How to make a bell sleeve top, a pattern transformation made easy

bell sleeve top

The focus of this tutorial is to teach you how to transform an existing pattern to adapt it to the bell sleeve top design.  It’s time to use the patterns you already have and learn how to alter them to come up with different outfits. This tutorial works best if you’re modifying the sleeves on the popular High-Low T-Shirt free pattern that we recently released.  However, if you’re more practiced in pattern alteration, you can do this with almost any top pattern.  You can download the pattern for the High-Low T-Shirt here if you’ve not done so already. I have chosen the bell sleeve style because it is very easy to make and it’s going to be trendy this spring. We’re going to look at two options of the bell sleeve design today.  The first is the classic, long bell … Continue reading

Shirring without elastic thread

shirring without elastic thread

So what is shirring anyway? In preparation for a new project this week, I want to introduce you to a technique called shirring (which is sometimes known as smocking) with a simple practice tutorial.  According to Wikipedia, “shirring is two or more rows of gathers that are used to decorate parts of garments, usually sleeves, bodice or yoke.”  With shirring, the gathers can be both decorative as well as functional since elastic can be used to draw in the gathers giving the garment more give to accommodate different sizes. Most techniques you’ll see around will show you how to do shirring with elastic thread.  Personally, I think that technique has some significant limitations, so I’m going to show you how you can do shirring without elastic thread and using normal elastic.  When you use elastic thread, this thread can irritate … Continue reading

Free crossover top pattern – with a difference!

Great beginner video tutorial on pattern hacking. How to take a basic t-shirt pattern and create this top, knowing it will fit you.

As you know, every month I like to offer up a new free sewing pattern. But so many people have been asking me recently about how I make the patterns, how they can make their own, and how they can adjust patterns to fit them better or slightly change the style, that I thought a change was in order for this month. So the free pattern for February is one you already have, and might already have downloaded and sewn.  What?  Stay with me, because we are going to do something very interesting this month that will change one pattern into something completely different. Why learn more about sewing patterns? Understanding how a pattern works, how it is created and can be manipulated is a really important skill for sewing your own clothes. It helps you take a simple pattern … Continue reading

My second attempt at a bra – fitting

Review of the Craftsy Class on Bra Making, Construction and Fit. Adding lace and working on the perfect fit.

So I made a bra from following along with the Bra Making: Construction and Fitting Class on Craftsy.  It looked amazing and I was SO happy with how it came together.  But no matter what it looks like, it only really works if it actually fits.  Did it fit?  No.  Sadly not.  It was actually a pretty good fit in most places, but the cups were far too small and I had some top overspill as well as feeling constrained.  It felt like my boobs were being pushed flat. [Read part 1 of my class review and more about my first bra sewing experience here.] The neckline edge of the cups was also too tight.  I almost always have this in store bras too and think I must be fuller in the upper chest than ‘average’ which is probably why … Continue reading

Penelope is finished – dress form review

Padding out a dress form. part 3 of a 3 part series.

It’s been a while since I brought Penelope home, and she’s been sat there taunting me for a while.  I admit, I put on a few (quite a few) pounds over Christmas and New Year.  I really intended to loose them again before fitting out Penelope but well, its nearly the end of March and that hasn’t happened yet.  I can’t make the poor girl wait there all naked any longer. If you are new here, you might have missed the installments earlier this year.  In the first video, I looked at Penelope as she arrived from PGM, and talked through the features.  I admit, I was gushing and silly, all giggly and excited.  She was so beautiful! PART 1 – PGM Pro 601 dress form review – Introducing Penelope In the second video, I looked at the Fabulous Fit Padding … Continue reading

Fabulous Fit Dress Form Padding for Penelope

Padding out a dress form to match your size and shape using the Fabulous Fit Dress Form Padding System

Did you meet Penelope my new dress form?   I’m so excited to be having some help with fitting my clothes this year, and in designing my sewing patterns.  But Penelope is young and perky and needs to put on 20 years and 20lbs in order to be a perfect body double for fitting and so I have the Fabulous Fit Dress Form Padding System to make that happen. Before we go any further, I have to give an extra special thank you to Stephanie and Tom who smuggled this big box of foamy boobs and bums through customs for me in their luggage on their last visit to Cayman.  I had my fingers crossed the whole way that they wouldn’t have their luggage searched and have to explain what all these boobs and bums were for (and pay the … Continue reading

PGM Pro 601 dress form review – Introducing Penelope

Video review of the PGM Pro 601 ladies dress form

  I want to introduce you to my newest best friend. This is Penelope.  Penelope started out life as a PGM Pro 601 Dress Form, but she is soon destined to become me.  I’m sure the poor girl has mixed feelings about this.  At the moment, she is young, firm, perky even, with her high bust, slim hips and pert rounded behind.  But soon she is to gain 20 years, about 20 pounds and loose that hourglass figure.  It happens to us all I told her, but I swear I could hear her quietly sobbing… I first came across Penelope when I started my research into a dress form.  Do you remember that I even tried to make my own?  Initial results in my Duct Tape Dress Form were great, but over enthusiastic filling with expanding foam resulted in a … Continue reading

Understanding a sewing pattern envelope

Understanding a Sewing Pattern Envelope. Easy when you know how. Good useful explanations, lots of good info.

You’ve heard me moan on and on before about my early fitting issues with commercial patterns.  Some All of those early issues were my own fault – in many cases I simply didn’t know how to pick my correct size from the pattern or used the wrong fabrics.  If you suffer from the same issues, you might welcome my beginners guide to Understanding A Sewing Pattern Envelope.     The front of the envelope This is where the company ‘sells’ the design to you.  You will usually see several designs that can all be made from the same pattern.  Sometimes in a multi-pattern you might be able to make a skirt, shirt and pants all from the same pattern.  But usually you will be able to make several variations of the same item such as a dress.  It might come … Continue reading

Sew the Perfect Fit Review, the final dress and GIVEAWAY

Sew the Perfect Fit - class details, review and finished dress

I’ve been taking the Sew the Perfect Fit class from Craftsy.  I decided that I was not going to allow 2013 to close without me tackling my biggest sewing challenge – picking the correct pattern size to start with and then getting it to fit correctly.  I know from my sewing survey earlier this year that its something most sewists struggle with. If you missed them, here are the earlier posts that tell you all about the course and show my muslin and pattern alterations. Introduction – 2013 is the year of Sew the Perfect Fit Muslin Bodice Adjustment Bodice Pattern Adjustment Making a skirt muslin Altering sleeves, armholes and truing the pattern     The Class Over 10 Lessons Just to recap if you’ve not seen the previous posts, these are the lessons: Introduction – a short lesson about … Continue reading

Altering sleeves and truing the pattern – Sew the Perfect Fit

Altering sleeves and armholes for sewing the perfect fit.

I’m embarking upon an epic fitting exercise and learning to sew the perfect fit this year, following along with the Craftsy course of the same name and the lovely instructor Lynda Maynard.  You can read Part 1 of the series at 2013 is the year of Sew the Perfect Fit, Part 2 at Muslin Bodice Adjustment, Part 3 in Bodice Pattern Adjustment and Part 4 in Making a Skirt Muslin.  Today, altering sleeves, armholes and truing a pattern.     Lesson 8 – Altering Sleeves Lesson 9 – Armholes Lesson 10 – Truing the pattern and final check. Well I had chosen the sleeveless dress pattern so although I closely watched lessons 8 and 9, I didn’t need to make any alterations to my dress for the sleeves.  I sometimes have problems with very low armholes, and will now know how to deal with this should it come … Continue reading

Making a Skirt Muslin – Sew the Perfect Fit

Making a skirt muslin, adjusting the fit and transferring adjustment to the paper pattern. Part of Sew the Perfect Fit from So Sew Easy.

I’m embarking upon an epic fitting exercise and learning to sew the perfect fit this year, following along with the Craftsy course of the same name and the lovely instructor Lynda Maynard.  You can read Part 1 of the series at 2013 is the year of Sew the Perfect Fit, Part 2 at Muslin Bodice Adjustment and Part 3 in Bodice Pattern Adjustment.  Today, making a skirt muslin, adjustment and pattern correction.   Warning !  Not very flattering photos below.  If you are under 18 or of a nervous disposition or have a weak heart or stomach – best not to look! Lesson 7 – The Lower Body, Making a Skirt Muslin So having followed Lynda’s directions, I cut my entire pattern as a size 12, despite the pattern envelope telling me quite clearly that I was going to be a much larger size than … Continue reading