Archive for the ‘fit + patterns’ category

Do you still buy many patterns ?

October 13, 2021

What is your relationship with patterns ?

Dr.T has written an interesting piece about the state of the pattern industry.

I’m certainly not contributing to the health of the pattern industry as much as I used to. In my personal progress I’ve gone from being a pattern nerd, and buying every pattern I liked the look of, to having a set of personal blocks and doing my own hacking. Things have progressed so far that I’ve recently considered not following up on pattern releases any more. I certainly couldn’t write blog posts reviewing what’s available in the way I used to.

This has happened for many reasons.
Partly because I have many non-average body features, so it is much less trouble to make my own pattern than to make all the changes needed to someone else’s.
Partly because I’ve done much work on ‘finding my personal style’, so I don’t get tempted by ‘wrong for me’ patterns any more ! (or battered by ‘you ought to want to wear this’ thoughts. . .)
Anyway being up-to-the-minute is not needed around here. This area is mainly students and health workers, not competitive suburbanites or inner city dwellers with money to spare on following fashion.
And I know my wearing style tends to be a ‘uniform’, I’m not a ‘something different every day’ person in what I wear. My making style also doesn’t go for big variety. I’m ‘a 100 ideas before breakfast’ person, but that comes out in thinking of new ways of using the same pattern. I find I’m a one-pattern-many-looks person. I’m not constantly looking for ‘new ideas’ from other people.
And as I’ve learned more about pattern making, so I less often want to buy a pattern just to find out how it works 😀

So I find what I keep near to hand is my small pile of books which suggest variations around a few basic patterns, not my embarrassing number of boxes of patterns sitting in the far corner of my sewing space.
Though I don’t much refer to the books either. Most of my pattern hacking needs are very simple, and covered by the comments I’ve made in pattern hacking posts here – see this post on simple hacks to one pattern, or go to the index page on pattern making – click on ‘altering patterns’. More recent links here.

And partly it’s just the sheer effort needed to keep up with all that’s happening the pattern world ! Although I spend inordinate amounts of time on the internet, it’s not spent following pattern influencers on Instagram 😀 But as I’m not a fan of Instagram – perhaps that shows I’m not really the right person to comment on the health of indie pattern companies !

Dr.T comments on repetition by the Big 4 and pattern magazines. My big difficulty with indie designers is similar. Many of them show slight variations on the same shape – how many patterns does one need for a ‘kimono’ jacket, cut-on sleeve top, shift dress, elastic-waist pants, tee, hoodie, leggings, joggers. . . Such companies are either depending on customers who find it restful to stay with the same designer, or they need to be sure that their pattern offers something different.
I have pinterest boards of patterns for ‘kimono’ jackets, and some of the other styles.

And the webosphere is getting clogged with people who happily generate pdf patterns with only the most minimal help, if any, with how to make them up. Which you only find out by buying the pattern – aargh.

I do find myself following pattern designers who give much thought to their teaching role, and give extra support with making – detailed instructions with many diagrams, extra photo sew-alongs and videos.
Though again this is something that is not guaranteed – you need to try patterns to find the people who give instructions that work well for you. I know a couple of indie companies which claim to take extra care with their instructions but which I don’t get on with – they always seem to leave out what I want to know.

And then there’s fit. . .
I’m also more impressed by pattern designers who try to help with fit (such as Fit for Art, the Sew Liberated Mindful Wardrobe class, Curated by In the Folds, 100 Acts of Sewing in her book).

In contrast, there’s a pattern company which claims “Our patterns WILL fit you!” in bold. Well, that is simply impossible. It would have to be a very shapeless pattern to fit both people who are A cup and people who are G cup, people with a defined waist and people who are round, people who have a large rear and people who are flat there, people who have wide square shoulders and people who have narrow sloping shoulders. I could go on at length about this ! Presumably this company has a big enough customer base of people who are about the same shape as them to keep them in business. Well, about 40% of the population are rectangle body shape. I’m not, and anyway I don’t buy from this company on principle !

Long ago most indie pattern designers were well ‘below the radar’. Big4 patterns were sold in fabric shops, and indie patterns in quilt shops.
Now that has opened up more – the big UK internet sewing supplies company I use has an amazing range of indie paper patterns.

But the patterns I have bought recently mainly come from the more remote corners of the indie pattern world. I’ve become aware that some pattern companies are not mentioned at Pattern Review. I didn’t even realise it was possible for a pattern not to be mentioned at Pattern Review 😀 their list of indie pattern companies goes into the 100s !

Several of these not-at-PR companies sell their patterns in small numbers to private Facebook boards for unusual styles.

One of the patterns I wouldn’t want to have to do without is one of these, the Blanchette blouse by Alexandra Genetti.
This for me has almost infinite possibilities for change. Top left in this collage of 5 favourite items, which I set up in mid 2020 :
5 favourites
My ‘uniform’ is a loose pullover layer over that frilled blouse, with slim pants and lace-up shoes. Add a padded vest in winter. None of these are items that appear in stylists categories, let alone being mentioned by fashion stylists or capsule wardrobe advisors 😀 Well there is a good pattern for the frilled blouse – the Liesl Gibson Recital blouse. I once heard a top style advisor say no one should wear a small frill, yet this is my everyday ‘signature’ item 😀 Jalie used to have a pattern for a padded vest but, very unusually, the instructions were terrible, it took me quite a while to make sense of them.
So none of my choices are likely appear in any advisor’s top style or pattern lists 😀 hence perhaps why it took me such a long time to identify my style.

Other pattern companies are successfully offering support which is going unnoticed in the conventional sewing world. A couple of these not-at-PR companies sell their patterns in 1000s and get enthusiastic endorsements at Etsy from people sewing their first garment, who are surprised and delighted to find they can understand the instructions : All Well Workshop,
and 100 Acts of Sewing (she used to have an Etsy shop where the patterns got the same sort of reviews as All Well Workshop is getting now – she also has video classes at Creative Bug).

Comments on help with making patterns lead in to my personal big beef – the world seems to be full of winter coat patterns that have no front closure?!? At least the Big 4 have more common sense in this area. Maybe your pattern customers are frightened of buttonholes and zips – but in that case you need to offer good tutorials, or add fabric loops / poppas, not expect people to freeze with cold !

Well, obviously I can still go on at length about patterns, even though I don’t buy many any more 😀

Unlike many people, I don’t in theory object to the price of indie patterns. It’s difficult enough to make a living in any ‘design’ area. But in real life, although I understand the pricing I can be put off buying by it.

And of course as a recovering pattern addict, I do still find buying a new pattern is a relatively cheap way of getting a little treat – though that doesn’t happen as often as it used to 😀

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Pattern making for front openings – 2. combined facing to front edge and neckline

December 6, 2018

The first post about pattern making for front openings was about adding zips or bands down the opening edge, with a separate finish for the neckline.

This is about finishing both front opening and neckline with a facing.
Again starting from a basic pattern, perhaps your TNT pattern for a pullover style, or your personal bodice block.
Doing the pattern work is still easy. But not quite so easy !

2 sections here :

Pattern making
Neckline facing patterns have curves, so it helps to draw them on paper first.
I give 3 examples, each a little more complex.

General guide to adding a facing to an unlined garment.

Then a separate post with ideas for how you can add to a pattern with faced opening.

– – –

Pattern making

Tools :
– starter pattern pieces for front and back, with marked centre front CF and centre back CB.
– measuring tape.
– pencil.
– ruler.
– french curve – I have one with width measures round the curved edge, makes it easy to add seam allowances, here’s an example.
Consumables :
– pattern paper you can see through.
– transparent tape for joining paper pieces.

Edge to edge front opening, with cut on facing

Sorry my photos have got rather blurry at reduced size, but you only need to see the general idea.

attach pattern paper to CF of basic starter pattern which you want to adapt.
half size practice pattern from Czachor & Cole

fold paper on CF.

cut out along neckline, shoulder seam, lower edge, then unfold.
mark inner edge of facing.
set the facing width by eye or by measure, usually 2-3″ / 5-7 cm.

cut along this line.
Finished pattern

Overlap front opening

Add an overlap strip to the centre front.
Usually the width added to CF for the overlap is width of button.
This overlap/extension may be called a ‘buttonstand’.
So choose the size of your buttons before doing your pattern making !

Overlap with cut-on facing – often used on blouses.

attach paper as before.
add overlap extension width and draw fold line.

fold paper back on this line.

cut out along edge of neckline, shoulder, lower edge, then unfold.

mark inner edge of facing, at least 2x button width, usually 2-3″.
Blouses / shirts / dresses / skirts usually have vertical buttonholes, with horizontal ones at stress points such as shirt neck and waist.
Jackets / coats usually have horizontal buttonholes, so you need to allow a wider facing to have space for them.

cut along line.
Finished pattern

Overlap with separate facing – often used on jackets and coats.
A seam along the front edge gives a firmer result with more support, better able to stand up to wear.
Extension for double breasted/wrap styles can go out to about bust point or 4″/10cm beyond CF.

attach paper to CF.
add extension.
mark stitching line.
add seam allowance.
mark and cut on cutting line.
This is the front pattern.

You can trace off a facing pattern from this, or make it by cutting as before.
Pin to pattern paper and cut around.

mark width of facing :
– remember to include width of seam allowance down the front.
– facings for jackets and coats are often wider – out to bust shaping, so the garment looks good when worn open.
cut along marked line.
2 pattern pieces

If you prefer professional quality instruction 😀 here’s a video from the University of Derby. She’s using a half-size practice pattern block without seam allowances.

– – –

Back neck facing

Use the same method to make a back neck facing pattern.
Either trace the top of the back pattern.
Or pin the pattern to paper and cut out round the edge.
Make the facing with a CB fold, even if the main garment back has a CB seam.
Match length of back facing shoulder seam to length of front facing shoulder seam.
Then mark the facing edge, and cut out.

If you prefer a video, here’s one from Aneka Truman of Made to Sew.

Those facings are the same width all round.
Perhaps add interest by making your back facing deeper at CB.
Here’s a how-to video from Louise Cutting.

And of course, making a facing pattern for a front neckline without a front opening is just as easy.
Or a front neckline facing for a pattern with a front band or zip.
Or a facing to finish a sleeveless armhole.

– – –

Sewing a facing

These are general points which usually apply to sewing a facing to an unlined garment.
Just a list of what to do, not how to do it.

Prepare body unit :
Staystitch neck edge.
Sew, press, finish shoulder seams.
If possible do neckline-front opening work on main body unit before sewing side and sleeve seams – so the body unit can lay flat and is much easier to work on.

Make facing unit :
– interface facing pieces (optional).
– join front and back facings at shoulder seams.
– press seams open.
– finish facing edge.

Join body unit and facing unit :
– baste/pin facing in place, right sides together.
– stitch main body and facing along front opening and neckline edge.
– clip or notch so seam allowances lay flat (good advice in this photo tutorial from Sew 4Home on clipping and notching curves).
– grade/layer seam allowances (trim them to different widths so they don’t make a lump by all ending at the same point – trim main fabric s/a to about 2/3 width, facing s/a to about 1/3 width).
– under stitch (tutorial from Colette patterns).

There’s a wealth of facings information in this pdf from the University of Kentucky, though it’s not very visual.
If you prefer video instruction, here’s one on sewing facings from Sure Fit Designs.
Sarah Veblen has a photo tutorials class at Pattern Review on facings (not free).

Note different experts use different techniques. That can be disconcerting at first, but try them all and see which suits you best.

Then sew side seams, add sleeves, sew hem, add fastenings, and you’ve made your own design 😀

– – –

Enjoy using your pattern 😀
Then there are many ways you can vary it slightly.
Some ideas in the next post.

– – –

This is the group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline (this post)
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

– – –

Links available December 2018

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Pattern making for front openings : 2b.adding to a front-neckline facing

December 6, 2018

As with a front band pattern, once you have your basic pattern with a front facing, there are innumerable things you can do with it.
Here’s the link to the starting-point post on making a pattern for a combined facing to front edge and neckline.

Basically, the seam along the front-and-neckline edge makes it easy to sandwich extra style elements between main garment and facing.
Here are some ideas.

– – –


Choose between fastenings which are added :
– between main body and facing, such as button loops, tabs.
– after the facing is added, such as buttons, snaps.
See this Craftsy/Bluprint class for ideas for special fastenings (not free).

Edge trims

Items to insert into the edge seam joining facing and main body include : frills, flounces, piping, beading, lace trims, broderie anglaise, fringing, zipper teeth, braid, pom-poms, ric-rac, prairie points. . .

Add these before sewing the facing unit to the main body unit.
Baste frills, button loops, trims, etc. to edge of main fabric – raw edges matching and right sides together. Trims point inwards from the edge while they’re being sewn on – one of those inside-out-and-back-to-front sewing techniques which doesn’t look right until it’s finished.

example from Vogue Sewing Book 1975

Then add the facing.

If you add bulky trim such as piping in the edge, it’s easiest to use a zipper foot when sewing facing unit and main body unit together.

Another option for a faced decorative edge (not an add-in) is to change the edge shape – to curves, zigzags, scallops. Change main body and facing edges to match.

Or attach the facing so it is outside rather than inside – though this does need some extra sewing techniques.


Like trims, collars can be sandwiched between main body and facing.

from Vogue Sewing Book 1975

top – baste the collar along the neckline.
bottom – add the facings unit over the collar, then sew body, collar, facings together with a single seam (may be much clipping of seam allowances needed to get the results to lay as they should).

Use the collar piece from another pattern.
You do need to check that neckline and collar stitching line lengths match up. Notes in this post about how to measure the neckline stitching line, and change the length of a collar pattern.

When attaching, placement of collar depends on collar style :
– stand collar : place outside of collar to right side of body, turn up once sewn.
– other collars : place underside of collar to right side of body.

Here are some videos.
Jules Fallon from Sew Me Something patterns demonstrates sewing collar and facing to a pyjama jacket.
This includes a collar with sharp corner – Sewing Quarter, 11 Sept 18, time 2.22 – 2.55 (drag time line blob along to time wanted).
More tips from her, especially about sewing curves and lighter fabrics – Sewing Quarter, 15 Nov 18, time 0.32 – 0.53.

This is the easiest method for adding a collar to a casual blouse/shirt/jacket. Much the same as making pjs – just different fabric ! (This is the method used for all blouse collars in the French equivalent of CGLI.)

This is the collar sewing technique used in most blazer and other tailored/lined jacket patterns, also RTW.

And use a similar method on a faced armhole, to add a cap sleeve or trims.

More comments on other collars in the post on add-ons to a button band front opening.

– – –

Can you tell I’m a fan of facings – an invisible edge finish and a hidden feature with so much potential 😀
Get inspired 😀 😀

And have a lovely holiday period enjoying yourself in whatever way best suits you !

– – –

This is the group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing (this post)

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

– – –

Links available December 2018

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Pattern making for front openings : 1b.adding extras to a front band

December 6, 2018

This post is a supplement to the main post on adding a front band opening to a starter pattern. That got so long, I’ve separated off this list of suggestions about what to do with your pattern once you’ve made it.

A zip or button band finishes the front opening edge – what to do with the neckline ?
The common neckline finishes are bias binding/facing, or a stand collar.

If possible, sew the neckline treatment after the shoulder seams but before the side and sleeve seams. It’s much easier to do it while the fabric is nearly flat.

This post ends with some ways you can vary the pattern slightly to make other looks.

– – –

Bias binding or bias facing

Often the neckline is finished with bias binding or bias facing.
Staystitch the neckline, as a bias strip doesn’t add any stability.
Here are links to some tutorials on bias binding.
I’m preparing a tutorial on sewing bias facing without distortion, not a quick process.

For dealing with the top corner where bias facing joins button band, and the bottom corner where hem joins button band, see examples in the two photo tutorials linked in the previous post :
100 Acts of Sewing
Guthrie & Ghani

– – –


Here’s a free pattern from Colette patterns with several collar ideas.
These are patterns for a top with no front opening, so can’t be used directly, but are a source of ideas. Simply add a curve with seam allowance instead of the CF fold ?

Collar between main body and bias strip

You can borrow many collar shapes from other patterns and add them into the neckline seam between main body and bias facing.

from McCall’s Sewing in Colour 1964
442 – baste collar to neckline.
443 – black overlayer is wrong side of bias strip :
– stitch together bias strip-collar-body,
– clip seam allowances so they lay flat when the bias strip is turned down.
bottom – turn down the bias strip, turn in its edge and sew down by machine, or hand stitching can be less visible.

Stand collar

Finish the neckline with a stand collar which ends at the outer edge of the front opening, so it covers the top of the band. This may be called a ‘Mandarin’ collar. There may be a button if the ends of the band overlap.

Merchant & Mills Union dress

Use a collar from another pattern.
Or here’s a post on making a pattern for a collar band which comes to edge of front, from The Creative Curator.
This is what you’re aiming for :
half size practice pattern from Czachor & Cole
The lower notch matches the shoulder seam.
The upper notch marks the end of the upper collar, if used.

Band collar sewing video from Professor Pincushion.

Here’s a detailed photo tutorial on sewing a band collar, from Andrea Brown of Four Square Walls. Use just the band, or both parts of a 2-piece collar.

Collar length

When adding a collar/hood you need to match the neckline stitching line lengths of body and collar/hood.

For most collars added into seam between main body and neckline finish (bias facing strip or standard facing) :
Match length of collar to – neckline length from CB to CF.

For stand/band collar :
Match length of collar to – neckline length from CB to outer edge of finished band (or outer edge of facing).

Notes in this post on how to measure the stitching line, and change the length of a collar pattern.

Another band collar

There’s another style of stand collar, called a ’Nehru’ collar, where the end of the collar band is inset from the edge of the front opening.
A more complex pattern make and sew when combined with front bands, so I’m not covering it here.

Kwik Sew 4195

This sort of collar is tricky to combine with front bands but easy to add with a facing, see post on adding to a front-neckline facing.

– – –

Further pattern making and sewing

A few more ideas for a front opening finished with a band :

Two-part separate band
Add a seam instead of the centre fold of a separate band. Then there is a seam on both sides of the band, so you can add in decorative trims.

Add trims between main body and bias facing strip
Add piping, lace, frills, fringing etc. into the neckline edge seam between body and bias facing.

Neckline facing
Or finish the neckline edge with a true facing. See next post about facings : pattern making, sewing, using.
Can add a collar simply by using a full facing too, see that post.

Intermediate plackets
There are front band openings I haven’t included – I’ve gone for the easy ones.
Some which need intermediate levels of pattern making and sewing are :
Full length opening with covered/hidden buttonholes.
Half length opening : exposed zip, polo, henley.
Hmm – some day I’ll look for good tutorials on patterns for these. . .

– – –

As usual, many riches to add to your simple pattern making skills. With just a little practice, many styles can become do-it-yourself 😀

There are many little design decisions to make about openings. I give the conventions, but make adjustments if you want to.
Do what professional designers do – if it doesn’t work out quite right, change things a bit and try again.
(Megan Nielsen recently sent an e-mail describing the months of refinements that go into developing her patterns. In the Folds patterns has sent a similar e-mail – it sounds as if she makes at least half a dozen test garments. And we expect to get it right first time. . . )
Use your own judgement about what is right and what isn’t. Or collect examples of what you like.
Get to know your own wearing, designing, making preferences 😀 😀

– – –

This is part of a group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band (this post)
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

– – –

Patterns and links available December 2018

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