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March 24, 2017

Dartmouth Sewalong Day 2: Fronts, Shoulders, and Neckband

Today we’re going to start the construction of our Dartmouth Tops! If you’re making view A with the Ruched Front start here, otherwise you can jump ahead to the Shoulder Seams section. Make sure you have all your pieces cut and prepped!

Creating the Ruched Front

Start by cutting two 4” pieces of elastic (not clear elastic.) Mark the elastic 1/2” from each end. This elastic is going to be creating the gathers so make sure it has a good amount of recovery when you stretch it out!

Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the outer front, matching the marks you drew with the elastic placement notches. The fabric will be bunched in between the pins.

On a regular sewing machine, sew the first 1/2” of elastic to the wrong side of the outer front within the seam allowance using a wide zigzag stitch. When you reach the first pin, keep the needle down and stretch the elastic until the fabric lays flat. Sew the elastic in this stretched position until the second notch. Stop stretching the elastic and sew the final 1/2” of elastic unstretched.

Repeat with the second side of the outer front.

Shoulder Seams

Pin both fronts to the back at the shoulders, right sides together. Place a piece of elastic along the stitching line and sew through all three layers. Press the seam allowance towards the back.

If, like me, your serger doesn’t much like trying to sew through elastic, cut your piece a bit longer and feed the elastic into the serger by itself until it has a few stitches in it and then add the shoulders underneath the elastic.

Sew Neckband

Fold the neckband in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and give a good press.

Matching the raw edges of the shirt with the raw edges of the neckband, pin the neckband all the way around the two fronts and the back, matching the notches.

Sew in place and press the seam allowance down towards the shirt. Optionally, you can topstitch to keep the seam allowance down. That’s it for today! Next time, we’ll baste the fronts together and attach our sleeves.


Cashmerette
March 20, 2017

Dartmouth Sewalong Day 1: Choosing your Size, Preparing Fabric and Pattern

Hi all! Carrie here! Welcome to our Dartmouth Top sewalong! Still looking for fabric? Make sure to check out our kits; these are some super soft and special jerseys that we found on our most recent fabric sourcing trip!

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

Today we’re going choose our size, grade between sizes if necessary, and get our pattern and fabric all ready to go, so we can start sewing our Dartmouth Tops next time!

The first decision to make when sewing a Dartmouth Top is which size to choose. Thanks to the three cup sizes it’s more likely that you’ll fit in a “straight” Cashmerette Pattern than many other companies, but of course we all vary and chances are you may not be perfectly in one size. The good news is that sewing gives you tons of flexibility, and it’s easy to grade between sizes.

How to choose your size

There are two measurement charts: one is the Body Measurement chart, and the other is the Finished Garment chart. The Body Measurement chart helps you choose your size based on what numbers you get when you measure your body with a tape measure – it has numbers for your bust (around the fullest part), waist and hip. The Finished Garment chart shows you the size of the actual sewn garment – the difference between that and the Body Measurement chart is called “ease”, and it’s the amount of extra room in the garment that the designer recommends for the clothes to fit well and allow movement.

Generally, you want to start by comparing your measurement with the body measurement chart. However, if your measurements are between sizes you can take a look at the Finished Garment chart to see if you can fit in just one. The Dartmouth Top is designed with negative ease at the bust and a tiny bit of ease at both the waist and hips.

As with all Cashmerette Patterns, the best bet is to start with your bust measurement – you should use your full bust measurement, which is around the fullest part of your bust. Because of the cup sizing, you may find you could fit in two different bust sizes – in which case, you want to pick the overall size that’s closest to your waist size. So for instance, if your bust is 44″, you could theoretically be a 14 G/H or a 16 C/D. Which one should you pick? Take a look at the waist measurement – if yours is closer to 34″ (size 14), then go with the 14 G/H. If yours is closer to 36″ (size 16), then go with the 16 C/D.

Don’t fret if the cup size doesn’t match up with your bra size – there is so much variation in bra sizing that it’s not possible to perfectly line them up. Use your actual full bust measurement and you’ll be fine.

Grading Between Sizes

If your bust, waist, and hip measurements end up in many different sizes, you may want to grade between sizes. If you are making view A with the ruched front, you’ll want to keep in mind that your grading may affect how much fabric is gathered in the elastic section. If you’re grading out to a larger hip or waist, you’ll have more fabric gathered. If you’re grading to a smaller hip or waist, you’ll have less gathers. Make sure you still use the same elastic length so that the outer front side seams will line up with the inner front. For a run-down of how to grade between sizes on a knit, check out this tutorial here.

Preparing Pattern and Fabric

Now that we’ve chosen our size and graded if necessary, it’s time to prepare our pattern and fabric so that we’ll be all ready to sew next time!

Here’s your checklist:

  • Wash and dry your fabric, to make sure it’s pre-shrunk and you’re not going to get any nasty surprises later! This is especially important with knits. They can shrink an incredible amount!
  • Press your fabric so it’s nice and flat. Check to see if you get any iron shine when you press the right side. If so, you’ll want to use a press cloth when pressing between steps.
  • If you’re using a printed pattern, either cut or trace off your pattern pieces – if you’re making adjustments or are going to make any tops in other sizes in the future, I definitely recommend tracing.
  • If you’re using a PDF pattern, you’ll need to print and assemble it. Here are some pointers to help you.
  • Transfer all the markings to the fabric. For the notches, make a little snip into the fabric, within the seam allowance (so no more than 1/4″/6mm).
  • Cut all pieces, following the layout diagrams in the pattern.

Next time, we’ll get right into sewing!


Cashmerette
March 17, 2017

Curvy Confidence Interviews: Lana of LeesVoer

Today, we’re thrilled to bring you our next Curvy Confidence Interview with Lana of LeesVoer. Lana is a curvy sewist, blogger and model, and has always made me smile with her awesome vintage outfits. Over to you, Lana!

Let’s start at the beginning! What was your body image like as a child and teenager? 

My body image was not great. I’ve always been the biggest kid in the classroom. I was tall and have always been built as a dockworker. When I was 11 my boobs came in and I instantly looked like a curvy woman. My mom was really thin and she did not know how to deal with me being bigger. She said things like: a moment on the lips…

I developed something like a binge eating and purging disorder in my early teens. When I finally found a friend group at 15 this got much better but I always felt like the ugly fat one. Looking at those pictures now makes me so sad. I was bigger yes, but I looked great.

What is the culture like regarding body shape & size where you live? 

Dutch people are the tallest people in the world so we are used to taller people, and it’s totally ok to be a bit stocky. Size 14-16 is nothing to be ashamed about. Anything above that you are lazy… I am a size 20 but people always try and tell me I don’t look like a 20 so I’m ok. Because size 20 is obviously something I should be ashamed about…

Tell us about your journey to body positivity: did you have a “eureka!” moment that changed your self-perception, or was a it a more gradual process? 

Both actually. Finding the love of my life at 19 is obviously a plus. I never had to do the whole dating thing. Although he had his own demons to get rid off. Accepting that you are attracted to a fat girl is something that a lot of guys have to get over, for a young guy that always thought he was supposed to like thin girls falling in love with me was a bit of an eye opener. We are not the only ones whom the toxic ideal affects. The real turning point came after turning 30 and having my children. I decided that I was too old to let myself be kept back by my insecurities and other people’s opinions.

What role has sewing played in your self-image? 

It was huge, huge! Getting to wear what I think looks good changed my life. I didn’t fit in things I liked and didn’t like things I did fit. Today the plus size fashion world is way bigger then it was 8 years ago, I’ve actually started shopping again. But sewing saved me. I can wear my fifties style dresses and make them hug me tight in all the right places. It gave me back control of my self image, my public image and it feels powerful.

What do you find are the biggest challenges to your body confidence today? How do you overcome them? 

I love my body, all of it. One thing that does challenge this is my excess skin in the baby area. I tried losing weight but it only got worse because the skin became even looser. I’ve contemplated plastic surgery but I decided it’s part of me, it’s normal and I endeavor to love that part too. Every day.

How do you think issues around body positivity affect women’s broader role in society? 

Women are taught to look at themselves critically. You can’t sell a woman that’s happy with her body a lot of stuff to change that body. Keep them insecure and make a fortune… And as bigger women we are told to “hide” and “flatter” to try and look like we don’t take up too much space. I say claim that space! It does not matter if you are big or small, you are allowed to exist, to love yourself and to be loved and respected.

@miss hippo photography

What advice would you have for other women who would like to find a peace with their body and self-image, but are struggling?

Realize that it is a journey. You can flip a switch and start working towards loving yourself unconditionally, but you can’t flip that switch and do it instantly. One thing that helped me a lot was to stop thinking snarky about other people’s bodies. I tried to see beauty in everyone and by doing that it became easier to see beauty in myself.

Another thing that really really helped me was modeling. Having a good photographer take pictures of you and seeing yourself in that way does wonders. It also helps you see magazines and such in a different light. No-one and I mean absolutely no-one looks 10/10 all of the time. But having those pictures of yourself looking AMAZING can help you on days you feel ugly.

One last tip would be: don’t let yourself dress drab when you feel ugly. Sometimes getting dressed up and doing your hair and make-up just to go to the shops can change your whole attitude. I recently chucked all my shitty pyjamas and bought some pretty ones so even if I want to have a pyjama day I can feel pretty.


Cashmerette
March 13, 2017

Introducing the Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

I often find myself wanting a top that’s as comfortable as a t-shirt but a bit more sophisticated… and that’s why I designed the latest Cashmerette pattern, the Dartmouth Top. It’s a cross-over jersey top that’s as cosy as your favorite tee, but polished and chic enough for the office or a fancy brunch at the weekend.

The Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

The Dartmouth Top has two views: view A has a ruched front, and view B has a flat front. Pick whichever you prefer, or make a pair! And there are three sleeve lengths: short, three-quarter, and long. It has a narrow gape-free neckband so you don’t have to worry about accidental exposure.

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top
Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

The Dartmouth Top looks great made in jersey (rayon, cotton or silk are all great options), or light to mid-weight sweater knits, and can be dressed up or down depending on what you make it with! It’s “Advanced Beginner” level but it’s a totally do-able project for an adventurous beginner, and a quick evening’s sew for a more advanced sewist.

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

As always, the Cashmerette Dartmouth Top comes as a beautifully printed pattern, or an instant gratification downloadable PDF (complete with at-home and copyshop versions). And, it’s designed for curves, in sizes 12 – 28 and cup sizes C – H (not sure what size to choose? Check out this post!).

Wondering how the Dartmouth compares to the Appleton Top hack?

  • The Dartmouth Top has a fixed cross-over front, while the Appleton is a “true” wrap (i.e. opens up like a robe)
  • The Dartmouth Top has a higher neckline
  • The Dartmouth Top is constructed differently, and has less negative ease
  • The Dartmouth Top has a narrower neckband, and the ruched front option

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top Kits

And, like always, we have some kits for you! We found three fabulous rayon jerseys that are a great match for the Dartmouth Top. Left to right there is a purple/yellow plaid (so pretty in person!), blue hatch, and a rich burgundy. The kits come with the fabric and elastic you’ll need, and the option of a printed or PDF pattern.

Cashmerette Dartmouth Top

We hope you love your new Dartmouth Tops – my testers told me they’ve been wearing theirs all the time! As always, make sure you tag us with your makes on social media: add #DartmouthTop and we’ll be sure to send you all the heart eyes. And, keep an eye out for the sewalong coming soon.


Cashmerette
March 6, 2017

Another Concord tunic: the bread & butter of sewing

Is there anything more comfortable than a ponte tunic? Methinks not.

I recently found this amazing doubleknit at Emma One Sock (get it here!), which is black with tiny little dots on one side, and stripes on the other. EOS consistently has the best quality ponte out there, and this one’s no exception. My first project with it was another pair of True Bias Hudson pants and they’re… interesting (check out my Curvy Sewing Collective review!).

After that blip I decided to go safe, with something reliable I’ll wear all the time: yet another tunic. And hence, here we have another Concord T-Shirt tunic hack.

Concord Tunic

Much like my last stripy version, I went up a size, and drafted a facing for the neckline. I also topstitched this one, though I did it in black this time so it’s a less dramatic look.

Concord Tunic

Looking at these photos I probably could have gone up another size (the folds under my armpits indicate my bust needs a bit more room), but it’s as comfortable as all get out, so I’m not complaining.

Concord Tunic

I have come to the conclusion that all sewing pattern designers inevitably slide towards tunics and leggings at some point. Is it the comfort? The ease? The lack of having to think about your outfit? I’m not sure, but I’m firmly in team #tunicandleggings these days.

Throw on a handmade trenchcoat, and you’re all set!

Have you tried turning the Concord into a tunic or dress? I’d love to see your photos! Lengthening a pattern is one of the simplest hacks you can do as a beginner, and I highly recommend it for feeling like a total genius.


Cashmerette
March 3, 2017

Your Cashmerette Makes! February Roundup

Hey all! Carrie here with another roundup of your amazing creations! We got the first hint of spring here in Boston, but we’re back to very cold winds. The few warm days have me dreaming of florals and dresses and I had fun scanning through your makes to find some spring inspiration!

1//2//3

Geometric patterns can be a fun alternative to florals for spring and I love the contrast bands on Kate’s Appleton Dress!

Check out this trio of amazing Appletons made in a class!

1//2//3

More amazing prints on these Appletons and Turner Dresses. Plus, we’re always so honored when Cashmerette Patterns are worn for special occasions!

1//2//3

More in the mood for a woven? How about these stunning Upton Dresses for spring? These are some fantastic prints!

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Okay, a few more Upton because I just couldn’t resist! All these prints are amazing and I love the contrast bands on Emily’s!

Thanks for sharing all your wonderful projects! Keep using those hashtags! We love seeing what you come up with!


Cashmerette
February 27, 2017

The jury is out: StyleArc Adeline dress

For a long time, I’ve made my rejection of sack dresses well known. Heck, I even founded a sewing pattern company in opposition to the idea of sack dresses being the only things available for plus sizes!

And yet.

Perhaps my aversion to sack dresses was primarily because for a long time it felt like the *only* thing available to me. Now that I can whip up a fitted garment at any time, and am no longer focused on always looking as small as possible, I find myself more attracted back to the silhouette I disdained for so long. Let’s also make no bones about it: Meg’s StyleArc Adelines have also been calling my name.

So I decided to just jump in and give it a go – what’s the worst that could happen? I could sew up the end and use it store potatoes.

Behold, my Art Teacher Approved Sack Dress, a.k.a. the StyleArc Adeline:

Style Arc Adeline

There’s no getting around it: it’s a SHOWSTOPPER of a dress. And I’m pretty sure an art teacher literally made that fabric.

StyleArc Adeline

When I decided to sew a sack of my very own, I knew I wanted a fabric with a really good drape that didn’t cling. Luckily, last year during my LA fabric buying trip I found this amazing fabric at Rimmon (a rather odd wholesaler who does retail but only after they’re really rude to you). I’m still not 100% sure what it is – rayon, perhaps? It’s mid-weight, twill weave, matte on the outside, slinky on the inside and BLOOMIN’ MARVELOUS to wear. Seriously fantastic. And the perfect fabric for a sack. Thrillingly, I also picked up another 3 yards on my recent LA trip.

StyleArc Adeline

Usually I’d have to adjust a StyleArc pattern quite significantly for my bust, but given the ultra unstructured nature of this dress, I cut a straight 20 and crossed my fingers. I think it worked? As much as you can say that you are wearing the “right size” of sack. I do think I should shorten it by 2 or 3 inches (StyleArc drafts for 5’9″ I believe, and I’m 5’6″). The dress has a really delightful V-neck with facing (I topstitched it down to eliminate flippage), a cocoon shape, high-low hem and cut-on sleeves (with rather perplexing sleeve hem instructions, but plus ca change with StyleArc).

Style Arc Adeline

So now we get to the elephant in the room. When I first made this and tried it on I LOVED it. I immediately went out to dinner with a friend, shared my latest musings about career choices, and felt like a total fox.

Then I saw these photos. And I’m not so sure.

Style Arc Adeline

OBVIOUSLY a sack is not going to make me look smaller, and that is not my primary mission in life: I can take up space, thanks very much. But…. geez. That’s a lot of… dress and fabric. So now I’m a little more on the fence. I wonder if shortening it and potentially taking a bit off the side seams would make me more comfortable.

Style Arc Adeline

Style Arc Adeline

What do you think, dear readers? Sack dresses, yay or nay? And this *particular* StyleArc Adeline, on me? Should I just accept my fate as an art teacher and get on with it?


Cashmerette

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