Back to reality!

Hello lovely readers,
Funny how the world works.When I started my sewing journey (with the big 4 mainly) I had so many alterations that I knew most of my sewing time was spent figuring out how to alter them, trying 1, 2 , 3 or more test garments until I got it right and sew it perfectly. That really helped me grow my patience alterations skills. You followed my journey often.
Then I started sewing indies and a miracle happened. For the last 5 months I had minimal or no alterations, sewing ‘from the box’ in almost any pattern I had touched. Oh bliss. Productivity went sky high and I was whipping projects in a day. All you heard from me was praise and happy projects. Of course that wasn’t going to last, wasn’t?
When testing a pattern, most designers ask us to sew ‘as is’ to pick up any error from grading to typos. If we alter the pattern, our notches changes and many areas that we should be testing end up being forgotten or an alteration mistake could lead to a bad feedback, leading to delays with the investigation work on the reported issues. I take my role of pattern tester very serious. Once I get the pattern I pick a size and cheap appropriate fabric to sew a sample as is. I don’t waste time on fitting or trying it on during WIP.
That’s exactly what happened to my BHL Anna. I sewn a size 12 on old bed cover. Once finished I was cheering the BHL girls for another amazing pattern. They cannot go wrong! Perfect for summer, and already planning to make into a killer evening dress. I was shouting “move over Angie”.
Off course, that said this mock up showed me that I wasn’t getting away from my standard multiple alterations anymore. I plunged back to reality like a kitty in cold bath! Hello, did you really expect that every single new indie pattern would just fit from now on without any brain work behind? I did… I naively thought that my body measurements were being catered from now on with a the exception few alterations for my Amazonian height.
Anna is such a delight to sew, but getting it to fit right on me is being a battle close to my Colette macaroon.
This project has been put away for now and hopefully It won’t take long for me to feel the enthusiasm to pick it back from I stopped and make her in its full glory.
Have you experienced something similar?
  • Boo! I’m sorry your Anna wasn’t easy to figure out. Have the girls from BHL been any help figuring out the fit issues? I’ve been really curious to see how the dress works on bustier or bigger figures… I’m still far from convinced that it will flow elegantly on my short, dumpy frame!
    I’m sure you’ll make it work in the end! good luck!

  • It’s encouraging to hear I’m not the only one who’s struggled with fit. I feel like all my patterns are big fitting ordeals. It’s hard to stay motivated! You make so many beautiful things, I’m hope you don’t get too discouraged. You’re fantastic 🙂

  • I just got my BHL Anna pattern today and was wondering if I was going to have to do a FBA.

    I find that the only adjustments I *typically* have to make on Big Four patterns is a FBA and lengthening (I’m about an inch taller than most patterns are drafted for). But I know how to do these quickly now so they’re easy. Colette patterns are great for me because they’re drafted for a larger cup size (Hallelujah!). Sewaholic patterns are a bit of a nightmare for me as I’m both bustier and taller than they’re drafted for. It’s kind of an uphill battle some times–I’m tall (long legs), but short waisted, big boobed, broad shouldered… some days sewing makes me feel like a total body freak! But buying clothes is even worse so…

    Anyways… I’m excited to see how your Anna turns out!

  • Ooh I hope I don’t have too many issues with this one! (I’m still waiting for my copy to come in the mail). I know I always have to do an FBA, no matter what, but I count myself lucky if that’s all I have to do lol. Some patterns are definitely more of a challenge than others that way! 🙂

  • Such a shame. I was all excited to see you in a beautiful Anna at the end of the post! But I think this is so encouraging to other readers all the same. Even the best have to refit and remake! x

  • Anonymous

    I have given up on the Big 4. In my opinion they are frequently poorly drafted, especially some Vogue.

    My greatest successes have been with Marfy and I am sticking to them now. Wonderful elegant styles, although not for the faint hearted. No seam allowances or instructions, but worth the extra effort. I have no affiliation, just a very satisfied customer.

  • Well, I have no ilussions anymore. It was helpful for me when I have made the standard bodies and skirt based on my own measurements. It is perfect to check each patterns.
    I now the Big 4 now as well including what should be change. I have now tried Marfy and I have to make the same adjustments. Well, Indie patterns use the same sizing standards as the Big 4 – no illusions thre as well.
    Good we are able to make needed adjustments.
    Looking at the picture of BHL Anna it doesn’t look complicated. What are your issues?

    • The pattern its simple, it just doesn’t suit my body shape. the is too much gaping everywhere, its pleats finish over my bust ( i need to lengthen quite a big).

      As I draft my own too, I just wanted to share that how easy it’s to forget that alterations are needed. I was having it too easy for a while.

  • I think get where you are coming from. I’ve recently got into Indie patterns after testing for Megan Nielsen and Sew Much Ado – suddenly I feel like “wow these design are based on real [read “my shaped”] bodies!”. But I guess we are only so alike/similar. I have a friend who can make a “Big Four” pattern by cutting her size straight out of the packet, she is very close to the “model” they base their sizing on. Luckily by learning sewing/pattern alteration we can adapt some styles to suit us- many more than what is available RTW.

  • I feel like we are living the same sewing life! After months of easy sewing and everything fitting, I am struggling with my bombshell dress. Hang in there!

  • I hate when that happens! It’s when I think I should make my own patterns instead of starting from ready made ones. Perhaps you could do that and use the Anna dress as reference.

  • You are such a fitting pro (I look up to you) and I know you can do it!

  • Ugh, I hate it when that happens! Sometimes I have such good luck with a couple of projects in a row, then I hit a wall with something that doesn’t work at ALL. I try to stay excited and motivated by making something less difficult to fit after I finish fitting a nightmare project.

  • This has happened to me time and time again. I just can’t get the fitting right. The only time things work out for me is when I make my own designs from scratch – and that takes forever. I want a new wardrobe already! *throws S3559 into a box for a deserved timed out*

  • Hi Rachel, don’t give up on the Anna Dress. It took me three days to work out my fit – but with persistence and lots of expletives, I got the result I wanted!!

    I had to do a FBA, narrow shoulder adjustment, moved the pleats on the Anna Dress, to match the skirt seams and removed excess room from the shoulder to bust by folding it out the pattern. I used some of the information in the book “Fit for real people” as a guide to the pattern alterations on a kimono sleeve. I traced out my pattern, cut off the thin slice of kimono sleeve from shoulder to waist, left with a rectangular-shaped piece, did the above-mentioned alterations on that, then added the sleeve back to the pattern, filled in any gaps with tissue and trued the shoulder and hem seam allowances were required. Also, as I found the shoulder a little bit ‘gapy’, I just put in some gentle gathering at the shoulder seams, so it gave a gentle ruffled look, which didn’t spoil the overall look of the sleeves, or the dress.