Saturday, November 29, 2014

Making Clothes That Fit: 3. Pattern Adjustment - Tops

Time for the final part of this wee blog series on fit and pattern adjustment.  In part 2 I looked at how to adjust a leggings/trousers pattern to fit the measurements you have and in this post I'll look at adjusting a top pattern.  In this post I will be using the Peekaboopocket Mix and Match Outerwear pattern from Little Kiwis Closet as an example (and it is an amazing pattern with loads of options) but the same rules apply to any 'top' pattern whether it's a tank, tee, raglan top, shirt, hoodie, jacket or even dress.

1. Choosing the size
This time I am making a zip up hoodie for Mr A, who is 7yo but quite a slim build.  Because I am making a top this time the main measurements (see part 1 for measuring details) that will be of interest are the chest, height and in some cases a pattern will discuss sleeve length.
Mr A's measurements are:
Chest - 58cm
Height - 121cm 
which on the size chart below make him a size 5 width with 7 length :-)

2. Pattern adjustment - Front/back
I usually start with tracing the front and back pieces and the same technique is used for both.  In this case I am showing it on the front piece of the jacket pattern.  Often a top/shirt/dress pattern will be drawn so the bottom hem is the same for all sizes and the necklines etc are spread out.  First I locate the size I am making (in this case 5) and mark around the neckline, across the shoulder and down the armhole, then I mark about half way down the centre front fold and the side seam to give this.

 Now I trace over this part of the pattern and then slide the pattern up/down to the appropriate size for length (in this case the 7).
 The centre front and side seams should be traced down far enough  join up with the original size and you can trace the bottom part of the pattern around the original size (in this case 5).
 There you have it, you front pattern piece correctly adjusted.
Sometimes you may come across a pattern in which the neckline is nested and the bottom hem is staggered.  In this case simple trace from the neckline down as described above and then extend the side seam line down to meet the new hemline (similar to that used in the pants post).
Now use exactly the same technique to make the back pattern piece.

2. Pattern adjustment - Sleeves
Before tracing the sleeves you need to keep in mind what size the armhole is that you have traced and use that size the sleeve so they will fit in nicely.  In this case I will be using the size 5 sleeve as the base.  This pattern has the sleeve staggered at both the top and bottom which is quite common, don't panic it's fine.
First I mark around the size 5 sleeve and extend the line down to the size 7 length as shown below.
 Now starting at the top of the sleeve trace around the pattern but don't connect up and trace the hem.
 Now slide the traced pattern piece up/down to the size you are using for length matching the fold line (if there is one) and the top of the sleeve arch.
Finally finish tracing down to the bottom of the fold and sleeve seam and across the hem - DONE!

4. Some more considerations
A few final things to consider, mainly any extras that might be on the pattern.
Neckband/hood - make sure you cut these to the same size that you used for the neckline or they won't fit when it comes time for construction.
Pockets - I usually cut straight to the width size but for a kangaroo pocket you may wish to adjust length accordingly if needed.
Cuffs/hemband - cut to the width size of the sleeve and body pieces respectively.
Zip length - This will be the same as the pattern indicates for the length size you have used.
Front bands (for cardigan pattern or snap front band) - cut to the size you used for length of the top.
If you know your child is particularly long/short in the body or sleeve then you can always double check after adjusting the pattern by measuring the actual pattern pieces.  The same goes with the actual fit of the top.  If a tee pattern is quite loose fitting then measure the pieces as you can possibly go down a size for a slimmer fit tee if desired (or up a size for a more loose fit).  Also if you wish to adjust the length of sleeve (to 3/4 or short for example) simply measure the length you want on your child then adjust the sleeve pattern as required measuring down the centre of the sleeve (fold if there is one) and remembering to add a seam allowance at the top ad hem allowance at the bottom.
And finally remember that no matter how much careful measuring and adjusting you do the finished top will only fit like the pattern if you use the seam/hem allowances as given in the instructions.  Also check that the fit of the pattern is what you are hoping to achieve in the desired product, you won't get a slim fit tee using a loose fit pattern or vice versa.

Well that's it.  Thank you for putting up with my rambling over the last 3 posts but I hope they are of use to some of you.  If there are any questions at all please do leave a comment, and likewise if there is anything else you think I've forgotten to cover, I'm happy to do follow-up posts :-)


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FO: Nested

Finally!  Yes I have finally finished this cardigan for me that I started in March 2013.  I actually started this as a test knit and it is the first and only time I have ever not met the deadline.  The kids got sick, I got sick and life just got in the way.  I did finish it enough to check the fit though so it wasn't a total loss.
Anyway after hibernating for over a year I dragged it out and finished the first sleeve, then after another couple of months hibernation I actually got it finished. Woohoo!
Wait what about the details?  Ok the pattern is Nested by Alicia Plummer without the colour work on the back.  The yarn is the scrummiest yarn ever!  It is merino/cashmere/nylon in "Derelict Daughter" and "Dreich" from Old Maiden Aunt in Scotland (I was so sad not to make it to her studio when we visited recently).  Seriously this yarn is so light and soft, it's like being wrapped in a hug.  The only downside is that it does seem to pill quite easily, but hopefully santa will bring me a sweater stone to take care of that ;-)

Sorry for the terrible photos, I only had a 7yo photographer on hand.  I have worn this almost constantly since I finished it and can see it being a firm favourite for ages to come.  It's so light and warm to throw on when the weather can't decide whether to be spring or winter.  There are some details of this pattern I absolutely love too like the trim of a contest colour along the cast off edges and the lovely shaping at the back to give a deep curve hem.

So in celebration of having another 'me' knit in my wardrobe why don't you tell me what you are dying to cast on and knit for yourself?  It's nearly christmas after all so comment below (including the pattern, what you love about it and your Ravelry name) and at 8pm on Sunday 30th November (NZ time) I'll draw a lucky winner to receive their pattern on Ravelry. It's that simple.  Happy Knitting.

Making Clothes That Fit: 2. Pattern Adjustment - pants

So after Part 1 we are now armed with a full set of measurements of the person we are sewing for - woohoo.  Now time to choose a size and adjust the pattern if necessary.  Lydia from Little Kiwis Closet has been kind enough to allow me to use her patterns as examples in this wee blog series (and I can thoroughly recommend purchasing any or all of them).  For this post I am using the Skinny Legs Leggings pattern which I have blogged about previously here. :-)

1. Choosing the size
So I am wanting to make some leggings for Miss M.  Although leggings seem simple I have actually found them to be difficult to fit Miss M well.  First it is important to check that we have ALL the measurements in the size chart.  From my standard list I already have waist measurement but this pattern also asks for top of thigh, ankle and inseam measurements.  Our measurements are:
Waist = 52cm
Top of thigh = 32cm
Ankle = 15.5cm
Inseam = 38.5cm
So going to the size chart and highlighting the sizes I get the following:
So even though DD is 4 and of average height I will be looking at making a size 3 with size 2 leg length (she does have a long body and short legs).

2. Pattern adjustment - the leg
Now it's time to go to your pattern.
In general a leggings/pants pattern that is multisize is presented so that the crotch level is the same for all sizes and they are nested from there.  This makes life pretty easy.  If you have a colour printer then it's even easier but I don't so I sometimes find it easier to work out which line to follow if I trace over it with a coloured marker first.
So first locate the size you want at the two crotch points, then mark the pattern at each point you took a body measurement for on the pattern so I mark a size 3 for the thigh and ankle.  I am only doing a size 2 leg length however so at the size 2 length I place a small line to connect the line out to the size 3 leg line.
The size 2 hem is extended out to size 3 leg line
The dashed red line shows a straight size 3 with no adjustment for comparison.
Now you can mark around the legs part of the pattern.

3. Pattern adjustment - the body
One simple error to make when changing the sizings of pants or leggings is the length of the rise of the trousers/leggings or they wont give nice coverage.  As a rule of thumb I always cut the rise length to the larger of the sizes I am doing.  So if I am cutting a size 3 width with 2 leg length I will do size 3 height for the rise.  However Mr A is a size 4 width with 6 length of leg and I would cut him a 6 length in rise or they will be too low.  Some patterns help out here by giving you a rise length in the pattern but usually they don't.
So with that in mind I trace my size 3 line around the body section of the pants pattern.  If you need to lengthen the rise to a larger size (as I do with Mr A) then extend the width line of the size you are making up to the size required (in a similar way to what I show above for the leg length alteration).
And there you have it, a leggings pattern adjusted to fit.

4. Some more considerations
There are still a couple of things to consider.  Firstly what if you aren't making leggings but trousers with more details?
So the key here is to adjust in the same manner as above, think about where they will attach to the main pieces of the trousers. so:
Waistbands - cut the length to the same size you used for the width of the trousers.
Pockets - cut to the size you used for width (if you are being fussy you can increase or decrease the length according to the length size you used but I find this isn't usually necessary)
Cuffs - cut to the same size as the width of the fabric
Side panels (stripes) - cut to the size you used for length

5. Adjusting the ease
One final comment I will make is on the built in ease of a pattern.  In my experience pdf patterns and european sized patterns are usually pretty good but I have had several issues with commercial paper patterns in the past, where I have found a lot of extra ease built into the pattern.  This can give things a large boxy look that isn't flattering and doesn't give a nice finish.  If you are at all worried about this then after you have traced the pattern or marked you size then measure the PATTERN PIECES.  Take off the seam allowances and work out how large the finished garment will be.  I find it helpful to then grab the intended recipient and use a tape measure to see if the amount of ease will be about right.  For example you probably don't want about 6" or ease in the hip area of a pair of elastic waist trousers as they will balloon around the bum.  If you are in any doubt that a pattern piece look large (or small for that matter) then remeasure, remembering that for stretch fabrics the patterns are sometimes made with negative ease (pattern pieces slightly smaller than body measurements).
So what if the pattern seems huge?  Work out roughly how much ease you want and go back to the pattern piece, measure which size that falls on and adjust accordingly.

That's all there is to it.  Following these steps should give you a  pair of trousers or leggings that fit as the pattern has intended.

Happy Sewing and Part 3 (tops) will be up later this week.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Making Clothes That Fit: Part 1 Measuring

There are a lot of reasons that I sew but I would have to say that the biggest one is so that my kids can have clothes that actually fit them.  I'm not sure how many people there are out there that are an actual size, but I'm guessing when it really comes down to it not all that many, yet time and again I hear people complaining of ill fitting patterns.  They are either too wide or too short or simply don't look like they did in the picture.  My general response to this (after an inward sigh) is "Did you go by measurements or make the size your child wears?".  Even worse is when those new to sewing will give up altogether after a few bad experiences.
I mean lets face it when buying clothes often vary hugely in size between different brands and in much the same way sizings can vary between different designers and pattern brands.  The advantage with RTW is you can try different sizes but you obviously don't want to make different sizes of each pattern, the disadvantage of RTW is that if none of the sizes are quite right you can't do anything about it whereas with patterns you have the power to make almost anything fit!
So what do you need to implement this all consuming super power of the perfect fit?  You need a tape measure, a piece of paper and a pen.  I know it's all very high tech.

I was possibly very lucky to discover this super power early on in my sewing career partly because my Mum was the costume maker for our local dance school where everything was made to fit precisely, and secondly because I started using patterns for my kids that were european sizings which had me completely baffled to start with.  So I'll take you through a bit of a check list of how I work things for general sewing for the small people in our house. (This does apply to myself as well but the measurements I take are slightly different and I prefer to get someone else to take them, plus I don't have to do it quite so often).

1. When to measure
I remeasure the kids each season (can you believe how quickly small people grow) or when I am making a 'special' item or outfit.  Also if it has been more than a month since I measured them and I am testing a pattern then I will recheck the measurements appropriate for that pattern.  I have a notebook that stays with my sewing things that has their measurements in it which I find really helpful because I'm generally organising patterns/sizings etc once they are asleep at night.

2. What measurements to take
For me it works best to take a full set of measurements each season.  I use the Ottobre sizing/measurement chart as a guide and have added a couple of extras to them.
This shows the base measurement I take for both my children which are:
Back waist length (distance from most prominent vertebrae to the waist)
Sleeve length
Shoulder width
Outseam length (from waist to the floor/ankle depending on pattern)
Also depending on the season I add in skirt length for my daughter and shorts length for my son which varies on what they want that year (within reason).
I find that this usually covers me for most patterns, every now and then there will be a special measurement required like thigh or ankle circumference, wrist or upper arm circumference or for a hat obviously head circumference.

3. How to measure
Whether you prefer to measure in inches or cms is neither here nor there, just do whatever works.  It is important though that the measurements are taken correctly.  I grab the kids just out of the bath, throw on some underwear and take their measurements.  Don't take measurements over vests/tee shirts etc or they will not be accurate.  Make sure the tape measure is taut but not pulling the skin, and that it is sitting flat on the skin and not twisted.  A couple of important things to note are that the waist measurement is the 'natural waist' NOT where most kids wear their trousers.  I have seen people mention that tying a piece of ribbon around the natural waist can help with the back length measurement but I don't bother.  The hips are usually measured around the fullest part of the bottom, and the other one that can be a bit tricky is that the sleeve length is taken down the outside of the arm over a slight bend in the elbow.  Finally don't forget to measure your child's height as well :-)

4. What next
Now you are armed with the list that is the key to your superpowers for garment fitting.  Take this list and compare it to the pattern you want to make.  It is important to compare ALL the measurement given in the measurement table of the pattern, in general designers put them all there for a reason!  If it's easier mark or highlight them and don't panic if they cover more than one size (often my kids cover 3 different sizes for different measurements).  So if you have ever made something and been disappointed with the fit, when others seemed to have no problems, this may shed some light.

I'll be back later this week with how to actually use this list to adjust a leggings pattern in part 2 and a top pattern in part 3 :-)

Happy measuring.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

FO: Dash Incredible

About 2 weeks ago Mr A came home from school saying that their school disco was coming up and the theme was superheroes.  Queue my mind sinning since Mr A has never really been into superheroes so we don't have any costumes on hand.  When I asked him who he wanted to go as he thought for a moment and then announced that he wasted to be Dash from The Incredibles because "he can run really fast just like me Mummy".
So off to the computer we go and a quick google images search brings up several great pictures of Dash and several pictures of rubbish baggy store bought costumes.
"No I want one that's tight like the real Dash".
"OK but if I make it tight will you actually wear it?"

Ok so this doesn't look too hard right?  A full length bodysuit with some gloves and some pants to go overtop?
Time to dredge through all those boxes of vintage patterns (I knew I hoarded them for a reason) and success!

The 'wetsuit' pattern was perfect except for the stripe that went right down the side.  So it was time to get drafting, I measured Mr A and he was a size 5 with 7 length.  By the time I'd done that and also accounted for the strip down the side my brain was a bit sore but I was half way there.  The bottom portion of the legs being colour blocked in the pattern was perfect for the boot tops and the zip just needed to be down the back instead of the front.
I made up the suit and tried it on to adjust for his overall slim build, then we were on to the finer details.  The 'pants' were made from the leotard pattern above which just left the gloves.  I bought the Zuzzy Plum Princess Glove pattern which doubles perfectly as superhero gloves :-)

 The Incredibles emblem I appliqued in felt then hand stitched on to account for the stretch in the fabric.  Add to that a bit of face paint and some hairspray and we were done.

 Overall this costume was pretty inexpensive as well.  Red lycra $5, black lycra from stash, glove pattern $6 (which I will use again), orange felt $2 (other felt from stash), face paint $2 and black shoes to look like boots $8.  Most importantly though he loved it and had a fab time at his disco.
Let's finish with an action shot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Uptown/Downtown Dress Expansion Tour

This story starts with me making a rash fabric purchase (is there any other kind?).  I grabbed some Frozen themed cotton lycra knit for Miss M on a destash page.  Then of course I needed to find the perfect pattern.  I knew I wanted a dress, and I also knew that due to the larger print I wanted the front and back cut in one piece each, rather than a separate bodice and skirt, easy right?  Well actually I had to d a bit of searching but then someone pointed me towards the Uptown/Downtown dress by Sew Straight and Gather.  I was just getting around to buying it when Terri released the free expansion pack and then I HAD to have it.
So lets start with the original, you get a choice of 3 sleeve options (sleeveless, cap sleeves or 3/4 sleeves), lovely clean lines with just enough twirl to be perfect, a lined bodice (meaning a nice clean neckline) and even the option of lining the sleeves (or a fully reversible option for the sleeveless dress).  All this comes in sizes 2-10y as well, I told you it was perfect!
So here is my version of the original Uptown/Downtown dress with cap sleeves, it is so perfect for all those knits that you have with larger prints.

 I love the nice clean neckline.
And a certain small child was pretty pleased with this one too given her current Frozen obsession :-)  I made a size 3 with 4 length and added about 4cm to the hem just to be sure this would last us through summer.  The fit is fabulous.

 Following the success of this dress I had to jump at the opportunity to join in the blog tour and try out the expansion pack.  So what is included int hat you ask?  There are 5 expansions including a cowl neck, maxi option, pockets, long sleeves and a tank version.  I love them all but since we are heading into summer I decided to try the tank version.  I even had the perfect fabric in stash (now that's surprising), again a nice large print cotton/spandex mix that is really shown off beautifully in this pattern.


 I hadn't actually done a tank with binding like this before but the instructions were fantastic and I had no issues.  I stitched this on with my standard machine and then used my twin needle to give a nice finish.  I used a white cotton/lycra for the binding the straps and cut this to the length of the armhole of the original dress and got a perfect length strap - whew.  This will depend a lot on the fabric you use for the binding however.

 I also twin needles the hem :-)
 And decided to add in pockets this time too.

 Again this is the size 3 with 4 length (plus 4cm) and the fit is spot on. I'm really pleased with how well teh straps and binding sit as I was a bit worried they might bag a wee bit but no!  Woohoo.

Please check out the other amazing creations for this blog tour during this week :-)

You can grab your copy of the Uptown/Downtown Dress pattern including the expansion pack here.  And even better than that until Saturday you can get 25% off with the coupon code UPTOWNEXPANSION25, or you can try your luck and enter the giveaway below :-)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 14, 2014

FO: You Can Never Have Too Many Skinny Legs

This post is woefully late but a few weeks ago I was once again lucky enough to test a new pattern from Little Kiwis Closet.  This time it is the Skinny Legs leggings pattern.  Yes you know another leggings pattern to add to the hundreds already available, but NO!  This is THE ONLY leggings pattern you will probably ever need.
 Do you want to know why?  Because in one pattern you get sizes 12m to 14y (that is 15 sizes), 4 different leg lengths and the options of a ruches or plain side panel.  But I think most importantly for me is that this pattern is completely customisable.  With an extensive measurement chart you can tailor the leggings to fit your child no matter how awkward they are to fit.
Take my child for instance, the last pair of successful leggings I made took about 4 attempts and the morphing of 2 patterns and 3 different sizes.  I was asked to pretest these and cut size 3 width with 2 length and they are spot on!

Of course after that I had to have a bit of a play.  Luckily we needed new black 3/4 leggings for Miss M's upcoming dancing concert so that was easy, again cut straight to the 3/4 length size and they are perfect (excuse the rubbish photos of this pair).

Then I had a play with the shorts version with ruches sides (sorry she wanted to pose).

Another point to note is that the tutorial is excellent.  I have made loads of leggings but even if you have never sewn knits you could sew up a pair of these quickly using the very clear tutorial.  Yes I have a serger but you don't need one.  I must say that with one though I whipped up the black pair in 20 mins including cutting time.
So there you go, another fantastic pattern, well done Lydia.