Sneak Peek

Here’s a sneak peek of the project I plan to conquer after the shirt dress.


Shirt Dress Progress

With the princess seam dress project behind me, I’m moving onto the shirt dress. I have a pattern… Marfy 9876.

And I also like this Simplicity pattern from the 1960s, but I’d have to track it down and buy it online.

But that is all the shirt dress progress I have made. DH and DD have both been sick as dogs all weekend. I’ve made it so far as to pin the Marfy pattern onto my dress form and see if I can make a go of it.

I’m also considering designing a swimsuit for DD. She is toddler size now and I cannot find any bathing suit patterns! The swinwear fabric I scoped out at Joann’s is also three shades of atrocious. This project TBD. Either way, she’ll need a bathing suit for the summer beach excursions. I fully intend to go to 1st beach this summer! (Hear that, DH… yes, we are going to Newport).

Perfect Vintage-Inspired Shirt Dress

A few years ago, I wanted to make a shirt dress. My inspiration came from a few places: one was a dress worn by the character Sofie on Carnivale, and another was a runway dress from the Ralph Lauren Spring 2010 collection. My perfect vintage-inspired shirt dress falls somewhere between these two.

My niece, blogging down a Retro Rabbit Hole, has recently gotten back into sewing garments. Which is great, because that means I don’t have to talk to myself about sewing anymore! (Don’t worry, the Sewliloquies moniker isn’t going away). Her recent sewing adventures have inspired me to become reacquainted with my shirt dress. I even have the fabric for it. I bought this great light blue fabric with a teensy floral print all over it, just for the occasion. I’m undecided about the lace sleeves seen on the Sofie dress; I’ve done lace sleeves before on my Victorian garb, and I love the pleating, but I’m not sure I want my shirt dress that girly. What I do love are the little red buttons on the Ralph Lauren inspiration dress. And the piped pockets. I’m digging the piped pockets.


Fit Just Right

In a Facebook discussion about pattern fit, I mentioned slopers to my niece. Her response? “What the heck are slopers?”

Slopers are form fitting patterns used to create style patterns. Um, huh? OK. so when you typically want to sew a garment, you use a pattern. You can buy a commercial pattern from pattern companies such as Simplicity or McCall’s or Marfy. Those commercial patterns have been sized to fit a “typical” size person. Except everyone’s body is shaped a little different, so what often happens is the pattern size doesn’t quite fit – which was the problem my niece was experiencing. The other option for design is to drape – basically create the pattern from nothing by draping fabric on a dress form – and then create a flat pattern from that.

A sloper is a pattern that is custom fit to you… it is not meant to be a pattern for an actual garment, but is instead used to fit style garments. It is best to have three slopers: a bodice (which includes sleeves), a skirt and pants. With these three basic slopers, you can easily fit any commercial pattern or use as a base for draped designs.

I *could* reinvent the wheel here – and I would very much like to do a video episode about slopers, but there are some very good resources available from industry experts and I will start by linking to them:

Threads Magazine – The Merits of a Basic Fitting Pattern: This is a great article that covers what a sloper is, and how to use your sloper to adjust a commercial pattern to better fit you.

Nancy Zieman’s Videos. Look for Pattern Fitting with Confidence 1 and 2. Although this does not use a sloper, Nancy demonstrates the pivot technique for adjusting a commercial pattern for better fit.

Creating a set of slopers requires measurements and math. I am not very good at math. No, let me restate that: I am horrible at math. And, yes, slopers and garment fitting in general requires some basic math and geometry skills. (Maybe I should write a book called Basic Math for Sewing). Follow the adage: “measure twice, cut once” to help the pattern fit just right.

Measure your body at the following areas using a soft measuring tape (and a friend!) to guide you in determining size:

  • Height
  • Armpits – I call this the armpit measurement because you measure above your bust from armpit to armpit. Its also called high bust; Nancy Zieman says that this measurement matches up with size in 1/2″ increments where 14″ is a size 14 pattern “true fit” – step up or down in 1/2″ increments to get your size – for example, a size 12 is 13 1/2″ 10 is 13″ 16 is 14 1/2″ 18 is 15″ and so on…
  • Bust – measure around the fullest part of the bust
  • Waist – measure at your natural waist, not necessarily where you tend to wear waistbands. Your natural waist is where your body bends when you bend to the side
  • Hip – measure around the fullest part of your hips
  • Back – measure from the base of your neck (from the spinal bone that sticks out the most) to your natural waist
  • Arm – measure from your shoulder bone (where your arm pivots from your shoulder) to your wrist
  • Leg Inseam – measure from the crotch (top part of the inside of your thigh) to your ankle

Use these measurements when buying commercial patterns! Do not rely on the “size” such as size 10, size 16, so on…

Sewing Agenda

On the sewing agenda for the year:

  • Fall 2011 clothes: wide leg eggplant corduroy pants, red tunic with crochet trim, goldenrod silk button shirt, possibly chocolate hooded cloak, remote possibility for a linen shirred blouse and baggy sleeve tunic
  • Danish crest medieval surcoat costume for Oliver
  • Victorian costume additions: coat for Oliver, button front shirt or possibly a talma for Cherie, baby dress for Annalisa

Finally Finished

Several months later and I have finally finished the purple baby outfit. The final pieces were a hat and a headband. I completed the hat today, but the headband was just not working out so I abandoned it (for now).

The dress is very nice. I modified the original pattern to create crochet sleeves and a crochet edge along the bottom of the skirt. The bloomers were easy, but my concern is whether the elastic will be too tight or too loose for baby. The hat, well, I hate it. I added a crochet ribbon, but it’s the fit; I’m not sure if I just wasn’t careful enough with the seam allowance, or if its the pattern, but I really do not like the look or the feel of the hat at all.

Overall, the outfit is usable, especially the dress and bloomers. It should make for a nice spring photo with the new little one when she arrives!

Precious Purple Print

I picked up a Simplicity It’s So Easy pattern 2425 for a baby dress, bloomers and a hat. I’m going to test it with some 100% cotton fabrics. I found a precious purple print (baby daddy helped choose the fabric) with little color squares, and a lavender solid to match.

My plan is to make the body of the dress with the purple print. I’m going to crochet the bottom ruffle and the side sleevelets using a dark purple yarn. The bloomers will be solid lavender.

Just for fun, I’m also going to make the hat. One side will be solid lavender, and one side will be the purple print. The brim will be crocheted with the same dark purple yarn.


Teeny Tiny Garments

So I’m due in April. And I’m shopping and registering and looking for baby clothes. (I know, I know, I’ve heard people give you lots of baby clothes).

Here’s my dilemma: I don’t like MOST of the commercial baby clothes. The onesies, obviously, are ok as long as they are plain and 100% cotton. I don’t think the spring dresses are out yet, so the selection might be a little better if I wait. However, if typical retail baby clothing is like adult clothing, then I may perhaps be disappointed.

My solution: I started looking for patterns to make baby clothes. Even then, there isn’t much available, but I was able to find a few I liked… Simplicity 3854 and Simplicity 2459. I plan to make both dresses and pants for my little one, and I can envision so many possibilities!

The best part is being able to choose the fabric, which I believe can make all the difference. I am already eyeing this spotted owl fabric from Alexander Henry, and I may head to Stitch Lab to get some before it’s gone.

EDIT: January 15, 2010

So far I have purchased the It’s so easy 2425 pattern from Simplicity. I’m going to try out a dress with this pattern with some basic cottons, and then decide on additional fabrics for a more dressy version or spring/summer varities.

My Sewing Adventures

Sewliloquies is here! I plan to blog about my sewing adventures, create video instruction and share my sewn garments with the world. I enjoy sewing, and I have been fortunate enough to learn this craft. Once, a long time ago, I even planned to go to fashion design school. It didn’t happen, but my passion for sewing garments never faded.

I remember, way back in high school, I took a Sewing class. It was basic skills, and I became bored because I already knew how to do most of what the well intentioned teacher was showing the class. I made a dress for my mother. I made my prom dress. But what I remember most about that class was the fabric burn test. I am developing the first episode of the Sewliloquies video series, and that burn test is going to be part of it! My hope is that I don’t bore anyone with excessive basic skills.

One of my latest projects was my wedding dress. I married Oliver in June and made my two piece dress. The full, layered skirt was fairly easy. The hardest part was the corset. I’ve made a few corsets before to wear to renaissance fairs, but this one was a real challenge. Corsets, real corsets, use a busk and metal boning. Corsets also have two (or more) layers, with the foundation layer being made of coutil fabric. It is cotton based heavyweight lining designed for stability. The outside of my corset is satin.



I used Laughing Moon’s Dore corset pattern. This corset is made of panels, and it must be fit perfectly! There are tiny adjustments to the pattern that result in affecting the fit, so the best thing is to make a mock up first. I may try to do a corset tutorial eventually, but corset sewing is really intermediate or advanced. If/when I do, it will be a real corset, and not what many consider a corset. Authentic corsets have boning, a busk, and quality grommets. It is not some fabric laced up in the back. I have high expectations for quality, and I want this to show in what I produce.

My goal is to provide usable information and create quality garments. From choosing or making a pattern, to finding the perfect fabric, to cutting and marking, sewing and construction to pressing and finishing, the entire process should be an experience, with patience resulting in a great finished product!

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑