Sewing pattern height – a chart

Everyone’s body is different. We come in all shapes and sizes, which can make it challenging to find a sewing pattern that fits your body. Luckily, some indie sewing patterns design for a particular body type. For example, Sewaholic Patterns are designed for pear-shaped women, Cashmerette Patterns for curvy figures (cup sizes C–H) and Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Patterns (SBCC) for petite ladies. Each size is designed for a particular bust, waist and hip measurement, but not every company provides the sewing pattern height.

Sewing pattern height - a blog post about the height different sewing pattern companies design for, including a chart

I’m nearly 5′ 8″ (172 cm) and I really haven’t given much thought to the height that patterns are designed for. I’ll be sewing more pants (trousers for you UK and Aussie sewists) so I’m looking more closely at height; then I can make any pattern adjustments before I cut my fabric. I recently finished the Mimosa Culottes by Named Clothing, a Finnish pattern company that designs for my height. I liked the length on the model in the photo so I didn’t make any changes to the length.

Named - Lexi A-line top and Mimosa Culottes

My next pair will be Megan Nielsen’s Flint Pants. I discovered that she designs for a height 5′ 9″ (175 cm) so I trimmed one inch from the length on my pattern piece before I cut my muslin. This experience made me want to find out what height pattern companies use for their designs. And of course, I thought, why not make a chart of all the companies whose patterns I’ve sewn or are in my stash? So that’s how I selected the list of companies. – with the exception of Cashmerette, whose patterns I don’t yet own, partly because I’d have to do a significant small bust adjustment. (I’m an A cup.) So this is by no means a comprehensive list. But I will be updating it. If you are a pattern company and would like to be added to this list, please contact me and send me a link to your size chart, height and cup size you design for.

As far as I can tell, the Big Four (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and Vogue) all use the same height for misses (5′ 5″ to 5′ 6″) and petite (5′ 2 to 5′ 3″/157 cm to 160 cm).

The chart includes links to each company’s body measurements/size chart (if they have one or a link to a pattern with the size chart), the height they design for and the cup size. I don’t know what cup size the Big Four uses so I left that blank. I’ll fill it in when I find out.

Sewing Co. Size ChartHeight: inHeight: cmCup
100 Acts of Sewing5′ 5″165C
The Assembly Line5′ 6″-5′ 7″168-170
Blueprints for Sewing5′ 5″165B
Burda women’s regular5′ 6 1/4″168
Burda women’s petite5′ 3″160
Burda women’s tall5′ 9 1/4″176
Butterick-misses5′ 5″-5′ 6″165-168
Butterick-petites5′ 2″-5′ 3″157-160
Cashmerette5′ 6″168C-H
Christine Haynes5′ 6″168B
Closet Case Files5′ 6″168B
Deer and Doe5′ 6″168C-D
Friday Pattern Company5′ 6″168B
Helen’s Closet5′ 6″168B, D
In the Folds5′ 7″170B
Itch to Stitch5′ 6″168A-DD
McCalls – misses5′ 5″-5′ 6″165-168
McCalls – petites5′ 2″-5′ 3″157-160
Megan Nielsen5′ 9″175B-C
Merchant & Mills5′ 6″168D*
Named Clothing5′ 8″172B
Paprika Patterns5′ 7″170B-C
Paper Theory Patterns5′ 7″170C
Pauline Alice5′ 5″165B
Pipe Dream Patterns5′ 5″165
SBCC Patterns5′ 1″155Varies
Sew DIY5′ 10″177C
Sew House Seven5′ 6″168B
Simplicity-misses5′ 5″-5′ 6″165-168B
Style Arc5′ 6″168B
True Bias5′ 5″165C
Vogue-misses5′ 5″-5′ 6″165-168
Vogue-petites5′ 2″-5′ 3″157-160
Wiksten5′ 7″170B

*Merchant & Mills says their patterns are not tailored/fitted so they don’t really design for a particular cup size but if they had to say, they say D.

Not all of the indie designers include this info on their websites so in some cases, I contacted the companies to find out. They graciously answered my queries within a few days. I hope you find the information useful.

Sewing pattern height is an interesting measurement but it’s not the most important one. Patterns can easily be adjusted for length. The critical measurements are bust, waist and hips. The finished measurements are also very helpful when it comes to pants and skirts. When I make skirts or pants, all I first look at the hip measurement to pick my size. What measurements are the most important for you when you choose a size to sew?

Note: This post was originally published on May 1, 2017. I’ve been meaning to update it for a long time. This update was spurred by Michelle (@michellegw) who helpfully sent me height/cup size of some additional indie patterns in her collection. Thanks, Michelle!

Sewing pattern height - chart listing Big Four and indie pattern heights that they are designed for (Christine Haynes, Closet Case Files, Deer and Doe, In the Folds, Named, Megan Nielsen, Papercut, Paprika, Style Arc, and more)


My Frocktails skirt – finished

Hi, I finished my Frocktails skirt in February to wear at the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event earlier this year. I finished it just a few hours before the event began. It began as my Sew Frosting project but I didn’t finish it in November and then I thought of it as my #SewHappyColor project. However, I didn’t take photos in time to post it during the Reds and Pinks week of that Instagram challenge hosted by Katie Kortman. Ultimately, I consider it my Frocktails skirt.

Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists event using Marimekko fabric -

I wrote a WIP post in February about sewing the pleats and attaching the ribbons. For this skirt, I used three different fabrics – the main fabric is the Marimekko print. I had 1 1/3 yards (~1.2 meters) of the Marimekko fabric, which was 58 inches wide (147 cm). I wanted to use all of it for a nice full skirt.

Side note: When I did a search on my blog for “Marimekko,I discovered that I blogged about this Marimekko fabric in 2013, the year I bought it. I wondered how long I’d had this fabic.)

Colorful skirt using Marimekko "Tultakero" fabric  - right view of skirt, hand in pocket -

Because I didn’t have enough for a midi length – my favorite length – I color-blocked the skirt – adding a red panel at the top and a deep violet panel at the bottom. The pleats are in the red panel. If you look closely, you can see the topstitching on the Marimekko fabric in the photo below.

Inverted pleat detail in color-blocked skirt using Marimekko "Tultakero" fabric -

I first thought about making the skirt back in December when I blogged about my Sew Frosting plans. It took my a long time to figure out the pleats – how deep to make them to use all the fabric, how far apart to place the pleats, and how much space to put between the two front pleats for an adjustable waist.

The deep violet panel at the bottom is a quilting cotton I got at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. I brought the Marimekko fabric with me to find a fabric for the bottom panel. It’s a nearly perfect match for the color in the print.

Detail of color-blocked skirt hem -  print - Marimekko "Tultakero" - quilting fabric for the topstitched bottom -

I topstitched the violet panel. This is a machine-washable skirt and topstitching will make it easier to press.

Color-blocked skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails -  Marimekko "Tultakero" fabric -

When I wore the skirt to Frocktails, I realized that the ribbons weren’t staying tied and it was gaping in the back. I thought the Petersham ribbon would stay tied. Plus, the red fabric was a stretch cotton, which didn’t work well for that part of the skirt. I used that red fabric because it was in my stash and it matched the Marimekko fabric. I was attempting to sew my stash.

To solve my problem, I added a hook to one ribbon …

Adjustable waist of colorful skirt - hook attached to Petersham ribbon -

… and an eye on the other side to ensure that the skirt would stay together. Here’s what it looks like when it’s hooked together.

Skirt hook and eye attached at waist -

Here’s what it looks like when I unhook it.

Skirt detail - unhooked at the waist -

I got the Petersham ribbon from Britex Fabrics. The ribbon was also in my stash and perfectly matched the trees in the print.

Inside the Frocktails skirt

I lined the skirt with a soft cotton rayon from Britex that complemented the print. I drafted a facing and attached the lining to the facing. Here’s an inside view of the skirt waist.

Inside view of skirt facing and lining  -

The skirt has horsehair braid at the hem, giving the skirt a nice fullness without the need of wearing any petticoats or tulle.

Inside view of hem and horsehair braid -

More views of my Frocktail skirt

Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails - holding out ribbon ends -
Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails -
Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails - view of left side -
Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails - 3/4 view of back -
Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails - back view -
Frocktails skirt for Bay Area Sewists Frocktails - right view -

I’m really happy with how the skirt turned out. I think it could use a bit more support at the waist – maybe I’ll add a stiffer interfacing – but I like the length and the colors.

Do you hold on to fabric for years before you sew it? Or do you sew your fabric right away? I’d love to know!

Update: Here are a few photos from the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event. You can see more photos on the Meetup page.

Frocktails photo on the stairs at Tupper & Reed in Berkeley -
Beth, me, Tee and Pauline on the steps of Tupper & Reed, where we held Frocktails 2019

Life is precious

I was in New Jersey last month to visit my family. My dad asked me to come in early April because my mom’s health has been deteriorating. This is partly why I haven’t blogged in weeks or spent much time on Instagram. As some of you may know from reading previous posts (Alzheimer’s clothing – sewing patterns for women or My mom’s last sewing machine), my mother has dementia.

She taught me and my sisters how to use her sewing machine and made most of our clothes when we were young girls.

Finding photos

While I was there, my two younger sisters and I spent an afternoon going through boxes of photos and photo albums, looking for photos of my mom. They will be part of an eventual slide show for her funeral. I know that sounds rather morbid but it was better that we share this responsibility in advance rather than doing it at the last minute. We enjoyed going through the many photos and finding images that we hadn’t seen in decades or had never seen before.

I found this photo in a small box. My dad said it was taken before they married, sometime in the early 1960s.

Mom in a fur coat and gloves in the 1960s -

The box had a few other black-and-white photos that I had never seen before, like this one with her beehive hairdo.

Mom with beehive hairdo in the 1960s -

I’m not sure where this photo was taken but I like her style.

Mom in the 1960s -

I also discovered this grade school photo of me. There wasn’t a date on it but I think I was likely in second or third grade. I’m wearing a top my mom made.

My mom today

My mother is now in a wheelchair, living in a nursing home, and really can’t eat solid foods. As a result, she’s lost a significant amount of weight, which was hard to see. She still recognized me and actually responded when I asked her if she was tired. “Extremely” was her response. I’m really glad I was able to visit.

This is a photo of her hand in mine during a visit to her nursing home.

Mom's hand in mine -

My parents have been married for more than 50 years. They had never lived apart until my mom had to move into a nursing home about a year and a half ago when she began to have trouble walking and it was too difficult for my dad to care for her at home.

If your parents are still alive, take time to talk to them – especiallly while they can still respond to you and can remember events that occurred in the past. If you have any questions about their childhood or your own, ask them now. Life is precious and you never know what will happen.

Ryliss Bod on pattern alterations, interfacing and her fabric stash

Hi, I intended to post part 2 of my two-part post on Ryliss Bod, founder of Sewing and Design School and host of #SewApril – the day after Part 1 but life got in the way (more on this in a later post. The first part of my post was very long so I decided to put our conversation about about pattern alternations, interfacing and her fabric stash in a separate post. Thanks for your patience!

Pattern alternations -

Learning pattern alterations

When Ryliss went back to graduate school at Central Washington University, where she studied clothing construction and textiles in the Home & Family Life Department, she took pattern alterations as an independent study. “I learned the Jan Minott method and I’ve used it ever since,” says Ryliss. “Jan Minott used real bodies – women who were 30-something, 50-something.”

Minott is the author of Total Pattern Fit: The Minott Method. After Minott retired and became ill, her students bought the copyright from her for $1 and kept it in print. Then the copyright was sold to another one of her students for $1. Last year Ryliss bought the copyright from that student for $1. Ryliss has made the book available on a flashdrive and sells these two books:

Fusible Interfacing

Armo weft interfacing – white

Ryliss said that her tailoring instructor Carolyn Schactler did her master’s thesis on fusible interfacing. Part of her testing was having all her fusible in clothes, washed 40 times and see which ones adhered really well. “Two are still used today,” says Ryliss. “Stacy’s Easy Knit and Armo weft interfacing.”

Easy Knit interfacing

Pellon now owns the copyright for Easy Knit (white Easy Knit, black Easy Knit, affiliate links), which is a tricot nylon knit. “It’s a great formula,” notes Ryliss. “It holds on to fabric. I use it for all fabrics.”

Ryliss always recommends testing the interfacing on a 4-inch square of your fabric and seeing how it interacts with the fabric. Sometimes you get unexpected results, says Ryliss, depending on how the chemicals interact with the glue and fabric. Easy Knit interfacing is widely available. You can find it at most fabric stores or online.

Armo fusible interfacing

Ryliss also uses Armo weft interfacing in a lot of things. “They wove it so it really sticks into the fiber well,” notes Ryliss. “It doesn’t stretch.”

Armo weft interfacing – black

However, Armo weft interfacing tends to be expensive and not every fabric store carries it. Ryliss says the best prices for large quantities of Armo weft are in New York. I was in NYC earlier this month and kept this in mind when I went to the Garment District. I bought two yards each of 60″ wide white and black weft interfacing from Mood Fabrics for $4/yard. (I took the photos of the fusible interfacing that I bought.)

Fabric Stash

Ryliss says her fabric stash is too large but it’s an excuse show some of it off at her school. “I had to buy huge utility shelving for my fabric,” notes Ryliss. She says she has to sell what’s at her school if students really want it.

She likes organizing by color because that “makes it a snap to look for something to coordinate with something else.” Ryliss learned to organize by color from quilters.

She also has a huge amount of fabric at home, “behind closed doors,” she laughs. Ryliss says it’s inevitable that she has an enormous amount of fabric because she takes students on field trips and find things you can’t find again.

Thanks again, Ryliss for chatting with me about sewing and fabric!

Ryliss Bod – founder of Sewing and Design School, Sew April host – Part 1

You may know Ryliss Bod from her Instagram account @sewing_and_design_school, which now has more than 200,000 followers or from #SewApril—the month-long Instagram contest she has been hosting every April since 2017. Ryliss began using Instagram to share her love of sewing and fashion as well as bring attention to Sewing and Design School, the business she launched in 2012 in Tacoma, Washington (population: 213,418). Her mission is to teach people the art of garment sewing. Her school offers classes on sewing from beginner-level classes to pattern alterations and drafting. She frequently invites experts such as Kenneth D. King and Linda Maynard to teach at her school.

I interviewed Ryliss in March and discussed everything from her sewing background and Instagram account, teaching sewing and more. I’ve split the article in two parts because it’s much longer than I thought it would be. Stayed tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, which discusses interfacing and Ryliss’s favored method of pattern alternation. 🙂

Learning to sew at a young age

Ryliss  was born and raised in Washington state. She says she grew up in an era when women sewed really well. “My cousin’s grandmother was a seamstress who sewed all the cheerleading costumes for the local schools,” recalls Ryliss, who is 67 years young. “My mom sewed phenomenally well. She made all my school clothes. Sewing was a very productive part of her housewife life.”

When she was 9, Ryliss really wanted to sew but her mother thought she was too young to use the sewing machine. So when she strategized when she could use her mother’s machine. Ryliss knew it took 15 minutes for her mother to get to the grocery store so the next time her mother went to the store, she took the opportunity browse her mother’s fabric stash, which was stored in a cedar chest.

“I took out some pretty fabric, cut out my dress and threaded the machine by the time she came home.” That audaciousness convinced her mother that her daughter was ready to sew. Her mom started her on simple things, such as an A-line skirt.

When her family moved to the country, she joined the 4-H club, which was focused on sewing and cooking. “4-H had you start with sewing a pin cushion, an apron. I thought it was so elementary.” Then she got to make pajamas. “My mom didn’t make it easy. She had me make it with flat felled seams and then Hong Kong seams for the robe.”

“Our mothers were our teachers [at 4-H],” says Ryliss. “We had a gold mine with my mother who was trained in couture sewing.” Her mother had experience in pattern drafting and showed them tricks on construction.

After 9th grade, Ryliss says she never took another sewing class. “I had a wardrobe that was really nice, ” Ryliss recalls. “It looked like ready-to-wear but I kept it on the downside that it was my own creation. We all kept it secret because of high school pressure.”

The path to sewing instructor

Ryliss didn’t know she wanted to teach sewing until she was in graduate school at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., located about 100 miles southeast of Seatlle. She put herself through college and got a degree in teaching art but by then time she graduated, there were no jobs. The Vietnam war had just ended and “all the people returning from the military but the first job interviews.”

She and her boyfriend got married and joined the army. Ryliss was the art specialist at Fort Lewis in Tacoma and later was based in Alaska. When her stint in the army was over, went to graduate school. But at 24, she says she felt old because everyone else was 18 or 19 years old.

Then a woman complimented Ryliss  on what she was wearing. And when Ryliss told her it was something she made, the woman said, “I want you to meet my professor. I’m taking a tailoring class.”

“I go to class and within first half hour,” says Ryliss, “I knew I wanted that woman’s job and that was going to be the direction of my life. I was only going to teach adults.”

The instructor, Carolyn Schactler,  explained in manner that I understood, says Ryliss. “I learned so much in that tailoring class.”

Ryliss began writing up her own classes to create new areas of study. She volunteered to be TA in pattern drafting. She took weaving and textile classes and soon began teaching sewing classes at Bates Technical College. “I had about 20 to 25 students at the most per day, doing different sewing projects,” says Ryliss. ” I had my hands on thousands of garments.”

When she first started, she says the average student was age 54 who brought a size 10 pattern when they were in reality, a size 22. She notes that size 10 was the size when they were married.

“It was a dream job,” says Ryliss. “I had so many students that did not even want to take a break. They so loved coming to sewing class. One student said it was cheaper than therapy. They needed that one day a week. People discussed all kinds of subjects during class and some become good friends outside the classroom.”

Sewing and Design School

Ryliss launched her own sewing school when Bates Technical College stopped offering sewing instruction and bought out her tenure. Though Ryliss’s classes were over, her students didn’t want to quit. She suggested that they meet in the public library for free and she also offered to give three free lessons until she found a rental space in an arts and crafts facility. And that’s how Sewing and Design School began.

Ryliss paid rent for half the month and put the sewing machines away when she wasn’t there. “I started with workshops,” she says. “People didn’t want sewing classes to end in Tacoma. I’m the only game in town because the college ended those classes.”

About three-and-a-half years ago, Ryliss got a full-time space. “It’s just a small space in the backside of a real estate business. There’s free parking and I have access to a kitchen and bathroom.”

Ryliss Bod teaching at Sewing and Design School - Tacoma, Washington -
Ryliss Bod teaching at Sewing and Design School in Tacoma, Washington

Her school has seven Bernina sewing machines. Ryliss says six are mature machines, more than 27 years old.  The models are 910, 1120, 1090 and a 550. She also has two Bernina sergers.

Some of her current students had taken Ryliss’s classes in the 1980s when she was teaching at Bates. They retired and and now back taking classes again with her. “My oldest student is 85 years old,” says Ryliss. “She drives from Seattle to Tacoma.” (Tacoma is about 34 miles (~55 km) from Seattle.)

Ryliss and Instagram

“I started my instagram about three years ago,” says Ryliss, who wasn’t doing much with her account at first. “One of my students showed me how to Instagram. She almost didn’t come to class because I had a poor Instagram presence.”

The student was about 35 years old and flew from Atlanta to take a moulage class with Kenneth King at Ryliss’ school. “Over the course of the next few months she gave me little lessons,” says Ryliss. “A couple months later, I get an email from Vogue Patterns magazine about posting one of my photos. When the article was published in the August/September 2016 issue, she found that @sewing_and_design_school was listed as one of eight great Instagram accounts to inspire sewing and fashion.

“It exploded,” says Ryliss. “I started seeing some really cool things out there and I wanted to grow it. I wanted to reach people from around the country. People fly in to take classes here; it’s like a vacation for some people.”

Ryliss realized that she needed to get herself out there. “So I Google, ‘how do you build followers on Instagram? And I read photo challenge, a contest.”

She had run a photo contest when she was in the military, so she thought, I can do this. And #SewPhotoHop (hosted by Rachel of  @houseofpinheiro), who blogs at House of Pinheiro) was happening at the time. “It was a lightbulb moment for me.”  

She began participating in #SewPhotoHop in September 2016. “The themes were so thought-provoking.”

Sew April’s beginnings

Ryliss decided that she was going to do an Instagram contest but she didn’t know when. “I started investigating what month did not have a contest. So I picked April calling it #SewApril. And I just had to change the year.

She began prepping for it in December, contacting all kinds of fabrics stores to participate, picking a variety of themes. Before she began #SewApril, her Instagram account had 10,000 followers. Two weeks after the contest began, it had grown to 18,000. And it continues to grow. I think maybe a year or so ago her followers exceeded 100,000 and now it’s more than doubled.

But Ryliss’s Instagram growth didn’t magically happen. It was a combination of #SewApril and all the time she puts into curating her feed. She spends about an hour a 45 minutes everyday on her Instagram account, posting 8 to 12 times a day. Yes, you read that right – 8 to 12 times a day!

“Today I did 12,” says Ryliss. “I like to post 8, sometimes 9, sometimes 6 in my collections.”

Ryliss saves images on her phone. And if she finds a design that’s out there in retail, she tries to find four patterns that match it. Plus she tries to answer all comments. As she works on her posts, she is simultaneously working on her iPad to find the information she needs for each post.

She has created a schedule of what types of photos she posts each day. Here’s what she posted on her account about two weeks ago about her IG schedule.

@sewing_and_design_school on Instagram - Sewing and Design School - Ryliss Bod -

Her caption reads:

I want YOU to know what I Instagram about to inspire you to sew. ❤️Ryliss
Tip- if you want to look up a collection of dresses, go to #dressfriday. If you want to see a variety of skirts go to #skirtwednesday. Statement Sleeves have been all the rage for several seasons. #statementsleeves has over 14,200 posts! Interested in pants? Check out #seasonoftheleg. Looking for a fabric store? Simple as #fabricstore or #onlinefabricstore.

So if you’ve made a dress or skirt, be sure to use those hashtags and you may be featured in her feed. (My Chardon skirt with an adjustable waist appeared on her feed last year as one of her #skirtwednesday posts.) And be sure to check out #statementsleeves. Ryliss had been using the hashtag #yearofthesleeve but when the year was over, she realized she needed a more evergreen hashtag – thus #statementsleeves.

Despite her Instagram success, Ryliss doesn’t feel like an expert on Instagram. “I’m always learning,” says Ryliss.

I asked Ryliss, “What are the hashtags you use most often?”

She uses hashtags specific to the image she’s posting and then uses the following hashtags:


Sew April 2019

This year’s Sew April contest began yesterday (use the hashtag #SewApril2019). In one of her recent Sew April posts, she says it “was designed to inspire you to sew, design, knit, weave and crochet. Post a photo or video relating to the daily theme for an opportunity to share your post with others and win prizes. The contest is open to everyone, no restrictions. Post every day or whenever you want.”

Here are the themes:

Sew April 2019 - Instagram contest

Be sure to check out the hashtag #SewApril2019 and get inspired!

Thanks for sharing, Ryliss! And please visit my blog tomorrow soon for her comments on pattern alterations, interfacing and her fabric stash.

WIP Frocktails skirt with Marimekko fabric

My Frocktails skirt is slowly coming together. I haven’t worked on it very much over the past few weeks and now I’ve got to finish it by Saturday – when the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February event is happening.

This was my #SewFrosting project that I started in January. I sewed the pleats in the back about a month ago. Here’s what the back initially looked like when I basted the pleats. You can see bits of white thread that I used.

WIP Frocktails Skirt - Marimekko fabric - back inverted box pleats -

But I decided not to sew all the way down the red fabric. Instead I sewed about 2/3 of the way down and the back now looks like this.

Frocktails skirt - inverted box pleats on the back-

I pinned the ribbons in place to see how it would look and then realized that the Petersham ribbon is a bit stiff and quite wide (2 inches, ~7.5 cm), it would be hard to bring the two sides close together. I chose Petersham ribbon because when I tied it, it would stay tied. The problem with a satin ribbon is that it’s rather slippery.

Ribbon tie for Frocktails skirt - Marimekko fabric -

So I decided to fold the ribbon in thirds and then sew it to the top piece. Before I sewed the pleats with the ribbon ends inside, I fused some interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric to give it some extra support.

Frocktails skirt - ribbon at waist -

It took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to place the pleats in the front. I needed to have some extra fabric for an adjustable waist – but not too much fabric or the waist would be too loose. (See my Chardon Skirt with adjustable waist.) So I played around with how deep those last two center pleats would be and how far apart to place them. I finally put them about 8.5 inches (~21.5 cm) apart.

Frocktails skirt - ribbon at waist sewn into inverted box pleats -

I don’t have a dress form so I spent some time looking at different placements in front of my bathroom mirror. I mostly make garments from existing sewing patterns so I really didn’t need a dress form. Plus I don’t have space in my apartment to store a dress form.

However, this is a skirt that I’ve drafted and it would have been helpful to play arond with the pleats on a dress form.

I decided at the last minute to have a facing because I want the top of the skirt to have some body and it will also look more tidy on the inside. So I drafted a facing over the weekend and I’ll attach some lining to it. The box pleats are rather deep and I’d like to cover them up.

Here’s what’s left to do:

  • buy lining fabric (red? purple?)
  • attach lining fabric to facing
  • sew facing/lining to skirt
  • decide on whether to add an invisible zipper to the side
  • hem the lining
  • hem the skirt

If I can do a little bit every day I should be able to finish this by Saturday. How long does it usually take you to finish a project? I feel like this WIP Frocktails skirt is taking forever.

I also promised my husband I would help fix a sweater of his. I’m hand sewing suede elbow patches to a favorite sweater. I finished one patch yesterday – one more to go!

Refreshing an old coat by recovering the buttons

I’ve had this DKNY coat for several years. When I bought it, the raw edges were trimmed with pleather as were the buttons. After a few years, the pleather bias tape began peeling. I still liked the coat so I removed all the bias trim and replaced it with premade black bias tape I found at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. It was a synthetic fabric that had a sheen to it that make it somewhat similar to the pleather – and hopefully would last a bit longer. That was my first go at refreshing an old coat.

DKNY coat with covered buttons

A few years later, the pleather on the buttons was peeling and looked rather unsightly. So it was time for another refresh – this time it would be the buttons. Nearly all of themlooked like this:

worn out coat button

I bought a 1/4 yard of some very nice Italian polyester from Britex Fabrics. I thought I could pry apart the buttons and replace the pleather.

But they were custom buttons with a plastic backing. I couldn’t pry them apart without damaging the back. I used pliers and tried to coax the pieces apart but they wouldn’t budge. Darn.

Plastic button back

The other alternative was to purchase covered buttons and make new ones. I like covered buttons (see the covered butons I made for a top). However, these buttons weren’t a standard size. They were about 1 3/8 inches (3.5 cm) – in between the standard sizes for covered button kits. The other thing about covered button kits is that the back of the button is silver, which wouldn’t look great. Black is better.

So I opted to cover the original buttons the old-fahsioned way. I cut circles of fabric, hemmed the raw edges by hand and then sewed a gathering stitch. I placed the button in the center of my circle, pulled the threads tight and then stitched around the gathering to ensure that it stayed in place.

Covering coat buttonsn with new fabric by hand -

I’m happy with the way they turned out. It took a couple nights in front of the television to finish. I should also mention that for my first button cover, I cut too large of a circle of fabric. After I gathered the fabrics, the gathering was too close to the button shank. I didn’t have enough room to maneuver my needle to sew the button on.

As you can see below, the button at the botton has too much fabric; the one on top was made with a smaller circle of fabric, leaving enough space for the needle to reach the shank and sew the button on my coat.

Refreshed coat buttons -

Here’s a close-up look at my refreshed buttons. There was one that wasn’t peeling so I left it as is. It’s the one on the left in the second row. I covered six buttons altogether. (One button was missing when I got the coat so I replaced it with a slighter smaller button. It wasn’t a functional button.)

Refreshed coat - covered the buttons with new fabric

And here’s a view of me wearing the coat with my newly covered buttons.

Refreshing an old coat by recovering the buttons

It’s nice when you can refresh an old coat and continue to wear it. Have you refreshed an old garment? What did you do to make it wearable?

Boatneck top – New Look 6838 finished

Hi, it’s been an overcast and rainy week so I decided to take photos of this boatneck top inside. The photos are pretty boring but at least you can see the finished New Look 6838 top. I wore it to work so it’s a little wrinkled from sitting this morning.

Boatneck top - New Look 6838 -

Version A has 3/4 length sleeves but as I noted in yesterday’s post about the pattern, the sleeve pattern piece was quite long. After I sewed and hemmed the sleeves, the hem was about an inch above my wrist bone. So I cut about 5 inches from the length and hemmed them again to make them the current length. And I have long arms so if you have average-length arms, the 3/4 sleeves will be long sleeves on you.

I put my finished sleeve next to the pattern piece. Here’s how much I lopped off.

New Look 6838

The houndstooth knit fabric doesn’t have very good recovery so I think the boat neck neckline will likely get stretched out. You can already see that in the front it doesn’t quite lie flat. But this was my mockup so it doesn’t really matter.

Boatneck top - New Look 6838 -

One common complaint in the Pattern Review reviews for this pattern was that the boatneck neckline was too wide. I didn’t make any changes to the front. The width was about 3/4 inch too wide for me – even with my broad shoulders. You can see that the shoulder seamline droops a bit off my shoulder bone.

New Look 6838 - boatneck top -

I do like the neckline because it reveals my collar bones. However, the width also reveals your bra straps. If I make it again, I’ll need to sew in bra strap holders at the shoulders and make the shoulders a little more narrow, which will be a first for me. I often do a wide shoulder adjustment.

Boatneck top – back view

This top has a center back seam, which seemed a bit unusual for a knit pattern. I decided to go with it and see what that would look like. My fabric has a tiny houndstooth print but I didn’t bother trying to match the print. The knit print was a leftover scrap from making Vogue 9191 wrap pants in 2016.

Boatneck top - New Look 6838 -

The seam curves out slightly at the bottom to give some shaping but I think you could just eliminate the seam allowance and cut it on the fold – unless you have a booty that would benefit from the curve.

Side view

You can really see the droopy shoulder here – partly because the top was shifting because the neck opening is a little too wide. It doesn’t quite droop this much. If I center the top, it’s about 3/4 inch off.

Boatneck top - New Look 6838 -

I did stabilize the hem with fusible stay tape but as you can see the hem is a little rippled. I used a twin needle but I haven’t pressed the hem. Maybe it’ll be a little flatter after pressing.

Here’s another view of the left side.

Boatneck top - New Look 6838 -

Here’s a look at the right side of this boatneck top. I pulled down the back to smooth out the wrinkles and pulled down the neckline back there. So it looks like the hem is lower in the back but it’s not drafted as a high-low top. The hem is actually the same length front and back.

Boatneck top - New Look 6838 -

Making it again

I will certainly make this boatneck top pattern again because I like the bateau neckline. I will bring in the shoulders about 3/4 inch and shorten the sleeves by 5 inches. I’ll pick a medium weight jersey with good recovery and make sure I test fusible stay tapes and whether I should use a double needle or just a zigzag stitch, whichever will look better. (I don’t have a cover stitch machine.)

I’m not sure if I’ll keep that center back seam. This pattern could be a good stash buster. You could have fun color blocking it – using different colors for the back, sleeves and front.

New Look 6838 – a popular boatneck knit top

Hi, I got this New Look pattern a while ago – mainly for the boatneck top. This neckline is one of my favorite styles. New Look 6838 is likely out-of-print because I couldn’t find it on the Simplicity website. I discovered that the pattern has been in print for several years when I noticed that my envelope looks like this…

New Look 6838 - knit top and pants

… and I saw the pattern envelope on Pattern Review, which shows this old New Look design.

I searched for the oldest PR reviews for this pattern and saw that reviwes went back to 2002! Wow. I didn’t realize that some patterns can stay in print that long! It must have been a really popular pattern.

New Look 6838 boat neck top, pants, separates

I skimmed a couple of reviews and learned that for most people, the neckline on version A of the top (the striped one), was too wide and the 3/4 sleeves were more like full-length sleeves.

However, I didn’t read the reviews until I had already cut and sewn everything but the hems. Oops. I was using fabric leftover from other projects so it didn’t really matter. This is my mockup. The houndstooth knit was a fabric from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics sale floor. I used it to make a pair of wrap pants from a Vogue pattern. The fabric doesn’t have much recovery.

Houndstooth and black jersey knit fabrics for New Look 6838

I’m not sure where I got the black fabric for the sleeves. I have quite a lot of black jersey and other solid black knit fabrics in my stash.

New Look 6838 pattern adjustments

I did a 1/8″ square shoulder adjustment on this top – probably not really necessary considering this was a knit top.

The hem of the so-called 3/4 sleeves landed about an inch or so above my wrist – too long. So I cut off about 5 inches from the sleeves to make them 3/4 length. I have long arms but even these sleeves were too long for me.

I also have broad shoulders so I thought, “Why not sew a 1/2″ center back seam instead of 5/8″ seam?” That was just a whim as I was pinning the back before sewing it. But I didn’t need to make it wider. (Note to self: Measure the pattern pieces before making an adjustment.)

One of the results of making the back a little wider is that the neckline gaped in the back. My fabric also got a little stretched out so I think the gaping was the result of fabric and the seam allowance. This houndstooth knit doesn’t have much recovery. So I unpicked the neck hem around the center back seam. My first attempt wasn’t quite right because my seam wasn’t gradual enough to lay flat. I drew a line for my second attempt. The stitching on the right is the original seam.

New Look 6838 center back seam

I didn’t make any other changes to New Look 6838.

Stabilizing the fabric

This houndstooth jersey fabric needed some stabilizing at the neck, which I neglected to do. If this were my fashion fabric, not a mockup, I would have played around with the fabric – stretching it out and looking at the recovery (how quickly did it spring back).

I hemmed this top with a zig zag stitch at the neckline and for the sleeve hems. I used a twin needle for the hem of the body.

For the hem of the body, I used Design Plus super fine bias fusible stay tape. It comes in white and black. I had white in my stash so I used that. I usually get it at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. (Here’s an affiliate link to black super fine stay tape.)

Note on New Look 6838’s sleeves

I used some lightweight black jersey that was in my stash. It was a lighter weight than the houndstooth knit I used for the body.

The sleeves of New Look 6838 are treated like sleeves for a woven: You sew a straight stitch in between the notches on the sleeve head, slightly gather the seams and ease the inset sleeve into the body with the side seams already sewn.

I thought I could sew the sleeve head to the body and then sew one long seam from the sleeve hem down the side seam to the bottom hem of the body. But my sleeve fabric was too fiddly. So I pretty much followed the instructions. Maybe if I used a knit fabric of the same weight for the sleeves and the body, sewing it the other way may have worked.

It rained over the weekend so I didn’t get a chance to take any photos of me wearing the finished top. I’ll have to do that in a separate post. I’ll be sure to wear a fun hat for those photos.

Lastly, here are some questions for you: Do you make a mockup (aka toile or muslin) before you sew your fashion fabric? When you are trying a new pattern (or new-to-you pattern)? I’d love to hear from you!

Sewing cake and frosting over the holidays

I’m looking forward to finishing some projects and getting started on some new ones. I plan on sewing cake and frosting.

Happy holidays! Will you be sewing over the holiday break? I hope to take advantage of some time to sew. I’ve been too busy lately to do much sewing or blogging. So I’m looking forward to finishing some projects and getting started on some new ones. I plan on sewing cake and frosting. (See Heather Lou’s post on her Sew Frosting challenge.)

Here are my potential sewing plans for next week. I am considering it a wish list as opposed to a task list because I don’t want to feel bad if I don’t finish everything – and I may not get to everything.

Sewing cake projects underway

New Look 6838

This pattern that has been in my stash for a while. (I couldn’t find it on the Simplicity website so I think it’s OOP.) I love boat necks and knit tops so that’s why I picked up this pattern at Joann’s a while ago.

I am making top A, which has 3/4 sleeves, size L. I had this houndstooth jersey leftover (see photo below) from making my wrap pants (V9191) and I had just enough for the body and I found some black jersey in my stash for the sleeves.

New Look 6838 - knit top and pants - sewing plans

All I need to do is hem the bottom and shorten the sleeves, which are too long for 3/4 sleeves. The hem is about an inch above my wrist so they look like long sleeves that are a little too short. (Side note: Did you know that 3/4 length sleeves are just below the elbow and 7/8 sleeves are a few inches below that?) I’ll write a separate post about this top later.

Vintage Vogue reissue of 1960 top

I made a skirt from this beautiful cotton print for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February earlier this year. Here’s the only good photo I have of the skirt where you can really see the fabric – a splurge purchase from Britex several years ago. I love the watercolor look of this fabric.

Blue floral print A-line skirt -

I had less than a yard leftover but I thought I could squeeze out version A of this sleeveless top (V9187, a vintage Vogue reissue from 1960). The idea was to make it seem like I was wearing a dress. But I ran out of time to finish it in time for Frocktails.

V9187 - Vintage Vogue reissue - design from 1960 - sewing plans -

I made one quick muslin and needed to adjust the bust. Luckily it had princess seams, which makes it easy to adjust. But I am fitting it on myself, which means incremental adjustments. Also, the pattern has all these facings for the neckline and armhole, plus a center back zipper.

I didn’t have enough fabric to cut facings from my fashion fabric so I decided I would line it instead. So I had to figure out how to put together some of the back pattern pieces to create the lining pieces.

The other change I made was to move the back zipper to a side zipper. I don’t want a zipper in the back because it’s designed for a separating zipper and I don’t see how I could put it on by myself.

Where I last left it, is that I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric, crossing my fingers that my last bust adjustments would work. I still need to figure out the back lining pieces. Then I can start sewing it.

Sew frosting projects to start

Skirt for Frocktails

For the last two Frocktails in February event, I made skirts at the last minute. For the 2019 Frocktails, I’d like to spend more than a day throwing it togther. In 2017, I modified a Deer & Doe skirt pattern, removing a few of the pleats and making an adjustable waist with a ribbon tie. Here’s a photo of that skirt and a link to the blog post, My adjustable waist Deer & Doe Chardon.

Deer and Doe Chardon - modified by removing two front pleats and adding a ribbon to give it an adjustable waistband

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know this is one of my favorite skirt patterns. I’ve made it multiple times. I like this modification so I’m thinking of doing a variation of this with the Marimekko fabric in my stash (see last month’s Sew Frosting post on the fabric). But I want to make a longer midi-length skirt.

I’ve also been browsing Pinterest for additional skirt ideas. Here are a few images that caught my eye.

This skirt is by Asos and is described as a high-waisted midi prom skirt. (Really? Prom skirt?) I have a 2-inch wide Petersham ribbon that I’d like to use for my skirt and make it an adjustable waist again. I like the center placement of this ribbon and the way the skirt has a bit of a paper bag waist. I’ll need a facing that will be a little stiff to make sure it stays up.

Asos - high-waisted midi prom skirt - sewing plans

I like the inverted pleats on this skirt. (Sorry, I didn’t note the source. )

High-waisted skirt with inverted pleats - sewing plans

Long Pilvi Coat

Ever since I saw images on Pinterest of the 2017 Valentino collection, I’ve wanted to make a long jacket with the hem near my ankles. A long red jacket would a combination of sewing cake and frosting.

Valentino - 2017 - sewing plans

I got a few yards of red ponte in New York earlier this year to make another Pilvi Coat. I want to use it to make a long red jacket with side vents. Or maybe I should try another pattern. I’ve made the Pilvi four times using different fabrics:

So maybe it’s time to check out a new pattern. But since I know this pattern so well, it won’t take long to make it. Plus I’d be making some modifications – adding length and side vents.

What are your sewing plans? Are you sewing cake or frosting over the holidays?

Sew Frosting – Marimekko skirt plans

Hi, I got a late start to the Sew Frosting party – the sewing challenge hosted by Heather Lou  Closet Case Patterns and Kelli of True Bias, encouraging people to sew “frosting” (frivolous and fun!) as opposed to “cake” (basics and staples). For more about the challenge, see Heather Lou’s blog post and search the hashtag #sewfrosting on Instagram to see all the wonderful makes.

When I  thought about what “frosting” fabrics I had, I immediately thought about this striking Marimekko fabric I got at Crate and Barrel several years ago. I remember it was discounted –not by much – but I loved the colors so I splurged on 1 1/3 yards (~1.2 meters) of this cotton fabric from Finland.

Marimekko - TULTAKERO - cotton fabric - Sew Frosting -

Even though it was holiday fabric – note the trees – the colorway didn’t quite say Christmas so I thought it could be used for other purposes. Yesterday I searched for this fabric online to see what it was called. I found other colorways of this fabric and learned that it was called Tultakero. The selvage of my yardage didn’t have the name on it.


I spotted this red, green and white version of Tultakero on eBay. As you can see, it has more of that holiday feel.

Tultakero - Marimekko fabric

The colorway I have doesn’t have any green in it; instead, it features red, magenta, purple, deep yellow and dark violet. Here’s another section of the fabric.

Tultakero - Marimekko - holiday fabric - Sew Frosting -

Sewing my stash

I have been (mostly) sticking to my fabric fast this year, trying to sew my stash rather than shop for new fabric. This fabric is 57″ wide and I will cut it in half and use one piece for the skirt front and another for the back.

I want to use inverted pleats or maybe a combination of inverted pleats in the back and one big pleat or fold in the front. I’ll use one of my favorite skirt patterns – the Deer and Doe Chardon as my jumping off point. I’ve made five versions of it – from color blocked to maxi. The most recent one I made I changed the waist by removing a few of the front pleats to make an adjustable waist with a silk ribbon tie.

I tend to gravitate towards the same shades of red, rose and plum. I knew I had a solid red cotton and a fuchsia cotton. I just had to dig around to find them (which bin? which drawer?). I found the two fabrics and also discovered that I have a wide Petersham ribbon that perfectly matches one of the colors in the Marimekko fabric as you can see below.

Marimkko TULTAKERO fabric -

I will color block the skirt with maybe the solid red and fuchsia above and below the print. Or maybe the print at the top? I’m not sure.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to start or finish sewing this before the Sew Frosting deadline of Nov. 30 because I sprained my right ankle just before Thanksgiving. 🙁 So I needed to stay off my foot, instead of standing to cut my fabric or using the pedal on my sewing machine. But the good news is that my ankle is feeling much better and I can start making this skirt!

Thanks to Heather Lou and Kelli for the inspiration!

SkinTie – sustainable and high-tech ties

Earlier this month I got an invitation to attend a media event for the latest version of SkinTie, a San Francisco startup founded by Christophe Schuhmann. I hadn’t heard of the company, which he says is a bridge between fashion and tech, which I’ll explain later. What caught my eye is that the ties are “made out of sustainable collagen from fish scales.”  Yes, it’s sustainable and biodegradable.

I wasn’t able to attend the event but I did get the opportunity to meet Christophe in person at his apartment in the Presidio and take some photos of his various unisex ties. They are about half the length of regular neckties and meant to be worn against the skin (akin to a scarf) – thus SkinTie.

Here’s a photo of a model wearing a collagen SkinTie. The tie isn’t much longer than what you see in the photo.

Collagen SkinTie

SkinTie Origins

Christophe says he got the idea for wearing the tie like this by accident. Four years ago, he was invited to attend a party with a “junior prom” theme. He’s not a fan of wearing a necktie with a buttoned-up shirt so he decided to wear the tie inside his shirt. Everyone at the party loved the look and some of the guys took off their ties and wore them inside, too. (See his YouTube video interview on French American TV.

As the evening wore on, Christophe realized that he didn’t like the feeling of the tie touching his belly. So the next day, he cut all of his ties and began wearing them inside his shirts. He wore his ties like this every day for two weeks and got such great feedback, he decided to start a company in December 2014, registering a trademark and creating a website and accounts with Shopify, Instagram and other social media.

His initial version was a clippable tie that used hooks and eyes to attach in the back. The idea was to tie it once and then hook it together in the back. Here’s what it looked like.

Skin tie with hook and eye closure

Sustainable fabric

Christophe later began exploring a sustainable tie and discovered a fabric made from collagen. Taiwanese company Weavism makes the fabric from collagen fiber derived from the Taiwan milk fish scale. The collagen SkinTie fabric is made from what Weavism calls the next generation of “bionic fiber,” a blend of “collagen peptide amino acid from recycled fish scale and viscose fiber, which is 100% biodegradable.”

This is a photo I took of three of his collagen ties. The fabric is soft and feels nice against the skin. The ties have magnets in the back instead of hooks which makes it easier to wear.

Collagen SkinTies

Christophe found out about the fabric when saw this collagen scarf, the precursor to the viscose blend, and he was immediately taken with the softness of the fabric and its sustainability. He gets the fabric from Taiwan and a family-owned business in San Francisco manufactures them. He is selling them as a pre-ordered custom product. You send your neck and torso measurement and the tie is made for your body.

Collagen scarf

Christophe sent me this photo showing himself and model Jamie Panizales wearing his product at the annual SkinTie fashion party last weekend. You can see the length of the tie on Jamie.

Christophe Schuhmann of SkinTie and Jamie Panizales

I’ve been thinking a lot about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, which is the second biggest polluting industry in the world, according to the documentary The True Cost (the oil industry is the top polluter). A company making ties from a sustainable fabric seems like a good thing – especially when so many clothes end up in a landfill (see my post Clothes Closet Confessions).

Here’s an image of a model wearing the collagen SkinTie, which the SkinTie website touts as 100 percent sustainable and biodegradable.

Collagen SkinTie

Fashion and Tech

Where does tech come in ? Well, SkinTie has also introduced SmartTie – a tie with a transmitting chip. Here’s what the chip looks like.

Transmitting chip in tie

The tie wearer uploads the information he or she wants to share in the cloud. Then using an app, you scan the tie with your phone and download the information in the cloud. Christophe says each owner can define what they want to share, which could include images and PDFs.

Here’s what he showed me on his phone. When you scan a SmartTie, you can access the tie wearer’s info. Christophe thinks it could be new and unique way for companies to release information about a new product launch.

App for SkinTie

Christophe is attempting to do quite a lot with his company – create a trend for his style of tie, create a sustainable product and incorporate tech. It’s an ambitious proposition. By day, he works for a tech company in San Francisco and if SkinTie takes off, he hopes to pass it along to his grandchildren.

Meanwhile, SkinTie is based in his apartment where he stores the various SkinTie collections….

SkinTies in Christophe Schuhmann's apartment

… and enjoys the view of the bay from his window.

View of the bay from window in Presidio