THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

August 1, 2009

Victoria Jones Collection 001 plus Gathering Tutorial


I have been wanting to make up something from this indy pattern maker for a long time and decided to make up this pattern when my favorite summer lounging dress, a loose translation of KwikSew 2645 needed mending

I chose pattern #001 because it is being discontinued according to the Postscript at the the Victoria Jones Collection website.

I also wanted to learn:

several pattern making secrets in this design which give you an hourglass shape. The waistline tucks are subtle, and there is still plenty of ease with 6″ of extra room in the waist.

from the pattern description

That cinched it. I must try this pattern! I found the instructions to be great for a beginner with more advanced dressmaking techniques well explained than is usually included in a pattern from the big pattern companies. Indeed the designer urges you to call her if you have any questions or need to size up or down beyond the pattern’s sizing.

The only anomaly I found in this pattern was that I saw no reason to line the lower band, not big deal in my book. You’ll be in good hands following this designer’s directions.

Click the images below for a readable version of the front and back of the pattern envelope. If you need an even bigger version, click on “all sizes” on the Flikr page and then choose the largest size.

pattern back pattern front

I cut size 18 throughout this first version, using linens from my stash in-house store.
Bodice Close-up


This is a classic Victorian “Gibson Girl” shape with extended front yokes and very full sleeves with stiffened, interfaced sleeve heads. The yoke extends beyond the scye line, an example of which is shown below.

Illustration #63 from Coat & Skirt Making, by Samuel Heath, 1978, ISBN 0 258 96817 6.

I hard pressed the armscye seams in toward the sleeve as per pattern instructions and was able to turn the sleeves into more width than height. If this pressing had not been done the sleeves would be standing straight up off the shoulders (not a good look for a grown woman…)!

The tucks at the waistline in front and back are a fun way to shape the dress. The back tucks are further held in by the belt


The skirt is not excessively full


And the lower vee cut band and double flounces add some sewing interest to the project


I have written a review of this pattern at, giving a few more details slanted towards the construction of this dress.

As I was gathering the yards of fabric needed for the sleeves and flounces I realized I had a few tips I could pass along.

Make long basting stitches at 1/2″ and just under 5/8″ per the pattern instructions and pull the bobbin threads at one end of your segment to be gathered. Wind them in a figure 8 around the pin holding the piece to be gathered to the straight piece


Couture Caveat: I am showing you gathers worked in linen but for tinier gathers in fabrics made of finer threads shorten the gathering stitches!


This will allow you to pull the bobbin threads at the other end of the segment taunt enough to fit the two pieces together

On longer segments pin the two ends in place and place a pin in the middle of the piece to be gathered


don’t gather where there are seams that need to be matched



Wind off both ends and at the pin in the center, gently lift up the two bobbin threads


pull the threads taunt


and after you have shortened the gathered segment, wind off the pulled threads on the center pin. Make the gathered segment a bit shorter than the straight segment. This will make spacing the gathers much easier and the wound off threads will “give” a little as you work the gathers into evenly spaced waves of beauty.

Give gentle tugs downward on the fabric as you work for equal spacing of the gathers along the threads.

The dynamic you want to maintain is the gathered fabric suspended on the basting threads, like sheets hung on the clothes line. Then pin in place as needed and hand baste before machine stitching.

The continued gentle downward tug of the fabric as you machine stitch will help keep the gathers from bunching under the machine foot.


Happy Sewing!

July 11, 2009

Sewing Economics: Butterick 5333 Lifestyle Wardrobe

Filed under: Fabric,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Mary Beth,Pattern Reviews,sewing — Mary Beth @ 1:31 pm

I’m watching every penny these days so I wanted to know how it would be to make a wardrobe from one pattern such as Butterick 5333.

Can a wardrobe be made from 10 yards of fabric, one pattern and cost less than $100 including buttons, interfacing and linings? I think the answer is Yes.

Another, more personal, question I wanted to answer: Could I be happy with just one pattern? Naw, not me. I frankly don’t see an end to my pattern addiction. But that is, as they say, a personal problem ūüôā

However, given my self-imposed parameters, it was fun to work out all the kinks and have the results work so well with the rest of my wardrobe. This is functional sewing with rich results if you can make the alterations your shape requires to achieve a well fitted garment. The more I worked with the pattern and became familiar with the Butterick sloper the better I liked my results. Had I not known how to alter, I would have been quite disappointed with the results and might have given up on economy sewing, or sewing, all together.

To begin at the beginning: Butterick 5333 Lifestyle Wardrobe


Unlined jacket has princess seams and three-quarter length sleeves with cuffs.
Top and above mid-knee length dress have self-lined upper and midriff front and back.
Straight skirt, above mid-knee length, has waistband, darted front and back, back zipper.
Pants have front pleats, back darts, mock fly zipper, side seam pockets and waistband.

My results without making a muslin first. Yes, I am hiding my face…you don’t want to know, and no, I wasn’t in a fight, LOL!


(I added the buttons on the sleeve cuff as my only embellishment)

The photos have been greatly enhanced so you can see details and wrinkles of the dark navy jacket, pants and skirt. All these pieces are made from 5 yards of the darkest navy silk/lycra summer weight suiting. It was part of a $8.50 per yard bundle from Micheal’s Fabrics.

The fabric has a formal, vintage feel. There are jacquard stripes running in varying widths down the length of the fabric but it doesn’t really “read” as a pin stripe since it is so dark in color. While the lycra gives it some body it also wrinkles easily. I’ve never worked with a fabric quite like this one.

I made up the pants first with major alterations to the crotch curve and back leg width. Here’s the finished hip information and having made the pants I can say that the hip measurements do include the pleat width.


These finished garment measurements are posted at each major figure measurement circle with a cross. Very helpful! You can compare it to the measurements for each size to determine the ease. However, that is not the total solution it seems to be as my measurements most closely match size 20 but that proved to be too big even figuring in the ease.

I made the navy jacket in size 20 with no alterations. It is easy to see (as I saw after I’d finished) that this fabric really needed to be underlined and lined so it would have enough body to support all the extra ease. I think it is too big but the dark color and shoulder pads allow me to get away the fuller fit. The sleeves, however, are a mess! As I worked through construction and fitting I had to continue to down size until the white jacket, my last piece, is a 16 through the bodice, flaring out to an 18+ at the hemline.

The skirt also had to be altered to fit but I like the pattern because from the front view it is a narrow skirt but has enough flare in the back that a kick pleat is not needed. It was underlined with organza. It is what I would call a “traditional suit skirt” with plenty of ease for sitting.

I then did the dress pattern, the tropical print in silk faille and the aqua one in linen. I ended the tour with another version of the jacket in a white cotton canvas, shown here with a dress from last summer. I didn’t fancy the empire style for a top so I didn’t sew up that option.

The finished measurements information turned out to be the best gauge of how the garment would fit when completed.

Things to think about and alter for if you are going to make up this wardrobe:

the sloper used

1. has a well developed derriere with much of the hip width low and to the back of the body.
2. the skirt and dress length is very short
3. the sleeves of the jacket are very long
4. 4″ ease has been added to the finished jacket width
5. the width of the pant leg falls from the thigh, slightly narrowing to the hemline
6. the front pleats on the pants may need to be moved to produce a front pleat that continues on down with the pressed crease to the hem.
7. Major shaping on the sleeve pattern may be needed to produce a well fitted sleeve

I chose to have the pleats open to the side seam. The instructions tell you to choose which way they open.


Pattern alterations made for sleeve of white jacket.

Sleeve Marked

The most economically satisfying part of this exercise? The navy pieces fill a big gap in my wardrobe. The value of having basic pieces in your wardrobe is difficult to monetize.


You can see larger pictures of each piece in the Butterick 5333 set at Flikr.

Your can also see larger pictures of each ensemble in the Mix N Match set at Flikr.

June 15, 2009

Butterick 5365 Connie Crawford Modern Fit Blouse

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Mary Beth,Pattern Reviews,sewing — Mary Beth @ 3:34 pm

You can’t judge this book by its cover. I would not have purchased this pattern based upon the pattern envelope.


But I have taken a short workshop with Connie Crawford and have many of her text books. I know that she knows her stuff, I’ve seen her patterns made up and how they flatter larger women. And I know she is an excellent pattern maker so I took a chance that this might be the blouse I’ve been looking for and made up the large in the Miss sizing range.

I have done an in-depth review of it at because it is a sweet blouse pattern, well drafted and graded and very relaxing to sew up. There were some problems with the instructions but I hope I have provided the fixes for them in my review (link supplied above).

I made View A darts from the shoulder with the long sleeves from View B. I used a well aged silk crepe de chine from the stash.

The illustrations show a small collar, especially in the Version B drawing. Not true! It’s a nice normal collar and the one pattern piece is used for both versions of the blouse.


And those long darts over the bust? They actually release about 1.5″ above the second button. I’ve marked up the stitched lines so you can see them more clearly.

collar, darts & armscye

The collar has a very nice shape to it. It curves up over the shoulder and is nicely rounded in the back but the illustration shows it to be a straight, unshaped collar.

The seam allowances are 3/8″ used for the neckline, collar, center front and cuffs. Smart! It makes these pieces easier to join and to turn. The side seams and sleeves joining seams are the ubiquitous 5/8″ allowances.

There are no fancy methods in this pattern’s instructions. You hand stitch the inside of the collar band and the cuffs. Except for the problems above, it’s a great pattern to use for your first blouse, no fancy “burrito” methods, etc. I just relaxed and sewed, slowly. The kind of simple sewing that was so needed after struggling through a kimono made without pattern pieces.

I love the fit. Next time I make this blouse or a variation of it I will slant the shoulder seam down slightly and give the shoulder line an ever-so-slight concave curve.

The sleeves are the perfect length for me without shortening them. The shoulders sit perfectly, the length of the shoulder seam ends right at my shoulder point. I can reach forward comfortably. It’s just perfect. It put it on and I get happy.


The four darts do not release a lot of extra fabric fullness over the bust


The button placement is interesting, too. The first button down the front is 1 1/4″ from the collar band so that it can be buttoned with a nice and modest spread to the collar.


The second and third buttons are 3 1/4″ apart so that the third is exactly placed horizontally between the bust points, preventing the dreaded gaposious. The rest of the buttons down the front are 3 9/16″ apart and end 2″ above the hemline so that the blouse can be worn untucked and neat. Next time I might make it a bit longer.

Under that awful illustration is a very well graded and well drafted classic that provides a lovely alternative to side or waist darts.

April 10, 2008

Spring is Here!

Filed under: Pattern Reviews,Patterns — phyllisc @ 12:53 pm

Today I was meeeting a friend for lunch and wore my Hot Patterns Geisha Girl Jacket.

February 15, 2008

Issey Miyake wrap coat


This Vogue pattern 1476 was in my stash for several years now waiting to be made.
The coat takes a lot of fabric 4,5 meter which should not have visible difference in a right and wrong side and finally I found the fabric on sale a woollen tweed 80 % wool 20 % acrylic for only¬† ‚ā¨ 7,95 per meter.

And sinpattern-parts-a.jpgpattern-parts-a.jpgce I needed a lot of fabric the fabric weight was important too ,so if you want to make this pattern look for a kind of drapery fabric.

This pattern although it looks quite unusual is very easy to sew.

 pattern parts apattern-parts-a.jpg

The pattern has only a few pattern parts but need a lot of space for the layout. I used two tables side by side for the layout and cutting.
The fabric is cut on the crossgrain instead of the usual length grain.

Since I am nearly 6 foot  (1.81cm) I lengthened the pattern at the coat and sleeve part and add some length to the yoke part.

 added length coat patternadded length coat patternadded-length-coat-pattern.jpg  yoke-sleeve-pattern.jpg

Vogue gives instructions how to sew this pattern but I did not like to do a lot of top-stitching so I skipped that part. Since my fabric is very easy to ravel I start serging all the seams first. I used a three thread serger seam which makes it easier to fold that line to the inside and press it down.

I lined the yoke/ sleeve part and the pockets , also made an inside pocket from the lining.

I also altered the pockets design, the pockets pattern is a rectangle shape, but I decided after I made and lined them I did not like them. So I made a new pair of pockets, the instructions are not for lined pockets just fold the seam allowance in and top-stitch but I like my pockets lined so I did.

 new-pocket-right-side-a.jpg       newl-pocket-wrong-side-a.jpg

The inside pocket is stitched behind the outer pocket which I thread traced first to know where to stitch the inside pocket.


 Also added a pair of tailored shoulder pads,( sewn  between the lining and the fabric) to balance the wide of the coat.

Fused strips of  interfacing at the front edges at the seam allowance, which are cut on the crossgrain for stability.
I did not top-stitched the facing of the sleeve hems, but bind the edges with bias cut lining and hand-sewed the hem facing.

I lined the yoke/sleeve part which is helpful to wear the coat it slides more easily over the garments like a sweater since there is a lining attached.
The lining is sewed by machine sandwiched between the yoke and back coat pattern, and hand stitched along the neckline and sleeve part.

 lined-back-yoke-and-sleeve.jpg  lined-yoke-sleeve-front-part.jpg
I sewed a loop at the neckline for when I travel by train where there are no cloth hangers around.
I did use a large 3 cm snap to close the coat.

Sewed the male part at the underlay and the female part at the overlay but decided to remove them and switch to a different way of attaching the snap because I did not liked the visible way of the snap when the coat is worn without the closure.

Te large 3 cm snap has a deep hollow part that was visible from the outside( imprint)


The female part is sewn from the inside with a backing of a circle of silk organza for stability and the male part is pushed between the wool threads so that part is only visible and useful.

The female snap part, which has a deep hollow side I filled with 2 pieces of felt so it does not leave imprints after sewing the snap on.

  snap-felt-circles.jpg    felted-snap.jpg  female-snap-1.jpg  female-snap-2.jpg  

Also a backing from silk organza is used for reinforcement.

side-back.jpg back.jpg wide-of-back.jpg  front.jpg

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