Friday, September 26, 2014

Fitting can be Fun...Really!

Are you intrigued by this blog post title?  Well it can be fun if you have great sewing students like I have had here the last few weeks.
I was well-rested although still a bit on Hawaiian time when the very charming Lucia arrived from Amsterdam to spend a few days learning all about jacket construction.

Look at that smile! We had such a great time making what I will now think of as the jacket pattern for 2014.

Lucia sewing

What pattern?  This one, Vogue 8333. This is the second time I have helped a sewing student with the fit and construction. Previously with Seamstress Erin it was all about the fit, but Lucia arrived with a muslin that was about 85% there, and we just made a few more fit changes so she could cut out and start sewing.  Now that I have worked on this pattern twice - I think my copy will go in the pattern storage bin, I have thought about making it a few times but never quite got there. I will say it is definitely a tricky jacket to fit and I have so many other patterns that already are adjusted or just suit me more. But hey - this one is becoming a mini-specialty of mine. 

V8333 jacket pattern envelope

Lucia said she had been reading my blog and wanted to learn the methods I use combining fusible interfacing and tailoring techniques. She spent the better part of a week working on this jacket, from pattern marking to pressing, fusibles to lining tricks, and left with a jacket about 60% complete. I can't wait to see the finished garment photos! We also found time for a trip to Joann Fabrics as she was bemoaning the lack of availability in the Netherlands of products such as good linings, interfacings, patterns etc. She certainly gave a voice to so many comments that you all left on my post last month inquiring about the cost of patterns and other items outside the US.  As luck would have it (or just a typical day in the US) I had a ridiculous quantity of 50% off coupons AND Vogue patterns were on sale for $ 4.79 AND McCalls too. She went home with plenty of Ambiance lining to last for a good while as well as notions and Vogue patterns (although as we are all quite familiar, some of the patterns she wanted were not in the drawer, typical)
It was a good thing she made some space in her suitcase for all her bargains by giving me a lovely gift.  TULIP bulbs from the Netherlands !!!!   That was so nice of her.  I can't wait to plant them. 

bag of tulips

But I said Fitting was fun, right?  It is, if you have the pleasure of spending the week with Jennifer and Neroli, twin sisters who are globe-trotting Kiwis that arranged for their travel paths to cross in San Francisco.  Honestly, people from New Zealand amaze me, they must be the most well-traveled people on the planet. Jennifer on her way home from Europe and Neroli going on a bicycle trip in N. Calif after her sewing week with me. They had energy - they were determined to leave with all kinds of new fitting knowledge and some patterns tamed into submission - and we achieved those goals with PLENTY of comedy along the way. 
Serious construction mode was in full gear, so our hands were busy but that left lots of opportunity for discussion of patterns, fabrics, blogs, style, celebrity fashion, US culture and all the rest. I don't have any pictures to show you other than this one that I took when cleaning up the sewing studio.

fitting muslin patterns

This photo represents some of what we did. Fitted a muslin fitting shell and a princess seamed dress for Jennifer, and a darted bodice, a princess seam bodice and a blazer jacket for Neroli, plus a super rapid-fire version in Swedish tracing paper of the Kay Unger Vogue pattern on the last morning.  We went over fitting, interfacings, how to translate the fit adjustment from the muslin back to the pattern. After this week I can say that maybe the most important part of fitting is what pattern size you start with, and not to discourage anyone but it is very likely that you are starting with the wrong size. 

They were about 1-2 sizes smaller than me so I could have them try on all kinds of dress and jacket styles from my closet. Which was fun, hilarious and very enlightening. In my role as "Pattern Whisperer" I recommended princess seaming and they tried on muslins and finished objects from these patterns below. I think an empire waist is not as popular as a dress with a waist seam but it does look good on a lot of women and I actually think if you are petite (ok short) it can be somewhat elongating and/or a way to create emphasis and balance if you have a small bust.  

Amazing fit patterns

We ventured over to Berkeley one afternoon for a shopping session at Stone Mountain fabrics and then dinner at one of my fav restaurants (A Cote on College Ave). When we got to Stone Mountain I kind of showed them around every section, knits, silks, denims etc and thought they were not very impressed. Turns out they were just taking it all in, and then went into full fabricaholic mode. Let's just say that they will have some very cute knit dresses, t-shirts and be able to immediately start in with the patterns they have now fitted. 
I think Jennifer and Neroli will have a great advantage in fitting as they really paid attention to each other's fitting adjustments and issues, plus they get together periodically to sew. Sounds fun, doesn't it?  

I feel so fortunate to have the chance to meet these three wonderful women that are passionate sewers and really fun and interesting as well. They all had contacted me for sewing lessons quite a while ago and after we finalize the plans I always wonder...what will they be like?  Will we have things to talk about? But it always works out so much better than I could imagine. Not to get all sappy but I am really happy that one day in 2010 I decided to start this sewing blog, the connections and friendships that have resulted are amazing and rewarding. 

So that's what I have been up to. I still have a few more summer items to post that I sewed way back in July and happily wore on vacation. 

This is the time of year when so many people get geared up for fall sewing, and I tend to run out of steam. You know I love summer and when it comes to autumn, eh, I can take it or leave it. But I am currently testing a coat pattern (something I rarely do) so I think a new coat may appear before the end of the year. I did buy a yummy sweater knit when at Stone Mountain so I will be ready one evening for some fall sewing if the temperature gets chilly. Which I hope it doesn't - I am still wearing shorts (like the UPS delivery guys, although I can't go year round as they do :)  Time for some serious garden cleanup tomorrow...

Happy almost autumn sewing, Beth


  1. Great post. Wish I was heading your way for some lessons :-) and your testing a coat pattern? too...I wonder if we are working on the same pattern (again!)

  2. Fittting can be fun if you don't take it too seriously. Sometimes close enough is good enough to get the job done. Just heading into spring here, so feeling motivated to sew.

  3. Sounds like it was a lot of fun and everyone benefited too! I can't wait for Fall sewing, summer got away from me because of Work...I'm really looking forward to the new styles! I'll be watching what you turn out as well!

  4. Does sound like fun. I'm in need of a pattern whisperer for the Claire Shaeffer jacket I'm embarking on! The distances are too great.

  5. Loved this post! Please do elaborate on choosing the right size for a pattern. I know the basics, but would love to learn more!

  6. We had a great time. In fact, you had better watch out, we will be back