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Conversational Threads

Appropriate Clothes for “Mature Ladies”

Sunshine | Posted in General Discussion on

I live in the St Louis area, and found this article in the local newspaper, the St Louis Post-Dispatch.  The author, Patricia McLaughlin, is a Lifestyle/fashion columnist.  Now that I have entered the “mature” 60+ category myself, this article really hit the spot with me.  In part, she says “Extensive recent anthropometric studies have documented the effects of age on women’s bodies: The head is carried forward, shoulders roll forward to widen the back and narrow the chest, spine shortens and condenses, rib cage expands, bust falls, waist thickens, abdomen rounds out, buttocks flatten. You end up with a completely different body. Thanks to anthropometrics (it’s a fancy word for systematic body measuring), garment manufacturers finally have the data to make clothes designed to fit and flatter that body. But, if any of them are actually doing it, they’re keeping it very quiet. ” 

Obviously, sewing for ourselves can help with flattering fit and style.  It seems that the pattern companies are starting to address this issue — Butterick’s Connie Crawford line is one.  We can only hope for more…..

If you want to read the entire article, here’s the link:  (from 2/28/09)


Comments, ladies?????



  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    Interesting article, even for someone "not quite there yet."  The author's own mini-tips are also interesting, but we could use so much more on this subject!  Perhaps as the Baby Boomers age, companies will recognize the need to adapt fit to this big group of consumers.

    Meanwhile, I have been pleased to find much a much more reasonable mature fit in outdoor clothing lines (REI and Columbia, NAIAW) lately, which now include jeans, skirts, tees, and tailored shirts besides the standard parkas and skiwear.  I can wear some of these high-quality garments to work, and they are far more flattering and comfortable than some well-known designer lines. 

    If these companies do well by adapting their fit to aging Boomers, perhaps other companies will figure it out, too.

  2. sewingkmulkey | | #2

    Well, I'm there now turning 61 in a couple days.  I found the article from my birth hometown city 'right on the mark'.  Yes, my body has made all the stated changes so I feel lucky to have the skills to be able to sew and properly fit my clothing.  It takes numerous modifications but the end result is so worth the effort!  I'm able to buy RTW slacks that fit by buying slacks with a bit of stretch and ones that sit slightly below-the-waist like mentioned in the article.  Jackets and tops I make myself because I obviously can't get the desired fit in RTW.  Big 4 pattern companies have made very little progress in designing for the mature woman and I don't have much faith that they will in the near future.  They've left to us to adapt their patterns. 

    I was quite young and slim when the Big 4 had patterns called 'half-size patterns' so I didn't use them.  Do any of you remember sewing with them and what was the success rate in sewing for mature women when they were available?


    1. gailete | | #3

      I think it is going to get worse before it gets better. It seems there is less and less choice for a mature woman to wear--I'm only in my 50's but life and ill health has taken it's toll. Every time the new Vogue and Butterick/McCalls home magazine comes out, the clothes are all for younger women with high bosoms. Rarely is their a pattern that would work well for the aging figure and of course, most of the aging, heavy figures get the sacks to wear. Even in RTW I have seen large girls wearing tops with empire lines where the bottom bust seam is being worn up above their bust point. It looks horrible on them, but if that is all they can find to wear, what are they supposed to do? What is wrong with making a RTW top or dress/ or a pattern with an empire waist that is lowered to accommodate the big busts or sagging bustlines? It would be a fairly good look if the pattern themselves worked.


      1. sewfar | | #5

        I wanted to respond while this thread was active but I had a full house. Our sons and families came for a week to enjoy the beach and we had 8 busy little grandchildren under the age of 11 plus our old 9 year old Australian Shepard who looks very pooped from his child "herding" and dog biscuits eating jobs. I was going to measure one of my daughter in laws in case I got ambitious and made her an empire style maternity dress. As you said, she thought the seam was supposed to hit mid bust as that is where that style seems to fit on everyone.
        I also wanted to add that I copied a magazine article about removing the waistband on jeans and replacing it with bias for a more comfortable lower fit for my age as you described. The technique utilizes the button hole and closure from the original jeans. I bought a batik I think will be subtle...does not have to be that subtle as I will never tuck my shirt !! I have not found time to do it yet.
        I agree about the good fit of yoga pants but no pockets so I made a portable pocket ala Diane Ericson, Threads May 1997 to pin on when I absolutely have to have an accessible Kleenex for what seems to be my never ending allergy season. Hope my fabric piecing efforts make it look less nerdy grandma.

        1. stitcher | | #15

          Please tell more about removing the waistband and replacing it with bias. You mentioned that the idea came from a magazine---which magazine and which issue. It sounds like a great idea.

          1. sewfar | | #16

            It was a Sew News article. I cannot find it so it is most likely at our summer home. The magazine would be 2 to 4 years old and a summer issue. I will keep looking for you. I do know it was a summer issue as it was one that did not reach me and I had to go to the library to read and copy the article. I will keep searching but maybe someone else is familiar with the article. Sorry, I thought I had it at hand.

          2. sewfar | | #17

            Did not find my photo copy of the article but some notes. It is Sew News Aug 07 and is entitled something like " Bound Waist for Jeans ". It is not cut on the bias and utilizes the button hole tab from the jeans waistband. Wonder when I will be ambitious enough to get to it because it looks like it will work for me as the waistband rolls down on several of my jeans.

    2. GailAnn | | #4

      Yes, I used them, at the ripe of age of 25, I was a "Perfect size 12 1/2"!

      Met a beautiful, but very slightly fluffy woman at my husband's company picnic, in the early 1980's.  I asked what she did and she told me that she was a "fit model" for a garment company, her size, 16 1/2.

      Why did these sizes disappear?  Gail

  3. ladyinred | | #6

    start a write-in campaign to all the pattern companies- or heck, even ONE of them- so show them that this age group is serious about getting patterns that fit!

  4. crazy2sew2000 | | #7

    I grew up in St. Louis.  Great city.


    I may be considered a mature age "49", but I don't believe in acting or dressing like it.  Life is too short.  I know I fit the criteria of everything is shifting down and out but honestly I don't want to dress like I am 90 years old.  The pattern companies make two categories of pattern...one for the young and one for the old.  How about the middle ones.. I like the freshness of the new looks for young people, but the fit is not going to happen.

    1. Crazy K | | #8

      I agree with you on that!  I'm 61 and I don't have the figure I had at 20, 30, 40 or even 50 but I still don't like to wear things that my grandmother would have worn.........I like to find things that are middle of the road and there aren't many out there..........!  I do o.k. with jeans, some slacks, sweaters and knit shirts but there must be more!  Our casual lifestyle requires only one or two outfits in case of funeral or wedding........but I still would love to have a few 'fun' things to fill in with my ho-hum t-shirts and pants.  Fitting is getting awful.........sewing is hard and shopping is near impossible!! ugh!  Weight loss would help........but what fun is that???????


      1. crazy2sew2000 | | #9

        I put weight loss in the same category as the word diet.  I don't think it is going to happen in my lifetime so I just have to deal with it.  But I have hope for the future that the pattern companies will listen to us.


        Maybe the fabric companies will get in on the discussion and give us something than quilting fabric.  For every place you can get real fashion fabric, there are 20 quilting fabric stores.  Big prints, wide stripes, who are they kidding.  I like classy, but for creativity... not much out there.

        1. starzoe | | #10

          I Googled clothing for mature women - and there are umpteen sites with good ideas, one particularly good is about.com's fashion site.

      2. sewslow67 | | #11

        Hi Kay:  Have you and you other gals ever tried Vogue's "Todays Fit" patterns designed by Sandra Betzina?  If you go to her Website  http://powersewing.com/community/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=106&Itemid=244  you will find all sorts of information on her patterns, including very a very, different size system than any of the "regular" pattern sizing system, and her reasons for designing that way and why she started this design class.

        She also has a lot of other great information on her Website.  I just joined her Power Sewing classes on the Internet (one new one each week) and, although I've been sewing for over 60-years, I always like refresher classes with the possibility of learning something new.  Her books are great, too.

        Anyway, it was just a thought in case you weren't familiar with her patterns and her Website.  Good luck, and enjoy!



        1. Crazy K | | #12

          Thanks for the link.  I watched Sandra's show faithfully when it was on HGTV in my neck of the woods.........it's been off for a number of years and I do wish it would come back.  I learned lots of tips and tricks from her.  I've seen an ad for her online classes.  They don't include closed-caption and I can't hear well enough to get anything out of them...........so, it would be money thrown away.  I've been sewing for over 50 years but I can always pick up a new trick or tip, too.........and just to keep up with trends is nice.   I'm afraid more and more will go online and until they include CC, all of us nearly deaf baby boomers will be left out.  Yes, I do have very good hearing aids.......I just happen to be one of the 'lucky' ones and have the kind of loss that clarity is gone and the aids can't 'fix' that.  Sounds I hear.........voices, I have trouble unless I'm face to face, one on one..........it's a bummer......but hey, I'm healthy otherwise so I just deal the best I can.........

          Think Spring!


          1. sewslow67 | | #13

            Oh, Kay; I am so sorry to know of your hearing loss.  That must be very frustrating, too. 

            I talked with Sandra's office helper, (when I was having a problem getting a program) and she was very interested in knowing whatever might be helpful to possible students and users of the Website.  I will to call her on behalf of all who have hearing issues and ask if they would consider CC for her classes.  You could also use her email address to reiterate the same request.  It's worth a try, and maybe it wouldn't be that difficult to at CC.

            I don't know if you noticed, but she has a lot of things on her Website.  The tab, "Sandra's Closet" was wonderful to explore as well as her Article Archives.  I'll let you know what they have to say after reaching them.

          2. Crazy K | | #14

            Thanks!  Yes, CC would be very helpful.  It usually lags a bit but between the visual and the script, it would be much more beneficial.

            Thanks again.......on behalf of all of us 'baby boomers' with hearing issues.  With all the ipods and MP3's out there can you imagine what it will be like it 20 years??  Wow!  My loss is hereditary and the noise from farm machinery when I was a youngster but these kids and young adults that run around 'plugged in' at volumes that others can hear are asking for trouble in later years.  I got my first hearing aids at the age of 39........not old by any standard.


          3. stitcher | | #23

            Earlier in this thread I asked Sewfar for more information about replacing the waist band on blue jeans and was referred to an article in Sew News (a 1997 issue). I was disappointed as I am unable to obtain it---but imagine my glee when I saw in May issue of Threads on page 42 three different options for non-traditional treatments. YEAH THREADS!P.S. I'm sooo glad to have my "old" Threads back.

          4. Josefly | | #24

            Isn't it funny how the "universe" comes to the rescue sometimes just when you need it?

          5. stitcher | | #25


          6. PASDENOM | | #26

            Betzina's patterns don't fit me well and need about as much alteration as most other patterns do. She is a wonderful teacher whose HGTV show I watched and taped as often as possible. What does fit me well are Petite Plus patterns. Even if you are taller than petite they are easy to make longer. I have a regular length rise with petite length legs and all I had to do was the shorten or lengthen here line for the rise, no adjustments to hips or waist, the first time ever. The legs were proportioned right for me too. With some minor tweaking of darts these pants became my tried and true pattern after years of struggling to get pants to fit. So far I've only used a pants pattern because the tops are designed for a larger bust than I have. Anyone have experience with the top patterns from PP?

          7. sewslow67 | | #27

            If that is the case, maybe I should give them a try.  My only question to you is:  do you have very slim legs ...esp. thin thighs?  That is my most difficult fitting issue with pants ...along with no butt.  Most pattern companies fit for a rounded bottom and full thighs, and cutting the pattern down doesn't seem to work very well.

            Betzina has come out with a pattern that has seams running down the center front of each pant leg and also down the back of each pant leg.  I watched a video of her presenting that pattern, and she said she designed it because so many women complained of the fitting problem I just described.  I also have flat hips on the side (no feminine rounded hips on my body) but that is easy to fix.  The rest is a real challenge.

            Anyway, please let me know if you still think (considering my boyish shape below the waist) if the jr. size would work for me after lengthening everything.

          8. PASDENOM | | #28

            PP are designed for women with flat rears, but with rounded abdomens and hips and some thigh. Compared to my abdomen and hip measurements my thighs are relatively small and pants are always too baggy.I know the SB pattern you mean and it should work well for just about anyone. I'm tempted to buy it, but trying not to increase my pattern stash. "mature" ladies suffer from SABLE: Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy. I have more uncut fabric and unopened patterns than I will be able to use and have to make a will leaving my sewing and craft supplies to people who can appreciate them.

          9. sewelegant | | #29

            I believe we all spend our money the way that pleases us... at least what is left over after the necessities are taken care of!  Some people buy fresh flowers to adorn their home and do not feel great pangs when they need to be thrown out.  We With A Stash get to enjoy our purchase for years before even dreaming of getting rid of it.  Some of it I just like to pull out and admire again knowing full well I will probably never take a scissors to it.  So, I guess I have rationalized my "hobby" that way.  My husband plays golf so he has nothing to show for all the time and money he has put into it except for the well-being feeling he gets from it and isn't that what I get from my pursuits?  And sometimes, a BONUS, something I really love to wear!

            As for the Petite Plus patterns, I have used a dress pattern she no longer carries.  I got it right after she first appeared on the scene and since I am 5'3" and a D cup with narrow shoulders, etc. etc. it fit without all that pattern adjusting.  I loved it so bought several more patterns but no pants because I drafted my own and like them quite well.  I like her sweater set, but have not made the blouse pattern I have other than a muslin that I didn't really warm up to so put it away.  I am wanting to sew some summer clothes so was just thinking about trying her patterns again.  Thanks for jogging me in that direction. 

          10. sewslow67 | | #32

            I just checked out the PP patterns on her Website, and there is no way that they would work for me.  They're just not made for my body type.  I noticed that the patterns start at size 14; and I normally buy a 6-8, depending on the style, and then do my normal alterations before cutting the fashion fabric.

            I think I could actually re-design one of my pant patterns to be like the SB pattern with the seams running down the front and back of each leg.  I think I'll give that a try when I complete the two little girls dresses that I'm working on now.

            BTW, I just love your SABLE quote!  ROTFL

          11. starzoe | | #34

            After seeing the Betzina pattern with the seam down the back of the leg, took a pair of my cotton pants that were baggy in the seat and cut them down the back after doing some extensive pinning. I really could have used help for this the the outcome was pretty good - took three inches out of each side below the butt and graduated the seam up and down.I transferred the pinned areas to a copy of my original pattern which already had been shortened in the back crotch for my flat butt. I changed the straight of the goods from the original and drew it from the mark between the centre back and the side seam down to the centre of the back hem. Turned out there was a complicated triangular dart which after some complicated slashing and spreading and slashing and overlapping and some adjustments to the side seam removed about three inches graduating towards the ends. Sewed a pair of stretch denim pants from this pattern - perfect. Didn't cut it down the back but could have but didn't need it now.I have slim hips and thighs and a very flat back, have tried every published method of getting rid of the flapping fabric below the butt and spent numerous hours, lots of paper and it looks now that I have found the solution to my fitting problem....for the time being at least!

          12. sewslow67 | | #35

            Oh, wow; thanks so much for taking the time to share you detailed alterations.  I'm going to copy your message for my files and try your suggestions with one of my own patterns that still needs some tweaking.

            I always have way too much fabric in the back too, what with a flat butt and thin thighs.  It's always been especially difficult too, because my waist has always been so small (which made my hips look too big).  However, that (i.e. waist) has changed the last couple of years, and is no longer a problem ...although I hope it stops "swelling up" any further.  Enough is enough already!  I recall that it was JunkQueen that told me to: "Be careful what you wish for".  chuckle chuckle  How right she is!

            I'll try to remember to let you know how the new pants turn out.  I doubt I'll get to them for a few weeks though, as I'm in to little girls dresses at the moment.

            Thanks again for your thoughtful and helpful response.  I really appreciate it.

          13. Ralphetta | | #36

            Your note reminds me of one of my pet peeves. Pattern companies rave about "only 3 pattern pieces." They make beginners think that seams are a bad thing. I've always thought of seams as opportunities to sculpt and mold garments to my individual needs. Your note is a good illustration of just that.

          14. gailete | | #38

            Your note reminded me of an email I got once concerning a pattern we had up for sale. The lady wanted to know if that particular dress had long seams. Long seams compared to what?! How do you answer something like that? I also get questions concerning the amount of seams. I tried my best, but I can't give total sewing instructions on line. I do get some really odd questions, but to me the funniest and saddest are those that want to know if they can get the dress in the blue or if the suit will need to be tailored for them or will it fit? I think I'm pretty clear in indicating that we sell sewing patterns, but people still come along and buy patterns thinking they are getting an actual garment. I think it is sad that in this day and age, people's reading comprehension is so poor or maybe they are just skimming the listing reading into it what they want to see. But as someone who loves to read I think it is very sad and as a sewer it is sad that people don't recognize a picture of a sewing pattern when they see one.


          15. Palady | | #39

            >> ... people's reading comprehension is so poor, ... <<

            During my career, I would "proof" read for an associate.  In our exchanges, she mentioned having learned in a class to compose with a fourth grade level in mind, because this was considered optimum for the overall reading public. 

            I try to keep the thought in mind, but realize I fall short in conversation as well as text.

            >> ... just skimming the listing reading into it what they want to see ... <<

            Which does present a challenge to you to be sure!  It's a process I have to keep myself learning as to a PC page.  There are things I "miss" because my focus is in one area.  With my son's encouragement, strides are being made.

            Kudos on your efforts to getting the answers out.




          16. Ralphetta | | #40

            "long seams?" Wow

          17. ecovalley | | #37

            Okay, so if patterns don't fit you guys either, who DO they fit???I ask this as one who has sewn for 40 years and never could find patterns that fit. I always assumed I'm not as shapely as the average woman. If a pattern fit in the waist, it was too big in the hips. If it fit in the hips, it was too small in the waist. I wasted a lot of time, effort and fabric on patterns with disappointing results.It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered some patterns in Junior sizes, which, albeit limited in number and variety, offered a better fit for my body type. But I'm still better off using my favorite clothes as templates for a good fit, rather than patterns.Ms. McLaughlin's article that started this conversation was so charming and thoughtful. She had a lot of great advice....especially about waistbands. Thanks for an interesting discussion!Ecovalley

          18. Ckbklady | | #44

            Hiya Ecovalley (cool name, by the way!),

            I just wanted to add my two cents. Who do patterns fit? With no touch-ups or alterations, however slight? Very few people at all, but that's not surprising, I think.

            This is how I think about it: most people who try on ready-to-wear clothes in a store don't get the precise fit of a custom garment, right? Yet, what we sewers are doing when we make clothes from patterns we've altered, is to create a custom fit, which wouldn't be possible without tweaking the patterns to personalize them.

            I really like the comforting advice in FIT FOR REAL PEOPLE by Palmer/Pletsch. They remind us that we're not correcting a pattern, we're customizing it. I, for one, am nowhere near expert at doing so, but if, after fiddling with a pattern, I end up with a garment that fits somewhere between badly-fitting ready-to-wear and exceptionally-well-fitting custom handmade clothing, I feel I've done well enough. :)

            :) Mary


          19. sewslow67 | | #45

            HiYa to you Mary; good to see your interesting post.  And I couldn't agree with you more.

            To add on to your thoughts:  I doubt that, for most of us, our "fit" intelligence (my own term for "not that particular) when we first started sewing, was what it is now, so we sewed the patterns as they came out of the envelope.  Youth trumps skill at that age, so one looks "just fine".

            Over the years, and as our technical skills improved, our bodies also changed; and not usually for the better.  Giggle.  In my case, I lost over 30% of my body weight when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.  Whether weight gain, or weight loss, muscle tone also changes as we age; butt's tend to sag, as does every other part of our bodies.  And although I've seen some woman my age who are beautifully toned, I'm not one of them ...although I hope to improve on that this year.

            It's no wonder that pattern companies can't seem to design a pattern that fits each of us.  You are right: "Fit for Real People" is an excellent resource to make the best fitting product we can.  And for me, the challenge of always trying to improve is part of the joy of creating my own clothing.

          20. Ckbklady | | #48

            Oh, my dear! I hope you're fully recovered! That sounds terrifying!!

            Gravity gets us all- even the toned folk. It's the fine art of camouflage that becomes the goal! :)

            I'm with you - it's a joy to fiddle with the patterns and make them "ours". It's nice, too, to see that Palmer/Pletsch at McCalls, Sandra Betzina at Vogue and Connie Crawford at Butterick are representing more "solid" ladies and making stylish designs. I like the Threads patterns at Simplicity well enough, but they really are young styles (with a couple of notable exceptions - the classic jacket & trousers wardrobe is one that comes to mind).

            And I agree - one's fitting skill improves with experience (and age, often). And a good thing too, since gravity never sleeps!

            :) Mary

          21. sewslow67 | | #56

            " ...since gravity never sleeps"    You have such a great way with a phrase, Mary.  Thanks for the reality check with humor; it made me giggle.

            Yes, that 30% weight loss was like an out-of-control train wreck that no one could control, no matter how much food I stuffed into my body.  I still haven't gained all of the weight back, but at least I've gained some of it ...but it's been a long and difficult challenge.  Ironically, I've never been one of those women who ever wanted to be bone thin; and now, more than ever, I tell my women friends to be happy with their healthy bodies - because size just doesn't matter!!!

            Thank you for your hope for recovery too, but that will not happen.  It will get me one of these times, but knowing that only makes each day sweeter.  It just doesn't make sense to spoil today, worrying about tomorrow.

            It rained hard last evening, and the sun is out today, and it smells so good.  I'm going to take the day off, go for a walk, and then come back and sew for the rest of the day.  I've got two little dresses to complete so some little girls will have something special to wear for Easter.  Have a joyous day, Mary.  And thanks again for your warm and humorous messages.

            Edited 4/3/2009 1:00 pm by sewslow67

          22. Ckbklady | | #58

            Oh, my dear!

            Do I ever admire your wisdom and bravery! Keep being strong and enjoying the sweet days. I hope that sewing and coming here to discuss it gives you a wealth of pleasure! Enjoy your sewing day today!

            It's so lovely to think you're making pretty little Easter dresses. I'll see your "sublime" and raise you a "ridiculous" - my current sewing project? Slipcovering a scruffy office chair that I got for $5 in a yard sale! Hardly delicious, elegant spring sewing, but satisfying nonetheless, and I found a REALLY loud 1970s wavy print fabric in a thrift shop for it - so it'll be fun! And heck, no "fit issues" to bother with. It won't exhale while I'm pinning or cutting, giggle!

            I wish you sunshine and lots of happy sewing time!

            :) Mary

          23. sewslow67 | | #67

            Thank you Mary.  There are so many who really have a tough time of it that I feel very fortunate to have what I've got.  And let's face it; no one lives forever!

            Now then, your "fabulous buy" office chair and funky 1970's fabric sound great!  And it won't only not exhale, it won't gain and lose weight either.  Giggle!  I think home dec projects are so satisfying; I love doing them.  The window in my new sewing room needs to be dressed in some way, and I am still pondering what I want to do.  It will have to be something sheer though, as I like looking outside and letting the sun shine in ...just not so much sun at times.

            Thanks again for your thoughtful note, Mary. Have a sunny, fun-filled weekend.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw that it's going to be in the 60-degree range in your part of the world.  Oh ...I wish I were there!

          24. Ckbklady | | #74

            Hiya! No, it's true none of us live forever, but we good sewers sure all deserve to! I admire your perspective and am inspired by it.

            You like home dec projects? Then come and sew me up this slipcover, giggle! I'd rather be doing a nice pair of summer pants, but this grimy chair needs clothes more urgently.

            And yes, we've been promised 60 degrees or so for today, tomorrow and if we don't get too greedy, even Tuesday! Then it'll be back to 50 degrees and rain for the foreseeable future. I'll take today, though, mind you, and enjoy every minute of it! Hubby and I were going to weed today, but the heck with it - we're taking a picnic to the park.

            I wish you were here too - we could stroll in the spring air and visit my favorite fabric shop - Pacific Fabrics (check them out at http://www.pacificfabrics.com). In this dreadful economy, they're an anomaly - a small chain of independent shops with exceptional clothing, home dec and quilting fabrics, a mindboggling selection of gourmet yarns, LOTS of staff (the sunniest, smartest fabric store staff you've ever seen) and as a result, yup, they're always busy. Recession? What recession? They're smart with their weekly email newsletters, with their jampacked class schedule and their online coupons. It's my favorite escape from the pressures of running a business that's as stagnant as the rest of the country. Heck, a good stash will get you through tough times, huh? :)

            You are a ray of sunshine, SS67!

            :) Mary

          25. gailete | | #59

            >>I tell my women friends to be happy with their healthy bodies - because size just doesn't matter!!!<<

            You said it sister! I'd much rather be healthy any day of the week. I walked to the end of our rural road yesterday and it was such an accomplishment! Years ago I would have never thought twice about doing it.

            Treasure your time and abilities and use them doing something worthwhile. Think of all the folks that do nothing but sit and watch TV all day and have never picked up a needle or thread, or tried to do anything creative in their lives. I don't understand how they aren't completely and absolutely bored stiff.


          26. sewslow67 | | #68

            Thanks, Gail.  I just hope that most of the young women of today finally "get it".  After all, (IMHO) we (as women) have spent too many years worrying about the wrong things in life.  

            When my daughter was growing up, I told her that: "She is not her body"; but instead that: "She has a body" (and to concentrate on keeping it healthy).   I think (hope) that she has learned that her very essence comes from a sound mind, a giving heart, and a sweet soul.

            PS:  And congratulations for walking to the end of your rural road.  That is terrific!  Right now, I can only walk one block from the house and back again.  Aaarrrrggggg!  Guess I can't get lost though, huh?  giggle

            Edited 4/5/2009 1:57 am by sewslow67

          27. gailete | | #75

            My walk was to the end of the "block" so to speak which was a goal I that I had wanted to accomplish by the end of this summer! I was surprised that I was able to go the whole way, but was really hurting on the way back. The weather has turned bad again, it's been snowing for 2 days which has me flared up and I've been downing narcotics like crazy just to be able to move.

            I did manage to sew on Saturday though it wasn't 'clothes' I have almost finished a purse with hand embroidery, crazy patchwork, decorative machine stitches,etc. I still have to line it and put handles on, but I figured I'd better wait until my head clears. As it was I found several mistakes in the pattern and directions so I want to be sure I have it right before the final sewing together. At least I didn't have to fit it to my body. I did make it in the colors that most of my spring/summer clothes are in as I have been trying hard to coordinate the colors, etc. when I sew so that I have more outfits. SWAP sewing if you have heard of it: Sewing With A Plan.



          28. sewslow67 | | #76

            Oh, Gail; I am so sorry you have been in such terrible pain.  And having it affect your every move must be very discouraging.  I'm told that arthritis is like that, and also know from experience that fibromylgia is the same during the active cycles.  I pray that your snow is replaced by a glorious warm spring soon that will hopefully relieve your body of pain.

            It's good that you were able to work on a lovely project while having to stay inside.  Your purse sounds lovely and I hope you will post a picture when you are finished.  I have been planning on making a handbag from a scrap of Ultrasuede for weeks now but have not started it yet.  The handbag that I have carried for years is now just too heavy, and I need something lighter, thus Ultrasuede.  I don't plan on embroidery though, as it doesn't work as well on this fabric ...except very lightly as the needle tends to cut the fabric when heavily stitched.  (ask me how I know that ...giggle).

            I like your SWAP sewing idea, and I had not heard of it although it makes perfect sense.  I guess that is what I was planning for spring with my list, but just didn't know it.  I went through my closet and made a list of what I needed/wanted to go with "whatever" to fill in and expand.  I think we used to call them "capsule" wardrobes or some such thing.

            I hope that you will be feeling pain-free very soon ...and that the snow was the last of the season.  Spring is always a welcome season.

          29. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #77

            SS67 -- I've a purse started, have had for quite some time, and I need to finish it. I hit a stumbling block, but I've just got to "gitter done". My sweet DIL gave me a very expensive, name brand bag as a thank you. (I've driven close to 600 miles round trip 4 times in the past three months because they needed my on-site, personal help.) I don't want to tell her how much I dislike that bag. It is way bigger than I usually carry, and even with the organizer I made for it, things still get scattered -- it has a soft bottom and sides, and with no structure, things get dumped from the organizer. I think finishing that purse will be my next project, but then maybe just making a totally different one would be easier.......

          30. sewslow67 | | #78

            Hi-ya, JQ!  Is there any way you could take the large bag apart and re-cut it/re-design it to make a smaller bag?  I thought about that with that heavy one I've got but haven't figured it out yet.  Mine is also an expensive brand name bag (bought it when I was working - great job) but now I don't need that kind of bag, it's too large, and too heavy ...and I would never pay that price now!  Funny how things change as we add candles to our cakes!

            I have a really cute hand-bag pattern from HotPatterns, that I quite like too.  I suspect that I will make it smaller though, as I only carry my wallet and keys plus my eye glass case, so I don't need a large bag and prefer to keep them light weight.  I also like them to be washable these days, what with the two dogs.  When we travel, we always take the dogs and they have their own bag of stuff; toys, brush and comb, tooth brushes, blankets, etc. so I don't need to add those to my handbag.

            If you haven't tried HotPatterns yet, you might want to check them out.  They've got some really cute designs.  I plan to make several of their designs for the family reunion this summer.  Must run; finishing up the little dresses today ...finally!!

          31. gailete | | #79

            The SWAP sewing was a fun idea, started more or less by Australian Stitches, where a lady would make up to 11 garments that all coordinated to almost endless possibilities. Timmel Fabrics, sponsored a contest with some different twists each year and it was fun to watch and read how the contestants thought through and worked on what they were making. I never got done but it sure helped me think through what I made so that it went with something else in my closet!

            Timmel Fabrics closed down, but it looks like someone else may have kept the contest going. Try this link to see more about it: http://artisanssquare.com  . I haven't been there for awhile as I got busy and behind. Story of my like!

            As to purses. I only have one purse and I swapped out the straps for a shoulder strap that goes across me so it isn't slipping off my shoulder as I walk as I use a cane and I don't like tripping myself up. The one I am making is actually going to have short handles unless I change my mind, but I plan on using it only for church, etc. where I won't need to 'wear' it like I usually do.


          32. starzoe | | #46

            Paper patterns are just guides. They are not meant to fit each individual, there would be a rare person who didn't need some tweaking to have a good fit.The trick is to get your measurements taken by someone knowledgeable. Use the charts in the back of the pattern book to select the size that closest match your measurements - it helps to know that hips, waist and length can always be adjusted, chest and shoulder fitting is more difficult to adjust. It also helps (if you are sewing for yourself) to have a good idea what is flattering for you and what is not.

          33. sewslow67 | | #47

            You've really got a good point about getting good measurements Starzoe, and selecting the right size of pattern.  I think too, that adding bra cup adjustments to many patterns has helped a lot.

            For my current figure issues, I have found that Burda seems easier to tweak, whereas when I was younger, the major pattern companies seemed to work better.  That said, I still use Vogue (especially) as I like so many of their designs, particularly Marcie Tilton's creations. 

            However, I have never drafted my own patterns, and the more I read on Gatherings, the more I want to try that.  At the very least, I'd like to try drafting a pants pattern.  Thus, my question:  Do you (or have you ever tried) to draft your own pattern.  And, if so, how has that worked for you.  And if you tried it, is there a particular book source that you have found helpful?

            I pose the question above for others too, who have drafting experiences to share.

          34. Teaf5 | | #49

            "Who do patterns fit?"  The only ones I've seen that come even close are those little-girls' wrap dresses, and even those can be way off!

            As a result, I use them mainly for design details and yardage guides for my own, drafted from RTW garments...

          35. ecovalley | | #50

            Thank you, Starzoe, for the pattern adjustment advice!I should have done this years ago when nothing fit and I was taking seams in here and letting seams out there. Now I hardly ever use commercial patterns anymore, instead making my own patterns based on clothes I own that fit well. It takes some of the guesswork out, and I can improvise from a reliable, basic fit. I like to experiment a bit anyway, though my imagination definitely exceeds my skill level....ecovalley

          36. jjgg | | #51

            Patterns are made to fit the "fit model" This is a real person that has the 'ideal' measurements of the company. (think perfect posture, perky boobs, no rolls, no fluff etc) Someone in the company decides on what these measurements should be, and then they find a person with those measurements. Now, Threads had an article way back about how several women with the same 'measurements' could have very different body shapes, so here is your first problem.The next issue is that there are some VERY VERY poor pattern drafters working now. They start with the basic block the pattern company has for the size (buy their fitting shell and you will get their basic block - the big 4 all have one of these patterns). This block is then slashed, spread, manipulated etc to get the different styles in the pattern book, but here is where mistakes get made. Often they are not double checked, or are done by computer wrongly. One seam will be left a little longer than the one it gets sewn to.Grading then adds a new dimension to errors in the patterns. Patterns will be drafted in lets say a size 8 and then sized up and down to get the other sizes. This is not such a big problem with the big 4 companies, but in some of the smaller pattern companies, there may be grading errors.I have seen darts marked wrong on patterns several times. This will be hard to explain in writing without pictures (I suppose I could draw this and scan the pix to upload , but too much trouble) but basically the 'dots' on the dart legs are not marked evenly from the dart point so when you stick your pins in the dots to match the dart legs, the point is wrong.So, the lesson today is: Patterns are NOT made to fit YOU. They are a guide, just a guide to the style. YOU are a special unique person with your own personal shape that no one else shares. Make a MUSLIN and fit from there.One class I used to teach when I was in Houston was to draft a sloper from your own measurements and then I would show the students how to adjust the pattern in the flat paper pattern to match their sloper before ever making the muslin. This way you got all of the major adjustments out of the way, and in the muslin then only had to tweak the pattern a little.This method takes care of issues such as full bust, waist and back length, armhole depth hip line etc.If anyone is in the Asheville NC area and wants to put a class together, I'd be glad to teach it. Just let me know - email me at
            [email protected]I can do private or group lessons.Judy

          37. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #52

            Jigg, you are so right! I would love to see an article where they take a regular woman, and make a pattern straight out of the envelope, no changes. Then in the same fabric, one with basic fitting changes, using a muslin, then a third one, using a sloper and a muslin. Just to prove that all that "extra work" makes a difference! Just a simple basic garment, no fuss or frills. No linings or fancy extras, just simple fitting skills. Point out all the fitting changes. Show pictures of the sloper on the pattern and where changes would be made. Show the muslin being fitted, drawing the new lines, the marked old lines and all. Not a how to as much as a visual. The how to could be further articles. We urge others to do these things so often, maybe if we could show them WHY!?! Cathy

          38. jjgg | | #55

            Were do you live? we could do this! Threads is always looking for articles.

          39. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #65

            Jigg, I have sent you a PM in reply. Cathy
            Ok, I tried to send you a PM, but was unable. Could you PM me, so I could confirm your email and resend you my reply?

            Edited 4/4/2009 5:23 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          40. sewelegant | | #57

            I just ordered the book "Fit For Real People" by Pati Palmer and what you describe seems to be what this book is all about.  It only addresses the Butterick, Vogue, McCall, and Simplicity patterns as they are the ones who print a "fitting" pattern designed by Palmer/Pletch. 

            If one goes through all the trouble of making a muslin and feels it is well worth it, she should really be enthused about fitting the commercial fitting pattern for the Big 4 as you would only have to do the one exercise in getting the fit right.  They demonstrate the fact that all the Big 4 pattern companies fitting patterns are based on the Palmer/Pletch model and differ only minutely so you only need to fit one, not all of them and when you apply the changes you have made for your body on any of the Big 4 patterns, it will fit and need only minimal tweaking. 

            The independent pattern companies will all have their own fitting models and may not be the same as the Palmer/Pletch so that is why you will still have to test them, but I'll bet most of them are not very far off.

            My only problem with all this is YOU NEED A HELPER and as we all know they are not easy to come by.  This book did enlighten me and seemed to make the whole fitting process seem not so unattainable.  I purchased one of those fitting patterns years ago and it is still in the envelope, untouched.  Oh, if only we could learn what we need to know early in life!!!

            P.S. I understand, from readng this book, that the fitting patterns are the model from which all the patterns in that size are made and that is why they are not sold in multiple sizes.  So, if you like to sew with a size 16 pattern because that is the neckline that seems to fit, you would buy a size 16 fitting pattern to see what all the changes are you need to make to fit you.

            Another thing I learned from the book is that P/P trains teachers in their method, out in Portland, so many of you have already had the opportunity to learn what they have to teach us.

            Edited 4/3/2009 2:02 pm by sewelegant

          41. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #64

            This book was on my list of got to get books for the longest time. I finally buckled and ordered it this week! I used some birthday funds I received. I had hoped to pick it up 2nd hand, but it seems to be one that is hung on to! So I am eagerly awaiting the call for it to be in. Cathy

          42. KharminJ | | #60

            Cathy - that's a terrific series-of-articles idea! You should send that directly to Nicole or Ariel (the Threads staffers I've seen around here recently), or even directly to Judith Neukam at the magazine, in case they haven't checked here lately.I totally agree that sometimes, pictures are worth thousands of words - and the right pictures plus the right words can make all the difference!Bright Blessings ~ Kharmin

          43. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #66

            Thanks Kharmin! I feel that our lively editors lurk here more than we realize! I hope they take note. Cathy

          44. sewslow67 | | #53

            What a helpful explanation!  While my common sense told me that they didn't draft patterns precisely for me (only a miracle would make for a perfect fit without tweaking), I was not aware of all the details you clarified in the process.

            However, I have a question:  As you know, Palmer and Pletch have clinics in Portland, OR and I was wondering if you would ever consider flying out to give classes there?  I think you would could easily fill a class there ...probably many times over ...so it would be profitable for you and so very helpful to the woman in that area.  I no longer live there, but keep an apartment for when I come down each month or two for my medical - and would so appreciate taking your class.

            If that does not interest you (or work for you), would you consider developing an on-line class for those of us who would eagerly sign up (probably many of us here on Gatherings)?

            Thanks again for your post.

          45. jjgg | | #54

            At this point in time I don't think I could fly out tot Portland (though I would love to see the area). and I'm not sure an online class would work. There is a lot of hands on that needs to be done. In teaching this class, I've had all levels of students, but most of them always needed personal attention at some point during the class. I just don't know how I would go about it on line.But thank you for the suggestions.

          46. KharminJ | | #61

            Thank you so much, Judy! It helps to be reminded that the world cannot be all "quick and easy". The work on your website is beautiful, too!Bright BlessingsKharmin

          47. jjgg | | #62

            Thanks, Today though I am off to my first hiker festival to try and sell my tents! I hope I can make a sale!As one friend of mine put it, tents aren't such a big difference from wedding gowns. They both involve large pieces of slippery fabric and long zippers!

          48. KharminJ | | #63

            Ooh, I will be sending you lots of focused "I simply must have one!" energy!

            Do you have a 'site up for them yet? K

          49. jjgg | | #69

            Thanks Kharmin.I sold 3 tents. one is a 'special order' a lovely lady from Holland wants one in purple.
            I'm so excited. I will be getting a website up for it very soon.
            JudyMy regular website (that says I still live in Houston) is

          50. KharminJ | | #70

            Oh, Yay! That's excellent! (and she has exquisite taste!)What did you end up using for the center bar? K

          51. jjgg | | #71

            I used the PVC pipe and fittings. I could find something a little lighter weight, but can't figure the 45* angle fittings for it, so PVC it will remain for now.I was interviewed by 2 newspapers at the festival, I don't know if they will print anything about it, but if I find links to the articles, I'll post it here.

          52. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #72

            jigg, this is wonderful.  I am so excited for you and based on my DH's comments and the comments of others, I just knew you had a winner there.  You go, girl!!!

          53. Palady | | #73

            >> ... print anything about it, but if I find links to the articles, I'll post it here. <<

            Please do so we can all enjoy the read.  In the meantime, bask in your accomplishment!


          54. sewelegant | | #42

            I'm sure you read in another thread about using the "demeaning" word PLUS size, but with your petite frame you probably didn't expect Petite Plus patterns to be right for you, did you, but when I see the words plus size I happily take a look! (I do agree with Threadkoe that it would be very nice and considerate if the industry could come up with kinder terminology as everyone who is beyond the usual size range is not necessarily obese).  I would like to make a comment on Coni Crawford's patterns... if I remember correctly, she started out just designing for the larger sizes with normal shoulder length but a bigger bosom... basically someone who has acquired a few extra pounds and could no longer fit into the regular patterns without extensive alterations.  I found this a boon, but have not always been pleased with the sleeves.  They tend to look "home made" and I have not found the way to remedy that.  As for her Butterick line, she now has regular sizing as well, but I cannot vouch for how well they work as I am still well endowed.

            You do like Sandra Betzina and so do I, but her patterns are not for me  What I do like are her techniques and when I follow them things just seem to fall into place better.  PP and CC patterns are fine for me, but I would appreciate a little more detailed instructions.  It is easy to forget what we have learned when we do not use it often and I usually need refreshing.

          55. PASDENOM | | #43

            Who patterns (or RTW) fit is a good question. I remember reading that RTW clothing sizes were established after WWII so all manufacturers would use consistent size numbers. The measurements were determined from averaging the bodies of women discharged from the military. These were young, fit bodies. The average US woman is 5'4" and wears size 12. When I go shopping it is obvious the manufacturers think she is 5'6" and wears size 6. Pattern designers seem to be using the same method in deciding how to fit. Before I needed the larger sizes I had found one pattern that fit me well. It included a skirt and pants and I can't count how many of each I made. Still I had to whack off about 5 inches of leg length.

          56. Mary301 | | #30

            I've just started sewing PP patterns and find the ones I've tried to run from  perfect to not so great. Her shell pattern was a disappointment - armholes too long. But the four patterns included in her new book are great. The blouse fits perfect! The pants needed only small tweaks. I'm looking forward to trying the zip front jacket next.

          57. sewelegant | | #31

            I'm happy to hear your favorable comment on the new Petite Plus book because I just ordered it about a month ago from Amazon and have been working up the ambition to start making something from it!  I just put away a Coni Crawford blouse that I was spending way too much time on and it just wasn't working so I needed a break.  I made a couple muslins of different sizes for the CC blouse to see which size I should make and that seemed acceptable, but the fabric I had, a semi-sheer poly with a striped pattern, was very hard to work with and things just weren't coming together right and the fabric frayed badly.  CC has you working with 1/4 inch neckline allowance seam and with all that fraying, it couldn't take all that ripping I was needing to do to get it right.  Very frustrating.  I guess I need to stick with knits.

          58. gailete | | #18

            Kay, I'm not deaf, but do have dial up connection which means all those on line videos that everyone seems to be using now are out for me also as we can't download fast enough to get anything coherent if we even can get a video working at all. So I sympathize with you for a totally different reason. Very frustrating how many links in just the last couple months that I have clicked on thinking I would see something in print and it was a video.

            I read my sewing books and back issues of magazines and find that by the time I look at them again, something new catches my interest. One of the reasons that I can't understand people who rip out only the articles that interest them at the time and pitch the rest of the magazine. Maybe I just have too varied of interests!


          59. Crazy K | | #19

            I have kept ALL my sewing mags from the first!  I, too, like to dig out a year's worth every now and then and page through them..........altho' I haven't had much time for that in the past few months.  I like to go back and I, like you, seem to find something new and interesting.  DH would love to have to me get rid of them but he also understands the 'reference' material in them.  I've won that battle for now! ha ha

            Loss of hearing is the pits.........dial up for videos is just about the same.  I can hear the sound but it is not at all coherent and the video portion usually isn't good enough to read lips.....and then they turn their heads!  argh!!!!!  Maybe someday they will include CC to the online videos.  it's on nearly all TV programs now so maybe there is hope!

            Thanks for sharing............


          60. starzoe | | #20

            Neither do I understand why anyone would tear Threads apart and just keep what is of interest NOW....what a waste of good information!

          61. User avater
            bevaau | | #21

            I used to tear my Threads apart (haven't done it lately) and only keep the articles - the advertisements are not of continuing interest and are of marginal interest to me anyway as I live in Australia. By separating what is not relevant, I get to keep the information that is and it all takes up a lot less space.BevA

          62. gailete | | #22

            Some of my favorite magazines when I can get ahold of them are from Australia and I love reading the ads. One of the things I have found very beneficial is the book ads and reviews. As books aren't always published on the same schedule around the world, I have bugged my library to find me copies of books that haven't even been published or available here yet. But at least I know to look out for them. In the older copies of US magazines I'm finding ads for books that would be of interest to me now that wouldn't have been earlier. When I was trying to buy a used Pfaff in December, I found an old article by David Page Coffin on the machine I was looking at plus actual ads that sure told me more about the machine than most of the listings I looked at.

            As our lives tend to circulate around sewing/needlework both as a hobby and professionally, I reread those magazines with a new eye. I don't suppose everybody would need to be seeing that, but as my expertise grows so does my need for the more expert articles.

            You are fortunate to live in a country where it seems all the magazines have lots of inspiration and great ideas. I wish I could afford to subscribe to several of them. Maybe they just don't export the lousy ones!


          63. Gloriasews | | #33

            No, my dear, keeping certain articles is a space-saving measure.  I had saved all my Threads, Sew News, & several quilting magazines for years (I had literally piles of magazines tied with twine & they weighed a ton last year).  We were moving from a 2-storey townhouse (with basement) to a 2 bdrm. apt. with no storage.  It took me 3 wks. to go through them all & cull what was of interest to me.  As it was, I now have 2 liquor-size boxes of articles (1 box sewing, 1 box quilting) that I must again cull, to put into binders, then find enough shelf space for them, as my sewing space is in my bedroom.  There is only so much room (& it's never enough)!  Some articles are of interest, but I absolutely know that I will never make the projects or utilize all the info, unless I live forever :).  We do what we have to, sometimes, whether we want to or not.  I also had to cull my stash drastically, as well, & I still brought along too much, so I have projects to keep me going for some time.


  5. mucci | | #41

    Thank you, I live in Alton, Il suburb of St Louis.  I have had to come

    to the realization of age on the body, so we move on.  I do sew so

    Iam looking at sewing my own pants.  I like jeans but not the tight

    fitting ones.  I have found a butterick trouser pattern and adjusting

    it , not finished yet so hopefully it will fit, if not I will continue the search.

    Thanks for the information  very helpful


    Love Shirley

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