Aug 15, 2017

Wrap It Up! CrossOver Surplice Bodice Front

Have you ever heard of a ‘surplice’ style? It’s not a commonly used term. One definition is as a noun ‘a garment in which the two halves of the front cross diagonally’. As an adjective, it is defined as ‘designating, forming or having a closure with diagonally crossing halves as in a surplice neckline.’

The wrap crossover or ‘surplice’ is the topic of this blog. It’s a much-loved style and seems to be as timeless and popular as ever. It’s a great style for either dresses or tops and can be sewn from either woven or knit fabric. But it doesn’t come without inherent trouble spots. Let’s deal with two common issues – 1. A gapping crossover due to an incorrect dart width in your pattern and 2. A gapping crossover due to the stretch or give of the bias cut on the fabric to create the crossover wrap.

When using your Sure-Fit Designs™ Dress Kit bodice blueprint, we cover one major troublesome issue which is a full (or very full) bust. Typically commercial patterns offer a B-cup dart shape. Due to a fuller-than-B-bust that you might have, a wrapped surplice on your torso will no doubt gap open. That’s the nature of a dart that is too small for your full bust. But of course, many of you already know there is no need for a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) with Sure-Fit Designs™ when you choose your correct bra cup size with our unique Adjust-A-Bust template. In drawing your body blueprint, you’ve used the bra cup shape on the template that will give you the best shape of dart for your full bust. That is going to solve much of the gap issues that a surplice wrap often presents.

One down, one to go. The dart width you’ve chosen is correct for your body, so why would a wrap crossover style still gap? The simple answer is because that crossover in on the diagonal or bias of the fabric. As many of you know the bias offers the most give/stretch in fabric and therefore a gap can occur due to the fabric stretching on this diagonal cut.

Let’s look at the pattern first.
**Draw the wrap crossover. The beginning of this short video shows you exactly how to set up your bodice front and how to draw the diagonal cross over. D.21 Symmetrical & Asymmetrical Bodice Designing - easy process explained


(To view the above video, you may likely need to open this link in a browser window - ).
It would likely be best to sew a mock-up of this style. If the front gaps slightly, you can dart this out in one of 3 places –at the bust level, the shoulder line, or the waist line. See the following illustrations. All 3 of these options in essence shorten the length of the diagonal crossover.

1. At the bust level, pinch out a narrow dart going to the apex. On the diagonal wrap line, mark point A then mark point B approximately ½ - ¾” (1.3 – 1.9cm) above A. Cut from A to the apex marking and cut on the top leg of the Designer’s Dart to the apex (the apex is the pivot point/hinge). Pivot point A up to point B allowing the pattern to open the dart making it just a little wider. Then make sure to re-draw the grainline from the bottom up and keep it parallel to your center front marking.

2. At the shoulder line, pinch out a narrow dart beginning at the neck point and tapering to nothing at the shoulder point.

3. At the waistline, redraw from the crossover point to nothing at the side seam, thereby shortening the length of the bias crossover.

Two more tips:

1. Adjust the crossover if necessary. Another issue that might occur is that the point at which the left side crosses over the right is too low for your liking. Simply re-shape the crossover point with your Designing Stylus so that this straight diagonal line now has some lift to it. True this lifted curvy bit back into either side of the diagonal line. It may look a little strange, but it will lay well on your torso.

2. Stabilize the crossover when sewing. As you sew this diagonal seam, most likely while adding the facing, insert a narrow stay tape to help prevent any further stretch.

You’re ready to wrap it up! See page 42 in the SFD Dress Kit Instruction Book (6th edition) and Style #1 in the designing book Beyond Bodice Basics, for a simple surplice design. Give it a try…you should be pleasantly surprised.

Happy fitting & Sewing!
Glenda...the Good Stitch!

Aug 7, 2017

Flash Shipping Sale - Today Only $6.95

Flash 1-Day Flat Rate ($6.95) Shipping Sale!

If you've been wanting to purchase one of the larger SFD Combos, like the 3-Kit Combo or Works Combo PLUS...but the cost of postage/shipping held you back...well today only you can purchase any Sure-Fit Designs products, including the largest discounted Combos and pay only $6.95 in shipping.  

~ SAVE $$$ ~

The postage for the Works Combo PLUS is normally $23.95.  So yes, this is a huge savings.

Shop - Tuesday August 8, 2017 - until midnight.  You'll only be charged $6.95 no matter the quantity of items purchased.

For our Canadian customers, you'll also be able to take advantage of this one day shipping sale.  Anna Espindola, our Canadian distributor will ship any order anywhere in Canada for $8.99 CND.  It's a perfect time to start your Sure-Fit Designs sewing experience or add to your existing pattern kits and tools.  For Canadian ordering, please go to

Enjoy your shopping!
Glenda...the Good Stitch!

Aug 1, 2017

Dragon Embroidery & Rounded Back

Just in time for the new season of Game of Thrones...if you happen to be a fan.  This dragon embroidery was stitched by Christine Shanahan, one of our Sure-Fit Designs UK sewists.  She did a fabulous job and Wes (my DH and your cameraman) ended up with a new T-shirt.

But my DH is definitely developing quite a rounded upper back, so this is a good opportunity to review how to refine the back neck, lift it up and make it fit better.
Here's a photo of what a typical ready-to-wear T-Shirt looks like on his neck and back.

Notice how the front neck ribbing is riding high, the back neck pulls down and definitely doesn't cover his rounded upper neck hump, and the shoulder seams...oh they are riding so far back from his natural shoulder position.

To correct this on his Sure-Fit Designs Shirt pattern, I used to simply raise the center back neck point about 5/8", but recently I've also split the pattern and added more lift.

After you've slashed and spread open as shown above, you would typically true Center Back with a slightly rounded CB seam.  But because this was sewn into a T-Shirt, which doesn't usually have a center back seam, and because I wanted to place the dragon embroidery in the center of the upper back, center back was trued and straightened.  This neck lift is still there, but the curved CB shaping is eliminated.  Wes is definitely fast becoming a candidate for a shirt with a CB seam due to this upper neck rounding.

With the CB now lifted, you can see how much better the fabric comes up and over top of the back neck rounding.  And notice the shoulder seam - it is sitting where it is supposed to - on the top of his shoulder line.  Such an improvement.  Just look back to the olive green T-shirt above, the simple splitting and lifting of the CB makes the difference of night and day to how it is riding on his body.

You'll find an article in the Sure-Fit Designs Learning Center that goes into much greater detail and also shows incorporating the center back seam for total great shaping of the back.  Take a few minutes to click through to

 Happy fitting & sewing,
Glenda...the Good Stitch!

Jul 25, 2017

Animal Print Slinky
Last week I talked about working with slinky and some of the challenges you'll encounter as well as ways to best deal with the fabric.  Here's a cute outfit where the skirt is designed and sewn with a 'slinky' type of fabric.  The top is sewn from a very stretchy 2-way knit jersey, though it isn't slinky.

The hem of the skirt is simply finished as a rolled hem sewn on the serger with wooly nylon.  Sorry it's hard to see up close when it's been stitched in black thread.  The waist edge is pull-on and has been finished with 1" wide elastic. Directions to design and sew this style of waist edge are found in the Pants Kit Instruction Book on page 24.

For the top, I used my Dress Kit bodice blueprint, though I'd previously removed the dart for a T-Shirt type of style.  Since I'm so small busted I can get away without having the dart.  For these directions, go to this article -

Here's a close-up of the sleeve detail.  This is a 3/4 length sleeve and I added shirring at the middle of the sleeve near the hem level.

Shirring instructions can be found in the designing book Sew Sensational Shirts.

The top features a V-Neck embellished with strips of the animal print criss-crossing the V-neck opening.

This criss-crossing process went like this.
1. Copy both sides of the V-neck shape on tracing vellum.

2.  Then draw where you want your strips to criss-cross.  I've highlighted the approximate positions in pink and yellow highlighter tape.

3.  Prepare the strips.  I interfaced directly down the center.

4.  Then I stitched and turned the tubes/strips.

5.  Lay the strips criss-crossing one another using the drawing as a guide.

6. Hand or machine baste the strips at the cross points.

7. Staystitch the neck edge and clip to the V point.

8. Using the vellum diagram as a guide, place the strips to the neck edge.  Baste in place.

 Inside view

Right side view

9. Then finish off with the facing.  I cut a 2 part front facing (meaning there was a seam at CF) so that it would be easier to stitch up to the V.  It still wasn't that easy, but with persistence and fiddling, it all went together.

I'm sure there is likely an easier way to attach these strips to the front.  Perhaps someone who has previously sewn this type of insert would like to leave a comment as I'm sure it will be of benefit to all reading this blog.  I invite your comments and do appreciate them.

Happy Fitting & Sewing!

Jul 18, 2017

Slinky Issues!

At a recent Fit Retreat, we got into a discussion about sewing with Slinky.  Or should I say 'fitting with Slinky'?

Here's my black Slinky shell.

I rarely wear sleeveless tops/dresses, so I stitched up this diagonal hemmed cardigan to go over top of it.  If you're interested, directions for this lacy cardigan can be found in the bodice designing book - Beyond Bodice Basics.
And if you've ever sewn with Slinky, you know it can present some stretching, fitting and sewing problems...or should I call them 'issues'?

Slinky is an elastic acetate knit.  It's available in different weights and stretch and is sometimes combined with spandex to help eliminate the bagging that can occur.  It is really soft and comfortable to wear, has a supple hand and really drapes well.

For the pattern design, keep it simple with few design lines, minimal seaming, elastic casings, loose sleeves or sleeveless.  Avoid real close fitted styles.

Let me pass on some tips on working with Slinky.
1.  Pre-treat Slinky in cold/warm water (no bleach) and throw it in the dryer - cool/warm temp.  When washing after wearing, wash in cold  water and line dry.
2. You can definitely sized down your pattern at least 1- 2 dots in all circumference areas.  Everything is going to stretch - both horizontally and vertically - so you're likely safe to 'dot-down' at all points on the SFD master pattern.
3.  Add 5/8" seam allowances.  This width will make it easier to handle.  Then after you've basted and adjusted the fit, serge/trim to 1/4" allowance.
4. When cutting, make sure that none of the fabric hangs off the cutting table.  It will definitely stretch out of shape.
5.  Treat Slinky as a napped or one-way fabric with all pieces headed in the same direction.
6. Cut with extremely sharp fabric shears or rotary cutter.
7.  Decide which side you want as the 'right' side and mark with a visible marking pencil or place a piece of plastic tape on the 'wrong' side and write 'wrong' on the tape.
8.  Use a 'walking foot'.
9.  Test sewing on remnants.  Stitch horizontally, vertically and diagonally.  Use long embroidery pins.  Since the fabric does not feed evenly, stop periodically, raise the presser foot, smooth the fabric then continue stitching.
10.  Baste - baste - baste with the longest stitch possible!  Test the fit.  There is no way to gauge how much your Slinky is going to stretch vertically or horizontally until you put it on.  Adjust the fit to your comfort level.  If the Slinky is a very dark color, baste with a bright contrasting color thread.  It will make it much easier to pick out.
11.  Always stitch directionally i.e. from the hem up.
12.  Then when you are satisfied, to complete the seams use a long straight stitch but not necessarily a stretch stitch, trim or serge/overlock the seams.
13.  If you're sewing pants, the length of the crotch seam WILL stretch vertically.  Stabilize with a narrow flat, clear elastic as you stitch the seam.  This allows the seam to have a little give, but not stretch excessively.  Shoulders, necklines and long side seams can also be stabilized with clear, flat elastic.
14.  To bind the neck and armhole edges, as I have done on this tank top, cut the ribbing and binding strips on the crossgrain approximately 25-30% shorter than the edge to be finished.
15.  Hemming.  They say you can use fusible webbing, but I couldn't get mine to 'melt' and adhere the 2 layers together, so I simply top-stitched the hem in place.  But since Slinky isn't going to ravel, you could just cut and leave the hem as a raw edge.

These tips should help you out on your next Slinky project.
Glenda...the Good Stitch!

Jul 11, 2017

SFD June Fit & Sew Retreat

Happy ladies...lots of work...happy results.

The last week of June saw ladies from N. Carolina, Texas, California, Oregon and Canada attend yet another Sure-Fit Designs Fit & Sew Retreat.

This first photo shows all of us as we begin their 6-day Retreat adventure.  All of them arrived with individual personal goals for their fitting success.   You'll see Sherry, my assistant standing to my left.  And the lady second in on the right is our new Canadian distributor - Anna Espindola - here for her practicum training.

Closing event occurred on Wednesday evening.

And the above photo is all of us squished in together.

A student from the June Fit & Sew Retreat - designed the yoga pants project but sewn at home - the yoga pants are found in the designing book Pants that Mix n Multiply. Don't you just love the happy fabric. Her husband calls them her 'happy pants'. And she's happy that they fit so well. Thanks for sharing Shelley!

Here's Anna - our SFD Canadian distributor - in her Retreat project - Yoga Pants and Tank Top.
They fit so well and look just great on her.

Thanks to all of you for attending and working so diligently to achieve the best fit possible for your body shape.

Happy sewing,

Jul 5, 2017

Setting Secrets...the Set-in Sleeve Master Class! 

Do you struggle trying to sew a perfectly smooth set-in sleeve?  If so, read and follow the instructions for the Set-in Sleeve Master Class. 

This master class is totally free and is found on our newest website -
There you'll find 2 video lessons, the actual text lesson, as well as a downloadable PDF file of the lesson.

You'll build your sleeve setting skill by following these techniques for setting in the classic sleeve.  Just follow along as I show you a process that I've used for years to achieve a beautiful outcome when sewing the set-in sleeve.

Happy Sewing!