Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sewaholic Fitting Issues

After making my Belcarra blouse, I almost gave up on Sewaholic patterns. I felt defeated and thought I could never get a Sewaholic pattern to fit. However, making the Ginger jeans taught me some valuable fitting lessons. I decided to pick myself up and tackle top fitting issues head on.

Seeing the new Granville shirt also made me want to do this even more. I have been looking for a shirt pattern like this for a long time (almost two years!). The fact that this particular pattern has back princess seams sold me (much easier to adjust fit). So, I am going to take you on a fitting journey that might help you with a Sewaholic pattern (or even another pattern you are not sure how to approach).

Picking a Size

It's a good idea to take detailed measurements of your body before you start.

These are my measurements:

  • High Bust: 34.5"
  • Bust: 35.5"
  • Waist: 30.5"
  • Hips: 39"

So, according to the size chart below, I'm around a size 10 in the bust and waist and a size 6 in the hips. Through trial and error with the other Sewaholic tops I have made, I have often settled on a size 6, because the other sizes seemed too big. But that is not the right size for me.

What I should do, is pick the pattern according to my high bust, which is a size 8. This ensures the best fit in that area (alas, my Liberty Alma in size 6 almost never gets worn because it is too tight in that area).

Then, I should compare my measurements plus ease to the finished measurements. It's also a good idea to measure a shirt that fits you for and idea of what you like.

The amount of ease you want to aim for is as follows: 2-3" in the bust, 1-1.5" in the waist, and 2-4" in the hips.

Here are my results:

Even though my bust-to-waist ratio matches the size chart, the waist is too big. The waist of a Sewaholic pattern has too much ease (unless you like really flowy tops). There is at least 2.5" too much fabric in the pattern waist for a good fit.

Comparing measurements is something that I did not do well before making a muslin of the Granville shirt. My eyes kept jumping to the finished size 6 waist (33"), which is what I wanted to see. It became really apparent when I tried on the muslin and I had too much ease in the back of the shirt by my waist.

Unfortunately, this is not something that can be easily fixed by grading between sizes. The Sewaholic silhouette is already very angled at the waist. So, if you are not truly pair shaped (like me), it is probably better to take out the excess at the back. I will address how to fix this below.

Measure Length

Sewaholic patterns don't have the waist location marked on the pattern pieces. This can making assessing fitting issues before sewing tricky. Try to find the narrowest part and mark a horizontal line across all the body pieces (make sure they match and that they are perpendicular to the grainline markings).

These are the body measurements you need next:
  • Shoulder to Waist
  • Bust to Waist
  • Waist to Hip
  • Back Top (at base of neck) to Waist
  • Shoulder to Shoulder 
Most of my measurements in these areas are ok. Where I have issues is in the back and I need a swayback adjustment. I also need work in the shoulders, which I will discuss below.

If you need a SBA or FBA, it would probably show up in the Bust to Waist measurement. I don't have this issue, so you will have to research this if you do.

Swayback Adjustment

If you are like me, and carry more mass in the back (ie. the derriere) than at the sides, you might find the same issue. When I made Sewaholic tops in the past, I often needed to do a swayback adjustment, because fabric was pooling in the small of my back.

My measurements confirm I need this adjustment. My back to waist ratio is 15", while I measured 15.5" on the pattern. So, even before I make a muslin, I know I need to lose 0.5".

I used the yoke of the Granville to make this adjustment. I traced the piece and then marked a spot 0.5" down from the centre back near the neckline. I then pivoted the piece at the shoulder seam / armhole seam intersection until the bottom of the neckline matched the mark. I did the same for the other side of the piece, since goes across both sides of the body (you only have to pivot once for a piece cut on the fold).

Here is the new pattern piece on top of the old.

The adjustment worked and my muslin had no pooling in the back. Yay!

You might also see that the new piece is 0.25" narrower on each side. This is because I did a slight narrow should adjustment.

Narrow Shoulder Adjustment

If I was smart, I would have measured the yoke piece and compared it to my actual shoulder measurements (something I will do in the future). Instead, I went ahead and made my muslin.

Of course, I ended up with the same issues I always do with Sewholic patterns. The shoulders and sleeves look like they are falling off my body (eg. my Cordova, which I never wear because of this issue).

Another way to tell is if you have a gaping armhole and draglines that go from the bust point towards your lower back (if you look closely, you can see some of these wrinkles in the picture above).

To figure out how much I needed to remove on the muslin, I pinched out from the shoulder towards the bust point until the armhole seam sat were it was supposed to. I also marked on the muslin where the seam should sit (the red marker lines) before I pinned, so I could measure there as well.

The results are amazing. Below you can compare my two shoulders, one with the excess pinned out and one without. Can you see the draglines I was talking about on the side that isn't pinned?

All I needed out of the Granville is 0.25", which I took out of the yoke piece and the front bodice.

Armhole Adjustment

As with other Sewaholic patterns, I found the armhole too low.*

To fix this, I added a piece of paper to the front and back armhole pattern pieces.

To make sure that the armhole seam didn't change size. I traced the pattern armsyce on a piece of paper, pivoted the pattern down the amount I needed (5/8"), and then taped it in place.

Make sure to measure the new armscye and sleeve seam to make sure they still match.

Hopefully, this will be enough of a change. I will find out with my finished Granville.

* The exception to this is the Renfrew, which I had to scoop 3/4" out of the armsyce to get it to fit.

Waist and Hip Adjustments

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Sewaholic silhouette is quite angled at the side seams. This can look a little awkward on people without a true pair shape. For example, you can see the wings of fabric by my hips in my Belcarra.

Taking in the waist (which I found out I needed from my measurements above) at the side seam would result in even larger wings of fabric!

Instead I need to take out fabric near the back, which is easy thanks to the princess seams. I traced the pattern pieces and used the pivot method to make my adjustments.

What I did was pivot my back pattern pieces along the princess seam lines. I kept the pattern fixed at the top corners and pivoted the piece in 0.5" at the waist (this take off 2" total: 0.5" x 2 pieces x 2 princess seams) and traced a new line.

I then fixed the pattern at the new waist point, pivoted the bottom of the piece so it was 0.5" past the old seam line (this adds 2" total). I also took off 1" on each side from the waist to hip (0.5" on each piece). This make more room at the back and makes the shirt not stick out so much at the sides.

Here are my new pieces on top of the old pieces.

Back Side
Back Centre
I made these changes to my muslin and it's looking pretty good.

Sleeve Width

No matter what pattern company I go with, I usually have issues with the sleeves being too tight.

According to what I've read, you need 2" of ease for a woven shirt. I measured my arm as being 12" and measured the Sewaholic size 8 Granville sleeve as being 13.75". Which means I should be fine (12+2" = 14"). But, I know from experience that when I actually wear a shirt, things aren't fine. The sleeves are often the most uncomfortable part. I was thinking to myself, "What is wrong here!?!".

I re-measured my arm and this time decided to do a bicep curl. My measurement was now closer to 13"!

So, if you have muscular arms, you might want to flex them while taking your measurements.

In the end, I went back and added 1" in width to my sleeve. My sleeve pattern is now 14.75" wide, which is closer to what I need (13" + 2" ease = 15").

Sleeve Length

The sleeves on the Granville are super long! I measured my own arm and another shirt I liked and found that I have to remove a whole 3". It's good to make the sleeves the right length to begin with - why waste all that fabric?


That's a lot of adjustments! In a nutshell, the process you want to follow is:

  • Analyse your figure (where do you usually have issues? for me, it's my swayback, sleeves, and shoulders)
  • Measure yourself and a RTW shirt that fits
  • Pick the pattern size that will fit you best in the high bust / upper chest area
  • Figure out how much ease you need
  • Compare your measurements to the pattern
  • Make all your adjustments before you make your muslin or first top
This is almost the same process I explained in making pants.

I spent hours on this top and figuring out what I needed to do in a researched (almost obsessive) way. My adjustments are complete and I've cut out my fabric. So, I hope to finish my actual Granville this weekend.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Two-Socks-in-One (aka. Inception with Yarn)

I made my first attempt at double knitting! I was sick of finishing a sock and then having to work up the enthusiasm to make sock number two. Using double knitting a knitting both socks at once solves this problem.


Two-Socks-in-One by Kate Atherley

The pattern is nice because it gives tips on how to manage the stitches (like the decreases) while doing double knitting. I varied from the pattern in that I made both socks right-side facing out. The pattern has you knitting the first sock right-side out (knit stitches) and the inside sock right side facing the centre (purl stitches). I found it really difficult to alternate between purl and knit stitches while doing the rib. Therefore, I did it my way, so I could knit most stitches.


Knitpicks Stroll Sock Yarn in Midnight Heather and Sapphire Heather

I used a lighter and darker shade of blue, which I switched every 16 rows. This made it easier to make sure I wasn't mixing up my stitches. The result is lovely socks that are the opposite of each other.

I used 64 sts at the cuffs (the normal number I use for a men's medium pattern) with the smallest needles I had. But, the cuffs still ended up too big. I ended up knitting around 56 sts in the foot, just so they wouldn't be big everywhere else, too. As a result, the socks look a little funny and probably don't fit that great around the ankle. These socks are for my brother, so hopefully they will work for him.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

I made myself a new pair of jeans! The Closet Case Files pattern came out just in time. I have worn out my other me-made jeans (they were so comfortable that I wore them all the time), so now I need more. This lovely pattern is going to fill that void.


  • Denim with stretch (2% spandex)
  • Lining fabric (cotton left over from my Belcarra)
  • Regular and top-stitching thread
  • Button and zipper
  • Interfacing


Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

Ginger Jeans Sewalong by Closet Case Files

The sewalong made following the steps really easy. All of the pictures are great. The pattern itself is well done. I love it!

I did some top-stitching on my pair, but mostly for appearance. My machine was giving me lots of troubles. I had to turn my tension all the way up to get it to 'work' (even with size 100 top-stitching needles). I have since vacuumed out my machine, so maybe it will work if I try it again. If not, I may not make jeans with fancy top-stitching thread in the future (booo).

I made View B with the high waist. I also added the tummy control pockets (they work!).


I made size 10 (my size according to the measurement chart) with some adjustments:

  • I shortened the length (too much though - I have to go back and add some fabric back)
  • I scooped a little bit out of the back crotch curve 
  • I added some fabric to hips and inseam on the back pattern piece for full thighs (might need to add a little more)
  • Moved the pockets up 7/8" (I just noticed they are maybe a little too far out to the sides)
  • Large calf adjustment

To figure out what size and adjustments I needed, this is the process I followed:

  • Analyse your figure (where do you usually have issues? for me, it's my calves and thighs)
  • Measure yourself and RTW pants that fit (or are close)
  • Figure out your crotch curve (a flexible ruler helps)
  • Compare your measurements and curve to the pattern
  • Make all your adjustments before you make your muslin or first pair
Do this, and you will be ahead on addressing any fitting issues. In the past, I was confused with what to do with my measurements (ie. where on the pattern do I compare them to?). I have finally figured it out, so maybe I'll do a walkthrough on how to do this (if only for my benefit).

For the most part, I followed this advice for making this pair of Gingers. But, I didn't take the time to do a calf adjustment beforehand and now I'm paying the price. I had to sew a 1/8" seam allowance (!) on the back leg pieces starting at about 15" from the hem. I thought there would be enough fabric in the seam allowance to do this adjustment and didn't even bother to measure the pattern. Lesson learned. 

Overall, I did manage to save the jeans. While there are still back knee wrinkles, they are much less than on most RTW jeans I own. Hopefully, they will hold up with such small seam allowances.

The jeans look good from the front. My next pair will be even better. For now, I'm going to enjoy this pair. They are so comfortable!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

May Replay Sweater

I can finally post pictures of the finished May Replay sweater. As you might remember, I was looking forward to making a cable pullover for myself. But, once I blocked the pieces, the sweater was too big. I gave the sweater to my friend for Christmas.


May Replay by Debra Hoss

The pattern is written very well. It gives instructions for both full length and 3/4 length sleeves. I made the 3/4 length version. There are lots of tips on how to handle increases and decreases when doing cables.

The cables are nice and simple. The pattern is fun to knit and result is a classy looking sweater.


Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK in Dawn (672)

I loved the yarn. It's super soft and yet still shows the cables really well.

It has a slightly larger gauge than what is called for in the pattern. I thought I would be ok with sizing, since I did the smallest size sweater (two sizes down from my measurements) and used my smallest circular needles (US size 4 or 3.5mm). Overall, the sweater ended up being around two sizes too big.

I will use this yarn again, just maybe for a different sweater. At least this sweater is like one giant swatch. So, I'll have a better idea of what size to knit.

My friend looks as happy as the pattern picture

My friend loves the sweater so much she said she wore it everyday that week. I'm glad it all worked out.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Introducing Spiffy Stitches!

  1. smart in appearance.
    "a spiffy new outfit"
    synonyms:fashionablewell dressedeleganttrendystylishchicsharpsnazzy
    "a spiffy new blazer"

I'm giving my blog a refresh! I've renamed it to something much shorter and easier to remember than (whew!). But, the new name still fits with my personality and what I am trying to accomplish.

It's a new year and I've stuck with the blogging 'thing' for two years, so I figured a refresh was due. Without further ado, I give you Spiffy Stitches!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Burdastyle Easy 5/2014 #2B

I've already finished one project for 2015. I made Burdastyle Easy Winter 2014 2B aka. my Pretty Purple Ponte Pullover.

  • Century Ponte (49% Viscose, 30% Nylon, 15% Polyester, 6% Spandex)
  • Thread

My plan was to make this top out of contrasting sweatshirt fabric. But, I couldn't find any sweatshirt fabric that I liked. I ended up with this lovely, soft ponte fabric that is lighter on the wrong side of the fabric.

I really wish I had a walking foot while sewing this top. The ponte liked to stretch a lot under my regular presser foot. I have one on the way, it just hasn't arrived yet (boo).


Burdastyle Easy Winter 2014 #2B

I made a size 40, which is the size I usually choose for Burda patterns. I found that there was way too much ease in the waist and took in the side seams. I tapered from the underarm to about 1.5" in at the waist and back out to original side seam about 5" above the bottom. Now it fits like a dream!

One of the challenges I had with this project was deciding how I wanted my sleeves. I kept flip-flopping between dark and light sleeves. I ended up just going with light sleeves and I'm happy with the look.

The purple of the fabric is closer to what is seen in the picture above. It's not very bright during the day, so my pictures aren't the greatest.

I finished the seams using a zig-zag stitch (since I didn't have any purple serger thread). The ponte is a bit thick, so I tried to keep some areas from being too bulky. I used a blindstitch hem on the bottom of the shirt and used a single strip of fabric to face the collar (I pressed it to the inside and topstitched in place).

This is such a comfortable shirt and it's a nice warm layer for the colder weather. While I usually prefer cardigans, I think I am still going to wear this pullover a lot.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pictures of my MIL's Jacket

I was able to take some more pictures of the winter jacket I made my Mother-in-Law. It's hard to find enough light on these cold, dark winter days.

As you might be able to tell, my MIL is still super happy about her jacket.

I forgot to mention the in-seam pockets in my earlier posts, but here they are in action.

The back is nice and has no weird wrinkles.

It was fun to sew this jacket and I've gotten even better at sewing Ultrex. I only wish my walking foot (which I ordered a month before I started the jacket) had showed up on time. I ended up sewing with tissue on top, which actually worked pretty well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review of 2014

I've been a busy girl in 2014. I made a lot of stuff for myself and others.

For others, I made several pajama bottoms for my hubby, some Cooper bags for my brother and brother-in-law, a stuff panda for my new niece, and a dress for my sister.

For myself, I made a lot of bottoms. Surprisingly, I wore the light blue ones the most. Probably because they fit me the best. I still don't have the art of pants fitting down, but I'm getting better.

I made a lot of tops. Mostly Sewaholic Renfrews, which I love now that I got the fit right.

I made two dresses for myself. One is a Halloween costume - I'm Sally! The other is a simple Burdastyle pattern. It's so nice and light, so it has been perfect for super hot weather.

I made a few other things for myself. I made a Cooper bag, which I use all the time when I bike to work. I also used the Cooper pattern to make a simple backpack shopping bag. I also tried my hand at bra making (I love it!).

I also made some jackets. I made an Ultrex winter jacket for myself and one for my mother-in-law and both are awesome. Not so awesome, the Sewaholic Cordova. The fabric is crappy and is pilling after only a few wears. And the jacket just does not fit me right. So, it's a miss.

Sadly, I didn't finish as much knitting as I wanted to. I made myself a lovely cardigan for warmer weather. I made myself a folksy cardigan that is meant for very cold weather (and I find it a little too folksy to wear out, so I keep it for in the house). I made a hat, which I wear everyday in the winter. I also made a pullover that ended up being too big for me. I have given it to a friend for Christmas, so I'll post pictures soon.

I feel like I've accomplished a lot! Now I don't feel so bad about the stuff that didn't turn out. I made quite a few good things and my skills are getting better. I can't wait to start making more for 2015!

Happy New Year everyone!