• Singer Perfect Plus

    Sew a Mix-and-Match Wardrobe for Plus and Petite-Plus Sizes

     

    Kathleen Cheetham presents 4 enclosed patterns, step-by-step construction, and fitting instruction. Readers can create a wardrobe of versatile and stylish garments--which can be adapted for office wear, casual wear, or evening wear, just by varying the colors, fabrics, and finishing details. Never have to say you have nothing to wear again!


  • The Pocket Stylist


    Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Unique Look

    Professional fashion advice for all body shapes and sizes!


  • Pants for Real People: Fitting Techniques

    Any sewer will benefit from the fitting techniques featured in this informative DVD, a companion to Pants for Real People: Sewing Techniques . 


    Sewers will learn how to buy the right-size pattern, fine-tune it before cutting, and then tissue-fit it. 


  • Pants for Real People: Sewing Techniques

    This informative guide illustrates how to sew great pants that flatter any fit. 


    The tips and techniques within this useful reference include how to prepare and cut fabric, mark darts, sew zippers, pin-fit the fabric, press seams, and attach different styles of waistbands. 

    This DVD is a must-have to follow up the fitting DVD.


  • Big List of Sewing Blogs


    Big list of Sewing blogs - I'm in, are you?

Building a New Wardrobe for Petite Plus Size Women – Pattern Alterations – "The Super Slimming Jacket"

When I get a new pattern, I first rough cut the pieces apart, just to give me smaller chunks to iron. I iron each piece carefully with the iron at its hottest setting and using no steam. (If I come across a stubborn wrinkle, I use a bit of steam and it will flatten out but remember, you are ironing paper.)

After each piece is perfectly flat, I use a small rotary cutter to carefully cut each piece out. I know what size to cut from measuring myself and from experience. I am a size larger from just under the bust down so I angle gradually out to the next larger size at that point. Until you have some experience, you may want to trace the cutting line you need with a highlighter first so you don’t get confused while cutting (on multi-size patterns especially).


 

Stitching Line Marked
Stitching Line Marked

Next, I use a measuring device to mark the seam allowance in red pen on all seamed edges and the hem allowance. This pattern has a 3/8″ seam allowance and a 3/8″ hem. This takes a bit of time but is essential for accuracy in pin fitting.

Taped Seam Allowance
Taped Seam Allowance

Once that is complete, I use small pieces of 1/2″ wide scotch tape along the inside of curved seam allowances (like under the armhole or crotch line) to reinforce the “seam line” for pin-fitting the pattern. It is important these pieces of tape go on the body side of the seam allowance, not on the outside edge and that they overlap one another securely. Clip curved seams up to the tape. This is fully explained in the Palmer/Pletch fitting DVD.

I also tape over notch markings, and any other markings or points that will get a lot of wear during the fitting process or during cutting of the fabric.

Taped Notch
Taped Notch

The next step is to pin the pattern pieces together along the seam line you marked in order to try on the pattern. The tape will prevent the curved seams from tearing while you fit yourself.

I also tape the shoulder corners where the seam lines meet and any notch marks where I will be cutting the edge of the pattern. This reinforces those areas to allow me to use the pattern again and again.

I start my pattern alteration with the back, not only because that’s what is recommended in the Palmer/Pletch video but also because, for me, the back requires few, if any, alterations.

1st Pin Fitting
1st Pin Fitting

You can see the back follows down the center back line of my dress form very nicely. The shoulder is a good length and the princess seam contours to the back well. The length is right where I want it. Nothing to alter here!

But wait . . . .

When you see the side view (below) you will see that the armhole doesn’t work for me at all.

Side View High Armhole
Side View High Armhole

Most commercial patterns are designed to accommodate a B-cup in the bust area. Kathleen Cheetham’s Petite Plus Patterns are designed to accommodate a D-cup. Because I have a D to DD bust, I need to alter some patterns but most of the Petite Plus Patterns seem to fit nicely in the bust. I do need to lower the bust point about 1.5″.

Pin Fit Front
Pin Fit Front

My most challenging area to fit are my arms. I have very large upper arms. I recently found that, on the “Shapely Shirt” patterns, by lowering the bust point and armhole at the same time, I can enlarge the armhole enough to accommodate both alterations at once. I also need to widen the sleeve and that always gives me a lot of extra fabric to try and fit into the arm hole. I always end up gathering or pleating the sleeve to fit it in (not just easing, actually gathering). By lowering the armhole, I will have extra room to fit in the sleeve. NOTE: This is a method I used for a bodice with a bust dart, not princess seams.

As you can see, when I fit the front, the entire armhole needs to be lowered. There are a couple of ways to do this. Since I used the above method successfully on the previous pattern from this company, I decided to do it again on this pattern. It is easy and quick to do.

To do this I draw a rectangle on the bodice front that begins somewhere in the lower area of the armhole and encloses the bust dart. The other end of the rectangle exits out the side seam. I cut this entire rectangle out of the pattern and lower it 1.5″. I then re-attach this rectangle to the bodice front with tape, keeping the grainline aligned and the entire pattern flat. Accuracy is important here.

Draw Cutting Lines
Draw Cutting Lines

On many patterns, this makes the armhole too low so, first, I have to decide if the armhole needs to be lowered or not. If not, I only cut the rectangle out over the bust point, not all the way through the piece.

Cut Pattern
Cut Pattern

Next I cut all the way across the two lines. I cut at this point so I can use a rotary tool rather than scissors. Next, I use my gridded cardboard table cover to line up the pieces again accurately and pin them onto the board in their original positions

Use care when reassembling the pieces. Make sure all grain lines and seam lines match exactly and put pins right through the pattern paper into the cardboard. Angle some pins toward you and some away from you so they hold the pieces securely.

Slide Middle Piece Down
Slide Middle Piece Down

Next, I unpinned the middle piece so I could slide it down 1.5 inches. It is easy to do with the gridded cardboard. The squares are 1″ so 1.5 squares will do it.

Keep the grain line aligned as you move the piece.

Fill Gap With Tissue
Fill Gap With Tissue

Fill in the “gap” by sliding some extra pattern tissue under the pinned pieces. Pin the extra tissue to the board in place. Then tape the piece in place and tape the bottom of the moved pattern piece as well.

True Lines
True Lines

Remove the pins and use a ruler to “true” the edges. When truing a lowered bustline, make sure you mark from the bottom up. If you draw the curve from the top down, you are just putting the bust curve back where it was. You have to draw from the bottom up to keep the lowered bust “bump” at the lower position. Don’t be afraid to remove some of the original pattern piece and be sure to make the curvc smooth.

Mark the new seam allowance along the new cutting line.

OK. After I got all this done, I tried pinned the front to the back for another fitting. The bust point was now in the right position but the armhole was hanging WAY too low. GRRRR!

To make a long story short, I undid the move shown above, taped the pattern back in it’s original form, and began again. This method of moving the bust point was not going to work on this pattern. I left all this in my blog so you could learn from my mistake.

Draw Cutting Line On Front and Side Front at Same Height
Draw Cutting Line On Front and Side Front at Same Height

Back to the drawing board. This time I cut out a rectangle around the bust point and just moved that rectangle down 1.5″. After sliding it down, I pinned then taped it in place and inserted the extra tissue to fill the “gap”. I trued the cutting line from the bottom up. This worked great. The wonderful thing about working with paper is that if you mess it up, a little tape will put it right again!

Rectangle Cut and Ready To Slide Down
Rectangle Cut and Ready To Slide Down
After Sliding Down 1.5"
After Sliding Down 1.5″
Uneven Side Seam
Uneven Side Seam

Time to pin the pieces together for the next pin fitting. Here is the side view. I expected this. Because I dropped the front to enlarge the armhole, the back now needs to be dropped by the same amount so the hemline will align again.

Uneven Side Seam at Armhole
Uneven Side Seam at Armhole

Following the same process, I was able to line up the side seam and hem line again. Then I enlarged the sleeve to fit my upper arm. It should fit nicely into this enlarged armhole now.

After all this fitting, this pattern is now ready to cut in fabric. For any parts where I’m unsure about the fit, I will leave about 1″ seam allowance to allow a bit extra for fitting in fabric. Fabric always fits a little differently than pattern paper so I won’t make permanent changes to the pattern until I’m fitting the garment in fabric.

Whew! This was a long post!

Tomorrow . . . I’ll explain fitting the pants pattern.

Pin Fit Front
Pin Fit Front

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