Sewing For My Curves

Hi there! Today I’m over at the Curvy Sewing Collective talking about how I sew for my curves. I hope you’ll hope on over and give it a read!

As an addendum I wanted to speak to the recent interviews with Tim Gunn and how it relates to my own sewing.

Tim got into a little hot water with his interviews, but I am that average woman. When we talks about the size 16 woman who lives just outside the misses sizing, he is talking about me.

Usually when I used to shop for clothing I could find tops that fit, but then I couldn’t find bottoms. And when you venture into the plus size stores the tops were too large, but surprisingly so were the skirts! So where do you go to look for clothing? Obviously I turned to sewing.

Even in sewing patterns I live on the edge. In the Big 4 (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, and Vogue) my top half fits into the misses sized patterns, but my hip measurement is too large. And very often the indie patterns stop just short of my size. I recently went looking for a slip pattern and everything was either too small (misses) or too large (plus size). This is what makes me grateful for the skills I have in fitting clothes to me shape. But what about the millions of American women who depend on stores to purchase clothing?

And then there is Tim’s opinion that people should look “long and lean”. I know many women were unhappy with his statement, but that is honestly how I want to look. I’ve spent many years working on my fitting skills and critically analyzing my personal style to make myself feel long and lean. And that’s the key, I want to feel that way. I know I am neither long nor lean. So I work to create that illusion. Necklines to balance my bust, open cardigans to provide a vertical line, defined waists to show off my smallest part, and skirts with just the right amount of flair to balance my figure and skim my hips.

I’m sure some of this comes down to when I became an adult. I’m only 2 weeks younger than Britney Spears. I was a teenager/young adult in the days of ultra low rise jeans and when a boyish figure with large breasts was the most popular shape. When I graduated college and moved to The Valley I lived with two girls who went to parties at the Playboy Mansion when “The Girls Next Door” was on TV. I was never that version of beautiful. But I was able to embrace my figure. I could reach for fit and flare dresses and heels that made me feel more comfortable with my shape. And now I look back and see that I’ve always had a pretty similar style. As I’ve aged and my body has changed so have some slight preferences, but I’ve stayed true to my idea of what I think is flattering.

So while I understand why people are unhappy with Tim Gunn’s comments, I can relate to what he is saying. Many years ago he referred to the “Slobification of America” and that struck a cord too. In a word where crazy printed leggings are becoming the norm, I’m glad to hear a voice in fashion that is still pushing for polished clothes while encouraging inclusiveness.




Speckles and Sparkles


I’ve been toiling away on little projects lately, but just in time for cooler evenings I’ve finished my 2nd ever pair of socks.

Poor things have been on the needles since July, but I only ever worked on them during my lunch breaks. Well July is also around the time I started spending 80% of my lunch time walking. These socks were knit 5 minutes here and there!


But goodness they are colorful and the yarn is sparkly too so they will be a joy to wear during the dark winter ahead. It doesn’t get very cold here, but our only heater is in the back of the house and I will need these coach socks.


With each pair of socks I’ve been trying a different heel construction. These were knit from a pattern called Fleegle’s Toe Up Socks. And I like the heel construction okay. I think I still prefer the slipped stitch heel I tried on my first pair.


The yarn is from LushKnit. I’ve known Megan through Ravelry for years and years so I have been thrilled to see her tackling yarn dying with such joy. You can tell she is inspired with each color way. This is Moonage Daydream after the David Bowie song. I kept missing her updates so she graciously offered to dye me up a custom order.

The yarn base is super soft and wonderful to work with, though the sparkles don’t photograph on the light colors. And while I’d hoped the yarn would be more speckled than pooling I will say not a speck of dye came out in the bath. That is a miracle for me. I rarely do color work because our water composition seems to make every single color bleed in the soak! But not Moonage Daydream!!!

And now back to all the other little things I’ve been tackling. I maxed out on summer clothes. I always know I have enough when I need to do laundry because of underwear instead of dresses. But soon enough I’ll need cool weather clothes and I’ll have some new makes to share here.




This is a kid who is ready to take on the world!

We’ve had a busy start to the school year, but I did manage to make Lu a new sweater in time for her first day as a Superstar at preschool. This is her 3rd and final year at her school and she’s certainly one of the big kids now.


She’s also spent all summer growing taller and taller. I’m pretty sure she’s 75% legs now. When I went to pull out her uniforms I found none of her sweaters were long enough anymore.

So I turned to my Ravelry library and found I had Georgie Nicolsen’s Feris Wheel pattern. Plus I had some Cascade 220 Superwash Sport in Red to match her dress code.


The sweater came together really well and clearly Lu likes it. Georgie’s patterns are nice to knit because they are written where you pick a width and height. I picked the 20 inch chest and size 4 length. What can I say, the girl is tall and slender! The only thing I wish is I’d added more increases to the front. The sweater isn’t meant to be worn closed (despite the buttons), but Lu tries to pull it closed anyways.


Silly Lu. She just doesn’t ever stop moving! But she’s been off to a good start for the school year and hopefully we’ll get more cool weather soon so Lu can continue to wear her new favorite sweater.



Lovely Linen

Nothing says the end of summer like finishing a sun dress on Labor Day!


But that is exactly how I spent my weekend when I wasn’t focused on potty training our toddler.

I love this dress. After so much frustration with getting something to fit I am thrilled I gave it one more try before moving onto another pattern.


This is a mash up on my heavily modified Gertie bodice with the gored skirt from Cashmerette’s Upton Dress. When I made my Liberty dress a few weeks ago I made the mistake of lowering the bust darts way too much. This time I did all the same alterations only I lowered the bust dart 1/2 inch. Such a difference.


Still not 100% perfect, but oh so close. Once I tried it on I had to take it in 1/2 inch at the under arm. No big deal and easy to adjust on the pattern piece.

But damn this fits my bust well.


And in the back I got the back adjustment just right in the upper back. But then I forgot to re-add the width to the waist. Whoops! Also easily added to the pattern piece for next time. So you can see a bit of pulling there.


The fabric is a linen/cotton blend from The Fabric Store. I purchased it right after the Upton pattern came out, but then it sat in timeout while I battled my fit issues. The fabric is quite open in weave so I lined the entire dress with some bright apple green Free Spirit voile I purchased when my local fabric store went out of business. The lining took just 2.5 yards, so I still have another 3 yards of voile for another project.

Thankfully here in Southern California we’ll have warm weather for another 2-3 months so still plenty of time to wear this beauty through fall!


Stretchy Fabric Strikes Again!

Well, I’m still continuing on my journey to learn about stretch fabrics. My latest project is a testament to why I need to slow down and think a little more. Probably a reoccurring theme on this blog. I’m not a process sewer. I want a finished item and I want it NOW! So sometimes (most of the time) I forge ahead even when things don’t seem quite right.

So here is another one of my Washington Dress Hacks.


Oh hey! That doesn’t seem too bad. And really the dress looks pretty good in the photos. So why am I unhappy? Well this fabric is SO STRETCHY. The first time I used this fabric I made a Moneta (post here) and it stretched all crazy out of shape. I thought it was the pattern. Now I’m thinking it was the fabric choice.


This is some crazy cheap fabric I found at M&L Fabrics in the $3/yard section. It’s a Robert Kaufman interlock as part of a Valori Wells collection. I love the print. I’ve been hoarding it for a year deciding what to make. But it is also totally different from the Valori Wells interlock knit I bought that was from Free Spirit. So confused!  I’m guessing she switched companies between collections and suddenly I’m shopping the discount bin and finding things from a long while ago. Whoops!


Anyways, to make matter worse this fabric is also 100% cotton and has zero recovery. So while it drapes beautifully it wouldn’t be so great for something that needs to snap back throughout the day. I’d contemplated making a wrap dress, but I’m glad I went with something simple. Even sewing this fabric was a total pain. I had to wash and dry it just to make it wearable post stitching.


Regardless I will keeping wearing the dress. Probably only over the weekends. It is really comfy even if I’m not in love. It makes my bust look down right saggy as shown in this photo my mom snapped while we were miniature golfing.


Plus the weight of the fabric pulls it all forward. Not a huge deal on the putt putt course, but not exactly appropriate for the office!

I’m pretty certain I’m going to take it in at the side seams a touch. The fabric has the stretch and I lowered the arm hole depth on this version so the space is there. Maybe it will help anchor the dress to my body. Worth a try?

Making a Muslin – Liberty Edition

After feeling frustrated by my recent attempts at making woven dresses, I took a step back. What pattern has fit me the best? Could I work with it? Well I thought on it for a while and determined the Gertie dress I made a few months back is still my favorite. Light as air to wear and with a good fit. It only needed a few tweaks. So I’m saying goodbye to the Upton pattern for now. Maybe, just maybe I need to stick with misses patterns and grade out rather than starting with plus patterns. Worth trying!

So I put on my Gertie dress to access the fit. Lots of little tweaks, but nothing huge.

  1. Take out 1/2 inch the front neckline
  2. Increase the waist front darts 1/2 inch
  3. Lower the bust darts
  4. Make back darts end higher
  5. Make sway back adjustment less severe

Looks like a lot, but most of these were easy to accomplish when re-tracing the pattern. Then I conquered an adjustment I’d been mulling over for a while. A narrow back adjustment as outlined in this Threads Magazine article.

Now, one would normally use something like muslin fabric or something purchased cheaply, but I’m running low on wadder fabric. I used my Liberty!


It worked! Well, not quite! The finished dress is beautiful, but it turned out I’d over done lowering the bust darts! I had to rip it all apart to redo them. In the end that worked out well because now I have custom fit darts.

I’m thinking I might take that approach more often. These are some of my most successful darts and it wouldn’t be terrible hard to do. I could just sew the top and bottom of the side seam then try on my dress and pinch out the darts as I wanted them.


This was supposed to be a muslin to test my newly re-drafted bodice, but then when the darts were all wrong I couldn’t bear to fix the darts and then rip this all apart to trace off the pieces. I guess that’s what happens when one decides to test new ideas with Liberty of London lawn. This stuff is too expensive and dear to rip apart, but I love all my stash fabrics too much to make a wadder.

I ended up picking this yardage piece because it had been sitting unloved for too long. It was only 2 yards of Penrose Rose (color D) I purchase on an Massdrop a while back. Part of me wanted to see if I could get a whole dress out of such a small piece and I’m thrilled that I could!


One of the other issues I encountered was a lack of lining fabric in my stash. I seriously need to pick up some nice lawn to have on hand! I dug around a found a few scraps of ivory lawn left over from my 1912 dress. It wasn’t enough to make the all in one facing I’d planned. It wasn’t even enough for bias tape! But the awkwardly shaped scraps were just enough to make some very narrow facings.


These worked perfectly and do not flip out the way full sized facing usually do.

The other issue I encountered was when I finished the dress it looked too plain. It was just a simple thing with a whole lot of patterned fabric. I dug around through my lace scraps and found a length of antique cotton lace that was leftover from a 1930s dress I made years ago. It definitely made this dress look less homemade.

Lastly for the skirt I took the leftover yardage after cutting out the bodice pieces and determined I could just eek out a skirt that came to the top of my knees while still being able to line up the subtle striping pattern at the side seams. it also means the skirt is a full 100 inches wide! So wide! To keep the width from becoming overwhelming without a petticoat I pleated the fabric using my own fingertip as a guide on how large to make each pleat.

I’d thought about making a less wide skirt, but I didn’t want to have an awkward piece of fabric leftover. In retrospect I could have used the leftovers to make bias tape, but now that the dress is done I am so glad I went for the super pleated skirt.

Since I finally have a dress I love I’m trying to decide what to make next. I wanted to make a shirt dress this summer, so maybe that should be next. While I ponder I have a couple quick knit things to make. What do you all think I should tackle next?

Month in the Making

Getting the fit right on a woven dress continues to allude me. While my husband was away last month I spend a lot of time daydreaming about how I was going to get a better fit on my woven dresses, but I think you’ll see it is not quite there yet.

Here my my 3rd attempt at the Cashmerette Upton Dress and I still don’t feel like I’ve been able to get something that looks like the pattern envelope.


This is a mishmash of sizes now. The back is a 12 to a 14 at the waist. The front is a 12 to a 16 at the waist. I squared off the shoulders which helped some with the gaping neckline, but oh those bust darts. Bad. Not happy.


And in the back I feel like the shoulders are still wide and this is the smallest size in the pattern. It is too long in the back as well yet too tight at the waist. But when I did a larger size the waist was too large. Sigh.


The one detail I really love about this dress is the binding along the arms. It was sent to me in a knitters swap a lot time ago. I have tried pairing it will so many projects and it never quite worked. But I thought is was quite lovely paired with the loominous fabric of this particular dress.

The skirt is actually from this Lisette dress failure from earlier this year. I’m happy to give at least half the fabric a second life in something I will actually wear regularly even if the fit isn’t perfect!


I also wanted to acknowledge I am probably being hard on myself. I’ve said it before, but I need to repeat it for my own benefit. This dress, even with all its issues is nicer and better fitting than anything I could buy in a store. When it comes to light as air summer dresses the loominous fabric is amazing, but I still hold out hope that I can nail down a summer dress fit before I need to switch into winter sewing mode.