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Going back to basics

Quilts | Posted in General Discussion on


I’ve decided to go back to basics and start sewing clothes again.  At one time I made all my work outfits and clothes for my daughter and shirts for my husband, but got away from it.  Now I would love to find a pattern for pants that fit well and can be made for work and skirts, it is impossible to find nice skirts to wear to work.  We can dress business casual, so I’m looking at comfortable skirts with simple tops or jackets, in larger sizes.  Years ago I got a newsletter from a company in Canada that designed patterns for you based on numerous measurements, does anyone know if they are still in business? 


  1. User avater
    Sewista | | #1

    If you are looking for a great pants pattern try any of the Simplicity "Amazing Fit" pants patterns. Here is a review on the ones I have made:

    There are links to click on to give closeups of the details. What I really liked about this pattern was how it walks you thru measuring yourself and getting the right fit with their three options.

    There are lots of skirt options out there as skirts are really big this year. Some quiet time at the pattern table should give you all sorts of options. If you haven't looked there PatternReview.com will give you actual reviews of many many patterns. Looking thru their gallery could give you some good ideas as well.

    1. starzoe | | #2

      I had a look at your review of the pants pattern - there's always been something bothering me about this "pants fall straight from the hip" thing. Probably on slim, tall people this is a very good rule, but when the wearer has obvious hips and is not particularly tall, the pant legs will certainly tend to be very wide to follow the rule and as a result make the wearer look shorter.I tried drawing this on my croquis, and the pant legs would definitely be over-wide and I have found that works in real life too. Great for lounging pants or floppy beach pants, not so great for a classic fit. I have almost no hips and am about 5'5", so not so very short, but I am chunky. For the current straight-leg pant I have to adjust the "rule" a little.

      1. Cityoflostsouls | | #3

        I am thin but never have had hips to speak of.  I've never made pants and buy few (my children tend to dress me and I wear pants til theres nothing left.)  I was so surprised when I did go to buy pants and found that I looked good in the boot cut pants.  Much better than in the straight legged pants I've always worn.  I would never have believed it and I guess I was feeling adventurous that day.  I guess you're never too old for new things.  If you haven't tried the boot cut try a pair on and see if you like them.

      2. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #5

        In a previous posting in another thread was a link to a neat little how to on pants, Katherine Hepburn style. It showed how to measure the bottom of pants, according to SHOE SIZE. Perhaps this might help with the pant width adjustment problem you are having? It really made a lot of sense to me. Here is a link to the original post: http://forums.taunton.com/tp-gatherings/messages?msg=9713.4 Cathy

        1. starzoe | | #6

          Thanks for that info, I'll re-read it, sounds like an interesting technique.

      3. User avater
        Sewista | | #8

        I have since made another pair of pants from that pattern and am convinced that the "fall from the hip" advice does not work for me. I NEED to have the pants curve in and be much less than wide at the ankle. My plan for my next pair is to copy the cut of the leg from some RTW pants that I love. I would love to wear boot cut pants but at five feet tall, I have never found a pair that fit. My best strategy for looking slim in pants is to wear them with heels. I find I hem some pants for flats and some are hemmed for heels. That little bit of difference is a huge difference on my short legs and my pants just don't work both ways.

        1. starzoe | | #9

          You are right about "pants just don't work both ways", and I'm glad that you agree that the "fall from the hip" is not a rule for everyone. The program How Not to Dress has some horrible examples of those two having no idea what a stocky person should wear to look good. They are caught up with the youth thing and even dress their older (don't think they have had anyone on over 45 or so) clients in trashy and trendy stuff.I do like to see the colour combinations and the accessories and how they are used on that program.

          1. junctioncats | | #10

            I am SO glad to hear someone say that out loud! I watch that show, and cringe when I see them dressing a 40 year old woman in an outfit that suits a 22 year old with NO middle aged tendencies. I stopped watching it recently because the woman they were dressing was built like me and the clothes they wanted her to wear were absolutely atrocious!

          2. gailete | | #11

            We dropped cable several years ago, but that was a show we liked watching although I could never understand their instance on pointy toed high heels for all the women. I sure never saw them dress a woman with two fake knees and using a cane! If I tried to where heels of any sort, I'd tip right over! They dress everyone for NYC not small town America and who are they to say small town America is wrong? But we also liked seeing accessories and clothing combinations.



          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #12

            Tee hee hee! I would love to see those pointy toed shoes in the mud in my back lane. Or running through the fields after an escaping calf! Even climbing in and out of a Truck or SUV getting groceries.....My feet hurt just thinking about it. There are no sidewalks except in the small area in front of the elementary school where I get my groceries. Why does everyone on these shows assume we all live in the city? A Mom with small children cannot keep up with them in those shoes either! Looking good doesn't mean you can't be practical also. I have some really sharp looking practical shoes. Never see those on the fashion shows...tee hee hee Cathy

          4. junctioncats | | #13

            I've seen women up here in Mud Season dressed to the nines with spiked heels. Always tickles me when the heels are encrusted with mud. rofl Susan

          5. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #14

            ROTFL Yeah, I keep my rubber boots or a pair of duckies on until I hit the car, and change to decent shoes when I hit pavement. Still manage to get that swipe of mud or dried mud down my backside getting in and out of the car or truck, tee hee hee, Isn't that an image? Cathy

          6. junctioncats | | #15

            During mud season, I keep my "ducks" in the front seat with me, a pair of Wellies in the backseat, and don't put my good shoes on unless I can "see" the pavement, lol. I think folks who haven't experienced a good old-fashioned mud season are really missing out. Actually, the best image is that of someone wearing spiked heels with open toes. Usually, I have to turn my head away, trying hard not to chuckle. :-) Susan

          7. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #16

            My girls loved mudsliding after a rainfall. Messy but fun! And nothing better than playing in a huge waterpuddle after a heavy rain. At least we knew what was in the puddle, tee hee hee. Altho, there is still one little pink rubber boot missing out there somewhere.... ;) Cathy

          8. meg | | #21

            I work for a school here in VT and went to a meeting of support personnel. The guest speaker was a woman from Kansas and she spoke to us about our attire. I nearly laughed out loud, disrupting her presentation. No, high heels simply do not work at school. When you're tromping through a field on a fire drill or standing for long periods of time, sturdy tied-on shoes are the most sensible things for goodness sake.

          9. junctioncats | | #30

            Meg, I don't know which school, but most aren't surrounded by paved sidewalks up here. I can only imagine what it would look like were all the women wearing high heels when that fire alarm rings. roflmao OMG, the mental picture I'm getting of that is hilarious.Cute story - we had a small fire at the house about 2 months ago, just when the snow had melted and everything was pretty well soft and gooey. It was a minor thing, I put it out with an extinguisher, but called the fire department because the entire first floor was filled with smoke. I had to go outside to wait for them, and our driveway is graveled right up to the garage door. Problem was, I had a pair of house slippers on (really good suede ones from LL Bean...well, USED to be really good ones, lol). I didn't think, I just opened the garage door and stepped out into the driveway. I sunk 3 inches at the side near the grass. Talk about looking like an idiot-when the first trucks arrived, here I was with mud shoes trimmed in sheepskin along the top!Susan

          10. Ocrafty1 | | #33

            A few yrs. ago, when I was a junior studying for my Elem Ed degree,  our 35 yr.old prof. spoke to us about appropriate attire for working in the classroom. This was just prior to our going into classrooms for our first 'teaching' experience.  Most of my classmates were under 25, with nose/eyebrow/lip piercings and/or tatoos in various places.  We were told that those were to be removed and covered, respectively. We were told to dress so that no one could accuse us of being suggestive, especially for jr/high school.  Our prof came to class dressed "appropriately" in a long, oversized denim jumper, with appliqued apples on it, long-sleeved  turtleneck sweater, clunky jewelry, and very pointed 2" heels. 

            When she asked what we thought about her 'attire' I sat there nearly rotfl. She asked while I was laughing...I told her that no one would suspect that she was an attractive young woman, but that if there were a child injured or an altercation on the playground she would have a difficult time getting to them trying to run on the rubber or wood chips that are on the ground, wearing those shoes. I suggested that she might want to wear or change into more appropriate shoes.  She was agahst at the proposal. She asked what kind of example would I be setting. I told her that it would be sensible. She was not pleased...it was not what she wanted to hear.

            I love watching What Not to Wear, but agree that sometimes their advice is a little out there for clients over 40, or who live in rural communities. If I went to get groceries dressed like they suggest, I'd turn heads alright...people would think I'd lost my mind!  I also don't like Nick's obsession with short hair.  I'd love to go on the show (Give me $5K to go shopping...I'd get in trouble for shopping at the NY fabric stores...teehee)...but he'd never get me to cut my hair.  I've had it long since I was 15, and at 53, I'm not changing that for anyone!  I wouldn't know who to be without my long hair. I'll be the little old lady with her white hair up in a bun, thank you very much!  He seems to think that everyone looks good in short hair and it is the only option. Surprising when you look at Stacy London and Carmandi's long locks.  I just got mine styled like Stacy's last week, but longer,....and it took me 3 days to talk myself into getting that done.  I like it, but its more work to make it look nice.  It still comes down to my waist, but now it has more 'swing and body.'  I'm stylin' now!! (giggle!) 


          11. jane4878 | | #17


            That makes me think of the summer weddings at Waterton Lakes National Park.  Our minister does quite a few of them and they're invariably on the golf course in the howling wind plus/minus rain with the bride and bridesmaids trapped by their sunken heels!  He always feels sorry for them.  We are near the windiest municipality in N. America.  Outside weddings with big hairdos, veils and heels isn't probably the smartest of moves.  Freezing winds blasting down from the mountains over glaciers and lakes--mmmmmm how romantic! 

            Heels are bad for your feet--period.  Anything over 1 1/2 inches is supposed to be too high.  I don't like all the clunky jewelry Susannah and Trinny insist everyone needs.  Pointy boots and shoes make your feet look really big too.


          12. Sancin | | #18

            Have you ever noticed in all pictures in the media that women wearing high heel, or even other shoes, always have their toes pointing in? Any idea why? Have I been missing something that is supposed to make me look better in pictures?

          13. starzoe | | #19

            That's a very good point. There is an art to wearing heels, and standing with legs wide apart or with the toes pointing sideways isn't it. I notice on the "how to dress" shows, a good many women get dolled up and then come clunking out like they are wearing steel-toe-capped logging boots.

          14. User avater
            Sewista | | #20

            Your are so right. It so totally bugs me when they come prancing out in their outfits and walk like elephants. Maybe they should spend a few minutes teaching the clunkers how to walk in the shoes they insist they where. Junctioncats, where do you live? I thought Mud Season was such a New England term. I detest mud season, so much mud being tracked into the house, yuk. Bunny

          15. junctioncats | | #29

            I live in Cambridge, Vermont and work in South Burlington. Oh yes, it is quite the New England thing. And if we get more thaw or rain than normal, then it becomes a 2 month Mud Season up here. Right now, we appear to be in Spring-mode and not too much mud around, thank the Mud Gods. :-) Susan

          16. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #22

            Hey Jane! Tee hee hee, and the photographer usually cuts off the feet in photos anyhow, tee hee hee. Brrrr...even on a Hot day, those glacial winds make it seem like a cold spring day!Talking about the Mud Season out east here is reminding me of the Prairie Muck. I can just imagine what it would do to a pair of heels! Three steps and you are 6 inches taller, MWAha ha ha ha ha...ROTFL! Black and sticky as all get out.... now that is one kind of mud I do not miss....tee hee hee Cathy

          17. jane4878 | | #23

            Ahhhh, gumbo! Hate the stuff--there's no keeping it off of shoes, clothes, cars etc.  At least 6 inches of it would stabilize those stilleto heels!

            We've had the most disgusting weather the past week--3 , 4 FEET of snow.  Higher in the foothills they've had so much snow, people weren't able to get out of their houses for a few days. I had a coworker who had to stay at the hospital for 4 days and 3 nights.   The mud is going to be insane.  I've got muddy paw prints all over the house from the dog. 

            I used to live in High Prairie, Alberta and every entrance had a mud scraper, boot rack and bags to carry your dirty boots around with you.  My father was a bit horrified to think his little girl was living in the wild west. LOL  I had an Irish friend in High Prairie (a locum doctor) who couldn't believe Canadians always took their shoes off at the door.  He thought he should have stocks in white sock companies.  We always teased him that he grew up with dirt floors and it didn't matter if he tracked mud in!


          18. starzoe | | #24

            When I began reading these posts about mud I intended to post about Canadians taking their shoes off at the door.....and you did it for me. I believe this is a Canadian habit, particularly a western Canadian habit. Almost everyone who arrives at the door takes their shoes off, even when the weather is fine. Repair men have little booties they slip over their work shoes. It is not "done", however, to remove shoes and walk around in bare feet. The only exceptions would be posh dinner parties, tea parties, cocktail parties and emergencies!

          19. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #25

            When I first started traveling down to visit relatives in the States, I was aghast at people walking in to houses with their shoes on. I soon realized that this was considered normal and I was the weird one who was taking her shoes off! I always wondered about this. Mind you, the pile of discarded shoes at the door you are not falling over would be nice too.... ;) Cathy

          20. starzoe | | #26

            When I was in England in the '60s staying with my MIL, I was considered a real colonial, taking my shoes off after entering a house! Also, I had to be told over and over to please close doors when exiting rooms - to save heat - but I didn't realize this was the reason until it dawned on me that the houses there were all freezing cold and if one room had heat you tried to keep it there.

          21. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #28

            Funny how some small things we do out of habit have roots in things we tend not to notice. Shutting doors, and taking off shoes for example. I noticed in traveling through the States just south of where I live, that many of the small towns and villages have sidewalks, and that side roads are often paved. When I traveled in the Netherlands, there were paved walkways and paths everywhere. Where I live, small towns often have limited sidewalks, if any, and only major roads are paved. Suburban areas here, not all driveways are paved either. That is a lot of dirt to get tracked into a home! So we take our shoes off.
            I know we have central heating in most of our homes, and in England they often do not. We have to heat our homes for very extreme cold for most of the winter, so leave it running all the time. I know from what my girlfriend (who is British) told me, they only heat when they absolutely need to, and only in the rooms they are sitting in. If you feel cold, she says, put a jumper on! Cathy

          22. User avater
            Sewista | | #27

            Up here in the Adirondacks, near the Canadian border, you always take off your shoes,which are usually boots of some sort, upon entering anyone's house. The appliance man, the phone man, they all do it. When visiting friends it is good manners to bring a pair of slippers with you. Really....for some reason this was not the case in New England. There you just dragged in the mud or talked thru an open door!Bunny

          23. junctioncats | | #31

            I think its sort of split up here now. Most of my friends have a "mud room" of sorts near their back door or garage entrance. That's where you leave your muddy shoes. The habit of bringing a pair of slippers hasn't caught on yet, apparently, because I've had lots of people in my home walking in their stocking feet!

          24. jane4878 | | #32

            I grew up in Eastern Ontario and the shoes off thing was a must.  My mom had a lovely tapestry shoe bag that she would put her nice shoes in when we went out visiting.  Now I just run about in stocking feet.  The shoes by the door is a pain.  I have my kids trained, but the DH still tracks mud in on his workboots.  My dog is guilty too and he gets quite miffed when I wipe his feet on the mat.  I could see the Adirondacks from my front door--so both sides of the St. Lawrence had the same custom.


  2. jane4878 | | #4

    If you're thinking Unique Patterns, they are still in business.  I haven't really looked at their apparel patterns.  They're the sole source of Highland Dancing patterns and I have their HD vest/jacket pattern.


    1. Quilts | | #7

      Thanks! This is the pattern company I was thinking of.  I kept thinking that it started with the letter 'O'.  I will look into this.

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