Taming the waist


In my previous post I talked about fit – the difference between correct and perfect fit and why most of us will not like the clothes fit to perfection.

I also showed you the bodice pattern I was working on – it fitted me perfectly and I hated it.

Let me tell you more about this bodice.

This is one of only a few boned bodices I’ve sewn in my entire life. It is also a muslin, and by sewing it I’ve learned a massive lot about my preferred fit, and look of this type of garments. I am almost happy with the way it turned out, the next one should be even better.

To develop this pattern I started with my personal block with 0 cm ease. I adjusted the front princess seam from my sad convex to a much better looking concave shape.

I do admit, this made me nervous: “Oh my god, it wont fit. It will cut in, my zip will split, I won’t be able to breathe, how can it possibly work?”

On a plus size, this adjustment alone took 2 cm off my waist measurement.

Then I sewed 16 bones into the bodice and had my first  fitting.

To my surprise, it was very comfortable, maybe a bit too comfortable. I even had to check several times if it was actually zipped.

I wanted more. I wanted that snug, hugging feeling only this kind of bodices can give you.
After a couple of adjustments I finally got it.

My perfect block has -1 cm ease at the bust and -4.4 cm at the waist.

It’s hard to believe that a garment that is 4 cm smaller than you need could be comfortable, but somehow it is. I don’t feel tortured, breathless or sausaged in – only “controlled”. I even started wondering if I could bring it in at the waist even more! If I take it in right here (diggs thumbs into her sides) it will look even more fab!

But this, of course, will be a completely different story. This story will be called “Lena sews a corset” and I imagine it will happen eventually. I have already done some research into modern corsetry, it took me places I’ve never been before.

To my surprise, corsetry and tight lacing are still alive and well, with quite huge demand (and an adequate supply) for all sorts of daily corrective wear for both women and men.

Have you heard of waist training? There are before and after pictures of people who significantly reduce their waists by wearing special corsets day and night. There is no way I’d do that, I treasure my comfort far too much, but after I saw what just 4 cm off my waist feels and looks like, I find the idea of corrective undergarments under special occasion clothes very attractive.

The websites for waist trainers advise to start slow – reduction of 3 to 5 inches for your first corset should do just fine.

Wait, what? 5 inches??

That’s 3 times more than my attempt I am so proud of! I will not be striving to achieve that, but this information gave me the range to work with.

And so, I call this experiment a success. A few pattern adjustments and some bones here and there do wonders for one’s self esteem, bringing our figures closer to that ideal image we all have in our heads. I’ll do more of it.

A little more perfect.


I bring up the topic of fit once in awhile, as it is one of my favourites.

We all say we love clothes that fit, but what do we mean by that? Do you like clothes following every curve of your body? I think not, and let me explain.

The reason I started thinking about it again was the trip to bridal salons a week ago. My friend is getting married and I volunteered to tag along and have a good look and feel of the wedding dresses.

My friend is not a standard size, just like most of us, but the dresses were. It was even more interesting to see her try those dresses because I’ve sewn for her before and I made her a custom block. Theoretically, none of those dresses would be even close to perfect fit for her body.
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What is DK-93?


Tools are my weakness.

Especially if they are heavy, made of cast iron and impossible to break. I have been eyeing one of them for over 5 years now. Yup, I’m not a compulsive buyer when it comes to heavy tools, but the main reason it took so long was because I don’t need it on daily (or even monthly) basis. However, when I do need it, it is urgent and desperate. The tool is KAM DK-93 snap press.

KAM DK-93 snap press
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Cargo shorts of doom.

Men's cargo shorts


Every now and again (roughly every 2 to 3 years) my husband arrives at my sewing room door with a pair of cargo shorts in his hands and a pleading expression on his face. I know what it means, this time has come again – he wants me to sew his cargo shorts.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the first time I mentioned them.

So this time I was presented with a task of making yet another pair. I dread sewing these shorts, and here are all the reasons why in one picture.

cargo shorts diagram

Yes, they went easy on me, those cargo shorts manufacturers, thank you for not including the actual fly, proper waistband and zip-off legs!
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What you need to know about sewing linen shirts.


With summer pretty much here (we skipped spring this year), I needed some new summer clothes. Of course, I should have thought about it before the temperatures hit mid-30, but my summer fabric stash was very dull and I wanted something fresh and exciting.

Linen is one of my summer favourites, and in addition to its benefits that everyone knows about, it is also impossible to find in RTW (well, not in my price range, anyway). So imagine my delight when I received an email from The Fabric Store advertising their linen sale at measly $10/m?
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Ready for a change?


I have an idea. You might like it even, and I hope you do. It is not new, but in the world of indie pattern making it is rather fresh.

I was going to write a long post about how the patterns are made and what an involved process it is, but it sounded like whining, and I don’t whine. I’m not a complainer, if I don’t like something, I change it.

I love drafting patterns and I want to do more of it. I want to experiment with shapes, drape and proportions, I want to explore, learn and grow.
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It’s done!


I am so relieved and excited – a huge self imposed task has been completed –  I have finished updating my patterns.

At times I wondered – “Why am I doing this? Why is it so important to me?” And the answer is, I continuously learn and get better at what I do, and my patterns should reflect it. As they say, “How you do anything is how you do everything”.
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Old school: A shoulder dart for nerds


In one of my previous posts I described a shoulder dart calculation method. It is, of course, one of many, and possibly one of the easiest. Today I’d like to tell you about another method, much more complicated and for this reason much more interesting (to me, anyway).

This pattern drafting method was developed by an organisation called “Central Institute of Scientific Research of Apparel Manufacturing” in ex-USSR. The development of this method took 20 years (1959-1979) – that’s right, a team full of professionals had been working on it for two decades. Needless to say, it is complicated. I have drafted a couple of blocks using this method recently and the fit was great, but make one mistake and the whole thing is ruined. Here is how you calculate and draft a shoulder dart using this method.
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You are invited!


I like knowing what’s out there, especially if it is in any way sewing related.

I browse through fabric stores, haberdashery, forums, but what I love the most is looking at other indie designer’s patterns. I get inspired by their imagination, the quality of their work and continuous improvement.

Do you know how much talent is out there? You can probably name a few, but it’s almost impossible to keep up with everyone: their releases, updates, errata and special discounts. To make this a little easier, I have created a Facebook group with a long name “Indie Sewing Patterns, Designers and all who love to sew them”.

I have found as many indie designers I could and invited them to join, to make themselves a bit more visible and available to the seamstresses who want to know about their work.

Some of them responded and I’ve even found out that quite a few follow my humble blog (hi there!). Right now we have in our group Cloth Habit, DiNuvoleDiCuori, In-house Patterns, Iconic Patterns, Measure Twice Cut Once, MLM Patrons, Paprika Patterns, Sense and Sensibility Patterns and Waffle patterns, and I hope many more will still join us.

So come and join our group – whether you are a pattern designer or just love to sew. We’ll be happy to have you there.

A smart house dress


Recently I read an article about how the way we dress has changed over the years.
That these days comfort is above all and if only we could find that perfect kind of track pants that would be suitable for work, we’d need nothing else.

I guess there is truth in that, since I’ve started doing my daily school runs, jeans, long sleeve tees and sneakers have become my wardrobe staple. The comfort clothes are taking over my wardrobe, and since there is no point in fighting this invasion, a much better idea would be to make comfort clothes look smart.
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Old school: Narrow sleeves and elbow darts.


Today’s nerdy piece is about sleeves. Sleeves are probably one of most feared part of the garment, and the narrow sleeves are the worst, because there is no room to hide your mistakes. Recently someone asked my advise on a narrow Chanel jacket sleeve. I honestly admit, I have never been interested in Chanel jacket or its sleeves, but I’ve done the sleeves with elbow darts. Elbow darts are even harder to find these days than shoulder darts I mentioned in my previous nerdy post. In this post learn all about the connection and difference between semi-fitted, narrow and very narrow sleeve and a very easy way to add an elbow dart or two.
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Old school: The shoulder dart


Old sewing books are an invaluable source of information. I own many books, in paper and digital form, most of them are in Russian and Ukrainian.

These books have been used to educate the generations of professional seamstresses, tailors and cutters. Some of these books are extremely old and can not be applied to modern days, while others (especially those published in 1940s and 50s) are an absolute treasure.
I’d like to share some of the information from these books with you. Where the name and author is known, I’ll mention it, along with the year of the publication. Some information can be conflicting and sometimes confusing, but I found that my own preferred way of drafting and sewing was born from this chaos.

Where I can, I’ll add my own illustrations (some of those books are very dry and numbers and graphs only), I’ll also try to explain the terms if I don’t know the equivalent term in English. So hold on to your nerdy glasses, here comes the Science of Pattern Drafting.
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