Week 20 – Skirt Sloper

So about a year ago, just after I moved into my new apartment that had actual space to sew, I got frustrated that my newly-made skirt didn’t fit quite right. I’d measured, I’d made a muslin, I did everything I was supposed to do, but it still tended to ride up at the waist, which is a problem I’ve had with every skirt ever. I love my skirts, but oh boy is that annoying. And isn’t the point of sewing to make things that actually fit you?

In the midst of looking for fitting information, I found reference to slopers and how to use them to help fit other patterns, and I decided that was the solution to all of my woes. I’d just make my own pattern based on my measurements and then it would fit, right?

I bought the full collection of Suzy Furrer’s sloper classes on Craftsy (skirt, pants, and bodice). They are really fantastic classes, but definitely pattern drafting classes, not fitting classes. There are a few fitting tips in there, and the discussion forum is (as usual) a fantastic source of information, but three attempts at a fitting skirt sloper later, I still didn’t have something that fit quite right.

So I moved onto the pants sloper class, because if you can’t fit a skirt, obviously the thing to do is to try to fit a pair of pants. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for me. Finally, I just decided that I should stick to trying to fit existing patterns as well as I could, and I’d revisit the sloper thing later.

Since I didn’t have anything in particular planned for this week, I decided it was time.

I pretty quickly noticed that I had the same problem as last time I drafted the sloper – the side seam hung almost entirely in a diagonal line, with the back hem higher than the front. My fitting book library helped me figure out that a) I needed to substantially raise the center back seam to add length to go over my butt and b) I needed to eliminate the front darts completely. I have a 10″ difference between my hips and my waist, but that difference is not in the front.

Here’s the original back pattern piece (no seam allowances) on top of the final version (seam allowances included):


And the final back piece on its own:


I eliminated the center back dart that Suzy has you add in the class, because I was adding that second dart right by the seam anyway and really wanted the center back to be straight all the way up for closure purposes. I had to widen the existing dart to help make up those inches from the front darts, too. I tried moving it out further to the side so it would look more balanced, but it didn’t fit as smoothly out there. I pulled the second dart into the length I’d pinned out at center back, but it seems like it might be kind of long? I think I still want to play with the dart lengths on an upcoming sample skirt project, since the muslin is getting a little stretched from extensive pinning at this point.

The only thing I did on the front drafted piece was X-out the dart, so it really wasn’t interesting enough to photograph. That pretty much solved every front fitting problem I’ve ever had, and I’m kind of mad at myself that I was so fixated on making my skirt sloper “normal” last year that I didn’t just take the stupid darts out.

So that was my sloper adventure this week!


My new bra fabric kit arrived on Thursday, and it’s so pretty in the little package that I’m almost afraid to take it out and do anything with it. Surely nothing I make with it can be that pretty! But I’d like to learn to work with lace, and I love my last bra so much that I am excited to have another one.

I got more shaper fabric in that same peach, so that is another thing that I could start in on this week. And of course I want to make a basic pencil skirt with my new sloper.

And then there are the patterns. I went browsing other pattern sites while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do this week (before deciding on the sloper project), and holy crap.

I want to make this dress like I’ve never wanted to make a sleeveless dress before in my life. I want to make basically every single thing in Deer and Doe’s current collection (with the possible exception of the skinny jeans, which are not a good look for me). I saw some versions of the Appleton Dress that 100% sold me on it, so now I want to make that. And I still have this great 1940s dress pattern and all the fabric/notions for it that I postponed work on after the great pants incident.

So, you know. I guess I should figure out which of those patterns I want to work on the most, because I can’t do all of them at once (or can I?)

Goals for next week:

  • Sloper test skirt – start to end
  • Print and cut out shaper shorts pattern
  • Cut out bra fabric? I might want to think harder about how to place the lace on this thing before I get started.



Week 6 Report: Side seams and cuffs

Well after weeks of being depressed and not wanting to do much of anything, I went back to my more normal state of wanting to do too many things and not having enough time to do them all. The result is that I did more with basically everything this week than I’d set goals for, so yay!


The bad thing about said burst of productivity is that I forgot to take many process pictures. I attached the sleeves (correctly this time). There are two little tucks that didn’t get eased properly in the second sleeve, but I decided I didn’t care enough to take the seam out and redo it. Then I opted not to press the seams toward the shirt immediately, which I will do in the future – it’s not that it turned out so badly, but I think it would be easier to sew the side seams up with it pressed the right way to begin with instead of  having to check to make sure it was held down the right way while sewing.

When I went to figure out how far up I wanted to let out the side seams to accommodate my hips, I decided that even a 1/4″ seam wasn’t quite going to cut it, so I left the bottom two inches or so open and topstitched the seam allowance down. I overlocked the raw edges, which still doesn’t look great – I’m hoping when I hem the bottom it will lock them down into place and you won’t be able to see the overlocking, but we’ll see. Live and learn, I guess.

The pattern has you sew the side seams and the sleeve seam at the same time, so basically after two seams were done, it actually looked like a shirt! I’m not sure how I feel about doing the sleeve in the flat – I seem to remember sleeves in the round requiring less weird fidgeting with fabric, but that might just be because I chose rayon for my fabric, and it is fidgety as hell.

Since I was still motivated to do sewing stuff, I started the next step, which is the cuffs. No point turner was necessary turning these corners, but I did have to press the crap out of it.

Maybe in the next rayon project I do, I can figure out how to keep the rayon stable enough to avoid those wobbly edges next to the stitching.

The cuffs actually went on pretty smoothly, except for the first one where I had left the stitch on basting length and had to redo it. I’m holding off on any pressing of the cuff seam until I decide if I want to do the suggested Hong Kong finish on the seam or not. I have to make more bias tape for the neck anyway, so if I just do a little more, I’ll have enough for it… and it would look pretty nice…

It’s like a real cuff! On a real sleeve! Look, ma, I’m sewing!

So I’m down to the final steps: binding the neckline and hemming the bottom.



I thought about taking knitting pictures, but honestly they would just look exactly like the ones from the last sock. I did make it down past the ankle decreases and made some decent progress on the foot.


Goals for next week:

  • Finish the shirt!
  • Finish the socks!

Week 2 Report: Planning + York Started



Potential upcoming projects. I’m thinking of Cleo for the left one, maybe leaving off the trim, but I’ll have to look around for patterns if I decide to do the middle.

I did some sketching and some browsing through patterns both online and that I already had. The croquis is from the Colette Sewing Project Planner that I picked up awhile back. It’s not an exact match to my body shape, but it’s helpful to get a general idea how something will look on a differently shaped figure than you see in most fashion drawings.

A lot of the patterns I’m interested in making are not super easy, but I do have a couple of Seamwork patterns in my collection, and the whole Seamwork advertising is that they are 3 hours or less (I assume this is for someone with more sewing experience than I have, because it takes me 3 hours to cut out the pattern and fabric most of the time, hah).

(I swear I’m not being paid to promote Colette, but they are local and indie, and I’m enough of a Portland hipster that both of those things are important to me lol.)

I’m going with York, although I’m not sure whether it’s going to be flattering on me or not. I’m a little iffy on the wide neck. We’ll see! I think the project after this one will be a black corduroy skirt (attempted illustration with York, below) from a pair of corduroy pants that bit the dust in a dramatic fashion.

I got this fabric at Goodwill at 3 1/2 yards for $6.99. It feels like some sort of rayon, but I haven’t done a burn test on it (and probably won’t – it went through the washer and dryer fine, and that’s all that really matters to me)

Interesting things about York that will improve my sewing:

  • It’s a bodice piece. I haven’t made a shirt in years, and I didn’t really understand fitting at the time. (I understand it better now, I just suck at it.)
  • It has bias tape! I haven’t ever made anything with bias tape! I bought bias tape makers awhile back that I have been dying to use, so I’m looking forward to binding this with its own fabric

I successfully printed out York and got it all taped together, and then came my least favorite part: measuring the pattern itself to make sure it fits.

I know you can’t see it very well, but this thing is covered with calculated measurements


I don’t know what is up with the last few patterns I’ve made, but the finished garment measurements on the instructions are not the same as the measurements when I measure the pattern itself. And it’s not off by like a quarter inch or something – based on my body measurements I should have made a 20, but after measuring the pattern my bust and hips are a size 16, and my waist would have been a 10?! And I was including the recommended ease (difference between the body measurements and the final garment measurements), so that wasn’t my issue.

I had this same problem with the pants I made at the end of last year, too – based on the sizing on the back I was going to have to grade the pattern up a size from the max, but I think I made three sizes smaller and it wasn’t perfect but it was much closer than it would have been if I’d followed the listed measurements. That pattern was a vintage repro, so I figured that was the problem, but now that I’m running into it again… I can’t figure out if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s just my bad luck picking patterns.

Anyway, I was going to grade the pattern between a 16 and a 10 and then I decided that that was going to do weird things to the lines if I did it on the pattern. I’m going to leave an inch seam allowance for basting it together, and then I’ll pinch out the extra if I need to.




I made it past the heel turn like I’d wanted to. The cable did not work out like I’d thought it would, so I’m trying different things with it as I go down the top. Should have it figured out by the time I get to the second sock. Good thing I’m not a knitting perfectionist. The pattern takes forever, too, since at this point I have a cable in almost every row. I’m gonna have to seriously pick up the pace if I’m going to get this pair done by the end of the month.

I’m still not thrilled with the looseness of the fabric I’m making, even on the 000s. I’m considering going back to English-style knitting, where I always had gauge that was pretty much exactly what the yarn suggested. I haven’t knit English in years, but the loose gauge thing has been really bugging me lately.


Goals for next week:

  • Finish sock #1, get to the start of the heel on sock #2
  • Cut out fabric and baste shirt together
  • Get through 3 items in my mending pile