So after my post on Pattern Review last week, I have to admit that I too completely agree with the feeling of most of the comments. The platform is way outdated. I do love Pattern Review, but as many of you stated, this community needs a serious makeover. I hadn’t posted a new project on there in some time and tried to go about doing it just yesterday and sheesh, it is sooooooo ugly. So janky. Although I’ve heard rumors of updates to this site, I’m beginning to wonder if they are just rumors. Seriously. I’ve heard about these updates for about a year now. Show me the money already!
I remember when BurdaStyle first came about. It was awesome. I loved being apart of the BurdaStyle community. But admittedly, I feel its a bit janky these days too and its been quite some time since I’ve used it. I started looking into My Sewing Circle. Hmmm… Then I found Threadbias and while I like the layout, it seems very much geared towards quilters. I mean that’s cool, but I don’t really quilt or piece in that way.
I was a beta tester for Kollabora and at the time, I remember feeling overwhelmed with everything else in my life and felt like one more online sewing community was going to break the bank. I’m still really busy these days and it is starting to feel like there are just too many online sewing communities, but I have to say, there is something about Kollabora. Remembering the beta testing days, I went on there just yesterday and they’ve made updates. They’ve made incredible updates. They are cool.
And the really cool thing about the updates is that they have been made. Like, they have actually changed from the beta testing days to a more updated interface, meaning people are actually working on this site, which sorry to say, seems a far cry from what’s happening on PR. Its really easy to use. I like the current, beautiful layout and design. I like the way my projects look. I like the way others’ projects look. I like how easy it is to “heart” something and follow people. You can curate inspiration boards, you can have wishlists, your profile looks really nice and well, I think I’m converted.
I’m not affiliated with Kollabora other than being a member, but I would love to see more people on there. I would love to see people reviewing patterns on there – like they do on Pattern Review – and I would love see this community grow into something even bigger and better. I think that Kollabora could get to the point of having online classes – just like they do on Pattern Review. And they’ve already started a supplies page for things like patterns and kits and fabrics and more. I think they would totally dig forums too (I didn’t see a forum or message board on there). If you alerted the Kollabora staff to things that you want to see happen in the future, I think there would actually be a good response to this. All of this, with an updated interface that people seem to be working on all the time. So I don’t know about you, but I’m on board with Kollabora. I’ll be uploading tutorials, reviews and playing around on there a lot more. I love it.
I know that nobody needs one more item on their plate, but I think if you do choose an online sewing community, my vote is for Kollabora. It’s lookin pretty nice people. What do you think? Do you think we should all start a migration from PR to Kollabora?
This is something that I always do before I start out on a new pattern. Always. Pattern Review is such a great resource. Yes we all know that the site is a little bit janky, but once past that, the reviews are invaluable. Today I thought I would show you how I utilize it, just in case you were completely lost as to how to find anything on the site. But first, a few words. Before getting started on any pattern, its a really really good idea to read the pattern reviews of that pattern. Someone brought to my attention that one of the patterns on my pinterest board didn’t receive favorable pattern reviews and after they had tried it themselves, they concurred with the reviews. They also said that I should take this pattern off my board and no, I’m not going to do this. Friends, I don’t have time to check all the reviews on all the patterns I post there. Please understand that. That is your homework. If you find that you like what I have to say here and you find a pattern that you want to make from my pinterest board, please go on pattern review to read the reviews before you delve in. I don’t have any secret info on whether or not the pattern was well drafted or if it has fitting problems that are the same across the board. I only put patterns there because they look like basic patterns for all sewing levels (there’s a couple of Marfy’s and Stylearc’s on there). I also updated the bulletin message for that particular pinterest board. Now, let us move on.
Before I even purchase a pattern, I have a look at its reviews. Or if I’ve already purchased the pattern long ago, I have a look at the reviews before diving in. This can make or break a pattern for me. I actually won’t even start a pattern if its got serious problems from the get go based on the pattern reviews. To utilize the pattern review function on the Pattern Review site (ha ha) here is a step by step tutorial.
On the left hand side, click advanced search.
From there a screen will come up and you’ll enter in the pattern company name from the drop down and the pattern number – you don’t have to enter anything else, by the way. Then click search and reviews will pop up.
Sometimes it happens that no one has reviewed a certain pattern, so you have to go out on a ledge on your own and then of course, its up to you to write a review of the pattern and put it up on Pattern Review.
My second favorite place to peruse on Pattern Review are the Message Boards. Sometimes, someone will post problems they are having mid construction and try to get some advice from other pattern reviewers. It’s a great way to find out even more about a pattern.
So to do that you’ll click on the Message Board tab. Then click search board on the right.
Then enter a word or two on the subject your looking for. You’ll need to click either “Titles & Descriptions” or “Messages.” Then click enter and several message boards will pop up.
I know these are simple tutorials, but I have to admit that sometimes I find the site a bit overwhelming to navigate and when you try to search things many times, what you’re looking for doesn’t come up. So this is out there to help you out a bit more. Also, if you’re not a member, sign up! It’s free and I barely get one email from Pattern Review a month. Nothing big. It’s great when they have pattern sales and they have great classes too.
Do you use Pattern Review? Interestingly enough, I find Pattern Review much more helpful than any other “sewing community” out there just because all the reviews tend to take on the same format and they are all reviews, not just beautiful photos of someone in a garment (though I do love that too, just sayin). What do you think?
OK, so my last post went over the system that I use to pick pattern size. It’s the one that I prefer for myself (and I use it on others too and have great success) but sometimes this isn’t the fix for everyone and everyone has different bodies. I have a few more suggestions for you, both are great links to different info about picking the correct bodice size. Oh that pesky bust measurement…. But first:
A little clarity from my last post. There were many great questions and just in case you missed my update to that post, here are some answers for you. The upper bust measurement replaces the bust measurement when you’re looking at picking your pattern size. So, pick the bust measurement that corresponds with your upper bust measurement. Why do I like this so much? Again, I skimmed over saying that the hardest part of the body to fit is the intersection of the upper bust, shoulders, arms and neck. Four tubes. Not easy to fit. So picking the arrangement that will fit this area is key. Doing things like full bust adjustments, broad back adjustments adding width or decreasing width and so forth are child’s play by comparison and much easier to do than fiddling with those intersections. Also, there was some talk about cup sizes. Here’s the thing with cup sizing. The Big 4 all draft for a B cup. So that’s good to know, but then what does every other company draft for? I’ve read that Colette drafts for a C cup. OK, but other than that I don’t know what the other independents draft for. These are things that you will measure on the pattern and adjust and then in the muslin if more adjusting is needed it will be altered. So does knowing the cup size really matter? Personally, I don’t think so, but this is a big deal to other people, so I’m just letting you know. When we get to the adjusting phase, you’ll see what I mean and that’s next by the way.
Ok, so here are some other great ways to find your correct pattern size for the upper body. First Nancy Zieman’s method. It’s awesome. I really love Nancy. She’s been around for a really long time and she has great advice, techniques and methods. Here’s how she goes about picking her pattern size.
Next, this was a tip on pattern review that I found really useful. This method measures the shoulder width and then from there you compare this measurement to your pattern and pick your upper body size from there. You’ll find that tip here.
Hey everyone! This post has been updated (updates in italics) with regards to the questions being asked! Also thanks so much for your questions because they bring to light things that I forgot to mention and should have.
I used to think this wasn’t that important, but it is. Picking the right size can determine how many adjustments and alterations you’re going to have to make. You will probably have to make many anyway, but this can remove a good chunk. So you need to pick the correct size. Think of this in terms of altering your clothes. It’s just as hard to alter something that is way too big – like 3 sizes too big – as it is impossible to alter something that is 3 sizes too small. Picking the pattern size that is closest to you is much easier to alter than picking one that is 2 or 3 sizes too big or small for you.
For my part, I use my upper bust measurement, waist and hip. The upper bust measurement in particular is a good measurement to go by when picking a bodice because it will insure that you pick the correct shoulder, neck and sleeve arrangement for your body. You would pick this measurement in lieu of your full bust measurement for your bust – now that was a mouthful! This, if you don’t know, is the hardest place on the body to fit. Why? Because if you think of it you are trying to fit four moving tubes – your neck, shoulders, arms and upper bust. All of these tubes have different wearing ease amounts and they all play in tandem with each other. The second place on the body that is hardest to fit – the legs and torso. You’ve got three tubes there and that’s why pants are such a pain to fit. The upper bust measurement works out well too because it removes the headache of figuring out which cup size the pattern was drafted for. Instead, you pick the upper bust measurement for the bust and either do a full bust adjustment or small bust adjustment – something that will be determined better after you take more measurements and in the muslin phase.
For your upper bust, waist and hip, you’ll want to take these measurements in your underclothes – whatever that entails – and you’ll want to do it in front of a mirror. This way you can see what’s going on with the tape measure. The upper bust goes around the upper portion of your chest, which may or may not make the tape measure fall perfectly parallel with the floor. Also the measurement doesn’t need to be skin tight, just snug like you could put a finger or two in there with your measurement (note this for all measurements). The waist is taken at the narrowest point of your middle. This may or may not be where you wear things like skirts or pants and even if that is so, you still need a reference point. I put a piece of elastic around my waist and do the hula for a minute while it settles. Then I take my measurement over that. This is crucial for a bodice, but for a skirt or pair of pants, I measure the place on my mid section where I want the waist to hit me and then measure the pattern pieces to see just how much I might need to add or subtract in order to get these types of garments to hit me where I want them to hit me. This involves thinking about ease which I’ll be covering much more in depth later. For the hip, you need to take the measurement right at your hip bone and then again at your widest area below the waist which may or may not be at your hip bone. Let me tell you why. For pants, you need the measurement that is right at your hip bone. The crucial fitting part about pants is that they have to fit those three moving tubes pretty perfectly so you need to take the measurement at this crucial area because those intersections don’t happen mid thigh or what have you. However for skirts and dresses, you’ll want to take your hip measurement at your widest point below your waist. This actually means that you might have a wider measurement just below your hip bone and for skirts, this is much easier to fit. Not impossible to fit, just less work.
I know there are other ways to determine your correct size, but truly after having tried several ways (oh so many ways!!!) I always come back to taking these three measurements this way. They’ve served me well and they’ve also served those that I teach well too. They take care of the bigger headache areas and reduce the amount of work you have to do too. Let me clarify though that these are the things that have worked for me and for others that I have fit and worked with too. But if you feel you are picking the right size and are happy with the way things are working within that size, stay with what you’ve got. Also, you don’t have to take these measurements every time you pick a new pattern. Take them once, write them down, memorize them and then a few years later take them again, just to make sure that nothing has changed or what not. Our bodies will naturally age, things will start shifting and well, you know, that’s how it goes. Just check every few years to see what size bracket you fall into.
So what do I mean by “start with a basic sewing pattern/build a collection of basic patterns?” When I think of a basic sewing pattern, I do think of the fitting shells put out by McCall’s, Butterick and Vogue. I only think of them, I don’t actually utilize them. You can of course, but I find it much more beneficial to start with something that has what I’m already looking for. Fitting shells are supposed to fit you like a second skin and really, you wouldn’t ever make one to wear. You would have to add ease into the garment so that you could wear it. Add to that the fact that when you start adding ease, you start adding fitting and drafting problems. So why not just fit something closer to what you want instead of fitting a fitting shell and then trying to make it work for what you want?
When I’m thinking about a basic fitting shell, when I pick a basic pattern, I’m looking at the same types of lines – lines that will be easy to manipulate later. Let’s dissect the fitting shell for a minute:
There is a basic bodice. The bodice is darted. The darts originate from the bust (side seam) and the waist in both the front and the back. Some fitting shells have a shoulder dart in the back bodice too. The skirt is a straight skirt style – kind of like a pencil skirt. It has darts too. Two in the front and two in the back. The sleeve is a set-in sleeve, full length and sometimes has a dart in the elbow. There’s lots of darts here. The awesome thing about darts is that they are the building blocks of manipulation, so when you are looking at new sewing patterns and you’re thinking, “hmmmm….I want something that could be manipulated,” look at where the darts are placed. Have a gander at this post for rotating a dart. Now let’s take a look at a basic pattern that I would pick.
Let’s take this NewLook pattern for example. It’s a basic shell with some variations. Very basic. The nice thing is that it has some promising neckline variations and there’s a woven t-shirt added to the mix too. What I’m especially looking at here is that its got a dart. Its a single dart – the bust dart, the one that originates from the side seam. Its semi-fitted and pulls over the head, so I shouldn’t have to deal with trying to add ease, I should just be able to fit this style and then start playing around with my own variations. It’s basic. It’s classic. You could actually wear this and make a bajillion iterations. Then you can start playing designer and fiddle around with your pattern and create a whole wardrobe of garments based off this one simple pattern. This is the part that excites me. I can see the potential in this pattern. I can see a dress, I can see myself moving the darts around, adding gathers in places, creating a cute little tulip sleeve (oh be still my heart!!), lengthening it for a tunic to wear with leggings, adding a button front, adding a collar. Do you see what I mean? Do you see the fun and creativity that you can inject into the pattern yourself? This is what I mean by a basic pattern.
If you can’t see the potential in a pattern – as in, you could change this or add that and it would make it look completely different – then I think you’ve taken half the fun out of the pattern itself. Granted there are those designs that defy logic and are worth having just because they are so amazingly different and you couldn’t possibly draft that yourself. Personally, I find those to be few and far between, but those are things you’ll have to decide for yourself.
The other thing to keep in mind when you’re picking a basic pattern is the fit factor. In fact, the whole reason I’m writing these posts! Starting with something basic will be easier to fit than starting with something complicated. There’s definitely going to be some things that are not as easy to fit as others, but this NewLook pattern (above), it looks pretty easy to fit and is something that I wouldn’t have to spend copious amounts of time doing a muslin for.
So this friends, is my “basic pattern” soapbox for the day. I’ve also put together a pinterest board of some really great basic patterns. That way if you’re still kind of not sure what you’re looking for, you can go have a gander there where I’ll be adding more patterns all the time. These are just guidelines, but definitely things to think about as you begin amassing a collection of basic patterns to fit to your body.
So what are you thinking? What’s the first pattern you’d want to try? I’ll also do a post on where I think you should start with the fitting process, but what is the ultimate garment you want to fit?