When Sara Lawson – yes! the gal who designs some of those gorgeous fabrics for Art Gallery!! – contacted me and asked if I would like to be apart of her Dress Up Party, I was delighted! Seriously. I rarely get asked to participate in fun little online sewing gatherings (and even then, sometimes I have to say no because of stuff like time….) and so this time I definitely jumped at the chance. My mom and sis had put in for some handmade wearables and well, though I do indulge a good amount of unselfish sewing, it had been too long since I was actually able to sew something for myself and feel really really good about it.

parasol-4

Since this is my first post since a nice blogging hiatus, I thought I could give you the link for my review of this Kwik Sew skirt and vintage Simplicity t-shirt (click here for those) and also offer some updates as to what I’ve been up to and mind blowing words of wisdom. OK, actually the words of wisdom might have to wait until I actually have wisdom, but at least I can fill you in on my whereabouts these days. Being the inquisitive (yet reclusive, go figure) creature that I am, I’m always curious when others in the blogging community take extended leaves of absence and what they are up to now. So you know, fame being all in my own mind of course, I naturally thought you would be curious! Ha ha! Those of you who’ve read me for a long time know that this last year and a half has been pretty rough. Owning a brick and mortar shop was hard work!  And then we closed it up and tried a sewing parlor and then closed that up too. We’ve moved an entire store into a tiny, yet rather uppity, storage facility. I thought that closing my brick and mortar business would be easy and that I could go right back to being me after it was all over, but I’m sure you know that’s not how life works. It’s kind of like going away to college/university that first year. You can never really go home again because home and you are now so different from when you left – or so was my experience. I am glad to have the burden of being a brick and mortar shop owner lifted, but by the same token, it doesn’t erase anything I’ve been through. Not a bad thing, mind you. Just a life lesson I’m being taught again. I’ve had to re-enter the workforce and have been working more than full-time since about March-ish. It’s been kind of brutal (because I’m a big lazy slob that loves to sleep in, take naps and do nothing but guzzle Dr. Pepper – OK, not really, but that sounds like the life for me!). Anyway, I’ve finally settled into some regular schedules and time frames. AFS online shop will heading off in some new directions – more on that to come this year!

Anyhow, long story short, I haven’t been sewing much of anything lately and I’ve been working tons. Now I’m just trying to balance myself, my time and my ambitions. Back to that balancing/juggling act again. When I feel out of whack, I know it’s because I’m not balanced. I’m putting way too much time into one thing and not enough into other areas of my life. What about you? How do you balance your life?

This Memorial Day weekend – for those of us here in the U.S. – I’ve bee able to scratch out some time for sewing a little more of something for myself. Here comes a linen dress for summer – more on that soon. Hip Hip Hooray!

  • Claudie - Welcome back, Sunni! We’ve missed you!ReplyCancel

  • Kerry Hubbard - Greetings Miss Sunni – You will never believe this but this is my very first comment ever made on a blog to anyone so I’m not sure if you’ll even get this post. What rattled me out of the blogging bushes, you wonder? Your Dress Up Party post I received this morning. Love your style! I love the skirt you created. Where did you find the fabric used? Stretchy polka dot (I lust over all things polka dot). Hugs to you, my dear. Hope I’m not breaking any blogging etiquette. If so, please let me know so I don’t embarrass myself again. Haha.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Oh no, you are definitely not breaking any blogging etiquette!! I thank you for your comment! Stretchy polka dot fabric came from very old shop stock at my brick and mortar store (which is now closed up). I too am an avid polka dotted crazy person and this was just perfection in fabric! I really wish I could get some more, but unfortunately my supplier for this particular fabric sold out pretty quickly. So sorry!ReplyCancel

  • Debby - Very lovely Sunni. The balance you spoke of is a difficult one to keep in correct order. My husband and I have experienced a complete upheaval in our lives this past year and at the age of 58, I am working a physically and mentally demanding job as opposed to being a homemaker with a quieter lifestyle. I am often too tired to sew when I do have time off. I may not be sewing much these days, but it gives me great pleasure to see the beautiful creations you’ve been working on. I will still say we are very blessed, hard work and all. Thanks for sharing and keeping up the inspiration. —DebbyReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - You are right Debby! We are blessed to live in a country where, at least, there is work! My life is getting a little better, hard work and all! Thanks so much for your comment.ReplyCancel

  • Sophie-Lee - You were right – we were curious. I’m glad to hear you’ve had some time for sewing: I totally understand what you’re saying about being unbalanced, and no time for sewing definitely does that to me (although so can TOO much sewing).

    Glad to hear you’re doing well, look forward to what you both do with the store, and hope we get to see you more!ReplyCancel

  • Denise - Welcome back, sounds like you have had enough experience to write a book. Your posts are always so interesting and informative, I hope you you will have the time and desire in the future to continue the blog.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Yes, I was curious. Thanks for indulging us readers.

    Balance is something I’m really struggling with right now. I think it’s a problem that resonates with most people – even folks who seem balanced on the outside often don’t feel it on the inside. I’m looking forward to more posts, when you find the time;-)ReplyCancel

  • K-Line - I am always interested when a blogger friend comes back from hiatus! I’ve wondered how you’ve been. So sorry that this year’s been such a bitch – but I promise, in time you will look back on this phase of your life with so much perspective. And whenever the times are tough, you know they’re about to shift and improve. It’s the cycle of things.ReplyCancel

  • LInda G. - Sunni – Nice to have you back! Balance is so tricky, yet so essential to having a life I enjoy. If I sew too much, I feel out of touch with friends and family, if I don’t sew enough, my frustrated creative side turns me into a grinch. But when everything gels, I hum like my sweet little Bernina! It sounds like you’re finding that sweet spot right now, between things you should do, and thing you enjoy….Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • SJ Kurtz - Work/life balance? No such thing; life is work. Good work, hopefully.

    And it does get better, cause mostly we always aim for the better, walk into the light, get the Dr Pepper … and when we mess up, we can forgive and try again tomorrow.

    And you made it through this; be proud of that. It counts.ReplyCancel

  • eimear - gorgeous skirt and styling – as always – and love the yellow jewellery, it really pops. best of luck with finding the balance that works for you. years ago, i used do art workshops which brought in little money, then i went working full time to save for stuff (house) and did and some time later i made the big and best decision to work part time and could persue my own stuff in the rest, and its working well. i had to cut back on stuff (holidays) but its a lot simpler and works well for me. best of luck with your endeavours, you have accumulated a lot of experience which will stand to you for many a thing, and a lot of talent to show!ReplyCancel

  • BeckyLeeSews - I’ve missed you Sunni! And glad to see you’re dipping back into the sewing pool. (ha!…summer joke)

    Sometimes when we take a path in life that we later regret (for whatever reason) it’s the journey that becomes the greater lesson rather than the destination. There’s been a few times in my life where I look back and go “I’ll never do THAT again! Lesson learned!” (like that time I got married in Reno…don’t ask) and then draw from those experiences to guide us in the future. Without getting too philosophical, I’ve been through some really tough times in my life and then later I happened to meet someone or be presented with a situation where had I not gone through what I did years earlier, I wouldn’t be able to provide the needed support or make an informed important decision. You just never know. The learning experiences God presents us with are for many reasons: to make us stronger, wiser, and better able to cope with things in the future. But one thing is for sure, when you’re feeling off balance, it’s good to reach back to the basics where you feel stable and secure. Then when you are ready, reach out and give it another whirl! God bless!ReplyCancel

  • Hana - Hi Sunni! You and I traded a couple quick emails about work/life balance when I was inquiring about a product several months ago. I run the family business and I swear, sometimes I just can’t stand the lack of balance. I’ve been completely out of whack for four months or so. It’s so hard to take steps to find balance again when you have that pressure to be the person others rely on. I’m really proud of you for committing to your own needs, and to being clear that your blog is actual work that offers value to readers and that you deserve compensation for your work on it. Hope all will be well with you and nice to see you back. Looking forward to making some purchases from the store again! Best to you!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni

      Sunni - Thank you Hana and here’s to you getting back to balancing your life again! I know exactly how hard it is. All my best!ReplyCancel

  • French Toast Tasha - Aww man, that is tough! I agree that someday you’ll probably look back and be glad you had these experiences and learned all that you did, but that doesn’t make it easier or more fun when it’s happening.

    As for balance, my aunt sent me 10 lessons from radio programs on Design Sponge not long ago, and #1 was: “There is no perfect balance, life and work are always a series of back and forth adjustments.” That was a good reminder for me that it’s not like you find a secret formula and then everything magically stays balanced, you always have to keep working on it. There are times when I know I just need to focus on work, but most of the time, I try to make the things I really want to do a priority as well.ReplyCancel

  • Debbie Cook - I’m guilty of disappearing myself so I just wanted to pop in and say hello and thank you for updating. I always want to know someone’s at least still breathing. :-) The added details are appreciated. Things will improve or at least balance out eventually. Ups and downs, cycles, etc. This thing called life is not always easy.ReplyCancel

  • Chie - Hi Sunni! Glad to see your post again. The skirt looks lovely on you. Thank you for sharing about your shop situation. I can’t imagine what hard works you put into both having online and brick and motor shop. I run my online shop and take bridal orders but still work elsewhere because at this point I can’t bear the thought of ups and downs in work flow and income. I hope I can come up with a way to balance it (maybe ecourse or pattern, so once you set it up its there kind of products) in the future!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Lobello - So glad you’re finding the time to share on your blog again. I love your craftsmanship and attention to detail. Best of luck movin forward.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni

    Sunni - Hello everyone! Thank you so much for your insightful and encouraging comments on this post – they were very much needed and appreciated! Thank you!ReplyCancel

Fabric-Friday-Banner

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!

Alencon-Lace-2

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.

Alencon-Lace-1

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…
    SharonReplyCancel

  • 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

Fabric-Friday-Banner

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!

lacbri3-1

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.

lacbri3-3

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.

lacbri3-2

lacbri3-4

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!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWQ-KZoePIoReplyCancel

  • 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

Fabric-Friday-Banner

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.

lacnet1-2

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.

lacbri5-1

lacbri5-2

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

lacbri1

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

lacbri2-4

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

fitting-mccalls-6649-5

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.

fitting-mccalls-6649-4

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!

fitting-mccalls-6649-3

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.

fitting-mccalls-6649-2

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!

fitting-mccalls-6649-1

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.

fitting-mccalls-6649-6

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