Dec 30, 2013

Help me out - Your suggestions welcome! and...Happy New Year!

As we officially close 2013 and open up 2014, first, I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year. 2013 has gone way too fast, but it's been a great year. 

Second, I'd like to request your suggestions.  You all know that we post lots of complimentary, tutorial-type of videos to help you with your fitting, designing and sewing success.  To date, Sure-Fit Designs now has over 120 instructional 'helps' up on You Tube.  We intend to keep that number growing throughout 2014.

During the past 3 months, we've knocked off a number of them that were on my 'Video To-Do List', so now I need your help and suggestions.  Usually, the tutorials stem from suggestions and requests you ask for, issues I see happening with our customers as they are drawing off their patterns and some of the topics come from what I see occurring in my fitting retreats.  When I see something happen more than 2 or 3 times, I figure there might be a few others out there that are experiencing the same issue.

What would you like to see explained or addressed in new videos?  Please take a few minutes to leave a comment on this blog page.  When you're commenting, please be specific.  Remember, I attempt to focus on only one single topic at a time and something that can be dealt with in no more than about 10 minutes of video time.  And...if you can't get the Comment Box on this blog page to work properly, simply drop me an email at

As you are contemplating your input, think of topics relating to drawing out your body blueprints, fitting and minor tune-ups and adjustments, designing questions and/or sewing issues you might want information on.

And before I close this very short, end-of-the-year blog, I must give credit to my ever-resourceful and creative husband (Wes), who, as many of you know is our videographer.

We've graduated from our humble beginnings of a friend's borrowed camera, to top-of-the-line movie production video cam and cameras, equipment, and complex editing software.  Everything now is shot in HD (and uploaded to YouTube in HD too), so that you receive the best clarity possible.

It's been a creative learning experience for both of us...we've loved the challenge...and there's more to come.

I really do want your input, so take a few minutes to offer your video topic suggestions.  And don't be afraid to offer more than one suggestion - I will appreciate and evaluate all of them.

Thank you all for a great 2013!  We wish you all the best in the coming year and may you have many hours of rewarding sewing.
Happy New Year,

Dec 24, 2013

What's a French Dart?

Sometimes seamstresses get confused about exactly what a French Dart is.  Research states it quite simply.  A regular dart is straight.  A French dart is slightly curved.  Also, a French dart usually begins near the waist line or a little above or below, but typically, it is a long, curved dart as shown in the following illustration.

In a recent Fit & Sew Retreat, Lynda chose to change the bust-fitting dart into a French Dart for her Tank Top project.
You'll find complete directions for designing this French Dart on page 23 of the Dress Kit Instruction Book.

Notice that the bulk of the fabric for the folded part of the dart has been removed and that you end up with a cutting line that curves up toward the dart tip.

When stitching this dart, you may want to add a stay tape, like a narrow clear elastic/plastic tape, since you are stitching the bias of the fabric and this will prevent the dart from stretching out of shape as you sew.  Make sure to press this dart over a tailor's ham.  And if the fabric frays a lot, you can always serge/overlock the raw edge of the seam allowance.

Everything about this tank top fit so nicely when she was finished.  Well done, Lynda!

Dec 17, 2013

Clever Clover Clips

A lot of you likely already know about these Wonder Clips, but since I'm not a quilter, they were new to me.
They look like miniature clothes pegs - boy that sure dates us when we remember clothes pegs!

When I send out the Supply List for the SFD Fit & Sew Retreats, I always tell the ladies they can bring whatever sewing supplies they want...whatever makes them happy and comfortable.  Our Sewing Room - where I teach - comes equipped with most everything you could need (and we are welcome to use their supplies), but when ladies drive in, they often bring those little extras.  It's fun to see everyone's different sewing habits, and when Barbara started clipping her seams together (rather than pinning), a couple of us were intriqued.

 Here Barb has clipped her pants legs together in preparation for sewing.

And here she's used them to clip the sleeve into the bodice.  This sure saves getting stuck by pins.

If you're interested, you can find them at Nancy's Notions or at Amazon.  They're actually called 'Wonder Clips' and are manufactured by Clover.  They have a great holding capacity.  Each clip opens wide to hold layers of fabric and the clip's base is flat so it rides flat on the throat plate.  Each package contains 50 clips.  This would be a great stocking stuffer (when you're stuffing your own stocking - or if you get your request into the 'Stocking-Stuffer' elves ahead of time)!

It was great to have you in class Barbara...thanks for sharing.

Dec 10, 2013

Circle the Dots

Is this like circle the wagons?  Not really - just another helpful tip - contributed by Kathleen S. from Eugene, OR.

You all likely know by now that I always recommend drawing your personal patterns in pencil.  I know I use brightly colored pens in our SFD videos and DVD's, but that's only so that you can see what I'm doing.

I'm sure a lot of you know that when you are drawing with pencil, those gray, graphite dots kind of get lost on the vellum when your dot is directly on top of one of the Master Pattern dots.

Sure you can use erasable colored pencils, but in the recent October Fit & Sew Retreat, one of the ladies was drawing small circles around her dots.  I thought, 'what clever idea'!  Why hadn't I thought of that??

Well, thanks to Kathleen S. I'm now sharing this tiny little tidbit of info...just to make all your SFD experiences more positive.

So simple, yet so effective!  Thanks Katheen.

Dec 3, 2013

Princess-Seamed Pants

I still hear lots of ladies groan every time I suggest using a seam up the center of the pants leg.  For some reason or other, they must think there is some stigma attached to using a seam up the center of the leg of the pants pattern.

But when you have quite a flat backside, or when you have a large high hip or abdomenal circumference (meaning a large waist and stomach area) going to a flat backside or pencil thin legs, this center leg seam is truly a life-saver.  With this seam, you can deepen the stitching curve under your backside and you can use it to help taper the legs.  Those of you who have seen this process and the results being pants that fit so well, are true converts.

But have you thought of using this same seaming concept up the front of your pants leg?  In this photo, you'll see pants front - with one 'regular' leg and one 'seamed' leg.
Please keep in mind these are 'test' pants - hence all the other wrinkles - but you can likely see the remarkable difference between the leg with or without the center seam.  It simply fits so much better.

Here's the completed side and back views.

 Do you remember my NY trip blog?  Well, while 'shopping' those famous 5th. Ave stores, another design I saw LOTS of  was pants with seams - down the back and front of the pants leg.  Designer's simply know you can get a superior fit when you incorporate these leg seams for shaping.  Here's a photo of the front of a pair of pants (sorry I wasn't holding them totally upright), but you can still see the front leg seam.  By the way, these exposed zippers are very popular too.  (FYI - These pants were priced at $249.00).  How simple are these for us talented seamstresses!

Now, to make this happen, I suggest watching this video.  This concept of adding seams to the interior of both the front and back legs of your pants pattern is significant enough to have made a video on the process.  Please take a few minutes to watch.

(Well, this is crazy, but I'm having great difficulty accessing this video from YouTube and putting it in this blog.  So until I get that figured out, please just click on this link and it will take you directly to the video on the YouTube site.  It's called

Just give this a try to see how simple and effective the pants princess seam can be to help refine your pants fit.

Nov 26, 2013

Why can't bridesmaids come in one size?

Why can't bridesmaids come in one size?  When there's no dressmaker available and a wedding in 4 months, Helen W. from Australia needed to sew the bridesmaid dresses herself.  And of course, each of the 4 attendants were of different height and shape.

Helen combined the best of both worlds.  She used the commercial pattern for the pleated skirt styling, but the SFD Dress Kit bodice came to the rescue for the fit on the bodice.  She drafted the bodices from the Master Pattern and then used the SFD Sleeve pattern with an adaptation for the specific sleeve design from the commercial pattern.

Helen was a proud mother.  Her beautiful daughter looked lovely and she received many compliments on the bridesmaid dresses on the way they fit so well.  Let's take a closer look. all look lovely!
Helen, thanks so much for sharing your well-deserved compliments with all of the SFD readers.

Nov 19, 2013

My Pathetic Posture!

Too many hours at the computer! And too few at my sewing machine though the result would still be the same!  I think my posture is getting worse by the day.

I started to become aware of this when I began noticing the 'odd' drag line from my neck point to my shoulder bone.  That entire ball of the shoulder seems to be coming forward as evidenced in this photo.

When I stand straighter, that nasty drag line disappears...but who remembers to stand straighter all the time.

So I drafted a new pattern with a shoulder seam tune-up.  I took my bodice blueprint, moved the front shoulder point forward 1/2" (truing to the original neck point) and then the back shoulder point also was rotated forward.  Here is the result, which I'm happy with.

I didn't sew a muslin test because I knew this is what I needed, but if you're unsure, definitely sew a test muslin.

Also, I designed in a simple princess line going up into the shoulder seam and used the 3-thread cover stitch on my new BabyLock Evolution serger to apply the decorative stitching.

Here's a full photo of the blouse.

And this is a short video showing you how to rotate the shoulder forward.

Now, I'm doing exercises to hold my shoulders back where they belong but oops...I'm slumping again.  Oh well...the effort is being made!

Nov 12, 2013

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's (with the doorman)...then on to a day of fabric shopping in New York's Garment District.

This district is also now referred to as the Fashion District, since the days of clothing racks being rolled down the street are a thing of the past.  It's simply to costly to compete with Asian knockoffs.

This information kiosk, with the giant-sized needle and button on top, welcomes you and provides maps and listings of what fabric stores are where.  And though I didn't take this photo because the entire corner where this is situated is currently under scaffolding (which much of NY seemed to be), here's what it looks like.

Just beside this kiosk, is this bronze statue - treadle sewing machine (you get just a hint of the scaffolding around it too).  Yes, I'd already completed my first stop at Paron Fabrics.  It's a small store, but fabric was well displayed.

Then on to the Spandex House.  For anyone sewing swimwear or dance costumes, this would be a must-do stop.  And though I didn't purchase anything that first day, I did go back for some stretch leather.  R-T-W is showing all kinds of diagonal zipped jackets like the one below.  My intention is to make a downloadable Fashion Leaflet for a design similar to this one.

Ah yes...did I say that it was October 31st?  Next stop Mood Fabrics with everyone dressed in costume.

Many of you know Mood Fabrics and Project Runway.  Here's what a couple of the aisles look like.  Thousands of bolts of fabric, and though the staff were helpful, you really needed to know what you wanted as I didn't think they were that well displayed.  And what I wanted wasn't

Then on to B & J Fabrics.  I found this store much easier to browse and shop in.  They carry thousands of fabrics, carefully organized by type (like silk, cottons, wool), then by print theme and finally by color.  All are well swatched, clearly labeled as to fiber content, and priced.  They may be a little more spendy than some of the other stores, but it was easy to browse because it wasn't cluttered and chaotic.  I was too busy shopping to take any photos, but I did end up with a great piece of Italian 'denim' with an interesting fiber mix of silk, cotton, nylon and lycra.  Sorry I can't photograph it - it's on its way home via UPS - my carry-on was too full already!

And if you can't find your specialty trim in M&J Trims, it's likely not made!  Walls of trims, ribbons, sequined appliques, buttons and closures could be found here.  Their window display is shown below - a tiered, rotating 8 ft. high trim 'cake'.

No NY trip would be complete without browsing the high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Lord & Taylor, Eileen Fisher...and the list goes on.  Believe it or not, we saw countless jumpsuits - now called rompers.  Remember, they used to be popular in the mid-80's?  The only problem for women is they need a trap door!  If you're so inclined, you'll find jumpsuit instructions in the SFD Children's Kit The concept is the same for women - just join your pants to your bodice and leave some lengthwise ease for movement.  Here's a photo, and I can assure you, we saw lots of them.

You might be interested to see how one designer, Kiya Tomlin, used SFD to design and sew a couple of stunning jumpsuits.  They are featured in the SFD Photo Gallery, but I'll also drop the photos in here too.

Though our sewing business (SFD) has taken us to many international countries where the fabric shopping was fabulous, I'd not been to NY before.  It was a great trip!

Nov 5, 2013

What a beautiful smile and flattering!

Doesn't this blouse just fit and look great on Lu?
Lu is a beautiful, tall, and yes, full-busted woman.  She also happens to be a friend of Joy's (Joyful Expressions).  And if you know Joy, you know she loves sewing and loves using Sure-Fit Designs.  Since Lu doesn't sew, and since Joy decided these fabric colors better suited Lu than her, she offered to sew this SFD blouse for her.

First, Joy did a 'muslin' test.

Obviously not muslin, but a test nonetheless, just to make sure the SFD bodice pattern was fitting Lu to perfection.  She decided that the 'E' cup dart shape from the SFD Adjust-A-Bust template wasn't quite wide enough.  So she then widened the dart shape to an 'F' cup width.

For any full-busted women, and particularly those of you beyond an 'E', you'll find an informative video showing you how to make the Adjust-A-Bust template larger for your special needs.  For the article telling you how to do this, click here to the SFD Article Library and look for article F.5 Beyond-E - Darts for Large Busts.

Also watch this Sure-Fit Designs video: 
I know you'll find this a simple and successful process.  For really full-busted women, it certainly beats the necessity to chop your pattern all up with a traditional full bust adjustment (FBA).

Here's Lu looking happy and sassy in her great-fitting blouse.
If you'd like to read the full account in Joy's blog, just click on over to Joyful Expressions.
Of course, at the end of this successful blouse story, Lu asked if she sewed pants too?  I think you likely know the answer to that one!

One other little tip I'd like to give you is that for those of you who have fairly full bustlines and a relatively narrow back in comparison, you can always use one dot larger in the front of your pattern, and one smaller in the back bodice.  As an example, if you were 46" in total bust circumference, you could use the 47" dot on Bodice Front at Underarm Pt. #2 and at the top leg of the bust grading dots and use the 45" dot on Bodice Back at Underarm Pt. #2.  You end up with the same amount of total bust ease, but you've distributed more to the front and less to the back...and the front is where you need it.  You'll see this instruction on Page 6 of the Dress Kit Instruction book - for Larger/Smaller Front or Back.

Joy and Lu - thanks so much for sharing...

Oct 29, 2013

Fit & Sew Retreat - Plan Ahead for 2014

I've had a number of ladies ask when the Fit & Sew Retreats were going to be scheduled for 2014.  Consequently, I've done some advanced planning for the entire next year.  These dates were announced in the October SFD Newsletter and ladies are already booking ahead.  I know it's difficult for some of you to plan this much in advance, but when I only take 6 students, the workshops do fill quickly.

There will be 4 combined SFD Pants/Bodice workshops which are each 6 days long.  In addition, and as a result of feedback from those who came this year, I'm offering 2 'Intensive' workshops.  Each will be 4 days long. One will be exclusively for fitting/sewing pants, and the other is exclusively for fitting/sewing the bodice/blouse.

The schedule is as follows:
February 16 - 21 (6 days: Pants & Bodice)

April 6 - 11 (6 days: Pants & Bodice)

May 18 - 21 (4 days - Pants Intensive)

July 6 - 11 (6 days: Pants & Bodice)

August 17 - 20 (4 days - Bodice Intensive)

October 12 - 17 (6 days: Pants & Bodice)

Please keep in mind that these fitting Retreats fill quickly since I only take 6 students per class.  And of course, Early Bird Discounts are available.

For the nitty, gritty details and everything you need to know about these fitting Retreats, please click here - SFD Classes & Events.   Just scroll down the page where you'll see all the major topics and a 'click here' to access the content of each. 

I know many of you would love to attend, but can't for any number of reasons.  Just remember that we now have the Pants Fitting Course on DVD - a 2-DVD set - which is the next best thing to being here in person since with it comes a personalized 1/2hr. Skype session with me.  And coming soon, we will have the Bodice Fitting Course on DVD.  Watch your SFD newsletters for this announcement. 

Here's a short video showing you some of what we do in these Retreats.

I hope to see some of you in 2014.


Oct 22, 2013

Jayna's Firsts

Jayna has come a long way.  She attended the SFD Fit & Sew Retreat in August. She admitted that she did mostly craft projects (prior to the Retreat).  Why?  You guessed it - body hard to fit - commercial patterns certainly didn't work and most R-T-W offered a marginal fit at best.

The SFD Retreat stimulated her inherent love of creating and sewing.  She left there enthused to take up personal sewing again.  I encouraged everyone to go home and sew their 'test' patterns just one more time.  These are Jayna's second test pants and complimentary blouse/shirt.  Don't you agree she did a fabulous job?

But even though these were to be her second test pants, she decided to make it an outfit with coordinating blouse fabric with contrasting piping trim on the sleeves and collar.

And...she had never designed pockets and belt loops before, much less sewn them into pants.

Here's a close-up of Jayna's first time pockets and belt loops.  Jayna commented to me that she'd never designed anything relating to her clothing patterns, but when she got into it, she said the SFD Jeans directions were clear, simple and easy to follow.  And the great part is, she loved the process!  Didn't she do a great job?  But of course, the best part is the result, they are sewn beautifully and fit so well.

Her blouse is from her Dress Kit bodice blueprint (sloper).  Though you can't see it really well because of the fabric print, the bust dart is located in the standard side seam position.

The sleeve uses the Short Sleeve series of dots on the sleeve pattern.  The red piping matches her pretty tank top.

This Rolled/Convertible collar is from the new SFD Collar Collection.  Yes that's right!  Sure-Fit Designs is coming out with our new Collar Collection.  Six different collar patterns are offered with extensive instructions.  Now you won't need to create your own from scratch - they'll all be available - all you've got to do is copy your choice of collar shape.  Make sure you watch for your December SFD newsletter where I plan on announcing this Master Collar Shapes Collection.


Oct 15, 2013

October 2013 Fit & Sew Retreat Highlights

We all had a great time!  Fitting and sewing, sewing and fitting for 6 intense days.  A lot was accomplished.  Happy ladies perfected their pants and bodice fit.  Body issues and challenges were different from one to the next, but all left with well-fitting pants and tops.

Here are some of the highlights captured in photos.

Then on to their final projects:

We worked hard, but had lots of success and fun too.
To read student comments and see more photos, click here.

Fit & Sew Retreats for 2014
If you'd like to consider attending a Sure-Fit Designs Fit & Sew Retreat in 2014 - Click Here for all necessary details.  The Early Bird Discount is coming up on Nov. 16 for the February workshop - it's not too early to be planning ahead.