I'm a pattern designer, blogger, and sewing educator for the modern maker. I transform your imagination into step-by-step implementation that helps you build a wardrobe you love -- not one you're limited to buying off the rack. A sewing blog for the modern maker. Providing you with sewing patterns, tools & techniques to help you create a self-made wardrobe you can wear with pride.
I can’t remember exactly when we started paying attention to what Mia @sewnorth was cooking up in her sewing room but I do remember screaming across the studio at Alexis, “Bike reflector jeans!!” For a relative beginner sewist, there isn’t much Mia hasn’t swung at sewing wise, from re-working the Morgan jeans pattern for her bike riding man, figuring out how to make her Jenny overalls bib detachable and all kinds of ambitious pattern drafting and refashioning. She shares her makes from her Minneapolis home and has recently started a blog (thank god!) so we can all get inspired by her brilliant ideas. She is definitely worth a follow and I personally cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!
About a year and a half now. I first sat down with my mom’s sewing machine and its user manual in the fall of 2017. Day one I couldn’t figure out how to thread it and nearly walked away from it altogether, but a few hours later I cooled off and came back to it and realized the bobbin wasn’t clicked in all the way. Then it was pedal to the metal! My New Year’s goal was to share what I was making, so I started my IG account on January 1st, 2018.
How much time do you spend on your sewing practice a week (including planning, researching, sewing etc).
I’m really lucky to be working from home with people on the other side of the world, so my working hours are early in the morning, and then again in the evening. The middle part of my day is usually my sewing time when the sewjo moves me. That could be anywhere from 5-25 hours per week. Lately I’ve been spending more time at the computer setting up my new sewing blog and learning Illustrator for pattern drafting. I just sewed up my first sample from a pattern I drafted from scratch on the computer and whoa, was that the flood gate I just heard opening??!
What is your home sewing set-up like?
I’ve claimed the whole second level of our home as my sewing space! It sounds dramatic, but we live in a 1.5 story home so it’s small bedroom at the end of a hallway. My pressing station is the landing at the top of the stairs, and the hallway wall is covered with cork tiles. I’m guessing the cork wall was put up in the 70’s by the previous home owners and I initially *hated* it, until I started sewing and pinning in-progress pattern pieces all over it. It’s so useful! I have my mom’s basic modern Singer that I sewed everything on in my first year. Then I bought my Juke Jam (Juki serger). Your blog review of this machine (MO-654DE) was actually the tipping point for my purchase. My proudest impulse buy is my thrifted Vintage Singer 603 with original table from the 1960’s. It’s a workhorse and top-stitching maniac.
The cork wall for patterns is super cool!
Did you have a gateway person or experience that brought you to sewing?
Yes, and I haven’t been too open about this yet. My mom was a talented sewist and just an overall force of creativity and grace, and she learned from my grandma who was also an incredible sewist. I have the sewing gene, apparently, but I didn’t get the chance to learn to sew from them directly. In early 2017 my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and my family went through the most devastating time of our lives. She passed away in May that same year. She was a beautiful, generous, strong single mother of four. Words can’t describe the loss we experienced. I needed something to keep me occupied while trying to keep my head above the scary waters of grief. I pulled her sewing machine out, and the first thing I made on it was a comically tiny pillow case, about 4×4”. Bouts of crying were very regular at that time, and I remember using that tiny pillow case as a tissue too. The process of learning and making was utterly healing. Sewing is the perfect activity to keep my hands moving, but I can let my mind wander and think about her. I know she would be really proud, and I would have loved to sew clothes for her. She’s still teaching me in her own way, and I’m so grateful for this practice of making.
What was the first thing you remember wanting to sew?
I started learning with simple pillow cases and totes. During that time my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and needed to undergo immediate and expensive treatment. This was after my own mom passed away so I yet again turned to sewing for healing and help. I started brainstorming something simple I could make to raise funds for her. My local fabric shop (Knit & Bolt) carried this silly fabric with male pinup models and their staff had the brilliant suggestion to make “hot guy hot pads.” They were a hit and I was cranking those out to ship all over the place to family and friends. We raised around $2,000 for her care. (Ask me about the US healthcare system another time.) I got really comfortable with sewing bulky layers, insulation, bias binding and mitred corners, but I don’t have any desire to make another hot pad for a long time. My mother-in-law is doing well!
Hot guy hot pads!
How would you define your style?
When I look at my wardrobe I see a lot of great pieces that I’m proud of, but they aren’t really telling a fashion story for me yet. It’s not cohesive because in my first year of sewing, I focused on single garments and not how they work as a collection. Right now my style is like a “choose your own adventure” story, but my goal is to be more intentional about fabric, color, texture, and making things work together. Stick with me and the story will eventually make sense. If I had to pick one word though it would be “casual!”
What is your favourite thing you’ve made?
My linen Jenny Overalls with a hacked removable bib! I lost sleep over this idea, but in a good way. I love them as overalls, because they are playful and functional. I love them as trousers, especially with the high waist and wide legs. It’s been really cool to share my sewing process in a little tutorial, and seeing other sewists try it too!
What are the tools you have invested in you would definitely buy again?
Well technically my husband bought it as an anniversary gift, but my industrial rivet/button press is one of my favorite tools. He saw how excited I was when I started making jeans, and get this!: Without any prompting from me, he found YOUR blog post on installing jeans hardware and surprised me with the same industrial hand press. I love it, and I owe you one!
Reflector tape on the pockets and legs
Coin pocket bling!
What was the best lesson or skill that took your sewing to the next level?
The pattern and fabric manipulation techniques in Japanese pattern books, especially “Pattern Magic” were a real eye-opener for me. There are some incredible origami and slash and spread projects that I tried out on some simple patterns I had in my stash. Not all of these are totally practical for wearing, but it was worth the time to play and explore. Those projects gave me confidence in following rules and breaking them.
Where else do you turn when you need inspiration?
The library is an unsung hero of inspiration. I’ve learned so much from old (and new) sewing library books. Also, people watching! That reminds me, I need new sunglasses. I’m shameless when it comes to ogling people’s clothes.
What experiences have come out of your interaction with the online sewing community?
Lots of goodies. I’ve tapped into the community for fitting advice, and it helped to shape my process for adjusting pants patterns for my body. Pattern testing for new designs has been really inspirational too. My favorite though, is gaining some “sewing pen pals” – some serendipitous conversations that lead to lovely snail mail exchanges of notions, vintage patterns, and sweet notes.
What is your favourite Closet Case Pattern?
Ha- this question makes me inhale through my teeth. I’m obviously a huge fan so it’s tough to choose one. It’s a tie between the Morgan Jeans and the cropped Kalle Shirt. I’ve adapted the Morgan pattern to work for my husband too! I’ve made three pairs for him now, and he really gets involved with choosing top stitching thread, hardware, and denim fabric. In exchange for all these jeans, I’ve nabbed some of his old button down shirts to refashion into Kalle Shirts. The cropped view really suits the high waist pants moment we’re having right now. I love making this pattern from scratch too because the customization options are endless.
I can’t not mention my waist to hip ratio when it comes to RTW. I’m rocking a 16” difference between my waist and my hips. Short of jeggings (that’s jeans+leggings, no thank you), finding a pair of RTW jeans or pants that fit is my unicorn. But the funny thing is, before I started sewing, I just dealt with it like I didn’t have a choice! I wore stretch fabrics and belts. Fitting rooms were such a pain and my life is better without them. I can’t express the level of heavenly satisfaction I feel every time I put on me-made non-stretch jeans that fit. I happy-ugly-cried the first time I experienced that.
FIT. The challenging waist to hip ratio: conquered!
What are you looking forward to making next?
My plans keep shifting, but a swimsuit is on the horizon, I can feel it! I’m most excited to keep playing with the self-drafted pattern I’m working on, hopefully someday making it available for others to make too.
This May, I am on a personal quest to bust my stash and also to remake all my favourite patterns. So in that spirit, we will be sharing hacks/mods/adaptations and fun versions of our patterns in a series of blog posts with the theme of “Re-made May”. Today’s focus is on our Kalle Shirt Shirtdress; not only is it one of our bestselling patterns, but it also seems to be one of the most re-made as well. Almost everyone featured here prefaced their Kalle posts by saying, “this is my 5th Kalle”.
Herein, I have gathered a whole bunch of little easy hacks to this classic pattern so that you too can get the absolute most out of Kalle.
The Kalle Shirtdress comes in three different lengths but it is one of the easiest things to change if you need even more options! Depending on how you are finishing things you just need to change the front and back pieces and the button placket. Belting it gives it entirely different silhouette too, what’s easier than that?
The Kalle features a dramatic high low hem which again, is super easy to change! Straightening it, shortening or lengthening these hemlines gives you entirely different pattern. Just make sure everything lines up at your side seams but other than that, GO TO TOWN!
We all know three of the best words in the English language are, “it has pockets”. Here are a few examples of both patch pockets (with and without flaps) and inseam side pockets. Either work with the design. You can even add two breast pockets (included with pattern) if you need extra room for your tools!
We are all about a special detail and there is no easier place to add a ton of personality than a breast pocket! Have fun with contract fabric, embroidery, or just take extra special care with your topstitching. No hack needed!
These two sewists are obviously next level sewing ninjas (the fabric matching on that floral!??) But adding a bit of piping on the collar, cuffs, or back yoke gives a neat detail to this design that really changes the vibe without a whole lot of work.
Whether it be contrast fabric or simple button placement there are tons of things you can customize on your placket without changing any pattern pieces. And if you make adorable matching outfits for your entire family for New Year’s using this pattern, and you do not share a picture with us, WE WILL BE MAD.
This idea is my favourite for the sheer simplicity of it. All you need to do to make a unique and super interesting shirt is to have fun with fabric placement! Giving a little to thought as to how to lay out your pieces when you’re cutting your fabric can really change the look of the garment without any mods at all.
We are all about a good hack over here. Maxing out on the possibilities of a pattern is not only economical (two for the price of one!!) it also builds your skill sets as a sewist and potential pattern drafter. If you can dream it up and sew it, chances are someone already did! The Jasika Blazer and its accompanying Speed Tailoring Course can be merely a jumping off point for whatever kind of jacket you would like to make. Once you have got a handle on the basics of tailoring there are endless variations of bespoke details you can experiment with. If you are anything like me, this prospect is both a little daunting and very exciting. We thought we would compile a few of the changes you could make to the Jasika Pattern to hack it into the jacket of your dreams. We tell you what pattern pieces will be affected and a rough guideline but the rest is up to you! Sound fun? Let’s jump in.
The double back vent, or the English Style Jacket as it’s called in men’s tailoring, was created for being on horseback. The range of movement (especially when seated) allows the jacket to spread and lay flat and thereby avoiding creasing and wrinkling. This is a good option for ladies with a little extra on the back (juice in the caboose, junk in the trunk etc.) as it allows your jacket to spread over your curves. Or if you plan on doing a lot of sitting (on a plane, at work) this tends to survive better without creasing. It’s a fairly easy adaptation, here is what you need to change:
One of the easiest style changes to make to the Jasika is the lapel. A peaked lapel is a typically formal option (a classic tux feature) and really changes the style of the blazer without a lot of fussy pattern drafting. A few sewists did this adjustment while making their jackets.
Lengthening the blazer into a coat is a super easy way to create a whole new piece without changing much on the pattern. Essentially all you have to do is lengthen below the pockets to the hem. The back vent will function the same.
Double breasted suits are having a MOMENT right now. A bit of an 80’s throwback, this style makes a great suit as in the case of this window pane example above. Again, there isn’t too much you need to change to adapt this, the instructions will be the same and the lining can remain the same. Easy Peasy!
This was probably the most requested adaptation of the blazer that we encountered. Basically, you want to remove all the shapey curving we added to the pattern. You can try sizing up for a slouchier fit, but you may want to keep the shoulder width the same for your size.
Have some fun! Play designer! As styles and trends change you can adapt your basic pattern to make whatever piece is missing from your wardrobe. And remember: MAKE A MUSLIN! Don’t forget to show us your designs using the #jasikablazer hashtag.
Hello all! Celine here. I am the in-house pattern maker for Closet Case Patterns and I am here to share a pattern-making tutorial with you. We spent a lot of time in the studio discussing how to make our Jasika Blazer work for larger busts, and while we do have C & D cup options for the pattern, princess seams are one of the best ways to fit a large bust. You might also choose to add princess seams for purely aesthetic reasons – either way, I’m going to walk you through it in in this tutorial.
If you think you want a more fitted Jasika Blazer (or any other jacket for that matter), or if you need more shaping around the bust, using the existing darts to draft a princess seam is a good way to go. Waist darts ending in the pocket is a pattern staple for tailored jackets and what’s been done for ages to give a little shaping to an otherwise pretty boxy garment. Tailored jackets in the early days of tailoring were drafted for men exclusively. When tailoring came into fashion for women, designers emphasized the waist and bust a lot, creating an hourglass shape and adding a lot of seams everywhere to make it snug. That’s when the famous princess seams that Dior utilized for blazers became iconic. Later on, menswear became trendy for women as well and boxy made a big come back!
Our Jasika blazer is a good combination of both, with true tailored blazer style and a semi-fitted shape (since the waist dart is relatively small) with a decent amount of shaping. But the good news is, you can shape it and style it some more! Switching from darts to adding a seam to a bodice is actually not that hard and requires just a few steps. Then again if you don’t need more shaping but just want to change the style lines you can do that with a princess seam — you’re the designer here! I’m going to show you how to add a princess seam to the Jasika regular front, but also on the FBA C cup and the FBA D Cup (with two darts) in the armhole and shoulder.
DESIGN AWAY AND TRACE A LINES ON THE FRONT
First you have to determine your bust point location. There is a reference point on the pattern already, but you might want to do a quick muslin of the Front to check on yourself if it is really at the apex. Then draw where you want your princess line to be: it can be anywhere in the armhole to the shoulder, as long as it goes through or very near the bust point.
ADD NOTCHES AND CUT ALONG YOUR DRAFT LINES
You want to have a smooth curve at the bust so make sure your lines are not making any weird shapes. I would recommend getting rid of the bustpocket here as you want to see the nice curved shape of your princess seam.
ADD SEAM ALLOWANCES AND GRAINLINES
When your pieces are cut, draw your seam allowance (we are using a 5/8” seam allowance) and transfer your notches. At that point you can walk your seams or measure them making sure they all match. If you have a bit of excess on your side panel curve it is no big deal, you can smooth it when sewing and pressing. Decide if you want your princess seam to go all the way down or stop at the pocket. I’ve shown it both ways here; on the right side I cut the bottom from the center front piece and merged it with the side panel. When your pattern pieces are taped together, check the seams are matching well and add a grainline perpendicular to the pocket opening.
MAKE A MUSLIN
Make a muslin of the front with your new princess seam! For the example drawn here, the overall shape of the blazer is the exact same, so it should fit the same. If you want to adjust the fit you can do it on your muslin, pinching the extra fabric along the seam and then transderring those adjustments on the pattern.
PRINCESS SEAM IN SHOULDER ON A JASIKA C CUP FRONT
For a seam ending in the shoulder, the drafting is pretty much the same. To have a consistent line from shoulder to hem you can draw your line a bit off the bust point and adjust your curves: the amount you take on one side should be added to the other side. In this example, I drew my line 1/4” toward center front and so curved the side panel also 1/4” out. Again, if you want the jacket to be snugger, you can leave a small gap between your drafting lines and adjust later with your muslin. With the princess seam in the shoulder, you could also keep the bust pocket.
PRINCESS SEAM IN SHOULDER ON A JASIKA D CUP FRONT (WITH TWO BUST DARTS)
Follow the same steps as for the princess seam in armhole, however, we will also have the option to remove the bust dart. Here’s how to do that:
On your new side panel, before adding your seam allowances, draw your dart so the dart tip touches the seam. Close the dart, folding your paper or cutting one dart leg and taping it to the other dart leg. Your seam is now crooked so you need to smooth it and make it a nice curve, checking the measurement are still matching along the center front panel.
Add seams allowances and adjust.
For more help with making these adjustments, we wrote a fitting tutorial/ebook on princess seams for the Fiona Sundress. The principles are the same for a jacket so if you are having fitting issues, this should help you out.
And there you have it! The challenge with drafting off book is trusting your instincts and enjoying the process. The more you learn how fabric reacts to your adjustments the easier you will be able to troubleshoot and adapt patterns to your own fitting needs. Allow yourself to try things without a perfectionist approach! Make a muslin! Have FUN!
Wow: most uttered word in the studio over the past two months, bar none. We have been so utterly bowled over by the incredible sewing we’ve been seeing from those participating in the Blazer of Glory challenge, and every day brought a new image of a blazer in progress that knocked our socks off. I was honestly quite nervous about releasing a more advanced pattern like our Jasika Blazer but I was so reassured to discover how many of you are keen to take on a new challenge. I’m not sure how we could get more ambitious after this but at least I know if we do, folks will be down to clown.
This week we picked our winner for our challenge. It was a very tough decision since there were so many incredible entries, but we couldn’t stop swooning over this gorgeous blue blazer from @becky_califronia. The fit, fabric and finishing is flawless and we felt it deserved our grand prize: a custom dress from Beatrice Forms! Congrats Becky!
But of course we can’t stop there. There were so so many beautiful jackets and as we all know, this challenge was not a destination, it was a JOURNEY! There are a couple of people that we saw throughout this challenge bringing so much encouragement, support and photos. Beck here, in her Closet Case yellow Jasika won our hearts early on and we so appreciated her process photos and beautiful sewing. So gorgeous.
Thank you so much to everyone who participated! You made this one of the most fun patterns we’ve ever launched, and seeing how you put your own creative spin on such a classic design really blew our minds. We love you. Hard.
All this talk about our Jasika Blazer this year and I realized I haven’t shared a personal make yet! I was in a blazer making fury last year; a few are in various stages of completion, and two are in permanent rotation (although thankfully I also fit in the samples we made, so luckily I get to wear those too). Today I’m sharing a beautiful brown check Jasika I’ve worn almost weekly since the fall; it’s got a tweedy, “let’s walk through the misty moors with the hounds” vibe I’ve quite enjoyed.
I think this was the third Jasika I made (I’ve lost track; last year was a blur of wool and interfacing). It’s an early iteration of the pattern; we took in the shoulders for the final pattern and I think they look a touch wide for my frame here. I found this gorgeous wool check at M&M Textiles here in Montreal. It’s nice and thick, and warm enough to wear as outerwear on cooler days. The nice thing about a great blazer is that double duty factor; with a scarf you’re truly good to go, and then you look profesh as hell once you get wherever you’re going.
I lined it with a red bemburg, and added some wool felt to the under the collar for that little pop of something something. I love the buttons; I sewed them with a contrasting thread in an X pattern and I like how thoughtful such a small detail can be.
I’m kind of obsessed with belt bags right now (this one is from Madewell) and I love how it looks over a blazer. It really says “I am such a busy working woman I need to be hands-free at ALL TIMES!”. It’s a fun, modern way to style such a classic piece.
I kind of need to take a much-needed break from tailoring for the time being, but I’m kinda excited to tackle some of the plans I have for the fall. I’m dying to make a full suit with our Sasha trousers in a crazy colour like our brand yellow, and have some plans for hacking it into a longer, boxier double breasted baby in navy or black. Now that I have a few more classic blazers in my closet, it’s hard to imagine a world without them!
If you are all caught up on the challenge, WOW! You made a blazer! Congratulations! This is truly some finish line bits and pieces this last week. Buttons, buttonholes and topstitching is the last step. If you are looking to up your buttonhole game we have a tutorial here or here you can take a look at; and PRACTICE ON A SCRAP! You’ll be fine.
Once you have all your finishing done share that #BlazerofGlory with us using the hashtag. We will be choosing the winner at random (no favourites we promise) because this week’s prize is a BIGGIE! The lovely people at Beatrice Forms have graciously donated a custom (as in made for you and your exact body) dress form to the winner! Heather wrote a review of her form here and we are so excited to have the opportunity to give this very special prize to one of you intrepid sewists.
Sometimes it feels like we’re swimming in dress forms at the studio. We have our professional Alvanon form; this was a MAJOR investment for us a few years ago (I think it cost close to $5K including shipping and duties) and it’s what we use to test all of our samples since we use it as the basis for our block. The Alvanon is an industry form, and all their forms are based on standardized measurement data so it gives us a good “universal” base to start with; we’ll be adding a second Alvanon form once we start developing patterns for our new extended size range. We also have a Classy form, sent to us to last year. For this form I chose a size that most closely resembled my body size, but it’s curvier than I am in real life so it always required a lot of additional fitting on my body. I also have a vintage Wolf form at home that I use less for fitting and more for displaying my jewelry and belts.
This year, Beatrice Forms kindly sent me a dress form to review. Spoiler alert: IT IS THE FREAKING BEST.
Unlike our Alvanon or Classy form, the Beatrice is not based on standardized measurements. Instead, it is based on a 3D scan of my body. To get started, they send a kit with a close-fitting knit t-shirt and bicycle shorts, along with a piece of twill tape. The twill tape helps mark the waist, and it’s also wrapped around the neck and pinned to the middle of the bra to define the shape of the bust so you your form doesn’t have one big mono-boob. We downloaded their app and then Amy used it to scan my body all the way around. While this is happening, you are supposed to stand normally – not attempting idealized posture or sucking in your belly or any of the things we tend to do when we’re thinking about how we’re standing. This part was hard! I had to consciously stand in my standard, slightly slouched position. Just to be safe, we did the scan twice to make sure we were being as accurate as possible.
Beatrice Forms is run by a husband and wife team. I met Allison in one of my Ginger workshops when she was just getting the business started a couple of years ago, which is when she offered me a form to review. I loved dealing with them during the process; this isn’t a big company, just two folks passionate about sewing and technology. The data from the 3D scan got sent to them through the app, and after a few weeks Nathan sent me a 3D drawing of what the form would look like. Here’s what he sent me:
I’m not gonna lie… it’s a little weird to see your body like this. Right away I noticed my uneven shoulders and breasts, the roundness of my shoulders and tummy. I’ve never really noticed the asymmetry of my body before. I’m sure there is some intellectual explanation for this; we are too subjective about our experiences within our body that maybe we only truly “see” them when they are divorced from our subjective reality. Our something smart-sounding like that. Because these guys are so on the ball, Nathan noticed that my posture in the scan was different than it was in a blog post I had posted around the same time and wanted to make sure the form was an accurate scan, but of course I had been standing up super straight in the photos we took. This form is a “true” representation of my body, which is exactly what you want if you’re going to use it for fitting the body you actually have as opposed to the one you present when someone is taking a photo.
I kept postponing getting my Beatrice because I’ve put on a bit of weight in the past year and was worried I’d lose the weight and the form would be too big. This is dumb for so many reasons. First, this is the body I have now. And honestly? I like my body now. She’s a bit softer than she was a few years ago, but she gets me places. I’m not a dieter or someone who works out with any regularity, so part of my journey with accepting this form was accepting my body exactly as it is. Even if I happen to lose a few pounds, my form still has all the important information; the angle of my shoulders, my waist to hip ratio, the shape of my back. I don’t generally wear super fitted things so I think regardless of weight fluctuations, she is going to be a great long-term friend.
When the form arrived, it was like Christmas and my birthday and New Year’s Eve all at once. The form itself is a soft foam, covered in a close-fitting knit cover (they even included a pattern for the cover if I ever needed to make another). It’s fully pinnable and includes a heavy-duty adjustable steel base with rollie wheels. I love the pretty wood detail on the top and the overall feeling of sturdy dependability. Since the form is foam, it’s quite light and I have no problem picking it up and moving it from home to studio (which I have already done several times). She also came dressed in the cutest neck scarf that I’m just realizing I forgot to put on for the photos. She doesn’t include arms, just squared off shoulders, but I have some foam arms hanging around the studio from a really old dress form I can pin on if I need them.
Here we are, side by side:
Here is a close up of the front and back:
As for fitting… this form is truly life-changing. LIFE. CHANGING. To be honest, until I got my Beatrice I never used any of my forms for fitting myself personally. I always fit on my body, taking photos and looking in the mirror and tweaking and trying on and tweaking and trying on. This form totally changes all that. Because it’s basically my body in squishy foam form, I can feel 100% confident fitting directly on the form and know it will fit my body exactly. I’m making a fitted couture dress right now, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to test my muslin. I had a moment of panic at first. The muslin fit when I pinned it on my body, but I couldn’t get it do up when I put it on the form. I was about to email Allison in a panic that I had somehow lost weight when we confirmed my body measurements against the form and realized they were exactly the same.
The problem wasn’t the form, but the fact that I was squeezing into the muslin and sucking in my stomach to get it to pin closed. Obviously, the dress form can’t suck in her breath, and it was kind of like a bomb going off in my brain. I thought back to all the dresses I have overfit in the past. I would squeeze into them and tell myself they fit only to find I had to undo the zipper when I was sitting for any length of time. The dress form doesn’t lie. It forced me to actually make the muslin fit properly, which is to say, making sure it had the right amount of ease, not the ease I thought I needed when I was standing up straight and unconsciously sucking in my stomach.
The dress I’m working on is from the new Named pattern book and it has bust and waist darts. I haven’t sewn anything this fitted in a while and because it’s a couture project and the fabric cost an arm and a leg, I want the fit to be PERFECT. I’ve had so much fun letting out seams and taking them in, adjusting the length and width of the darts. This form lets me shape this dress EXACTLY to my body. I can see it from all angles, spot drag lined I maybe wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. It’s really a radical fitting experience.
Here is a snap of the muslin I’m making. The left side is the dress more or less as drafted. The right side is after I’ve tweaked it a bit, taking in the shoulder, dropping the bust dart, adjusting the side seam to better conform to the shape of my body. As you can see on the left, there are quite a few more drag lines around the bust area than the right.
I feel like I’m learning a lot about fitting right now. Because I can experiment so much more easily on the form, I’m able to make better intuitive decisions, tinker around to see what happens when I deepen a dart or shorten it, take in an armhole or let out a seam. It’s so much faster and easier to figure this out on my form than on my body. I can also better account for the quirks of my body if necessary, like adjusting darts or the shoulders to better fit my asymmetry.
Obviously, having a custom dress form made is a big investment, and I’m very grateful that Beatrice sent this to me to try. They retail for $1299, and if you do have a big body shift, they will scan and send you a new form for half the price. Having used a lot of forms, I can say without reservation say this is the best form on the market for the sewist who sews mostly for herself, especially if you are someone who cares a lot about fit, or wears a lot of fitted clothing. There is no generic form that will ever give you the same accuracy as fitting on an exact replica of your body, and on an emotional level, I think seeing my body in this way has lead me to love and appreciate it even more. Since I started sewing, my relationship with my body has totally changed. I’ve come to accept it in a way I never thought possible when I was buying ready to wear, and this form feels like a physical manifestation of that evolution. I can look at this form and see solutions rather than problems, and that is a powerful thing.
That’s right! If you’re participating in our challenge you could take home a glorious Beatrice of your very own; we’ll be choosing a winner on April 28th. We’re so happy to partner with such a generous small business and can’t wait to share this amazing product with the lucky first prize winner in our challenge.
Either way, I hope you’ll consider investing in your own custom form even if you’re not participating in the challenge. I would absolutely save my pennies and purchase a Beatrice for myself if I wasn’t already a proud owner. Do you have any questions about my Beatrice form? Let me know in the comments!
For this month’s Sewist Spotlight we are turning our eye to Blanca B. We have been stalking @BlakandBlanca for a while on instagram. Her casual elegance, gorgeous bright home, and supportive enthusiasm (particularly during this #BlazerofGlory challenge) caught our eye. Once we connected with her and learned more, it all made sense. This lovely lady was a commercial interior designer and her sunny home in leafy Southern CT is the perfect backdrop to her glamorous me-mades. We just can’t get enough of her effortless style, always totally put together, but wicked cool. I can’t wait to see what she makes next!
How long have you been sewing?
On and off for years, but until last summer it was mostly off.
How often do you spend time do you spend on your sewing practice a week?
Well, I actually sew about 10-15 hrs, but if you count lurking on instagram to plan my next projects it’s really more like 30 hrs.
What is your home sewing set-up like?
My sewing space is a bright, sunny room with a nice view and a good feeling and a tv on near full volume. Guilty here of complete neatness to the point of running a lint roller over the sewing ham after every use. There is an extra chair for Mr B to join in for the noon news report and a cozy bed for the family beast to nap.
Did you have a gateway person or experience that brought you to sewing?
Yes, it was the movies that made me want to create a more menswear inspired wardrobe that was just not available in the shops for girls my age. I wanted to dress like James Bond and John Lennon.
What was the first thing you remember wanting to sew?
That would be a “Beatles” suit in turquoise silk dupioni with white ankle boots. I made it with mostly the help of a local seamstress and loved wearing and seeing it in my closet. It was in the mid 1960’s and as a pre-teen there was probably no place to wear it but to run errands with my mom.
How would you define your style?
Androgynous. Trousers, always a jacket and usually a proper shirt. However my passion for fabric takes over and defines the garments I make. Sleeves, pockets, a collar and strict editing are essential to my style.
I feel great in well made hand sewn clothes, comfortable and natural.
What are your go-to fabric stores?
Living within a short train ride to NYC means the garment district fabric shops always have something to offer. I also buy on line from Gorgeous Fabrics, Fabrics-Store, and Britex.
What are the tools you can’t live without?
Steam iron, lint roller and good lighting.
What was the best lesson or skill that took your sewing to the next level?
That would be the couture french cardigan. They are the most comfortable and luxe garments to wear even over a t-shirt and cargo trousers. The hand sewing and pressing brought the art of fabric manipulation right into my home sewing game and now I feel like I am the boss of any flat length of fabric.
What pattern release would you not be able to resist (aka what type of garment would automatically jump your queue)?
A tuxedo, James Bond style.
What are your sewing goals?
What would you like to learn how to do to push your practice forward? A complete hand made wardrobe is my goal, and lots of hand stitching.
Hi everybody, Alexis here! You know, before I started sewing and had the opportunity to join the team here at Closet Case Patterns, I was studying classical trumpet. I have spent a lot of time in the back of an orchestra playing really loud. It is always a blast, literally! When it comes time to perform a concert there is usually a dress code for the performers. For the gentlemen, it’s easy, they always know what to wear. They usually have a set of suits or tuxes they can cycle through. Hopefully these get dropped off at the dry cleaner between concerts! For the ladies, the attire is a little more flexible, but still within some sort of boundary, usually “black”, and often floor and wrist length. It can be fun to personalize this dress code (within the boundaries, of course) and dress up, but I’ve always felt the most ready for a concert wearing a classic blazer. First, there are pockets! And a blazer is nice and warm to wear, as opposed to an evening gown.
One of my favourite features from one of the ready-to-wear blazers in my concert closet is a flash of coloured piping inside. When you wear a lot of black on stage, it’s a fun little secret detail that can change things up when you’re getting ready! We decided to give it a try on one of the samples we are working on for an upcoming spring photoshoot. Adding flat piping to a lining is really such an easy detail you don’t really need a tutorial for, but we thought we’d share a few photos with you, in case you’d like to add piping with a pop of colour to your Jasika Blazer too!
You will add the piping to the blazer just before installing the lining, so the entire shell of your jacket should be finished. The collar and facing have been attached, and the sleeves have already been set in. You have sewn in your sleeveheads and shoulder pads at this point as well.
Fully assemble your lining as per the instructions included in the Jasika Blazer instruction booklet, ensuring sleeve hems and back vent have been pressed thoroughly.
Now is the fun part! You will need about 2.5 yards of your choice of single-fold bias tape. You can make your own with your own flashy fabric with our tutorial for how to make bias tape and piping. For this sample we used some yellow Kona quilting cotton, but any woven fabric would do. As mentioned in the tutorial, you will need to experiment with the width of the fabric strips for your bias tape to achieve the look you want. We made 1.5″ strips of fabric, which made 6/8″ wide single fold bias tape when folded and presses. This means about 1/8″ of piping will be visible when the lining is sewn to the jacket. The result is subtle, so if you want a more striking effect, cut wider strips of fabric when making your bias tape.
When your bias tape is ready and pressed on the fold, pin it place around the facing of the jacket, leaving a little extra on either end.
Because of the way the hem of the lining for this pattern is finished, you don’t want the piping to extend completely to the very bottom of the facing. Pin each end so it disappears into the seam allowance, about 2″ from the bottom of the facing.
Baste the piping in place just inside the 5/8″ seam allowance.
For the next step, you’ll follow the Jasika Blazer instructions as written. With right sides together, pin the lining to the jacket facing.
The piping will be sandwiched between the layers. You can trim the excess piping now or after the lining has been stitched in place.
Stitch the lining to the facing at 5/8″ as indicated in the instructions. When you are done, grade the seam and turn everything right side out to reveal your pop of colour!
Press the seam towards the lining. The end of the piping will disappear into the seam near the bottom of the facing on either side of the jacket.
The last step is to understitch everything in place 1/8″ from the seam on the side of the lining.
It’s also a good time to add your me-made label before the rest of the lining is bagged and stitched closed!
The finish line is in sight, your blazer is almost ready to wear! Each blazer I’ve sewn so far has felt like a very invested project, but when I get to the end I look forward to sewing another, so I can add more cool details like this one! For those of you who are following along on the #BlazerOfGlory challenge, keep up the great work! We are really enjoying following everyone’s blazer making journey here at the studio. Whether you’re planning on wearing your blazer to a concert, your 9-to-5, or just because, it will be worth it.