Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bootstrap Fashion - a new custom sizing pattern company

The calendar says November, but wow, it still feels like summer here. I went outside for a workout the last few days in a tank top and shorts. OK, you know I love summer but it's getting a bit weird - and we SO need some rain here in sunny California. That means a new coat is off the table for the time being, it just seems silly to make another coat that won't get much wear.
Instead I will think about spring, Ha Ha! like I need encouragement for that one. And I still have some summer stuff remaining to write about.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to try a few patterns from a new pattern company that offers custom-sized patterns called Bootstrap Fashion.

turquoise dress front

It was very intriguing once I took a look around their website and I did have a lot of questions which I will discuss further down in this post - but to get to the important stuff - yes, it fit with minimal alterations.  An important caveat - I fully acknowledge that in general I fit into the middle sizes of most current patterns, so I might not be a super difficult person to fit. However - I very often have complaints about things like armhole depth, or excessively wide necklines and I was so very pleasantly surprised that the neckline and armholes of this pattern fit me perfectly. It is a very rare instance that I don't have to shorten at the shoulder, or perhaps take in at the upper back. So no neckline gaposis - at least not for me. 
The one change I had to make was to add a bit of bodice length in the front, very similar to the adjustment I made on this pattern. I could have gotten away with not doing it but I could tell that the front waist would be just a teeny bit high without. Because of the design with radiating star dart/pleats in the center front it would have been a pain to add at the bottom of the bodice. The horizontal slice was easy since those aforementioned darts could be avoided.
Here is the tech drawing of the pattern I made.

Bootstrap tech drawing
One change that I made was to swap out the skirt on the pattern to a different pleated skirt. This design with the cartridge style pleating in the skirt is cute but I thought it would get lost in my print fabric. I used the skirt portion from an old New Look pattern. By the way this fabric is something I bought at a rummage sale, for about $ 2. It is a really nice cotton, not a quilting cotton but an apparel weight, and a slightly slubby linen-like texture, just right for a dress. Another score! 

turquoise dress back

So Bootstrap patterns are kind of interesting. The first thing I noticed was the similarity to Lekala so I asked about that. They told me that they have purchased the same design software so that is why many of the styles are similar or the same. The difference is in their website which is much more elaborate. Their patterns are available to use for apparel manufacturers so they seem to be targeting that market as well as the home sewer. There are additional fit adjustments options seen on the second tab below which I have only played around with a bit. I did fill in all the numbers on the Customize tab, and no seam allowance. I suggest no seam allowance as you will get a printable PDF, so you will probably be tracing and then adding whatever seam allowance you like to use. It is easier to flat-pattern measure the pieces for a double check if you have no seam allowances. 

Bootstrap adjustment choices

What I think might be their standout feature is "Belly protuberance" which is a very matter of fact term for something that is exactly that. They have 6 choices which range from super flat abs to 7 months pregnant.  OK maybe not quite but I don't know how else to describe it. However it's described it is darn clever if it works. And so far I think it does. I ordered patterns for two other people I sew for and chose from the various selections, then made muslins to test. So far I did not have to make any sort of adjustment in the tummy area so I give that feature a thumbs up! As for size range, you can see that the circumference measurements have a very broad range so anyone from a petite to plus size can customize these patterns.

On the second Fit Adjustments Tab they have some more adjustments that have to do with proportion, such as Torso length and arm length which could be very useful. I clicked on the Shoulder Width so you can see the options they are giving, which are Narrow, Balanced or Wide. These are all pretty subjective but if you know you always have too much fabric in the upper back then giving Back width a "narrow" adjustment couldn't hurt. I will note that I have to do that adjustment on most Vogue patterns but on this one I didn't - perhaps because they are creating a custom proportioned pattern based on bust and underbust. I think that underbust is a very useful measurement because it indicates how big someone's ribcage or torso is and I kind of wish more pattern companies would have that measure. I may be grasping at straws but I use that underbust measure as an intuitive part of my overall fit assessment when I measure someone - just to get an impression on their body frame. The arm measurements could be quite helpful too, a lot of people mentioned wanting sleeves in my Pattern whisperer posts and if you have a full bicep it would be nice to let someone else do the pattern modifications.

Bootstrap adjustment 2nd tab
What else? Their PDF are reasonable, not an excessive number of pages, nothing is nested so you could tape together and cut out the pieces. There is a layout page so I use that to figure out how to print out, and also to find the page which has that square which you print and then measure to make sure it is printing out on the right size. Does anyone else have an issue with their printer? I have to print that page, measure the square and often have to change the settings on my printer, as my printer seems to always want to print PDFs at some other % scale. Anyway - so worth it to test with that print square page and get the setting right before printing 30 pages or whatever.
The other pattern I have in the works is this one for a sewing client, who happens to have a very full bust and the princess seams fit very well - I would say about 80% there (if I could give a ratio of how close the proper fit was). So some minor adjustments but nothing like I would have had to do with a standard pattern. And the bust was in the right place! hurrah! that alone is a testimonial.

Bootstrap # 58739

I do notice their website is a bit busy - lots of moving parts and you have to scroll through a bit to find things. If you are open to choosing patterns just by the tech drawings then it will be perfect for you. I go by the drawings so that is great for me, I tend to ignore all styling on any pattern company - other than to notice a lack of pressing or hideous fabric choices. Prices are $ 7.00 per pattern with discounts if you order more than one. 

Some more details on my dress. Those star burst pleats really get lost in this fabric but reminds me of this dress pattern which I love. Although this pleats are at the neckline, but the effect is similar. You can actually see it better in the lining. 

                 turquoise dress darts Bootstrap fashion patternturquoise dress lining Bootstrap fashion pattern
I like to have a belt for these fit and flare style dresses so I made one and reused an old covered buckle from a previous dress - which is long gone but I kept the belt with an idea to reuse someday. The color is not an exact match but close enough.

turquoise dress w/ belt Bootstrap fashion pattern

turquoise dress belt Bootstrap fashion pattern

I even used the old belting that was inside the previous belting. I sewed a fabric tube and then hand stitched it on. Nothing fancy, and finally used one of the fancy (read: utilitarian) stitches on my modern Singer machine to make the holes. Remember to use a denim needle when sewing through the belting which is kind of thick.

One more look at this one in action. My photographer was making me crack up here. 

Turquoise dress on vacay

Thanks for all the great feedback on my Pattern Whisperer posts and I will be picking that up again soon with some ideas for jackets and coats. You can be in cute outerwear even if I am not due to our excessive sunshine  - yeah, boo hoo for us here in NorCal, right?

Happy November sewing, Beth


  1. Do they give sewing instructions or is it just the pattern?

    This opens up sewing to a new kind of customer . . . the kind like me who don't know how to fit. I would like to try this out.
    I recently found custom patterns for knitting sweaters, too [] and think it's exciting . . . to make something that could fit better than RTW (haven't tried yet).

    1. If you scroll down to the bottom of their home page you find this "Comprehensive sewing instructions are available per request". Don't know if they come as is with at least some instructions but would be interested to know, too.

  2. Thanks for the detailed review!

    It's a pretty dress, especially the bodice pleats. Oh and the blue looks great against your orangey plant!

  3. Thanks for the review. I haven't heard of them. Well I will be off to have a look now :) Very cute dress on you.

  4. I'm all for patterns-to-measure, except I don't really want to know where I stand in terms of "belly protuberance." Maybe if I stop eating so many tubers...

  5. Great dress!
    I'm curious about this company, some of the designs I recognise directly from Lekala (42629 in bootstrap is identical to lekala 4262 so even the pattern numbers are nearly identical). I read the about us info on the bootstrap site and it doesn't seem to be a Lekala offshoot?

    1. Hi Suzy - the owner of Bootstrap told me they have purchased the same pattern software so that is why it is the same. Also that they will be adding more designs.

  6. Great looking dress and the fit is perfect. Thanks for sharing helpful information about Bootstrap Fashion. I visited their site recently and noted the similarity to Lekala patterns also. You had a more inquiring mind than I did and appreciate your sharing what you learned.

  7. Beautiful dress! I love that you are still making spring/summer clothes as this is the weather I live in all year long!! I'm still confused at how Bootstrap differs from Lekala... When I use the russian site ( I have access to the same designs and the refined fit adjustments for a much lower price (around 2USD).

  8. Beautiful dress, perfect for the weather you are having and such a pretty colour. Very interesting about Bootstrap and after reading sewingtidbits need to check Lekala as well.

  9. I love the dress and the colour, and thank you for writing about “Bootstrap” I will be looking into them, as the more commercial patterns can sometimes be hit and miss with regards to size. I was wondering if this company may be the solution to my problem. I was most interested in your point about under bust measurement. I had been a bit self indulgent and had put on a stone in weight. So put on my discipline hat and set about losing it, well, I was successful, and l lost the required weight. My bust prior to weight lost was 38C, but now bra’s felt lose so took myself off to be measured at Playtex store. The assistant took only my under bust measurement and said that I was a 36D. And the bra fits really well, however, if I take the middle measurement myself the tape measure shows me to be 38, so now I am confused as to what size pattern I ought to buy. My waist is 33” hips 40” Anyone else have similar problems, and how do you solve it with out to much pattern adjustment.

    1. From what I've read, for the 'big 4' patterns, use your "high bust" measurements & buy your patterns based on that. This way the neckline & shoulders will fit nicely. But you'll need to d an FBA adjustment .

  10. I love your new "summer time dress". I wish the Chicago winter would go away.