Create the Perfect Fit Review (Plus a Pattern Giveaway!)

Hello, lovely people!

Today, is a rather historic day here on B&W, for today I am hosting my very first giveaway and my very first official book review.


I got to know Joi a little over the summer when she took the time to respond to a post I’d written about a couple of Craftsy classes I’d taken (one of which was her Fast Track Fitting class). We emailed back and forth a bit, and Joi offered not only to let me take her new Craftsy class Fast Track Fitting: In the Details but also to send me a copy of her new book when it came out. I was super excited about both.

Here’s the thing about Joi: she is crazy passionate about sharing this fitting method with as many different types of sewers as possible. I would love to take a real class with her. Come to Atlanta, please, Joi!

Just a quick bit about the new Craftsy class: I haven’t gotten very far yet (School has taken over my life! Isn’t it summer yet???), but I can already tell this is the class that I really wanted the first Fast Track Fitting to be. I think the first class is good for those who are very new to altering patterns. In the Details is definitely more my speed! It, as you might guess based on the name, goes into more details about specific fit issues. (When I finish the class, I will definitely be telling you more about how it went.)

Joi’s book Create the Perfect Fit is a cheerful, spiral-bound volume chock full of easy-to-follow illustrations and adorable photographs. The design is bright and uncluttered, which I very much appreciate. I was particularly excited when I found the section on fitting forward-rotated shoulders–a problem I’ve been wrestling with for quite a while now. The Back Upper Half Cap adjustment Joi recommends is exactly what I needed back when I was struggling with my Simplicity 1776 sleeves.


I think, though, that my favorite part of the book was the Garment Application Workbook chapter where Joi details how to apply your fit pattern to fashion patterns. She takes different styles (i.e. the boxy jacket, the A-line gored skirt, the Princess Coat) and tells you where the measurements need to be true and where you need to add ease.


But, let’s be honest–I really liked looking at the pretty pictures! 🙂 That polka-dotted dress and white coat need to get in my life!

As a girl who is about to embark on a pants-fitting odyssey, I would really like to see more than a page devoted to fitting pants. And while I love the look of glossy pages, they are rather hard to take notes on in pencil (which is my preferred method of jotting things down in books). But, I’ve been on an anti-gloss kick lately, so this may just be my Crazy Yearbook Lady brain kicking in.

All-in-all, the book really is a great fitting companion for anyone who’s struggling to attain the elusive “perfect fit”–especially if you’re working with one of Joi’s new patterns for McCall’s. Here’s the thing I mostly love about these patterns: Joi has added several fitting lines and markings that you usually don’t find on commercial patterns. In addition to the usuals–waist, bust point, maybe even bust line–she’s also included the high and low bust, full upper back, and mid back. She even tells you how far below the base of the neck the back neckline should fall. This blew my mind because I’ve never seen that on a pattern before. And if you’re measuring your back neck to waist from the base of your neck but the pattern falls a couple inches below that without your realizing it, then your back waist is going to be all sorts of wrong.

Dear Pattern Companies: Start adding this information. Many thanks, J.


Joi has two new patterns. One for a peplum and flared/godet skirt combo (I’m currently making peplum A). I love the exposed zipper and the split peplum. The other–well, at first I thought it was for a coat dress and wasn’t at all interested. But then I realized I was an idiot and it was an actual coatAnd then I started thinking about how I wanted to break all the rules and make a short version of the coat and how adorable would that be???

Today, friends, I’m offering you the chance to win these patterns for yourself! All you have to do is leave me a little comment letting me know you’d like to enter. And just for funsies, since it’s almost Halloween and all, tell me what your dream costume would be!

The giveaway will be open until Saturday, November 1, at midnight EST. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday. Only US residents this time (sorry, my international friends!) for the sake of shipping costs.

And do check out the other blogs in the tour! Next up is Joi’s big giveaway on her blog!

The Sewing Loft  September 19th

Lindsay Wilkes date in October 9th

Threads Magazine October 10th

Shop the Garment District October 10th

BabyLock Totally Stitchin October 10th

Amy Ellis October 13th

Marly Bird October 14th

Melissa Mora October 20th

Amy Barickman date in October 22nd

Elizabeth and Liz October 24th

Kate Blocher date in October  26th

Nancy Zieman

Nicki from Australia


Good luck to those of you who enter. And Happy Halloween!


Some Glad Tidings and Whatnot

Hi, Friendlies!

If I mention the phrase “Wearable Wednesday,” you automatically think of the lovely Anne of Pretty Grievances, right?


Anne recently awarded me this:


Yay! Isn’t it cute? I did a bit of research and, apparently, the award is meant as a thank you to those who comment on your blog. Which is funny because I’m not the world’s most prolific commenter–I’m trying to be better and bolder 🙂

At first, the above award was the only one I thought I had gotten, but in reading Anne’s post with my whole brain just now, I realized that she also gave me:




Three awards in one day??? I’m all like, the “cloughb” can’t even handle me right now. . .

So, I’m not entirely sure what the rules for these awards are, but if I did know them, all I would do is break them. . . because that’s how I roll. So, I’m just going to do what I want, okay?

First, let me give a huge Thank You to the lovelies who take the time to comment. Seriously, it warms my little heart that people read this crazy blog and choose to give me such kind compliments and helpful tips. . . and sometimes condolences 🙂 I love, love, love reading comments and responding to them!

Now, I know I’m supposed to nominate a bunch of other blogs for their awesomeness, but the truth is there are so many blogs out there that I love and also so many fantastic ones that I haven’t discovered yet. And, I feel like I’ve seen these awards floating around out there a lot. So, rather than having the award cycle around to the same blogs over and over, I’d like to ask your help. If you know of a blog with a relatively small audience that deserves some love, do share! I’d love to discover some new voices and talents–broaden my horizons, you know?

I do have lots of blogs that I read, but not nearly as many as I’d like (seriously, recommendations? The more obscure, the better!). For now, I’m going to give you a “You Must Read These Blogs Because They’re Some of My Faves” list–you’re welcome 🙂

Gingermakes: Did you see her Happy Birthday dress? Is there a cheerfuller dress on the planet?? I don’t think so!

Cation Designs: A fellow cat-lover (whose “Sewing with Cats” award I secretly covet 🙂 ) and Tolkien enthusiast–if she lived in my town, I’m pretty sure we would be best buds! Is that too stalkery? I love her recent dolman top with the cat silhouette–so cute!

Girl, Guy, Dog, Cat: Hop over and visit Janette who blogs about sewing, cooking and doggy/kitty cuteness! She recently shared a recipe for candy that I need in my life.

Kim-ing: I love to read about Kim’s sewing exploits 🙂 She’s super encouraging and makes some adorable stuff! I think my favorite is this dress–you’d never know it was a mistake!

i heart fabric: I discovered this blog last week when I was image searching Burda 7494–isn’t her version so lovely?

I could go on, but 5 is a Fibonacci number, so I’m going to stop. I could do 8, I suppose, but I really want to read The Hobbit. I just saw the movie on Monday and I loved it but it’s been so long since I read the book that I couldn’t remember if what I was seeing was from the book or not. But still, loved it. Three things:

1. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo was adorable; I want to put him in my pocket.

2. I may have gotten a wee bit choked up when I saw Frodo at the beginning–when you’ve seen the LOTR movies or read the books, you know all the horrors that await him. I was sort of overwhelmed by his innocence, you know? You might not know, because you’ve yet to reach my level of geekery. It’s okay. You’ll get there someday 🙂

3. Holy cow, Richard Armitage. Holy cow. Bless you for existing. I’m sort of confused about how I feel about dwarves now. But I am not confused about how I feel about Mr. Thornton. Not. At. All.

Also, my fellow WordPressers, am I crazy, or did WP change for a few days? I seem to remember it being a very different format and now it’s not. Did I dream it?

I think, according to the award rules, that I’m supposed to share random facts about myself. But, I won’t. If there’s anything you want to know, you’re welcome to ask!

But seriously, I’m going to read The Hobbit now. Merry Six Days Until Christmas!

Who’s Afraid of Lapped Zippers? Not This Girl!

My latest (and only) pencil skirt pattern called for a lapped zipper. So, I dutifully followed the patterns instructions to insert the lapped zipper–and they made no sense to me. I didn’t understand how to get everything to line up properly if you had a 5/8″ seam on one side and a 1/2″ seam on the other when you’ve already sewn up the rest of the seam 5/8″–I mean, what the. . .  It was a pretty intensely frustrating twenty minutes. I finally gave up and opted for a centered zipper.

A couple of weeks ago, a very sweet lady at my church who knew that I had taken up sewing came into the store where I work and said that I had been on her mind and did I need any help with zippers.

???   !!

Seriously. I had said nothing to her of my woes. It’s like she justknew.

Of course, I readily accepted her help, and she said she’d bring me directions for a lapped zipper method that always worked beautifully. True to her word, a few days later she brought me instructions and samples for lapped zippers. She walked me through the steps and at the time they made perfect sense. Later when I tried to puzzle through them on my own, not so much. But, after some thorough mulling it over, I had my “a ha!” moment and all was well.

The whole thing was fortuitous because the yellow twill skirt I’m working on (or was working on when I first started writing this post) calls for a lapped zipper, and I am determined that this is a skill I will master. I think a lapped zipper is so much nicer than an invisible one, as invisible zippers tend to be not the greatest quality.

Naturally, I decided to scour search casually look around the internets to see what other lapped zipper tips I could find.

A couple of places, like Threads, tried to feed me the 5/8″ / 1/2″ seam mumbo jumbo, so I kept looking. Although I find it interesting that some people use interfacing around the zipper. I can see how that would be really helpful.

I found some useful tips for sewing a centered zipper courtesy of the Sewing Divas, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for. However, their suggestions for avoiding “gaposis” problems seem pretty solid.

But, I did find an article on sewing a lapped zipper from the Sewing and Crafting Alliance (I did not know this was a thing) that seemed remarkably similar to the method described to me by lovely lady at church. Check it out–they explain it pretty well.

But, now I’m going to describe in terms my brain understands this lovely method of zipper insertion. (I’m also doing this to solidify the method in my mind.) So, here’s what I did:

1. Make sure you mark where the bottom of your zipper will fall on the fabric. (Typically, your pattern will provide this mark.)

2. From the bottom up, sew the seam using the standard 5/8″ allowance. Once you reach the mark, switch to a basting stitch and sew the rest of the way.

3. Press the seam open. (Also, press your zipper if it needs it. Mine did.)

4. Align the zipper with the center of the seam. Now, you’re looking at the bottom of the zipper (where you begin sewing). With the seam allowance on your right extended, the rest of the fabric flipped out of the way.

5. Use your zipper foot. (I’m not going to explain which side of the foot you should be on. I really feel you can figure this out on your own.) Starting at the bottom and using a standard stitch length, sew about an inch or so. Then switch to a basting stitch for the rest of the seam. About half way up (or whenever you want to, really), sink your needle and raise your presser foot so you can unzip the zipper and get it out of your way. Then you can finish the seam.

6. Now, this is the part that really scrambled my brain at first. Flip all your fabric to the right (this is the side you just basted). Situate your fabric so that there is a fold close to the zipper teeth. Then, stitch right along the edge of this fold. (This step is actually easier if you baste close to the teeth first–you know, from step 5.) Again, make sure you pause at some point, sink your needle and raise your presser foot to move the zipper out of your way. I found that I needed to pivot my fabric all over the place to accomplish this. As long as you leave your needle sunk, no biggie.

7. It’s time to turn the fabric right side out. Starting at the seam, top stitch across the bottom of the zipper, just below the zipper stop. Sew about 3/8″ to 1/2″ from the seam, sink your needle, and pivot so you can sew parallel to the zipper (you’ve seen lapped zippers, right? You know what I mean, right?). Again, pause about half way up or so, sink your needle, raise your presser foot, and unzip the zipper. You might want to use a chopstick or something. After you get that pesky zipper out of your way, you can finish your top stitching.

8. Remove the basting.

9. Do something celebratory. Because you’re done. With the zipper.

You may notice that there are now two rows of top stitching. Well, that’s just because I went a little crazy on the first go and didn’t make sure to catch in the seam allowance. So. . . be careful of that.

Easy, no? I think I’m basically doing whatever the usual method of lapped zipper insertion is–I’m just going about it a little differently.

Does anyone else out there have any zipper tips and tricks to share? (Especially about finishing the top of the zipper–I haven’t quite figured this out yet.) I’m all ears!

A Study in Pockets

So, you remember all my lamentations about patch pockets on my fuchsia skirt? Well, I decided it was time to stop whining and start figuring out how to do them properly.

If you recall, I couldn’t get my topstitching quite right on the curved edges of the pockets. Also, I struggled with turning the edges under, even after following the pattern’s guidelines to stitch first, and then turn under along the stitching. It was heavily irritating.

My first step in my quest to conquer patch pockets was, of course, an internet search. I asked the Google oracle to tell me about topstitching on a curve.

At Threads, I learned that I needed to choose the proper needle. For twill, it’s best to use a denim needle, and I definitely purchased a pack the last time I visited Jo-Ann’s. There are also topstitching needles, but I think those are reserved for using heavier topstitching thread.

Michelle Patterns had a very handy list for topstitching, but it seems as though it is mostly for topstitching on a purse. But since that purse pictured is super adorable, I went ahead and bookmarked the post. I need to see if I can find that pattern somewhere–oh hey, there’s a link right on the site. Wonder of wonders. . .

(Total side note: I really love this clutch, but I’m not much of a clutch girl. Maybe I can add a long strap to make a nice little run-around-town purse? I’ve been wanting one of those and the one I got from Target last week is NOT what I had in mind.)

Londa’s Creative Threads blew my mind with her tip #12. An edgestitching foot??? I have one of those!! Success is imminent!

And then in a Sew Mama Sew forum, I learned that there are 1/4″ feet??? What? Where? Must have shiny new foot! But seriously–has anyone used one of these? Is it helpful at all?

I found this video for topstitching a placket, but I haven’t watched it yet. I imagine when I start working on my shirt dress, it will become very helpful. I’ll let you know.

Armed with all that information, I was feeling pretty confident about tackling topstitching once more. But, there was still the problem of the pocket edges being not at all properly turned under.

I don’t remember the exact search terms I entered, but I know I had to flip through a couple pages of results before I found THE ANSWER I WAS LOOKING FOR.

I found it at Elegant Musings. Apparently, she was having the same issues I was with turning under the curved edge of the pockets. Her solution is brilliant (I actually had the same thought but couldn’t figure how to go about it!), so of course I had to try it myself.

I used an empty Carnation Instant Breakfast (short commercial: I LOVE this stuff) box to make a copy of the pocket pattern. Then of course, I had to remove the 5/8″ seam allowance. I used my trusty seam gauge because. . . that’s what it’s for. I ended up with a cardboard replica of the pocket.


I used my last bit of fuchsia twill to cut out a pocket.

Then I tried using the cardboard template to fold over the edges of my twill, like so.

Sorry the picture is blurry. I didn’t notice at the time and didn’t feel like going back to stage it.

After much ironing and folding and ironing and folding, the edges still weren’t perfect. But, they’re not exactly terrible.

I decided to move on to the topstitching. I used my overcasting foot because it has a edge I could use to line up the fabric. I moved my needle to the center, checked to make sure it wasn’t going to hit anything, and off I went.

For the first curve, I shortened my stitch considerably.

I do not like the way it looks.

For the second curve, I threw caution to the wind and stuck with my standard stitch length.

I like this much better.

Now, compare this pocket to my first pockets I actually used on the skirt.

Do you see what I see? There’s not that much difference in pocket edges. And I’m seeing that it’s not the stitching that’s making me irritable. It’s the not-so-smooth pocket edges.

I began to wonder if it was the twill that was making things difficult. So, I pulled out a scrap of unfortunate-looking cotton broadcloth that my friend gave me when she found out I wanted to learn how to sew. Unfortunate-looking, donated cotton broadcloth is meant for experimentation, I think.

I went through all the same steps again and here’s the result. Again, I did not really shorten the stitch on the curves.

Again, the edges aren’t really all that smooth. So, is it me? Is it the technique?

So, in the end, is it worth making the cardboard template? The result may not be as perfect as I was hoping, but it makes the process so much easier. I still recommend it.