Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Pattern Whisperer is taking your requests

Edit on 10/21/14:  The Pattern Whisperer request line is now closed. I am currently reviewing all the comments and working on my choices. I will be choosing some specific requests to address with suggestions. But I will also make some general recommendations in the various categories which can apply to a lot of you so that more stitchers can get some ideas on patterns.

My head is spinning! But I can say that it is really fun to look at patterns with a different perspective other than how it might work out for me. 
First up will be the request from SewSouthLondon. If you scroll down to her comment she is looking for a special party dress and I have some ideas she may find surprising. Hopefully in a good way. 
Stay tuned!

The Pattern Whisperer is waiting for your questions! I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in one of my posts about patterns that I secretly love picking out patterns for other people. It is really fun to look at someone's shape, lifestyle, event, sewing ability or even fabric and choose a pattern that might be just right for them.

Note that I have kind of fixed ideas on how things should fit, and what looks good on various figures. Anyone can look great and have a garment that flatters but sometimes you have to choose very carefully or focus on one fashion detail and skip some others to get the look you are going for.

So with those caveats - who is interested?  I figured since we are heading into holiday and winter sewing - particularly for the organized among us - I should do this now.

This is just for fun and hopefully will get us all thinking about what makes a good pattern. Is there a universally great pattern? Are there patterns that have no envelope appeal but sew up well and look great on many people?  It will be interesting to see.

photo of pattern bin Another note - I will be choosing from Simplicity, New Look, Butterick, McCalls, Vogue, BurdaStyle PDF, or Burda envelope patterns. Those are the ones I am familiar with and can easily scan through the websites looking at. Although remember my other favorite saying "there are no new patterns!" Even if you can't obtain one of these, it is quite likely there is something similar in a different pattern line that will work.

If you would like me to recommend a pattern please leave the following details in the comments. 

Let's limit it to 4 categories.  I will pick one or two from each category and give a few options as to patterns I think might look good, sew up well, and hopefully be adjusted for fit without too much trouble.

  1. Day or work dress
  2. Holiday or party dress
  3. Jacket  
  4. Coat  

Please include the following information in your comment:

  • What you want to make (details such as a dress for holiday party, a winter coat which will be a wardrobe basic, a casual jacket to wear with jeans and a t-shirt)
  • sewing skill level (and what you feel comfortable either sewing or a new thing you want to try)
  • your most significant fitting issue(s)
  • A special detail. Kind of a do's and don'ts, such as: must have full skirt, or can't be sleeveless. Needs classic shape to last for several years (coats). Needs to be in a particular size range. Love or Hate certain necklines. Want to accentuate a small bust, hide a tummy, fit on broad shoulders, etc..... we all have variations and sewing lets us adjust for fit and look good doing it.  
  • Optional - Fabric.  if you have a particular fabric that you can't quite figure out which pattern to use include that as well.
If you have a blog or a profile on Pattern Review or ButdaStyle where I can take a look at photos of your previous makes that would be great, so let me know that as well.

Not asking for an essay here :)  just a few lines with your sewing wishes, fit issues and garment choice.

OK, remember this is all for fun. No one is going to check up on you and see if you sewed up your Pattern Whisperer pick. But maybe we will all get some ideas on what works for different people.

Happy Sewing, Beth


  1. This is fun, Beth! OK, I'll bite. You know my style pretty well. I'm always needing more tops, as my bust is a challenge, style wise. (No sleeveless.) What would you recommend? (Or, if you have an idea of something you'd think would be good for me, be it a coat or a jacket or a work dress, let me know that, too.) :D

  2. Would love to have the services of a pattern whisperer. Thank you so much for your kind offer.
    1)Would like to make a casual maxi dress as that is something I can see myself getting lots of use out of.
    2) Beginner
    3) I am petite and used to have what is now called a rectangular figure but age has managed to pad out the middle and have even less of a waist than before. 2-3 less than hip and bust.

    Thanks again
    4) Turned 60 years old this year so nothing sleeveless of low cut.

  3. Day dress that can transition between warm and cool weather

    Intermediate sewing level

    I'm pregnant!

    Short torso and swayback

    Patternreview name: MelonieLee

    Pick me, please! :)

  4. This sounds like so much fun! I am not really looking for anything in particular right now (too many projects!), but I’d love to know what you think would suit me. I don’t really wear dresses much and I definitely don’t need any special occasion garments, just regular everyday clothes.
    Oh, I have some awesome African wax print fabric that I really, really want to make a blazer with, but I don’t quite know what kind of blazer. I was initially going to make a boxy 80s kind of thing (the By Hand London Victoria, possibly, since I’ve already made two of them and I think they work on me), but now I’m leaning toward something more tailored. I can never really decide which jackets (both shape and length) look right on me! I would want to wear it with jeans, but I’m totally up for wearing a tailored jacket with jeans, so that shouldn’t make any difference. (I wear any random combinations of clothes I can come up with anyway, I don’t care about “proper” and usually don’t care about “matching” either.)
    I’m probably somewhere around intermediate at sewing by now, I guess. I’ve made jackets, but no tailored ones, I’ve made several pairs of shorts/trousers (a front fly is not an issue). I’m generally naïve and mostly unafraid of trying things. I hate buttonholes (but I can do them if I have to). I might be interested in trying bound buttonholes (but not too many at once, please!). I hate shawl collars on almost all garments (they’re fine on men’s dressing gowns, ha).
    I like unusual things. Classic is fine, but unusual shapes or details are better.
    Main fitting issues: forward-thrust shoulders, small bust (not much of an issue with princess seams, but otherwise, yes), prominent/protruding behind, swayback.

    1. I'm looking forward to seeing what the pattern whisperer picks out for you as I suspect I might like it ;) I've just found your blog & look forward to reading more ;)

  5. Sounds like fun, I'm in ...
    1. Work dress, summer, sleeveless, not a high neck (would prefer V), slim silhouette. (I'm a teacher, so teacher appropriate is needed)
    2. Skill ~ average/intermediate, but I love invisible zippers
    3. Fitting issues ~ just starting to need a very minor high round back, sway back and narrow shoulders adjustment on some styles
    4. Details ~ I do love a little quirk to a dress, but not out-there in design

    Hope you have a heap of fun in the process ... J

  6. This is perfect! Need a nice jacket pattern for work. I have to wear a navy or black every day and my building is cold. I mean cold. I have been thinking of a wool jacket. Have narrow shoulders, high round back and I am hour glass shaped.
    Skill level intermediate. I would like something a little different in design or something with nice details. I hate having to wear navy or black with a white button up every day so I would like to express a little individuality. Thanks so much!

  7. Ooh yes please. Age 62 (but ever such a YOUNG 62 :) ) and an apple shape. I start going out from under my bust to under my tummy. Would love a dress for the Christmas season, smart casual would be great. I find it almost impossible to choose anything that will suit this most incredible shape I have. Nearly forgot.......I am 5'2". If there is a pattern out there, I can sew it. Thank you and good luck!

  8. Ooooh what fun!!

    Jacket (as a layering piece; not outerwear)
    Intermediate (ish) sewer (e.g., not a ton of experience, but pretty fearless in trying new things).
    Large difference between full bust and underbust (~7"), narrow shoulders, swayback
    Prefer a lined jacket!
    MrsCharisma on PR

  9. Thank you Pattern Whisperer! I do hope you'll be able to assist ;)
    I have SO many patterns & fabrics swirling around in my head that I'm paralysed with indecision!
    What you want to make: I think I'd love suggestions on a jacket/coat that I can thrown on over everything, however I'm very open to a day dress, whatever jumps out at you ;)
    sewing skill level: I'm quite adventurous and willing to try anything, not necessarily well ;) I've got a current love of japanese & 1930's design & am cautiously looking at sewing with bias more.
    your most significant fitting issue(s): sway back and forward shoulders
    A special detail.: I love draped or figure skimming rather than tightly fitted clothes (esp around the tummy) & I run after small people, so being able to move is important. Surviving a gentle machine wash & line dry is also essential ;)
    Optional - Fabric; ohh, I have 2m of a Prada linen (silk cotton) that I'd love to sew up.... it's got a very large cat print that I'm happy to chop (
    Twitter/IG Maci_Nic :
    I can't wait to read your suggestions for everyone!! ;)

  10. I must attest to your pattern whisperness! I can't wait to make another of the pattern you whispered and fit for me! Here's the post:

    1. Oooh. That fish eye dart adjustment for round tummies looks interesting,

  11. Oh Pattern Whisperer this could be very interesting!
    1. Summer holiday dress to wear to parties held at peoples homes.
    2. Skill - Intermediate and a bit more experience with knits is where I would like to go.
    3. Fitting issues, well they are numerous but feel comfortable with any for a top, dress or skirt.
    4. Petite - 5'2

    I look forward to seeing what you suggest for the lucky ones!

  12. What a fun idea, Beth! I would absolutely love to join in and for you to pattern whisper to me! I'm open to anything and/or everything, whatever your gut instinct says to you. Thanks so much for the wonderful idea and I hope it's as fun for you as it will be for the us! Maybe you need a button for the participants, and could have someone whisper to you too so you can join in the fun. :)

  13. Hi Beth!

    Great idea and very nice of you! I will enjoy seeing what you choose for people.

    In summary
    Casual jacket or dress
    Short, fluffy, pearshaped
    Skill advanced beginner/ low intermediate
    Lyndle on patternreview.

    Long version:
    It's coming into what passes for summer here. I'd like a casual jacket (could be for any time of year) or a work dress - my workplace is fairly casual; if sleeveless I'll wear something over it. I am short, rather round and pear shaped. I am short waisted so I can almost never buy a dress. I wear flat or low heeled shoes or sandals and I'm in my mid forties.

    I am 5'2 and my shoulders are about a size 16 in Style Arc, my waist is about a 20 and my hips are a 22. (Burda 46- 50-52). As well as the three-size thing, my usual alterations are to shorten the top above the bust and sometimes below, sloping shoulders, sway back and general shortening (sleeves, hem etc).

    I am very challenged in the area of visualising what suits me (even when I was not overweight I couldn't try on dresses or jackets that actually fit, to see what they looked like). I have mostly sewn knits or stretch wovens. Although I've been sewing for a few years now I'd call myself a low intermediate or an advanced beginner sewer. The only thing I actively avoid is buttonholes!

    I read blogs on my phone a lot and don't comment much but I really love your style, your writing and your garden! Thank you for sharing them with us.

  14. This is such a fun idea Beth. I am tempted to invent a requirement (surely I need more patterns!!) but I'll sit this round out. I look forward to seeing your suggestions for the people you pick.


  15. I'm daydreaming of a 'birthday dress' for this year. I've got 2m of silk faille (about 110cm wide - perhaps a bit more). I'd like something special but not formal or too fitted. I think I can only squeeze knee-length out of the fabric. Any suggestions most welcome. I think you are going to be busy!!
    This is a fabulous & generous thing to do!

  16. Oooh, I really love this idea, count me in! I would love a work dress whisper.
    - Intermediate, however I do like a challenge (I don't hesitate sewing up an Advanced Vogue)
    - I always have to lower the apex by an inch and/or do an fba - the extra length that creates to the bodice is usually very welcome
    - I need a clear waist, but not empire, and a high neckline isn't very flattering
    - I am very fond of patterns that are a bit different (I do wear them to work), not too classical

    1. oh, I am aaltje on PR, my blog can be found in my profile

  17. Ok... thanks. I'm 5'3", size 10 shoulders and back, size E bust, short waisted, short between the bust and shoulders, and a size 14 from the waist down. I will take any suggestions - I have lots of different fabrics, and most are natural fibres. Of course it is spring here but hot! I'd love a jacket suggestion too. Thank SO MUCH!

    1. Oops... intermediate sewer, will try anything and is my blog.

  18. Thanks Beth
    My sewing skills - beginner/intermediate something in between
    Tops for work - georgette fabric or the like
    Thank you. Joy

  19. This sounds like such fun Beth - thanks for offering!

    If chosen I'd like a coat pattern suggestion. I'm large busted with slim hips and rectangle shape through my long waisted midriff and 5' 5". I like tailored styles but since I've retired I want to let my artsy style come out. My sewing skills are advanced and I sew most any fabric.


  20. How fun! I would love a recommendation for a dress pattern. I have many sheath dresses in my closet because they flatter me but I don't seem to reach for them -- I guess I find them kind of boring. I would love an interesting every day dress that I will be inspired to reach for and wear. My only fit issue is that I'm petite, so I generally have to alter patterns to accommodate. No maxi lengths, please! I look forward to your recommendations!

  21. Just dropping by to say I'm very much looking forward to reading these.

  22. I'm having fun just reading all the comments and I would love to play. I would love ideas for an interesting top or dress for work. I am 61 and have difficulty adjusting my thinking and selections for the lack of a defined waist and the extra 15 lbs that has come with age. I am 5'7.5 (somehow the .5 seems important). I am a Realtor so I need to look presentable while still being able to get around a strange property. I sometimes struggle with fitting my upper arms as I springboard dive and press out of the pool multiple times each workout. I really don't like things that are tight around my neck.

    Interesting... Just writing this for you has me thinking different directions. Great exercise in and of itself!


  23. How I like the idea! Count me in if possible... I am 46, mom of two kids, live in Switzerland where the winters can be quite cold and would like to find a day dress to use as a basic wardrobe piece. I am a good intermediate sewer and like to use good quality fabrics of natural fibers. Regarding the fit...well I am very petite (4'9'' (152cm), bust 32', waist 26', hips 35''), with a very fine frame, sway back and narrow shoulders. I am looking forward to your whisper! I don't have a blog but of course I will show you the result of your proposition once the piece is sewn. Thank you so much for your offer, kind regards Sabine
    PS: I like your blog very much!

  24. OMG! you've answered my prayers. I was just thinking about writing a blog post searching for inspiration for a very special party dress for my next birthday (a BIG one with a 0 on the end!). I have mainly sewn with Indie patterns, except for the

    I am in need of a pattern for:
    1. A party dress with wow factor. Something slinky and figure-enhancing
    2. I am an intermediate sewist.
    3. I tend to have to add an FBA, and usually go up a size at the waist.
    4. I love designs that flatter a more hourglass figure. I have found that dresses that accentuate a waistline and are fairly fitted on the bodice look best. I would probably go quite short too. It is my birthday, afterall....!

    if you want to have a peek at what's been blogged, you are cordially invited to

    Thank you so much for this. It's a total indulgence to have someone else help you select.

  25. If you're up for a challenge I'd love to be whispered to.
    I'm an advanced beginner but can rarely find RTW dresses or jackets to fit.
    Fitting issues include; broad shoulders and back, long terse, small bust, short ish legs.
    I live in UK and prefer natural fibres.
    I am on PR as muggiesew
    I'd love to see what ideas you have. Good luck!

  26. I need a pattern to inspire me to sew again!

    Ever since I finished my daughter's wedding dress last year (the project of a lifetime!) I have been unable to sew for myself.

    Skill level -- Intermediate to advanced.
    Fit issues: petite (5'0"), small frame, large bust (FBA = 6" uptake), small hips, flat seat, waist approx 7" less than hips, erect posture, but have just started using a forward shoulder adjustment.
    Age: 60, but fighting it :-)
    Need coordinating separates for work and business travel. I have a very full stash of coordinated natural fiber fabrics in grays, navy, and black, and recently acquired some luscious vintage woolens, including plaids and a prince-of-wales check. I like bright colors like cobalt blue and true red.

    I blog SPORADICALLY at, and would appreciate any inspiration you can offer!

  27. This sounds great. I would love to get your insights. I'm looking for a jacket pattern. I've made a wearable muslin,<> but am not convinced the style suits me. I had lots of problems with the fitting, particularly through the bust. I'm a fairly confident sewer and I am looking for a challenge. The fabric I have in mind (a photo on my blog 2014/09/16), is a wool silk boucle and I want a silk lining.

  28. This is a very generous offer from your part! Actually I would love to take your advice because I feel my sewing is in a standstill these days. I would like a day dress or a relaxed jacket, I am 5'5'' and my fit issues are forward shoulders and narrow shoulders/back. Style Arc size 6 fits me well at the top. Advanced beginner / intermediate (???) sewist. I live in a mild climeate (Greece) and I like natural fibers. You can see things I 've made in my Flickr account ( I would like to avoid very "girly" or cute-sy patterns - it seems I've made a lot of those lately. Not vintage either. I would like clean, even minimalistic lines with an edge, but still feminine. Style-wise I feel confused lately - I think I get carried away by things that I see around in blogs that don't feel like "me" at the end. I would appreciate you insight!

  29. oh this is so cool! I would love to hear your thoughts on what I should make.

    Garment: wardrobe basic coat for California winters so it doesn't need to be exceptionally warm. I would like something that could be worn for several years, so nothing too trendy.

    I'm at an intermediate sewing level, but am ambitious enough to tackle a difficult project. My most significant fitting issue is my upper torso. I'm petite so I usually have to reduce length in the bodice between the shoulder and bust (to raise the armhole and bust marker) and my arm circumference is usually much wider than is typical for my size so I always have to make some pattern adjustments to the sleeves.

    I don't like wrap coats because I don't like the "bathrobe" look. Also, since I'm petite I'd like to stay away from really long coats; Id' prefer something either just below my hips or just above my knees.

    I blog every now and then at

  30. Beth, What a great idea! I am an experienced sewer, but I have difficulty with my own body image. I am small, 5'2 and 103lbs. So my issues are always good fit. I like to sew very classic styles, tailored that fit, but are still comfortable. The last garment I sewed was Vogue 1254 in a size 10. I was pleased with the result, but made a muslin and dropped down a whole size. I would like to sew causal comfortable clothes. And an occasional challenge(party dress, jacket, or coat). Many thanks for any ideas:) Darby Logan

  31. Oh, how fun! (Looks as if you are going to have your hands full.) I have been reading your blog for quite a while, but have probably only commented once or twice--but I need to get my name in the hat for this. I want a dress I can throw on to go meet a friend for lunch, do errands, etc. I used to have dresses like this years ago (RTW), but now all the dresses I make are just not right, and I keep resorting to separates. Advanced beginner, I think? I'm not afraid to try things, but most often I have to look up any tricky details, and I have trouble with fitting. I enjoy trying Vogue designer patterns and have had some luck with Burda magazine and Japanese patterns. Full bust in relation to shoulder and upper chest, small ribcage, increasing from there as it goes down to make a pear shape, with a little more belly than I'd like. Ruffles and flounces do not work on me. Sleeves are probably advisable at my age (54), but I do still wear sleeveless; just no visible knees, please! My stash includes lots of solid colors--charcoal, slate blue, deep red--always in fabrics that feel good to the touch. Thanks if you have any thoughts!

  32. Work dress! Oh pick me, pick me!
    •sewing skill level - midrange- I'd like to stretch my skills tho
    •your most significant fitting issue(s)- narrow thru the shoulders, mistaken for a barrel is I wear unrelieved brown
    •A special detail- I hate me in button front!!!
    Fabric- who follows the pattern advice???

  33. Hi Beth! I am so glad you'll be sharing your skills as The Pattern Whisperer with the rest of the sewing community. I'd love for you to whisper to me. My time is extremely limited these days, but I'd love to make anything and everything, particularly classic pieces that I will wear all of the time. I still think of myself as an advanced beginner sewer, but I love trying anything. I'm not sure what my most significant fitting issues are. And, honestly, I really don't want to limit your options by my own potentially misguided perceptions of myself. I'm so very curious what you would say!!!

  34. Oh Beth, this is such a great idea! Can't wait to see your recommendations!

  35. Me me me me!!! I've been on a sewing inspiration pause for the last month!! I did get inspired AT ALL to make anything for myself so I desperately need the pattern whisperer...

    1. Some thing for work. I don't get winter... I wear mostly shirts with skinny jeans/pencil skirts or a fitted sheath dress. I like to accentuate my waist.
    2. I'm intermediate.
    3. I am petite with a tiny bust (30") and small waist which requires grading down if it's not Burda size 17.
    4. No frills, and not too many gathers... Clean lines!

    Final requirement, it HAS to be a downloadable pattern as there is no post office in Haiti... I can't wait to see what you are going to whisper to everybody!!

  36. I'm so looking forward to read about your suggestions to people!

    1) Would love to make a jacket that can be worn with jeans and a tshirt/ a day dress that can be dressed up or down / if you would take free categories: a basic pencil skirt pattern and pants pattern.
    2) sewing skill level: Advanced beginner
    3) Fitting issues: not many, but I have to adjust patterns for my height (6") and hourglass figure. My bust/hips and waist usually fall in different sizes.
    4) I prefer fitted clothes with some waist definition and clean lines. Simple styles with an interesting detail. Love draped details in Donna Karan style.

  37. How very generous of you.
    •I would like a jacket
    •sewing skill level beginner
    •your most significant fitting large proportional size 18 or 1x top large bust
    •I would love to make it with contrasting fabrics


  38. Looking for a coat/jacket pattern to make in ballerina shoe pink to transition from late winter into Spring. The coat will be medium weight wool. I am a nurse. Average height and, okay, a bit on the chubby side. I love things that are trendy, but also classic. No toggles please. My ability is intermediate, but like challenges.

  39. Hello Beth,
    What a fun and interesting idea. I would love it if you would pattern whisper something for me. I am 5 feet 1, 110 pounds, bust is 34 1/4, waist 27, hip 33. I would love a suggestion for a dress. It could be an everyday dress or a dress with fancier fabric (stretchy lace, silk). I usually wear dresses to work (I teach grade 1). I have big more muscular calves (no skinny model legs) and seem to have to put in a dart in the back when I am making dresses.

  40. I just bought several jacket patterns, but I'm not sure which one to make, I'd love to see what jacket you would pick for me. I'm retired and wear mostly casual clothing. My sewing skill level is advanced beginner/intermediate (depending on the day!) My fitting issues are: small bust and sway back. Do & Don'ts: I always wear fitted clothing on top so my bust doesn't completely disappear! My patternreview moniker is AZKitty and I blog with my sewing buddies at Love your blog and your creative ideas!

  41. Hi Beth! Wow, it looks like you have a lot of work as a pattern whisperer!!!
    Anyway, if you have time enough...what would you recommend for me...I´m open to anything, after all I went down a size and I need a lot of new pieces, from jeans to dresses. Oh, right now, it looks like my bum has disappeared, so that would be my fitting problem, I guess.

  42. Hi Beth! Thank you for offering to do this!

    Make: I am not sure. I'm very flexible, I want to use the fabric.
    Sewing level: I can tackle hard problems. I can do underlining and stuff.
    Adjustments: Short waist. Swayback. Bust.
    Special detail: Not a skirt (I used to have 2m of this, 1m became a skirt).
    Optional - Fabric. iI have a small length (0.75-1m) of plaid wool. I want to be able to match seams. The wool is not drapey, it's the sort you'd use in a constructed garment.

  43. OOOOhhh how exciting!!! I am thrilled to be selected. Thank you!!

  44. Dear Pattern Whisperer,
    Oh how I would absolutely love your input for my next sewing adventure! I am an avid dress wearer - living in Florida, it's always hot and humid so a light and airy dress works most months of the year. I've gained a bit of weight over the past few years, so I'm a bit perplexed as to how best flatter my figure. I'm a traditional "Apple" shape with a large bust and thicker waist, but no hips or behind. I tend to choose classic styles with simple lines and am an intermediate sewist. I can do sleeveless but am not much for low necklines. I'm 5'7" and 175 lbs. I would be absolutely delighted to have your input for pattern selection - I'm not sure what to choose to be comfortable but wear something flattering as well. My life is pretty casual other than an occasional dinner out with my husband or church on Sunday. Thank you for your time and consideration.
    Warm regards,
    Ruth Lutz