Fitting Thoughts on McCall’s 6649


Since I got you all excited about creating your own patterns – from a pattern that already fits you – in my last post, I thought I would give you some fitting thoughts of what I went through with my versions of McCall’s 6649. I posted an update about the Craftsy class with Sarah Holden in my last post, but I thought I would state it again. This particular class does not offer any help whatsoever for fitting. It focuses on pattern drafting from a pattern that fits you. The fitting process is a whole class unto itself, so that was not covered in a class like this (but see below for more info on my fitting references). Often times fitting, for me, is a really rotten and time consuming process (isn’t it for everyone?). One thing I really really don’t enjoy is that I tend to start second guessing myself at the end of it all. Do I really like the fit of this? Maybe I should make a few more tweaks? Shouldn’t it be more fitted? Hmmm, the sleeve might be an 1/8″ too long? An 1/8″? Isn’t that a little nuts? Are we actually trying to split hairs here? AHHHHH! This process is called overfitting and it happens, I think, to all of us (well I hope it does or I am a bona fide nut job). I usually have to step back from something like this and then come back to it a few days or weeks later.


With McCall’s 6649, I made an initial muslin. From there I created this flannel shirt that I blogged back in August of last year. That was my first rendition. The sleeves were too short, the collar was too tall and flopped about too much (for my taste). The shoulders needed a forward shoulder adjustment, the sleeve cuff was too big. I also like to sew the button placket in a different way (this is just too lumpy for my taste). These were things that needed fixing even after I had done a muslin and made extensive fitting adjustments before I made up this version! In case you were worried, I didn’t pick this pattern back up and finish the fitting process until December 2014. It did not take me since last August to fit this pattern! Ha ha! Now that would be bad!


My second round proved better. I measured a sleeve and cuff from a button-up shirt I had and liked the fit of and then adjusted my pattern accordingly. Also compared the collars and made more adjustments to my pattern. The sleeve cuff on this one still ended up being too big for my taste preferences. And yes, I totally added lace to this one! This is a Liberty of London print, just in case you were wondering.


I adjusted the sleeve cuff for this favorite version (read more about this one here)! The cuff is a  little more fitted and that’s exactly the way I like them. This shirt, I daresay is perfect. Again on this shirt, I opted not to sew in the vertical darts on the front bodice, just to mix it up a little. I like things boxy sometimes and I was curious to see if it still “fit” if I didn’t sew in the darts. It fits just fine, it’s just a different sort of fit which is good because then the wheels start turning and I start seeing possibilities for future hacks!


And then just to be safe, I made one more version in a most beloved Liberty of London that I had been stashing for some time for just this very purpose. I decided to go whole hog and do all of the things, including front vertical darts and pockets with flaps.

I decided to show you all of these because I feel that sometimes people might think that fitting can be solved after one muslin iteration. While a lot of it can and the garment you make next is usually just fine or at least wearable, you’ll end up wanting to tweak things for an even better fit in the next go around. Why? Because you CAN! Hello fitting ninja! The kinks come out of it pretty well when you’re into your third make from the same pattern – at least this has been my experience. Granted, there are a lot of patterns out there that I don’t make multiples of. Sometimes those patterns are just one hit wonders, but base patterns like these I take a good long time with and really get the fit right on par for what I want.


I took this class on Craftsy quite some time ago, which I found to be incredibly useful pre-muslin – Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon. Her follow-up class is really good too, Fast Track Fitting, in the Details. She’s also got a great book out – Create the Perfect Fit – and all of these resources stick to the same method that she really tries to drill into your brain – measure your body, measure and adjust the pattern. I like her method a lot because you use measurements from your body and then you adjust the pattern before you do your initial muslin. It clears up a lot of the big problems. After the muslin phase, I tweak the fit utilizing the first edition of Fitting & Pattern Alteration. Really, really awesome fitting book.

OK, well I think that’s enough about fitting for one day. Hopefully there’s some good information here for those of you who might be stuck or thinking about overfitting every sewing pattern you’ve ever made! Do you make multiples of patterns to get the fit just right? Do you over fit? I know, it’s totally a thing, right?


Japanese Pattern Book Giveaway!

Hello Dear Readers – Comments on this post are now closed. Winner announced tomorrow! Yay!

There must be something in the air this week because I too am giving away two japanese pattern books that I was given from Laurence King Publishing (Lauren’s hosting her own Drape Drape giveaway – now you have 2 chances to win). Yay! I received a sweet surprise email from Laurence King Publishing about trying out their recently translated japanese pattern books. After working my way through some emails, I finally responded (bad me!) and asked for Drape Drape and Pattern Magic for Stretch Fabrics. Both include very interesting and beautiful designs and ideas. And to boot they’ve been translated into English!

The basic idea with these books is that there are sloper patterns provided that you can manipulate. The slopers are all on one big sheet at the back of the book – like all other japanese pattern books. All instructions are provided for how to recreate the designs in the book too. The designs are quite fascinating and its really interesting to see how the pattern is manipulated into creating these contemporary looks.

Now I love me a good japanese pattern book, but I have to be honest and say that I find most of the designs from these books non-functional for my everyday life. Many of them aren’t really my style either. Yes, there are several that I think are gorgeous and all of them are interesting, but ultimately not for me. Now remember, this is pretty big time stuff for me to say too – do you recall this post? It’s OK that I know what my style is and what it is not. Am I right or am I right?

But that’s not to say that these beautiful books don’t have their value and that they aren’t your style, because they just might well turn out to be. Want your very own copy of Drape Drape or Pattern Magic for Stretch Fabrics? Both are in pristine condition and ready to be used! All you have to do is leave me a comment!

To win both books:
Leave a comment on this post saying just how much you want these and you might just win! Giveaway is open until Friday February 15, 2013! From there, I’ll contact the winner and ship them off in the mail. Giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere!

Sewing Library: Japanese Craft Books

I thought it might be fun to start a new series here about what’s in my sewing library. I have so many sewing books that I just love and so many interesting items that I think you might find interesting too. I hope it will broaden your sewing horizons just a little and give you some ideas for trying out new things that maybe you didn’t know about before. To start this series, and since I’m working on a certain someone’s coat from a Japanese book, I thought I would share some Japanese craft books with you. I thought it might be more exciting to go through them one by one because these truly are luscious little books. So let’s begin.

What are Japanese craft books? They are wonderful little books that contain anything from clothing to crafts to knitting and crochet photos, illustrations, instructions and patterns. The ones that I’m familiar with dedicate an entire book to one type of craft. For example, with Japanese craft books that are dedicated to sewing clothing all the photos in the book will be of something you can make. The instructions are usually located at the back of the book along with line drawings and the patterns are just like the patterns in a BurdaStyle magazine – they are all nested on top of each other on one big page meaning that you have to trace them off and usually add seam allowances in order to use them. There’s usually something like 20 patterns in each book and all of the instructions are in japanese. For those of us that don’t speak japanese though, the illustrations are magnificent. Very clear and very easy to follow for someone who is well acquainted with sewing.

I think one of the most interesting parts about these books is that the book is also dedicated to a certain style of clothing. I have a book on skirts, one on women’s clothing, one on men’s coats (same one that I’m using for my hub’s coat), etc. Today I wanted to share my book on handbags. I never even make handbags, but when I first picked up this particular pattern book, the bags just made my mouth water. Sometimes I get really itchy for a crafty like project and these types of books are wonderful to turn to for that. I love how the Japanese can take something like a handbag and make it look so elegant and refreshing.

Aren’t these just wonderful? I also wanted to give you my favorite resource for getting these pattern books. This Etsy shop here is marvelous and they provide excellent service and they always have great stock on a lot of these books. Go have a gander and enjoy yourself!

Happy daydreaming!

the Rub-Off

In last week’s post, I talked about how I did a rub-off for the above cardigan and I definitely wanted to let everyone in on my secrets for how to do this yourself. Ok, ok, its not really a secret, but still there are many who don’t even know what a rub-off is. I didn’t until a few years ago either, but basically its taking an existing garment and creating a paper pattern from it. There are several methods that you could use – some may damage the pre-existing garment and there are those that won’t. I used one type of method for my couch – where I utilized muslin and draped it over the existing couch in pieces to create a pattern. I was sooooooo thrilled with how everything turned out with my couch, that I simply had to give it a shot with an actual piece of clothing. I used a different method to achieve the rub off in the case of my cardigan. In that particular method, I put pattern paper underneath the existing garment and put both of those layers on top of an old flannel board I found at my local thrift  – you can totally use anything that a pin can poke through – and stuck pins into the garment seamlines and edges. From there I took out the pins and connected the pin dots with a pencil and added seam allowances and any details – like pleating or gathering or design lines – which were in the original cardigan. It might sound intense but, really its not and in both cases – muslin draping and pin dotting through to paper – the original garment is not harmed and can still be worn. This is extremely beneficial for garments that you want to copy that are vintage.

So you might be asking where in the world I learned about these methods and how to do this. I would love to tell you that I came up with all of this on my own, but no, I didn’t. Instead, if you are interested in doing this yourself, you absolutely need to get a copy of this rather amazing (and extremely affordable) book. Patternmaking for a perfect fit by Steffani Lincecum. I think this book is full of informational gems and really for what it contains, I’m actually really really surprised that more hasn’t been said about it by the sewing community. I actually bought the book thinking it was something completely different than it was – I feel the name of the book is a bit misleading – and when it arrived was even more happy that I had purchased it as I was pleasantly surprised by the content. Not only does it guide you through the two methods I mentioned above about how to do a rub-off, but it is chucked full of information on how to add in elements from the garment you’re rubbing off and how to draft and alter the pattern to create several different looks.

I think the really great part about this whole thing is that, for the most part, when you become confident in your rub-off skills, you’ll find that you can forget doing a muslin – the muslin in this case would be the original garment – granted that you love the way your original garment fits. Also, if you love the shape of the original garment, but it hasn’t ever fit quite right, you can rub-off a pattern and fix the fit and make up the garment in something even better than the original and voila – a perfectly fitting garment that you already know that you’ll look good in and love. I just did this with my mom’s old boyfriend jacket. I love that jacket, but its much too tight across the upper back and guess what? That’s something I know how to fix and so I rubbed it off, altered the pattern and am now just about to cut it out in a fabulous ponte knit – something I’m terribly terribly excited about!

Now, this is something that I would definitely rate as intermediate. The book can guide you through how to make a rub-off but you have to know how to construct the garment without instructions after its been rubbed off. Steffani’s book guides you through doing a few different types of construction techniques for a few basic garments, but I feel that this is best learned by actually sewing up like garments through the process of constructing sewing patterns. For example, the cardigan that I rubbed off had a raglan sleeve. Not only would I have been befuddled when it came to rubbing it off had I not already seen a raglan sleeve pattern piece before, but I would have been even a bit more bewildered as to how to construct it too. You also need to be able to dissect a piece a clothing, meaning that you need to have a general idea of how it was patterned – princess seams, darts, gathers, sleeve type, etc. This also comes with experience and time.

I have several garments in my closet that are RTW and that I’m excited to rub-off. What about you? Is this a technique that you would utilize? I highly recommend Ms. Lincecum’s book – it’s excellent! Also, this opens up a whole new world of items you can add to your wardrobe without having to necessarily test drive a sewing pattern. Try it – it’s totally addicting!

Colette Sewing Handbook Blog Tour!

Friends, I’m so excited to be apart of the Colette Sewing Handbook Blog Tour! Yay! For those of you who have pre-ordered and/or purchased a copy of the book, you will not be disappointed. This lovely sewing book, is chocked full of great information plus there’s more Colette Pattern goodness with the addition of 5 lovely and fashionable sewing patterns. They are gorgeous! The book is so wonderfully put together and I feel it is bound to be one of the best fashion sewing resources out there. It covers so much information in a very clear and concise way and puts a fresh new face on the art of sewing your own wardrobe at home. There is much to be gleaned for beginners through to advanced sewists alike. As part of the blog tour, I decided to include a few excerpts from the book and as an added bonus, there will be a giveaway of the book to one of my lucky readers! Please read to the end for more info on how to win a copy! Hip Hip Hooray!

I have two excerpts from this lovely book for you today – a tutorial and a tantalizer! First, the tutorial. Let’s take a look at how to properly press a seam, shall we:

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Let’s get started with some basic lessons in technique! Take a look through these methods for a starter course on common sewing tasks. Of course, we aren’t covering every possible sewing technique here, but you’ll find that these come up very frequently in garment sewing. These breakdowns are here for you to reference whenever you need a little refresher.

Pressing a Seam Open
Press each and every seam after you sew it. This is the only way to get flat, inconspicuous seams. Most seams are pressed open, but if your pattern calls for a seam to be pressed to the side, follow these same steps, but move the seam allowance to one side before pressing on the wrong side.








1. Press the seam as it was sewn. This helps set the stitches. 2. Open up your fabric and lay it wrong-side up. Press along the seam, flattening the seam allowance. If your fabric is delicate, you may wish to lay the seam on a seam roll, to avoid marks from the seam allowance.

3. Turn so that the right side is up. Press the seam again from the right side.

Pressing versus Ironing
Be aware that pressing is different from ironing. Ironing involves moving the iron back and forth over your fabric. When pressing, you hold the iron still and apply pressure.

For a full view of this excerpt, click on the thumbnail below:





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I’m also a fitting guru – as many of you know by now. Getting a perfect fit is time consuming, but so worth the effort! I decided to add just a few extra tidbits from the book to my post today from the chapter “A Fantastic Fit.” This is just a tantalizer to whet your appetite for this great chapter! Here’s some great advice:

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The process of truly fitting a garment to your body takes time. Some sewers prefer to rush through it, take shortcuts or do no fitting at all. I know how tempting this is, especially when you’re excited about finishing and wearing something. But cutting these kinds of corners in making your own clothing can really end up being a false economy. Sure, it seems to save you time in the short term, but if you end up spending hours sewing something that you won’t wear because of a poor fit, you’ve wasted more time than you’ve saved. Plus, you’ll end up disappointed and frustrated.
Instead, I invite you to think of your sewing room as your own personal custom dressmaking studio. You are both the talented craftsperson making the clothes, and the client who must be happy wearing them. Take your time, and make something beautiful for yourself!

For more from this chapter, click on the thumbnails below for a full preview:





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I do hope you’ve enjoyed these little tidbits from the Colette Sewing Handbook! You’ll love getting it into your hot little hands and having a go at some of the techniques and patterns yourself. Speaking of which, I believe I mentioned something about a giveaway….Yay! To win a copy of this book from us here at A Fashionable Stitch, simply leave a comment stating just how much you would like to win it! This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere! We’ll close things up this coming Friday, at which point I’ll select a winner and ship out the book, poste haste! Enjoy friends!


Right out of a Harlequin Romance

“So, you have some skill with a needle and thread?” He said as he noticed her so competently sewing the button back on his shirt. He had never kissed anyone like that before. He couldn’t help himself, the perfect evening, the dinner, the green of her dress made her big emerald eyes glitter with invitation. So steamy, so uninhibited was the kiss, that he had gotten a little excited and innocently enough, a threadworn button had popped right off his chocolate brown shirt. The shirt had always been a bit snug through the chest, but the fact that it offset his eyes so well made up for that.

She noticed it when she first laid on eyes him. He was so strong and she just knew she would fit perfectly into the wrest of his arms. The kiss had taken her by surprise as well, but she knew it was inevitable, as inevitable as those deep chocolate brown eyes seductively melting her with their stare.

~Me, a closet Harlequin Romance Author

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You may not believe me, but I’ve just read my first Harlequin Romance Novel. I was out on the hunt for a gift at the local thrift, when an entire shelf of Harlequin Romances beckoned to me. I caved, what can I say? My 75 cents bought me the most trashy of all of them I think, picked in part because the cover illustrated a half clothed couple staring into each others eyes as they laid so uninhibited on a silk covered chaise. Have to admit, thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes, it was horrible, sinful and obscenely naughty, sexy and you said it, seductive.

And yet, I was inspired by it.

OK, maybe in more ways than one, but some things are best left to the imagination. I found the writing style interesting, and no I’m not saying this is great literature, but it was interesting to the point where there is  a lot of emphasis on what people look like and what they are wearing and how this best makes their eyes glitter. I can’t even count how many times the word glitter was used in conjuction with the word eyes. Too many, because by the end of the short novel (which only took one night to read) I kept wondering how to make my eyes glitter.

I took a very close examination of my eyes and had Mr. S do the same. We have come to the conclusion that I have blue greyish eyes with rings of yellow and amber in the center. This next leads me to what colors offset these types of eyes. Possibly a yellow sundress? Perhaps something that coordinates with the yellow in the eyes, possibly violet, which I do look quite good in? Poppy maybe?

So tell me, what makes your eyes glitter? Have you ever thought to coordinate colors of outfits with the color of your eyes? I’ll be back with some images, patterns and color scheming for your viewing enjoyment. For now, find yourself a Harlequin and rediscover the magic.

This little inspirational post has been brought to you by: A Harlequin Romance, The Unlikely Mistress. Just so you know, in case you didn’t, Harlequin Romances started in 1949 and last year they celebrated 60 years of pure reading pleasure with an art exhibition of the Harlequin Cover Art  in New York of which you can read about here. It’s pretty interesting to see how romantic values have changed through the years and that just by judging the cover of the book. I think you’ll enjoy perusing those images.

PS ~ It’s OK to giggle like a girl while enjoying a Harlequin. I did. And don’t forget, they are not real, but its fun to think they could be.

PPS ~ Yes, these are “Harlequin” inspired images of Mr. S and I and yes, it was very hard to keep a straight face, and yes it was even harder to talk Mr. S into shooting these photos with me. Thank you very much.


Mr. Jackson, this being my dad, sent us a swell gift this year for Christmas. A legacy book of sorts of my Gran’s family. I was completely taken with the vintage photos that comprised much of the compilation and was completely engrossed for the better part of two hours in staring at some of the images and reading some of the material. This is my gran, up top, the picture of sweet 1955 perfection. I never tire of seeing that smile and oh! if you only heard my gran’s wonderfully infectious laugh, you would be hard-pressed not to laugh yourself.

I must admit, my relations, distant though they may be are rather dashing and its particularly comforting to know that I come from such a
line of good-looking and albeit fine individuals. My great uncle Wallace, as told to me by Mr. Jackson, is said to be one of the last known survivors of one who met Butch Cassidy in the flesh. It’s perfectly tall-tale-ish and somewhat adventurous and romantic and this I find very interesting and seriously fun.

Am I alone in thinking these last few snapshots not the quintessential beauty of wonderful bygone eras? I think not and am fascinated by these genuine 1920 fashions in the last two here. Those curls and the dark lips and the drop-waist dresses are catching my fashion fancy. So sassy! Mr. Jackson, Mum Dear and John John (that’s my brother) I do believe you have outdone yourself this time! Thank you for the wonderful gifts! Mr. S and I can only express our deepest love and heartfelt Christmas wishes to you! And to the rest of you, may your Christmas and New Year be peaceful and joyful with loved ones gathered round in warmth and comfort!