Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hate fitting but love to sew?

That's me! I hate fitting but I love to sew! What a contradiction, right?

This installment is all about working with a new pattern. I mean I really should use some of the "new" patterns I have purchased? I shouldn't just use the TNT patterns over and over again, right? I should be adventurous and take the journey or nightmare trip (whoops excuse me, I really only have enthusiasm for what I sew! *lol*) explore new territory, learn a new technique, pull some different tissue paper out of new pattern envelopes!

Anyway.......I have started working on my new jacket from Butterick 3978 which the pattern envelope describes as a semi-fitted, unlined jacket has collar, shoulder pads, princess seams and long sleeves. I am using an 18, 20, 22 pattern and of course, my pattern pieces now look nothing like the pieces that came out of the envelope.

First, the finished back length of the jacket is 23 1/4 inches. Well, that's a no-no! Not if I don't want the jacket to end right in the middle of my butt ~ not a pretty sight! So I lengthen all the jacket pieces three inches. Then since I haven't worked with this pattern before, I add an additional one inch to all the side seam allowances.

Next shoulder seams ~ 5 inches as a finished shoulder seam fits me best. So I cut down the shoulder seam by using Cynthia Guffey's method of slicing down the middle of the shoulder pattern and then overlapping the pieces and taping it closed. I remember to overlap the pieces so that the shoulder seam measures six inches unfinished! Because believe me I have cut it down to five inches before and wondered what the heck was going on!

Okay, those were the easy adjustments. Next up is the bicep adjustment to the sleeve. I hate the fact that almost all patterns made in larger sizes unless they are women's sizes have small biceps! What's that about! Come on people admit it! We plus size women have fat in some unusual places. Mine happens to be in my arms! Can the pattern companies work with me here so that I don't have to totally redraft a sleeve pattern?! I usually like a slash and cut method that I learned from Cynthia Guffey but I have to admit that I have been influenced by the patternreview women and the Palmer & Pletsch book, Fit for Real People, has been residing on my bedside nightstand. So after reviewing the P&P way and checking out CG's method in her booklet, Precision Measuring & Pattern Alterations, I use a little from both! Hey, I am an equal opportunity fitter!

This is one of those times where a fitting challenge turned into a design opportunity. As I was working with the fabric ~ it's kinda plain ~ I knew I would need some detailing or embellishment that would make the pieces sing. I didn't really want to do a distinctive embellishment because then the pieces would lose their functionality or mix and match ability. So I was thinking of a subtle embellishment. I have decided to use a topstitching stitch that I have used before that gives a garment distinction but still makes it able to mix and match well. I will use stitch pattern number117 on my Janome 8000 for the topstitching. But I digress...this was about the sleeves.

I did add two inches to my bicep measurement by using CG's method but then after reading about adding a seam to the sleeve to add even more width without enlarging the wrist measurement ~ a lightbulb moment occurred! Or what Oprah refers to as "Aha moments!" I decided to add the seam and then add a topstitching detail to the sleeve. Wow, a fitting challenge that has become a successful design opportunity! That's what I love about sewing! That's when I feel that I am accomplishing something different, making the garment mine! Yeah, that's the thrill!

So I now take my totally disfigured pattern pieces and lay them onto my fabric and cut! Yeap, cut that sucker out. No wearable muslin. No muslin at all. Just cut out my good fabric with the 1" side seams. Did I hear a gasp? Did someone go, "ohmygosh!" And did someone even think, boy did she mess that one up! Well, maybe I did and maybe I didn't. I do have two additional yards of this fabric ~ after cutting out my TNT pants and skirt patterns. So I do have the ability to mess up and recut. But what is the fun of sewing if you just muslin? And how do you know how your fabric is going to react if you only muslin? And here is the $100,000 question, why are you afraid to cut your more expensive fabric? I mean its only fabric! Granted, I only paid $12.99 p/yd for this (which by the way is a lot for me!) But how will I ever learn if I don't just do it!

So, here is the question of the wee hours of the morn....Are you afraid to cut into your "real" or "expensive" fabric? Why? Are you afraid of losing "the investment"? But how much is it really worth if it just sits on your shelves, in your totes, or in your fabric closets unmade? Can you learn to be fearless in your sewing? Are you willing to engage in the adventure and learn something new, make a mistake, or end up with a great new garment? You know the opposite of a wadder is a wonderful, wearable garment!

Let's make a pledge together, right now, this very minute!

Let's learn to enjoy the sewing journey!

Let's lead new sewing adventures and remember, that there is more fabric where that original piece came from!

Anybody with me?


  1. I often cut the fashion fabric and add the 1" side seams. Most of the time that works. If an area might be tricky, I can add extra seam allowance.

    Since I do have fitting issues, muslins are often a necessity with unusual shapes or cuts, but very often, it the flat pattern measurements look good, adding extra seam allowance is good enough.

    It's only fabric after all.

    If we are too afraid of making mistakes we never accomplish anything.

  2. I'm not plus size, but I still have TONS of fitting issues. I hate the fitting part partly because I find it intimidating and I'm never sure if it will fit properly in the end. Part of my plan to break out of beginner sewing is to just DO the fitting. I figure I'll get to learn a lot about construction and loads of practice. That way I'm not too chicken to cut pieces out of more expensive fabric.

  3. While I'm never afraid to cut into fashion fabric, I'm even less afraid to have cut into my "fashion time".

    I make a lot of muslins. Most of which never make it to real fabric. I alter the pattern, cut it out from muslin, sew it up, often down to the details. And sometimes end there.

    I'm not a perfectionist either!
    I'm just playing in my room, like a saxophonist going through the scale.

    I really don't have a lot of sewing time, it's not toddler friendly, but if I felt like every time I sat down to sew I had to produce something wearable, it would be too much pressure.

    I just like to play. :D

  4. I'm with you! I just recently had a wadder myself - you're right, there's always more fabric.

  5. Hi C Marie,

    I love your blog. You can really put my feelings in to words. You inspire me.



  6. Gosh, were you in my mind this week or what??!!!
    I am working on a new project, new pattern and brand spanking new fabric. I kept saying for a whole day, I hate pin fitting patterns and making all those adjustments, but it is part of the sewing journey. Glad I did it though.

    I don't have a lot of sewing time as I once did. So I go with the pin fitting and once fitted, I just cut right into that fabric.

    I get wadders ever so often, just had one, thank you very much. But 8 out of 10 times, I have a success.

    Glad you wrote about this, I was thinking about writing on the subject, but you do a great job of putting thoughts to "paper".

  7. Hi! Just want to say what a nice site. Bye, see you soon.


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