines for your body shape, your combination of neck, shoulders and bust.

Amy Herzog has good advice about necklines. She gives much detail about hand knitting, but the general ideas apply to all garments. She now has a book, Knit to Flatter, and a Craftsy class, also Knit to Flatter.

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What about flattering your face

To think about this, you need to be aware of the shape of your facial features – your jaw, lips, nose, eyes, eyebrows – are the edge lines straight or curved ?

The Triumph of Individual Style is a beautiful and interesting book with many reproduction art works of women. The aim is to show that, whatever your shape, someone has found it worth celebrating. There’s an interesting section on facial features, pp. 16 – 21.

Once you’ve decided whether your features are mainly straight or curved, there’s conflicting advice about what to do with this information. Some people say the best neckline echoes the shape of your features. Others say the best neckline counteracts your features, so use curved shapes if you have an angular face, angular ones if you’re curved. Perhaps the choice between these attitudes depends on personal style, rather than there being one answer which is right for everybody.

The shapes of your face might influence for example whether you look better in a V-neckline with straight edges or with a slightly curved shape.

So do some experimenting. Cut neckline shapes from kitchen towel and try them out.

‘The Triumph of Individual Style’ says you can wear any shape of neckline, so long as it balances your face with your body. Though they recommend echoing your jawline.

Personally I agree with going for shapes that echo the curves of my features. Necklines with sharp angles seem out-of-kilter with my face. But then I prefer softer curved looks anyway. And also, I’m old enough to have ‘jowls’. I find my best neckline is the shape that echoes what my jawline shape used to be 😀 I have to be careful with a draped neckline. They look good in a fabric with enough body to fall in a curve. But if the fabric is so soft that the bottom of the drape falls into a sharper V, that isn’t good on me at all.

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Width of neckline

Gale Grigg Hazen has an ingenious suggestion about measuring necklines, in her book Fantastic Fit for Every Body. Use a transparent (quilters) ruler to measure how wide your neck is, and how far your straps are from your centre line.

”gghneck” (Grigg Hazen p.170)

Compare these measures with the pattern : is the pattern neckline wide enough for your neck ? too wide to cover your straps ?

‘The Triumph of Individual Style’ says your neckline or collar opening should be wider than the widest part of your face. For most of us that means we aren’t at our best in a jewel neckline which is close fitting round the neck.

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Depth and balance

‘The Triumph of Individual Style’ has some fascinating suggestions about flattering neckline depths, pp. 49 – 55. They suggest two ‘balance points’, for high necklines and low.

All their measurements need to be made vertical and straight, with a ruler. Not over the bumps, as you would using a tape measure.

High balance point

Measure vertically from the widest part of your face to the tip of your chin. Your widest point could be at your forehead, your check bones, or somewhere on your jaw.

I’m 3-1/2 inches vertical from cheek bone to tip of chin.


Measure that distance down from the neck end of your shoulder.
Across from there is the most flattering point for your upper neckline.

On me this comes at the level of my collar bones. I’ve long known that a neckline closely fitting my neck doesn’t look good on me.

Low balance point

Measure vertically from your hairline to the tip of your chin.
Or, if you always wear a hair style that substantially covers your forehead, measure down from your hair.

I have a long face, and on me this is 8 inches.


Wear something that you don’t mind sticking a pin into or marking.

Measure the length of your face down from the tip of your chin, On me that comes near my bust point.
Mark that level, which is said to be the most flattering level for lower necklines.

You need to convert this to a measure that can be compared with a pattern. So measure from the neck end of your shoulder down to the pin or marker, this time using a tape measure on your body. Because of collar bones and bust, that is likely to be longer than the vertical measure down from your chin.

I’ve got prominent collar bones, and on me this measurement is 11 inches.

If this point comes low on you, you need to think what this means for you personally. With my long head, the low neckline point comes so low it would need a lot of double sided tape to be at all decent, and would be much more revealing than suits my style. But that doesn’t mean I can’t emphasise necklines to this level. It explains why I like wearing long necklaces, and deep V necks on layering tops and jackets, which are all coming down to that level.

So if you need modesty you could have a more obvious neckline going down to this point, filled to a higher level by something less obvious. And I’m trying out emphasising this level using embellishment, a corsage, or a necklace pendant.

Now I know about these balance points, I keep spotting celebrity examples. Wear your neckline below the low balance point if you want all the attention to be on your cleavage !
I think the necklines of most patterns are developed on models with long necks.

Cut test necklines from kitchen towel, or drape scarves, and see what you think. Image consultant suppliers sell sets of basic neckline shapes made from calico. You can try a much wider variety if you make your own !

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Of course, getting the best neckline shape is essential, but only the first step. Then there are collars, bias drapes, bows, ruffles, whatever. But presumably these additions follow the same principle – that they are best when they coordinate with the lines, shapes, and proportions of our bodies.

For example, big collars need to be in proportion to our overall build. (I’ve just been attracted by a large collar jacket pattern, but fortunately thought of checking my personal croquis. A deep collar wider than my shoulders, on a short jacket, would make me look like a heffalump. . .)

‘The Triumph of Individual Style’ has illustrations showing how to adapt classic collar shapes to high and low neckline balance points.
And Darlene Miller’s book ‘Your shape, your clothes and you’, has illustrations suggesting curved collars go with curved bodies and straight with straight.

There’s a class on drafting simple collars at eSewingWorkshop.

And a Craftsy class by Suzy Furrer on drafting collars, which covers many more collar types.

Lots of possibilities to think about and try.

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Links available October 2016

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To get to main blog, click on red header.

US Indie patterns from UK suppliers

September 17, 2016

Enjoy exploring indie patterns, and prefer tissue patterns but don’t want to pay huge shipping charges ?
There are 100s of US indie pattern companies. Here are the ones that are available direct from UK suppliers.
I’ve listed adult clothing only.
The suppliers don’t always carry the complete range. I’ve found it worth e-mailing them if you want a pattern they haven’t got.

There are a few pattern companies from other countries.
And I haven’t listed the UK pattern companies these suppliers stock – there are direct links to UK pattern companies in the right side menu.

There are some US pattern companies, such as Cutting Line Designs and The Sewing Workshop, whose automatic site adds on huge shipping charges. But if you e-mail them about it, they are willing to ship for a few dollars. Worth trying.

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UK Suppliers of indie patterns


Dragonfly Fabrics

Guthrie & Ghani


Minerva Crafts

M is for Make


Sew Essential

All except Habithat also sell fabrics online.
UK pattern companies – see right menu (if menu is not showing, click on red header – you will leave this post too !).

Specialist suppliers

Sure-Fit Designs UK – ‘connect the dots’ basic fitting slopers drawn to your personal measurements

Vena Cava – mainly cosplay / historic / steampunk patterns and supplies

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Pattern company : supplier

Alison Glass : Minerva Crafts

Amy Butler : Backstitch

Anna Maria Horner : Backstitch

April Rhodes : Dragonfly
April Rhodes : Minerva Crafts
April Rhodes : M is for Make

Art Gallery Fabrics : Minerva Crafts

Betsy Kingston : Dragonfly
Betsy Kingston : Backstitch

Blue Ginger Doll : Sewbox

Cake patterns : Sewbox

Cashmerette : Backstitch
Cashmerette : Dragonfly
Cashmerette : Guthrie & Ghani
Cashmerette : Minerva Crafts
Cashmerette : Sewbox
Cashmerette : Sew Essential

Christine Haynes : Backstitch
Christine Haynes : Dragonfly
Christine Haynes : Minerva Crafts
Christine Haynes : M is for Make
Christine Haynes : Sewbox

Closet Case Files : Backstitch
Closet Case Files : Dragonfly
Closet Case Files : Guthrie & Ghani
Closet Case Files : Minerva Crafts

Colette : Backstitch
Colette : Dragonfly
Colette : Guthrie & Ghani
Colette : Minerva Crafts
Colette : M is for Make
Colette : Sewbox
Colette : Sew Essential

Deer & Doe : Guthrie & Ghani
Deer & Doe : M is for Make

Eliza M : Minerva Crafts
Eliza M : Sewbox

Fancy Tiger : Backstitch

Folkwear : Habithat

Gather : Backstitch
Gather : Dragonfly
Gather : Guthrie & Ghani
Gather : Sewbox

Grainline Studio : Backstitch
Grainline Studio : Dragonfly
Grainline Studio : Guthrie & Ghani
Grainline Studio : Minerva Crafts
Grainline Studio : M is for Make
Grainline Studio : Sew Essential

Hot Patterns : Sewbox

How to do Fashion : Backstitch
How to do fashion : Dragonfly
How to do Fashion : Sewbox

I AM patterns : Backstitch
I AM patterns : Guthrie & Ghani

Jalie : Habithat

Jamie Christina : Backstitch

Laughing Moon Mercantile : Habithat

Liesl & Co. : Backstitch
Liesl & Co. : Dragonfly
Liesl & Co : Guthrie & Ghani
Liesl & Co : Minerva Crafts
Liesl & Co : M is for Make

Made by Rae : Backstitch
Made by Rae : Dragonfly
Made by Rae : Guthrie & Ghani
Made by Rae : Minerva Crafts
Made by Rae : M is for Make

Make it perfect : Backstitch

Megan Nielsen : Backstitch
Megan Nielsen : Dragonfly
Megan Nielsen : Guthrie & Ghani
Megan Nielsen : Minerva Crafts
Megan Nielsen : M is for Make
Megan Nielsen : Sew Essential

MiY Collection : Sewbox

Named Clothing : Backstitch
Named Clothing : Dragonfly
Named Clothing : Guthrie & Ghani
Named Clothing : M is for Make

Nehelenia : Habithat

Oliver & S : Backstitch
Oliver & S : Guthrie & Ghani
Oliver & S : Minerva Crafts

Papercut : Backstitch
Papercut : M is for Make
Papercut : Sewbox

Pauline Alice : Backstitch
Pauline Alice : Dragonfly

Salme : Backstitch
Salme : M is for Make

Schnittchen : Dragonfly

Sense & Sensibility : Habithat

Serendipity Studio : Dragonfly
Serendipity Studio : Minerva Crafts
Serendipity Studio : Sewbox

Sewaholic : Backstitch
Sewaholic : Dragonfly
Sewaholic : Minerva Crafts
Sewaholic : M is for Make
Sewaholic : Sewbox
Sewaholic : Sew Essential

Sew Caroline : Dragonfly
Sew Caroline : Minerva Crafts

Sew Girl : Sewbox

Sew Liberated : Backstitch
Sew Liberated : Dragonfly
Sew Liberated : Minerva Crafts
Sew Liberated : M is for Make

Sew me something : Backstitch
Sew me something : Dragonfly

Straight Stitch Society : Backstitch
Straight Stitch Society : Guthrie & Ghani

The Avid Seamstress : Backstitch
The Avid Seamstress : Dragonfly

Thread Theory : Backstitch
Thread Theory : Dragonfly
Thread Theory : Guthrie & Ghani
Thread Theory : Minerva Crafts
Thread Theory : M is for Make

Victory : Backstitch
Victory Patterns : Dragonfly
Victory : Guthrie & Ghani
Victory : Minerva Crafts
Victory : M is for Make

Walden by Colette : Backstitch
Walden by Colette : Guthrie & Ghani
Walden by Colette : M is for Make

Wiksten : Backstitch
Wiksten : Dragonfly
Wiksten : M is for Make

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These are the pattern lines on offer in August 2016

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Sewing Patterns for Men’s Clothes

April 12, 2015

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee 2015, I’ve been looking for men’s patterns.
You might think there’s nothing for men learning to sew for themselves, between making a cushion cover and tailoring a suit, but in fact there are many options.

If you’re looking for a “learn to sew” project book for men, the Merchant & Mills Sewing Book has a sequence of bags and home dec all suitable for both men and women (clothes patterns in this book are difficult to understand, M&M single patterns are good).

When you’ve learned the basics of how to sew, where can you go ?
Sections here with links to pattern sources for :
Casual wear
Activewear and Outdoor gear
Suits, vests, coats.
These are all paper patterns unless noted.

Plus a final section on making your own patterns.

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Casual wear

Burda Style download patterns
Colette Patterns – Walden for men
Hot Patterns
Kwik Sew
Lekala (download)
Merchant & Mills (Tee, Foreman, All State)
New Look
Seamwork (download)
Silhouette patterns
Schnittquelle (German)
Stof & Stil (Danish)
Thread Theory (hover cursor over image to see photo)
5 out of 4 patterns

Many of the download patterns at Burda Style previously appeared in Burda Style pattern magazine.
Occasionally there are stylish patterns for men in Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique

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Here’s a taster of what’s available, which is sorted for men.
The following sites give more choices. Most of these sites aren’t pre-sorted for men/ women.

Burda Style download patterns

There are several specialist pattern companies for historic styles.
Choose the era you are interested in at
The Great Pattern Review
That doesn’t link you direct to the pattern.
Here’s their list of links to sources.

Here’s a page of free download historic patterns.

The Great Pattern Review site also has a ‘futuristic-fantasy’ section.
For cosplay costumes for specific characters, you can usually find ideas on specialist sites for the character.
There are some ‘online only’ cosplay costume patterns from McCall’s : Cosplay by McCall’s.

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Active wear

Here’s a guide to tips on sewing outdoor gear which aren’t in most conventional sewing books.

Burda Style download patterns
Controlled Exposure
Green Pepper
Green Style Creations
Round Earth Publishing – martial arts
Shelby Kaava
Storm Mountain Designs

Outdoor gear

Pennine Outdoor (mainly tents and sleeping bags, the item descriptions say what the leaflet is for)
Quest Outfitters (tents, bivy bags, backpacks)
Rainshed (mainly special purpose bags)
Many free patterns for bike bags available on-line.

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Burda Style download
Islander Sewing Systems
Kwik Sew
(and check the Casual wear sites)

Suits, Vests, Coats

Burda Style download patterns

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Make your own clothes patterns

Ready-made full size basic pattern blocks for men (average body shape) from Shoben Media :
shirt, pants, vest, jacket, coat.
casual top (includes instructions for making raglan styles from basic block)

Custom fit patterns

Don’t expect a perfect fit from these tools unless you’re lucky. They only cover about a quarter of all fitting issues. But they may give you a better fit than patterns for ‘average’ body shape.

‘Connect the dots’ tracing from a master pattern, by Sure-Fit Designs :
Shirts and casual jackets (easy to make any height-collar-chest combination).
Pants for men booklet used with pants pattern.

Pattern making software
Wild Ginger PatternMaster Tailor Made

Formal Pattern Drafting books
Patternmaking for Menswear : classic to contemporary by Kim & Kim
Metric pattern cutting for menswear by Winifred Aldrich

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Other options :

Vintage patterns
There are many vintage pattern sites. Good places to start are :

The Japanese produce marvellous pattern books, with full size traceable pattern sheets. So long as you don’t mind they’re in Japanese ! with many good line drawings of construction. A fun challenge, but not for beginners. Sizes are small. Body sizes are given with the book information, in cm. Multi-size patterns, so they may be quite easy to grade up.
These are the books for men’s clothes at my favourite source, which shows many sample pages.
Simply Pretty

Free patterns – with very variable quality of pattern drafting and instructions.
Sadly there’s no obvious good source focussed on men’s patterns.

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It’s worth checking a pattern at Pattern Review, to see if anyone has helpful advice. (I find it quickest to search by pattern number.)
Pattern Review

Man’s clothing may not show the almost infinite variations in style elements that there are in women’s clothes. The differences are more in subtle details.
You do have to search thoroughly if you want something stylish, but there is a lifetime of possibilities to explore !

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Links available April 2015

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