Shop Update!

Well, hello there! I’ve been MIA for a little bit now and believe me, I know that I owe y’all some posts on fitting. Those of you who have emailed me (and heard nothing back) I’m super sorry. I have a huge huge announcement that I’ll be making soon that has not only kept me incredibly busy (oh so busy) but it was also one of those things where I needed to step away from everything else for a bit. I’ll be telling you more about it come December 1. But I’ll hint that its local and it has to do with my shop. Oh my goodness, its so incredibly exciting! Well, scary and exciting. I hope you’ll be excited (and willing to help out a little) too. Anyway, moving on, the shop has been long overdue for an update – both cosmetically and inventory wise. One thing that brings me lots of joy, especially around the holidays is my shop and soooooo….

I’ve got new products for you. With even more on the way. Sigh… The life and times of sewing notions and supplies. I do seriously, get all sorts of jazzed about sewing notions and supplies. Especially really good ones. I’ve been holding onto some products for the shop especially for the holidays. I have to admit that I feel that gift giving for a garment sewer is actually quite personal, meaning that sometimes its actually really hard to know what to get for them. I know my mister has this problem. He thinks I have everything I want in that category and to be honest, I kind of do. There are really outrageously expensive things that I would still like to acquire someday, but right now we don’t even have the room. So keeping these types of things in mind, I’ve amassed several choice items for the shop. Because this post would be mega long if I listed everything new, I’ve got a few highlights here. Hop on over to the shop and check out the new stuff – you can see it all if you scroll to the bottom where there are “newest” items listed.


Silk Basting Thread. I love using a nice basting thread and these fit the bill. They come in a package of three different colors and they are simply splendid to hand sew with.


Gingher serrated shears. OK, so here’s the thing with serrated shears. They are MARVELOUS! I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure, but this lovelies grip fabric as they cut. They are, hands down, the only type of shear to use when cutting slippery fabrics. They are AWESOME. Everyone should have a pair of these. Everyone.


Clover Thread Nippers. Carbon Steel baby with a little vintage style resin handle. These are the bee’s knees. You’ll never need to buy another pair. These would be a great gift for someone still using their sewing shears for thread cutting….

Just a few goodies for upcoming holiday larks. Keep your eyes peeled for more upcoming products in the shop. There’s a bundle! Yay! Hope you enjoy! I’ll be back soon with more sewing news (the big news) and more informative tutorials and posts. Later friends.

  • Rochelle New - I’m definitely adding some Petersham ribbon and a point presser (…and about a dozen other things now that I’m looking!) to my Christmas list ;) ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - love the new shop offerings!ReplyCancel

  • ShanniLoves - Can’t wait to hear your exciting news!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - I love that you’re expanding your shop!! I see the silk basting thread is sold out but hopefully you’ll be getting more? I’m putting that and Gingher tailor’s points on my Christmas wish list :)

    Looking forward to seeing what more new things you get, and what your big announcement is!:)ReplyCancel

  • Sally - My old pair of Mundial shears are starting to give me grief and I’ve heard good things about Gingher. They seem more expensive than other brands but do come highly recommend all over, so I may give them a try :-) ReplyCancel

  • Sandra (Sewist-Stitch) - Oh I love the new things you have added to your shop. Silk basting thread for one is hard to come by.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Ooh, I love notions too! I ended up placing an order, mainly for the serrated shears. Look forward to snipping with them :-) ReplyCancel

There’s Something About Kollabora…

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?

  • Ronniie - Why do we have to choose? I currently use both. Pattern review,however, I use more.ReplyCancel

  • Youanna - Thanks for the post. I have the same feelings about PR – outdated. Kollabora is fun to play with.I have just got a quick peak there, but seems very promising.ReplyCancel

  • Miriana - For those of us knitters who use Ravelry, Pattern Review is an abomination. It looks like it flew in from the early days of the internet. I can’t even bring myself to give it a chance.ReplyCancel

  • PendleStitches - I use neither PR nor BurdaStyle as they are both awful to look at and clunky to navigate and who has the time. Not me! So I’m off to check out Kollabora. Thanks for the heads up that they’ve made some changes.ReplyCancel

  • Elisa from CharmingDoodle - I just joined Kollabora this past weekend and so far I really like it. (and I’m following you…love your projects so far) I’m a bit confused about whether it’s just for projects with tutorials…or just for any kind of project you want to show. But so far, so good. I’ve never gotten into Pattern Review for the same reasons you voiced, it looks outdated and never appealed to me.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - Interesting! I use Pattern Review as an observer to check on patterns I’m about to make, but it’s just not easy enough for me to use. I joined Kollabura when it first went live, but like you I was too overwhelmed to do anything about it. Maybe I’ll take a second look!ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - i’ll definitely give kollabora a chance! i had looked over it when it first came out, but to be honest i didn’t really “get” how to use it. it’s nice to know that it has evolved from it’s beginnings. pattern review… i hear ya. i uploaded a couple reviews the other day and it’s just no fun to do! i do like the comprehensive database for specific patterns, though i find that most reviewers don’t give me the details that i’m really looking for. it’s a shame that PR is so clunky, they have a definite niche in the online sewing community, it would serve them well to update already!ReplyCancel

  • MadebyMeg - I’m so glad someone finally said it! PR is soo useful for checking out patterns and that makes them totally unique, but their interface is just awful! I have no idea how people form such community on that site.ReplyCancel

  • Rose - I agree that PR is very ugly and outdated, but I find that the technical content is, for now, without equal.
    Kollabora is cute and pretty, but, let’s say I want to know precise details (which size? which fabric? how is the fit ? alterations ?) for a given pattern from a given Burda issue, it won’t help me. Your own reviews are detailed but most are not and it’s very frustrating. Pretty pictures won’t help me when I’m in front of my fabric.ReplyCancel

  • raquel from JC - I’ll check the site, I don’t like PR either. And I never got the hang on burdastyle… You know the word Kollabora sounds exactly like the spanish word colabora? (it means help, collaborate, cooperate).ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Ronnilie – I don’t know that you necessarily have to choose between the two, its just that PR is so clunky. I’m tired of wasting my time trying to get my review to work on there. I spent over half an hour fiddling with the photo thing. Its just yucky.

    @PendleStitches – Its definitely a time factor for me as well. I just don’t have the time to sit there and figure out what’s wrong and why its not working and how to work it. Grrrhhh! But I do think its important that these online communities thrive. I’ve used PR for so many things, its just becoming too hard to use lately and I’m looking for a better alternative.

    @Elisa from CharmingDoodle – I plan to post anything I want. I put up my projects as reviews of patterns and I’m really going to try and get others to do the same. It would be awesome if we all did that, dontcha think?

    @Kelly – Definitely do. I was AMAZED at how easy it was to post a project. So amazed. It’s night and day from PR.

    @lisa g- I had the same feelings. When it first hit the internet, I felt that Kollabora was just another online community. And it is, but its got a lovely interface. Yeah, it could still use work, but that’s the part that’s kind of awesome – people seem to be working on it! I wish PR would update, but I’m tired of waiting.

    @MadebyMeg – Agreed. Agreed!

    @Rose – You are right. But I have to add that Kollabora is fairly new. If people like you and me start posting actual reviews on the site, I think we could start a movement. PR has years and years of info and its wonderful that it does. But honestly, have you tried posting anything on there in awhile? Its a nightmare! I say, let’s give the little guys a chance, especially when their interface is wonderful, easier to use and we could create serious community over there.ReplyCancel

  • raquel from JC - Checked the site and found a lot of people selling stuff…. The point of the site is sharing not selling. I’ll give it a chance for a few weeks and see if this is the new etsy.ReplyCancel

  • Ani - Omg! I loves it! As someone with a chronic illness, I have the opposite problem: too much time on my hands. Not all the time, but when I’m in a flare-up, it’s me and my laptop against the world. I love the way Kollabora runs and looks, and the potential sewing-networking. When I’m out sick, I really try to use as much of my downtime as possible learning about things so that when I’m on my feet again, I don’t have to waste any time :) ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Behind the Hedgerow - I love, love, love Kollabora! I add all new projects now – I still use PR but mainly for stuff I sew for myself (I never seem to have as much interest in kid sewing). I’m going to go follow you now!ReplyCancel

  • Cherie - I have never heard of this site before. It looks good. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • SunGold - Pattern Review does the job. I agree that it needs a facelift, but the info is without peer.

    Kollabora has a different mandate, so, just as you would not replace cinnamon with cumin in cake recipe, you would not replace Pattern Review with Kollabora.

    To carry on the metaphor, I wouldn’t replace your “How to Make Hand Worked Buttonholes” tutorial with “Buttonholes” ( They are related, but different.

    So, problem identified: Pattern Review is ugly, outdated, and clunky.

    Solution 1: Some handy sewist (or other interested party) with geek tendencies revamps the Pattern Review website.

    Solution 2: We all use PR and Kollabora for their intended purposes and enjoy the depth of one and the modernity of the other.

    Solution 3: Kollabora develops organically to include pattern reviews, online classes, community forums, and other beloved PR content.ReplyCancel

  • Houseofpinheiro - I really love kollabora and hope to be where most reviews can be found. I
    Great discussions lately darling. XReplyCancel

  • Kristin - I use both sites and I love both sites, but I feel like PR has more information and knowledge. Even though Kollabora’s site is a million times nicer, I’m going to get a quicker, better answer over on PR. I’ve been to the Kollabora offices and love the staff, but I feel like the site isn’t yet a community.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Thanks for sharing! I too hate how pattern review functions, though I do find a wealth of information there. I have signed up for Kollabora so we will see how it goes.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @raquel from JC – That might be so, but admittedly, not a lot of people are on the site. There needs to be more people and then more awesome stuff would happen there. Plus, I think if people alerted the Kollabora staff to this problem, it might make a difference.

    @SunGold – Yes, the info on PR is invaluable. There’s nothing quite the same because no one has taken the time to invest in a different site. Everyone is still on Pattern Review. I would love to have Solution 1 – but as the site hasn’t been updated for sooooo long, I wonder if even if it was updated, how long that would last. Seriously, its so awful to maneuver. It doesn’t seem like there has been an update to the platform since it first got started. Sure they’ve added on more stuff, but they never update the ways of doing things. Solution 3 is why I posted this. Not because I think that Kollabora can replace PR but because maybe, just maybe, its time for something new. Actually, it is time for something new!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine Daze - I tried Kollabora a while ago but found the emphasis on selling me things really off putting. Pattern Review is ugly but I don’t find it difficult to post reviews and I really value the review database.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Hi Sunni! I love your blog and am really enjoying your “Focus on Fit” series. I went to Kollabora to check it out and read through your review of the Tyler shirt and Kwik Sew 3278 but when I went to search for the skirt pattern, I found that the number was wrong. It is actually 3728 and it looks like a great pattern – I may try it out in November!

    Thanks again for this new series. As someone who is new to sewing for me (I sew lots for my kids but fitting for them is usually as easy as shortening a hem) I am really appreciating all of your tips.


  • Leigh - I like PatternReview. I know how it works, it’s got great content. Kollabora feels too slick, and about to sell me something. And boooring content – so many super basic beginner projects. Or is that the point and they’re mainly just for beginners to learn to craft? Either way – I need to spend less time on the pc and more time in the studio. I’ll stick with what works.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Catherine Daze – I was on there last night and didn’t find that at all. What were they trying to sell? By the way, Pattern Review sells a lot of stuff. Classes, patterns, etc. Even if Kollabora is trying to sell stuff, I would imagine its about the same type of thing which really, is it that bad?

    @Sarah – Thank you, just fixed that.

    @Leigh – Too slick? Whereas Pattern Review is like so clunky it makes me want to cry, which I almost did yesterday when I was trying to get my photo to work. Also, there may be boring content on Kollabora, but its new. Its so much newer than Pattern Review. We really really need to give it time to build up. These communities do not happen overnight – we absolutely have to remember that!
    But I COMPLETELY hear ya about being on the computer for too long. Which is why I’m throwing my support over to Kollabora. It was SOOOOOOOOO easy to upload a review. Oh my goodness, it was wonderful! So much less time and frustration. Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Reana Louise - I totally vote Kollabora, but that’s also because of the lazy fact that I’m already on it :) ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - I’ll have to check that out. … And are those stuffed kitties at the top or tiny Daleks in disguise?ReplyCancel

  • Donna - I agree, PR is well overdue for a makeover. It’s success is purely due to the community that’s posts on there, not the site itself. If the community moved to another site and determined the content it would be success too. Kollabora has great potential. Count me in.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Donna – YESSSSSSSSS!!!! Exactly. “It’s success is purely due to the community that posts on there, not the site itself. If the community moved to another site and determined the content it would be success too.” You took the very words right out of my mouth. Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Alessa - Someone else also recently posted about Ravelry and the lack of comparable sewing communities, which reminded me to hop over to Kollabora again after quite a while. I also did a stint at My Sewing Circle and had a look at Threadbias, but I’ve come to the same conclusion as you have: for now, Kollabora seems like a nice platform with an easy to use (and quite pretty) interface – and more than two garment sewists among what feels like a hundred quilters. ;) I’m definitely going to be a bit more active over there and see if we can’t get together some people to share their projects. :) ReplyCancel

  • Debbie Cook - I will check out Kollabora … thanks for the tip. I’ve been on PR since the beginning of PR and, really, the only changes I’ve seen have been for the WORSE. I’m extremely computer literate and I find it clunky and a royal PITA, and can’t even imagine how others who are less geeky :-) can stand it. Promises to update, improve, blah blah blah have been being made for YEARS, and it just keeps getting worse. I love the idea and I love the reviews, which is why I keep going back, but I would really prefer another comparable option so I didn’t have to. Bottom line is PR is one person and it’s obvious she has other priorities (which is her choice) so it keeps sucking for end user.ReplyCancel

  • Nora Abousteit - Hi Sunni,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post about Kollabora.

    And to all commenters: Thank you for your nice words and insights and ideas how we can make Kollabora better.

    In case you don’t know me, I’m Nora, I started Kollabora.

    The Kollabora team would love to learn more from you and understand your wishes and needs better.

    Let me know if you’re up for some site testing and answering some questions?

    If yes, please send me an email (nora at kollabora dot com) and put in the subject heading “Site Testing”

    Hope to hear from you! And see you soon at Kollabora :)


  • Diane @ Vintage Zest - I have not used Pattern Review to review a pattern yet. I have looked on it prior to purchasing patterns or sewing my own versions, even though I wish it was easier to scroll through reviews. Also, I never link my finished projects up.

    Additionally, some people find my webpage by searching for a specific pattern, like “Simplicity XXXX.” I find myself doing the same thing because a lot of people don’t like futzing around with the interface to search OR to add. Kollabora is cute and all, but since I have been a member, I don’t see it as a review site yet. People just post up tutorials from what I had seen. We’ll see!ReplyCancel

  • Anonda - Thanks for the heads up on Kollabora. If more people use another sewing community, PR might actually be obliged to update. Right now they pretty much have the market cornered due to the legacy of the community so whether they make good on their promises to update (and no, not just a change in color scheme like a few years ago but a REAL update) people will still gravitate there. It also shows up very high on any Google related search related to sewing patterns. The hot mess that is Burdastyle frustrates me because it was so exciting, fresh, and full of potential in the beginning.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Dahl - Um, RE: migration…YES PLEASE!! PR is soooo outdated. I feel like I should be sewing all 1990s patterns with shoulder pads and high waists when I am on that site. You said it was “janky,” and that is the perfect word to describe it. No user interface to speak of. Outdated branding. Ick. It’s just so aesthetically NON-pleasing. Let’s all pray to the sewing gods that Kollabora takes over the world.ReplyCancel

  • JenL - Thanks for your thoughts. I’ll add Kollabora to my travels for awhile. It’s definitely a cleaner looking site, though I did notice some technical glitches that were somewhat aggravating. (No anchor link type functions-so going back to the main project page, after seeing an individual projects, always returns to the top of the page rather than the last location). I hope that gets fixed. The bigger images on the project page are nice.

    Unfortunately it seems as though most users are not interested in doing a pattern review. Of the several projects I looked at on Kollabora (excluding yours!) the project description often consisted of not much more than ” more details on my blog. ” It’s fine for those who don’t want to give more info, but it is one of the things that IMO Burdastyle falls short on too. If the sites were designed differently, I think that uploading users would be more inspired to provide more info. I have never uploaded a project to PR, but I assume there is a clear template that prompts for certain information. Kollabura does not seem to have that, and so the information provided about patterns seems to be really limited.

    It is nice to see projects for inspiration purposes, but despite the clunkiness of PR, it does seem to achieve its objective. There have been some updates on PR, at least I noticed one…clicking on a image on the main review gallery produces a larger popup image. Before, the result of a click was random – you could end up looking at a larger picture, the review itself, or be redirected to a blog/flickr page. Anyway, there still seems to be a gap in sewing webland, if anyone has the energy and means to fill it!

  • Sarah - I really don’t use PR that much mostly because it is tired, and I like to look at pictures of finished makes – there’s just too many steps to get into each review and the photos are often pretty dodgy. Postings on Burdastyle or blogs tend to have better pics, and descriptions. I’m on Kollabora too, and it is very nice to look at but I do feel like I should only post my ‘cool’ makes on it. I’m 35 and I think the vibe of Kollabora is aimed (at the moment) at neon loving 20-something hipsters. I don’t write a heap on either Burdastyle or Kollabora about the specifics of my make because I feel if I’ve already sat down to write a blog post, I’m not going to waste time duplicating that info. I do tend to say if I think the pattern was great, and if I have significant dramas I recommend reading the blog post to provide others with a cautionary tale.ReplyCancel

  • Kaci - Abandon PR??? HEY NOW. While I 100% concur with your opinion about the outdated look of PR, I *love* the site and the ability to search by project #, pattern maker, etc. Kollabora is super pretty and all, but it’s never going to be as useful as PR, even if it’s visually more gorgeous. Kollabora does not have the sturdy database backbone to ever be as useful to me as PR.

    I love Deepika’s vision with PR and I think it’s time for her to make sure the site gets a visually pleasing redesign. The problem with redesigns is people always initially freak out, so I think a vocal enough group of PR lovers/users need to demand a visually appealing layout so that we don’t lose the wisdom of our garment-sewing crowd to eye candy sites like Kollabora and Pinterest.ReplyCancel

  • Lessles - Oh yes! PR. I hated the interface so much I even contacted them and told them so. Deepika said they were launching a ‘new ‘ look, but that must have been a year ago now? Nothing so far, such a shame because it’s a really useful site.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Debbie Cook – AMEN Sister!
    @Nora Abousteit – Yay! You know what’s awesome, that you came on here and commented. You care! Haven’t heard a thing from PR. Hmmm…
    @Lauren Dahl – Yes, let’s all pray that Kollabora takes over the world. Please….
    @JenL – I agree. There are many projects on Kollabora where the user simply linked to their blog. I want that to change. But guess what? It never will unless we do something about it! We can’t sit here and expect it all to change unless something is said and we go on there and be the example. If more people post more reviews then it will become more review oriented. Plus, again as I have stated many times here, this site is new. It will not happen overnight. PR has had its day to shine and it has, but the maintenance to the site hasn’t happened in years. Will it ever? I wonder. Seriously.
    @Sarah – Agreed. The photos are laughable. I can’t even see them. They look terrible on PR. Yet on Kollabora, they are big, beautiful and the whole look of a review is exactly what I want. Plus you can do more than one photo.
    @Kaci – Yeah, I love Deepika’s vision too, but the site has been around forever and never changed. Sorry, that tells me that someone doesn’t care to have it change. It won’t. I would put money down that even in a year, nothing will have changed. My post here is but one of many around the interwebs asking for change. Has it happened? Nope.
    @Lessles – Yup. Exactly. It’s been a year and nothing. Hmmm…ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Liz - I find Pattern Review very clunky, and I grew up through the early internet age. It does have lots of information though, and I do know my way around it now. I think they do need to update. I know on my blog that people enjoy being part of a community – I try and encourage that on my blog, but I’m only a small amateur at the blogging/community game.ReplyCancel

  • BeckyT - Thanks for the notice about Kollabora. I joined and added a tute on converting a zippered wedding gown into a corset back dress. I didn’t realize it at the time but I guess you’re just supposed to put 1-3 pics of your project on the page? I put 16! HA! Oh well, I can take them down…maybe. You’re right, it’s a great community!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie Cook - Looks like I might have to eat my words … Deepika has put a call out today for new UI testers. I would respond to her but I’m petty sure I’m not high on her A list. :-) But hopefully this means something is actually happening and improvements are soon to be seen by all.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Debbie Cook – REALLY????? This would be wonderful! But have to say, I want to see it and try it first. I hope I have to eat my words. I really do.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer @ Workroom Social - I love Kollabora! I think it’s got a great UI and is a great community for modern day makers. Interested to see the new too!ReplyCancel

  • mary - PR has a wealth of information and database that Kollabora just doesn’t have to make it a suitable substitute for PR. Yes, PR is clunky, janky, and outdated. However, that is where their is a sewing community. Kollabora seems to struggle with the same issues I have with the burda site. People don’t do actual pattern reviews. I appreciate the template that PR has for reviews. I don’t want to go to someones blog and hope that they might provide the info I need. The PR reviews are efficient for me in terms of giving me useful info.I have used the forums on PR for information and there really is some great stuff there, the sewing machine reviews are really helpful too. I totally get it that people get frustrated with PR’s site. I do too. But at the end of the day, how a website looks isn’t going to help me with my sewing.ReplyCancel

  • Nora Abousteit - Hello all – here a bit of a more targeted response to some comments. Again, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts publicly.

    @Rose We hope to add more details in the future. For now we wanted to make sure that people get inspired and can easily share what they’ve made. Requiring too many details would slow that down. In any case, it’s good to hear your concerns and I will talk in our next product meeting about that.

    @raquel from JC An Argentine friend of mine came up with the name (I only changed it to “k” since I grew up in Germany and the domain was available). I was desperate for a name and he asked me what the site was about. I said “collaborating!” and he said, well, Spanish that’s colabora.

    @Sunni (RE your comment to lisa g) yes, we’re working on the site. Day and night and it’s not always easy to figure out what features and iterations make the most sense. So your blog post and the comments are worth gold for us:)

    @Sunni (RE your comment to Rose) We had the empty dance floor problem. Usually no one wants to start dancing. Good is though that our team is full of passionate crafters and so we could start with our own creations. And now, more are joining the party, and hopefully the entire world will dance with us :)

    @Kristin Hi! Hope you’re coming to our Open Lab this coming Thursday? Would love to hear more about what you wish from the community. And yes, sometimes answers or feedback take time, we’re still relatively small… I hope that will change of course.

    @Catherine Daze We don’t sell anything (anymore). We tried that in the beginning, but it was the wrong approach at that time. I hope you can check the site out again. Eventually, though, we will offer members to sell their patterns etc. We already launched brand pages, any brand (blogger, companies) can apply. Also, we need to make some money to pay the team :) Let me know if you have other ideas for revenue, we’re very open for that!

    @Sarah I will check on that mistake, sorry about that!

    @Leigh We hope to inspire different skill levels. Sometimes an expert knitter wants to start sewing, or an expert sewer wants to start knitting. In any case, the content is determined and created by the community, not by us. Please come back and visit, I hope you’ll find something for your taste.ReplyCancel

  • Mel - I keep going back to PR for the forum-based community. It’s lovely, and really, forums are pretty standard functionally. I’m used to it, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new version there. Having said that, I’m willing to give Kollabora a go. The UI looks nice, but at the moment it seems like you may need to blog/visit quite a few blogs to really get involved in the community (I don’t blog, thought I do obviously read ). I would feel awkward using the PR template in another site, it feels a bit rude. I looked at your Jacket Express post – if I was to review something, I’m guessing you wouldn’t mind if I copied/modified the questions you used there?ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Mel – I agree about the “rude” part, but I still like giving some sort of review of a pattern. That really is invaluable info. Of course you can copy my questions on my Jacket Express post! I was trying to think of newer questions to answer – add your own if you like. Maybe we can create our own new Kollabora template! yay!ReplyCancel

  • Carson - Thank you for this; I always end up going to PR to see what a paper pattern REALLY looks like made up on real people before I buy, so it’s a really good resource in that respect, but I’ve never become a member because it’s so visually and navigationally daggy. I joined up on MySewingCircle when some online friends were doing it, but it just doesn’t seem to get used so blah to that. I am a reasonably avid member of ravelry (I’m a knitter too) and I’ve started wishing there was a garment-sewing equivalent of that site.ReplyCancel

  • Judi Short - I don’t like Burda Style at all. And Pattern Review doesn’t work, either. I guess for now I will find my pattern ideas from word of mouth or someone’s blog. Kollabora is pretty, and beter when I finally found the filters, but didn’t see anyone critique a pattern, rather they just show what they made from a pattern, or how they modified a pattern to make it their own. And, I agree, Sunni, that there are only so many blogs a girl can follow, too many irons in the fire, fabric to feel, patterns to fold, etc.ReplyCancel

  • Nakisha - I love your blog and am a faithful follower and I have to agree on one point but disagree on the other.

    Pattern Review is clunky. And as others have stated, is unparalleled in the sewing community. Someone asked how such community formed – because the users are AWESOME. The site may be clunky but the people who use the site make it the most valuable place on the web for garment sewers.

    After seeing your FB post, I went and signed up for Kollabra and quickly got annoyed. It’s *too* cutesy for me. I don’t like Pinterest either so perhaps, even though I’m a 30 something (and a technical person), I’m just not into the “new and shiny”.

    I love Ravelry too and it could use some tweaks…but there’s no place on the web like it.

    I think PR could be improved if more of the access was limited to paying members.ReplyCancel

  • Chuleenan - I agree that PR looks dated but has great content. I don’t spend much time on PR or Kollabora – mostly because I haven’t had time but I’ll take another look. Thanks for this post!ReplyCancel

  • O. Jolly - I also use both sites. I’m a huge Kollabora fan and have visited their HQ. Like Ravelry, I find it a great site for inspiration and new (to me) techniques. I’m also a PR member. Though I’m not a big commercial pattern user, I’ve used PR for equipment reviews. (I found it very helpful recently when I was doing research prior to purchasing a serger and again when I was buying a new sewing machine.) To me the sites don’t have much overlap.

    I also like Kollabora for finding new blogs to read. That’s how I found your blog, Sunni! :)

    If a person posts a project on Kollabora and states “More info on the blog”, I assume the person doesn’t want to post the same material twice. (Hey, I’m guilty of that.) I simply open the blog in a new tab and when I’m done, return to Kollabora.

    Truth is I’m older than most Kollabora members (LOL), but I really appreciate new, shiny, and the clean look of the site. And the budding community has made me feel very welcome.ReplyCancel

  • caroline - I want to add one other point:

    I love that both PR and Kollabara are (as far as I can tell) women owned and operated businesses. I was very distressed when I found out that Craftsy was started by two (male) venture capitalists.

    The sewing / knitting / crafting community is overwhelmingly female – it’s crazy that the biggest online resource out there was started by two (non-crafting) guys. (If I’m wrong about this please correct me!)

    I agree that PR needs an urgent upgrade, but I still love that it is owned and operated by a female crafter!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I love Kollabora. It’s definitely my favorite.

    I agree with Caroline about caring who actually started the companies! I’m not a huge fan of Craftsy for many reasons.ReplyCancel

  • AnaJan Stepalica - I actually find Collabora counter-intuitive. I usually need to take several trials until I reach to the page I wanted to go to. Sure, the pictures as large and the projects look neat, but browsing through the site is sometimes too confusing.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - Hi Sunni, just started following your blog and the topic on focus on fit. It’s been really good and I’ve learn some great tips. I’m just wandering if you were going to get into teaching us how to adjust the higher cup for patterns. I don’t want to cut anything until I see how you do it.
    Thanks a lot for all that you’ve shown us on fit to this point.

  • Steph - I have to second what Kaci and Nakisha and a few others have said. Yes, Pattern Review’s interface is antiquated, and it would be really nice for it to get a facelift. It is in fact quite ugly. However, I don’t find it difficult to interact with the site at all. It’s very logically organized. And, the most important thing: there is NO WHERE ELSE you’re going to find the depth and breadth of content and community knowledge; real knowledge–not “I Macguivered this pattern because I don’t really know how to sew” knowledge. Wishing for this well-entrenched community to just pick up and shift to a shinier new platform is kind of ridiculous. Why would–or should–they reinvent the wheel? To get some flashy new rims and bone-jarring bass?
    I agree that Deepika really needs to invest some energy and time in prettying up the PR site to make sure that the crowd who loves slick design alongside their valuable information sticks around. And I understand the frustration over being promised site updates without actually receving any. That said, avoiding the wealth of information available on PR simply because the site is ugly a little clunky is a bit short-sighted.
    I’ve been to Kollabora several times since its Beta days, very recently too; and it just doesn’t appeal to me. Sure the design is great. It looks beautifully modern. But once you get past the pretty surface, there’s just nothing there to grab my attention. It’s not very well organized–or at least its organization isn’t intuitive. And it has its clunky issues, too.
    Maybe in 5 years it’ll be a bit better, and people will have started to build a stronger community there. Maybe. Maybe the content will have improved. I kind of see Kollabora as more a brag-site, not an informational site, despite the tutorials available. “Look at this really cool thing I made!” Yay for you. What’s in it for me? Barring the very few people, like Sunni, who actually do post useful content, most people seem to be on it just to post their projects and get a few pats on the back; not there’s anything wrong with that, but the usefulness level is low. Maybe I’m an old fogey (mid 30s) and crotchety as all get-out, though. It’s possible that in 5 years I’ll have completely changed my mind about its usefulness.ReplyCancel

Focus on Fit: Pattern Review

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?

  • Jenny - I use PatternReview the same way – it’s a great source for reviewing the patterns. I didn’t really look at the message boards but I will after this tip – thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Louise Monacelli - I find Pattern Review to be a great tool, especially reviewers’ pictures! Many patterns only have drawn illustrations that can look very different from the real fit of the pattern. I used PR to review unused patterns to decide whether to try them or pitch. That simplified my stash of patterns.ReplyCancel

  • Nakisha - I *love* Pattern Review. I gladly pay the fee to use the site because it is just that invaluable to me. I too search for patterns that I think I might want, to make sure it doesn’t have tons of issues. And there’s merit to a pattern that has been made successfully, dozens of times.

    I love the forum as well. My favs are: beginners, fitting woes, patterns & notions and fabrics. I spend about 90% of my time there! :) Then we have a great discussion thread going about Project Runway!ReplyCancel

  • Cherie - Great post! It’s a good reminder for me to check Patternreview. I also love perusing your Pinterest board. Thank you for sharing your expertise.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - It also took me a while to learn HOW to use the Pattern Review website. But now it is my go to place for most things. As you mentioned, I really love how people post not only the successes and pretty pictures, but also the failures, which are sometimes more important to learn about to avoid poorly drafted patterns. It is SO helpful to have years and years of reviews on ONE site only.
    I also like that most people use the same template – that way it reminds the reviewer to comment on certain aspects of the pattern that they may not have otherwise remembered. I think that Pattern Review is much much more helpful than Burda in this way. There are a lot of projects on Burda but often the reviews don’t tell you much of anything about the pattern and aren’t really that helpful in the end.ReplyCancel

  • Mackenzie - I just started using this site recently and I’ve also found it to be a great resource. I especially like it for reading others comments about how a pattern worked for their body type.ReplyCancel

  • Kami - Sweet!!! I feel so special that my review is featured on your blog–however coincidentally that may be. Love your blog by the way.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - I love Pattern Review! Though I often forget to check before starting; I tend to check it either when I get stuck on something or when I’m about to finish and need a little extra kick in the pants to get going and finish that hem. I should definitely check it beforehand before buying patterns because it just makes so much sense. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • K-Line - I agree that PR is a great resource but I have to say (also living in the world of Ravelry – for knitting), it’s so hideous and clunky that I almost don’t bother with it. It REALLY needs an overhaul. I don’t post reviews on there because I can’t stand the interface.ReplyCancel

  • Tina D - Yes! I looooooooove this site. It has fixed a few problems for me even before I start. “Gaping back? No worries, I’ll just size down and perfect!” “Also, thanks for the construction tip. It’s helpful to note why I’m pivoting there.”

    I even find inspiration there. I think seeing other people go through the process helps me psychologically say to myself: I can do it!

    Yay Pattern Review!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - I agree that the pattern database is the best sewing resource out there. However, I cheat, I check new patterns by going to Shop Patterns or More tab and then click on the pattern manufacturer. In a glance, I can see what patterns by the line are popular and how many reviews they’ve received.

    You gave such a great response to the person who suggested you remove the pattern from your board. I’m always amazed when fellow sewists assume you are suppose to do all the work for them instead of the situations being a give and take kinda of thing. Gotta remember your response for the future.ReplyCancel

  • Following Up: How We Share Online | Sew Well - […] Pattern Review, I wanted to link to today’s post from Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch on searching Pattern Review for information on specific patterns.  I still don’t know how you use the site to connect with others, but maybe after you get in […]ReplyCancel

  • blacklabel - I live, breath, dream PR..Its a treasure trove of advice.
    However – I too find it rather outdated & long for a more modern interface!ReplyCancel

  • Donna - Pattern Review is a hit and miss for me. It is a great resource and love knowing what the patterns of the year are.ReplyCancel

  • Joanne - Thanks for the info on searching Pattern Review forums! I’ve never thought of that!

    I hesitate to type this, because I really don’t believe in bringing up problems that I’m not willing or able to help fix, but I do wish Pattern Review would use metadata to create a final score for each pattern based on reviewer’s comments. I love that I can look at other sewer’s ratings and comments, but it is sometimes a pain to look at EACH AND EVERY REVIEW to check for trends. (First world problem, I know). I envision something like “4 out of 5 stars based on 10 reviews.”… “3 out of 5 reviewers stated ‘pattern runs small’…’5 out of 5 reviewers noted that notches on skirt vent are misplaced’.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Pattern Review and check it both before and in the midst of projects; I just wish it could channel a little Amazon or Boden on ease of the review process. I also check Burda (and sometimes just plain ol’ google pattern numbers) because often times they include links to more detailed blog posts, which give more information anyway.ReplyCancel

  • EmSewCrazy - I keep forgetting Pattern Review. I finally made myself an account and now it is just remembering to go there. It has really helped me out in a couple of situations.ReplyCancel

  • Ani - I’ve been a member of Ravelry (for knitting/fiber stuff) since it was still in beta format and have often lamented not having anything remotely like it in sewing form.

    I’ve used Pattern Review a few times, but it gave me such a headache that it never even occurred to me to hit the message boards. I’m totally gonna give it a try.

    I wonder if they are looking for anyone to, um, re-design their site for them?ReplyCancel

  • marthaeliza - Pattern Review has a wealth of good information in an outmoded, clunky, and cranky interface. It’s like a old card catalog at a library — nostalgic, useful, and annoying.ReplyCancel

  • Diane @ Vintage Zest - I am guilty of not using Pattern Review enough as I should. Also, I have never thought of actually adding my own reviews! Maybe I should!

    Sometimes, I will take a peek at people’s garments and how they look on real bodies to decide if I would like to sew it. Technical drawings and garments on stick models can only tell so much!ReplyCancel

  • Janet - I couldn’t agree more. The interface is clunky and the pictures are hokey. But, to be really truthful….I check it everyday. It links me to blogs I now enjoy. Most valuable to me? I get to see the garments on real people. All different bodies. If I am going to spend all that time and then it looks horrible on me, …What’s the point?ReplyCancel

  • Laura - How funny, I’ve just discovered PR! It’s a horrible site that’s about 10 years behind design-wise but the information it holds is brilliant. Thanks for the tutorial as I’ve been stumbling around it not using it to it’s full potential!ReplyCancel

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres - I agree with you and all of the commenters about how helpful PR is. I logged in today before I cut out my latest dress. K-Line mentioned Ravelry. I often think of Ravelry in the context of PR, as Ravelry has an awesome interface, but does a lot of the same reviews, forums, patterns, etc. that PR does.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen - I always go to PR before making a pattern, however I never realized I could check on the forums for reviews. Thank you so much. BTW: as much as I use it I am guilty or not posting my own reviews very often (I guess I need to start doing that!).ReplyCancel

  • Janette - Pattern review is so helpful! I always read it before starting a pattern and will note down any comments made by multiple reviewers. I just wish more people would note what size they make. Picking the right size is something I have a hard time with and seeing the garments made on different sized bodies is especially helpful when I can make the comparison of whether I’m bigger/smaller or like more/less ease.ReplyCancel

  • Nikki - Maybe I’m one of the slow people that can’t figure out how to use a website from 2002… But I am grateful for this tutorial. I know PR has great information and so many people swear by it, but I have had such a hard time finding the correct pattern that I don’t even consider it as a go-to resource before starting a project. So I’m going to try to “advanced search” method and hopefully get more use out of it.
    I agree with the previous reviewer who said they should have a “3 out of 5 stars” system for pattern ratings, or something like that. And of course a general overhaul to make it a bit easier on the eyes wouldn’t hurt :) ReplyCancel

  • Camilla - Thanks for the reminder. I have come across this site but forget it’s such a great resource for finding out what a finished pattern will look like. I will check this out before starting any projects in future.ReplyCancel

  • caroline - I used to love PR, but now I find it very hard to upload photos and I’ve pretty much stopped using it (other than stopping by to get previews of new Burdastyles). I wish PR would go the Ravelry route and find innovate ways to update its format and “get with the times.” It’s like using the internet in 2003!ReplyCancel

  • MariaDenmark - I love patternreview – and have used it on and off for over 10 years, back when there weren’t blogs like today – actually this was were I met my best friend.
    I know from Patternreview owner that there is a new (and more user friendly) design coming up within the next month or so..ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - Haha! “Janky” – I don’t think I’ve heard that word before, but yes, PR is janky. :) ReplyCancel

  • Siri Andersen - I live in the pile of rock that is Norway, so I had not heard of this site before. I have browsed a little and find it very useful! Thanks for sharing the link ;) ReplyCancel

  • Mary - I am a long time PR member, and love the site. Janky, I guess…but it’s familiar to me now and I can use it easily. One tip I offer is that Friends of PR get some goodies not available to others, and these things are worthwhile. I have an online pattern catalog which is linked to reviews and to my wishlist. When I am buying patterns, I can automatically see the reviews. When purchased, I can click on the pattern in my wishlist and it is transferred to my pattern library.ReplyCancel

  • Sewing princess - I find it appalling you got such a remark on your board! I like reading PR reviews though the site could do with a redesign.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I always check PR and I love it. Never thought to get on the forums though. And the big thing? I need to contribute reviews myself. I always have the good intention to post a review, but then it slides to the backburner. So thanks, you’ve reminded me to give back a little of what I get :)

  • James - I’m brand new to sewing and found PR by accident while doing an internet search about 2 months ago. I bought my first patterns from there and go there often to read reviews on patterns I am interested in. Good stuff.ReplyCancel

  • June - I use google to search PR – for example, if I want to find out more about, say, blindhem tension, I type this into the google search box:

    blindhem tension

    Much better results, faster, etc. If you’re looking for a pattern and what to see what people are saying outside of reviews, the google search will also show you forum topics.ReplyCancel

  • Bela S - I use it like June. I prefer to Google and that will link me with relevant reviews. The PR interface is just too dated. When I consider a pattern the review piece is maybe only 20% of my decision because not every reviewer has your body type or your skill level OR as is often the case on Patternreview knows how to take a decent enough picture. When something is a hobby, don’t be afraid to diverge from the path a little. I’ve learned a lot from just taking a chance on some tricky patterns.PR gives me the heads up on the tricky things. Some of my favorite reviews are ones where a reviewer took on a pattern that many people panned and made it look amazing by choosing better fabric and taking the time to adjust fitting issues.ReplyCancel

  • LadyD - Is its is quite US focused (I’m in UK) I tend to only use it for the pattern reviews (always handy to check before starting a project) and for the messageboard. I’ve yet to find as comprehensive a sewing forum.
    I’m not interested in any of the other facilities so tend to completely ignore all the other ‘links’ etc. on the page.
    It could do with a bit of streamlining and be made more ‘mobile phone’ friendly but I cope. The search function is the key.ReplyCancel

  • BeckyT - I joined PR back in May on the advice of one of the blogs I read. I even joined as a Friend just because if you are a paying member, you get an additional 10% off at JoAnn’s after all the other discounts. It has already paid for itself. Funny though, despite the title, I didn’t realize they actually REVIEWED patterns! HA! I’ve never used the feature but I will now. I used it primarily at first for reviews on a cover stitch machine I’m still itching to buy.ReplyCancel

  • maddie - I use Pattern Review a lot, but mostly for reviews on sewing machines (I’m currently in the market for a new one). I didn’t know that you could search patterns in the message board. Thanks for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • PatternJunkie - I love PR but concur that they need an overhaul…the design is SO outdated it’s appalling! Such great information, just wish it was presented in a more user-friendly format.ReplyCancel

  • Dona - I always use Pattern Review…..and yes it is a bit overwhelming with all it has on it, but it is interesting and useful. The classes are kinda spendy but worth every penny.ReplyCancel

Focus on Fit: Suggestions for Pattern Size Picking

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.

  • Jenny - Thanks so much for these posts – very informative and helpful. I usually use my high bust for bodice fitting and that always seems to work out fine. I have a C cup and I usually don’t even bother doing a FBA. My problem has been the upper back area. Always seems a bit big and gapes. Thanks for that last tip – I will definitely use that next time!ReplyCancel

  • Camielle - Sunni, I have a 42″ bust, am old and fat, and this measurement indicated a size 20 for me. Trouble is, it fits in the bust and hips but the waist isn’t big enough and the most awful part………the shoulders and neckline falls off me!!! I have to use a size 14 in the neck and shoulders and then gradually move out into the size 20 at the underarm and hip and still have to make the waist larger as well. Also have to shorten the top between the shoulder and bustline as I always get a wrinkle between the shoulder and the underarm seam. Sloping shoulder adjustment isn’t enough to get rid of this wrinkle. I sooooo hate a top or dress that falls off the shoulders and the neckline is just off the top too big, too low, ………….! The high bust measurement is a must for us old fat women with very narrow shoulders. Again, another great tip from you. CamielleReplyCancel

  • Angela - I think the thing in common with all these methods is that they are NOT using the regular bust measurement to choose pattern size, but instead are using shoulder or upper body measurements to choose the size. This gives people a much better starting point. Thanks so much for all the good info!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - Thanks so much for the posts on fitting!!!!! This is so helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Gabrielle - I hadn’t heard about Nancy’s approach but I love the sound of it!

    I’ve been sewing a 12 for the top half in Vogues for a few years, but then it dawned on me recently that I used to sew a 10 all over, and that my underlying bone structure wasn’t any bigger than it used to be. So what I’m now doing is a 12 in the top half BUT grading down to a 10 for the upper bust and shoulder areas. I haven’t sewn enough garments this way to say whether or not it works, but your post makes me feel really hopeful that it will work :).ReplyCancel

  • Mel H. - I recently tried the Laurel from Colette. My fitting experience is very limited, so I chose the size based on my bust measurement — size 6. The front fit perfectly, but the back left a huge gap. The last top I tried, the Tank from Wiksten, had the same issue in the back… so it’s time to tackle this fitting issue!

    Interestingly, Nancy’s method would have me pick the size 6 as a starting point, too, but your method of the high bust measurement puts me in a size 0. Looks like I have a lot more research to do on this, but I really appreciate the (timely!) posts on fitting. You’ve given me some really helpful starting points. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • sewdooley - I’ve struggled trying to fit the “four tubes” area because I’m narrow across the high bust, as well as short. Thanks for the great post, I’m about to start a jacket and this will help.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - I feel like I’ve read somewhere that you should use your high bust measurement if you’re a certain cupsize or above but not otherwise? Is this a thing?

    I am pretty small-busted but have a great pair of shoulders and a broad back. Looking forward to reading all your fitting tips. :) ReplyCancel

  • Jacq - Thanks so much for these posts – so helpful :) ReplyCancel

  • Marjorie Trundle - I have been sewing for over 40 years and have never heard of Nancy Ziemans methods for pattern altering. For years I was a 12 but now I am a 14 and I have been having trouble with wide shoulder pattern adjustments and back of neck gaping. I am so grateful to you for these posts as Nancy’s method completely makes sense.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - Hi thank you for these posts. I find fitting a terrible chore, mainly because I don’t have any confidence in my ability to get it right.

    For my part I take a 32DD bra and am 36 across both my bust and high bust, so both give me a measurement that leads to a too large pattern size (14). The NZ method you describe above would imply I should move up to a 20 which is frightening! Generally I find a 12 is roughly right but I’m never really sure.

    I guess everyone is different and you have to use a dash of common sense along with these techniquesReplyCancel

  • Nancy N - I also have been a long time sewer. My frame is lean but I’ve “hipped out” over the years, which meant the Vogue 10s that were perfect in my 20s & 30s are way off. FINALLY I found a pair of Ann Taylor darted trousers that fit and were slimming. So I drafted a pattern off that and have been set for pants ever since. I urge folks to try this, although I know drafting a jacket would be much more difficult! It has also helped me to see what works in off the rack clothing, analyze it, and make fitting decisions based on that–so I know that most 12s will be too low in the front, as I am high-busted, and most 8s too tight across the back, as I have fairly broad shoulders. Most frustrating is trying to fit bodices by myself, so I see the wisdom of a fitting buddy!
    Thanks for these posts. I loved seeing all the different pants you drafted off one pattern–probably require more patience than I have, ha ha!
    Nancy NReplyCancel

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  • MariaDenmark - Very interesting series!
    I agree to some degree.
    I teach my students to choose size based on their upper bust measurement, (and then add at the bust for cup sizes with a bigger difference than 4.5 cm between high and full bust) because that is the easier method and because it gives them the opportunity to try this on all patterns – not just the ones I know the cross bust width for. And while Nancy Zieman gives a chart, it must be a chart for some American companies and can not be used everywhere – especially since all pattern companies have the freedom to choose their own size table (as there is really no standardisation out there.)
    That being said – I always measure their cross bust width (like on the drawing above) and their cross back width when we’re insecure about which of two sizes to choose..ReplyCancel

  • Elena Knits - Thank you for these tips. I didn’t know about the shoulders measurement to pick your size but I’ll take this into account for the future.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Ann - Thank you for the tips. Getting the pattern right is the hardest for many of us.

    I have used Nancy Zieman’s method of fitting patterns for years, and this has worked extremely well. I am going to use your shoulder tip in conjunction with Nancy’s method.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - I can’t wait to play around with these measurements instead of going by my regular bust measurement. Thank you so much for posting!ReplyCancel

  • Amy Thompson - I have not been a sewer for long, so really appreciate this post on fit.ReplyCancel

  • Marjorie Trundle - I found this post so helpful and after watching Nancy’s video, I can now understand why patterns haven’t been working so well. I have ordered her book and now look forward to sewing up commercial patterns like I use to when I was much younger and a lot slimmer. Thank-you so much for posting this.ReplyCancel

Focus on Fit: Picking Your Pattern Size (updated)

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.

Make sense?

  • Diane @ Vintage Zest - Thanks for the great pictures! I had to have someone measure themselves for a dress I was going to make them, but they weren’t sure where to measure. This will work nicely!

    It’s funny because as much as I measure myself, I always end up at the same size. Yes, I’m one of those people whose measurements are all exactly the same size, so I wouldn’t have much altering to do. Still, I choose exactly one size smaller to start my garments and everything works out perfectly! It saves me from taking in all of the seams on the muslin and I haven’t had a problem yet.ReplyCancel

  • Tee - For years I could use my regular bust measurement. As I’ve gotten older and my cup size changed the high bust measurement has worked so much better for me when using commercial patterns. Now I just make a FBA and i’m good.ReplyCancel

  • dani e - Thanks for sharing this advice!! I have been having a hell of a time fitting my tops/bodices. I just got back into sewing this month after many years on hiatus and am having to reteach myself everything. thank goodness i have done muslins and not ruined any good fabric yet. I am a new reader of yours and I have a feeling you are going to be on my speed dial…Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • theresa in tucson - It also helps to know how much ease is in the pattern. I normally wear a 14 but I just traced off a McCall’s P&P shirtdress pattern from the early 90s. It’s a 10 but because of the ease built in and the dropped shoulder, the only things I’m changing are the neck, the bodice length and the length of the sleeve; circumference is just fine.ReplyCancel

  • SewingElle - Great informative post. Do you or does anyone else know which pattern companies, if any, give the upper bust measurements that their garments are drafted for?ReplyCancel

  • Gabrielle - How timely – I’ve been thinking about fit by pattern brand recently because I want to make a pieced dress from a pattern brand I don’t normally use, and I’m not familiar with how their patterns fit me. It’s a pain to have to measure a whole lot of pattern pieces to work out the size they’ll sew up as (as opposed to what size the pattern envelope is talking about), and the fact that finished garment measurements don’t tend to get listed on the envelope makes buying the right size a bit of a guessing game until you have a feel for that brand’s sizing.ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Thank you for this info. It normally sounds so very complicated and tends to put those of us who haven’t yet built up experience levels.ReplyCancel

  • Beth - This is great advice! After many years of sewing, I finally learned the importance of the upper bust measurement. I have a full bust so going by that measurement always gave me clothes with a too big back and shoulders. Now I cut different sizes for shoulders, back and bust and it works so much better. :) ReplyCancel

  • Marina Kastan - Once you have these measurements, do you compare them to the pattern’s size chart or to measurements taken from the pattern pieces themselves? I’m especially confused about the upper bust measurement–if you’re measuring the patten piece, where do you take the measurement from? If you’re using a size chart, do you use the upper bust measurement the same way you would a regular bust measurement? Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • BeckyThompson - Yes! Makes PERFECT sense! You’ve explained this so clearly. How and why and that’s what I need. I always struggle with patterns when I notice that my waist measurement (smallest number) is a size or two lower than the numbers in line on the pattern. That’s not where I want my waistband to actually fall (because my high waist is up around my armpits!), but it’s the narrowest part. You’ve cleared that up! So now I know what matters is the type of garment I’m making. Who knew? I’m going to put a big chart on my wall that says:

    MAKING A ??
    Top – Upper bust, waist
    Pant – Hip bone
    Skirt/dress – Lower hip

    Do you use the neck to waist measurement at all (down the back)? If so, when and how and where do you measure?ReplyCancel

  • Meri - Hi! Thanks so much for this information! I have a question about using the upper bust measurement – what do you compare it to when choosing a pattern size? Do you measure out all the different pattern pieces at the upper bust level minus the seam allowance? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - Sunni – I’m really enjoying this series! It is well written and chock full of useful information!ReplyCancel

  • sewlittletime - probably a silly question – if the widest part of your hip may be your thighs, do you take the measurement with your legs together or standing normally? really useful series – thanks sunni!ReplyCancel

  • lisa g - great info here, as always! i’ve been thinking a lot about the upper bust measure for determining which size to go with… as i understand it most patterns draft for a B cup (which, i believe, is upper bust + 2″ and not actual cup size). so would it make sense to take your upper bust +2″ to determine what size to go with, then SBA or FBA to achieve your actual bust measurement? i haven’t tested this out yet, it’s just been something i’ve been thinking about lately. you know so much more on this topic than i, so i’d love to hear your thoughts!ReplyCancel

  • Eirini - Great information and very clearly presented! Thanks for sharing. Your point about upper bust measurement makes perfect sense to me- when I go by the full bust pattern size I always need to adjust my bodice because of my narrow shoulders. The thing is that the majority of patterns do not provide a size guide on the basis of the upper bust measurement, so my question is the same as Meri’s: do you measure the pattern pieces in that area and then compare them to your measurements in order to determine the right size?ReplyCancel

  • Camielle - Sunni, you make your tutorials so interesting and wonderful to read. Thank you so much for them and for being so cute, cheery and honest about everything. The hula hoop visual is just the best! CamielleReplyCancel

  • Tracy - Great info on fitting – a topic I often find mystifying & frustrating to deal with as a beginner!

    For the upper bust measurement – does choosing a size based on this # work for indie pattern co.’s like Colette Patterns which drafts for C cups (instead of the standard B cup)?ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - Hey all! Just so you know, since there were such great questions here, I decided to update the post so some of the questions are answered there – updates in italics. Hopefully this makes sense, if not, come back and ask!ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @theresa in tucson – There is a lot of built in ease in the Big 4, however I’ve never been able to go down a size because of the way my neck, sleeve and upper bust fit. I know some can, but I have not yet experienced this with myself.

    @Sewing Elle – they don’t give the measurements for the upper bust, only the actual full bust. But instead of using your actual bust measurement, use the upper bust measurement in lieu of that to pick your size. Hopefully this makes sense!

    @Gabrielle – Yes, I agree. I wish that all pattern companies would include several more measurements to go by, but they don’t. As regards the upper bust measurement, I still feel that this gives you the best orientation for your upper body across the board, commercial or indie pattern.

    @Marina Kastan – I compare to the measurements on the back of the pattern envelope first. The upper bust will be the measurement you use in lieu of your full bust for deciding which size for the bust – does that make sense? Such a mouthful, I know. From here, we’ll be taking many many more measurements and comparing those to the actual pattern pieces.

    @Meri – No, you’ll use the upper bust measurement as your guide with picking your size. This will be the bust measurement on the pattern sizing chart, but you’ll measure your upper bust and use that in lieu of your full bust.

    @sewlittletime – Stand with your legs together and then take the hip measurement.

    @lisa g – I just use the upper bust measurement in lieu of my actual bust for all patterns because many times with the independents, I don’t know what cup size they draft for and the upper bust (which I’ll pick the bust size from) will determine that correct orientation for the shoulders, neck and arms. From here, there will be many more measurements to take and then compare that to the actual pattern pieces and then of course we’ll talk about ease and all that too.

    @Eirini – No, just pick your bust size according to your upper bust size. I’ll be going over much more in depth what happens from here.

    @Tracy – Yes! This is exactly why I use the upper bust measurement as opposed to the actual bust for any pattern company. Many times, with indies, you don’t know the exact cup size, so its easier to use that upper bust and get the hardest place to fit good and then adjust for a full or small bust from there.ReplyCancel

  • Stephani - @Sewing Elle, all Big 4 patterns are drafted for a B cup, which if you think about bra sizing for a minute, works out to 2 inches larger than the high/upper bust measurement. So looking at the pattern company’s size chart, which only gives a full bust measurement, subtract 2 inches and that’s the high bust measurement for that pattern size.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I know using your measurements are key to doing less work to get the right fit – but what happens when excessive ease thwarts that? How and when do you decide a pattern has excessive ease?ReplyCancel

  • Louisa - Thank you so much for this post, I have the hardest time fitting in clothes, my waist and hips are only 4 inches difference and pants are a mess to fit in ready made clothes. I am going to be attempting to make my “perfect fit” pants!

    I do have a question, when purchasing a pattern (knowing that you will need to alter for fit) should I go with the measurement for my hips or my waist. I am always confused if is easier to add inches for my waist or decrease inches for my hips. Hope my question is not too confusing. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @ Michelle – I’m debating whether or not to discuss the excess ease thing, but since there are so many questions about it, I think I will! However, I don’t go down a size in the Big 4 because I find that its harder to fit the smaller size in my neck, shoulders, arms and upper bust (almost impossible to fit) and I find that the larger size works so much better for me in this regard.

    @Louisa – As the majority of patterns these days are multisized, you can blend the sizes together. Use your waist measurement for your waist and your hip for your hip. However, if you can’t do that or that pattern only comes in one size, use your hip measurement and adjust the waist.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - I use Nancy Zieman’s method of choosing pattern sizes:—choosing-the-right-sewing-pattern-size/ This has worked out well for both me (size 14) and my daughter (size 10). I usually add to the side seams to fit myself, my daughter can usually wear size 10 without adjustments other than length. I love Nancy’s method because you get a good fit in the neck and shoulders. I have had no problem with ease in the Big 4. I think a lot of people do because they choose based on their bust size instead of their shoulders and are sewing with too big of a pattern. Even with Nancy’s method you still will have to make adjustments (an FBA, for example), but I think it gives you a better starting point.ReplyCancel

  • Rah - First time reader, and what serendipity! As I read, the back of my mind was going “So this is why I have that odd little swath of fabric across the front of my chest.” I have tried so hard to get rid of it and have never been successful. Thank you, thank you! Something tells me I am going to be a faithful reader.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni - @Angela – I love Nancy’s method too, however the reason I don’t use it is because her sizing method puts in me a size 10 when I use a 14 and have much better luck. Because the shoulder, neck and arms are my biggest fitting headache, the 14 works out much better for this whereas the 10 is much too small for me to work with. But I completely, 100% agree, you will still have to make adjustments, its finding the best size to start with that is the key.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - This is amazing!! I ALWAYS have fit issues on the neckline and I’ve never been able to figure out why or how to fix it. I am definitely going to try measuring around the over bust next time because if I can get SOMETHING to lay flat, I would be so happy. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth C - I am not sure if anyone said this, but the Vogue web site does provide upper bust measurements on their size chart, though they label it as “chest” and it is listed below the bust (when in real space, duh, it’s above the bust). But the dimensions are there.–misses–petites-pages-340.php

    They also have an ease chart that shows how much wearing ease (not design ease) is indicated by the various size descriptions (close fitting, fitted, semi-fitted, loose fitting, very loose fitting). But I find they don’t always use these terms in their pattern descriptions these days, and it’s not always accurate, measuring the pattern pieces is better. But it’s sometimes useful information about the designer’s intent on fit.

  • Camilla - I’ve always gone by my bust measurement so this is a revelation. I have narrow shoulders so always end up with excess fabric around the chest. I will give this method a go next time. Thanks for the tip.ReplyCancel

  • Focus on Fit: Suggestions for Pattern Size Picking » A Fashionable Stitch - […] so my last post went over the system that I use to pick pattern size. It’s the one that I prefer for myself […]ReplyCancel

  • Sabine - Hi Sunni,
    This is really interesting. I’ve always wondered about pants fit. I am seriously pear-shaped (waist: 28″, hips’ 42″), which makes pants especially hard.
    I was always told to go by hip measurement at the widest point, but that one sits quite a bit lower than my hip bone.
    So, if I understand you correctly, it may be better to take the hip measurement at the hip bone and use that one to pick the pattern size, and then do some sort of ‘full butt adjustment’, in whatever way? Is that what you would suggest?

    Thanks beforehand!ReplyCancel

  • megan - Thanks for posting about the high bust, it had not occurred to me. My bust is the hardest for me to fit, even with ready wear. I had been using my bra band size i.e. under bust measurement. I will definitely be trying this.ReplyCancel

  • Sunni tells how to pick the right sewing pattern size | Sewing Patterns - […] Choosing the right size in a sewing pattern is not as easy as choosing the right size in ready to wear garments.  For starters, you don’t have a rack of finished garments to try on to see which fits best.  And then there’s the fact that sewing pattern sizing is not the same as ready to wear.  Sunni from A Fashionable Stitch tells how to measure yourself to figure out the right size to cut your pattern.  Taking the time to figure out the right size at the beginning will save you heartache (and alterations) later.  Go to A Fashionable Stitch to read her post. […]ReplyCancel