E.S.P. Dress Sew Along Week 1 May 04 2016 2 Comments

E.S.P. Dress Sew Along Week 1

First off - progress report on the search to establish the "voice" for our blog. actual progress made on that front. We are fast giving up hope of every nailing this down entirely.

So - on to the sew along part!  The key to making the E.S.P. dress look beautiful and feel comfortable is a well fitted bodice. A muslin, also known as a mock up or toile, is our preferred way of determining what changes have to be made to the pattern, if any, to ensure a proper fit. Yes, this does delay the gratification of finishing the dress for a while, but it is SO worth it! A properly fitted dress is a revelation. You will feel amazing and proud as you say "This beautiful and comfortable dress? Oh yes, I made it."


Our model's measurements are Bust 42", Waist 35", Hips 45". At first glance, it appears that the size that best matches those measurements is 42 (our sizes are labeled based on bust measurement). But our model is a DD cup so this changes EVERYTHING! Our patterns are sized and graded based on a B cup, as is the majority of commercial sewing patterns. If your bra cup size is a C cup or larger (regardless of your band size) you will most likely need a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) to make the bodice fit properly. If you your bra cup size is LARGER than a B – use your high bust measurement to select your size and go from there.

The FBA is positifvely magic as it adds exactly what you need, where you need it to fit your curves. And believe it or not - it is EASY. If you have no pattern adjustment experience, don’t be scared. Check out our favorite FBA tutorial at the Curvy Sewing Collective (whom we love love love, BTW, and you will too when you see all of the amazing information and body positive posts). They make understanding and learning the FBA so easy and clear. Adding the FBA to your sewing skills will be life changing – we kid you not! If you prefer having someone talk you through it, look at Sewing Parts Online's video. It also covers a Small Bust Adjustment (SBA), which helps those with an A cup get rid of a baggy bodice. Need to do a SBA? Use your bust and waist measurement to select your size. There is a written tutorial on the SBA by which is very helpful.

As per the FBA guidelines, we selected the pattern size based on the model’s high bust measurement, 40” . Then we did the FBA on the size 40. We placed the sleeve piece over the bodice front to determine the shoulder and mark a point 1/3 of the way down the armscye for the FBA.

Besides adding the fullness to the bodice, now is the time to move the darts to correspond with the bust apex. Again, we'll defer to the Curvy Sewing Collective for a tutorial on lowering a bust dart and Itch to Stitch, which covers moving the waist dart, as well.

 Below, we have the results of a WHOLE LOTTA muslin sewing! The first and second row of photos show the muslin sewn directly from the pattern with no alterations. The third row is the muslin with all the pattern adjustments. 

See the difference? The size 40 is too tight at the bust (pulling at the bust line in front and back). The size 42 fits the bust but the waist and neckline are too big. The size 40 with the FBA fits the bust "like a glove, but on my boobs," to quote our model. 

You may notice there is some extra fabric at the lower back. To fit the lower back, we did a Sway Back adjustment. Tanya at the Curvy Sewing Collective (broken, happy record) has a quick tutorial on this adjustment. Also, the size of the dart can be increased to remove the excess fabric from the bust side. And this is why we love making muslins!

Muslins don't require having all the seams finished and facings sewn on. Just put the essential pieces together and try it on. 

If you are new to sewing, this is a great time to practice your marking and dart sewing techniques. Check out these tutorials on marking and sewing a dart by Lucky Lucille and Threads magazine (if you prefer videos).


Next week: The pleated skirt variation.

Who am I and what am I doing here?! April 24 2016 12 Comments

Who am I and what am I doing here?!

Welcome to the inaugural Decades of Style blog post! We've read up on how to blog and we learned the first and MOST IMPORTANT thing about writing a blog is to establish your “voice.” We don’t know what our “voice” is yet so when we figure it out, we'll let you know immediately *wink*. In the meantime, we'll be posting some information about the E.S.P. dress and we hope you enjoy!

Why are we finally doing a blog now after nearly a dozen years in business? We are always late to the party! (Joining social media and offering PDF patterns in the last 18 months - but better late than never, right?) We’ve been having so much fun on Instagram and we don’t want to lose touch with anyone as the app “improves”. We feel this is the perfect time to create a consistent place to share information on a platform that is not vulnerable to the whims of social media algorithms. We are going to show you inspiring pattern variations which are better suited to blog format rather than Instagram or Facebook. 

Ah, memories! The first time we were mentioned in Threads magazine. We're in the BIG LEAGUES! And look! It includes pictures of two of our discontinued patterns (a 1920's jacket and 1940's dress). The 1930's Kitchenette Pajamas and 1950's Wrap Blouse are still available.

Our blog will cover basic sew alongs of our patterns as well as tricks and easy alterations to achieve a different look. Our sew alongs won’t cover the nitty gritty of every step in the sewing process. Why? Because the internet already contains thousands of tutorials, videos, articles, and blogs on how to sew a dart, armscye, hem, put in a zipper, and everything else! We'll show you what we do for any chosen task, but chances are it won’t be that different from all the DIYs already out there. Sharing sewing information is great and we'll include links to our preferred and/or wildly different tutorials or informational blog posts that you might enjoy (like have you seen Oonabanoona’s 12 Things I've Learned About Sewing? Hi-larious).

Striped E.S.P. dress

E.S.P. dress with striped and tufted fabric from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

To kick it all off:  a sew along for the E.S.P Dress!! We’ll cover how a Full Bust Adjustment really improves the fit for anyone with C cup or larger bra size. We adapt the gathered skirt pattern into a pleated skirt and increase the fullness by 50%. We’ll cover changing the direction of your pattern layout to "on the cross grain" (this will change the direction of the stripe on your finished garment.) And finally, a few words about the sleeve length just for comparison.

So at least we answered half of the title questions! You can subscribe to our blog using the RSS FeedBurner feed by clicking on this text. You can also sign-up to our e-newsletter at the bottom of our page.  Look for the sew along to start the first week of May!