Today’s Fabric Friday is another lace pick. Alençon Lace. It’s almost like cheating really to be talking about Alençon Lace today. Why? Because it’s basically Chantilly Lace that is corded (and we talked about Chantilly last week, in case you missed). How do you pronounce Alençon? alan-sohn. Now you can sound smart when you’re asking for it at your local high end fabric shop!


Again, Chantilly Lace is when the design/motifs – like the florals – are woven into the lace itself instead of being embroidered on. With Alençon, you’ve got some nice cording that is applied to the motifs. Its usually a relatively heavy cording, because sometimes Chantilly’s can have very very light cording. So you’re looking for something much more textural when you’re looking at Alençon. Chantilly’s are flat laces. Alençon’s are corded to add texture, richness and density. Cording is technically called Cordonnet, just in case you were wondering.


I thought for today I would give you some more lace geekery. These terms can be applied to all laces. I’ve been talking a bit about when laces have a decorative edge – like scallops – running along each selvedge edge. When you have one decorative selvedge edge the lace is called flounce and when both are decorative it’s called galloon.

That’s good for today’s lace geekery, I think. Do have any Alençon Lace? I find it looks quite rich – definitely needs to be paired with the right thing, in my opinion.

Find more Fabric Friday posts here!

  • Ani - I think you got the English pronunciation of it correct, but I do agree, it still needs it’s friendly little cédille! :)

    Also, I want some.ReplyCancel

  • eimear - inspiring as always, a friend of mine gave me the left over lace from her wedding dress (at the time i was a bit perplexed about this as i wasnt really sewing then)….. i finally dug it out and its embroidered and beaded tulle (she is italian) so i dont know what catagory it is – its only enough to edge a shawl (150cm x 15) or trim a skirt or top which is a pity as your lace posts were inspiring me to think bigger! (like this -http://missalliemass.blogspot.ie/2015/04/couture-ish-lace-jacket-aka-worst-thing.html)ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Sounds like a re-embroidered lace trim eimear. You might consider mixing laces, which is fun. You can attach this lovely lace to another or chop it up for the appliques and add those to an existing lace piece to give it pizazz and excitement. This kind of work is a little tedious but it makes for some thing truly sensational and of course very unique. I’m considering doing some more lace posts on how to do things like this.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry Holt-Reese - I am making a wedding dress for my daughter For my own dress I used a 4 ply silk I think was charmeuse
    She is a little big and tall I read that I should not buy fabric on a roll where can I purchase this in antiques white? Also I need to know how to use horsehair in the hem and how and what to line with The top is a halter so can I buy a stretch underwear fabric for the inside?I would love to get any tips you may haveReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Hi Sherry! 4-ply silk that is satin backed is called crepe back satin, otherwise 4-ply silk is crepe on both sides. I don’t know exactly what you mean by purchasing fabric on a roll, maybe you’re thinking it won’t be wide enough? I’ve usually seen lace that is 36″ – 56″ wide so you just need to pay attention to the descriptions and see what they say. No sure where you can purchase antique white lace. Definitely purchase swatches before purchasing lace online to ensure color and quality. Lining will depend on the type of fabric you use. Are you thinking that you would like to use a stretch lace and therefore thinking that you would like to use a stretch lining? Stretch linings are so hard to come by, I suggest swimsuit lining in that case. If you’re using woven fabrics (no stretch) then I suggest rayon bemberg lining – my favorite!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Alderman - I have wondered about ‘Galloon”. Have you ever noticed that novels written about the time Jane Austen was at work refer to the dress the female characters are going to wear by names that describe the weave structure? “I am going to wear my sprigged muslin” or my batavia” The latter took me years to track down; it’s a twill where the same number of warp threads are above the
    weft as are below it, e.g. a 2/2 twill ir a 4/4 twill. If this is too geeky for you I can show you sometime…

  • Sylvie - i think this is the prettiest lace I’ve ever seen.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Hi Sunni! Very interesting article. I know nothing about lace, so this is all new to me.

    On a totally unrelated note – just wanted to throw out how much I’ve enjoyed the zipper class on Craftsy. Not until I actually got into it did I realize that you give so much information about attaching zippers to lined bodices, etc. so this has been great! You did such a good job at explaining what you were doing, going methodically from one step to another, and thankfully making sure that the fashion fabric and lining were quite different from each other so the viewers can easily tell which is which.

    My first attempt at lining a skirt (BEFORE watching your class!) was less than fantastic.. ahem… but I learned a lot anyhow. Next time I will review your lessons and I am positive the result will be much better. Might be time to splurge and get some fabric, perhaps some of the selections from your store will find their way to my house. :) Oh, do you still go back and answer questions that are posted on the Craftsy class?

    Thank you!ReplyCancel


In keeping with last week’s Fabric Friday, I thought I would keep going with the lace family. When you start delving into lace, it becomes more mysterious and fascinating all at the same time – or at least I think so. I find it amazing that what looks like such a delicate fabric can really be so strong. Really cool.

Today I thought I would focus on Chantilly Lace. Did you know that in french, the word Chantilly means something along the lines of whipped cream? It’s also the name of a city in France where Chantilly Lace originated from (hence the name for Chantilly Lace, even though knowing about the whipped cream part is pretty fun too). A fine chantilly lace is truly lovely. Personally, I rarely see one that has a design that I truly love, so when I do, I snatch it up!


Chantilly lace is different from re-embroidered lace in a few key ways. Instead of the motifs being embroidered onto English Net and then possibly beaded, Chantilly has the motif woven into the lace itself. Re-embroidered lace has a surface design that is applied after and the Chantilly has more of a flat, less textural design that is woven directly into the lace as it’s being made.


Chantilly started out as a bobbin lace. What’s bobbin lace? It’s also known as pillow lace because it was worked by hand on a pillow. Individual strands/fibers were designed (braided and twisted) around a set of pins that were placed in the pillow at various intervals. From there the individual strands were worked into a lace and while they were worked they were wound around various bobbins to keep them separate.



Fine Chantilly has a picot edge – or eyelash edge as I’ve heard it called too. These looped edges run along the scallops which would be considered the selvedge on regular fabrics. Again, as I stated last week, lace doesn’t have a grainline, so you can utilize the scallops to your advantage. Along a pretty neckline or at the edge of a sleeve or hemline of a skirt or dress.

Have you ever used Chantilly? Have one in your stash? Do tell!

Find more Fabric Friday posts here!

  • Natalie - Hi Sunni, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy these fabric Friday posts. I’ve learned so much! This lace is gorgeous. I hope you do a silk series at some point! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!ReplyCancel

  • visitor - “Did you know that in french, the word Chantilly means cream?”

    Chantilly doesn’t mean cream in French. It’s a type of sweetened whipped cream used in desserts: crème chantilly. As far as I know, the name of the lace comes from the town where it originally was produced.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Oh thank you! I actually have a french friend who told me it meant cream or whipped cream, I couldn’t quite remember. Updated now!ReplyCancel

  • Maddie - Just like last week’s post on re-embroidered lace, I love this one! I didn’t know Chantilly lace started as bobbin lace. When I first red about it, it was hard to imagine what it was, and I found the below YouTube video that gives a great visual. Thought I’d share!


  • Yvonne - Add me to the list who LOVES these Friday fabric postings. Thanks for taking the time to do them. I appreciate it.ReplyCancel

  • eimear - as with the other comments above, i really appreciate your fabric postings. i am also hoping some one posts a lace make, as i was given some leftover lace from a friends wedding dress years ago and would like to make something but am drawing a blank!!! and your posts on lace are definitely inspiring me to think a bit harder.ReplyCancel

  • Diane - Love Love your Chantilly Lace…glad you finally found yours. I’m still on the search, because like you haven’t seen one I can
    live without.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Galnte - I’m surprised to say that I do have a piece of fine Chantilly lace in my stash with an eyelash edge! Who knew! Now I do, because you educated me. Thanks for deepening my appreciation of a gorgeous piece.ReplyCancel

  • Fabric Friday: Alençon Lace | A Fashionable Stitch - […] like cheating really to be talking about Alençon Lace today. Why? Because it’s basically Chantilly Lace that is corded (and we talked about Chantilly last week, in case you missed). How do you pronounce […]ReplyCancel

  • Abigail - Very useful, thanks for the post!ReplyCancel


For today’s Fabric Friday, I thought I would delve into the world of lace. Since finishing up my besotted blouse last week, I thought it would be great to highlight laces. Today’s lace: Re-embroidered lace! I thought I would do this one first as it’s the same type that I used in my besotted blouse.

Lace get’s a pretty bad rap, I think, as being hard to work with. It’s really not. Like really, really. I daresay that lace is fairly easy to work with. It just requires a special skill set – not unlike how you have special skills/techniques for knits. Laces are like that. You need to pick sewing patterns that cater to the lace. Case in point: my besotted lace and silk blouse. I created the pattern especially for the lace I was using. The lace is beaded and as I was looking at the lace, I realized that I didn’t want to mess with a dart anywhere in the front of the bodice. Additionally, I didn’t want to mess with a curved hem in the front either. So those two things got tossed in favor of something simpler to sew with this fabric.


To begin, we need to know what netting is and how it’s utilized in these laces. The netting I’m showing you is English Net. The kind I carry in my shop is the flowy and soft kind – not the stiff kind. The soft and flowy kind is the kind that is quite a bit harder to get your hands on, or so I have found. English Net is really, just a simple netting that is usually made from silk – but the silk version is outrageously expensive (like $150 per yard). The version I sell is a rayon/nylon blend. The rayon gives it some nice drape and the nylon gives it softness.



With re-embroidered lace, you have English Net that has been embroidered with motif – usually florals. The embroidery is then corded.


Re-embroidered laces can also be beaded. These can be quite lux with glass beads, sequins and rhinestones.


Fine laces – or at least the ones I normally see and purchase for my shop – have a finished scallop running along both selvedge edges. Sometimes the scallop is not the same on both sides, like in the case of a border motif style lace. When you’re working with lace, the cross grain usually becomes the new straight of grain so that you can better utilize these scallop edges – but don’t let that fool you. Lace doesn’t have a grain, so you could do some wild things with it if you wanted. That said, there is usually more give in the cross grain than in the straight of grain. Additionally, lace doesn’t fray or unravel so you can cut the motifs in the lace apart and slap those on different garments in different places if you wanted. Use all that to your advantage.

Have you worked with lace before? What gives you pause when it comes to lace fabric?

Find more Fabric Friday posts here!

  • Robyn - I just purchased some lace from your shop that I plan to make into an infinity veil scarf for my daughter to wear to church for Easter. She found the idea online some where and I can’t turn down a challenge. At any rate I think I know how I will make this but, will it need to be hemmed? You say that lace does not unravel. So, do I need to finish seams or hem it? Just curious…

    I love the purchased that I got from you. It’s beautiful and I am wanting more.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - I love lace but worry that it looks too bridal. Any suggestions for how to use it in a more contemporary fashion?ReplyCancel

    • Lady ID - I’m not Sunni but I would say it depends on the type of lace. You could try a skirt or dress using guipure. Or play with different colours. I use to be anti-lace because it’s so popular at home but now I love it. There are so many colours available so I tend to stay away from whites/ivories because they look bridal. BUT I would totally make a short dress out of sequined ivory lace – the shorter length makes it less bridal IMOReplyCancel

      • Cynthia - Thanks Lady ID. Love the idea of a short dress out of sequined lace. Maybe an art deco style of lace if I can find it.ReplyCancel

  • maddie - Since I sew mostly lingerie nowadays, I’ve become comfortable with sewing lace. I wouldn’t use English lace for any of my bras or undies, but it was interested learning about it. Thanks Sunni!ReplyCancel

  • Dalia - I had a wedding-gown that was all embroidered lace, with a long train and scalloped edges. I fell in love with it and bought it second hand. I knew I would have to shorten it, but I I thought the lace was woven this way. Oh, the naïveté. When I looked closer, I had at least sixty seperate pieces of lace and countless beads, pearls and sequins on my hand. Something to sew back on in the evenings by hand. Almost 7 months later I still find sequins in the corners.
    But it has given me appreciation for this fabric and why it is so expensive.ReplyCancel

  • Lucy - The scary part of working with expensive lace is the cutting. I made my daughter’s wedding dress 3 years ago. A lot of planning went into the design. Cutting seemed like the point of no return. Any mistakes would be irrevocable. Luckily, it all turned out well in the end. Her dress had princess lines. The fabric had a wide border. It took a lot of planning and a bit of hand stitching to curve the lower edge of the lace, but it worked out well. I wrote about that process here: https://playfulstitching.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/wedding-dress-part-ii/
    I have four separate posts about the dress. This one is the second in the series. I hope they are helpful to anyone sewing with lace.ReplyCancel

  • Fabric Friday: Chantilly Lace | A Fashionable Stitch - […] keeping with last week’s Fabric Friday, I thought I would keep going with the lace family. When you start delving into lace, it becomes […]ReplyCancel


Since I got you all excited about creating your own patterns – from a pattern that already fits you – in my last post, I thought I would give you some fitting thoughts of what I went through with my versions of McCall’s 6649. I posted an update about the Craftsy class with Sarah Holden in my last post, but I thought I would state it again. This particular class does not offer any help whatsoever for fitting. It focuses on pattern drafting from a pattern that fits you. The fitting process is a whole class unto itself, so that was not covered in a class like this (but see below for more info on my fitting references). Often times fitting, for me, is a really rotten and time consuming process (isn’t it for everyone?). One thing I really really don’t enjoy is that I tend to start second guessing myself at the end of it all. Do I really like the fit of this? Maybe I should make a few more tweaks? Shouldn’t it be more fitted? Hmmm, the sleeve might be an 1/8″ too long? An 1/8″? Isn’t that a little nuts? Are we actually trying to split hairs here? AHHHHH! This process is called overfitting and it happens, I think, to all of us (well I hope it does or I am a bona fide nut job). I usually have to step back from something like this and then come back to it a few days or weeks later.


With McCall’s 6649, I made an initial muslin. From there I created this flannel shirt that I blogged back in August of last year. That was my first rendition. The sleeves were too short, the collar was too tall and flopped about too much (for my taste). The shoulders needed a forward shoulder adjustment, the sleeve cuff was too big. I also like to sew the button placket in a different way (this is just too lumpy for my taste). These were things that needed fixing even after I had done a muslin and made extensive fitting adjustments before I made up this version! In case you were worried, I didn’t pick this pattern back up and finish the fitting process until December 2014. It did not take me since last August to fit this pattern! Ha ha! Now that would be bad!


My second round proved better. I measured a sleeve and cuff from a button-up shirt I had and liked the fit of and then adjusted my pattern accordingly. Also compared the collars and made more adjustments to my pattern. The sleeve cuff on this one still ended up being too big for my taste preferences. And yes, I totally added lace to this one! This is a Liberty of London print, just in case you were wondering.


I adjusted the sleeve cuff for this favorite version (read more about this one here)! The cuff is a  little more fitted and that’s exactly the way I like them. This shirt, I daresay is perfect. Again on this shirt, I opted not to sew in the vertical darts on the front bodice, just to mix it up a little. I like things boxy sometimes and I was curious to see if it still “fit” if I didn’t sew in the darts. It fits just fine, it’s just a different sort of fit which is good because then the wheels start turning and I start seeing possibilities for future hacks!


And then just to be safe, I made one more version in a most beloved Liberty of London that I had been stashing for some time for just this very purpose. I decided to go whole hog and do all of the things, including front vertical darts and pockets with flaps.

I decided to show you all of these because I feel that sometimes people might think that fitting can be solved after one muslin iteration. While a lot of it can and the garment you make next is usually just fine or at least wearable, you’ll end up wanting to tweak things for an even better fit in the next go around. Why? Because you CAN! Hello fitting ninja! The kinks come out of it pretty well when you’re into your third make from the same pattern – at least this has been my experience. Granted, there are a lot of patterns out there that I don’t make multiples of. Sometimes those patterns are just one hit wonders, but base patterns like these I take a good long time with and really get the fit right on par for what I want.


I took this class on Craftsy quite some time ago, which I found to be incredibly useful pre-muslin – Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon. Her follow-up class is really good too, Fast Track Fitting, in the Details. She’s also got a great book out – Create the Perfect Fit – and all of these resources stick to the same method that she really tries to drill into your brain – measure your body, measure and adjust the pattern. I like her method a lot because you use measurements from your body and then you adjust the pattern before you do your initial muslin. It clears up a lot of the big problems. After the muslin phase, I tweak the fit utilizing the first edition of Fitting & Pattern Alteration. Really, really awesome fitting book.

OK, well I think that’s enough about fitting for one day. Hopefully there’s some good information here for those of you who might be stuck or thinking about overfitting every sewing pattern you’ve ever made! Do you make multiples of patterns to get the fit just right? Do you over fit? I know, it’s totally a thing, right?

  • Crimson Needle - Overfitting… well now I know what to call it.ReplyCancel

  • Marina - Fabulous job! I’ve always stayed away from shirts but this gives me hope.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy N - Ain’t fitting fun?? I do a regular costuming job where there are one or two repeat performers each year. One has a great figure, but owing to having 2 kids in the past 4 years, her measurements have altered pretty dramatically from season to season! So the muslin that was a dead fit while nursing is too baggy now, etc… I find the best bet is just to cut with very generous seam allowances, and then do a good shaping on the toile before I try to cut out the final fabric. Owing to NO TIME, one toile is all I can allot myself! For personal clothes, yes, I hacked a pair of Ann Taylor wide legged pants and have made 5 different pairs, trying to refine the fit each times. It’s fun, and a challenge, as each fabric behaves slightly differently. But I wear them all, because I HATE to toss out anything I have worked that hard on!
    Thanks for these posts and suggestions. A very valuable resource!
    Nancy NReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Great points! Sometimes there are certain patterns that I only want to make once. I don’t need to make it multiple times so, one muslin is going to have to be enough. In that case, I find that some of the fitting problems will just have to stay, but at least it’s mostly wearable and I will wear it. DIfferent fabrics do bring up different fitting problems, couldn’t agree more! So in addition to the pattern, now we have to worry about fabric! Ugh. Never ending!ReplyCancel

  • K-Line - It’s so true about the iterative process of fitting. Pretty well every first wearable garment version (generally a 2nd or 3rd muslin, for me) ends up being revised and tweaked when I make it again and again. We change, our preferences change, our bodies change. A pattern is a moment in time. I do try to get most of the way there before I wear it out of the house though :-)ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I love this thought about our preferences changing. So true. There have been times in my life that I’ve preferred an really close fit and other times when I’ve wanted a slouchier fit on a similar silhouette. Great thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • Emma - Thank you for talking about this scary topic! I’m new to sewing and I made my first dress (out of the envelope) last summer. Alas, it didn’t fit and, traumatised, I gave up sewing for several months. I am now getting back into it again and learning a lot about muslin-making and fitting on the way. I now understand that I need to put in a lot more work to get a garment to fit me, and will make up a pattern several times, altering my pattern and tweaking as I go. I’ve watched both of Joi’s classes on Craftsy, as well as Lynda Maynard’s fitting class, which is EXCELLENT. I love your shirts and am excited to start making them once I get my basic cotton tee pattern down!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I tell this to all of my students. Fitting is the #1 reason people don’t sew their own clothes anymore. It’s the #1 reason we give it up and never want to do it again. On the flip side though, when you’ve gotten a better hang of the fitting game, it’s the #1 reason you will sew because you’ll find that once things start fitting, you’ll love it! Hang in there. This is what most everyone goes through.ReplyCancel

  • McCallPatternCompany - Really good points here! And love your renditions of this pattern.ReplyCancel

  • Leah - Thank you so much, fitting does take time and I don’t spend enough time doing it, but I love seeing your progression through the garments. Since this is a classic, I’m sure there will be many more. Need to remember this for some of my wardrobe staplesReplyCancel

  • Katherine - I am doing Suzy Furrer’s class on drafting a bodice sloper to fit. I am up to my 12th fitting alteration and am so over it, but want the final result to be bulletproof. I think I could have got there much quicker and with heaps less muslins if I had someone to help me with my measurements. I would also recommend getting an expert to help with the fitting, if you have access to one, which I don’t. I just want to get onto the fun pattern alterations bit.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Wow. Yes, you would definitely want the fitting to be bulletproof. Again, I’m always amazed that there is really no “easy” path to fitting. You just have to go through it and do it and keep doing it.ReplyCancel

  • Stillsewing - Well done on your alterations! I would never have the patience to “tweak” a pattern to the extent that you do. In fact if I had to do that much alterations I’d never start on any sewing project!

    I prefer to make patterns like “Very Easy Vogue” that have simple lines, are easy to sew so that you can get perfect results. They are elegant and easy to wear. Because they do not have too many pattern pieces are easy to adjust. Patterns like these encourage home sewers whose time for sewing is limited as it competes with so many other demands in their lives. Sewing is a hobby for most people and buying and using a pattern should be a help and not a chore.

    Personally I sew so that I can have my own style which to me means lots of different garments. If I cannot buy a pattern and use it without a muslin first, then I will stop sewing or go back to makng my own patterns which I consider to be a waste of time when there are many good pattern makers out there.

    I enjoy your blogs and have followed them over the years. I wonder how you find the time to do all the sewing that you do and fit in all the other aspects of your life. Even thinking of all the time you spend on recording your work alone! I’m retired, and do a bit of voluntary work, but that aside, managing a house and garden doesn’t leave as much time for sewing as I would like.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I think you have to approach sewing from what you want out of it and it sounds like you do. I want more from sewing each time I sew – I want to make easy things and hard thing. Things that are really complex and others that aren’t. I do have a household to manage and I do work a job right now, but I find that I prioritize sewing to be at the top of my list of things to do when I’m idle. I just really crave it and love it.
      With fitting, I will say that after fitting many different shapes and sizes of women, it would be hard for some to even get many of the sewing patterns with simple lines and shapes to fit well enough to wear or even try on. While this works for you (which is great!) I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone because the results vary so much and because then people become extremely unhappy with sewing because they can never wear anything they make, which is incredibly frustrating. In my opinion, fitting is just one of those things that you have to do if you make your own clothes.ReplyCancel

  • Tanya - I really appreciate you sharing your process. I have been inspired to make and fit a button up shirt. I got the McCall’s pattern, sign up crafty class by Pam Howard and on my way many fantastic shirts that fit me. My journey there will take effort and time with fit but that’s what it takes.ReplyCancel

  • Sophie-Lee - Oh man, I so hear you on the over fitting issue. I’ve been trying to get my shirt pattern fitting perfectly and I think I’m there (on my fifth version) but my brain keeps going “look at those drag lines. Is this bit too tight? This bit too loose? Should the cuff be smaller?” etc. If I do anything else I probably won’t be able to move! (http://www.tworandomwordsblog.com/2015/03/granville-version-2-now-with-new-and-improved-fit/ is the latest one)

    It’s also really good to be reminded that you’ll need to continue making changes, even after a muslin – you may only realise something needs to change after wearing something for 5+ hours, or once you’ve got it in a fashion fabric rather than stiffer muslin.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Again, a great point. The wearing of something for a day really tells you if it’s going to work for you. Sometimes it really doesn’t. I just made a pair of jeans and the waistband is digging into my tummy – won’t wear them! So out they go and here I go making another pair with a waistband adjustment.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - Thanks for sharing your fitting process, I made a muslin for a few shirt patterns last week and you’ve just convinced me to sign up for that craftsy class.ReplyCancel

    • Lesley - Kate, don’t forget you can ask Craftsy for a refund if the class is not your cup of tea, I think you have 30 days. I bought Joi Mahon’s classes and just don’t feel any closer to a good fit. Her teaching style is not my thing and there have been other Craftsy classes I preferred for fitting like Kathleen Cheatham’s.ReplyCancel

      • Sunni

        Sunni - Oh, I’ll have to check out Kathleen’s class! Thanks for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • Glynis - Please can you share with us how you get the collar to stand up like it does. I’ve got a shirt pattern I’m really happy with except for the collar – it opens out and lies flat and I don’t want that.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Stevens - What an awesome post! I love what you’ve done with this pattern and am inspired to try myself. Thanks for that! My question to you: I really love sleeves with little turn-up cuffs (maybe)that fall at or just below my elbow – and I’m thinking of trying to do this with this pattern. Do you have any suggestions or advice you could share for doing something like this? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • EmSewCrazy - Just had to jump in and say I was skeptical of yet another fitting book but entered a giveaway because why not? Joi’s book was a revelation and has tremendously helped my fitting journey!
    Thanks for your honesty in sharing the journey it takes for that “perfect fit”. Love that navy floral shirt too!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I personally really really like Joi’s method. It’s a method I was doing before I had encountered her class on Craftsy, but on a much simpler scale. She has you take a lot more measurements and you make a lot more adjustments and it’s been something of a revelation for me. I still have some issues after the muslin, but they are fairly minimal. I find that the her method works really well on other women as well as I’ve used it for my fitting classes.ReplyCancel

  • BeckyLeeSews - I suffer from being formerly fat. The yo-yo of weight loss and subsequent gain has been a steady pattern in my life for over 30 years with a size 18 at my largest and 10 at my smallest. Fortunately, the 18 was for a very short time in my late teens, but also unfortunately, in the size 10 phase I bought a ton of clothes that no longer fit. So now I’m making my own and have found out that somewhere between a size 12 & 14 is perfect (at a size 10 my face has too many wrinkles!) I’m using RTW dresses that I like as sizing guides to alter commercial patterns – the bodices on some and skirts on others. But even then, something usually goes wonky. Measurements be what they are, I NEVER believe them and so I “add just a 1/2″ here” and I end up with a billowing tent in the end that I have to add a dart to. It’s definitely a journey!
    That last LoL blouse is my favorite. Beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - This is another great point! I think a lot of women suffer from rapid weight loss and gain and it can be really hard on the fitting front because you have to take your measurements each time you approach something new. I think you’ve got a great system – using RTW can be a revelation to making sewing patterns fit. Great idea!ReplyCancel

Over the course this year so far, you’ve seen my adoration for a certain button up sewing pattern (McCall’s 6649) and then a couple of hacks of things I’ve made from it (here and here). I thought I would take a sec, stop down and say a little more about it. It’s exciting. Well, at least I think so.

Hopefully this post will help clear up some questions I’ve been getting and hopefully it will show you that you can take a pattern and hack it up and not have to re-invent the fitting wheel. This is a skill I’ve cultivated over several years and one that is well worth the time invested and when you get to the pattern drafting part, it’s really quite fun to learn (in like a scrapbooking sort of way!). In my recent hack of my beloved McCall’s 6649, I mentioned a Craftsy class I had taken. One Pattern, Many Looks with Sarah Holden. I enrolled in the class last year sometime and then it sat in my Craftsy cue for many months. One night, I was really tired and decided to watch this Craftsy class as I was sitting in bed. I watched all the episodes right there and then. I was riveted and I was so excited to get up and get started in the morning. Dreamt of pattern hacks all night! Yessssss!


The class takes you through this pretty fascinating process. First you’re supposed to fit the pattern. This process actually took a few weeks (the longest part of this whole business) because I wanted something that truly, was perfect and that usually means, for me, that I work out any and all kinks in a pattern by making it up at least 3 times. Seriously, 3 times is the charm. I have some more thoughts about the fitting process in my next post, but yeah, I made this shirt up a good 3 times (and then one more time, making that 4 times!!) before I moved on to the rest of the content of the class. Update: Just so you are aware, this Craftsy class does not cover anything about fitting! It’s only about pattern drafting and manipulation.

After a perfect fit, then it was time to reverse engineer the pattern back to sloper form. What is a sloper? In the most basic terms, a sloper is a base pattern, without seam allowances, from which other patterns can be created or hacked from. You can have different types of slopers. For example, you can have bodice, sleeve, dress, pants, etc. From there you can even have varying types of those basic patterns like a button-up shirt sloper or a raglan sleeve sloper. The idea is that you’ll start forming an entire collection of base patterns that are closer in idea to what you want an end pattern to be. More colors in a crayon box if you will.


Anyway, back to McCall’s 6649. I created a sloper from this pattern and transferred all of the pertinent markings to posterboard. All of the seam allowances have been cut off here and there are holes and notches in specific places. Putting a pattern like this on posterboard is fantastic because then when I’m ready to create a new top from this pattern, I can just trace it off  in a matter of seconds. The posterboard is stiff so you can just trace around it really easily.

In the Craftsy class, Sarah shows you some really great hacks. And these are just starting points. I mean you really do have the entire world at your feet when you start creating your own patterns – from patterns that already fit you! Since you’ve already addressed the fit, that tends to not be a problem anymore. You might run into some issues here and there, but they are minimal by comparison.

All in all, I’m very very pleased with how my hacks have turned out from this process. It took a lot of time, but was well worth the investment. Onward and upward from here. Have you gone through this process before? What kinds of slopers do you have? If you haven’t, I can’t recommend something like this enough. You learn a ton about fitting and about your body and what things you should be looking out for when you go to try a new sewing pattern. Plus then there’s the creative gratification that comes from creating a pattern of your very own. Fun, fun!

  • Aline - Thank you so much for posting this. That particular Craftsy class is in my cue as well – I really feel the urge to do something with it now. I love what you managed to do with the pattern, and I particularly like the cream version, with the beautiful fabric. (And yes, I also need three versions before getting there, where patterns are concerned, so a good sloper would be more than welcome! I think I should just start and get on with it.)ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I think you would be glad you did once you were done. I’ve been taking my sloper out a TON and playing around with different ideas for different blouses from it – even dresses! It’s getting a ton of play and use from me.ReplyCancel

  • Becky - Thank you! I’ve had that class in my Crafty listing for ages and never “found” the time to watch it. I am watching one class each morning this week. This is exactly what I want to do!Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Crimson Needle - I’ve been interested in learning the sloper approach to sewing/pattern making and have been looking at books on slopers I could buy, but reviews seems to often be mixed on their quality, so I’ve been eyeing the bodice sloper class on Craftsy and the one you’ve mentionned (amongst so many others, I want to get them all..). It’s good to know I’ll get my moneys worth for the Many Shirts class when I buy it. I made some shirts in the past, but I see much room for emprouvement and would love to get (or make) a TNT shirt pattern.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I have to weigh in because I’ve purchased several patternmaking books over the course of several years. While they are all good and they have wonderful information, drafting a sloper from your measurements is well, just as hard as getting a pattern to fit you. It’s about a ton easier if you have a teacher there to help and hold your hand a bit, but if you’re doing it on your own, I definitely say, take the Craftsy classes. It’s so much easier to be guided by someone than try to decipher how to do it on your own! You’ll go through about 1000 iterations of just the drafting trying to get it right – at least I did. I tried many, many different methods and books and found the same for all of them. Almost easier to just fit a sewing pattern from scratch.

      Once you have the base pattern though, pattern manipulation is easy peasy. And fun! You can do many many things and it gets really exciting the more you play around with your sloper. fReplyCancel

  • melissa - I’ve taken the sloper class on Craftsy, but this one seemed really interesting as well. The theory behind it sounds pretty fascinating!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I think the sloper class would be well worth the time – also have that one in my cue. I found this class really approachable. I like that she used a regular sewing pattern and then took that pattern and created a bunch of different blouses from it. It’s really creative and fun! So many possibilities.ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - I like the concept of a sloper, but I just don’t wear too many shirts, so I overlooked this class. I will take another look. Thanks, Sunni!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I think there’s one for pants too if I’m not mistaken. A Craftsy class I mean. Same idea. You take a pair of pants and create all the different pants patterns that you want from a single pattern. Makes it so you don’t have to deal with fitting a new pattern. It’s quite liberating and fun!ReplyCancel

  • mary - I have a pants and a skirt sloper. I have really worked on the ginger jeans and archer shirt patterns into my idea of perfect jeans and button up patterns. They aren’t slopers but now I am curious about doing that. I really believe in taking the time to fine tune patterns , it has been totally worth it for me. I got really tired of reinventing the wheel each go around with mixed results.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Amen! I hear ya sister! Trying to fit new sewing patterns gets so old. Gosh, I got so sick of starting at square zero everytime I wanted to make something a little different and so, it really was finally time to get some slopers done. They are a lot of work, but in the end, I’m so much happier with how these work instead of trying to fit a new sewing pattern.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - Perfect timing on this topic! I was just doing some fitting through a new craftsy class (not the one you’ve mentioned but I will be checking it out now) and wondering if I could apply my new form fitting pattern as a sloper of sorts. Thanks for the insight.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I’m sure you can. Fitting is the #1 reason people don’t sew their own clothes. When you start taking the fit out of the equation, it makes you want to sew more and believe me, you do! You can start cranking out patterns and projects left and right.ReplyCancel

  • BeckyLeeSews - I truly miss wearing shirts with buttons. Or even a shirtdress as the retro look is coming back. But my bust has a fuller shape from the sides so all RTW blouses get the gappies on me. Honestly, why sew a shirt I have to keep closed with safety pins? This class is in my Crafty wish list but haven’t taken the plunge yet. You’ve convinced me now that I may find my answer here. The idea of perfecting a pattern sloper has been brewing so I think on their next sale I’ll get it.

    On a side note, I mentioned you and your Crafty class on zippers in my latest blog post. I reference that class ALL the time. Can you do a post about a dress with a lining and an invisible zipper? One that has that nice machine finish?ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I’m sure I could come up with something! Give me a bit and I’ll see if I can’t put this together!

      As for the Craftsy class I’m talking about here, I do want to state that it’s not a fitting class by any means. Sarah Holden only talks and goes into depth about pattern drafting. But I still think the class would be worth everyone’s while. The pattern drafting alone is great and it really does get you to think outside the box. I know exactly what you mean about wearing button-up shirts. I never did for a long time either because they never fit across the back. Couldn’t put my arms in front of me! Now I can that I make my own. It’s marvelous!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Since I drafted my bodice, skirt and pant sloper from the book European Cut by Elizabeth Allemong, they have been invaluable to achieving fit that is 95% right the first time. The other 5% is the vagaries of the pattern and fabric I’m using which can be dealt with, with a muslin and then I’m good to go to make multiples :) I also use RTW items in my wardrobe to compare then tweak the patterns.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Yes, I’m completely on board with you here! I feel the same way about the fit and I usually tend to make a muslin, if only just to check things like the neckline and such. Otherwise, the fit is so much easier and all I have to worry about is the design. Fun!ReplyCancel

  • eimear - great post – and good mention of making up 3 times to work out kinks. i can draft patterns but i am so impatient working thru the testing. the coat i just finished took 3 drafts and toiles – and i still have to fine tune the pattern but at least its 90% there. i learned pattern drafting and cutting years ago, and must look up those classes (and hopefully they do centimetres as training was in cm….) to review my own work practicesReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - I don’t remember her using a lot of measurements, but sadly they are in inches. So sorry! We definitely need to convert over to the metric system! ugh!ReplyCancel

  • Ani - Someday I’ll get to only 3 tries before fitting! It took me 8 Sorbettos before I got one that fit. Three sounds like a lovely goal!

    I am honestly still a little scared of the idea of a blank slate. I’m not familiar enough with my body and how clothes fit it yet to be able to envision something. I do look forward to that time, though, because frankly, I also find it hard to envision something from a pattern fitting me. It helps to troll the internet for someone similar to my body shape who has made the pattern, but it’s still a wee bit exhausting.ReplyCancel

  • Fitting Thoughts on McCall’s 6649 | A Fashionable Stitch - […] all excited about creating your own patterns – from a pattern that already fits you – in my last post, I thought I would give you some fitting thoughts of what I went through with my versions of […]ReplyCancel

  • Haze Hammett - I have just finished fitting and putting together a dress sloper.
    But I don’t know what to do with it now. Take it apart and trace it? Keep the darts closed? I used Vogue dress sloper pattern and really all it does is tell you to keep fitting it, but how do I use it against other patterns so that I will know they fit? This thing was a lot of work and I don’t know how to use it now.

    Let me know if you have information on where to go from here.

    Thank you,

    Haze HammettReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Hi Haze! Some great questions here. Hopefully I can answer them and give you some insight. The concept of using your sloper up against another sewing pattern to diagnose the fit before you make it is, well, a hard one. Additionally, I personally feel – since this is a method that I have tried – that it is full of holes and you end up still have to make a muslin and work out some fitting issues. If you are hell-bent on this method, I recommend Lynda Maynard’s book Demystifying Fit. I would say that if you do want to do this method then you do need to take your muslin apart and copy it onto paper. You’ll need to do this if you want to create sewing patterns from it, so I recommend that you do that step.
      If you want to create your own sewing patterns – which I find to be a much superior method to trying to use it to fit other sewing patterns – then I would recommend the Craftsy class above to give you a taste of how this works. You could still use your bodice section for most of the designs in the class or take the ideas and apply them to your sloper. There’s also a book called, Design Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis that is excellent and can take you through how to hack up your pattern to be something different.
      Hopefully this gives you a little direction!ReplyCancel

  • Kat Skinner - I loved Sarah’s class, though I stopped part way through to focus on Patternmaking Basics: The Bodice by Suzy Furrer. I have drafted and redrafted my bodice sloper so many times now that I’ve lost count! I’m trying to get a perfect fit (I’d like to say couture but my skills aren’t that good).
    It’s really nice to see other sewers who are working on the same things as me.ReplyCancel