Archive for February, 2012

February 27, 2012

Patterns and Plans

I was struck down last weekend by the dreaded stomach flu and then by a case of lethargy that lasted until this weekend. Although I didn’t manage to get in any blogging done, I did spend some time sewing (or rather drafting). Several of you asked in my last post whether I’d be using self drafted or commercial patterns so I thought it was time to give you some more details on where I’m headed with these garments.

Before I get started, I want to take a moment and thank Alexandra once again for such an amazing guest post. I love that she arranged the assessment chronologically and I’ll admit I had never given much thought to the order that I go about making alterations. I think it will help me from feeling overwhelmed and drastically cut down the time I spend assessing a garment! If you enjoyed her post, be sure to check out her blog where you find more great tips and tutorials on fit!

Now for some plans:


  • Clover from Colette Patterns – I’m both nervous and excited to make pants. Since I’m unsure if they’ll be flattering, I don’t want to spend too much on fabric. My first fabric purchase had some lovely yellow stretch herringbone twill yardage but unfortunately I was notified that it was sold out a few days later. I’m still hunting around for a similar fabric but I’m having doubts that I’ll find some especially in my budget.


  • Self Draft – I realized I haven’t used my skirt sloper in ages so I’ve dusted it off and drafted a straight mini skirt. I’ll be using a teal wool blend gabardine purchased online. I was pleasantly surprised that the fabric was the exact color I’ve been looking for but unfortunately it has a terrible feel to it – really plastic-y. Yuck! Luckily I’m planning on adding a lining attached at the hem with a jump pleat and I think this will make the skirt more comfortable to wear.


  • Self Draft – For this garment, I’m on the hunt for a lightweight silk with the same hue as my wool gabardine but in a lighter shade. (Am I using my color terminology correctly here? I tried at least.) I’d like sleeveless blouse with a flare at the bust that extends to the hem. The back will feature a keyhole opening to add a little detail to the otherwise plain garment. It should be something airy and perfect for those late spring days.
  • Self Draft – Last summer I made a sleeveless blouse from cotton lawn while studying dart manipulation at school. The front features a yoke with gathering at the bust with a simple back. It’s been well loved and I’d like to make another one but this time with tencel jersey. I’ve never drafted for a knit fabric so I expect a bit of a challenge!  Although the front has more details, I think it will be the back that gives me the most trouble.
  • Banksia Blouse from Megan Nielsen – I made up a muslin two weeks ago for this blouse and am having a horrid time fitting it. The first muslin correction focused on shoulder seam placement and high dart. I’m rather perplexed by this dart – if you look at the blouse on the model you’ll notice that the dart is high on her as well. I know others have mentioned something similar with the Darling Ranges Dress so perhaps it is intentional but I’ll admit that  I can’t figure out why it would be drafted this way. Is there a reason for having the legs and apex higher than the actual bust? Out of curiosity I contacted Megan so we’ll see what she has to say on the issue. Anyways… the second muslin corrected the back armhole length (lengthened at the cross back) and shortened the waist. Even after all this work, I’m left with a very uncomfortable garment and I’m about to pull another Truffle and draft the thing myself. I’ve decided that I wouldn’t regret purchasing the pattern because Meghan does include two ways to add a button placket and I’ve been wanting to know how to do this for a while now.

Once I have the patterndown I plan to make two versions:

    1. A sleeveless version in the linen fabric I purchased recently. By the way, I was extremely happy with this purchase. The background is more pink than I had been expecting but the print is lovely and it’s a very nice linen. I’ve washed it once and it already started to soften so I only expect it get more comfortable. I have enough of this to make more than one garment.
    2. A long sleeved version in red. I’d love to find a silk and/or cotton fabric for this.


  • Self draft –  I’m planning on drafting a sleeveless, knee length dress for the rayon challis that I’ve purchased. The bodice will have a curved v neckline with gathering at the waist and shoulders. A curved waistband will give way to a gathered skirt. The rayon is nice with a good drape so I expect it to behave well with this plan, however, the colors weren’t quite what I was expecting. The purple is more dominant than the other colors and the dark pink is less of a red than I had anticipated but I’ll still use it. I’d be singing a different tune if I’d been planning a blouse or skirt (something that needed to pair well) but since dresses are rather autonomous, I’m not too worried that the colors aren’t perfect.

Wild Card

  • I’m purposefully waiting on this one until the majority of my garments are completed. I’d like to see what would help tie the collection together so perhaps a jacket or a cardigan. Who knows!


That was a bit long winded but there you have it – my spring wardrobe plans. I know many of you are working on similar plans – how is your planning going?

February 20, 2012

Guest Post: Alexandra of In House Patterns

This year, I’ve been focusing a lot of my sewing attention on achieving the perfect fit. Not an easy task, let me tell you! I’ve received a lot of great advice from Alexandra and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when she agreed to write a guest post! Alexandra is the owner and designer of In House Patterns which launched in 2011. Her designs are classic and refined – making beautiful go-to garments. Personally, I can’t wait to make up a version of  The Belle Blouse, the latest pattern release. Recently, Alexandra decided to focus her blog’s attention on fitting solutions and she’s with us today to discuss the first fitting! Please help me in welcoming her to A Good Wardrobe!

The First Fitting: Muslin Preparation and Fitting Assessment

I am super excited to be doing this guest post on the subject of fitting here at A Good Wardrobe! Finding that perfect fit seems to be rather elusive and a major frustration for those of us who love to sew. I hope to offer a little guidance in this area with some advice about preparing for the first fitting and how to recognize fit issues. For demonstration purposes, I will be using Vogue pattern 8664.

1. Choosing the Fabric

The first thing you might be wondering is: what kind of fabric do you use for the test garment? Well, it depends. You need to consider the final fabrication for your garment first. This means if your final garment will be made in a woven stretch fabric, the fabric for your test garment should have these properties as well. If you will be making a knit garment, you will definitely need to use a knit fabric with the same knit structure to test with (examples of knit structures are jersey, interlock, and rib). By choosing fabric similar to your fashion fabric, you will be able to see the fitting issues that you would be faced with in your final garment and give you the opportunity to solve them in your test run.
The most popular and well known test fabric is muslin. This is where we get the term “muslin” in regard to the test garment. Muslin is an inexpensive, plain weave, unbleached cotton, that comes in about three different weights. This is suitable to use when the final garment will be made in a woven, non-stretch fabric. It is important to use muslin in a weight that is similar to the weight of the final fabric. One thing to remember about muslin is that it does not drape well so if your fashion fabric has a lot of drape, you will need to keep this in mind when assessing fit or, use a more comparable fabric to test with.
Another point that is often not discussed is that you should also consider the colour of the fabric. Choose a light colour fabric for testing, it will show fitting issues more prominently and clearly. Try to avoid black, dark grey or navy; these colours disguise fitting issues.

2. Preparing the Fabric

You’ve chosen your test fabric, now what?  Now you need to prepare the fabric for cutting. There are two important steps not to skip in this process, truing the grain line, and removing shrinkage.
Truing the grain line simply means making sure that the lengthwise and crosswise yarns are at 90 degree angle to each other. The lengthwise grain is along the selvedge edge of the fabric, the crosswise grain should be at 90 degrees from the lengthwise grain. If you find your fabric is off grain, you can straighten it by steaming and tugging it until the grain is trued. For further information, Threads has a PDF information sheet on grain line. The grain line is as important in your test garment as it is in your final garment. A test garment that has been cut off grain may show fitting issues that would not exist if it were cut on grain.
During the process of sewing up your test garment, you will be pressing as you sew and pressing causes shrinkage. If you haven’t removed the shrinkage from your fabric before you cut, you may find that your test garment no longer represents the pattern it was cut from. Steam pressing is usually sufficient for most fabrics at the testing stage unless you are using a fabric with very high shrinkage. In that case launder and press it as you normally would before using. Although not out of the question, I wouldn’t recommend laundering muslin but do give it a really heavy steaming with your iron.

3. Cutting the Pattern

Now you are ready to lay out and cut your pattern. Two things to consider here is what size to cut and then what pattern pieces to cut.
When it comes to pattern size, look at the finished garment measurements on the pattern. I believe this is more accurate than using the body measurement chart at the back of the envelope. The finished garment measurements tell you what the actual garment will measure including ease. This number relates more closely to how the garment will fit. In my experience, for a fitted dress like V8664, you will only need about 1 1/2- 2” ease in bust, waist, and hip girth. With this in mind, choose your size using the following formula: body measurement + ease = garment measurement.
For example using my mannequin’s measurements:

36” (bust) + 2” (ease) = 38” (garment)
28 1/2” (waist) + 2” (ease) = 30 1/2” (garment)
38 1/2” (hip) + 2” (ease) = 40 1/2” (garment)

Now you can take your desired garment measurements and compare them to the pattern to choose your size. If the measurements are not indicated on the pattern, just measure the pattern and subtract the seam allowances.

Choosing your size this way will eliminate some fitting issues related to the garment being too large since some pattern companies build excessive ease into their patterns. It will also tell you where you will need to add or reduce the pattern to accommodate your specific body measurements. One little tip when choosing the size: it’s always easier to determine how much smaller to make a pattern rather than how much to let it out so I would recommend cutting your pattern a little larger if your desired garment measurements do not correspond to the pattern exactly.
So now that brings us to what pattern pieces to cut. Well, you don’t need to cut them all for the first fitting, just the main body pieces are sufficient. Cut the pieces that make up the front and back of the garment. Don’t worry about cutting the sleeves or collar, you want to perfect the fit of the body first. No need to cut pockets, trims, facings, or linings, adding these for the first fitting can create a diversion from the real fitting issues.

4. Transfer the Pattern Markings

By that I mean ALL the markings. You will want to be sure to draw in the CF and CB lines as well as the bust, waist, hip and hem lines on the outside of the garment. (Bust, waist, and hip position should be drawn on the back pieces as well.) I even go so far as to draw in all the seam lines which will help to determine the amounts to add or release from the garment. If you have pockets or other styling details, just draw them directly on your muslin at this point. You will get a good idea if they are a good size and position but will not distract you from the potential fitting issues.

5. Sewing the Muslin

This is the easy part! Simply stitch up your test garment following the sewing instructions. A few tips on sewing and preparing your muslin for fitting:

  • Be sure to press as you go so that your test garment is neat and tidy for the first fitting.
  • Secure necklines by stitching along the seam line. Necklines are easily stretched out if they are not secured. Press the neckline seam allowance to the inside of the garment, clipping the seam allowance where necessary so it is flat and smooth. It helps to visualize the finished neckline position and shape.
  • If your garment requires a zipper, it’s a good idea to machine baste one into the muslin, it makes fitting on yourself a little easier and you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with pins. If you have a mannequin, it’s not necessary.
  • Don’t forget to turn up the body hem and machine baste it in place before the fitting.

6. The First Fitting

Now it’s time to try it on! If you don’t have the luxury of a mannequin, you will need to enlist the help of a friend. It is extremely difficult to do a fitting on yourself. Thankfully, I have “Maureen” she’s my mannequin and as you can see from the photo below, I have some work to do. All of these bumps, bulges, wrinkles, and drag lines mean we need fitting alterations.

Here, in order, is what to look for:

  • Center front and center back lines – Your center front and center front line should line up with the center front of your body. Have a friend check the center back line.
  • Side seams – The side seams should appear vertically straight on the garment when worn (you’ll need a friend’s help with this too). This is a little known tip that makes your garment even more visually appealing.
  • Bust line – The bust line position on the garment should be level with your bust line.
  • Waist line – The waist line position on the garment should be level with your waist line.
  • Hip line – The hip line position on the garment should be level with your hip line.
  • Hem line – Check the hem line position. Adjust it to its most flattering position on you.
  • Lines – Once the aforementioned lines are in the correct position, check that they are level with the floor. If the bust, waist, and hip line are not in the correct position and are not level from the floor these will be your first fitting corrections. Pin your garment to find the correct positions for these lines and determine how much you will need to adjust your pattern. Start at the bust line and work down. Adjusting the level of the bust line changes the position of all the lines below it.
  • Neckline – Check the neckline for gaping.
  • Shoulder – Check the shoulder width. This is important if you will be adding a sleeve – the sleeve fitting will be affected by this point.
  • Armhole – Check the armhole depth. You generally need minimum 3/4” lower than the base of your armpit but this depends on your body and your comfort level. If you need adjustment here, it will also affect the sleeve.
  • Girth – Check the bust, waist and hip girth-in that order. Deficiencies in these areas are usually what creates all those wrinkles and draglines. Your goal is  to eliminate those wrinkles! Eliminating them is a matter of manipulating the fabric to it’s most relaxed and wrinkle free position. This will involve pinning in, and letting out in specific areas of the garment.

When you’ve eliminated all those wrinkles you can easily determine the pattern corrections you will need to apply to your pattern.
Here is “Maureen” in the fully pinned muslin after the first fitting. Doesn’t this fit make her appear slimmer? That is the beauty of a good fitting garment.

As you can see all those bumps, bulges, wrinkles and drag lines have been eliminated and I now have all the information I need to correct the pattern. I won’t go through the pattern corrections here, but after all of these adjustments are applied to the pattern, it’s best to make another muslin and conduct a second fitting to confirm that all the corrections have been made. The second muslin is when you will test the fit of the sleeves and/or collar.

Well, that’s my introduction to fitting. I hope you found it informative and helpful. You will be seeing the 2nd muslin and a finished version of this dress on the In-House Patterns blog when it’s complete. Until then, I will leave you with my philosophy on fitting: There is nothing wrong with your body, it’s the pattern that’s all wrong for you! I know fitting books don’t address things in this way but in my experience, it’s the pattern that needs adjustment-not you!

February 17, 2012

Spring Wardrobe Sketches

Don’t laugh, okay? These must be the saddest little croqui in the world but I think they’ll serve their purpose.

I had a gift certificate to so half of my fabric was ordered online. It’s always risky ordering online but I’m crossing my fingers that they’re what I’m hoping for.

Once these arrive I’ll take the swatches with me to the local fabric stores for the remainder yardage. I know I’d like some yellow bottomweight for the pants and red blouseweight for the long sleeved shirt. The remaining two garments (a blouse and a wild card) will be dependent on what fabric I find.

I’m getting so excited to start! If all goes as planned, I should have my first muslin sewn up this weekend. What’s more exciting than that though? A Good Wardrobe will be hosting a guest next week! On Monday, the lovely Alexandra of In House Patterns will be with us to talk about assessing the fit of our garments. This is sure to be a very educational post and I’m looking forward to applying her advice to my spring wardrobe pieces. I hope you’ll join us!

February 14, 2012

Spring Wardrobe Challenge 2012

It’s time to make this challenge official. Here’s the lowdown:


I’m determined to step out of my black and whites and into some bold colors. I’m looking for berry reds, lemon yellows, and bright teals! To balance these bold colors, I’ll be adding a cool grey and cream to the mix.


Fresh, sweet, and bright!

To see what’s inspiring me, check out my Spring Wardrobe Inspiration board on Pinterest!


I spent some time yesterday sketching my wardrobe ideas that I’ll share with you later this week. I’ll be making up 8 garments:

  • 1 dress
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 mini skirt
  • 1 wild card
  • 4 blouses


April 30th

February 13, 2012

Me, Myself, and I

Thank you for the lovely comments on my Spring Wardrobe Sneak Peak! I’m absolutely nuts about the palette that I chose and I can’t wait to get started.

You may remember that during my last challenge I regretted not having a more thoughtful plan when it came to separates. Although everything worked really well with my existing closet, I had intended to wear the pieces together more often. I decided that for my next challenge, I would sketch my plans in hopes of creating a more united collection. Instead of using a standard croquis, I followed Lladybird’s tutorial and made a personal one. The whole thing came together in less than an hour and now I have a great base to sketch on!

This may sound funny but I’m actually amazed that it looks like me! I was prepared for a shock but instead… I got me. That’s totally my body – I’d know it anywhere. I feel like this past year of sewing and taking photos has a lot to do with it. Like everyone, I’ve struggled with my body image but blogging has been a really positive experience. I can remember selecting photos for the first couple of projects and grimacing at the outtakes. That’s hard to admit to and makes me incredibly sad. I’m sad that I was ever at a point that I didn’t know and accept my body. I doubt that the struggle is over but I hope that it never reaches such a low again.

I took a couple of pictures with different poses but I’ve only outlined this one so far. For the sketches I’ll be using a pencil so I made a printable version with a very light outline. Once the clothing is colored in, you really can’t see the original outline. Now I just need to figure out how to sketch clothes (let’s not even talk about facial features).

I’ll be posting a formal plan for my spring wardrobe tomorrow and I hope to show you some of the sketches by the end of the week!

February 12, 2012

Spring Wardrobe Challenge 2012: Sneak Peak

February 9, 2012

Inside the Dress

Well, the pop ups are gone. So far, no one else has seen them on my blog but I’ve been “talking” with some other wordpress users who noticed pop ups on other blogs on Tuesday as well. I still don’t know what was causing them exactly but I have reason to believe that they weren’t malicious. I feel a little silly about how much this shook me up but I hated to think about someone attacking my work and my readers. Hopefully this is the last of that!

I thought it might be fun to show a little peek at the inside of my purple dress.

A few construction details:

  • The darts in the lining were sewn as pleats. Before I decided to add the open back seam, the dress was very snug and I wanted to reduce the strain and stress on the garment.
  • You can see how I finished the center back seam with the lace trim. I also used the same lace trim for the hem of the skirt.
  • The ribbon was sewn into the lace trim seam. Unfortunately, it started to fray after the first use so I’m going to have to think of a different method.
  • I made a rookie mistake and didn’t understitch at the neckline or armhole. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it with the lining method I used but I regret it now because the lining peaks out. It’s not enough that the average person would see it but I know it’s showing.

I love seeing the insides of handmade garments! Do you? What your favorite details to peek at?

February 7, 2012


I’ve recently discovered that there are unwanted pop-ups on my blog. I have a pop up blocker on my web browser so I haven’t seen exactly what this pop-up is but I was notified of a pop up when I went to the independent pattern designer post. If you’ve experienced a pop-up on my site, please let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll be searching for a way to stop this and I apologize for any annoyance that it may have caused. If you have any recommendations on how to deal with something like this, it would be greatly appreciated.

February 6, 2012

A Purple Dress

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Midweight wool/poly blend from, bemberg rayon from my stash

Notions: Invisible zipper, a couple of yards of lace trim

Time: Maybe about 8 hours total. There was some hand stitching to be done.


I’ve been so excited to share this dress with you! After making up the first muslin for my someday dress, I started thinking about what type of skirt I’d like to add to it. My first thought was some form of circle skirt but since I don’t own anything like this, I wondered how much wear it would see. I started by rummaging through my stash to find some yardage that wasn’t already tagged for something. I had picked up this wool blend from in December at 25% off for another dress and quickly realized that it was just too heavy for what I originally had in mind. It was perfect for a wearable muslin though!

I drafted a simple bodice to go with a half circle skirt. I took my notes from my last dress and drafted the body with only 1/4″ of ease. I probably would have taken it to 0″ but I wanted to leave some room for the bulkiness of the wool. After cutting out the pattern, I had second thoughts about the simplicity of the bodice and started brainstorming for some details that I could add. I’ve been seeing all these great cut outs (particularly in back bodices) on Pinterest and wanted to try my hand at it. Since I had already cut the pattern, I was limited on what I could do but finally settled on leaving the back seam open until the neckline.

Having never done something like this before, I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about it. I ended up attaching some lace trim to the right side of the seam allowance (remember that I had a seam allowance for the zipper). I then turned the seam allowance to the back and handstitched the lace to the lining. The top is secured with a small ribbon at the neckline. Now that it is all done, I’ve learned that I would have gotten a better fit by taking the back bodice to negative ease at the armholes to prevent the gaping that you see in the bottom picture. That being said, I think it fits quite well for a trial garment and the gaping you see is as bad as it gets.

The design is surprisingly wearable. I wondered if the back would make me feel really exposed and worried about the taste level but I was amazed at how comfortable I felt it in. I ended up wearing it to the movies with friends and everyone gave me such wonderful compliments. There is one downfall. As you might imagine, the material is rather warm while the cut is not. It’s possible that I’ll only get a few weeks of wear out of it each year. Then again, we’ve been having such wild weather here that I could be wearing it all spring. I’m going to play around with layering different shirts under it to see if that’s a good way to get more from the dress.

I realize that I’ve been on a bit of a dress kick lately. I wonder if my subconscious knows that another challenge is looming and that its desire to sew up pretty little dresses will be squelched soon. I know I’m not alone when I say that I love sewing dresses and could probably be quite satisfied never sewing another garment type again. Unfortunately with my lifestyle it just isn’t realistic. I don’t, and won’t, wear a dress everyday no matter how many of them I try to cram into my closet!

So, the half circle skirt was a success! I know I wouldn’t want any more fullness but I might try out a quarter circle to see what that would be like. I’m getting some help on the sweetheart/opera neckline at school and I figure that I’ll use the design for one of my “final” projects. Slowly but surely, the dress is coming along.

February 3, 2012

Outfit: A More Casual Approach

This week, I fixed up my truffle in a warmer and more casual way by slipping into some tights and a cardigan. I’ll admit that I’ve been at a loss for words with this outfit. The only thing I can seem to say this morning is that I am in serious need of a haircut. I’ve been holding out until I had a better idea of what I wanted to do with it but it’s starting to get ridiculous. My bangs (if they can even be called that right now) are so unruly that I’m a slave to the bobby pin and it’s driving me crazy.

In more lovely (and interesting) news, I’m at school this morning and hopefully I’ll be making some headway on my someday dress. I want to thank you all for your lovely comments on my muslin! I’m really excited to see where it takes me and hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m wearing it! I’m thinking deep red linen.